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.
That first week on the ranch, the weather warmed and a spring thaw set in that turned the corrals to mud and winds kicked up from the south with the smell of raw earth on them. Outside the side porch, the men used the scraper for their boots before they entered the ranch house kitchen for meals. And though they washed up at a sink with Lava soap and water from a hand pump, there'd be splatters of mud on their jeans and sometimes on their hats, and the smell of the outdoors came inside with them.
Learning about calving as he worked with Don, helping him once with a cow that had prolapsed and another time with a calf getting born backward, Virgil often felt next to useless, but the mud on his clothes made him look at least like the rest of the men.
Then came the day Don had him help with tagging and weighing the newborns, and wrestling one of them to the chute, he slipped and fell, the calf landing on top of him.
Don had only laughed and grabbed for the calf before it got away. Virgil scrambled to his feet and in a minute they'd got the calf where it belonged, but Virgil was covered with mud from head to toe. He worked the rest of the morninghis levi's, the front of his shirt, and the denim jacket Kirk had loaned him all cold, stiff, and wet.
At noon, before dinner, he'd gone to the bunkhouse and got a change of clean clothes, folded and stacked neatly together in his duffel bag, as Danny had showed him. And he remembered how Danny was going to teach him how to mend his jeans. The tear was still there in the crotch, the white of his underwear now showing through. His only other pair was nearly new, and he was saving them for the weekend, when he and Kirk had plans to go to town.
"What happened to you?" Kirk said when he saw him.
"Calf knocked me over."
They walked to the house together, Kirk one step behind and brushing the dirt from the back of Virgil's jacket with swipes of his hand.
"Give that sucker a good shake and it'll come clean," he said.
"I did already."
"Well, do it again," Kirk said and left his hand now on Virgil's shoulder as they walked along.
He liked the feel of Kirk there with him, a little more each day. The two of them had got in the truck before the weather turned warm and went to a pasture where the fence across a draw had started sagging from cattle pushing on it or just old age and the wear and tear of Nebraska seasons.
Fixing fence was Slim's job, but he wouldn't be fit for that for a while yet, so when Don saw the shape this section of it was in, he'd told Kirk to go back with Slim's toolswire cutters, come-along, post pounder, crimperand fix it right again.
"And make god-almighty sure you don't leave any of them out there when you come back," he said. Ranch tools had a way of walking off, he would say, like they had legs.
Slim had made the two of them thick ham sandwiches and wrapped them up with oranges and oatmeal cookies he'd got from the store in Hyannis. He'd wanted a pineapple that day, but the store manager had just stared at him like he'd asked for rocks from the moon.
As they rode along, Kirk behind the wheel and Virgil getting out to open and close gates, Kirk had started talking about an old line camp somewhere beyond the wash and across the fence they'd be working on.
"In the old days, couple of cowboys'd winter there, keep track of cattle if they wandered off," he explained. Later when barbwire fences came in, it was a regular cow camp for spring and fall roundups. Now it hadn't been used for a long time.
"Don says it's still standing," he said. "I figure it's a good day to go have a look."
Virgil could tell Kirk had already made up his mind. Like they owed themselves a history lesson. So he shrugged and said, "Sure."
They hadn't seen much of each other since the night in the hay barn. They'd sat side by side at the table in the ranch house kitchen, but Don had mostly kept them working on different jobs, and they'd slept at night in the bunkhouse, each in his own bed.
So tired he'd be falling asleep already, Virgil's last thoughts were of Kirk lying there naked under his own covers, while Slim, if he was still up, stripped down to his long johns, turned down the heat, and switched off the light, smoking a last cigarette in the dark.
"Night, boys," he'd say finally.
And if Virgil was still awake, he'd say, "Night, Slim."
Riding out to fix fence, Kirk realized they'd be working together, far from the ranch with only each other for company, and he felt his dick take notice.
But while Kirk acted friendly, he was all business that day as they started out. When he offered some of his Copenhagen, Virgil shook his head. If he had to take up that habit to be a real cowboy, he'd settle for being whatever he was, though even that wasn't too clear yet. He'd been a ball-playing college student until a week ago. And that was still waiting for him, if he wanted, as soon as spring break was over.
As he was having these thoughts, Kirk drove into a boggy spot in the pasture they were crossing, and when one of the wheels sank in to the hubcapthe one wheel that actually still had a hubcapVirgil had to get out and push.
By the time he'd run after the truck and jumped back in, he'd forgotten about collegewell, put it out of his mind anyway. For now, there was fence to fix.
Kirk had left the truck above the wash, along the fence line, and they'd carried Slim's canvas bag of tools, a reel of shiny new barb wire, and some metal fence posts over to where the job was, slipping and sliding down the steep bank to the sandy bottom.
The fence had been pulled loose by brush roots and branches that had washed along in spring floods and got tangled in the wires. They pulled these out first, using a rip saw to break apart the toughest ones.
As they worked, the morning sun rose higher in the sky. Out of the wind, the sunshine felt warm and they took off their coats.
Kirk was no expert, and he cussed the tools, sending Virgil back to the pickup to look for a claw hammer, since he didn't seem to like the one they had. They worked together, sometimes shoulder to shoulder, and Virgil watched Kirk's arms and his hands in his leather gloves, cutting, stretching, braiding together the strands of barb wire, then pounding in new fence posts. Time passed, Kirk talking more to the fence than to Virgil, who realized that as he listened, Kirk was teaching him how to do this himself.
When they were done, Kirk took a step back and declared, "She ain't perfect, but by god she'll hold for another year." Then he clapped Virgil on the back, congratulating them both. It was the first time they had touched all morning.
They packed Slim's tools back in the bag.
"Check around," Kirk said. "Don'll shit a brick if we leave anything out here."
"You ever lose any of his tools?" Virgil said, picking up a pair of pliers that had been stepped into the sandy bottom of the draw.
"No, but I accidentally burned down the outhouse once," Kirk said, laughing as they started climbing up the bank. "I's burning trash and it kinda got away from me."
When he got to the top, he reached back to take the tool bag from Virgil.
"Course, Slim took it hard. He's an old-timer, never really got used to indoor plumbing. Kept it neat as a pin in there. Regular throne room." Kirk laughed again and shook his head. "Never forgave me for that one."
They put the tools in the back of the truck and got their lunches and a Coleman jug of water from inside the cab. Kirk took a long drink from the spout of the jug, water dripping from his chin and down his shirtfront. Then he handed the jug to Virgil. The water when Virgil tasted it was warm from sitting in the sun.
Kirk looked now across the fence and into the distance. "I figure it's over that way," he said pointing. "Other side of the rise there, maybe a mile." And Virgil remembered the cow camp Kirk had been talking about. "Too bad we don't have horses," Kirk said. "Make a nice ride."
He stepped to a fence post, set his foot on a wire and then swung himself over, landing feet first on the other side. The wires sang up and down the fenceline. Virgil looked at the barbs, thought for a moment of bending down and climbing through instead, but decided against it. He stepped up, closed his eyes, and jumped.
They had to cross the wash once more, and then together they set off across the pasture, the big sky overhead and the wind pressing behind them. They said nothing as they walked, the dry, winter-frozen prairie grass brittle and crunching under their boots.
The cow camp was farther than Kirk thought, and they almost missed it, nestled in the lee of a hill with thick brush grown up along one side of it.
It was a wood plank cabin with a door and one window in the front. On one side, a low field stone chimney rose above the roofline. Under the eave, someone had mounted the sun-bleached skull of what looked like an antelope, and the walls were rough and weathered from countless years of sun, wind, and frost.
"Built this sucker to last," Kirk said, and tried the door which, after a sharp push, creaked open on rusty hinges.
Inside was a single bare room, with an empty stone fireplace, the hearth littered with hay and feathers. On the wall were tacked some newspaper clippings, yellow with age, and a photograph of two men on horses. A handwritten name with an arrow pointing to one of them said "Smiley" and the other said "Me." Next to them was a calendar from a bank in Hyannis.
"September 1939," Virgil said, reading aloud.
They stood together in the silence of the little room, their boots leaving scuffmarks in the thick layer of dust on the floor. It felt like the place was filled with the ghosts of dead memories, the memories of men long gone and forgotten. Virgil found himself wondering about the two men in the picture, what had become of them, and whether both of them had been here togetheror just the one.
There was a sudden, alarmed cry of a bird, and a flutter of wings in the chimney. They both turned, startled.
"Fuck," Virgil said, his heart leaping in his chest.
Kirk's face broke into a grin. His thumbs were tucked in his front pockets, as he looked now at Virgil. "Probably just an owl," he said.
And they walked back outside, Kirk closing the door tight behind them, as if to keep inside whatever they may have disturbed.
A low bench extended part way across the front of the cabin, and they sat there in the warmth of the late winter sun, not talking, eating the sandwiches Slim had made for them and passing the water jug back and forth.
The bench faced west. It would have been a good place to sit at the end of a long summer day, watching the twilight turn to dusk.
"You see that?" Kirk said, looking up.
The sky had become a milky blue. There, around the sun, was a wide, bright ring.
"Sun dog," Kirk said. "Weather's gonna change."
Virgil leaned his head back against the wall, his hat in one hand and his legs stretched out in front of him, letting the sun warm his face.
He was resting one elbow on the water jug between them, eyes closed, and he felt Kirk's hand come down on top of his, grasping it in his strong grip. Not opening his eyes, they sat like this for a while.
Then Kirk had moved over and put his other hand between Virgil's legs, searching for Virgil's cock and then finding it, already getting hard in his shorts.
In a moment, their hands went to their belt buckles and they were opening each other's jeans, their breaths quickening. Kirk set the water jug on the ground and put Virgil down on his back along the bench. Kneeling on the ground, he took off his hat and tossed it behind him, pulling out Virgil's cock and taking all of it into his mouth.
And it all happened without a word spoken between them, the prairie wind sighing in the brush that hugged one side of the cabin, the sound of crows scolding in the distance.
Opening his eyes, he saw that Kirk was shifting himself onto the bench to lie over him, his long dick hard and slipping from his open fly. Virgil moved to make room for him and reached up to guide the end of Kirk's cock to his open mouth, touching it first, salty and wet already, with his tongue.
It was the one thing Danny had told him about, nights ago back on the farm, that he hadn't yet done. Sucking and getting sucked at the same time. He forgot what it was called. But it was good as he'd imagined, his nose buried in the rough denim of Kirk's fly, still damp with his sweat.
In fact, it had been too much all going on at the same time. Like Kirk's dick pressing with each downward stroke against the back of his throat, he couldn't quite take it all in. Almost, but not quite.
He'd been the one to come first, all of his attention rushing to gather there in the warmth wrapped around his hard-on, and the strength of Kirk's hands rubbing and hugging his thighs, both his boots lifting from the bench, and then the bursting of something from deep between his legs, flooding up and out of him. A yearning ache had been swept away, leaving him floating, floating, Kirk's cock gone still in his mouth like they were both drifting in the same warm sea.
Then slowly Kirk started up again, pumping and rigid with desire, driving down on him hard, the sour-sweet smell of him now powerful, and Virgil's tongue slick with Kirk's precum. Then his mouth filling as Kirk emptied into him, moaning and sighing, his breaths coming in quick gasps, and the cum brimming from the corner of Virgil's lips and running warm down his cheek.
After a moment, Kirk got up from him and stood beside the bench with his back turned, pulling up his jeans. Virgil watched him and then sat up, wiping his face with the palms of his hands and rubbing his eyes. Then he lifted his jockey shorts over his dick, buttoned his fly and buckled his belt.
Kirk said nothing, seeming thoughtful, and bent down to pick up his hat from the grass. Without looking at Virgil, he walked to the edge of the brush at the corner of the cabin and stood, legs apart, taking a long piss.
Virgil leaned back again, waves of soft intensity radiating from where his dick lay in his shorts, still warm and full. And as Kirk came back to sit at the other end of the bench, Virgil felt the urge to doze off for a while in the sun.
The sound when he first heard it was coming from far away, a kind of nonstop warbling, faint and then stronger again, insistent. And then he recognized it.
Geese, he thought. Canada geese. And he walked away from the cabin out to where he could see more of the sky. He stood there searching for a long while until he found them, a ragged V, high up, headed toward himheaded north. The sound of their honking grew louder, and now he could see each of them, in a flock of a dozen or more, maybe twenty.
There was a movement behind him, a footstep in the grass, and he felt Kirk putting his arms around him and pressing against his backside, his hands slipping into Virgil's front pockets. And they stood together, watching as the birds grew closer and finally flew directly over them against the sun's glare.
Virgil kept watching, amazed, as Kirk's hands slipped deeper into his pockets, stroking the tops of his thighs and finding the tip of his dick, which had come to life again with Kirk's touch.
He felt Kirk's face now pressed against the side of his neck, the whiskery, long mustache tickling his ear, held there for along time as the sound of the honking geese faded in the northern sky.
"I swear," Kirk said. "Ain't hardly an hour's gone by I didn't think about fucking you again."
Come Saturday night, they took turns in the bunkhouse washroom and got dressed for town before sitting down to Slim's supper. He'd made Texas chili and cornbread, and Kirk had even said something about liking it.
"Tickles the taste buds," he said.
There'd been a pause while Slim seemed to wait for a wisecrack that would turn it into the opposite of a compliment.
"No, I mean it," Kirk said, his mouth full. "It's goddam good."
Virgil noticed a look pass between the other two men at the table and then over to Slim, who missed it, because his back was turned.
It was nearly dark when Kirk and Virgil got in Kirk's mud-spattered pickup and drove to town. Kirk was in high spirits, singing "Dixie"like Elvis, but off-keyand swerving from one side of the road to the other, kicking up gravel stones in the wheel wells. Virgil tried to sing along and laughed when they missed the high notes.
When they got to town Kirk went straight to the tavern and had to leave the truck in the weeds along the road because the few spaces in front of the place and down one side were parked full already.
As they got out and walked, they followed a couple leaning real hard into each other, and a pair of cowboys coming the other way, more than a little unsteady on their feet, parted company as they all passed. From the tavern came the noise of people talking loud and shouting over the sound of Buck Owens at full volume on the jukebox.
I've got a tiger by the tail its
plain to see
I won't be much when you've got through with me.
It was Saturday night in cowboy country.
Inside, they worked their way to the bar, and Kirk, who seemed to know the bartender, called out for two beers.
The bartender, a big man in a black tee shirt, took a look at Virgil and said, "Got some ID?"
"He's OK, he's a friend of mine," Kirk said, turning to Virgil. "You're twenty-one, ain't ya?"
Virgil nodded, looking straight at the man and trying to smile.
The bartender shook his head, holding out his hand. "Let's see the ID," he said.
"C'mon, you can see he's no kid," Kirk said. "He's out there all day on the ranch doin' a man's work."
The bartender just glared at them, his hands now doubled into fists in front of him on the top of the bar. "No ID, he got no business in here," he said and turned away.
Kirk looked at Virgil now. "You not old enough to get a drink?"
Virgil shook his head. "You knew that. You must have."
Kirk quickly shouldered him through the crowd and to the door, and they stepped back into the night.
"How old are you?" Kirk said, looking around and keeping his voice down.
"Nineteen," Virgil said. "Next month."
"Aw, Jesus," Kirk said, like he couldn't believe it. He looked around again and then leaned close to Virgil's ear. "You mean to tell me I been fuckin' an eighteen-year-old?"
"How old are you?" Virgil said, feeling himself getting angry.
"Old enough to fucking know better," Kirk said. "That's for damn sure."
By now they'd got back to the truck. Kirk came to a stop at the tailgate and just stood there, looking off down the street, his hands shoved down hard in his front pockets.
"Why does it matter?" Virgil said.
"It just does. Shit." Kirk punched the tailgate and the chain latch rattled. "You coulda told me you was just a kid."
"Aw, hell" was all Virgil could say.
"Get in," Kirk said, walking around the truck to the cab.
When Virgil climbed in beside him, Kirk was already starting the engine, and slamming his foot on the clutch, he shoved the gearshift into first, the tires spinning as he pulled out and then made a U-turn.
At first, Virgil thought Kirk was taking him back to the ranch, but after going a block he pulled to a stop in front of a little market and went inside, coming out minutes later with two six-packs and a bottle wrapped in brown paper. He'd popped open one can before he got back behind the wheel.
"OK," he said, his voice low and calm. "We're gonna do this anyway."
"Do what?" Virgil said, taking another beer that Virgil was handing to him.
Kirk lifted his butt off the seat and put his hand in his back pocket, pulling out his wallet. He opened it to the bills and counted them in the red and blue neon light that filtered in from the store window.
"Seeing if I got enough for gas and a motel," he said. "You got any?"
Virgil felt his stomach take a quick turn. "Not much after I paid Don back what I owed him."
"I ain't spending a night in no goddam hay barn," Kirk said.
"Where we goin'?"
"Sure as hell ain't gonna be the Hyannis Hotel," Kirk said. And Virgil saw his point. People knew him here.
"I know a place we can go," Virgil said. "Won't cost us nothing."
Kirk just looked at him.
"Depends on how far you're willing to drive," Virgil said.
"Where is it?"
"My dorm room back at Kearney. How far's that?"
"Probably more'n 200 miles," Kirk said.
There was a pause while they both considered this.
"Well?" Virgil finally said.
"Let's do 'er," Kirk said and started the truck, revving the engine until it backfired.
Continued . . .