concerns adult and teenage gay
males who may be involved in sexual situations. If it is illegal for
read such stories, or if you do not like to read such stories, please
copyright 2006 by the author who retains all rights.
is a work
of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents
either are the product of the author's imagination or are used
fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, is
This is my
third submission to Nifty. My
previous submissions can be found in the High School section under
Kiel’s Story. Any comments or questions are
welcome at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
thank you goes out to all who
write. I appreciate knowing someone is actually reading this stuff,
like it or not. I try to answer all emails, even flames. (I’m a writer,
for rejection.) Although sometimes it takes a little time to get back
you, I do
try to answer. If I'm remiss in replying to yours, I apologize.
The Pastel Cowboy
by Carl Holiday
11 – Falling in Love, Again
Conan was standing
bedroom door drinking root beer from a can when Zach woke up. He didn’t
word, just stood there across the room not looking at anything in
Zach eased himself up in the bed, but was having a little difficulty
considering his right arm was on the floor over near where Conan was
The bloody knife that obviously had been used to sever it from Zach’s
stuck in the floor next to arm. Zach looked at his armless shoulder
he really didn’t want to because everyone in the house was going to
wake up, he
screamed as loud as he could.
Conan was laughing,
wrenching, guffawing laugh that made root beer trickle out of his nose.
could help laughing at the brown liquid dribbling out of Conan’s
mixing with the semen smeared on his lips. Zach couldn’t help himself
another scream ripped out of his throat and he fell off the picnic
where he was sitting next to his father. He looked up from the pile of
he’d fallen onto and saw all of them, except Uncle David, laughing at
stared into his favorite uncle’s dark eyes and saw someone who looked
“Zach? Wake up,
Jeremy’s voice filtered in through the foggy mist of the dream. He
Carruthers. He was in a bed in the McDonald house on Foundry Ridge.
“It was only a
there,” Zach said as he watched a prominent vein snake along the inside
Jeremy’s right bicep and disappear under the sleeve of the white
needed to pee, right now, but he felt a little groggy. He looked at the
radio’s digital display, it was six-thirty and time to get up. “Can you
sure I don’t pass out on the way to the john?”
“Sure, come on,”
as he stepped away from the bed. “Sit up slowly and sit for a minute on
edge of the bed. What were you dreaming about?”
“The guy who beat
Zach said. A wash of faintness fell over his eyes as his feet hit the
wasn’t going to be easy. “I’m going to need help washing myself this
can’t take a shower with the bandage over my eye.”
“It’s okay, I’ll do
to help you,” Jeremy said as he sat down beside Zach. He was close so
were touching. “Were you serious last night?”
“About not having
“I promised your
there won’t be any problems,” Zach said. He wanted to put his hand on
leg, but didn’t want to deal with what would happen next. “He doesn’t
find us sleeping in the same bed.”
“He knows we’ve had
Jeremy said as his hand slowly caressed Zach’s shoulders. “He knows
“I think he might
decision,” Zach said. He wanted to touch Jeremy so much, but this had
worked out now while he wasn’t really able to do much of anything. “I
he’d prefer us to be a little chaste in the house, which means you’ve
get your driver’s license. Jeremy you can’t imagine how much I want to
to you, but I promised your grandfather.”
“Well that sucks,”
said. He stood up and extended a hand. “Here let me help you up. You
think he’d do something drastic do you?”
do you think?”
“Yeah, he’d do
drastic and be nice about it, too.”
Zach went into his
and Jeremy stayed close to him at the toilet. He didn’t mind since he
little groggy from the pain medicine and figured he’d fall over if he
alone. His luck seemed to be going in that direction lately.
He’d been going
when he left Carruthers in May and now he was very close to a dead end
life because of an overwhelming desire to have sex. Yeah, he needed
was getting as loony as Steven.
Jeremy took his
turn at the
toilet and then began to undress.
“What are you
“You said you
with your bath,” Jeremy said as he walked over to where Zach was
knelt down and pulled Zach’s boxers down to his ankles. “Lift a foot.”
Zach looked down
and placed a
hand on Jeremy’s head to steady himself as he raised his left foot.
Jeremy finished removing the boxers he stayed down on the floor. Zach
Jeremy wanted, but he wasn’t certain he wanted the same thing.
He felt the other
him with his fingers and he knew he couldn’t stop himself from
Jeremy wanted. He felt Jeremy’s lips begin to caress his inner thighs
above his knees. He wanted this and, yet, he didn’t. He felt himself
the excitement of the moment, but something else, something far away
calling him. He looked down, but Jeremy wasn’t there, nothing was
Everything was going away and he couldn’t stop himself from collapsing
top of Jeremy.
“What the hell were
thinking?” Bud’s voice came through the fog as Zach slowly came back to
awareness of the present.
Zach opened his
through the haze of fainting and his uncovered right eye he saw Jeremy
whimpering in a chair on the other side of the room. He was back in bed
was standing between him and Jeremy with his back to Zach.
“Well, do you have
what’s wrong with him?” Bud asked in a stern voice. Zach could tell the
was angry and was somewhat glad he wasn’t the target.
Jeremy continued to
which only seemed to exasperate Bud even more.
“Go to your room,
discuss this later,” Bud said. Zach watched Jeremy stand and walk out
Bud turned and
walked over to
the bed where he sat down on the edge. He placed a hand on Zach’s thigh
stared into the boy’s eye.
“I doubted you when
I guess I
should have been more concerned with Jeremy,” Bud said. He was trying
but doing a poor job of it. “Our doctor will be here soon. As far as I
tell, you’ve reinjured whatever is wrong with your face, but we’ll let
decide what should be done. Try to sleep.”
Zach stared up and
the doctor giving Paul instructions on what should be done about the
cheekbone, how it was important not to reinjure the area. He shut his
uncovered eye, and hoped he could just fall asleep, but he worried
Jeremy; and, he wondered why he kept worrying about the boy.
He must have slept
became aware of someone removing the bandage over his left eye. He
and saw an older man, probably the McDonald family doctor, sitting on
Bud was behind him. Jeremy was over in the chair.
doctor said. “I’m Doctor Thomason. You wouldn’t have any instructions
“In my bag,” Zach
said something about a couple screws.”
“I was afraid of
doctor said. “We need to admit him. I call for an ambulance. Do you
“He fainted,” Bud
said as he
handed the doctor the papers from Zach’s bag
“He shouldn’t have
without help,” the doctor said.
“His help wasn’t
attention,” Bud said, looking at Jeremy.
be able to
save your eye and not cause too much scarring,” the doctor said. “Bud,
we’d better get him down to University Hospital. There’s a
maxillofacial surgeon down there
a better job than anyone I know.”
necessary,” Bud said.
“Will you call
asked. As he spoke he felt a searing rip through the side of face and
his eye. His hand flew up and covered his eye.
“No talking,” the
pulling Zach’s hand away from his face. “We’ll get you a pad and no
that’s not good, either.”
“I’ll call him when
you settled in the hospital,” Bud said. “Now, relax.”
Other than having a
of medical students discussing his case every morning, Zach didn’t mind
in University Hospital.
He had a great view of Portage Bay and the north end of
Capitol Hill. Other
a soft diet, the food wasn’t all that bad, either. All things
didn’t see any reason, other than the obvious, for the nightmares.
There was Dr. Helen
Cunningham, however. He’d never imagined a grandmother could be a
too. She wasn’t all that old, maybe mid-fifties, but her hair had gone
when she was thirty-three. That came up early in their visits when she
to Zach’s room a couple times a day after the surgery on his face. He
because she was easy to talk to and he sensed she genuinely cared.
He was supposed to
be at his
last appointment right now at her office in the medical school. It was
hike and he should’ve left a half hour ago, but he couldn’t get out his
because he was certain Conan was out there in the halls somewhere. Zach
certain he’d heard Conan talking to someone in the hall earlier in the
but when he’d finally managed to get out of bed, put his robe and
and get to the door, no one was there other than one of the
She stared at him
like he was
crazy or something.
“I don’t know no
“But you were
talking to him
a minute ago.”
“Hey, I just got
there wasn’t no one in this hall.”
Zach stared at her
disbelief. He’d heard Conan. He was positive he’d heard Conan talking.
certain, in fact, he couldn’t get out his door in fear he’d be attacked
and lose his left eye. That’s what the surgeon told him. He had to be
careful of that eye for at least a month. With Conan out there
wasn’t going to be able to protect his eye. He’d lose it and Paul
to paint him. He’d never get down to the studio.
All morning he
Conan’s voice, but didn’t hear it. Maybe he was looking for Zach and
by security wandering down the hall checking rooms. That could have
reason Zach heard Conan’s voice, but he wasn’t certain that was the
He was late for the appointment, now, because …
… because …
… because …
… he couldn’t show
the doorway because Conan might see him. Zach felt the tremble way down
gut. It slowly spread outwards. He knew that was so stupid. He was
someone who in all likelihood couldn’t be there. He was afraid it was
as that, but the trembling continued and it was getting worse.
One of the ward RNs
appeared in the doorway. Zach stared at her and hoped she wouldn’t
trembling. He tried to smile, but his facial muscles weren’t
the nurse said. “You’re supposed to be in her office right now.”
“I … you see … I …
Zach heard the words, his last words. He felt his legs give out. He
breathe. He couldn’t see. The world ceased to exist.
Zach opened his
realized he was still in bed. Jeremy was sitting in the chair beside
reading a magazine. Sara was in the chair by the window talking on her
They’d been coming to see him in the evening ever since the surgery. If
was evening, then he’d been unconscious for close to seven hours;
didn’t sound very good. Then he noticed the IV. They’d removed his IV
days ago. This didn’t look good at all.
“Um, is everything
Zach asked no one in particular.
“Uh, yeah, I
said, looking up from the magazine.
tell us,” Sara said. She’d gotten up and walked over to the bed. “They
you’d simply fainted, but they couldn’t bring you back, so they stuck
the IV in
your arm and did an MRI of your head. Grandfather’s talking to them
now. How do
“I’ll go tell the
“What’s wrong with
asked as he stared at Jeremy.
“You sound worried
something. You’re not worried about me, are you?”
“What do you think?
called grandfather and said you’d passed out. They said you might have
stroke or something. They didn’t know what was wrong with you. You
“But, I didn’t.”
“But, you could’ve.”
Jeremy’s assessment of the situation and turned to watched Dr.
another doctor walk in the door, they were soon followed by the ever
clutch of hatchlings looking for a tidbit of knowledge that might give
some idea of where their future lay in medicine.
“I’ll be back,”
as his fingers lingered over Zach’s hand.
“Yeah, okay,” Zach
“I was afraid to go
door,” Zach said. “I thought I heard Conan’s voice in the hall this
as the day went along, I kept thinking he was right outside waiting for
“Who’s Conan?” the
doctor asked. Zach looked at the nametag. It said the doctor was an
professor of neurology.
“The boy who
down in Texas,” Dr.
“And, who was the
just left?” the other doctor asked. Zach looked at her. The tone of her
sounded familiar, the stress wasn’t where it should’ve been.
“He’s my friend,”
“I’m staying at his house until my uncle returns from Texas.”
Conan before,” Dr. Cunningham said. “I thought we’d gotten past that
“I thought so, too,
sounded like he was waiting for me. He would’ve attacked me. I was
lose my left eye. He would’ve hit me in the face. I knew that was going
happen as soon I as stepped into the hall. I couldn’t leave. I … I …
you see he
Zach looked at her
the trembling in his stomach start to subside. She was smiling at him
as only a
grandmother can smile. He felt so much comfort and assurance in that
smile he rolled
onto his side and shut his eyes. She’d protect him, he knew that. She’d
Conan away from him.
asked after what seemed to be no more than a few moments.
“Are you okay?”
“I’m sorry I didn’t
your office for my appointment,” Zach said. He opened his eyes and only
Cunningham was in the room. “I wish I could see you some more, now. I
hadn’t screwed up and not come this afternoon.”
“I’m not going
the time being,” she said. “Come on, get out of bed. Let’s talk for a
“I’d like that.”
Three days later,
stretched out on a chaise lounge beside the pool at the McDonald house
Jeremy swim laps. According to Dr. Cunningham, he was going to be okay,
time. Conan was turning up in the oddest places, but he was not waking
anymore and Zach wasn’t afraid to go to sleep.
The only problem he
recognized that might adversely affect him in the foreseeable future
waning friendship with Jeremy, who seemed to accept Zach’s presence in
household, but, also, seemed to look forward to the day when Zach
interrupting his life. For Zach, who was no longer certain how to act
the focus of his attention, Jeremy’s growing lack of interest in their
increasing separation aggravated his problem with getting rid of
ethereal presence in his life.
No matter where he
mall, zoo, waterfront, beach, or wherever, Zach saw someone or heard a
that might have been Conan. Every time it happened an anxiety attack
triggered, but the meds were helping a lot and he had some mental
that Dr. Cunningham taught him to refocus on the reality that Conan was
down in Texas, so there was no way that he could be anywhere near Zach.
Conan kept popping up, usually at times when he was concentrating all
attention on Jeremy.
Zach knew he was
in love with Jeremy, but they hadn’t kissed since he came back from the
hospital. Jeremy was helping him with his bath, but there was nothing
affection in the perfunctory way Jeremy touched him. And, now, as Zach
Jeremy’s smooth, nearly naked body cut through the water in front of
could only think of how wonderful he felt when they were close, very
each other in a nearly forgotten embrace charged with rampant sexual
certainly was enough to give him an erection which he didn’t have
because of the
medicine he was taking for the anxiety attacks.
When Jeremy reached
end of the pool, he pulled himself up and out of the water then slowly
over to where he’d hung his towel. Zach watched Jeremy begin to dry
then glanced toward Zach. Suddenly, he turned and headed toward the
door to the
when Jeremy put his hand on the door handle.
“Can we talk?”
“Why? What’s the
Jeremy went out the
leaving so quickly Zach was still trying to come up with a response.
realized Jeremy wasn’t coming back, Zach stood up and went out onto the
where Raul had breakfast spread out on a sideboard by the door to the
Sarah and Bud were sitting at the table beside the koi pool. They
seemed to be
in a deeply serious conversation, but Zach ignored them, focusing
Jeremy who was loading a plate with the chunky fruit salad Raul made
every morning, the two poached eggs Jeremy ate every morning, and four
buttered toast covered with blueberry preserves.
“We need to talk,”
whispered in Jeremy’s ear when he came up to the sideboard.
“Because I love you
you’re playing hard to get, that’s why.”
toward Zach and
looked into his eyes. Zach stared back searching for some sense if his
connecting with Jeremy.
me to stay
away from you,” Jeremy whispered. “You know what I did to you.”
“That doesn’t mean
to ignore me like I’m not here,” Zach said as he picked up a bowl and
ladling fruit salad into it.
“What about your
thought you were worried you’d lose it if I touched you, again.”
“Fuck my eye.”
“I don’t think
but there is something I’d like to fuck.”
“Yeah, I know.”
Zach turned away
over to the table beside the kitchen garden where he sat in the only
was in the sun. Jeremy hadn’t followed, but went to the table where
Bud were sitting. Obviously, one of them wasn’t ready to take the next
With Bud between them, Zach knew there was little chance of them
together for anything more meaningful that a quickie in the bath and
wasn’t what he wanted.
With his right arm
in a cast,
his left eye covered with a bandage, and seeing Conan all the time
to fear going anywhere, Zach wasn’t certain he could be as sexually
as Jeremy might want him. There was, also, the SSRI Dr. Cunningham
for him which was playing hell with his sexual response. It hadn’t
in as far as the anxiety attacks were concerned, but he was beginning
better about going away from the house, until he saw Conan lurking in
shadow, that is.
He watched the
laughing about something and wished he had the nerve to join them. Bud
be busy with something so Zach wasn’t seeing him around the house.
Sarah had a
boyfriend now, a tall, skinny junior from Seattle University, named
reminded Zach of Eb on the old TV program Green Acres. The
drawl only reinforced the image in Zach’s
mind of a
bumbling country boy who was more at home slopping hogs than some of
obscure, esoteric areas of number theory that seemed to interest him
more than his interest in Sarah. When Zach asked Darnel why he chose
Seattle University over some more
prestigious school in the
he’d said, “My daddy and granddaddy went to Seattle U, so I had to come
’sides how else was I to meet a pretty girl like Sarah.” Or, that’s
thought Darnel said as the accent was so strong he wasn’t quite certain
the boy said.
of a lot of attention being directed his way. He looked over at the
and all three of the McDonalds were staring at him. Jeremy got up and
to Zach’s table.
to know if
you’d like to go to the ocean with us,” Jeremy said. “He has a vacation
down near Ocean Shores
and thought you might enjoy being down at
“Sure, are you
asked. He looked into Jeremy’s eyes hoping to find some emotional link
hold onto, but Jeremy quickly diverted his attention to Zach’s half
“Of course, but you
have to if you don’t want to,” Jeremy said. Zach thought he heard a
frustration in Jeremy’s voice, but he could’ve been mistaken.
“No, it sounds like
Zach said. “Too bad I can’t go swimming.”
The McDonald beach
nearly as huge as the Foundry Ridge house, was closer to Pacific Beach
than Ocean Shores, but since Zach
hadn’t been to the ocean he
know what he was missing when they first arrived. The house sat atop a
foot cliff looking out over the Pacific Ocean and the beach, a narrow
driftwood covered sand, accessible via a long trail down the small
by a nearby creek, wasn’t visible from the house.
They’d arrived on a
and it was now Friday afternoon. Jeremy, Sarah, and Bud had gone
day since their arrival, leaving well before dawn to get down to the
docks in Ocean Shores.
Eb came down Wednesday evening and
Sarah’s attention since then, plus being included on the fishing
Other than late afternoons and evenings, and except for Raul, the cook,
was alone in the house.
“This should suit
than a room up on the children’s floor,” Bud said as he showed Zach
bedroom on the creek side of the second floor on the first day. It was
as his bedroom at the house in North Park with a small sitting area
small sofa, side chair, end table, coffee table, ottoman, and
queen size bed, two nightstands, reading lamps, dresser, and walk-in
track lighting, original art, an entertainment center with stereo and
television, and a window wall with slider leading out to a private
enough for a couple chairs and table; and, a private bath with a
and separate shower.
“If you need
sure to ask Raul,” Bud said when Zach started unpacking. “He likes you,
“Who?” Zach asked.
“Raul. He thinks
“Good,” Zach said,
if having the cook like him was a good thing or not; or, maybe it was
suggestion that Zach wasn’t family and shouldn’t expect the three
the family to arrange activities to keep him busy. He felt himself
pulled away from Jeremy and suspected this week would make or break
possibility for a relationship in the future.
Zach stared for a
Bud as the older man went about describing the room’s features,
French doors into the library where he followed Bud. That room was
dimly lit by
subdued track light in the ceiling and the slider out to a balcony,
stairs down to the patio and pool below. There were a lot of books,
non-fiction mostly, the general theme centering on trains and train
arranged in custom built, teak bookcases around the room, one of which
entirely large picture books and in the corner a Z-scale layout was set
up on a
“The controls are
table,” Bud said as he sat in the sofa and open the drawer of an end
“This switch is for the lights and this is for the control panel. You
it in your lap for better control of the trains and switches.”
“You got a train
set with the
ocean, a swimming pool, all these books, and whatever else around
“Certainly, after a
least a few years, even the ocean gets boring,” Bud said as he turned
layout and started switcher to make up a mixed freight.
Zach turned and
to his suite. As he was passing a bookcase, he saw a hardcover edition
on the Orient Express and removed it from the shelf. He looked
room and silently wondered how long it would take him to get so bored
reading he’d have to play with the train set.
afternoon, Zach was
sitting on the sandy beach leaning back against a large log listening
waves thundering on the shore while he read Evil Under the Sun. He
a book a day and had to admit he enjoyed reading about the Christie’s
detective. A light breeze blew in off the water while a few gulls
soared above. Although his eyes went through the motion of reading the
his mind was elsewhere, probably somewhere out on the ocean where
The week had
pretty much as he expected. Bud seemed to be doing everything he could
Jeremy occupied and away from Zach; and, Zach let it happen because all
activities Bud came up with were things Zach felt incapable of doing,
including go-karts, beach horses, miniature golf, and real golf down at
Shores. They’d even gone up to a beach restaurant up at Moclips the
night, leaving Zach to fend for himself down at the house. All of Bud’s
were not as subtle as Zach thought they could’ve been, but he saw Bud’s
He certainly didn’t agree he needed to give up on Jeremy, but didn’t
he could do against his host who could at any moment pack him off to
Park and out of Jeremy’s life permanently.
A gull silently
low over Zach’s head and landed a few yards away. It was a young bird,
mostly brown, and too inquisitive for its own good. It stood away from
staring at whatever interested its little black eyes, which Zach
the small bag of corn chips beside him. He reached into the bag and
a chip. The gull took a few steps toward Zach, ever present hunger
fear of the human.
“Want a chip?” Zach
The gull took a few steps back. Zach popped the chip in his mouth and
took a few steps forward. In the near distance, he heard another gull
and turned to see three gulls over by the waterline.
“They’ll mob you if
with ’em,” Jeremy said.
Zach turned at
friend walk across the beach logs toward him. He was wearing a white
t-shirt and turquoise board shorts.
said as he tossed out a chip to the gull in front of him. An older gull
in and grabbed it before the younger one got up the nerve to hop closer
“You’ve done it
said. “Here, give me the bag.”
Jeremy took it and
the water then started dropping chips from the bag along where the surf
washing up onto the beach. When the bag was empty he neatly folded it
shoved it into the back pocket of his shorts. He ran back to Zach and
in the sand on Zach’s left side.
“Grandfather and I
fight,” Jeremy said as he took Zach’s hand in his. “He wanted me to
into Aberdeen and I told
him I wanted to spend some time
He said I needed practice driving more than I needed to waste my time
around you. He swore at me. Then he said some things about you. You
what you were doing when we met.”
“I was wondering
how long it
was going to take him to figure out I wasn’t good enough for you,” Zach
The gulls had all the chips cleaned off the beach and were heading down
beach. “I suppose he wants me to move out.”
“Yeah, he said you
going to be around much longer, but I told him I wanted you to stay
with us. He
said you weren’t like us and I told him I wasn’t as stuck up as he was.
him my father, his own son, was a sexual pervert and you couldn’t say
about your father. I asked him if he felt proud that his own son nearly
friend of mine. He slapped me.”
“Yeah, the bastard!
Darnel saw him do it, too. I told him if you had to move out, I was
“I don’t think
happen,” Zach said, thinking of David’s reluctance to have him back in
condo. Zach fully expected to spend the next four years in a dorm room.
“Remember, I can
move back to
“Bud told me your
doesn’t want you.”
“She doesn’t, but
hardly there that much anyway. The housekeeper takes care of us when
in school. Mother will let me live there, if I ask.”
“Do you want to
move to Switzerland?”
“No, I want to be
with you. I
want to be your friend. I want us to be boyfriends,” Jeremy said as he
his knees and knelt beside Zach. He leaned over and they kissed. “And,
hold off, like you want. Okay?”
“Thank you,” Zach
Jeremy leaned over and they kissed, again. When Jeremy broke away, Zach
“It won’t be forever, I’d just like us to get to know each other a
better. I don’t want it to be just about sex, as much as I like doing
Jeremy sat down
and leaned against his body using the older boy as a pillow. Zach
book and began to read. The rhythmic pounding of ocean swells onto the
shore played out to a couple gulls dozing one-legged a few yards away.
“Why is life so
don’t know the shortcuts yet,” Zach said. “It’ll get easier when we get
When the boys
returned to the
house everyone, except Raul, was gone. After going to their respective
and freshening themselves, they wandered separately down to the kitchen
Raul was tossing a salad, adding various fresh vegetables, and finally
in some canned salmon. He drizzled a red wine vinaigrette over the
contents, folded it into the green leaves spreading salmon, radishes,
sweet onions, slivered carrots and turnips, and chopped pecans through
before dishing out three servings. He set the dinner plates down on the
table where three places were already set with silverware and water
back to North Park,” Raul said. “He told me to
call Sarah to
two of you when I tire of putting up with your shenanigans. He trusts
will not sleep together, but I refuse to monitor your sleeping
Sometimes I just don’t understand that man. In any event, Sarah said
be down next Wednesday to take you two back, or you can go with me in
Escalade on Thursday. Either way, she said something about registering
at North Park on Friday.”
“Oh, yeah, I guess
getting to be that time,” Zach said. “Maybe I’d better call my Uncle
see if I have a place to live or if I have to go back to the dorm. I
they’re back from Texas.”
“You could live
Jeremy said, smiling faintly.
“I don’t think your
grandfather will agree to that,” Raul said.
“Yeah, no kidding,”
“What’s his problem
all of a
sudden?” Jeremy asked.
“I think it has a
lot to do
with how I’ve been screwing up my life lately,” Zach said.
“That could very
well have a
lot to do with it,” Raul said. “Plus, your friendship with Steven
contributes a lot, too.”
“You know Steven?”
“Yes, but only in a
professional sense,” Raul said. “He’s done a few watercolors for the
“The ones by the
“No, they’re in Mr.
McDonald’s suite,” Raul said. “I believe Mr. McDonald had high hopes
young man. That is until his recent admission to Fir Grove.”
“You know about
“You’d be surprised
who, my grandfather knows,” Jeremy said.
supper as each contemplated the degree of their interactions over the
week. Zach realized he had to take this opportunity to get to know
Jeremy more than
that the boy had a beautiful body and was a terrific sex partner. There
be sex. That was almost certain, if he could get an erection, that is.
wanted it nearly as much as Jeremy, but he wanted it on his terms,
they might be.
Raul was a puzzle,
person in the McDonald household who seemed to be a lot more powerful
had initially suspected. He assumed the man was mainly a cook, but he
have a number of other duties in the house, including taking care of
employer. Obviously, Raul wasn’t a sitter, but Bud left him responsible
Jeremy and, possibly, Zach. The only problem, which wasn’t really a
such, as Zach saw it, was that Raul’s importance to the McDonald family
something he took very seriously, but not so seriously, though, that he
couldn’t sit down at a table with Jeremy and his houseguest.
Zach picked at his
if looking for a fly that was not unexpected in any dish his mother
made due to
the large number of flying insects inhabiting their house. Flypaper and
insecticides seemed to have little effect on the little black devils as
flitted through the screen doors and windows as if they were made of
wire; and, one always seemed bent on committing suicide by diving into
bowl where mayonnaise and leafy vegetables conspired to disguise its
from an unsuspecting bite. The foolish bugs that lurked near the mashed
potatoes were easy to distinguish from the overall whiteness of the
dish, but a
salad or smattering of various legumes on a child’s plate required
inspect every bite lest an unwanted crunch turned out to be a fresh,
Of course, a meal
of a salad
was not something he would have had at home where meat and potatoes
plate. Salads and other vegetables were only reluctantly accepted and
under threat of a wooden spoon smacking down upon tender flesh. There
nothing like expected pain to encourage even the most reticent child’s
Zach thought back to his earlier days on the ranch when he’d watch his
eating the meat and potatoes, but only having no more than half a
salad or vegetables. He remembered thinking how great it would be to be
not have to eat according to his mother’s rules, then growing up and
discovering vegetables had a very important role and no matter their
taste, texture, or likelihood of unwanted airborne bugs, they were
for growing bodies, but that was after he’d been in school and paid
to what was being said.
breaking his friend’s train of thought.
“What are you
“Do you miss it?”
“I miss how it was
went on that canoe trip. I should’ve said no, but I thought they were
friends. I guess you can never be certain who your friends really are.”
“I’m your friend,”
said. He placed his hand over Zach’s and their eyes met.
“Yeah, I guess you
said. He scooted his chair back and stood up. “If you two will excuse
think I’ll go for a walk. I need some time alone.”
Zach half expected
come running after, but that didn’t happen. He headed toward the beach,
walk down the highway to the little store a couple miles away seemed to
public for his sad mood. He did miss home, but not the home he left.
happy memories and then there was the year of hell.
He stopped at a
fell in a winter storm and sat on the log. The little creek gurgled
a few feet away, the water hidden by a broad swath of salal. He heard
feet crunching on the gravel path, but didn’t move. Not being in a mood
anything except homesickness, Zach didn’t look up when Jeremy sat
“Will you sleep
tonight?” Jeremy asked.
“No sex,” Zach