Mike and Danny: The Snowstorm
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

Chapter 8, Part 2


Gray dawn is filtering through the window curtains when Ellis wakes up. Deacon is standing there naked, ducking down to look out under the shade, his butt and legs pale in the dim light.

He glances over his shoulder, sees Ellis is awake and says, "It's snowing."


Deacon turns, his morning hard-on still full and swinging between his legs. He stands, yawning, rubbing his chest with one hand and scratching in his pubic hair with the other.

"Aren't you kinda cold over there?" Ellis asks.

"There's a hot air register here in the floor," Deacon says, lifting one foot and then the other. "Feels nice."

"You're right. I forgot," Ellis says, and he feels again the strangeness of this, someone here with him, in this room full of memories from another time.

Deacon had awakened him in the middle of the night, stroking his dick and sucking him again, long and slow. He had drifted in and out of dreams, coming around each time a little closer to orgasm.

Finally the urgency had swelled up in him till he couldn't bear it anymore. His fingers laced into Deacon's hair, he sighed mightily and came. Then with Deacon snuggling contented against him, he drifted off again.

"Was that you sucking my dick last night or did I dream that?" he says.

Deacon grins. "I reckon I owed you one. You like it?"

"I'd be lyin' if I said I didn't," Ellis says and just looks at Deacon, now stretching and yawning. Finally he says, "You know what I like about your body?"

"My ass, right?" Deacon says, patting himself on the butt.


"My dick."

"Close. Something about your dick."

Deacon looks at himself, his cock angling down and nodding. "What?" he says.

"It's that little tent flap it's got over the end."

"You're kiddin' me," Deacon says unbelieving. "I never got myself fixed when I was a pup."

"You don't need fixing," Ellis says. "I like what it's doing right now, your knob sorta peeking out at me."

Deacon laughs. "The old one-eyed turtle, you mean?"

"Yeah, he's got a lot of personality."

"Well, nobody sure as hell said that to me before," Deacon says and looks amazed. "I kinda like yours. Looks like you always got a hard-on, even when you don't."

"Could be, but I think you got the better deal," Ellis says. He can tell from the way Deacon reacts when Ellis touches him that the feeling in his foreskin is far more intense. It's maybe what drives him so wild.

The furnace blower shuts off, and Deacon quickly steps over to the bed, climbing in beside Ellis. They lie shoulder to shoulder, looking up at the ceiling.

"I like your family," Deacon says.

"They're just being nice."

"That's what I mean. They don't have to be."

Ellis knows nothing about Deacon's family. "What are your folks like?" he says.

Deacon says nothing for a while. "You really don't wanna know."

Ellis turns to him. The look on his face is cool and distant. "Maybe I don't, since you put it that way," he says. "Kenneth seems to have taken to you."

Deacon nods. "He's a good 'un."

"What's this I hear you advising him about girls?" Ellis says.

"He tell you that?" Deacon says. "Hell, he was doin' all the talking. I was just listening."

"What do you know about girls anyway?"

Deacon shrugs and grins. "You'd be surprised."

"Maybe I would," Ellis says.

"It's common sense really," Deacon says pulling the covers up to his chin and putting his hands behind his head.

The bed, Ellis notices, is not exactly flat on the floor. One corner at the head end is tilted up some. He gets up to investigate, and lifting the mattress finds a cardboard shoebox crushed underneath.

He'd forgotten all about this, but he knows now what it is. He opens the box, and inside is stuff from when he was a boy, a fat old pocketknife, marbles, newspaper clippings, a letter from the president of the National Honor Society, a graduation cap tassel.

He empties the box onto the bed, and they look at the contents together. His stomach tightens, thinking of the boy he was—doing what a boy does to keep his family happy, going to school, mowing the lawn, a paper route, playing ball, doing his homework, keeping out of trouble, all the time believing that if he was just good enough—the perfect boy—he'd stop feeling lonely and lost.

There's a little spiral notebook with lists of things to do and thoughts that crossed his mind, sometimes late at night, when he was supposed to be asleep. He flips through it, seeing his neat boy's handwriting written in pencil and drawings of cowboys and horses.

"I never had one of these," Deacon says, picking up a class ring with a blue stone. "How come you don't wear it?"

"You want it? You can have it." Ellis says, putting down the notebook.

Deacon tries it on his finger. "Fits," he says.

Ellis scoops up everything and puts it back in the box. He doesn't know what to do with it. He's past caring about any of it, but something stops him from pitching it in the wastebasket.

They get dressed and put the bed back together. Deacon sets the box carefully in the valise; one corner of it has split open.

"I don't know if I still want that," Ellis says. "It's ancient history."

Deacon looks up at him, frowning, like he doesn't understand, and he leaves the box where he put it.

Downstairs they hear the side door open and Kenneth's voice calling up to them. "Uncle Ellis? Deacon?"

Ellis pulls on his pants and puts on a shirt. He goes barefoot down the stairs, feeling the floor cold on his feet when he gets to the bottom. The rooms are full of snow-light coming in through the windows.

Entering the kitchen, he finds Kenneth in his letter jacket, a dusting of snowflakes on his shoulders and the hood of his sweatshirt. His face brightens as he sees Ellis.

"Mom called from the hospital," he says. "Grandpa woke up this morning. He's feeling better."

— § —

By the time they get to the hospital, Ellis' father has been moved out of the ICU to a private room.

His mother is tired but elated. "My prayers have been answered," she keeps saying, and she sits by the bed, holding his hand.

Ellis stands beside her.

"He can't talk," she says. "But he knows we're all here. He knows you're here."

His father's eyes have settled on him. Instead of the stern glare Ellis expects, there is a look he can't comprehend. A look, he decides, of worried confusion. Back from the dead, Ellis thinks, who knows how a man might regard the world.

"Hello, dad," he says. "Feeling better?"

"It's Ellis," his mom says. "He's come home."

The ice-blue eyes flicker, but the meaning in them could be almost anything. Finally they blink shut for a moment, and then the man's gaze shifts back to Ellis' mother.

Later, in the waiting room outside, Kathy says, "Different, isn't it. Talking to him knowing he can't talk back."

He smiles at her, remembering that standing at the old man's bedside had felt strangely unreal, like watching a caged panther pacing back and forth behind the bars.

"Will he talk again?" he says.

"After a lot of therapy," she says. "Depends on how stubborn he is about it."

And they continue like this, letting a feeling of relief slowly draw them closer for a moment.

Then she says, almost pleading, "Don't go back to Montana and leave me to take care of him. Mom and I can't do it alone."

He looks out the window at the falling snow. "I don't belong here anymore," he says. "Anyway, what about Henry and the boys? Why can't they help?"

"He's your father, Ellis. You can't walk out on us again."

Suddenly he feels the old bitterness rising between them, as though the years had not passed at all.

Across the waiting room, Kenneth and Deacon sit side by side, leaning forward with their elbows on their knees, talking quietly. He notices that Deacon is still wearing the class ring.

"I had to make a life for myself somewhere else," he says to Kathy.

The rest of the day goes like that. The old man slowly recovering as he slips in and out of sleep, their mother at his side, Ellis and Kathy making wary circles around each other. Deacon and Kenneth disappear for a while, and they return with Don, who leaves again to go back to work.

That night, after visiting hours, they gather again at Kathy's for supper. This time she makes no attempt to make them stay when they get up to go. Kenneth drives them, stopping at a liquor store and waiting in the car with Deacon as Ellis goes in to buy some cold beer and, when he sees it on the shelf, a fifth of Wild Turkey.

The cashier turns out to be a girl from his high school class, married now to the man who owns the store. He can't remember her name. But she remembers him, smiling broadly at first and then asking about his father. Word, of course, has gotten around town.

As she bags the beer and the bourbon, she glances down at his hands on the counter. No, he thinks, there's no ring. Not even a class ring. Of course, if she knew, she might wonder at where his class ring has got to right now.

This is what living here would be like. Everybody making your business their own.

Back at the house, they invite Kenneth to stay for a beer. "Your ma won't throw you out if you do, will she?" Ellis says. And Kenneth just laughs, like so what if she does.

Inside, they settle in the kitchen, where the white cabinets and appliances are bright under the fluorescent ceiling lights. The room is cool because the furnace has been turned low all day, and they sit around the table in their coats.

Deacon pulls a kitchen chair around so he can put one leg up. The sole of his boot and the cuff of his levi's, Ellis sees, are wet from the snow still falling outside.

Ellis pours himself a couple fingers of the bourbon and feels it burn hot against the back of his throat. Deacon and Kenneth start into the beer.

"Go on and ask him," Deacon says to Kenneth, shaking the melting snowflakes from his Resistol and putting it back on his head.

"Ask me what?" Ellis says.

"Aw, I dunno," Kenneth says, staring at the label on his beer.

"Go on. He'll have an opinion," Deacon says. "See what he says."

Kenneth looks across the table at Ellis, and slowly, awkwardly begins a long story about a friend at school and a girl they both know. Kenneth had met her first. Her name was Brenda. She was something of a free spirit, an artist who wrote beatnik poetry and sang folk music.

Deacon, who has apparently heard all this already, is fascinated by these details. His look says he's never known anybody like this.

Kenneth had read On the Road because she was always carrying around a copy and talking about it. He hadn't really understood the story, but it was about some guys driving back and forth across the country between California and New York.

Mostly he was infatuated with her and amazed that she wanted to have sex with him. No girl he'd ever dated had made him feel anything but coarse and evil-minded for wanting to go all the way.

They'd first met one Saturday night at a party that he and his friend Stuart had crashed. It was mostly a bunch of theatre majors celebrating the last night of a show. She had found him leaning against a wall, watching some couples dancing to Chuck Berry and James Brown records.

"Wanna blow this joint?" she'd said, and they'd gone for a walk together, finally wandering into a cemetery and stopping in the shadows where she had reached inside his pants and stroked his hard-on while he kissed her, until he almost came in his shorts.

Then they'd gone to her place, a one-room apartment where the walls and ceiling were painted black, and for the first time in his life he'd got naked with a girl in her own bed and had sex. Lying there afterwards in the glow of a dozen candles burning in the darkened room, she had admired his naked body and seemed content. And he had felt for a while the simple innocence of his desire for her—and anyone female, for that matter.

The following day, a Sunday, after sitting self-consciously in church, wondering at what he'd done, he went straight back to her place, and they had been together again, all afternoon.

Walking home that evening, his knees a little weak and his dick warm and tingling in his pants, he felt like someone who had escaped from a long imprisonment. When he had taken off his sport coat and hung his clothes over a rocking chair by the foot of her bed, he had felt like a boy pretending to be a man. Now he felt like a man.

He couldn't wait to tell his best friend Stuart, and Stuart had got the whole story that night. They had sat up late talking, until Kenneth remembered he had a test to study for the next day.

In the weeks that followed, Kenneth and Brenda saw a lot of each other. When Stuart met her, he liked her, too. And sometimes the three of them hung out together.

Ellis listens to the story, sometimes glancing at Deacon, who doesn't take his eyes off Kenneth, even while opening another bottle of beer for each of them. He has found an ashtray and is smoking a cigarette, holding it cupped in one hand. His other hand is on his thigh, the class ring still on one finger, his thumb softly stroking the denim between his legs.

Stuart had been Kenneth's pal from their first day as freshmen, living across the hall from each other in the dorm. They ran with a bunch of other boys, all from the same floor, but Stuart had been his closest friend. Kenneth had quickly learned that he could open his heart to him.

One night, after confessing his loneliness, he had been held in a big, long hug by his new friend, and they had stayed up all night talking, finally watching the sun rise over the city the next morning and then standing naked together in the showers, passing a bar of soap back and forth between them.

"I'd never had a best friend like him before," Kenneth says. "I loved him."

But things changed when Brenda came into the picture. It was hard to tell at first, it all happened so gradually.

One night the three of them had been to a James Bond movie together, and Stuart had walked along with them to Brenda's place. He'd started to say goodnight, and somehow Brenda had persuaded him to stay a while.

Before Kenneth really knew what was happening, they were stretched out together on Brenda's sofa bed, and the two boys were taking turns kissing her. Afterwards, he wasn't sure whose idea it was. He only knew none of them had objected as they got out of their clothes and lay down, Brenda pressed naked between them.

It felt daring and exciting, but here were the two people he loved most in the world. It all seemed completely natural. They were laughing, almost like children, touching each other, kissing and caressing each other's bare skin.

At first Stuart had held back, but before long Kenneth felt Stuart's hand bumping against his own as they reached at the same time to hold her breasts. Kenneth had stroked along his friend's arm, his muscled forearm and bicep, patting Stuart's broad shoulder, to let him know it was OK. And he could feel the back of Stuart's hand against his chest as it slipped between them to touch Brenda's breast, fingering her nipple.

His own dick now was hard against her, and she had opened herself to him. Lying on his side, he entered, and for a moment his attention was focused there, along the length of his penis, hugged in that silken grip. His hand slid now to the small of Stuart's back, and it was like he was making love to both of them.

"That probably sounds fucked up as all hell," Kenneth says, looking across the table to Ellis. "But I swear it's true."

"I believe you," Ellis says.

Kenneth takes a drink of his beer, rubs his eyes for a moment, and then goes on.

He hadn't come yet when Brenda had turned completely around and started kissing Stuart, who quickly reached between his legs to put his dick where Kenneth's had just been. And in a moment he could tell that the two of them were having sex.

Only it was not the easy rhythm of Kenneth's tender lovemaking. It was more passionate and intense. He knew that Stuart was more experienced than him; they had talked about it. But he hadn't imagined anything like this.

Stuart had rolled on top of Brenda, thrusting with his hips, and they were soon gasping and panting, one leg of the sofa bed thumping on the floor. For a moment, both of their bodies were pressed against Kenneth, his dick still hard and wet. And then he had pulled free of them.

Stuart kept on pumping, long and fierce, his back arched, muscles shifting under the smooth skin, and his naked butt rising and dropping again, pushing, driving himself into her.

After a while his movements slowed until he was down to the short strokes, barely lifting his hips to sink back in again and finally his whole body going rigid and quivering, his throat tightened around a high-pitched sigh. His eyes were shut, mouth twisted into a grinning grimace.

Brenda had clung to him through it all, fingers raking his back and ribs, and now he held her unmoving as she reached for Kenneth, kissing him on the mouth.

A little amazed by what he had just seen, Kenneth felt a wave of desire for her and pushed against Stuart until he slid off. And Kenneth had climbed onto her, as she grasped his stiff erection and guided him into her again.

Gliding in over his friend's flow of semen had been a warm, slippery surprise. He had instantly wanted to come. Then he realized that the arms around him were not all Brenda's. Stuart was pressing against the two of them and holding them both to him in his strong embrace.

Brenda was now making little cries with each of his strokes. He knew she was on the verge of orgasm, getting closer with each cry. And then he could feel her body go tense under him, and in a moment he was coming, too.

There was kissing now all around, Brenda kissing both of them, and a little hesitantly the two boys kissing each other. When they finally pulled away from the tangle of their bodies, they were wet with each other's perspiration.

As they caught their breath, they must have each realized, as Kenneth did, that what they had done was something like a wild miracle, a roller coaster ride that would never happen again.

They began reaching for their clothes, not knowing what to say, and a little sheepishly Stuart had left soon afterward. Brenda had made Kenneth and herself cups of herb tea, and they had sat together on the sofa bed, sipping it in silence. Then kissing her softly, he had said goodnight and left, too.

"Nothing was the same after that," Kenneth says. First Stuart stopped talking to him. Then Brenda stopped talking to him. And then he discovered that when Stuart was away from the dorm at night, he was with Brenda. Finally, when Kenneth saw them together on campus, he knew it was all over. Everything.

"The thing is," Kenneth says, "I still love both of them. And I feel so lonely without them."

Deacon shakes his head and looks at Ellis, like there must be something he can do or say that will make a difference.

"And if I can have only one of them," Kenneth says. "I want my friend back." He looks first at Deacon and then at Ellis. "What should I do, Uncle Ellis?"

"He stole your girl," Ellis says, pouring himself another whisky. "You can't let him get away with that."

"But maybe it was just her wanting him more than me," Kenneth says, like how could he blame a friend for that.

"If he's a real friend," Ellis reasons, "he'll feel ashamed for what he did."

Deacon nods, listening to him intently. He takes off his hat to run his hand back through his short hair, and then he pulls it snug into place again.

"And he'll keep feeling that way till he gets what he deserves," Ellis says.

"That's what I told him," Deacon says, nodding again.

"I have to fight him?" Kenneth says.

"Just punch him in the face. Break his nose," Ellis says. "He knows he's got it coming. Then he'll feel better, you'll feel better, and you can both be friends again." He takes a sip of the whisky. "If you still want to."

"I didn't think of that," Deacon says, turning to Kenneth. "But he's right."

Ellis watches Kenneth as all this sinks in. "I dunno," Kenneth says, but Ellis can tell he's giving it serious thought. And he wonders what his sister Kathy would say if she had any idea what Kenneth has been up to.

"Aw, hell, son," he says, setting down the whisky. "Don't listen to an old goat like me. What makes you think I know anything anyway. Just do what feels right to you."

Kenneth looks across the table at him, confused now, but also relieved. There was no way he'd pick a fight with the boy who'd been his best friend. For now, it was far easier living with a broken heart.

Ellis feels a weariness setting in from the long day, and the short night before it. He gets up and takes a look outside through the kitchen window. In the glow from a streetlight he can see that a heavy snow is now falling.

"You got snow tires?" he asks Kenneth.

"Naw," Kenneth says, opening another bottle of beer.

"You might wanna think about staying the night," he says, figuring the boy is probably in no hurry to leave and with the beers already in him it would be easy enough to get hung up somewhere on the way home.

For sure, if anything happened to Kenneth, Ellis would not hear the end of it from Kathy. Just like their old man, there'd be hell to pay. He laughs at himself for still caring what the hell she thinks, but watching Kenneth slouched over his beer, he knows he'd feel the same if the boy was his son.

— § —

Ellis wakes the next morning, Deacon huddled against him in the narrow bed. He goes downstairs in his underwear to make a pot of coffee. Crossing the living room, he finds Kenneth asleep on the couch, lying under an afghan, still wearing all his clothes, his coat, and even the hood of his sweatshirt pulled over his head.

While the percolator warms up, Ellis clears the empty beer bottles off the kitchen table. There's a half eaten package of Oreos. Cookies and beer? he thinks.

The furnace kicks in when he turns up the thermostat, and he stands waiting for the coffee and leaning with his butt against a cold strip of Formica countertop. Alone in the morning stillness, he feels again the years of his youth and wonders sadly at it all.

He pictures the four of them, his parents, his sister and himself, sitting around the kitchen table, countless mornings like this over hurried breakfasts, a storm always ready to break over their heads it seemed, thanks to their father—his mother, meanwhile, always the peacekeeper.

He looks at the cookies and then has three of them with his coffee before going to the bathroom for a shower.

The hot, steamy water on his skin reminds him of the secret relief he used to feel, lathering up his already-hard dick to masturbate, while in the next room the old man sat in his easy chair reading the Independent and listening to the radio. The rush of water drumming against the shower curtain drowned out the slerk-slerk-slerk of his hand working his dick and his gasping breaths as he got closer to coming. For the time it lasted, it was his great escape.

Back then, he could make a shot clear across the bathtub, where gobs of his cum ran down the tiles and back into water from the shower spray. And he'd learned to sluice it all into the drain with his foot before turning off the taps when he was done. If he didn't, Kathy would complain loudly about the "snot" he'd left behind.

Now, of course, it's a different story. He's lucky if he can clear his toes most of the time.

There's a knock on the door and Deacon comes in, needing to take a piss. And when he's done, he pulls aside the shower curtain and slips naked into the shower with Ellis, wrapping both arms around him from behind and pressing his dick against Ellis' butt.

"Mornin', pardner," he says. Then he takes the soap and scrubs Ellis' back.

When he's done, he turns Ellis to let the hot spray wash away the suds, and Ellis hugs and kisses him, enjoying the feel of Deacon's naked, wet body in his arms. He thinks of all those teenage years, beating off in this shower, and here is the real thing, like nothing he'd ever imagined.

"I hope you didn't wake up Kenneth," Ellis says.

"No, sir. That boy is still sawin' logs," Deacon says, grinning.

Ellis steps out of the tub and towels down, while Deacon stays in the shower, breaking into a song, "Splish, splash, I was takin' a bath . . ."

After shaving and combing his wet hair, Ellis wraps the towel around him and walks out of the bathroom, stopping in the kitchen to refill his coffee cup. Standing there in the middle of the room is Kenneth, talking on the phone.

"Yeah, we're fine. Everybody's fine," he's saying, and after a few more yeah's and a couple no's he hangs up. He looks at Ellis, sleepy-eyed. "That was mom," he says to Ellis. "She just called."

"What's she want?" Ellis says, pouring himself more coffee.

Kenneth yawns. "You tell me," he says and shuffles in stocking feet over to the cupboard to get a cup, then takes the percolator from Ellis.

Blowing across the top of the cup when its filled to the brim and then taking some loud slurps from it, he looks over to Ellis and smiles. "Thanks for last night, Uncle Ellis. I wish you were here more of the time to talk to."

Ellis feels a chill across his bare shoulders but doesn't hurry back to the bedroom yet for a change of clothes. Neither does he know what to say.

"I got a phone," he says. "Call collect if you have to."

Kenneth doesn't answer right away. He drinks more from the cup and then says, "Maybe I will."

From the bathroom, they can hear Deacon's voice rising over the sound of the shower. He's still singing.

— § —

Later in the morning, after shoveling out Kenneth's car, they discover the battery is dead again, and they have to push it to get it started. Deacon's boots slip out from under him as the car finally takes off and he lands on his back on the snow-packed street, laughing. Ellis hands him his hat, which has rolled away from him, brushing it off, and then they jump in the car and head for the hospital.

There he finds his father's room and walks inside. His mother is there, talking to his father about something, and he has the sense that they're having a conversation. For a moment, it seems that his father has recovered his voice.

But she is talking on and on, getting no reply, as though his silence makes no difference to her. Tired yet cheerful, she's soldiering on.

"Ellis is here," she says to him.

"Hello, dad," Ellis says when the old man sees him.

And he walks to the bed, looking once again into his father's ice-blue eyes. They are steadier and brighter today, though his mouth is still set firmly and a little crooked.

Ellis rests his hands on the bed sheet, and the old man surprises him by placing one of his hands over Ellis'. The fingers grip him, and the memories rush through him of being pulled into his father's workroom, where lectures and lickings were given for misdemeanors. He has to fight the impulse to pull away.

But the fingers loosen and then the hand begins softly patting the back of his hand. The look in the man's eyes seems to soften.

"He's missed you," his mother says. "Haven't you," she says more firmly to his father.

He squeezes Ellis' hand for a moment and then lets go. The fingers are light and dry, like paper.

In that moment, there is a glimpse of the gentler man his father might have been. Ellis holds that image in his mind as he stands there. Then it gradually fades.

"I'm going back to Montana," he says, surprised that he can utter such a clear intention. He knows it isn't in him to become again the son of this man, to yield to whatever the old man wants of him now.

Then his mother puts her frail hand on top of both of theirs, as if together they can both keep him here.

He wants to assure her he'll be back again, because he's never felt the fault for anything was hers. Unless it was to always side with his father against him, trying to make him see that his father meant well—that everything would be fine if Ellis would just do what his father wanted.

He pulls his hand from under theirs. This is not what he wants. He puts it down again, over the two of theirs. They will have to go on getting along without him. Anyway, it is the best he can do.

— § —

Two days later, on a cold, sunny morning, Kenneth has driven Ellis and Deacon to the airport. The plane from Omaha has taxied in and they're about to board for Denver and the connecting flight to Billings.

Kenneth's laundry bag is packed with clean clothes, and he's heading back to the university in Lincoln as soon as the plane takes off. The old man is recovering, the prognosis is good, and there's talk of letting him go home from the hospital.

"I've missed you," Kathy had said to Ellis. "Say you'll come back again—soon."

And when he would make no promises about that, she spoke of their father. "He's forgiven you, you know," she said.

"There was never anything for him to forgive," Ellis told her. "Nothing."

"Come back then for my sake," she'd said, embracing him. "Don't punish me, too."

Ellis had no more words. He just held her for a while.

While the luggage is being carted out to the plane, Deacon and Kenneth say their goodbyes. Deacon, bless him, is still wearing Ellis' class ring.

"Does this mean we're going steady?" Ellis had asked him.

"You wanna?" Deacon had said, grinning.

There's a call for boarding, and suddenly Deacon and Kenneth are taking off their jackets, each handing his to the other. Kenneth slips into Deacon's leather jacket, looking pleased and pulling up the collar against the back of his neck. And Deacon is now wearing Kenneth's bright red letter jacket.

They give each other a mighty hug, and then Deacon walks away, looking over his shoulder once to wave.

Kenneth stands there, watching both of them go, and they step outside onto the tarmac, walking to the plane.

"You traded away your leather jacket?" Ellis says, not mentioning that it was he who had bought it for Deacon no more than a week before.

"It's just for a few months," Deacon says. "He's coming out to see us as soon as school is out."

Ellis waits until they're in the plane and buckled into their seats.

"Is that such a good idea?" he finally says. "He's going to figure out about the two of us."

"What. He already knows."

"How does he know?"

"I told him," Deacon says. "The second day we were here."

The engines wind up to a loud roar and the plane pulls forward, the snow-covered airfield beginning to glide faster and faster outside the window. And then they are lifting off the ground.

Deacon leans against him to say something, but Ellis can't hear him over the noise of the engines. It sounds something like, "Everything's gonna be OK."

End of chapter 8. More to come. . .

More stories. There's a novel-length story called "Two Men in a Pickup" and other stories posted at nifty.org. You can find links to them all, plus pictures of the characters and some cowboy poetry at the Rock Lane Cooper home page. Click here.

Ellis and Deacon. Another story about Ellis and Deacon appears as chapter 23 of "Two Men in a Pickup." Click here.

If you'd like to be notified when there are new stories, send an email.

© 2005 Rock Lane Cooper