Mike and Danny: Restless Hearts
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 1, Part 2
Marty and Virgil had an apartment across town from campus. It was in the basement of a house with an entrance from the driveway. The landlords were an old couple, both deaf, and besides playing the TV really loud some nights, they were easy to get along with. Both of them, in fact, were sweet as grandparents to the boys.
A coffee cake might show up on their kitchen tablethe door to the apartment was never locked, and there were no keys anyway. Or there would be leftovers from a church supper in the refrigerator. They were growing young men and not supposed to go hungry.
Marty had moved in the weekend before school started. He'd decided not to enroll at the college, but took a job at a lumber yard, where they put him on a forklift and kept him busy all day.
"I'll be the working man," he told Virgil. "You go get your education."
This had disappointed Virgil, who pictured them together each day, taking the same classes, having lunch together in the cafeteria. Going back home together at the end of the day.
"I'm not ready for that yet," Marty had said. "I got too much other stuff going on." By that he meant, Virgil guessed, the fact that he'd left home againand again under a cloud of disagreement with his fatherand was living on his own, in a new job, in a new town.
"And there's you to get used to," he said. They were sitting together at the A&W eating burgers and fries in Virgil's car, which was on permanent loan now from his aunt Doris. Her boyfriend Duane, she explained, was more than willing to take her anywhere she wanted in his pickup.
"Me to get used to?" Virgil said, slurping down a root beer float.
"Yeah, like who drinks those things anymore?" Marty said pointing with a french fry to the mug Virgil was holding. "They're for kids."
"Hey, so I'm still a kid," Virgil laughed. "I'm gettin' used to you, too."
"I dunno," Virgil shrugged. "Nothin', I guess. I just wanna be between your legs right now."
And their conversations always seemed to revolve around to this. There was not enough naked time together as they called it. And about this they were in agreement.
Virgil had helped Marty move in, filling the backseat and the trunk with boxes of his belongings, a stereo, fishing gear, a couple 4-H trophies and some clothes. Marty's mom had given him a sweater she had knitted.
"It was supposed to be for Christmas, but you'll need it before then," she said, putting a smile on her face for them, but not happy at all. You could tell.
She seemed to like Virgil. At least she acted that way. But Marty's dad was nowhere around that day, and no one spoke of him. Because of that, maybe, Marty had been quiet all the way to Kearney. Didn't say more than a half dozen words.
He had not come out of himself until they had carried everything into their apartment, stacking the boxes against a bare wall in the unfurnished living room, where someday they promised themselves, there'd be a couch with a TV and they could sit together with their feet up, drink beer and stay up late watching the late movie.
For sure, Virgil said, they had to have one by the World Series. It looked like it was going to be the Reds and the A's. Virgil didn't want to miss that.
Marty had stood there looking at the boxes, in a kind of daze, and Virgil had finally stepped up behind him to put his arms around him, pressing against his back and stroking his chest and his belly.
"You're here now," he said, sliding his fingers under his tee shirt.
"Yup," Marty said and then laughed. He reached with one hand behind him and felt for Virgil's balls.
"Is it naked time?" Virgil said.
And they had taken each other right there on the bare floor.
Three weeks later, they were already into the routineVirgil every day to classes, Marty to his job at the lumber yard. Evenings they had supper together, Saturday nights were beer and pizza, and Sundays were a day of rest, which meant hanging around the apartment in their underwear or, if it wasn't raining, sunbathing in the backyard.
This Friday night, Virgil waited as usual in his car for Marty to get off work. After he punched a clock somewhere inside, he came ambling through the gate along with the other employees, carrying a hard hat and a lunch box.
As always he looked so handsome walking there in his work clothes, a denim jacket pulled over a plaid flannel shirt, wearing his jeans, and his heavy-soled boots. He looked tired, but glad to be going home, and he smiled as he waved goodbye to the other men and headed for the car, spying Virgil there behind the wheel.
"Hey pardner," he said, getting in.
"Hey." Virgil started up the car and they drove off, the car filling with the smell of wood shavings, fuel exhaust, and sweat from Marty's clothes.
They small talked as they drove across town, the late afternoon sun turning the trees golden in the slanting autumn light, and with Marty there beside him, Virgil felt his cock already stirring in his jeans.
"Got something to show you when we get home," he said.
"Whatcha got I haven't seen already?"
"TV. Guy I know sold me his old portable for twenty bucks."
"Hot tamales," Marty said.
"Thing is, the only place it gets a signal is in the bedroom."
"That's a problem?"
"No we can have naked time while we're watching TV."
"That's what I'm thinking."
Virgil's cock took another lurch against his thigh and started feeling awkward. He had to reach into his pants to work it free again.
"You already gettin' a hard-on?" Marty said and laughed. "Me, too. We're just a couple of horn dogs."
When they got home, they went straight to the TV, which Virgil had put on a chair he'd brought in from the kitchen. And they sat together on the end of the bed, watching the six-o'clock news. The picture was a little snowy and the speaker made Walter Cronkite's voice sound flat and tinny, but having the outside world suddenly there where they'd never done anything but make love and sleep was a great novelty.
During the commercials, Virgil slid his hand between Marty's legs and stroked along the inseam of his jeans, and by the time the news was over, they were stretched out together on the bed.
"You still got that hard-on?" Virgil said between kisses.
"Never went away."
"I can take care of it for you."
Marty opened his jeans and pulled down his underwear, his long erection swinging out in front of him. Then he reached for Virgil's belt buckle.
Virgil was already sucking him by the time he got Virgil's cock into his own mouth, and while the TV droned on, they lay together making muffled noises, their faces buried in each other's warm crotch.
George had to do some talking, but he got Don finally to agree to a weekend off for him and Slim. And not just off work, the two of them sleeping late and loafing all day in the bunkhouse, but leaving the ranch and driving all the way to Scottsbluff.
It was Slim's birthday, George explained. He was getting up there in years, and was overdue for a little celebration.
"How old is he?" Don wanted to know. He was standing in the open door of his truck, where he'd squeezed himself under the dashboard to replace a blown fuse that was keeping the turn signal from working.
"Old as the hills, don't you think?" George had said. Being Indian, he could talk like this to Don who wouldn't expect him to be more than vague and roundabout about such things.
"Fifty? Sixty?" Don said, peeling back the plastic on a packet of little fuses he was holding between his fingers.
George had shrugged. He knew for a fact that Slim was going on fifty-three, but if Don was willing to believe Slim was older, it could do no harm.
"Hell, how many days were you thinkin'?" Don asked.
"Leave Friday noon. Back Monday night."
"What do I do if I need you while you're gone?" Don had bent down to squeeze his big frame under the steering wheel again to peer under the dashboard.
"Chad'll come over," George said. Chad was a young cowboy from a neighbor's ranch who had helped with the spring branding.
"Chad don't know this place like you do," Don said, but George could tell by the sound of his voice that Don was coming around. "Besides, if there's a rodeo anywhere in drivin' distance, you know that's where he'll be."
"I already asked him."
Don pulled himself upright again, the job done. He took his hat from where he'd put it on the seat and set it back on his head.
"A real boss would be a hard-ass and just say flat-out no," he said. "You understand that, don't you?"
"You'd be in your rights."
"Why am I saying yes then?"
George just gave him a little smile and said, "Thanks, boss."
And so it was decided. He and Slim had left the ranch that Friday noon and arrived in Scottsbluff by nightfall. They'd checked into the old railroad hotel in town and after changing into a new pair of levi's and his best boots, Slim had joined him in the bar for beer and whiskeys. Then they'd had a steak dinner in the restaurant with a round of stingers afterwards and big pieces of chocolate cake.
George had pulled a little candle from his vest pocket and lighted it from a pack of matches he'd picked up in the bar. He'd popped the candle into the frosting on Slim's cake before he could reach for his fork, and then he'd grinned and said, "Happy birthday, pardner."
"Gosh," was all Slim could say, marveling at the sight of the burning candle, as if nothing like this had ever happened to him before. Andwho knowsmaybe it hadn't.
"You gotta blow out the goddam thing," George said.
Slim nodded and grinned a while longer, his fork still in his hand, and finally he sucked in a lung full of air and blew.
"I got something for ya," George said as the candle smoldered, and he put a leather string tie down on the table beside Slim's plate. It had a silver medallion the size of a fifty-cent piece, with bits of turquoise.
"This is yours," Slim said, recognizing it.
"Yeah, I want you to have it."
"You can't give me this," Slim said, objecting.
"There something wrong with it?"
"It belongs to you."
"Not any more. It's yours now."
Slim put down his fork and carefully picked up the medallion, studying it.
"Put it on. Let's see how you look," George said.
Slim slipped the narrow leather cord over his head and patted the medallion into place on his chest. Then he looked into George's eyes, speechless, an expression on his face of disbelief and gratitude.
"Now eat your cake," George said, more than a little embarrassed by it all. And they ate without speaking until they had cleaned their plates, pressing their forks into the last crumbs and then into their mouths.
They were in good spirits as they stepped outside into the cool autumn night and took a walk along the deserted streets ambling slowly until they came to a lighted marquee glowing above the entrance to the town's movie theater, the Rialto.
They hadn't planned on seeing a movie, but it turned out to be a western with John Waynenot George's favorite cowboy actor, who'd killed more than any man's share of white Hollywood actors dressed as redskinsbut then they were not real Indians anyway, and John Wayne wasn't a real cowboy either. And more than anything, Slim seemed more than willing to pay a buck at the box office to see it.
It was called "The Cowboys," and they'd missed only the first ten minutes of the second show, sitting there in the dark with a handful of other people scattered around the theater.
"There's the Duke," Slim said as they sat down, and George could tell from the sound of his voice that this was a birthday treat almost as good as a string tie with a silver medallion.
It turned out to be not a bad movie, with a fair body count after a big shoot out, but none of them were Indiansjust white guys trying to kill each other.
Long before John Wayne got out the guns, though, Slim had reached over to George in the darkness and taken his hand, holding it warmly there between George's legs, squeezing it now and then at the good parts.
The tenderness of that rough hand in his took George more than a little by surprise. But somehow it seemed all right. And he knew there was a good chance before the night was done that when the two of them got back to the hotel room and crawled into the big bed, they'd probably do more than hold hands. And that was OK, too.
Ellis watched the sun sinking behind the Rockies as his plane lifted from the runway at Denver Airport and rose slowly into the sky, headed for Billings. He'd been back to Nebraska for his father's funeral, and his thoughts were heavy with the whole week of viewings and services and people coming to pay their respects. And, of course, there had been all the emotions to deal with, his mother's and his sister's.
His mother had wailed as he held her at the graveside, the minister having said his last words, trying to console her. "What am I going to do without him?" she had sobbed to Ellis as he held her frail body to his chest.
His sister Kathy's feelings had been more mixedrelief on the one hand that the old man had finally given up the ghost after years of being a constant burden with his failing health. And on the other hand? Her usual resentment that Ellis had abandoned them allthough it had happened years ago nowdivorcing his young wife and making a new life for himself far away in Montana.
She also knew the reason he'd done it. Never marrying again and showing up like he did the last time, with a friend little more than half his ageDeaconhe'd made pretty clear that he'd never developed the interest in women he'd surely been born with.
Which was a shame, so she said. He was a handsome man, and with his calm, patient manner he would have made such a good father. And so on.
They'd had one last go-round, sitting at the table in her kitchen, the morning after the funeral. She was angry again as she reminded him how unfair it all was, his leaving her to look after her ageing parents all by herself.
"Look at it this way," he'd told her. "You don't have a queer brother in town embarrassing you in front of everybody who knows you."
"Don't talk about yourself that way," she said, never more than half able to accept the truth about him.
He'd shrugged, poured himself another cup of coffee, and looked out the kitchen window at the maple tree in his sister's back yard, its leaves turning autumn gold. The two of them would never get beyond this, and he yearned to be gone again, away from his family's expectations and this endless flat land, which now held the remains of his father.
With the long lay-over in Denver, he'd had a chance to feel the beginnings of being back where he belonged. Outside the windows you could see the mountainsthe surest sign you were not in Nebraska anymore. And walking around the airport there were men in cowboy hats and boots.
Tomorrow he would be himself again, slipping into the life he'd left behind, as easy as pulling on his old Luchese boots, working as a veterinarian and driving his truck out to ranches to look after people's sick cattle and horses.
He'd even forget the one clear realization that struck him as he watched the coffin being closed for the last timewith his father now gone, he was next in line to deal with the Grim Reaper. Watching the ebb and flow of other peopleall strangersas he waited at the gate for his plane, he'd felt the chill of that thought again.
He was alone in the world in a way he hadn't been before. The thought of his father didn't trigger inside him the old feeling of somethingsomeonepushing back at him. Instead, there was a vacancy there, like a cold draft in an empty room.
Still, a solitary life was better than no life at all. And he vowed to live the rest of his years to the fullest, whatever they might bring. What that meant for him right now was the warm, rough touch of another manand the yearning for it swept over him as he sat looking out the porthole beside him at the setting sun.
He'd called his home phone from Grand Island and again from Denver and there had been no answer. Deacon had sent him a postcard weeks ago from Edmontonwithout saying what he was doing in Canadaand there'd been his closing words, "See you soon."
Which could have meant days, or weeks, or months. Ellis had learned not to count on him. About the time he'd decide Deacon was gone for good, he'd show up again and move in like he was there to stay.
The nights would then be full of lovemaking. And it was love. There was no other man Ellis felt so much tenderness forand missing him with such fierceness when he was gone surely meant something. It wasn't just because Ellis spent nearly every night alone. When was the last time he'd had sex anyway? The Fourth of July, at the rodeo in Bozeman?
He'd met a stock dealer from Miles City at one of the bars and gone with him back to his motel, where the guy had finished off a bottle of tequila, and as he'd taken off his shirt, a wedding ring had fallen out of his pocket onto the floor.
He'd wanted to be fucked, and Ellis had obliged him, but his heart had not been in it. To keep hard, he'd done what he did on the nights when masturbation was the only thing that would help him get to sleephe closed his eyes and imagined himself with Deacon.
A surge of warm affection then rose in him, and he felt his naked skin flush with aching desire. The man from Miles City lay on his back, sighing, "Yes, yes, oh yes," almost doubled over under Ellis as he thrust deeper into him. And in the last moments before he came, the man bucking against him and the bed rocking against the wall, it was almost as if he'd made Deacon materialize there out of thin air.
But there was nothing to seal the illusion. With Deacon, his legs wrapped around Ellis, the two of them would have embraced and rolled up tightly together, wet with spent cum, and the kissing once it started would not stop.
Looking down now at the man under him, still lost in an ecstasy and reaching to pull on his full cock, Ellis simply froze where he was, braced upright on his knees and his fists, which were buried in the bed sheets. The man's face and chest were damp with sweat, his hand in a kind of death grip as he jerked off, bobbing faster and faster.
Eyes tight shut, he moaned, his head lifting from the pillow, finally crying out as he came in sudden spurts that shot onto his hairy belly. Then he fell back, his legs dropping to the bed, like he had passed out cold.
Ellis had pulled out of him after a moment, and he'd gone to the bathroom to take a shower. When he came out later and reached for his clothes to get dressed, the guy was still lying there, asleep. He would wake up tomorrow, naked, hung over, and butt sore. He might remember Ellis; he might not.
This was not living life to the fullest, he knew, but damned if he knew what the hell to do about it. Just keep putting one foot in front of the other and do the job he'd been given to do. It was something he did well, and he could take pride in that.
He had phoned his answering service in the morning to say he'd be back for work the next day and to pass the word on to anyone who called. He'd phone again tomorrow morning before dawn and pick up any messages. By sunrise, he'd be on his way to some rancher who needed him, and life would be back to normal.
It was dark in Billings when he landed. Stepping from the plane he could feel that a weather front had passed through and the temperature was falling. As he walked across the tarmac to the terminal, a sharp, cold wind swept around him and quickly penetrated his jacket.
Slipping through a glass door into the building, he saw people waiting at the gate for passengers, some calling out when they saw someone they knew, others already hugging or laughing and slapping each other on the back.
Pushing through the crowd with his carry-bag in one hand, he felt in his pocket for his truck keys and started trying to remember where he had parked in the long-term lot.
"Hey!" a voice came from beside him and he glanced over for a moment without stopping. He saw only a young man standing there, hands in his pockets, watching Ellis walk by.
Then he stopped and looked again. The guy was smiling at him now and coming toward him. "You gonna say hello or not?" he was saying.
It was Deacon.
"What are you doing here?" Ellis said, setting down his bag.
"What's it look like?" Deacon said, glancing around at the other people and then back at Ellis. "I'm here to welcome you back." He just stood there when he got to Ellis, his hands still in his pockets.
"How'd you know I was here?"
"You weren't home when I got there, so I called your answering service. They said you were flying in tonight."
"How'd you get here?"
He stuck out his thumb. "Hitched."
Ellis shook his head and couldn't help grinning back at Deacon's smiling face. "Well, you're a sight for sore eyes, that's for damn sure," he said. He wanted to put his arms around Deacon and hug him hard, but he thought better of it. Hugs could wait.
They walked together out the entrance and headed for the parking lots, where they found Ellis' truck under a lamp post glowing in the night. He tossed his bag into the back and they got into the cab.
The doors slammed shut, Ellis just sat for a moment, letting his feelings well up in him as he looked over at Deacon.
"We're gonna fuck each other silly tonight, you know that, don't you?" Deacon said and laughed.
"You bet your life." Ellis thought of his dead father in the cold prairie ground.
"I can't wait," Deacon said. "Let's go."
"Can't you sleep?" Rich said in the darkness, turning to Ty who'd been lying there restless beside him ever since they'd switched off the light more than an hour ago.
Ty sighed. "No."
"You thinking about tomorrow?"
Everything was packed and ready to go. They'd be climbing on the Harley when the sun came up and heading west. How far west was hard to say. Rich knew a guy in Phoenix who'd put them up till he got a job, and there was just enough time before winter to get there. They'd go south from Colorado Springs and across New Mexico into Arizona. If the weather held, they'd take a side trip to the Grand Canyon.
It was not a long distance for someone like Rich, who'd been all the way around the world, humping the back country of Vietnam. But for Ty, who didn't know much but growing up in a small town in Iowa, it had to be something a whole lot bigger than he'd ever done before.
He knew Ty would be OK riding behind him on the bike. They'd gone on several day-long rides together and Ty had taken to it easy as anything. He'd even bought himself a helmet with stars and stripes on it like the guy in Easy Rider.
He had a trust in Rich that made him seem fearless, and though Rich had never really liked taking on another rider, Ty's presence behind him was a kind of comfort.
"You havin' second thoughts?" Rich asked him and reached under the sheet to put his hand on Ty's shoulder.
But Rich wasn't convinced. "Sounds like you might be."
"I was thinking about my family."
Rich slipped his hand now to the back of Ty's neck and stroked his hair with his fingers. Ty had let it grow in the five or six weeks since they'd known each other.
"Your folks are still home to you," Rich said.
Ty stirred, his head turning under Rich's hand, and he reached over to touch Rich on the chest.
"I dunno. Home is here with you in Mike's house. And now Danny, too."
Rich thought about this. "It's been home to me, too, but I can't stay here. I need to have a place of my own somewhere."
"I never thought about it. It's just what a man does." He pulled the two of them closer together under the sheet. "And I want you to do it with me."
Ty was quiet for a while.
"But if that's not what you want," Rich said and didn't say the rest. He had already decided to go without Ty if he wanted to stay behind.
And he didn't like to think what that would be like. There would be a lonesome emptiness for a while, and there was no predicting how heavy that would weigh on him or how long it would last, but he knew he was strong enough now to go on. In the time he'd been here, he'd recovered some of the faith he once had in himself.
"When I said I was thinking about my family," Ty said, "I meant I was wondering whether they'd take me back if you went without me."
"I don't want to go without you."
"But you do want to leave."
"If I don't leave now, it'll mean staying here all winter. I can't ask Mike to let me do that."
"Couldn't we find our own place around here?"
Rich hugged Ty now, holding him close. "It's Mike you can't do without, isn't it?" he said.
It came to Rich now that this might be their last night together. And he knew that he couldn't leave Ty without making love to him one more time.
There might be sex enough on the road and in the nights to come, but when would it ever be like this again? This warm tenderness that he felt. This deep desire to hold on and not let go.
"If I have to choose between you and Mike, I choose you," Ty said.
"But you'd rather not have to choose at all. I know." He took Ty's face in his hands and kissed him. "Ah, my Tyrone," he sighed and kissed him again.
Continued . . .
© 2007 Rock Lane Cooper