"On three – ready? One... two... three!"
We'd spent Saturday morning working in the barn tidying up odd corners and sorting through all the stuff Ed and Becky had collected in the fifty-plus years they'd lived here. I'd done some work in Ed's carpentry room, but the rest of the barn was still unexplored. Under ten year's accumulation of dirt and clutter we found three huge beams – twenty feet long and a foot and a half square – and were foolishly trying to pick up one end to see if we could possibly move them out along the fence. They'd create a nice edge to mow along and make a great place to prop our feet when we sat out there, but the things weighed a ton cause Evan and I couldn't even shift one together.
"Hellooo..." Bill stuck his head in the door and then walked in when he saw us. "Huh,I `member those beams. Ed bought `em from a guy in the next county. They was heavy, as I recall."
"They're still heavy," Evan grumbled as he rubbed his lower back.
"You wantin' to move `em?" Bill asked.
"Well, we thought to put them out along the fence, on the yard side, but we'd have to hook them up to the truck somehow. I don't have any chain heavy enough to..."
I let my words die because Bill was grinning at me and pointing out the door. "Horses brought those logs outta the woods in the first place, and they can haul `em anywhere you want. Let me go get a horse and some harness."
We followed him out to the fence where he buckled a halter on Brownie and climbed onto his broad back. After he trotted off toward his place, we went inside for a cookie break.
By the time we were thinking about going back to work, Bill came into the yard on the oddest contraption I'd ever seen. Brownie was all decked out in miles of leather straps and buckles (inadvertently reminding me of Conrad decked out in all his gear), pulling a large metal sled on which stood Bill, feet spread to keep his balance. The sled looked like a 4x6 sheet of steel, curving upward at the front end. He whoa'd Brownie and tipped an imaginary hat at us.
"Bill's Hauling at your service."
"What the hell is that?" Evan asked.
"Old timers call it a stone boat, others call it a sled. Used for collectin' rocks when you're clearin' a field. Where you want that first beam?"
"Along the fence, starting just to the right of the gate." Evan pointed.
Bill led Brownie into the barn, circling him around until the end of the sled was near the stack of three beams. Grabbing a big-ass sledge hammer and a nasty-looking spike, he drove it into the upper surface of the top beam, then looped a heavy chain around it.
"This thing's gonna make a hell of a mess when it comes off, so make sure ain't nothing in the way."
We moved a few piles of stuff and then told Bill to have at it. He clucked softly to Brownie, talking to him as he watched from the far side of the beam. He wasn't holding the reins, so his only control was his voice, and Brownie had one ear cocked back to listen.
"Walk up, Brownie, walk up..." Brownie began to lean into the harness and there was a long moment when I thought Bill would need at least three more horses, but then Brownie gave a grunt, lowered his head and put his considerable weight into it. The muscles in his huge hindquarters bunched and strained under his glossy brown hide, his hooves dug into the dirt floor, and you could practically feel the power coming off him. "Walk up, easy... easy..."
The beam creaked before starting to move very slowly, sliding forward and sideways off the stack. Bill kept Brownie moving until the beam was just about to tip to the ground, then stopped him, removed the spike and hogged the chain around the beam itself. Then he brought the horse around in another circle to get the sled under the end of the beam, backed Brownie up and hooked the chain to the harness. This time when Bill spoke, Brownie knew what to expect and dropped into the pull right away. The end of the beam slid forward a few more inches and then tipped down to rest on the sled. As Brownie kept moving forward, the sled came with him, keeping the end of the beam from gouging into the dirt floor of the barn.
"Whoa!" Bill stopped Brownie again right before the back end of the beam was ready to drop off the stack. "That's gonna make an almighty crash when it comes off, and it might roll, so get your asses outta the way."
Evan and I moved to just outside the barn door, shading our eyes to look back in as Bill hupped to Brownie. The beam crashed to the floor with an impact that we felt thirty feet away, sending up clouds of dirt and scaring a flock of pigeons off the roof. With Bill leading him, Brownie kept coming, dragging the beam out across the drive and over along the fence line, stopping right where we wanted it.
Tess, Thelma and the two kids lined up along the fence, watching the proceedings with interest. I guess it gets kind of boring eating grass all day because whenever something was going on in the yard, they were right there. Max snapped at Bill as he went by, but Bill fended him off with a fist in the end of his nose. After Bill unhooked the chain from the beam, Brownie pulled the sled out from under it and they went back to the barn for the next one.
By the time the third beam was in place along the fence, Evan and I were thoroughly impressed with the efficient way Bill and Brownie worked together. I fed Brownie a few carrots while Evan asked Bill about the beams.
"How much you think those things weigh?"
"Hard to say, but I'd guess a thousand pounds apiece, maybe."
Evan looked admiringly at Brownie. "Pretty heavy load, huh, bud?"
Bill laughed. "Hell, he barely broke a sweat. He could damn near pull two of `em."
"No fuckin' way," I said, as the horse in question butted his head into my chest in search of more carrots.
"Yes, sir," Bill countered with a nod. "The pulling record for a two-horse hitch is over 4500 pounds. Brownie and Tess yonder came second in the heavy weight pullin' at the county fair couple years ago. Pulled 3892. Two can pull more than twice one, but the beams were no problem for old Brownie."
Old Brownie had given up on the carrots and was taking a nap with his chin resting in my hand, one ear drooping forward, the other back, but he perked up when Bill gathered the reins and climbed onto the sled.
"Come on. I'll give you a ride back to the barn."
`Back to the barn' was maybe 100 feet, but I picked up Chew and stepped onto the sled next to Evan. We each put a hand on Bill's shoulders since there wasn't anything else to hang onto, and good thing because when he clucked to Brownie, we took off with a jolt. Chewy didn't want any part of it and wiggled so hard I finally had to drop him to the grass as we bumped across the yard at a brisk trot, Brownie's big haunches moving rhythmically in front of us. Chew ran along next to us, barking his fool head off and sending the other horses bucking across the field.
We thanked Bill as we hopped off, watched as they drove off around the barn, and went back to our cleaning. By 5pm we were tired and filthy, but the barn was neat and we'd spent the day doing something together, which was mostly the point, anyway. As we were walking to the house, Evan's cell rang.
"Raf," he said to me as he flipped it open. "Hey... Yeah, prolly - let me check." He covered the phone. "Wanna go for burgers and pool?"
"Sounds good," he told Raf. "We need to get cleaned up, so we'll be there around six." He listened for a moment, then snapped the phone shut and stuck it back in its holster. "They spent all day cleaning the pool and fixing up the back yard, so they're grubby, too."
"Mmm, the pool," I said. Jumping into a pool had a lot of appeal right about now. I eyed the back yard – plenty of room for a pool...
We showered together like we usually did, spending a little more time than necessary washing each other, partly because we enjoyed it, but also because we had dirt absolutely everywhere. Evan grinned at me as he squinched one eye shut and dug around in his ear with the wash cloth.
"I like the beams there."
"Yeah, they look good. Too bad we don't have a few more, we could do around the garden or something."
"We could get railroad ties."
"Or not." The thought of wrestling oily railroad ties around didn't do much for me just then. I was more interested in making sure Evan's butt was spotless, and did a thorough enough job of it that he was soon moaning into the crook of his arm as he leaned against the wall of the shower.
"We're gonna be late," he mumbled.
"Do you really care?" I asked as I slid a fingertip into him and reached around to grasp his stiff dick in my soapy hand.
"Nnnhh," Evan replied as I began to stroke him.
We got to the bar just as Raf and Kenny were pulling in and walked over to their car.
"Figured you'd beat us here," I commented to Raf as we did the handshake/hug thing.
"Yeah, well... we, uh, got sidetracked in the shower."
"Lotta that goin' around," I said with a laugh. "Gettin' the pool ready, huh?"
"Supposed to be hot next weekend. Nothing better than floating around the pool with a cold one, listening to the ball game, ribs on the grill."
Kenny's hair was still damp from his shower when I slid a hand down the back of his head to squeeze his neck. He wrapped a big hand around my thigh and let me tow him along the blacktop as we followed Raf and Evan to the door. Inside, the clack of pool balls competed with the jukebox and the air was thick with the smell of burgers and grilled onions. My stomach growled loudly enough that Kenny, who was right on level with it, looked up at me and laughed.
We got a game in while our food was cooking, then gave up the table to a trio of construction worker types. Pre-Evan, they would have gotten my attention – well, actually, they still got my attention, but not to quite the same degree. The youngest of them snuck a look at Raf often enough that I finally said something about it.
"You've got an admirer. Kid in the green t-shirt."
"Nice," Evan said.
Kenny just glanced at him for a moment before going back to his burger. We kept an eye on him as they played and we ate, and when he came by our table on the way back from the bathroom, Raf stopped him with a hand on his arm.
"You look familiar. Have we met?"
Kenny was smiling down at his French fries. The kid stared at Raf, who was giving him the full wattage of his killer smile, all the more appealing because he did it so seldom.
"I... I don't think so," the kid stammered.
"Yeah, maybe not," Raf agreed, running his eyes from the kid's face down to his crotch and back up. "I would have remembered your... face."
The kid flushed an appealing shade of pink, his eyes locked to Raf's like a mongoose to a cobra. When Raf let him go – after running his thumb slowly over the kid's wrist – he made a bee line for his buddies and spent the rest of the evening on the far side of the pool tables from us.
"You're so bad." Kenny said as he shook his head at Raf, who shrugged good-naturedly.
"He did look kinda familiar."
By this time we were finished eating, so we snagged the available pool table and racked up for another game.
Evan went to the office Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. I had no idea what he and Kathryn did all day, but he came home in a good mood each evening, and although he didn't say anything, I could tell he was getting excited about Thursday.
Wednesday I finally took my gym stuff with me to Kenny's, knocked off work about 4pm, and changed in their bathroom. When I came back into the office to gather up my stuff, Kenny did a double-take as he glanced up, then spun his chair around so he could get a good look at me.
"Well..." he said with a smile, taking in my skimpy tank and Lycra shorts, "don't you look like the total gym bunny?"
"Fuck off," I laughed. "I gotta get back to it. I'm gettin' fat," I added, slapping my still-pretty-damn-flat-for-an-old-guy belly in emphasis.
"Yeah, well, you're over 30, so it's downhill all the way."
"Yeah, yeah." I waved my hand at Chewy and Elvis asleep in a pile under Kenny's desk. "I'll stop by for him on the way home."
"Sure, see you then."
I admit I kinda had to psyche myself up to go, knowing that Conrad might very well be there. I still wasn't sure why seeing him again had hit me so hard. I wasn't afraid of him, but he represented a time in my life that I had moved on from, and hadn't planned on revisiting. Tomas nodded at me when I came through the door, giving me the once-over as I walked past the desk. I took a deep breath as I entered the weight room, but the only people there were the guy who had shot me a hard look the day I joined, and another dude I hadn't seen before, a black guy with a massive chest but weak legs. So many guys do that – neglect their lower body in favor of a big chest and arms.
I threw my stuff in a locker, warmed up with some stretches on the mats along one side of the room, then started off with about 2/3s of my normal load since I'd been loafing for a few months. It felt good to work my body again, to concentrate on my technique and feel my muscles respond when I pushed them a little. The black guy left soon after I got there, so with only one other guy in the gym, I didn't have to wait to use any equipment and rolled through a good lower body workout in just under an hour.
At one point, I noticed Tom standing in the doorway, but he didn't say anything and the next time I looked, he was gone. Tomas was a bit of an odd duck. I could have sworn that Sonny told me that he'd never gotten married, since Becky wouldn't have him, but I guess you didn't have to be married to have a kid. Funny that Sonny hadn't mentioned Tomas, but if anyone could understand lousy father/son relationships, it'd be me.
Evan was home when I got there, whacking up ribs he'd picked up on the way home. He turned when he heard the door, smiled at my attire, then went serious as he realized what it meant.
"Hi. How'd it go?" he asked after we kissed "Was, uh..."
"Nope, he wasn't there. Can that wait till I shower?" I asked, nodding at the ribs. "I'm pretty rank."
As I walked down the hall to our room, I reflected on the difference between Evan's response to my comment, and what Conrad's would have been. It hadn't occurred to Evan to come closer and give me a sniff, whereas Conrad would have been all over me before I got anywhere near a shower. Different strokes, I thought with a mental shrug, as I started the water and stripped. As I winged my soggy jock into the dirty clothes basket, I thought that although I kinda liked Evan when he was a little sweaty, he definitely preferred me freshly showered.
It was a beautiful evening, clear and still, the sky pinking up as the sun settled behind the trees, so we filled our plates and went out to the picnic table to dine by the garden. The roses along the fence were in full, glorious bloom, so many flowers that you could barely tell there was a fence under there. The bees had mostly given it up for the day, just a few droning around the flowers and making an occasional pass at our plates. Chewy gave them a wide berth, ducking when they got anywhere near him, apparently mindful of the stinging he'd gotten a few weeks ago.
Evan was quiet all through dinner, replying to my comments, but otherwise staring off through the trees with a preoccupied air.
"You thinkin' about tomorrow?" I finally asked him.
He turned to me apologetically. "Sorry."
"It's ok. I know it's a big deal for you."
He nodded absently, already drifting away again. This time I let him go and we finished our supper in companionable silence. When we were done, I led the way to the back porch, dropping Evan off at a chair with, "Sit – I'll get more beer."
After I got back with two cold ones, I remained standing, handed him one, then clinked bottles to get his attention.
"Here's to the immediate, raging success of the Family Law Center of Patterson North Carolina." That got an amused smile. "I'm serious. You really care about what happens to the people who'll come to you. The FLC couldn't have a better man as head counsel."
Evan stared at me for a moment before coming to his feet, still holding my gaze. In his face I could see confidence and purpose begin to replace uncertainty, and then he nodded firmly as he gave me a big smile. "Thank you."
We clinked bottles again, swigged down some suds, and dropped into our chairs. The rest of the evening passed with a couple more beers, some carrots for the horses, a little ball throwing for Chew, and, finally, bed with Evan. It always took some tinkering to get ourselves and the covers all arranged, and we hadn't been still for more than two minutes when Evan wriggled over onto his back, then did another quarter roll to face me. He didn't speak right away, but I knew by now to just wait patiently for him to get to it. Before he spoke, he kissed me a couple times as he often did before talking to me about something important to him.
"You made it possible," he whispered against my shoulder. "I never would have done anything about it without your encouragement."
"Maybe, maybe not," I said softly. "Point is, you did. It'll be good, Evan. You'll be good."
He nodded slightly and rolled onto his back, eyes wide open to the dark room. It was starting to look like a long night, but I knew one sure-fire way to get his mind off tomorrow and maybe wear him out enough to sleep. He barely responded to my kisses, but when I moved my mouth down his neck to his left nipple, he couldn't stop a soft `nnh' from escaping his throat as he arched his head back a little. While I was playing with his chest, I slid my leg over his and brought my knee slowly up into his balls. That finally got his full attention and soon he was moving against me, dragging his filling cock along the hairy muscles of my thigh.
It turned out to be one of those encounters that you remember for a long time, a memory that brings a private smile to your mouth and makes you stop in the middle of whatever you were doing to think about it for a moment. The kind of thing that makes people look at you quizzically and go, "What?"
After I slid partially off him, we lay there for quite a while, quiet with each other, neither of us wanting to be the first to end it, but eventually Evan gave my butt a couple pats, the signal for `we're done here.' He eased out from under me and came back a few minutes later with a warm washcloth and a towel. I reached for it, but he murmured, "I'll do it," so I let him, watching his face as he moved my soft dick this way and that to clean me up. He spent more time than necessary wiping me off, and I was starting to think about another round when he gave me a final squeeze and went back to the bathroom. By the time he came back to bed, I'd lost the urge, so we settled down again, and managed to fall asleep without too much trouble.
The bleat of the alarm surprised me because I rarely slept until it went off. I watched as Evan smacked the `off' button and sat straight up in bed.
"So..." I said.
"So," he agreed before swinging his feet to the floor and heading purposefully for the shower. I let him get a head start before joining him, climbing into the stall in time to scrub his back while he did his front.
"You want breakfast?" I asked, as I slid a soapy hand down into the crack of his butt.
"What? I'm just washin' you."
"I'd like scrambled eggs with cheese and wheat toast, easy butter."
I snorted out a laugh. "You would, would ya? This ain't the fuckin' Hilton."
"Come on, you want me to get a good start today, don't you?" He followed that up with a thorough grope of my balls and the region behind them.
"Good," he agreed, releasing me abruptly and climbing out of the shower. "I'll start coffee. See you in the kitchen."
I made a production out of breakfast, sitting him down at the dining room table and opening his paper napkin over his lap with as gay a flourish as I could manage. While the bread was toasting, I sprinted out to the garden, ripped a couple marigolds off the nearest plant, and tucked them in next to the artful little mountain of cheesy eggs on his plate. Instead of plunking the jar of jam on the table like we usually did, I offloaded some into a little cut-glass bowl Callie had given me years ago and stuck a small knife in it.
As I put it all down in front of Evan and clicked my heels next to his chair, I could tell he was biting the inside of his cheek, but finally it got the better of him and he started to laugh. "You don't do anything by halves, do you?"
I stayed in character. "May I get you anything else, squire?"
He grabbed my arm and pushed me toward my chair. "You're crazy. Sit the fuck down."
But he gave the marigolds a long look, touching a finger to one before meeting my gaze with a smile. By the time he left the house, he was cheerful and relaxed, and kissed me goodbye with more passion than usual. With a hand on either side of my face, he looked into my eyes from about six inches away. "Thank you. I love you."
I got out "I lo-" before he kissed me again, picked up his briefcase and headed out the front door. Chew and I watched him drive off with one arm waving out the window. As he disappeared from sight, I whispered `do good.'
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