I was with Uncle Tom two days before he told me we had to dress up nice and drive over to Silver City. We were going to a funeral for my mommy and daddy.
"What is a funeral Uncle Tom?"
"Well, Billy, that's where all your mom and dad's friends get together to remember them and to say good-bye. And then they take their bodies to the cemetery and put them in the ground with all the other people who have gone to live with God"
We drove all the way back to Silver City where I used to live. We went to my old house. It felt so empty and sad. I went in to Mommy and Daddy's bedroom. There was nothing there except the big naked bed and the other furniture. None of their clothes or things were there any more. I ran from room to room looking. It looked like we had never lived there. I knew all my things were gone because Uncle John had taken them all with me out to the ranch. There were lots of boxes stacked inside the front door.
"Did Mom and Daddy come back and take all their clothes, Uncle Tom. They are all gone."
"No, Billy, the church ladies took them and gave them to the poor people who don't have good clothes to wear."
"What's in all the boxes, Uncle Tom?"
"The ladies packed everything that belongs to you and we are going to take it back to the ranch. I looked into an opened box.
"These are Mommy best dishes!"
"They are yours now, Billy, your mommy left them for you, for when you grow up. We'll take them out to the ranch and put them away. And then when you are all grown up you can decide what to do with them. Come, its time for us to go to the church."
When we drove up to the church, I saw Uncle John all dressed up in a suit. He looked so different out of his sheriff's uniform. When the pickup stopped I jumped out and ran to give him a hug. He grabbed me up and held me high in the air making me squeal with glee. Then he brought me down and kissed me on the forehead and hugged me real tight. All of the grown ups were standing around watching. They were smiling, crying and sniffling.
We went into the church and Uncle Tom and Sheriff John sat on each side of me on the front pew all by ourselves. The preacher got up and talked about how God had welcomed my parents with opened arms into heaven. I wondered if he had been there and seen it happen. How did he know that?
We all filed out behind a bunch of men carrying the two caskets. Uncle Tom had explained to me that Mommy and Daddy couldn't take their bodies with them into heaven so these men had to take them and put them in the ground. It sounded crazy to me, why didn't they give them to someone else to use just like their clothes? My big uncles had a good laugh at that question.
Uncle John followed us back to the ranch with a load of boxes from the house. The churchwomen had given us a lot of food, so we sat down and ate. After dinner Uncle John sat on the porch steps. Uncle Tom sat down by him. John wrapped his arm around his shoulders and pulled him close. He kissed him on the temple. Tom hugged him. I didn't want to be left out of all this loving so I climbed up on Uncle John's lap. Uncle Tom hugged me and Uncle John held us both tight. We sat there a long time hugging and then Uncle John lifted me on to his shoulders. Tom stood up and stretched.
"Well, let's get those boxes stored away. I've gotta get back to Sarah soon." Uncle John said.
"I know. I wish you could spend the night. It would be wonderful just to hold you all night and wake up to see your face in the morning."
"Tom, you know I would if I could."
I watched as he kissed him on the mouth.
"I love you, Man." He whispered to Tom. He lifted me over his head and brought me down. He kissed me on the forehead and squeezed me in a tight hug.
"I love you, too, young one."
I hugged him back.
"I love you too, Uncle John."
He stood up holding me in one of his arms. Tom stood up, too. John stood a head taller than Tom. He wrapped an arm around him and moved toward his pickup with the big red light on top of it. Setting me down on the ground, he took Tom in a big bear hug. They kissed a long time and then Tom broke away and backed up. John knelt in front of me.
"You take care of your Uncle Tom, Billy, 'cause I sure do love you both."
He hugged me and kissed me on my forehead. He stood up and got into his pickup and drove away. Tom stood next to me with his hand resting on my shoulder until John's truck disappeared from view. He took my hand and we headed into the house. I looked up at my big uncle.
"I think you love Uncle John almost as much as I do, Uncle Tom."
He looked down at me and then picked me up and gave me a hug.
"Yup, I do, Billy. Almost as much as I love you, little man."
I've always remembered that evening. Especially during the hard years I had to endure before I turned twenty
As the days of that first summer with Uncle Tom went by, he taught he how to dive and swim under water, and how to keep it out of my nose and mouth. He never let me have time to miss my parents and as time went by they gradually faded to a fond memory. Uncle Tom became the center of my universe.
There was one other man that became important in my early years. I guess I was about six then. His name was Joe Randolph. His ranch was right next to ours. He was a handsome man, almost as good looking as the pictures I have of my daddy. He was about a head shorter than Tom, with straight black hair that was always combed, blue eyes, and a great big smile. He seemed to be the happiest man I ever saw. Maybe it was because he was here to see Tom. I know that being with Tom always made me happy.
Every Wednesday night Joe would come to the house and have dinner with us. While Tom was fixing dinner Joe would sit on the floor and play with me. He was the only grown up that knew how to play four-year-old games properly, besides Uncle John and I didn't get to see him very much. I remember one time after dinner Joe was bouncing me on his knees as he sat on the sofa.
"You know, Billy, I've got a little boy, too. He's a lot younger than you. Someday when he gets bigger and comes to live with me you two will have to meet. I'll bet you become best friends like your Uncle Tom and me. Would you like that?"
"Yes, Uncle Joe, I'd really like to have a buddy like you. Why can't he come over to play with me now?"
"Well he's living up in Albuquerque right now with his grand parents. He's just a baby still. So when he gets to be as big as you are now he'll come live with me. And then you can be friends with him."
I smiled at the thought of having a close friend like Joe and Tom were.
Whenever Joe came to visit I had to go sleep in my own bed. I never minded having to do that because I always woke up in the morning wrapped in my big hairy uncle's arms in his bed anyway.
One Wednesday night I woke up and I thought it was real late. The house was very quiet. I was still in my own bed. I was sure the Uncle Tom had forgotten to come get me to sleep with him. I slipped out of bed and tiptoed across the hall and quietly opened the door so I wouldn't awaken him. When I slipped through the door I saw Joe on top of Tom, holding his legs up in the air. Tom was making awful noises like he was in pain. I started to cry.
"Why are you hurting Uncle Tom?" I asked between sobs.
Joe stopped what they were doing and looked at me. He dropped Tom's legs and just laid down on him, hiding his face.
"Joe's not hurting me, sweet heart, He's making me feel good."
"Well, you sounded like you were hurting." I blurted out through my sobbing.
"No, Baby, those were feeling good sounds. Why don't you go back to bed and I'll come get you when Uncle Joe goes home. Okay?"
"Okay, but don't forget me." I said as I went back out the door closing it behind me. I heard them laughing as I crawled back into my bed, so I guess they were okay.
I thought no more about that incident until I was in the eighth grade. One of the boys had found a magazine with pictures of naked men doing nasty things to each other. One picture brought back the memory image of Joe holding Tom's legs up in the air. The next picture was a close up of what they were doing. One man had his hard cock up the other man's ass. I gasped.
"Do men really do that to each other?" I asked.
"Not real men, only pansies do it to each other."
I thought to myself that Tom and Joe couldn't be pansies. They're the manliest men I knew. I didn't know what a pansy was but I figured from the way the kid had said the word it had to derogatory. "What's a pansy?" I asked.
"It's a flower, dumb ass." One of the know-it-alls said.
"Naw, that's what they call guys who like other guys. They always act like women, and are real lady like."
"I thought they were called faggots." Another piped up.
"They're queers." Still another said.
"Yeah, like that man that works at the five and dime down town in Silver City"
It gave me lots of food for thought. So my uncle was a
queer, and Joe was, too. Geez, neither one of them were lady
like. They were big strong, hairy men. Not like those guys in the
pictures that didn't have any hair except pubies.
And then I thought about the man that owned the Five and Dime. He was different than the big rough ranchers I knew, but I also knew he had a wife and three children. I figured the other kids didn't know what they were talking about.
As I thought about these things I also wondered if maybe I was queer, too, 'cause I was always thinking about Tom naked, especially one image of him standing on the edge of the tank, water dripping down his body, all his hairiness plastered flat. The way he had grinned at me looking like a great big little boy, just before he dove back into the water. That image always gave me the jolt that sent me into orgasm when I learned how to jacked off.
As I got older I fed the cows and the horses, the pig and chickens all by myself. I guess I was five by then. Tom would milk the cows and help me gather the eggs. We would head for the house to clean up and make us some breakfast. Then we would tend to the vegetable garden, weeding, watering, and cultivating the soil. We would pick the ripe tomatoes and pull some root vegetables for our supper. He loved his ranch, the animals, and the garden. I loved my Uncle Tom and I learned to love all the same things he loved.
After lunch he would saddle up a horse and ride around the ranch checking the cattle and the fences. He would take me with him. In the beginning he would let me ride in front of him, with my legs around the pommel, his big arm holding me against his hard belly. As I grew and became more confident I would ride behind him with my arms around that hard belly or holding on to his belt. I missed his arm wrapped around me, but I loved holding on to him. I would lay my face against his back and smell him. He always smelled so good, especially when he was all sweaty.
We would take a siesta for a couple of hours after our ride. Then as evening approached we would do all the same chores we had done that morning. After which we would prepare an evening meal, sit on the porch and talk or just sit and watch the stars come out. Tom had a TV, but we only watched the news sometimes. I never got hooked on it like some of my friends in school. There was always something more interesting to do, like reading a book or playing board games with Uncle Tom.
On days it was hot we would take a swim in the water tank. It was about a mile from the house. This wasn't our drinking water. That was in a smaller metal tank up on the hill behind the house. It was filled by a deep-water well with an electric pump. This one was for the cattle. I always wondered what the cattle thought about us swimming in their drinking water.
For my sixth birthday Tom bought me my very own pony and saddle. She was a three colored pinto, with a long shaggy mane and tail. I named her Cupcake, 'cause she was so sweet. My birthday is in April and she still had some of her scroungy winter coat. Tom taught me how to curry her all over and soon she was shiny and as sleek as Tom's big roan. Of course with the pony I got a saddle too. It was just my size. Tom taught me how to saddle her so he didn't have to do it for me.
My sixth birthday change my whole life. Not only did I get my own pony to ride, but also I had to start sleeping in my own bed, in my own room all the time. And I had to shower by myself in the hall bathroom. Tom didn't hug me so much anymore after I turned six. He would give me hugs when I really needed them. But I don't ever remember him kissing me again. When I first went to live with him he would always kiss me on the forehead or on my cheeks. After I turned six all I got were pats on the back and an occasional slap on my butt, or he would ruffle my hair.
As I grew up I learned to read his facial expressions and his body movements. I could easily tell when he was pleased with something I had done. He would smile really big. And his body would get kind of jerky like he was fighting the urge to touch me. I just wanted him to grab me and hug me to his chest. I sometimes wondered if it was just my desire to be hugged by him that I read this into his movements. I don't think so.
I had to start going to school everyday when September came. Of course my routine was completely different. After breakfast I would get ready for school and then walk down to the highway and wait for the bus. It was about a forty-five minute ride into Hillsboro. School was something I endured. I excelled in all my classes. But it was just something I had to do until I could get back home to the ranch.
The first morning I had to ride the school bus, I got on and saw only one other boy sitting in the back. He was a lot older than me and he just ignored me. So I sat behind the bus driver and ignored him. There were three other kids got on at the next stop and they ignore me and the other kid. It was like that the whole year. But I didn't mind. I just dreamed about getting though the day and back to the ranch with Uncle Tom.
The schoolhouse in Hillsboro was one big room, with one teacher. She taught all of us first grade to third. There was only one other kid my age and she was a girl. I had to sit next to her on the front row. The other kids were separated by what year of school they were in. I discovered over time that the fourth graders and older got bused over to Silver City, or down to Truth or Consequences on the Rio Grande; depending on which side of the mountains they lived on. So my first three years of school I was quite isolated. I diligently did my homework and spent the rest of my time waiting to get back to the ranch.
Summers were wonderful. I was becoming a real cowboy. I got to help round up the cattle at branding time. I got to practice roping calves. That was lots of fun. I swam a lot and of course spent lots of time with Tom. The last weeks of summer I spent in dread of the school year, but I faced up to it like a man and did what I was required to do.
Things changed a lot my fourth year. I not only went to school in Silver City, but I also met other boys my age and started making friends. I still lived in my cocoon that only included Uncle Tom and the ranch. The boys I made friends with never broached my life out of school. My seventh school year started out different and exciting. I walked down to the highway to catch the school bus into Silver City. The same kids from last year were on it and still not interested in being friendly with me. A couple miles down the road the bus stopped and this new kid got on. He was small for being in the fourth grade and he was prettier that any damned girl. He had black hair and blue eyes, and a cute little nervous smile. He stood there looking down the aisle wondering where to sit. All the other kids were ignoring him. I moved over and patted the seat next to me.
"Sit here." I said. A look of relief spread over his face.
"My name is Neil." He said, as he scooted into the seat.
My daddy told me to look for you."
"Is Joe Randolph your daddy?"
"Yes, you know my daddy?"
"Sure, he's my Uncle's best buddy.
"You live on the ranch next to my dad's?"
"Yeah, with my Uncle Tom."
" Where are you mom and dad?"
"They died when I was four."
"My mom died when I was born. I used to live with my grand parents, then my grandmother died. Now I live here with my daddy. I just moved here yesterday."
"So you live with just your dad?"
"No, Carmen lives with us. She is an old lady that cooks and takes care of the house."
"Uncle Tom does all that and takes care of the whole ranch too."
"Daddy only takes care of the ranch."
"He comes to visit with Uncle Tom every Wednesday night. They are best buddies."
"He always tells Carmen that he's going to play cards with the boys. Do they play cards?"
"Sometimes. Mostly they just visit a lot."
"When I was real little I remember your daddy told me that one day I'd meet you and that we would be best buddies like him and my uncle are. You want to be my best buddy?"
He looked at me with his big blue eyes and smiled real big just like his daddy does.
"Yes, that would be very nice, Billy."
Even though I was four years older than Neil I hadn't hit any growth spurts yet, so I wasn't much bigger than him. I got kidded a lot about making friends with a fourth grader, but I didn't mind. Neil was now my best buddy and that's all that mattered.
Life on the ranch was never lonely. Friends and acquaintances would always be dropping in to visit. And often we would go visiting, too. Uncle John would come out about twice a month. He would have dinner and sit and visit with us. He still hugged me and always kissed me on the forehead before I went up to bed, even after I turned twelve. Once in a while he would kiss me on my cheek. He always called that "sneakin' some lovin'".
Now that Neil and I were buddies we spent a lot of time with each other after school and on weekends. Of course he had a horse too. So we would get off at his place and do his chores and then saddle up his horse and ride double over to our ranch and do mine. Sometimes we did it the other way around. There was a gate in the fence between the two ranches that was directly between the two houses. So it was only a little over two miles from one house to the other.
Since Neil and I were together so much it made it easier for Joe and Tom. too. They started seeing each other nearly every day. I suspect, now in retrospect, that Joe never fooled Carmen. Those two men were so much in love that they couldn't hide it from anyone that really knew them.
I had watched the two of them, Tom and Joe. I knew they had nightly sessions in Tom's bed. At first I just thought that they were just fuck buddies. But after really studying them I decided that these two fine men loved each other. After I had figured all this out I started sleeping over at Neil's a lot more.
Years ago I had figured they weren't pansies or faggots; they might be queer, but that didn't disturb me in the least. I had decided that I probably was too, even though I had never shared sex with anyone male or female. When I jacked off it was images of Tom and Joe that turned me on. I had plenty of images of them naked stored up because during the summer after Neil came into our lives we still, all four of us, went swimming nude in the cattle tank.
End of Chapter 3 Look for Chapter 4 soon to follow. If you like my story, it'd be real nice of you to tell me. I can be contacted at JS. Collection @ Verizon. Net. Of course you have to drop the capitals and spaces for it to work.