This is a fictional story dealing with love and consensual sexual activities between males. If you are not of legal age, reside in an area where viewing such material is illegal, or are offended by homosexuality and/or homosexual themes, leave this site now.

The author retains all rights to this story. No reproductions or links to other sites are allowed without the permission of the author.

Note: I owe a special thanks to Robb for doing the final proofreading and catching all those silly little errors that I missed.



When I headed out of the office that Friday, I had no idea how many changes would soon come into the nice quiet life I'd worked so hard to build. I'm Paul Nichols, 33-year-old owner of a computer software company based in San Diego. As far as physical description, I'm 5' 11" with medium dark brown hair that I keep cut fairly short (but not buzzed) because it's easier to take care of that way. I've got hazel eyes, weigh in at 175 lbs, and try to keep myself in some sort of shape by swimming and hitting the gym at least a couple times a week. And since you all know where this story is posted, I'm gay and don't remember a time in my life when I didn't know that fact. To complete the physical description, I've got a moderate amount of hair on my chest and legs but not much on my rear end. I'm circumcised and hang about 4" soft and 8" when hard (not that there had been many reasons in the past couple of years to display it hard to any one other than myself).

I grew up in a small town in Ohio and attended Ohio State University for a couple of years before deciding that I wasn't getting much out of school and heading out to California to get my head together. Looking back at it I realize that I was also trying to get away from my first really serious love affair that turned very sour toward the end of my sophomore year.

When I got out to San Diego, I got a job with a computer repair outfit and discovered I had a natural talent for all that cyber stuff. I became the classic geek who ate and slept in the computer lab, but it sure paid off financially. By the time I was 30, I had developed and sold two businesses and held the copyrights on a couple of neat security programs used by some big financial institutions in the West. My third start up venture involved imaging technology and software, and we were doing very well. I wasn't Bill Gates by a long shot, but I had money in the bank, a condo in a good section of San Diego, and a small rancho out in Santa Teresa County about 45 minutes east of San Diego on I-8.

It was early evening, and I was driving out to the rancho for a long weekend of R&R. I'd been working on a new imaging enhancement program, and I was stuck. I'd found in the past that the quiet of the country sometimes cleared the fuzz out of my head and let me see the solution to whatever problem I'd been working on.

As I tooled along I-8 in my Chevy Tahoe, I punched the number for Alton Stout into the cell phone. Alton was my neighbor in Santa Teresa County. He and his wife, Juanita, live in modest house on the edge of the small city of Santa Teresa. It was hard to tell their ages. I thought Alton was probably in his early to mid 60's, but Juanita looked several years younger than that. In return for letting him keep his old horse in my barn and stable, Alton looked after the house and took care of my horse, a gelding named Blaze, while I was away in San Diego.

Alton answered on the second ring. "'Lo?"

"Alton, this is Paul. I'm coming up to the ranch for a few days, so I'll take care of the horses tomorrow."

"Thanks, Paul. I think me and Juanita will head out for the day. She's been wantin' to do some things over in El Centro."

"How's everything going?"

"Well, the horses are doin' fine. Blaze needs to be ridden some to get some exercise. Other'n that things is okay." He paused for a second before continuing. "Oh, Paul, the county paper said that some folks were havin' trouble with illegals movin' through their land. The Sheriff's warned folks to be sure to lock their doors...'specially at night."

I wasn't surprised by the news about illegal aliens in the county. Santa Teresa County was right along the Mexican border although usually the illegals tried to cross the border in the lower elevations east and west of Santa Teresa County rather than climb up to our plateau. The INS and Border Patrol had started a crack down on illegals in the easier border crossing areas, so it looked like the action had moved to our area of the state.

"Thanks, Alton. I'll be sure to do that. You and Juanita have a good day in El Centro, and I'll see you on Sunday."

I hit the "end" button on the cell phone. I wasn't particularly worried about having illegal aliens crossing my property. I figured they were trying to get into the U.S. for the same reasons that my ancestors had come over. Namely, to make a better life for themselves and their families.

I stopped at a supermarket at the edge of Santa Teresa City to pick up supplies...milk, beer, meat, eggs, and fresh vegetables. I loaded the supplies in the back of the Tahoe and drove the eight miles out to the ranch.

As I got closer to the ranch I could feel the tension from the office melting away. Somehow Rancho del Abuelo always soothed me. The ranch was somewhat isolated, and I liked that.

The ranch house was set up on a small hill a good three quarters of a mile off a secondary road. The house itself was a single story U-shaped adobe structure that had been built in the late 1940's. There was a wide porch that went all around the outside of the house. The open living/dining area took up two thirds of the front of the house with the master bedroom and bath in the other corner. The bedroom leg of the house had two other smaller bedrooms with a shared bath in between them. The other wing of the house had the kitchen and another bedroom that originally had been a cook's bedroom which I had converted into a computer room and office. The house was only one room deep all around so each room opened out to the outside porch and to an inner open hallway/courtyard. There was a small kitchen garden in the courtyard and a pool spanning the open arms of the U. There always seemed to be a breeze that kept the house cool and liveable even in the middle of summer. The barn where the horses were kept was about twenty yards away from the kitchen wing of the house.

The ranch had become my sanctuary, especially after the nasty break up of my second major romantic involvement. Although the break with Richard had happened almost two years earlier, some of the wounds were still pretty raw. It had been one of those classic break up scenes. I'd come home unexpectedly and caught Richard and some damn twink going at it like minks right there on the living room carpet. I just turned around, climbed into my SUV and headed out to the ranch. I called Richard that night and told him he had one week to move his things out of the condo, and I hadn't seen him since.

Everything looked normal when I pulled up to the house. I unloaded the Tahoe, put the groceries away, and then took one of the beers out to the porch. I sat in one of the several rocking chairs spaced along the porch and listened to the sounds of the night while I slowly sipped the beer. The day had been a hot one, even for mid summer, and the heat lightening flashed on the horizon. I just let my mind wander. Sometimes when I did that the solution to the problem that had been eluding me would pop into my head, but it didn't happen that time.

About eleven, I wandered back into the house to get ready for bed. Remembering Alton Stout's warning, I locked the kitchen and front doors before turning off the lights, relieving my bladder, brushing my teeth, and finally dropping my clothes in a jumbled heap on the floor of the bedroom and climbing into bed.

Some time in the middle of the night I was awakened by the sound of thunder. But, at the same time it wasn't like thunder...more like a string of fire crackers in the distance. I rolled over and went back to sleep.

The next morning I dressed, quickly ate some toast and had a cup of coffee before heading out to the barn to take care of the horses. I wanted to take Blaze for a ride to give him a little exercise before the day heated up too much.

Blaze and Boots, Alton's horse, greeted me with whinnies and snickers. I turned Boots loose into the corral before saddling up Blaze. I stuffed a canteen and my cell phone into the saddle bags and headed out for the ride. It felt great to be out at the rancho again. Blaze seemed as happy as I was.

The morning was clear and quiet. I rode around the perimeter of the ranch property. My objective was a small bluff which afforded a great view of the countryside looking south toward the Mexican border.

I was still one row of hills away from the bluff when I noticed several buzzards circling overhead. There were about a dozen of the big birds doing their lazy loops in the sky. What caught my attention was that these birds appeared to be descending instead of climbing which would be more normal for that time of the day. That could only mean that something, and something pretty big, had died, and the buzzards were moving in for brunch. I decided to investigate thinking that someone's cow or steer might have wandered off and died. The least I could do was to find the carcass, identify the brand, and call the owner to let them know that their herd was diminished by one animal. I turned Blaze toward the circling carrion feeders.

Nothing could have prepared me for the sight beyond the ridge. There were bodies down in the draw, but they weren't cattle...they were human!

I kicked Blaze in the flanks urging him down to the carnage. As soon as Blaze got me to the scene, I swung out of the saddle and quickly checked each of the bodies for any signs of life. There were ten hispanic men...all dead. Each one appeared to have been shot. Some bore several bullet wounds.

I realized it had been gunshots, not thunder, that had awakened me in the night. In the same moment I realized that who ever had murdered the men might still be around. I ran back to Blaze and rode to the top of the ridge. I looked all around and couldn't see any sign of another person. Still breathing heavily, I pulled out the cell phone and dialed 911.

"911. Please state your name and the nature of the emergency."

"This is Paul Nichols out at Rancho del Abuelo, and I've just come across ten dead bodies."

"Say again."

"I said this is Paul Nichols, and I've just found ten dead men out on my ranch."

"Okay. Where are you located?

"I'm about a mile off County Road 25 between Rancho del Abuelo and Rancho Seco."

"Do you need an ambulance?

"No! They're all dead. I checked. I need the Sheriff."

"I'm dispatching a deputy. Can you be seen from the road?

"No. I'm on horseback. I'll ride to the cattle gate on road 25 between Rancho del Abuelo and Rancho Seco. I can meet the deputy there and lead him in."

"How long before you can get there?"

"It'll take me about ten minutes."

"Okay, the deputy is on his way now. He should be at the cattle gate by the time you get there. Start now."

"I'm on my way."

I cut off the phone and put it back in the saddle bags, but I didn't leave right away to meet the deputy. Instead, I got off the horse, stumbled a couple of steps away, leaned over, and vomited the contents of my stomach onto the grass.

(to be continued)