Mike and Danny: Stuff Happens
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.
The drive to Don's ranch in the Sandhills takes Kirk and Virgil north and west of town on highway 2. It's a two-lane road headed into the back of beyond, small farms gradually giving way to rolling, treeless grassland, little country towns, and wide open spaces under a big, windy sky.
For Kirk, it was always like leaving the world behind and disappearing. As the stations on the radio fell silent one by one, and he finally turned it off because there was nothing left to listen tonot even that windbag Paul Harvey it was as if he himself was vanishing from sight. No one, even if they wanted, would know his whereabouts.
He liked being invisible, like a coyote, mostly just himself for company. Lonely at times, but liking that feeling all the same, knowing that toughing it out satisfied him, too. There was strength in needing no one.
So why the hell had he let Virgil, this college kid, come along with him? Leaving Grand Island, he'd stopped for gas and nearly told Virgil to get out of the truck and hitchhike back to Mike's place.
But he didn't.
In a funny way, he kind of liked Virgil, or something about him. Besidesand he smiled to himself when he had this thoughthe wasn't done with him yet.
"So what exactly do you think you're doing?" he'd said to Virgil.
And Virgil said that he wasn't sure himself, but one way or another he figured a good reason would come to him.
Kirk had laughed at this. He could understand doing something just for the hell of it. And for the hell of it, he decided to play along.
"If you stick with me," he said, "you're gonna have to get rid of that thing you got on your head."
Virgil reached up and put one hand on his knit cap. "What's wrong with it?" he wanted to know.
"It looks like shit," Kirk said. "You'll be lucky if some cowboy out here don't pull it off your head and stomp on it."
Virgil rolled down his window, pulled off his cap and threw it out. The wind sucked it away, and Kirk looked up in the rear view mirror, watching it spiral a few times and then sail into the ditch.
"I saw what you just did, and I still don't believe it," Kirk said, shaking his head. "Guess we're gonna have to get you a real cowboy hat now."
Virgil reached over to Kirk's hat. "You buy a new one, and I'll wear the one you got."
Kirk grabbed his arm and pushed it back. "Keep your goddam hands to yourself," he said. "You gotta understand something. You do not touch another man's hat."
Virgil laughed like Kirk was making a joke.
"I'm serious," Kirk said. "And I'll tell you another thing. You stick with me and you gotta learn how to suck cock proper."
Virgil shrugged. "Gimme a lesson. I'm ready when you are."
"I thought you college boys were all cocksuckers anyway."
"Not this one."
"You sure as hell can say that again."
Virgil laughed. "Not this one," he said, putting up his hands when Kirk raised a fist to take a punch at him.
"You are a real pisser, you know that?" Kirk said.
"Just my way of being friendly," Virgil said.
Kirk took his eyes from the road to look over at him.
"Get something straight, kid. We ain't friends. Two guys blow cock, it don't mean nothing. It's just getting some relief. Givin' and gettin'. That's all."
Virgil didn't have a comeback, just sat there, stung.
"You live a little," Kirk said, "you get to understand that."
Virgil put his hand on his head, like he still wished he had his cap. "Boy, you sure can change your tune in a godalmighty hurry."
"Just telling you the way it is," Kirk said. "Don't want no misunderstanding."
"So what are you gonna do now, dump me out and make me walk back?"
"I got half a mind to."
"Well, anywhere along here is fine," Virgil said, pointing ahead.
Kirk didn't make to slow down. "No need for that," he said. He wasn't trying to get rid of Virgil, just adjust his expectations. "If you still want out, I'll stop when we get to the next town."
They drove on for a ways, the day bright under a stark blue sky. There was snow in the washes and on the north slopes of the hills.
"Anyway," Kirk said, "you'll freeze your ass waiting out here for a ride. Your ass and your ears."
Virgil said nothing.
And it came back to Kirk how Rich would sull up like this. It used to annoy the hell out of him.
Like the last time, when they went with Danny's painter friend Ted and stayed a couple days with him and his friend Bobby. Kirk had got to fooling with Bobby, and one thing had led to another.
So Rich had found the two of them horsing around in the bathroom, Bobby still wet and naked from taking a shower, the room all steamy like a fucking steam bath. Kirk had come in to take a piss and popped a woody so fast he couldn't finish. Bobby'd had his hand on it and was jerking him off in the time it took to say "Speedy Gonzalez."
Hell, they'd had an eye on each other from the start. Just having a little fun, for crissake. No need for the soap opera, but Rich had to make a big deal out of it, like it was a hanging offense.
Kirk just had to draw the line there. They'd gone separate ways not long after that.
"Hey, Virgil," he said as they drove into Broken Bow. "You still wanna get out, this'll be as good a place as any." He pulled off the road at a gas station.
He opened the door as the truck rolled to a stop. As he stepped out, Kirk pulled off his hat and held it over to him. "Take this. You'll need it."
Virgil finally looked at him. The smiles and the cocky attitude were gone.
And Kirk felt sorry for him. He had so much to learn. If he didn't, life was just gonna crush him.
"Go on, take it," Kirk said, pushing the hat farther towards him.
"You can keep your goddam hat," Virgil said and ducked out of the door. He reached into the back of the truck and lifted out his duffel bag.
"You want my advice," Kirk said over the idling engine and the rumble of the muffler, "go back to college. That's where you belong."
And it was the truth. He was doing Virgil a favor.
Virgil closed the door, took a last look at Kirk, and then walked away toward the station.
"Shit," Kirk muttered and put the truck in gear. As he pulled back onto the highway, the tires spun in the gravel, and he drove away without looking back.
Just like Rich, he thought, pissed off because he couldn't have something he had no business wanting in the first place. That was the trouble with other people. No matter what you give them, it's never enough. Any fool knows, you let somebody latch onto you, they just slow you down, fence you in.
He picked up speed, shoving his boot down hard on the accelerator. The speedometer busted, there was no telling how fast he was going. What he wanted was that feeling of being gone, getting free of whatever was behind him.
But something kept nagging at him. Stroking his Fu Manchu with one hand, he felt a clot of dried food and, picking at it with a fingernail, realized it wasn't food at all. It was a gummy spot of Virgil's cum.
And what came to him now, with a growing sense of annoyance, was that he'd broken one of his rules. He'd sucked Virgil's cock.
He pressed down harder on the accelerator, but the truck wouldn't go any faster.
How the fuck had he let that happen? He wasn't that kind of queer. He was a taker, not a giver. Givers were like Scooter and the countless other men, all strangers, who'd found him one way or another, who'd wanted him and let him take from them only what he wanted.
Virgil was no different.
He went over it again, remembering exactly how it had happened. How it started, his beckoning Virgil into the horse stall to look at the cats, his closing the barn door before that, and before that standing at the corral fence talking.
Virgil had given nothing away, picked up on nothing, showed no interest, made not a move. Just looked into his eyes once or twice, but each time with a steely glance that revealed nothing more than a piercing sadness.
Kirk reached to his shirt pocket for the tin of Copenhagen, and then it came back to him. Trying to jolt Virgil out of his fog, he'd grabbed him andshitkissed him.
The kiss, for all of Virgil's inexperience and the wads of tobacco colliding in their mouths, had given Kirk a surprise. Like it had jolted him out of a fog of his own.
Another man's lips were for clamping warm and full around his cock. He wouldn't put his mouth to a stranger's lips anymore than he'd put it to his butt hole. It was all the same.
But then it wasn't.
Virgil's mouth had not received or welcomed him at first. And then as it began to yield, lips suddenly alive against his, the sensation began to trigger a flood of other feelingslike memories of the summer on Mike's farm that had kept him hanging around that morning instead of getting his ass back on the roadhell, if he'd left then, he'd be almost to Don's ranch by now.
Like the ground caving out from under him, he'd let the past come rushing inso dead and forgotten he thought it had been. Now past and present blurred into one.
That's how it had happened. What had he been thinking anyway?
Opening Virgil's belt and popping open his levi's, the eighteen-year-old boys they'd once beenhim and Richfilled his awareness. Those crazy first times. Hungry for each other. Hungry for sex. Coming hard and coming fast. And never enough of it.
Cresting a hill, he had to brake now as he came upon three Angus steers along the side of the road, where they didn't belong, squeezed through some pasture fence somewhere. Swerving into the other lane, he passed them and kept on going.
It nagged him now again that he had let it happen. He wasn't a kid anymore, dammit. He'd outgrown all that.
He reached to his crotch to tend to himself and realized that he'd developed the start of a hard-on. Stroking with his thumb, he felt it stretching along his thigh like something waking again from a long, long nap.
Some Creature from the Black Lagoon, he thought. Nessie poking out his nose for a sniff around. And it made him laugh as he stroked himself some more. The rest of him had grown into a man, but his dick would always be a teenager.
He thought again of Virgil, wondering how long he'd have to wait before he got a ride back to the farm. And as he had that thought, something occurred to him that wasn't so funny.
What would Mike and Danny think when Virgil showed up again at their door? So soon after he'd left.
Whatever they thought, they'd blame Kirk for whatever they were sure he'd done. He'd screwed over Virgil in some way. Screwed him for real. Led the boy astray, then chucked him out like trash on the road.
Fuck, it hadn't been like that at all. It hadn't even been his idea. It wasn't his fault Virgil was just a dumb kid. A dumb college kid. He should have known better.
But they were always ready to think the worst of him. With those two, you couldn't win for losing.
He drove on, meeting a pickup coming the other way. The driver lifted one finger from the steering wheel as they passed.
What Kirk saw when he thought about it was the look on Mike's face as Virgil told them whatever cock and bull story he could think of that would end up making Kirk look like an asshole.
It would be something else for Mike to hold against him. And like every time before, there wouldn't be any truth to it.
His cock still firm under his thumb, he slowed as he saw a turn-off up ahead. It was a gate leading into a ranch that lay at the end of a lane in a hollow a quarter mile or more from the highway. He pulled off the road and stopped.
Why was he stopping? He should be to Don's by now. Don was going to have his ass for taking so long to get there. But he kept thinking, there was almost no traffic on the road, and if he went back to Broken Bow there was half a chance Virgil would still be there, waiting for a ride.
He lifted his hand from his leg and punched the steering wheel with his fist. "Dammit," he said between his teeth. Dammit if he'd give Mike the satisfaction. He shoved the truck into gear and started to make a U-turn.
As the front wheel bumped onto the edge of the pavement, a car came from behind, horn blaring, and catapulted by him before he could lift his foot from the accelerator. The driver then hit the brakes, the car fishtailing as the tires skidded, finally coming to a stop almost cross-ways in the road.
Kirk felt a sudden shudder of adrenalin coursing through him, both hands with a death grip on the wheel and his feet jammed down hard on the floor pedals.
The driver of the car now shifted into reverse and came back toward him fast, the door on the passenger side flying open before it came to a stop.
Kirk started breathing again and reached under the seat for a jack handle, bracing himself for a fight and guessing he was outnumbered.
The car, a big old Cadillac, stopped now about fifty feet ahead of him. The figure running toward him at the edge of the road was a young guy in a big coat, and he'd got all the way to the truck before Kirk realized who it wasVirgil.
"What the fuck?" Kirk said as Virgil slid to a stop outside his door.
"Yeah, what the fuck!" Virgil shouted back.
Kirk dropped the jack handle onto the floor and rolled down the window. Virgil was red-faced and excited.
"You followed me?" Kirk said. "What'd you follow me for?"
"I want my billfold," Virgil said, his voice high and still loud. "You got my billfold. I want it back!"
Virgil ran around the truck now and jerked open the other door. He rummaged for a moment in the stuff that had been piled between them on the seatan old shirt, unfolded maps, work gloves, a flash light, Kirk's thermosand in the crack where the back rest met the busted vinyl of the seat, he pulled out a leather wallet, jammed in where it had slipped from his jeans pocket.
"I wasn't going to let you have this," he said and checked inside, flipping through the bills with his thumb.
"Hell, I didn't even know it was there," Kirk said.
"Got it now," Virgil said waving it at Kirk and then shoving it hard into his back pocket. "So long," he said and slammed the door shut so hard the cubbyhole popped open. He started marching back to the car.
"Hey, wait," Kirk said, throwing open his door and putting one leg out onto the pavement. "Wait!" he called again.
Virgil, already standing in the open door of the car, turned to look at him.
"Get back here," Kirk said, trying to make it sound like an order.
Virgil just glared at him. "What do you want?"
"Just come here."
Virgil waited a moment and then took two steps toward him and stopped again. The sunlight fell on his bare head, his eyes blinking in the brightness, ears sticking out from the new haircut. His hands hung at his sides.
In a pasture across the road, two horses had turned to watch them from a distance.
"Get your ruck and get back in the pickup," Kirk said. His voice had now softened.
With that the Cadillac's other door creaked open and the driver slowly stepped out. He was an old guy in a tan Stetson, a cigarette hanging from the corner of his mouth. He eased one elbow up on the roof of the car and squinted through the cigarette smoke at Kirk.
"You trying to take this boy's money?" he said. "What kinda asshole are you?"
"Stay out of this, old man," Kirk said.
"Don't talk like that to him," Virgil said. "He didn't have to help me chase after you, but he did."
Kirk glanced back at the man but said nothing.
There was a long moment when it wasn't clear what Virgil was going to do next. Finally he got his duffel bag out of the backseat of the car and set it on the ground. Then he walked around to shake the old man's hand and send him on his way.
"You sure about this, son?" the man said.
"Yeah, I'm sure."
When the car was gone, disappearing over the next rise in the road, Virgil still stood there, looking back at Kirk.
"Why do you have to be such a sonofabitch?" Virgil said. Then he picked up his duffel bag and walked to the truck.
"Hell, I don't know," Kirk said, half to himself. "Just comes natural, I guess."
Continued . . .