This story concerns adult and teenage gay males who may be involved in sexual situations. If it is illegal for you to read such stories, or if you do not like to read such stories, please leave now.

This story is copyright 2006 by the author who retains all rights.

This 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 entirely coincidental.

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:

A warm thank you goes out to all who write. I appreciate knowing someone is actually reading this stuff, whether you like it or not. I try to answer all emails, even flames. (I’m a writer, I live for rejection.) Although sometimes it takes a little time to get back to you, I do try to answer. If I'm remiss in replying to yours, I apologize.

The Pastel Cowboy

by Carl Holiday

Chapter 19 – Happy Birthday?

There weren’t a lot of kids at the birthday party. Paul decided early in the planning to turn Zach’s old bedroom into the children’s room where they could watch DVDs, play video games, or whatever it was children do when not welcome with adults. The kids at the birthday party weren’t unwelcome, though, but Paul figured they needed a refuge from adult activity and the bedroom was the logical choice as it was furthest from the dining and living rooms, and had a lot of more space than the extra room by the kitchen that in a stick built home in the suburbs might be called the family room.

David was immediately sucked into a swarm of friends, allowing Zach to sneak away to find something to eat in the kitchen. Sally was in there talking to the caterer. Their eyes met for a second. Zach turned away and headed for the refrigerator. He opened, but found out the caterer had commandeered most of it for her use. He had better luck when he tried the freezer.

“Can I help you, young man?” the caterer asked. The voice was slightly condescending as someone with a little authority might speak to an underling who was straying beyond the appointed path.

“No, thank you, I think I found something to my liking,” Zach said as he pulled out a frozen entrée to be zapped in the microwave.

“I’d like you to leave,” the caterer said.

“Wait, Zach? You are Zach, right?” Sally asked.

“Yeah, I’m Zach and you’re Sally, my cousin,” Zach said. Her pallid skin reminded him of a vegetarian he once met. Her blond hair was cut in a pageboy, but was so light errant strands seemed bent on forming a different style. “You haven’t changed that much since the last picture I saw of you. Am I in the way, or something?”

“No, I didn’t know you were family,” the caterer said. “Would you like me to make you a sandwich?”

“Sure, I thought we were just having finger food,” Zach said. A sandwich might be good, he thought.

“Yes, but, I made a few allowances for children and teenagers.”

“Zach, can I talk to you?” Sally asked. She had that serious look people get when they’ve got bad news to tell or they think you have bad news to tell them. The eyes dart away when you try to establish contact. The corner of the mouth twitches slightly as if they’re trying to smile, but can’t quite get the muscles coordinated. “How’s my father?”

“Not good,” Zach said. He pulled a root beer out of the refrigerator and sat down at the table next to an empty spot the caterer had yet to use. “But, something’s up. He’s thinking of something and I don’t know what it is. He hugged me before we came in and told me everything was going to be okay. You don’t think he’d try to do something stupid again?”

“The one thing I know about my father is that once he sets his mind on something, he will do it no matter what. But, enough of him, how’re you doing?”

“I don’t know, think of your most embarrassing moment in life and then compound it ten thousand times. That might come close to what’s going on in my life right now.”

“I hear you had a little problem down in Texas,” Sally said. The caterer set the sandwich in front of him while Sally pulled up another chair. She was close, almost too close.

“Not so bad if you don’t mind looking Death in the face,” Zach said. He felt a chill run through his gut and looked up at the doorway to the dining room half expecting to see Conan hightailing it for the door, but all he saw was Paul talking to a young man who looked incredibly cute. Then he thought of Jeremy and wondered if anyone was going to remember his birthday. He’d certainly left enough hints around.

“Are you okay?” Sally asked. Her hand was on Zach knee. It could’ve been there simply as a familial gesture, but she was a woman and he wasn’t all that certain first cousins were allowed to touch each other like that.

“No,” Zach mumbled through the bite of sandwich he was chewing.

“Anything I can do to help?” Sally asked. She’d taken her hand away, but she was still too close to offer any comfort.

“No, I don’t think you can,” Zach said. Her warm hand was on his shoulder.

“Come on, Zach, do girls make you nervous?”

“A little.”

“Didn’t you have a girlfriend at home?”

“Yeah,” Zach said as Amy’s tits flashed across his memory only to be quickly replace by Sara’s. He wanted to shrug away from the hand that was softly massaging his shoulder, but he didn’t and he didn’t know why.

“Well, I’m safe and I’m taken,” Sally said. “Go on, finish your sandwich. If you want to talk, I’ll be around.”

She got up and left Zach to wonder what that was all about. Had Paul, or heaven forbid David, tell her he was a gay teen gone wrong? Did Paul tell her he had a cute ass and tried to shove it in the face of every guy who walked by? Did David tell her he was a slut who nearly got killed when he went looking for a mouthful of cum, but only found the boot of a crazy, homophobic Texan?

“Are you going to come and help with the kids?” a voice behind him asked. It sounded sort of like Willy, but a little bit higher. “Where’d you get that sandwich? All we got was hors d’oeuvres.”

“She made it for me,” Zach said as he pointed the sandwich at the caterer.

“Well, come to your bedroom when you’re done,” the voice said.

“Wait a sec’, you’re not Willy,” Zach said. He turned to look the face as if that might help, but it was still Bruce’s face looking back at him.


“Willy, the boy I brought here. I thought he was going to watch the kids.”

“Come on, Zach, what kind of game are you playing?”

“I don’t know, you guys keep changing the rules,” Zach said. He put down the remnants of the sandwich and got up. The caterer looked at them, but Zach ignored her. “Okay, let’s go do it, uh, what did you say your name was?”


She seemed a natural at taking care of the younger children leaving Zach responsible for a ten year old girl and Miles’ oldest son Paul. They were watching an obnoxious Disney DVD when Zach got to the bedroom and sitting close enough to each other that Zach figured his only requirement would be to keep them apart. The little ones, a six year old Franny and five year old twin boys who were brothers of the girl, were playing some kind of child’s board game with Patty.

Zach watched Bruce’s body and realized it wasn’t moving quite as he remembered his friend. There were subtle differences, but the most striking thing was Patty seemed to be left-handed, while Bruce was ambidextrous, favoring his right side. She smiled more with a broad, full teeth smile, while Bruce was fairly tight lipped with just a hint of smile at the corners of his mouth. Carlotta was smiled like Patty. Willy with his perpetual apologies, hardly ever broke his sour face for even the faintest of grins. Lance smiled, too, but his seemed forced as if he’d prefer a somber countenance portraying his supposed dominance over the other personalities, who seemed to be able to push him out of the way when they wanted to expose themselves.

Zach sat down next to Paul and the boy glared at him.

“What’s wrong?” Zach asked.

“Get away from me faggot,” Paul said.

Zach stared at him and Franny said, “I’m gonna tell Mommy you said a naughty word.”

“No you won’t,” Paul said. He jumped up and had the collar of his brother’s t-shirt wadded up in his fist in a flash. The other fist was inches from the face of a surprisingly calm little boy. “I’ll pound you if you say anything.”

“No you won’t,” Franny said. “’Cuz you know Daddy’ll whip you.”

“I’ll report him,” Paul said.

“Go ahead! You know what he said. He said if you want to go to a foster home he’ll pack your bag.”

“Hey! You two stop it,” Patty said. She grabbed Paul’s shirt in the middle of his back and pulled the boy off his brother. She set him down beside her and stared at him.

Zach wasn’t certain what was going to happen, after all Patty supposedly was a sadist. At least that’s how she initially approached him and the others seemed to think she was dangerous, so with her holding Paul so that he couldn’t move any more than flop his arms and legs about, made Zach a little nervous.

“Is everything okay in here?” Miles asked at the door. Paul immediately went limp.

“Yes, sir,” Patty said. “The boys were discussing Paul’s incorrect choice of words. We’ll take care of it.”

“Okay,” Miles said. He looked at Zach and their eyes met for a second before Zach broke contact. Miles nodded as if he knew something, but Zach wasn’t certain what that was, nor was all that interested in finding out. Miles turned and shut the door.

Paul was sitting beside Patty.

“Well, young man, what are we going to do with you?” Patty asked. Her hand was on Paul’s shoulder. “Faggot is a particularly offensive word in this home. You know that?”

“Why?” Paul asked.

“You don’t know?” Patty asked.

“No, why should I,” Paul said. “Zach’s the faggot here.”

“And your godfather, Paul, and David,” Patty said.

“Uh? What do you mean?” Paul asked.

“What’s a faggot?” Patty asked.

“It’s a guy,” Paul whispered.

“You’re a guy,” Patty said.

“I’m not no faggot,” Paul said.

“So, what’s a faggot,” Patty asked.

“It’s a guy does things with guys,” Paul whispered.

“What kind of things?”

“You know, things.”

“No, I don’t know, and I don’t think you know, either. Do you?”

“He got beat up ’cuz wanted to do things with a guy,” Paul said. He pointed at Zach.

“What kind of things?” Patty asked. She wasn’t going to let this end. “Did anyone say what Zach wanted to do with the other guy?”

“No, but he’s a faggot and he wanted to do faggot things with that guy, but that guy didn’t want to do that so he beat him up.”

“You don’t have any idea what you’re talking about, do you?” Patty asked. “A friend of yours told you, didn’t he? He said Zach was a faggot, but he didn’t know either, did he?”

“No,” Paul whispered. “I mean yes, no, no.”

He scrunched he face up and then stared at the floor. She’d caught him and there wasn’t anything he could do to free the snare from his legs. All Patty had to do was string the boy up by his ankles and she could do anything she wanted.

“Do you know what it means to be gay?” Patty asked.

“Uh, huh, Uncle David and Paul are gay because they live together and sleep in the same bed,” Paul said. His eyes were glued to the floor. “I’ve seen them kiss on the lips.”

“Does that bother you?” Patty asked. She’d begun to lightly massage the boy’s neck with her hand.

“No, ’cuz they love each other,” Paul said. He was totally defeated and he knew it.

“Do you know Zach and I kiss sometimes,” Patty said. Her index finger was softly rubbing the side of Paul’s neck.

“You do? You’re gay?”

“Yes, and Zach is, too.”

“But, Ronny said Zach was a faggot.”

“Paul, faggot is a bad word,” Patty said. Her whole hand was now rubbing his back. “We don’t like here.”

“Oh, but Zach got beat up,” Paul said. He looked over toward Zach, but their eyes didn’t meet. He looked sad.

“Yeah, I got beat up because I was stupid,” Zach said. “I was trying to nice, but I was with a stranger and didn’t know he didn’t like gays.”

“Were you going to kiss him?” Paul asked. His face showed he was trying to figure out things with his meager knowledge of sex.

“We might’ve gotten to that,” Zach said. He’d come over to them and knelt down beside Paul.

“You were going to do things, weren’t you?” Paul asked. He stared at the floor, too embarrassed to admit he wasn’t too certain what things actually entailed.

“Yeah, I thought he wanted to do gay things because some guys like to do gay things with other guys. That doesn’t make it bad, if both of you want to do it. I thought that’s what he wanted, but all he wanted to do was kill me.”

“Kill you?” Paul asked. He looked up into Zach’s eyes and horror washed down across his face.

“Yeah, that’s what he was going to do, but the police showed up before he was able to do too much damage.”

“Oh,” Paul whispered.

“Were you nervous because I was too close to you?” Zach asked.

“Uh, huh,” Paul whispered. A tear dribbled down his cheek.

“But you could’ve said so without using that word, right?”

“Uh, huh.”

“Okay, apology accepted,” Zach said. Paul turned and wrapped his arms around Zach. He was softly weeping. “It’s okay, Paul, you just didn’t know. Come let’s go in the bathroom for a minute. Okay?”

“Uh, huh.”

“We’ll be back in a minute,” Zach said to Patty.

“You know, Zach, you constantly amaze us,” Carlotta said.

“I wish you guys wouldn’t do that,” Zach said, but he smiled knowing they might not be able to stop themselves from playing their little game of dominance.

“Okay, everybody, time for birthday cake,” Sally said at the door. The little kids were gone in a flash, leaving Carlotta and Zach to accompany Sally. “I want you to know you’ve done wonders with Missy and her brothers, Harry and Larry. Usually they’re impossible.”

“Yours?” Carlotta asked.

“No, I don’t have any children, yet,” Sally said as they walked toward the dining room.

“I didn’t know you were married,” Zach said. There wasn’t a ringer on Sally’s finger, not that a ring was necessarily required to indicate a woman was married or engaged. Maybe Sally wasn’t a traditionalist.

“My partner and I haven’t decided if we’re going to pursue the possibility of having children,” Sally said. She seemed to be talking more to Carlotta than Zach, but he picked up on the code word and practically tripped on the polished hardwood floor.

“You alright?” Carlotta asked.

“No, actually I’m not,” Zach said. He stared at Sally, but she only indignantly stared back.

“You have a problem?” Sally asked. Zach couldn’t tell if she was angry about what he suspected, or what.

“No, I don’t think so,” Zach said. “I just didn’t suspect I wasn’t the only one.”

“What are you two talking about,” Carlotta said. They were in the back of the dining room which was filled with all the other guests. Neither Paul nor David were anywhere in sight.

“I’m living with another woman,” Sally said.

“Oh, oh! Then you’re,” Carlotta started.

“Yes, I am,” Sally said, “and you’re what? What is the correct term? Trans something?”

“They have MPD,” Zach said, “but all of them are gay, except maybe Donny because he’s too young.”

Carlotta glared at him, but didn’t say anything.

“MPD?” Sally asked. “Isn’t that called dissociative identity disorder now?”

“Well, yeah, I guess,” Zach said. “This is Carlotta. Patty was with the kids earlier. I don’t know who was here when you arrived. They tend to come and go rather unexpectedly.”

“Ah, I had a friend in college who might have had that,” Sally said. “She went to a psychiatrist then went home. I never heard from her again. So, uh, Carlotta? Are you seeing someone?”

“Yes, we go to the same psychiatrist as Zach,” Carlotta said.

“Has anyone seen David?” Paul asked as he walking into the dining room.

A weird feeling went through Zach’s gut like a sharp knife slicing through the belly of a young goat when it was being butchered.

“Zach? Could you go down to the garage and see if his car is there?” Paul asked. People were beginning to talk, as most probably knew of David’s struggle with depression.

“Sure, I’m be right back,” Zach said. He turned and headed toward the front door.

“I’m coming with you,” Carlotta said.

“What about the kids?” Zach asked.

“They’re with their parents.”

“Oh, yeah.”

They didn’t talk as the walked out the door, across the vestibule to the elevator, as the elevator descended to the basement, or as they walked out across brushed concrete to parking stall 38, which was empty. Paul’s BMW was there, but David’s Mercedes was gone. Unable to stop himself, Zach sank to his knees, but did not start to cry. His eyes were too shocked at the implications to what might be occurring at that moment. He felt a hand on his shoulder. He knew it wasn’t Bruce, it might not have been Carlotta, either, but he accepted the offer of comfort and got back up.

“He’s dead,” Zach said.

“You don’t know that,” Carlotta said.

“No, he talked about it earlier,” Zach said as he felt himself being pulled into a hug. “He didn’t say it, but he meant it when we talked. When they find him, he’ll be dead.”

“Don’t talk like that,” Carlotta said, “you’re scaring me.”

“Well, it’s true, so we might as well go tell Paul.”

Most of the guests were gone or leaving when Zach and Carlotta returned to the condo. Paul was on the phone to someone and Sally was thanking people at the door. She looked at Zach and she knew he didn’t have good news.

Zach went over to the sofa and sat down. Miles and his son Paul were at the other end. His wife was in the side chair holding Franny in her lap. No one expected good news. Carlotta went over to Paul and stood close enough for anyone with eyes to know that was where he belonged. Sally definitely caught the insinuation by suddenly staring at Zach. He shrugged his shoulders not admitting the truth, but not denying it either.

“I have a friend on the police force,” Paul said as he flipped his phone closed. “He’s going to make a few calls and maybe the can get a patrol car up around the south end of Aurora Bridge. That’s where David went before. I don’t know where else he’d try it.”

“I take it by your delay that David’s car is gone?” Paul asked. He looked at Zach.

“Yeah, it’s gone,” Carlotta said. “Zach said the David was implying he was going to do something, but I don’t think Zach expected it to happen tonight.”

“He could be anywhere, including the I-5 bridge,” Paul said. “Any ideas, Zach?”

“No, I don’t where he’d go,” Zach was trying to think of something other than Uncle David jumping over the railing of some bridge and falling to his death. It was a conscious decision Zach didn’t want to think was possible. He’d almost done it, but to realize that Uncle David actually meant to do it. This wasn’t a spur of the moment decision made while driving across a bridge, standing at the railing of the balcony at the condo, or leaning through an open window at the apartment. This was getting in your car and driving to some pre-selected place, parking the car, walking out onto the bridge, climbing over the railing, and then letting go, knowing that for the next few seconds you don’t have a chance in hell of surviving the fall and wondering if you’ll feel any pain for those few seconds after hitting the ground.

Zach wanted to be anywhere other than on that sofa waiting for the inevitable news that the police had found a body and the identification said the deceased lived in an expensive condominium on Pill Hill is Seattle, Washington. He wanted to be able to zone out like he’d been able to do only a few weeks ago, but that was not to be and, so, he sat there waiting with Paul, Carlotta, Sally, Miles and his wife, little Paul and his brother Franny, and two men Zach had never met, but who seemed to know Paul and David intimately, at least intimately enough to participate in the death watch for his former uncle David Brandon.

He couldn’t take another second of the waiting and got to his feet. He walked back to his old bedroom. He needed to be alone, but he, also, needed some comfort, which no one in the other room could give him. He dialed Jeremy’s number.




“How you doin’?”

“Okay. Are you okay?”

“I love you.”

“What’s wrong Zach?”

“Zach? Are you busy?” Sally asked at the door.

“Just a minute, Jeremy,” Zach said. “I’m, uh, talking to my boyfriend.”

“Jeremy McDonald?”

“How? Who told you?”

“Dad, the last time I talked to him,” Sally said. She came in and sat beside him. “This is important, okay?”

“Jeremy? I’ll have to call you back.”

“What’s wrong Zach?”

“I love you. I’ll call as soon as I can.” He pushed the END button before Jeremy had a chance to protest.

“Here, this is for you,” Sally said. She held a white business envelope with Zach’s name on it. “Paul just got a call from the police. Dad’s dead. Dad wanted you to have this, now.”

Zach opened the envelope and took out another envelope and a letter. He began to read:

Dear Zachary:

I wish our relationship could have been better, but I let my own problems cloud my decisions over the past few months. You know I have not been doing well and I apologize for whatever I’ve done that has contributed to your own difficulties. I wish I might have loved you as much as I loved my own son, but that was not to be.

As soon as you can, I want you to take the enclosed envelope and give it to Charles McDonald.

Also, I have instructed Paul to take my ashes and cast them upon the Salt Fork of the Arkansas River north of Alva, Oklahoma. I want you to accompany him. Please do it. My spirit will not rest if you’re not there.

Finally, I want you to have a full and happy life.

Your uncle,
David Brandon

Zach looked up from the letter, but Sally was gone. He was alone. He thought of calling Jeremy, but he needed something more than hearing his boyfriend’s voice.

He stood up and looked around the room that had been his for the briefest of moments in his life. He knew he would never set foot in this room for the rest of his life. He hoped that sometime in the future, maybe when he was old and gray, he could recall this room and all that occurred here.

He walked out into the hall and Sally was waiting for him.

“Do you want me to take you to Jeremy?” Sally asked.

“Is that okay?” Zach whispered, not certain whether his absence at this time was appropriate.

“Yes, it’s okay. Your friend is comforting Paul. Miles will take care of things here until I get back.”

“Are you okay?” Zach asked. He felt Sally should be grieving a little more, after all David was her father.

“I was ready for this day the first time he tried this and that was three years ago,” Sally said. “I’ll go home and have my cry with Mona. You need to be with someone you love.”

Zach and Sally didn’t talk at all as she drove north on I-5 to the One Hundred Forty-fifth exit and west to the north end of Foundry Ridge Boulevard. She seemed to know where they were going, even to the point of turning into the McDonald estate. She pushed the gate button and said something Zach couldn’t hear. The gates swung open and soon the lights of the house lit up the night. Bud and Jeremy were waiting at the porte cochere.

“I’ll call you tomorrow,” Sally said when she stopped the car. “Dad had everything arranged. He’s been planning this for weeks.”

“I’m sorry,” Zach said.

“Don’t be sorry, Dad had all this figured out to the last detail. I know what’s in that letter to Mr. McDonald. Dad loved you very, very much. He just didn’t know how to express it. Go on, I’m talk to you tomorrow.”

Zach got out of the car and watched it pull away. He felt arms on his shoulders and looked into Jeremy’s eyes.

“Sir? Bud? This is for you,” Zach said as he held out the envelope.

“Do you know what’s in here?” Bud asked.

“I haven’t the foggiest idea and quite frankly I don’t really want to know right now,” Zach said. He was trying very hard to keep the tears away, but knew he had to get into the house and up to Jeremy’s bedroom right now.

“We’ll talk in the morning,” Bud said. “Go on you two.”

“Thank you,” Zach said.

Author’s Note: Sorry for the short chapter, but there’s only so much you can do for a character who chooses such a dramatic exit. We are now no more than three chapters from THE END.