Mike and Danny: Forever
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.
Presents appeared under the Christmas tree overnight, and Mike was up early on Christmas morning, making the usual pot of coffee like it was any other day. He brought a cup back to the bedroom for Danny, who lay more than half asleep under the covers.
"Santa was here last night," he said.
"What did he want?"
"Makin' deliveries by the looks of it."
"Did anybody think to put out cookies?"
"There was a plate of 'em on the kitchen table, and they're all gone."
"No wonder he's so fat."
Mike pushed in under the covers next to Danny, and they sat together with their mugs of coffee, Danny in his flannel pajamas and Mike wearing the thermals he'd put on when he got up. The propane stove purred in the next room, slowly raising the temperature in the house.
"Merry Christmas, bud," he said and put his lips to Danny's whiskery cheek. On weekends at home Danny didn't shave, and rubbing faces gave a manly roughness to their kisses.
Danny swallowed his coffee and put his warm lips to Mike's.
"Merry Christmas," he said.
The night before, while Rich and Ty went to church, they had made love on the couch with all the lights turned outjust the glow of the Christmas tree. Danny had bought them a bottle of something called Irish Mist. It went down real smooth, and after a few of them, Mike began feeling nicely mellow.
"I love you like anything," he'd said to Danny after another one and rolled onto him, pulling Danny's shirt from his jeans and unbuckling his belt.
"What do you think you're doing?" Danny laughed.
"Checking your belly button for lint."
"Got news for you. My belly button isn't in my pants."
"In that case," Mike said, pulling open Danny's fly, "I'm gonna have to police the entire area."
Which was how it got started.
They had sixty-nined for a while, still in their clothes, their jeans half-way to their knees. Danny came first because it never took him more than a minute once Mike got going, and then he had Mike stretch out on his back so he could get between his legs and suck him slowly and deeply, the feeling gradually welling up in Mike that he was floating on a gently rocking sea until he was finally taken by a sudden burst of an orgasm.
They had lain together then for what seemed like an hour, wrapped in each other's arms, listening to the stereo playing through some Christmas albums. When it got to Nat King Cole singing Mike's favorite Christmas song, he hummed along.
Chestnuts roasting on an open
Jack Frost nipping at your nose
He put his hand around Danny's balls. "All we need is an open fire," he said and nuzzled his neck.
"We could burn some old furniture," Danny said and stretched like a cat.
Thanks to Rusty's welcoming bark outside when Rich and Ty got back from church, they'd had enough time to get themselves dressed again. Mike was flipping over the stack of LPs when the two of them walked through the door.
"How was it?" Danny wanted to know as they came into the room, their faces softly glowing in the lights from the tree.
Mike had glanced at Rich to gauge his moodhe'd been getting braver about venturing out into the everyday world, but regaining the trusting confidence he'd once had seemed sometimes just beyond his reach. Tonight, it may only have been the kindness of the tree lights, but he appeared to be at ease, the excursion into town not too much for him.
Then Mike looked at Ty, who had reasons of his own to be unsettled after a visit to a church. He'd shown up at the farm on a summer day just six months ago, an earnest seminarian, having been asked to leave the congregation he'd been assigned to serve. Mike had never forgotten the stricken look on the young man's face.
But Ty seemed OK, too. While true believers may have tried to exclude him from the fold, he'd never lost his faith. "I believe I'm still welcome in God's house," he'd told Mike. "Even if nobody else there wants me."
Mike, who had never been a church-goer, knew that whatever strength another man found in his faith, it was maybe wrong to question it. He let Ty believe what he wanted. What mattered was that those beliefs didn't burden him with guilt or rob him of his self-respect.
Days before, Ty had unpacked a little nativity set, with plaster of Paris shepherds and wise men, and it sat at the foot of the tree in a nest of paper grass, the Mary and Joseph peering into an empty manger.
"Where's the baby Jesus?" Rich had wondered, sitting cross-legged on the floor, fascinated by the little figures.
"Not born yet," Ty had explained, pointing to a piece still in the box.
Rich had looked puzzled, like this was only one part of so much he did not know or understand.
"You can put him in the manger on Christmas Day," Ty said.
It often touched Mike the way Ty spoke to Rich. It was like they took turns being the older of two brothers, Ty tenderly patient with Rich sometimes, Rich protective of Ty at others, wiser from what he had learned of the worldto him a heartless place that had no time for either tenderness or patience.
As they stood there now, returned from church, they seemed each content and at peace. And Mike found himself hoping against hope that it would go on just that way. His heart filled with affection for both of them. Then, glancing at Danny, who was pouring a round of Irish Mist for all of them, Mike felt the afterglow of sex lingering in his boxersand all was right with the world.
In the middle of opening their presents on Christmas morning, Mike heard the kitchen phone ringing, and when he went to answer, it was his father in Florida.
"Merry Christmas," his dad said.
It had been a surprise. They had spoken little over recent years and rarely remembered Christmas, but Joe Allen had changed all that. Mike wasn't sure just how yet.
A few nights ago, he'd come home from the movies with Danny to discover that Joe Allen had been in some kind of car accident. At least that seemed to be the meaning of the note that Danny's friend Craig had left on the kitchen table. Then hurrying to the hospital, he'd found the two of them in a waiting room and got more of the straight story. Joe Allen was shaken but alive and well, and his friend Rory was in surgery.
"Where have you been?" Joe Allen had said, his eyes red from weeping. He thought he'd seen the boy in all of his moodsfrom politely respectful to difficult and angrybut this was a new one. He was helpless, his usual tough act swallowed up by fear and confusion.
"How's Joe Allen?" Mike's father wanted to know now.
Mike had already decided there was no point in telling his father anything of the truth. His dad would just give him a bunch of advice, which he didn't intend to follow anyway. Joe Allen may have been his half-brother, but that wasn't why he had let himself get involved. The boy simply needed him, and that was that.
"He's fine," he told his father.
"Did you get the check?"
His dad had sent him a check for a hundred dollars and told Mike to buy Joe Allen something for Christmas and to keep the rest for himself.
"Yeah, dad." He explained that he'd bought the boy a warm winter coat, since he didn't seem to have one. They'd gone to Sears and found a parka with extra pockets and a zip-on hood. There was enough of the check left over to pay for most of a pair of new sneakers, as well. Mike had made up the difference.
"Did you get anything for yourself?" his father said, apparently unaware of what a coat and sneakers would cost.
"Yeah, dad," he said, and he made up something to tell him.
"Is he there with you now?"
"No, dad. He's at his mom's," Mike said and explained that he would be picking up Joe Allen later in the day.
What he didn't say was that he'd be taking the boy to the hospital. They were going to pay a visit to his friend Rory.
"That's good," his father said, satisfied. He never seemed to like to talk on the phone and sounded ready to say goodbye.
"Is it cold there?" he asked.
"Colder than a well digger's nose," Mike said, knowing that his father would enjoy having the chance to tell him how warm it was there in Florida. Of course, this time he wouldn't say, "You should move here," because it was Mike's job now to stay where he was and look after Joe Allen.
"Thanks for callin', dad," he said as they both hung up. He set the receiver back on the hook, not sure how he felt about his father. The man hadn't had an easy life, and his first marriage hadn't worked out. How could he have picked someone so wrong for him?
He probably wouldn't have picked Mike for a son eithersomeone who would never marry and give him grandchildren. Joe Allen, at least, wasn't queer. At the rate he was going, it was a wonder he hadn't made the old man a grandfather already.
A girlfriend, Cassie, had shown up at the hospital looking for Joe Allen. Word had got around during the night about the accident. She had clung to the boy like he was the one who'd been hit by the car and not his friend, and the way her body interlocked with his as they sat side by side, Mike could tell they'd been more than friendly togetherand probably more than once.
"Who was that on the phone?" Danny said, coming into the kitchen for more Christmas cookies.
Danny looked at him now. "How's he?"
"How are you?"
Mike smiled at Danny and hugged him. "Fine now."
In the afternoon, Mike got in his truck and drove into town to pick up Joe Allen and go to the hospital. Joe Allen came out of the house as he waited in the driveway, his breath visible on the sharp, cold air. He was in his new parka, his black stocking cap pulled down over his ears.
"Mom wants you to come in," he said.
He turned off the engine and got out, following Joe Allen to the front door, which he'd left standing open.
Estelle had a plastic container full of cookies for him. "There's a loaf of Christmas bread in there, too," she said. "I hope you like dates."
"I do," he said and thanked her.
"It's for all of you," she said. She wanted him to understand that she had not been thinking of him alone when she packed the food.
He saw she was wearing the housecoat he'd helped Joe Allen pick out for her. It looked warm and pretty, the boy had said, his fingers touching the embroidered roses on the front.
He might have stayed longer, but Joe Allen was eager to get to the hospital to see his friend. It was Rory's first day for visitors after his surgeryonly family had been allowed to see him till now.
When they walked into the room, they found him watching TV from his bed, his bush of dark hair wild and uncombed and his face pale, dark shadows around his eyes. His arms, sticking out from the short sleeves of the hospital gown, lay bruised on the sheet in front of him, an IV taped to one of them.
The surgeon had saved his leg, and he seemed sure that he would walk again. Mike had been able to gather this from an uncle, who looked much the worse for wear himself, though it was not from being hit by any car. Mike could smell alcohol on the man's breath, and he could have used a good long bath and a change of clothes.
Where were the boy's parents, Mike wanted to know, and when he asked Joe Allen about them, he'd come to understand that Rory was pretty much on his own and raising himself. And it angered Mike that people could be so careless about the children they'd brought into the world.
"This is Mike," Joe Allen said, introducing him. "I told you about him."
Rory seemed to stiffen and said nothing, just giving Mike a suspicious look. Mike considered the sedatives they were probably giving the boy. Everything, after the accident, still had to seem strange to him.
"I got you something," Joe Allen said, digging into one of his coat pockets. He pulled out a little package wrapped awkwardly in Christmas paper with a red bow knotted around it. "Merry Christmas," he said, handing it to Rory.
Rory took it after a moment and picked uncertainly at the wrapping. He seemed not in full control of his fingers.
"Here," Joe Allen said and grabbed it from him. He tore off the paper and revealed a key ring with a little plastic cowboy hat on a chain. "I wanted to buy you a real hat, but the nice ones cost too much. So you'll have to wait till I got the money for it."
Rory took the key chain. "You sonofabitch," he said and smiled, stroking the brim of the little hat with his thumb. "You better get me one."
"I got your keys and put 'em on there," Joe Allen said. He was smiling now, too, relieved apparently that Rory was still his old self. "Don't want anybody trying to drive your truck while you're in here."
"Where is my truck anyway?"
"At your uncle's place. In the driveway."
Rory held the keys now in his fist and closed his eyes. He seemed satisfied.
"How long's it gonna be till they let you out?" Joe Allen wanted to know.
Rory opened his eyes, frowning. "That's what I keep askin' the doc, but he won't tell me. Just says I ain't goin' nowhere soon, so I better get used to bein' in here."
And they talked a while longer, Mike finally stepping out of the room to leave the two of them alone. He had a sense there might be things they'd want to say to each other if he wasn't there listening.
After a half hour, Joe Allen came out and found Mike at the end of the hall, sitting in a sunlit alcove where a few chairs were gathered around a low table with worn magazines and yesterday's Sunday paper. He'd been catching up on the news. Nixon was still bombing Hanoi, and the Steelers had beat the Raiders in the last second of a playoff. Mike decided he preferred the sports news. Nobody got killed.
"Ready to go?" he said when he looked up and saw Joe Allen standing there with his hands in his coat pockets.
"He don't look good," Joe Allen said. "But I'm glad he's alive."
"I think he liked the keychain you got him." Mike folded the paper and set it on the table as he got up to go. "That was real thoughtful."
Joe Allen grinned and said, "Yeah."
After they left the hospital, Joe Allen was quiet for a while, like he was trying to figure out how to say something. Finally he came out with it. "Rory says you're OK."
"He knows you're queer and all," Joe Allen said. "I been tryin' to tell him it don't make no difference."
"Wait a minute. What are you talking about?"
"Mom told me about you, that first night when you showed up at our place. She said if you or anybody tried to touch me funny, I was supposed to tell her, and she'd make sure to keep me away from you."
Mike felt his heart take double-beats in his chest. He thought he'd managed to keep all this from Joe Alleneverybody, when he was at the farm, always on their best behaviorand now he was finding out that Joe Allen and his mother had known all along.
Rory's reaction to him began to make sense. It wasn't the medication. He was seeing with his own eyes a man who did strange things with other men.
"It was you we was arguing about that night when I threw his hat out the window. He was sayin' stuff that just wasn't true. I really like you, Mike. You been more of a friend to me than anybody's ever been. Even when I was bein' a pain in the ass. I'm sorry you don't like girls, cause likin' girls is just about the best thing there is, but if I was to pick somebody to be like, it'd be you, Mike. You're great."
It was a long speech that tumbled out of the boy like it had been bottled up in him forever, like he was just waiting for a Mike to come along to say it to. Not just waiting, but hoping and praying.
And Mike felt the full weight of the words. They'd come to a stop sign, and he looked over at Joe Allen, his head almost disappearing in the big parka hood, eyes peering from under his black cap.
"You can hug me," Joe Allen said. "There's no rule against hugs."
Mike marveled at what this boy had become in the short time they'd known each other. Everybody's idea of a juvenile delinquentalready before a judge after breaking into a schooland ready to take the world on if he had to, just to prove how tough he was. And here he was, being lovable as a puppy dog.
He put the truck out of gear and reached with both arms over to the boy, who threw himself against Mike with such force, it felt like a body block.
Mike hadn't wanted to be anybody's big brother. He was still blaming his father for getting him into this situation, but here he was anyway, and for once it felt like maybe it was going to turn out OK.
A driver in a car behind them tapped the horn, and Mike put the truck in gear to drive on, while Joe Allen settled on his side of the seat.
"While we're gettin' things off our chest, I got something I want to say to you," Mike finally said.
"You're too young to be havin' sex with girls," he said. "But I figure anything I got to say on the subject you're gonna ignore anyway, am I right?"
Joe Allen didn't answer. Mike had figured out something that had been his own secret, and he wasn't sure what to say.
So Mike answered for him. "I know I'm right. So until you finally see this my way, you're gonna have to use rubbers."
And he stopped at a drug store that he found open and bought a package of Trojans. He handed them to Joe Allen when he got back to the truck. "Tell me when you need more. And don't wait until after you've run out."
They'd spent the night in Colorado Springs, the peaks of the Rockies blinding white with snow as they got up the next morning. Randy had stood in his underwear rummaging through his bag for a package that he handed to Chad, who was still in bed.
"I got something for you, too," Chad said and took a neatly wrapped package from his rucksack and gave it to Randy.
The drawing pad and colored pens made him smile as he unwrapped them, and then he read the note that came with the frame and smiled again. Randy tied the bandana around his neck and swore he'd never take it off.
"Not even to take a bath?" Chad laughed.
"I ain't never takin' a bath again."
They'd rolled together on the bed, giving each other kisses, the wrapping paper crackling under them. And they'd made love againswapping fucks as Randy called it.
Each time it happened, and Chad was beginning to lose count, he felt himself drawing further into Randy's world, and the time he'd spent working on ranches in the Sandhills becoming already like a past life.
The love he'd felt for Don was growing less real, too, the memory of it feeling almost foolish at times, though he'd never forget the mantall and handsome, easy-going, and how he rode a horse like he'd been born on one.
Don had been surprised when he broke the news to him about leaving with Randy. "I was counting on you to help out when the calving starts," he'd said. "Don't know as I'll find another man so easy with your grit."
The remark had pleased Chad. It had always meant a lot that Don liked him, and any generous word from the man, even just a smiling look, almost sent a shiver through him. But now there was this naked passion with Randy that pushed those feelings to the side.
As he entered Randy and felt the length of his dick sliding with an electric kind of bliss into him, he might think of Don and wish it was him instead, but the thought would not linger. He'd hear Randy's voice under him, sighing and saying his name, reminding him there was just the two of themmore real than anything he'd ever imagined as he jerked off thinking of Don.
He'd had a favorite fantasy, Don standing behind him and holding him, caressing his chest and finding his nipples, then opening his pants, his big hands slipping down between his legs to caress him there, stroking him as he got hard. As his pants slipped down, he'd feel Don press against him from behind, and he'd surrender to the deepest feelings of love for this man who cared for him so much.
"What a fine young man you are," Don would say softly in his ear, over and over until Chad came, his cum surging from him in jolts that finally spilled hot across the back of his hand as he held himself. And he'd swim for a while in a wash of loving feelings.
Now he knew better. If it was a choice between fantasy and reality, Chad would take reality. True, it was a damn sight more unpredictable, but in some ways that made it a whole lot more fun.
He and Randy had a shower together when they were doneRandy agreeing to take off his bandanathen dressed and packed up the truck. After breakfast at a restaurant across the highway from the motel, they got on the road again, and by late morning, they were in New Mexico.
The sun was shining and the desert stretched out in all directions around them. Driving his truck down the long stretches of interstate, straight as a gunshot into the distance, Chad marveled at the size of the sky and the expanse of the earth under it. He had never seen anything like this. It was like being in a western movieor on the moon.
He wanted to draw a picture of it, with his new colored pencils, to put in the frame Randy had given him.
"Wait till we get to Nevada," Randy kept saying. "You'll love it there."
At noon, they stopped for hamburgers at a diner along the highway. Though it was Christmas Day, the place was full with tourists, cowboys, and bikers. Someone kept putting money in the jukebox to hear a Merle Haggard song.
We still don't have what you and
I once had,
No, it's not love, but it's not bad.
Chad studied the tinselly Christmas decorations someone had strung up around the walls as he ate, dipping french fries into a pool of catsup on his plate. A server in a Santa Claus hat came round to top up their coffees.
He'd been sitting like this with other men in restaurants before, but here he was with someone he was fucking. He wondered if it was somehow obvious to anyone else in the place, but no one seemed to pay them any notice. They were just two guyson the road together.
He glanced across the table to Randy, who looked up from his plate and gave him a grin, like he'd been thinking the same thing. He still wore his bandana.
"You are so goddam handsome," he said under his breath.
Chad felt himself blush and concentrated again on his french fries. "Stop it," he said.
"I mean it," he heard Randy say. "I wanna suck you cock right here."
"Anything else I can get you?" the waitress said, appearing from out of nowhere.
"Got any cream pie?" Randy said, without missing a beat.
"Chocolate, vanilla, raisin?" she said before Randy stopped her.
"Van-ill-a, please," he said, his eyes still on Chad, each syllable a separate word.
She looked at Chad now, too. "Pie for you?"
"I'll just have some of his," Chad said.
And when she walked away, they both started laughing.
Continued . . .
© 2009 Rock Lane Cooper