Mike and Danny: Big Hopes
by Rock Lane Cooper

This is a work of homoerotic fiction. If you are offended by such material or if you are not allowed access to it under the laws where you live, please exit now. This work is copyrighted by the author and may not be copied or distributed in any form without the written permission of the author, who may be contacted at: rocklanecooper@yahoo.com

Note that these stories, including this one, are not an endorsement of unsafe sex. They take place many years before the appearance of AIDS and before it was standard practice to use condoms to reduce the risk of infection from sexually transmitted diseases. Remember always: that was then, this is now. Sex is precious, and so are life and health.

Chapter 3

Don and Slim were riding horses in a pasture north of the ranch that dropped steadily along the slope of a high sandhill ridge into a marshy slough bottom. The day was overcast and cold, a smattering of raindrops on a gust of wind flying sharp as needles in Don's face. He caught his Stetson before it blew off his head and pulled it down tighter.

He wore a fleece-lined coat, but his jeans were getting wet. Only Slim had taken a good look at the sky before they set out and thought to bring along his yellow slicker. The damp pull of the denim against the inside of Don's thighs as he rocked against the saddle was giving him a hard-on.

On another day, working alone, he might have let that rocking motion produce an ejaculation. But Slim was with him and he was Slim's boss, and somehow it didn't seem right. It was reminding him, though, that he was getting more than hard up for a good fuck.

It hadn't taken a week when he got the new CB radio in his truck to find out one thing it was good for—locating Morning Glory, a doctor's wife up in Custer County who would happily meet him on short notice in her Monte Carlo. There on a back road, with the only light the glimmer from her car radio dial and a million stars overhead, he'd be pulling off his boots and jeans and crawling half-naked with her into her backseat.

It was always too long each time in between for him to hold on and make a fuck last. So she'd persuaded him to use his tongue between her legs for almost longer than he could bear before letting him get on top. By then she was a writhing python of desire pressed against his body.

He didn't even know her name for sure. She said once it really was Glory, but since he went only by his CB handle, Hardy, and that was good enough for her, he suspected she wasn't too interested in the truth. After the preliminaries, all she wanted—insisted on—was his stiff dick buried inside her. And that was good enough for him.

But she spent her winters in Tucson and suddenly disappeared from the CB channels without even a so-long. He'd been calling her, "Morning Glory, you got your ears on, over?" But there'd been no soft, sultry, "Ten-four."

And there wouldn't be any until next spring, after the snow was gone from the washes and the northern slopes of the hills and the melt-off was rising in the streams. His heart would take a jump in his chest when he'd hear her voice again on his radio, and as they talked, he'd be rock hard in his jeans, aching for the touch of her.

The hands on the ranch may have noticed him coming and going at odd hours of the night all summer, and they had to figure something was up, but nobody ever said anything. His wife Carol, of course, knew from long distance he was screwing some slut—her words for it. She still lived in their house in Grand Island, where she was raising their boys, and though he denied and denied and denied—which had always worked for anyone else who caught him in a lie—she wouldn't believe him for a minute.

"I suppose you've never fooled around," he said once in one of their many fierce arguments.

"No, I haven't," she said so coldly and flatly that it couldn't have been anything but the dead honest truth. "Not that you haven't given me plenty of reason to." And there was flint in her eyes as she leveled a look at him that would have frozen a wild animal in its tracks.

It had stopped amazing him that the two of them stayed married. She had children to raise, she told him, and he was their father. He wasn't going to duck out on any responsibility he owed them. Needless to say, there was never any sex between them anymore. In fact, he seemed to have put her off men entirely. If she ever did let him venture again into the bed they once shared, he couldn't trust her not to cut off his nuts in his sleep.

Meanwhile, what kept him from filing for divorce was the fact that he worked for her old man, who had bank rolled the ranch. The Charolais operation there was Don's idea, and it was paying off slowly but surely. But her dad had made it clear to him that he'd happily get somebody else to run the ranch if the marriage to his daughter ever went south.

So there he was, stuck between a rock and a hard place. But the ranch kept him so busy, most of the time he didn't have to think about any of it. He never wanted to be married again anyway. And if he could stand going without occasional sex during the winter months, there was Morning Glory to help him make it through the night.

"There they are," he heard Slim say, as they rounded a little rise.

He was pointing ahead to a hollow where a wash crossed under the fence into another pasture. It was the three horses they were looking for. They'd been out here since spring with a bunch of yearling steers, which had gone to market back in September.

Don had first seen the two mares by chance, one summer morning, at the sale barn in North Platte. They were old horses, but still good looking and spirited, attached to each other, you could tell, as horses will be, and they circled the sale ring together as the auctioneer tried to get buyers to bid on them.

But there'd been only one bidder to give the auctioneer a little nod of his black hat, a grim-faced man with a big gut hanging over his belt, and Don guessed he was a buyer from a packing house. Looking at the two horses, confusion and fear in their eyes, Don felt a sorrow overtake him as he realized they were going to be slaughtered unless he bought them himself.

That was three years ago, and here they were, together with an old gelding that had come with the ranch when his father-in-law had acquired it from the widow of the previous owner. It had been her horse, and after a broken hip she knew she'd never ride again, but it would break her heart, she said, if he couldn't live out his years on these hills they'd once ridden together.

"I got me three growing grandsons thanks to this young buck here," his father-in-law had told her, slapping Don on the back. They'd need a gentle saddle horse to ride when they came out to the ranch to visit, and so it was settled.

The old lady, as it happened, didn't last another six months herself, and by then Don's father-in-law was all for getting rid of it. But Slim and George, the two year-round cowboys who were hands at the ranch, had developed a soft spot for the old horse, and even though his sons showed no interest in riding when they came out from town—which was seldom anyway—Don had kept him around.

Then somehow one retired horse had turned into three, and Don couldn't have begun to explain why he had them—except that they were fine to look at roaming the far pasture together.

The horses preferred wintering out here, as if they were mustangs surviving in the wild, but Slim had noticed in the fall, when they rounded up the yearlings, that the widow's horse was showing his age.

"Boss, I been thinkin'," he finally said to Don. "That one's not going to make it through another winter."

Don, who didn't know much about horses, took a look and said, "How can you tell?"

Slim just shook his head, not wanting to explain the obvious. And when the weather turned cold and they'd already had sleet and a heavy frost that turned the fields white for a morning, Slim suggested quietly one day that they ride out and bring in the three horses.

"It's gotta be all three," he said. "They'll pine away if you split them up."

Don, who'd been doing without sex since Morning Glory left for Tucson, had trouble caring about the feelings three horses might have for each other, but Slim had gently insisted, and on this miserable day they had finally gotten around to going out after them.

The three horses were huddled together, their ears perked up as they watched the two men approach. One of the mares whinnied, making a friendly sound on the wind. The two men then made a wide circle around them and began driving them in the direction of the ranch.

"See what I mean?" Slim said, pointing with his gloved hand to the hind quarters of the widow's horse. "He's got slowed way down. Arthritis settin' in."

Don peered at the horse and thought he saw what Slim was talking about, but mostly he was just glad the trip was half over, and the wind was now at their backs.

The other hand at the ranch was George, an Indian—Lakota Sioux, he'd correct Don whenever this subject came up—from the Pine Ridge reservation, Don thought, though George was more vague about this detail. And Don would have sent him along with Slim to do the job, but George was busy putting a new roof on one of the sheds before the snow started flying in earnest.

Chad, a hand from the Rocking T had come over to help. He seemed to know more about roofing than you'd expect from a cowboy, and he was happy for any work Don might have to give him. The Rocking T wouldn't need him now until spring calving started up, and that wouldn't be for another four months.

Not yet twenty years old, and working in season for a ranch hand's wages, he was probably as good as broke most of the time. Don had hired him once before when Slim and George were away on a weekend trip to Scottsbluff.

His two prize bulls had flattened a fence and wandered off before he'd got a call from a neighbor that they'd been seen several miles from home. Them being creamy light brown Charolais and not black angus or hereford like almost every other rancher's herd, anyone within twenty-five miles knew who they belonged to.

He'd driven his truck to pick up Chad, with a trailer for his horse, and they'd gone in search of the two bulls, which they finally found studying a small gathering of cows from across a cattle guard. Then with much persuasion, shouting and cajoling, they'd got the bulls turned around and headed back to Don's place. It had taken most of a Saturday, and he'd tried to give the young man twenty bucks for his trouble, but he'd refused to take the money until Don insisted.

"Only if you'll let me come back and work for you for real some day," Chad had said.

"Deal," Don told him and thrust the bill into Chad's shirt pocket.

That day had come, when an autumn storm front took the roof off one of the cattle sheds—someone had even reported seeing a funnel cloud that day, an unheard of event at this time of year.

"It's them nucular tests," one of his neighbors had said—Chad's boss, in fact, the owner of the Rocking T. An anti-government man, he had an arsenal of guns to protect his ranch when the goddam communists finally bombed us and invaded. In the meantime, they were fucking up our weather.

Don, who didn't put much stock in any of that kind of talk, just nodded. "You could be right," he said, though his neighbor continued to eye him suspiciously. An outsider, as Don would always be to those who had lived here all their lives, he could easily be a commie himself.

Chad with his trusting grin and sweet temper seemed unlikely to subscribe to this kind of paranoia, though people who seemed innocent had this way of surprising you, and when he hired him for the roofing job, Don had taken the opportunity to ask him, "You get along OK with your boss over there at the Rocking T?"

"What do you mean?"

"Don't he seem kinda over-worried about the communists?"

Chad laughed and shook his head. "I don't pay much attention when he gets goin' on that."

And Don had let the subject drop. Chad turned out to be a good and reliable worker, and he'd hit it off with George and Slim, who both took an instant liking to him. If Chad wasn't the honest soul he seemed to be, they would have been able to tell.

Don and Slim rode along in silence, their saddle leather creaking. Now and then there was the rattling sound of raindrops flung by the wind against the back of Slim's slicker, and Don felt them hit the back of his neck, then trickle down inside his shirt collar. His horse quickened his step, now that they were heading back to the barn, and the movement of Don's butt in the saddle made his dick get even harder.

— § —

Slim watched the three old horses ahead of them, moving steadily along a fence line that led to a gate the two men had left open in one corner of the pasture. The horses seemed to understand where they were going and why, though Slim wouldn't have been surprised if they had taken off at full gallop in another direction, unwilling to surrender their freedom.

Warm and dry in his slicker, he let his thoughts drift, and they settled, as they often did, on his friend George. Their trip to Scottsbluff a month ago had been something of a visit to another world—and not because there was anything special about Scottsbluff.

A nice room in a hotel, a dinner with birthday cake, and seeing a John Wayne movie had all been welcome pleasures. But what made the weekend trip a passage into a time out of time was the affection that rose in him unbidden for his friend George—and the way that affection was returned as he found himself fumbling for George's hand in the darkness of the movie theater.

Watching the Duke onscreen, he found his attention torn between the shoot-em-up scenes and the firm grip in which George held his hand with both of his, rubbing it from time to time into his crotch, where Slim could feel the warm, stiffening length of his cock. His heart raced in his chest with the excitement, and when the lights finally went up at the end of the show, he glanced down to his pants and saw how wetness had soaked through from inside his underwear.

He'd taken off his hat then and held it over his fly as they got up and headed for the exit, waiting until they were the last to leave the theater.

Returning to the hotel along the deserted streets, he'd hardly said a word, and George was his usual quiet self, pausing as they passed a bar with a glowing neon sign over the door. But Slim wanted to keep walking, his dick still full in his shorts and his thoughts difficult to focus. Everything in him yearned to return to their room with the door firmly closed behind them—closed and locked.

They had stepped into the lobby of the hotel when they got there and slipped quietly up the carpeted stairs. Head down, with George right behind him, Slim met what seemed to be a man and his wife on one of the landings.

She stopped in the middle of a sharp complaint as Slim hurried by, and the man was storming down the steps like he was trying to get away from her. Did she stop, curious enough about the two men to notice anything telling about their behavior or their appearance, or was she concerned only for her own—he couldn't know.

The key shook in his hand as he reached to unlock the door. He felt like he couldn't breathe, his heart racing again. And there was George right behind him, their bodies almost touching. Once inside, he felt a wave of relief, but only for a moment, as he realized he didn't know what was to come next.

George, calm as you please, had pressed his body against Slim's from behind, reaching under his arms to pull apart the snaps of his shirt and to stroke his belly and his bare chest, finding his nipples and softly twisting them.

"Tuning your titties," he said, with a little laugh, and the sensation sent a shuddering wave of intensity through Slim that made him suddenly weak at the knees.

This was already more pleasure than another man had ever given him. Every ounce of his being told him this was not right for two men—though he had heard of such things, between men who were not like himself. And while he might not have approved, he let others make those choices for themselves. Like the Good Book said, "Judge not and ye shall not be judged."

But that was all about to change.

From George's knowing touch, he understood at once that George was of another mind. Who knew where he went and what experiences he had with whoever he met up with when he took off for months at a time at the ranch, Don always hating to see him go and then hiring him back on when he showed up again—and Slim bewildered by the ache in his heart the whole time George was gone.

Pulling Slim's shirt from his pants, George knelt on the flowered carpet in front of him, putting his mouth to the growing wet spot beside his fly, then pressing his face against the erection inside as his fingers fumbled with Slim's belt buckle, finally opening his pants and slipping his hands around him to squeeze the bare cheeks of his butt.

In all his years of touching himself, Slim had never felt his skin and his cock so alive. What was left of the voice in him saying, "no, no, no," was swept away by a desire for the pleasure of this other man's touch. And he understood for the first time that the ache he'd felt in his heart whenever George was gone was a yearning for just this.

Sometime later, his head swimming in a kind of delirium, George had undressed both of them and thrown back the covers of the bed, to crawl in together with him, and they had held each other naked for a long time, each caressing the other, until George finally took him into his mouth, and in a blinding moment Slim felt an orgasm surging from all directions into his cock and an explosion of such intensity there that he wondered afterward if he had completely blacked out for a while.

Back on the ranch, with the bunkhouse to themselves, this new intimacy had graduated to fucking each other. George had wanted Slim inside him, and though he wasn't a stranger to intercourse, what he'd seen was only between cattle, horses, and dogs. He would never admit it to anyone, not even George, but he'd never had sex with anyone but himself.

That first time with George had been full of surprises. He'd flipped onto his back and wrapped his legs around Slim and finally had to explain that fucking from behind was OK, but face-to-face was a whole lot friendlier. Animals would do it this way, too, if they knew how.

And, true enough, they were friends—just naked and greased up with teat balm, and about to seal that friendship with an act that Slim had never, ever pictured himself performing. Then as George encouraged him, pulling them tighter together so Slim's hard dick took a slippery slide between his ass cheeks, the sensation of that like a jolt of electricity, he felt any last doubts fade away.

He began wanting the two of them closer together than they'd ever been, sinking deep into each other. And with George's fingers guiding him—Slim wondering again at the feel of another man's gentle touch between his legs—he pressed his hips forward into a tightness that then yielded to him, and in a gliding moment they were it seemed locked together, joined at last, naked skin against naked skin in an embrace that sent excited waves through his whole body. It felt like his heart wanted to jump from his chest.

He had bent down then, searching in the near darkness with his open mouth for George's lips, kissing him as his hips worked in little thrusts, trying to make his way in deeper. And George had pressed into each one, sighing, whispering to him now, nothing he could remember for sure afterwards, except his name over and over, spoken slowly and almost achingly.

It had taken Slim a while. He wasn't young anymore. But it did not seem to matter to George, who finally began bucking harder and harder against him and then came in burst of warm wetness between their bellies. Then Slim had suddenly come, too, gasping with something like surprise, the orgasm going on and on, emptying him of what seemed like years of heartache and loneliness. And for a moment he wanted to cry.

Then he just lay there in George's arms—and as sleep took him, George pulled the blankets around their naked bodies and they spent the night together in his narrow bed.

— § —

When the first drops of rain fell, George and Chad were putting down the last sheet of plywood on the shed roof. Chad bent over now as the wind picked up, a carpenter's apron full of nails tied around his waist, pounding one after another into place with his hammer.

George studied the clouds, and he looked to where Chad stood straddling the peak of the roof, his figure a silhouette against the steadily darkening sky. "Let's call it quits until this blows over," George called out to him. Once it got any wetter, the plywood would be too slippery to work on.

"Soon as I finish this last one," Chad said.

He was hardly more than a boy, George thought, eager to please and show that he could do a man's work, but he was fearless in a way that made George more watchful than he would have been with another man. Like other bull riders he'd known—and Chad was one for that sport, chasing a buckle at every rodeo within driving distance—Chad seemed unconcerned by the very real risk of breaking his neck, no matter what he was doing.

If a man was fool enough to take so little heed for his own welfare, that was fine with George. But when it was a man whose lack of judgment came from being too young to know any better, George could make allowances. Working together like this, it also meant he had some responsibility for him. And even if he didn't feel that way, Don would certainly expect him to.

So instead of bringing another bundle of shingles up the ladder from the back of the pickup parked below, he went down to get a hammer from the toolbox and some nails to help Chad get finished. He'd gotten to the top of the ladder again and was stepping carefully onto the roof, when another gust of wind made him look up.

And he saw it all happen.

The wind had taken Chad's hat, and he reached out with one arm to grab at it. The sudden movement had made him lose his balance, and as he tried to recover it, his boot had slipped on the wet plywood. Which sent him into a spin that brought him down on his butt, and from there in a sliding roll down the slope of the roof and off the edge.

George heard his body hit below with a thud, and as he hurried back down the ladder he saw the young man sprawled over a stack of hay bales, his legs in the air. The bales had broken his fall, and he was laughing, but there was no reason to be sure he hadn't broken any bones.

"I'm OK, George, I'm OK," he insisted. He got himself sitting upright on one of the bales, and he laughed some more because he was still holding his hammer.

"Stop movin' around," George said, wanting to check his arms and legs, his shoulders, trying to think of all the ways he could have hurt himself.

"There's my hat," Chad said, jumping to his feet to get his hat, which had sailed out into the dirt.

And as he took two steps away from George's outreached arm, he fell forward onto his shoulder, rolling onto his back, and crying out as he grabbed at his leg with both hands.

"Aw, fuck," he kept saying, "aw, damn, aw fuck," his face twisted into a grimace.

George felt something grip him in the gut, and he felt at once the fear of having a man injured on the job and being miles from the nearest doctor.

"What hurts, what hurts?" he said, kneeling on the ground beside Chad.

"Aw, fuck," was all Chad would say, uttering the words through clenched teeth.

George put his hands on the young man's leg, feeling for the bones under the denim of his jeans, but from what he could tell, there was nothing broken above his boot top.

"Can you take off your boot?" he said.

But Chad didn't seem to hear him, and after a moment George tried carefully to pull it off himself, as Chad winced and sucked in his breath in quick gasps.

When the bare foot emerged from the boot, George pushed up the leg of Chad's jeans and gently touched everywhere from his shin down to his toes, and as he watched, he could see the ankle slowly swelling.

"You may be lucky," George said, fighting the urge now to be just plain pissed off at the boy. "Looks like it's no worse than a sprained ankle." But however bad it was, he realized they wouldn't be finishing the roof job anytime soon.

"Aw, fuck," Chad said again.

"Fuck is right," George said. "You won't be doing much of that for a while either."

Continued . . .

More stories. There are links to all the Mike and Danny stories, YouTube videos, and a MySpace blog, plus pictures of the characters and some cowboy poetry at the Rock Lane Cooper home page. Click here.

© 2008 Rock Lane Cooper