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.

WARNING: A violent act against a gay man occurs in the last two paragraphs of this chapter which some readers may find offensive. The violence occurs solely for character development.

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 9 – Thinking With Your Dick

“This is the deal,” David said as Zach rolled up his sleeping bag. “You will be responsible for Paul and Franny while they’re with us, except for the time when Paul is with me at the track. Do you think you can handle that?”

“Babysit a nine year old and a six year old? Sure, I can handle that.”

“You know, Zach, there’s something about your attitde that troubles me.”

“Yeah, well, how am I supposed to act? In the past year my life has been one fuckup after another. And, now you’re so fucking depressed you don’t know up from down, let alone if I’m behaving like a normal seventeen year old gay boy or a fucked up cowboy from Oklahoma. What kind of attitude am I supposed to have?”

Zach tied up the sleeping bag and put it in the closet with the other two. He glanced over at David then walked out of the bedroom. They were at the service plaza before the US-69 exit into Muskogee. According to Paul, who was outside filling the tank with diesel, they were only a few miles from where they were to pick up the two boys. Zach flopped down on the sofa and stared off into nothing. He was mad at himself, David, and Paul for nothing in particular other than he realized he missed Jeremy more than he wanted and he was going to be stuck with two little kids for a long weekend of hell. David walked out of the bedroom and came over to the sofa where he sat down next to Zach, a little closer than Zach preferred.

“No, I don’t know how a seventeen year old gay boy is supposed to act,” David said, “but I know you’re not acting like one. You’re acting like a sex crazed hustler out to make the big bucks off a couple old men; or, that’s what I think you’re acting like.”

“I’m not wearing those tight jeans,” Zach said. He got to his feet and went over to the recliner.

“And, you haven’t thrown them away, either,” David said. He stood up and went over next to Zach. He placed a hand on the boy’s shoulder. “But, I’m not talking about the pants. I’m talking about your attitude. You keep coming on to Paul. I see it and I don’t like it.”

“This is between me and Paul,” Zach said. He wanted to move, but David’s hand seemed to be pushing him down into the seat. He would’ve preferred being out with Paul refueling the motor home, but he was asleep when they pulled into the service plaza.

“What’s between Paul and you involves me,” David said. He squatted down next the recliner and placed a hand on Zach’s knee. “Look, Zach, I realize I haven’t been the best person to be around for the past few days, but I don’t want to think about what might happen if you get Paul to take you down to his studio. I’ve heard all the stories of his models. He’s told me about all of them, including Miles, who you’re about to meet in less than an hour. I know what happens in that studio.”

“You know?”

“Yes, I know. We all have our skeletons. Even you, I suspect, but I love Paul and I don’t want to lose him to some boy who used to be my nephew. I have fond memories of you and I don’t want them sullied by what you’re trying to do to Paul.”

“It’s that obvious?” Zach asked. David simply nodded. Zach felt like a little kid, again, caught out in the chicken coop in an egg fight with Billy Zucker, who used to live across the county road. They’d both gotten a good whipping for that one. Zucker the Sucker’s family left Carruthers when he was thirteen. An image of Billy standing naked in front of him crossed his mind. They were going to jerk off like they often did. Zach suddenly remembered the sweetly tart smell of Billy’s genitals, the unexpected taste of come spewing onto his tongue, and the incredible feeling come spewing from his own dick as he, too, achieved an unbelievable orgasm. He’d forgotten about that, about that night at Billy’s, about snuggling with a naked boy. He’d completely forgotten about Billy. He looked at David.

“Sorry, I just remembered my old best friend,” Zach said. “I haven’t seen him since I was thirteen. I’m sorry, Uncle David, I didn’t realize what I was doing. I’d better go out and see if Paul needs help.”

“Okay, maybe you should,” David said getting to his feet.

When Zach closed the motor home’s door he looked at nothing in particular, but thought of Billy’s dick in his mouth. They’d done it the night before Billy left Carruthers. All they did was suck each other, but Zach felt a shiver run through his body at the remembrance of Billy’s lips and tongue caressing his dick. Then he remembered saying, “Do you want to fuck me?” And, Billy saying, “No, because then you’d have to fuck me, too.” Then he remembered Jeremy saying, “Sure, then you can do me or do you want me to suck you?”

Suddenly, Zach became aware of a hand on his ass. Paul was standing close, a finger snaked inside his thigh up close to that place.

“How’s my favorite gay boy?” Paul whispered.

“David just chewed me out for coming on to you,” Zach whispered.

“He’s just an old fogy. I know how I want to paint you. We’ll get started as soon as we get back to Seattle.”

“What about David?”

“Don’t worry, I’ll take care of it. You know, Zach, you do have a nice ass. It’ll look good on canvas.”


“Come on, let’s go meet the boys,” Paul said opening the door.

Zach followed him back into the motor home. David was sitting in the passenger seat so he strapped himself into the recliner. He thought back to that night at Billy’s. They wrote to each other for a time, but like most long distance friendships, the letters got so infrequent they simply stopped coming and going. He tried to remember the address. It seemed familiar for some reason. Sixteen thirty-two something something ridge boulevard. Could it be Foundry? Was it North Park, WA? Could it be Sixteen thirty-two Northwest Foundry Ridge Boulevard, North Park, WA?

Zach unstrapped himself and went back into the bedroom, then remembered his laptop was at home. He’d have to borrow Uncle David’s, but was there a wireless card? He decided his best chance was to call someone like, maybe, Jeremy.

“Hello?” The voice wasn’t Jeremy’s.


“Yeah, who’s this?”


“What fuck do you want?”

“Wait a minute, you’re the one answering Jeremy’s phone. I want to talk to him.”

“You can’t.”

“What do you mean I can’t?”

“He’s gone back to his Mommy. Johnny hit him and you weren’t here, so he ran to his Mommy. He’ll be back because she really doesn’t want us around her, but you weren’t here. You ruined everything.”


There wasn’t a response, just dead air. He thought about calling back, but thought, again, about Paul answering the phone and decided to wait. He’d be back in a week. That would give Paul a chance to settle down. He’d have to go out to the house, but he’d go there anyway to see Jerry. Maybe he could check out the address while he was there. Billy Zucker, now that was someone he could relate to, someone his own age, someone who might be as gay as he was back in Carruthers.

The two boys were self-regulating. Franny had a GameBoy that kept his attention. Little Paul had an iPod that turned him into a living, breathing bobble head. They didn’t talk, they barely ate, and they ignored Zach during the four hour drive from Muskogee to Sommersville. Even when the motor home was parked and the Explorer was unhooked, they remained in their seats.

Little Paul was nine, pudgy, and very much into anything concerning NASCAR racing. He knew all the drivers, tracks, races, winners, losers, contenders, wannabes, and whatever else anyone might find interesting. He was a walking database of facts; except the music flooding his ears kept him oblivious to the world around him. He sat in the recliner with his eyes closed while bobbing and swaying to the music.

Franny was a skinny six year old who said little and only seemed to be along for the ride; and, yet, there was something about him that intrigued Zach. He couldn’t figure it out and the boy was absolutely no help at all, but he didn’t seem to mind having Zach sit beside him and watch while he played his games.

Zach spent the time brooding about being in Oklahoma. The drive down US-69 took them right past the turnoff to Carruthers and straight through Hannaford. He didn’t look out the window, but stayed hunkered down beside Franny, so close he had to drape his arm across the back of the sofa so as not to touch the boy. He thought of calling, as he hadn’t spoken to his parents since leaving Carruthers nearly three months earlier. He sort of missed them and being that close to home brought back a flood of conflicting memories. By the time David drove across the Red River, Zach almost felt as if he might breakdown and start crying because he knew they’d be coming back this way Monday morning.

They were parked over on the south side of the racetrack where most of the biggest rigs were parked and were early enough to be able to get into their spot without any problem. Little Paul kept his ears filled with music right up to the time when Zach and Franny went outside. He looked up for a moment, then shut his eyes and went back to his musical oblivion.

“You boys ready?” Paul asked.

“Ready for what?” Zach asked.

“To get the heck out of here. David is the race fan. Besides who wants to spend the day with the Bobble Head.”

“Who’s that?” Franny asked.

“Your brother,” Paul said. “Does he ever not have that thing plugged into his ears?”

“Mommy doesn’t let him use it inside the house, ‘cept in his bedroom. You can take it away, he won’t get mad.”

“He’s with David now. Come on, boys, lets get out of Dodge.”

They got into the Explorer with Paul driving and Zach sitting in back with Franny, who still had the GameBoy. After buckling his seatbelt, Zach reached over and took the game from Franny.

“Does your mother let you play with this all the time, too?” Zach asked.

“No,” Franny whispered.

“Well, I think you’ve played with this long enough,” Zach said. “Have you ever been down here?”

“No,” Franny whispered.

“Where are we going, Paul?” Zach asked.

“To a friend of mine who makes custom hats and boots. I want to get his opinion on how I’m going to pose you.”

“David’s going to be pissed,” Zach said.

“You said a naughty word,” Franny said.

“You going to have to watch your mouth, Zach,” Paul said.

“Well, David’s going to be mad,” Zach said. “I don’t want to risk having to move out when he finds out I’m down at your studio.”

“First of all, David has never been to my studio. Second, I’m certainly not going to tell him and I don’t think you will either. So what’s the problem?”

“Isn’t this like sneaking behind David’s back?”

“No, this is about turning a beautiful boy into thousands of dollars.”

“How much?”

“I’m thinking of doing some lithographs. Something special, signed, numbered, the whole bit. I may have a small market, but there are a lot of rich people out there who’d give their eye teeth to see you in a Paul Griffin painting.”

“Am I that good looking?”

“Zach, you’re on par with Miles and he was two years older when I put him on canvas. Whether you know it, or not, you’ve still got that childish innocence.”

“I got to pee,” Franny said.

“What is it about little boys and automobiles?” Paul asked.

“It’s the bumps in the road, Paul,” Zach said. “They stimulate the urinary track.”

“What’d you do, read that in a book?”

“No, made it up, but it makes sense. There’s a McD over there on the left. We can get lunch, too.”

“You kids are always thinking with your stomachs.”

“I thought you said I was thinking with my, uh, well, you know.”

“Score one for Franny!” Paul exclaimed.

“What?” Franny asked.

“You’re keeping Zach clean,” Paul said.

“Huh? I don’t have no soap.”

“He means with you along I can’t swear,” Zach said.

“Mommy says only heathens swear.”

“Your mother goes to church, huh?” Zach asked.

“Just on Sundays. Are we going to stop soon? I got to pee bad.”

“Drop us here, Paul, and we’ll meet you inside,” Zach said. “Come on, Franny, let’s go drain your radiator.”

“I don’t have no radiator. You’re being silly.”

Paul took the Mockingbird Lane exit from the Carpenter Freeway and headed east toward Love Field. At the top of a slight rise he pulled into the parking lot of a building that had two occupants. Neon beer signs were in the windows of Marcella’s Taqueria. Dirt and grime covered the windows of West Texas Boots.

The parking lot out front was in serious need of repaving and the concrete walk in front of the building was so severely cracked it look more like stepping stones. Patrons of the taqueria took up most of the parking spaces, leaving only two of three marked “West Texas Boots” empty. Paul pulled into the space between a near pristine, baby blue 1969 Eldorado and a GMC pickup that was so worn and battered Zach had a good idea where its owner was eating tacos.

They went into West Texas Boots and a bell attached to the door frame dinged announcing their presence. Zach felt a familiar queasy sensation at the overpowering odor of cured cowhide. Florescent fixtures hanging from the ceiling bathed the sales room with a bright light that showed dusty boots and hats arranged haphazardly on shelves and display racks throughout the room.

A short, grizzled old man of indeterminate age, but definitely a lot closer to one hundred than Zach, hobbled out of the backroom wiping his dirty hands on a dirty rag. An ancient pair of wire rim glasses rested low on his nose. His blue eyes seemed to sparkle in the bright light. He smiled, showing badly fitting dentures.

“Paul, I didn’t expect you until Saturday,” he said extending his arms and enveloping Paul in a warm embrace.

“We came down earlier than I expected, Boots,” Paul said. He broke their embrace and turned toward Zach and Franny. “This is the boy I was telling you about. Zach this is Boots Clearfield, a dear friend I’ve known for ages.”

“Nice to meet you, sir,” Zach said extending his hand. He wasn’t all that shocked when the old man pulled him into a hug.

“Shaking hands is for sissies,” Boots said. “I’ve never been too proud to hug any man I’ve met. You certainly are hunk of flesh and bones, aren’t you?”

“Yes, sir, I guess,” Zach said, blushing from feeling one of the old man’s hands on his ass.

“He reminds me of Miles,” Boots said. “And, who is this little gem?”

“Speaking of Miles, this is his youngest,” Paul said pushing a nervous little boy toward the old man. “Go on, Franny, Boots isn’t going to eat you.”

“Franny, huh? Don’t tell you’re named after Franny Brice?” Boots asked. He enveloped the boy in his arms.

“No, it’s my nickname,” Franny said. “My real name is Francis Steven Parker.”

“And, who tagged you with Franny?”

“My brother, Paul, ’cause he couldn’t say Francis when he was little and everyone thought it was cute.”

“Well, you are a cute little boy,” Zach said.

“That’s ’cause I’m gay,” Franny said matter-of-factly.

The three men stared at him and then at themselves.

“You’re too young to be making those decisions,” Paul said.

“Uh, uh, I don’t like girls so that makes me gay. That’s what you told me last Christmas. You said you were gay because you like boys and not girls.”

“Well, Paul, looks like you’ve got a bit of explaining to do,” Boots said. “Come on, Zach, let’s go in back and get your measurements and leave Daddy Paul to explain. I’d like to watch, but I’m afraid my laughter would be inappropriate.”

“You don’t have to tell me,” Zach said. “Good luck, Paul, better you than me.”

“Come on, Franny, let’s go out to the car for a minute,” Paul said.

“Am I in trouble?” Franny asked.

“No, son, you’re not in trouble, just a little confused,” Paul said.

“He’s good with kids,” Boots said as he and Zach walked toward the backroom. “He’d have made a good parent, but then he was sort of a parent to a lot of the boys he painted. You’re a little young, though. How old are you, Zach?”

“Seventeen, I’ll be eighteen in October.”

“That’s too young to be in Paul’s studio,” Boots said as he rummaged through a drawer then took out a measuring tape. “Strip to your underwear. You’re not wearing boxers, are you?”

“Yeah, why?”

“Take ’em off. I don’t want a lot of material in my way when I get your measurements.”

Zach felt a little embarrassed as he undressed in front of the old man. He knew what was going to happen when got down to his skin. He knew what was going to be said. He wasn’t certain he wanted to hear the old man say anything. After hanging his clothes on the hook, Boots waved his hand and Zach turned around waiting for the inevitable.

Except, nothing happened, nothing was said. Boots started with Zach’s head and carefully measure length and circumference of every part of Zach’s body down to his feet. When he was through Zach put his clothes back on, all the while watching Boots watch him.

“Thought I was going to mention your dick, didn’t you?” Boots said. “Come on, let’s go get a coffee.”

“Yeah, everyone does,” Zach said following the old man out the back door and over to the tacqueria.

“My Bobby had eight inches of pure, uncut pleasure,” Boots said. “He died two years ago. He was eighty-seven. I gave him his last orgasm three days before he died. I’d like to think he died with a smile, but it’s foolish to think things like that.”

“I’m sorry,” Zach said, not knowing what else to say.

“Don’t be, Bobby was all man, even if he was an accountant. Come on in.”

“Buenos dias, Don Clearfield,” a short, black haired man in dark slacks and a white shirt with a sky blue tie said as they walked into the kitchen.

Zach watched how the employees seemed to go out of their way to either avoid Boots or practically grovel at his feet. Zach could only assume the older employees knew Boots enough not to need satisfaction that the big boss noticed them.

“Manuel? Sopapias por favor.”

“You speak Spanish,” Zach said.

“Just enough to impress those who don’t. Most everyone here speaks English when I’m here. Those that don’t are enrolled in ESL classes. Come on, we can have a nice, private conversation in here.”

Zach followed Boots through a small office, then out to a booth in the back of the restaurant. Two steaming cups of coffee and a small stainless steel pitcher of cream were on the table.

“You own this, too?” Zach asked.

“Yeah, the whole building and the next three west of here. I’ve been here over sixty years. Somewhat of an institution, I guess.”

“Then you were with Bobby a long time?”

“Yeah, since high school. We avoided the draft for WW II on the same day, too. Went down to the recruiting station holding hands and giving each other little kisses on the cheek. They tried to say we were faking it to get out of serving our country, but we said we were volunteering. We wanted to serve. Well, they weren’t having any queers in their Army, Navy, or Marine Corps, at least not openly blatant queers like Bobby and I.”

“So, they wouldn’t let you join up?” Zach asked.

“No, but they pointed us in the right direction,” Boots said with a gleam in his eye. “That’s when we moved up here and we open our first store. There were a lot of kids coming in from all over the country for training at bases around here and damned near every one of them, especially those cute boys from the East Coast wanted a pair of fancy boots and a nice fitting hat. We made a bundle off those boys and, quite frankly, enjoyed quite a few evenings with some of them, too.”

“I bet. I’ve never had my inseam measured quite like the way you did it.”

“It’s all in the fingers, son.”

“Yeah, but I’m only getting boots and hats,” Zach laughed. “Since when do you have to fondle my nuts to figure out my boot size?”

“You didn’t seem to mind.”

“I was beginning to think you were going to shove the end of that tape measure up my ass.”

“Paul was right, you are a sexy, little slut. If I was thirty years younger, I’d have been more than ready to shove something else up your ass.”

“It must be the shits getting old,” Zach said. He reached over and placed his hand on the back of the old man’s. “I never knew my granddaddy. He died on Utah Beach.”

“Didn’t have a fancy pair of boots, did he?”

“I suspect I’m the only cowboy from Carruthers, Oklahoma, who’s into fancy boots. Whether granddaddy was playing on both sides of the road is anybody’s guess, but I doubt it knowing how my father feels about queers. You don’t get to be bigoted like that on your own.”

“You never know, son, a lot of boys back then played, as you said, on both sides of the street all the time. Nothing was out in the open. It was all subtle and secretive. If you knew where to look, you could have a great time. I know Bobby and I had a blast and made a ton of money selling the boots and hats I was making.”

“You must have had a lot of fun back then,” Zach said as a waiter placed the sopapias between them. As he bit into one, his mouth and tongue tried to recoil at the extreme sweetness.

“They do that for me,” Boots said as he took a bite. “They think I’ll give them all raises if they jack up the sugar. Hell, they’re making more here, now, than practically any other restaurant in Dallas. What’s with the dopey kid look?”

“I was just thinking about how much fun it must have been when you were younger,” Zach said. He’d taken a mouthful of coffee hoping to soak up some of the sugar, but he’d put extra sugar in his coffee as he always did.

“Bobby and I had fun all our life. Bobby made sure of that. You know what your problem is?”

“I can name a few things.”

“Your problem is you’re too nice.”

“What’s wrong with that?”

“Nothing, but you won’t have as much fun in your life.”

“Don’t tell me you’re not nice?”

“I made you undress completely just to measure your hat and boot sizes. Now, if that isn’t nasty, then what is?”

“What did you guys talk about?” Zach asked as Paul headed west on I-20. Franny was asleep in the backseat, even though he’d ingested the rest of the sopapias. Zach figured the kid should’ve been bouncing off the walls, but his eyes were drooping by the time they got into the Explorer.

“Boots was concerned about your age and he had a few suggestions about how I should do you,” Paul said.

“I can think of a few ways you should do me,” Zach said, but as he looked at swoop and swirls of the Six Flags’ coasters, he thought he couldn’t let them just pass by. “Will you take us to Six Flags?”

“Tomorrow,” Paul said. “I want to show you what I have in mind. If you know what I want, you might be more willing to get into the poses I’ll need.”

“I know what you want,” Zach said. “But, where are you taking me?”

“We’re going to visit a collector,” Paul said. He looked over a Zach and smiled. “He has a ranch west of Sommersville. It’ll probably remind you of home.”

“I doubt it,” Zach said as his mind snapped back to seeing the turn-off to Carruthers earlier in the day. “There can’t be that many places in the world to remind me of that hellhole. The world is a pretty place as long as you don’t go anywhere near where the shit comes out. You can’t imagine how I hate that place.”

“No, I can’t imagine. I never went through what you did. I only had one person hate me.”

“Mother or father?”


“You were married?”

“Yeah, I thought that’s what you were supposed to do. You know, get married, make babies. Except I had a boyfriend, actually he was my best man at the wedding. I met him when I returned to college a year after my parents died, but I married my high school sweetheart, anyway. She caught us in a compromising position.”

“Do you miss her?”

“Actually, I never really got rid of her, or her family, that is. Her brother-in-law and I are pretty good friends. Miles can tell you a lot about how Frank helped him get his life back together. It helps having Frank in his life story because he doesn’t have to explain his relationship with the gay erotic artist who picked him up off the streets of Seattle and probably saved him from a very uncomfortable death, if you can call hypothermia uncomfortable.”

“You sound like Miles still means a lot to you,” Zach said. They were heading into the hill country west of Dallas and it did sort of remind Zach of the country around Carruthers, only this area looked much nicer.

“All my models mean something to me, but some of them mean a lot more than others. Miles came into my life when I was almost getting over Justin’s death. I was very much in love with Justin and he died tragically in a boating accident I witnessed. I can’t imagine anything more devastating to a person than watching a loved one die. I can still see his eyes when he realized he wasn’t going to be saved. He was so scared and there was nothing I could do; and, then Miles came into my life and I was able to get back to work. Some of the pieces I did with Miles are displayed in collections as legitimate art, not the erotica I’m more famous for. That’s what I hope you’re going to give me.”

“Just not some pretty boy on canvas?”

“You know, Zach, sometimes you can be such an ass,” Paul said.

Zach knew he’d hit a nerve and wished he could take back the words, but they’d been said and there was nothing to do except sit and wait for the coming tirade. Yet, only silence enveloped the Explorer as the tires crossing the expansion joints in the pavement cried out a rhythmic thump-thump, thump-thump. There wasn’t much to look at, just a lot of Texas oil wells, mesquite thickets, beeves, and an occasional cowboy sitting in his pickup contemplating the vagaries of the cosmos.

Thump-thump and Zach thought of Jeremy. He couldn’t imagine loving someone so much. He thought he loved Steven. He believed he loved Steven, but Jeremy was so much dearer, even if he was obnoxious, immature, and only a junior in high school. Zach couldn’t figure out why he missed Jeremy, but he did; and, it was in moments like this when he missed Jeremy most. He should’ve pursued the boy, taken the relationship to its logical conclusion rather than discarding him like someone throws away a sack of garbage.

Thump-thump and Zach tried to think of Steven languishing in the nut bin. Was he getting the therapy he needed or simply servicing the sexual needs of orderlies, interns, nurses, and whoever else wanted a pseudo-catamite. Was that why he wanted to love Steven? Or, did he see the adult hiding in Steven and wanted to bring that unknown person out into the open? Zach wasn’t certain about anything anymore. Maybe, just maybe, it was time to let go and hopefully Jeremy would still be willing and waiting.

Thump-thump and Zach wondered what he was going to do when Paul got him down to the studio. There was the bed, after all; and, he was very interested in seeing where Paul could lead him sexually. Paul had a lot of experience that Zach felt he needed. Only, there was Jeremy.

Thump-thump and Zach missed Jeremy more than he wanted. Then there was a slight bump and they were slowing. Zach looked around, but hadn’t seen the exit sign so he had no idea where they were. The hills were substantial for that part of Texas, though. The oil wells weren’t that numerous and many of the rod pumps weren’t in operable condition.

They turned right and headed north on two lane blacktop. It wasn’t much of a road and after a couple stop signs began to be much less. When the yellow line disappeared Zach started looking for a ranch gate. They went through a sharp gap in a low ridge and the pavement ended at a tall wrought iron gate mounted between two pillars of cut stone. Six foot chain link fencing went off in both directions, disappearing into the cluttered landscape. Paul got out and spoke in an intercom on a steel post. The gate opened inward and Paul returned to the Explorer.

“Now, Mr. Granger is not one noted for his social temperament,” Paul said, putting the car in drive and heading through the gate. “He said he has some company, but we’re welcome. So, this is the plan. We go in, get through the introductions, then you and I go into the house and see the artworks I want to show you. Franny will be fine outside. Mr. Granger enjoys kids, but we’re not here socially, so it’s get in, see what we need, then leave.”

“Okay, I guess,” Zach said. “It all sounds rather mysterious to me. What is he, some kind of recluse, or something?”

“No, just very rich, and it’s old money,” Paul said. “You might as well relax, though, because we won’t get to the ranch house for a couple miles.”

Zach looked around, but there was nothing except a lot of mesquite, prickly pear, and cattle shorn grass. Working rod pumps were in abundance and their associated tanks and separators were all painted a neutral beige that seemed to blend into the countryside. Zach knew this was a well run working ranch with enough people to handle all the needed tasks. This was the kind of ranch where cowboys didn’t live in shacks, but in nice houses or, for the lucky few, tornado targets.

The road started up a steep grade then topped the ridge and spread out before them in a low valley was a sizeable ranch house with enough outbuildings to keep a paint crew busy for a season. The road curved down the hill and ended at a large paved parking area in front of the house. There was a broad veranda extending the length of the west side of the house. Two dressed stone chimneys stood at either end and the front door was paneled with cut and frosted glass.

There was an impromptu game of touch football occurring on the side lawn. Zach immediately noticed the various stages of undress of the players who all appeared to be at least in college. All were shirtless and a couple were wearing nothing except their shoes. He began to wonder what Paul was leading him into.

“Hey, Franny! Time to get up, boy!” Paul called out as he turned and jostled the boy’s foot.

“Huh? I gotta pee,” Franny mumbled.

“You always gotta pee,” Paul said.

“Well, I gotta,” Franny said. “Where are we?”

“At a friend of mine’s home,” Paul said. “Now, I want you to behave yourself while Zach and I go in the house. Can you do that?”

“But, I gotta pee.”

Almost on cue a young boy not much older than Franny came running out of the house chased by a lumbering golden retriever who wasn’t trying very hard to catch the boy. He was dressed in bright yellow and blue board shorts. He stood outside Zach’s door.

“Hi, I’m Brent,” the boy said as Zach opened his door. The dog came up and sniffed Zach’s leg. “This is Chantelle, she’s not mean.”

“Hi Chantelle,” Zach said holding out his hand to pass the smell test. He scratched an ear and knew he was welcome.

Franny came out the back door and immediately shied away from the dog, who seemed to sense Franny’s trepidation at meeting such a large animal. The dog ran around to check out Paul and Franny shut his door.

“Hi! I’m Brent.”

“My name is Francis, but everyone calls me Franny.”

“I’m Zach. Do you know where Franny might find a bathroom?”

“Sure, come on Franny.”

Franny started to go, but Chantelle overheard the conversation and was suddenly between Zach and Brent. Franny shrunk behind Zach’s leg.

“She won’t hurt you Franny,” Brent said. “She wouldn’t hurt anyone. She’s too nice.”

Franny wasn’t buying any of the explanation. He tugged on Zach’s arm and said, “I gotta pee, bad.”

“What’s with the dog?” Zach asked. “Are you afraid of dogs?”

“Mr. Slater had a bad dog that chased me on my bike,” Franny whispered. “It knocked me down and bit me. See?”

Franny pulled up his pant leg and Zach saw an ugly scar on his calf.

“I don’t think Chantelle is going to bite you,” Zach said. “She seems to be a good dog.”

Chantelle seemed to know something was definitely wrong and walked over toward the football game.

“See, she’s going away,” Brent said. “She’s smart. Come on, Franny, the commode’s just inside the door.”

“Okay,” Franny whispered and let Brent take his hand.

Zach watched the boys head into the house then walked to the other side of the Explorer where Paul was talking to a man who appeared to be at least sixty.

“Zach, this is Bill Granger,” Paul said.

“Glad to meet you sir,” Zach said extending his hand. The grip was firm and friendly.

“Nice to meet you Zach,” Bill said. “You’re right Paul, he’s going to look good on canvas. Have any idea what you’re going to do?”

“Boots suggested a few pastel studies for lithographs and maybe a couple paintings for a select few. I know he’ll want one.”

“Well, you can count on Dad wanting one, too,” Bill said. “Who was the kid?”

“Miles’ youngest,” Paul said. “What was wrong, Zach?”

“Franny has a problem with dogs. He’s got a nasty scar on his leg from where a dog bit him. I wish we had time because he needs to learn not all dogs are mean.”

“If it’s okay with you two, I’ll take care of the dog problem while you’re showing Zach our collection.”

“Good idea, Bill,” Paul said. “Come on Zach let’s get you educated on Paul Griffin’s art work.”

They went in the front door then turned left into a hallway running along the front of the house. Three doors down they went into a room that for all intents and purposes was an art gallery. Most of the paintings weren’t Paul Griffin’s, but there were enough for Zach to stop at each one.

“Is that Miles?” Zach asked at a painting of a young nude lying seductively on a bare mattress. Obviously, it was the bed in the studio, but most people wouldn’t know that. “God, Paul, I’m getting hard just looking at it.”

“That is probably one of my best. That was the fourth painting I did with Miles and everything came together. I did one more. It’s over by the fireplace.”

“What’s this?” Zach asked as he came to another piece, not by Paul. “Colored pencils?”

“Pastels, that’s what I’m going to do you in for the most part.”

“Who’s this?” Zach asked at the next Paul Griffin piece.

“That’s Justin.”

“The one who died?”


“He looks happy.”


“Paul? I’m sorry for what I said.”

“Like I told you before, sometimes you just think with your dick.”

“It’s going to be hard work, isn’t it?”

“Yeah, but the reward is worth it.”

“For you, but what about me?”

“You’d be surprised what you’ll get out of it.”

Zach thought of having sex with Paul. That was the extent of his imagination. What else could there be? Suddenly, he wanted to have sex with someone, anyone.

“Paul? Can I go out tonight?” Zach asked.

“Out where?”

“I don’t know, out at the racetrack. There’s got to be something going on with all those people and the motor homes. Heck, I saw some tents, too. Maybe, I’ll run into some kids my age to hang with.”

“I thought you were supposed to be taking care of the boys.”

“Little Paul doesn’t need anything except that music and Franny, well, give him the GameBoy. I don’t think they give you much of a problem.”

“You get them settled down for bed, then you can go on your wandering, but be careful. You know, better than anyone, the mentality of these cowboys.”

“Yeah, I know cowboys,” Zach said, thinking of Steven working the rodeo and wondering if he could get some of that action up here at the racetrack. He looked at the other painting of Miles, the curve of the ass, the tautness of the thigh muscles, the calf ready for action, the toes tense against an anvil, a sinewy arm holding a hammer, the other disappearing into the unseen groin, and all the other enticements made him want only one thing. He needed a cock tonight and he didn’t care where he got it. He had to get out and find it.

“I petted Chantelle,” Franny said in a moment when Little Paul didn’t have music plugged into his ears. “She was nice, for a dog.”

“She didn’t try to bite you?” Little Paul asked.

“No and she’s got teeth, too.”

Zach couldn’t sit and watch the two boys lay out their sleeping bags on the hide-a-bed. He was too nervous. He was going to give someone, anyone, a blowjob tonight and maybe, possibly, if it all worked out, he’d get one, too, but that wasn’t necessary. He needed a cock and he needed it bad.

He was sitting in the recliner watching the boys, drumming his fingers on the armrest, and wondering somewhere in the back of his mind why he was feeling like this. Earlier, as they were driving back from the Granger ranch, this feeling had come over him. It was in his gut. He barely made in through the burgers David made; and, they were good.

He’d thought of wearing his special jeans, but his cock wasn’t having anything tight around it. It wanted something and it wanted that now. Zach knew what he wanted, but his cock wanted something more; and, it just wasn’t his cock wanting that, either. There was something in his mind, too. Something he’d never known was there. It was focused on sex. Zach couldn’t think of anything except sex.

He’d never felt like this before, even when it was just him and his right hand. Well, there were times when the right hand didn’t seem to interest him all that much, so he’d do it with his left, which wasn’t as good and took a lot longer, but this feeling he was having now wasn’t at all like that. Zach knew the only thing that was going to satisfy him anytime in the next few hours was a dick in his mouth. One up his ass would be better, but he figured one in his mouth would satisfy the hunger he was feeling. He knew, though, that might not happen, so he was trying to wrap a thought around that part of his mind that maybe just holding another cock while it came might be okay, too.

He didn’t like what he was feeling. He couldn’t concentrate on anything other than having sex with someone, anyone. The two boys were changing into their pajamas and he couldn’t watch as they stripped down to nothing. Obviously, there was no modesty in their family. Nakedness was something not to be feared. He got up and went outside.

“Something wrong?” David asked. He was sitting in a lawn chair reading a book.

“No, the boys are getting ready for bed and I thought I’d give them a few moments alone,” Zach said as he looked out into the night and felt something very primal deep inside him. Someone was out there waiting for him, someone who could satisfy the need in him.

“Paul says you’re going out.”

“Yeah, I thought I might hook up with some kids. Hang out, you know.”

“You be careful, Zach, these NASCAR idiots aren’t as liberal as you might want them. There are a lot of very conservative people around here who don’t take too lightly having a gay boy wandering around in their midst.”

“It’s not like I have a tattoo on my forehead.”

“No, but you know what I mean. Don’t act stupid and get yourself beat up.”

“I’m not looking to get beat up.”

He wasn’t either and less than a half hour later Zach was wandering up the row of motor homes checking out the action, or rather lack of action. Most of the people seemed mostly interested in what was happening in their own little piece of the world. When he got to the end of the row he began to wonder if he’d find what he was looking for.

“Can we help you?” a voice behind him asked.

Zach turned and saw two Sommersville policemen. They were wearing all their regalia, including the white cowboy hats they were famous for. Both were tall and muscular; and, Zach’s mind went into high gear as it began to formulate a way for Zach to get one of them alone in some dark place.

“I was just out looking to see if there were some kids as bored as me,” Zach said.

“Hey, you’re Zachary Alexander, right?” one of the policemen asked. His name tag said “Wright.”

“Yeah, but how do you know me?” Zach asked as a chill ran down his spine.

“You were in the Sommersville Gazette a couple weeks ago,” Officer Wright said.

“I was?”

“You don’t know about the article? All the shit that’s been going on in Oklahoma?”

“What shit?”

“Son, all Hell’s broke lose in Hannaford County because of you,” the other officer said. His name tag said “Johnson.”

“I don’t understand,” Zach said as a familiar queasy feeling began to fill his gut.

“How many times were you beaten up?” Officer Johnson asked. “And, how many times did the local police do anything?”

“The police never did anything, other than tell me to be more careful.”

“Well, it’s no wonder you’re not living there anymore, but what are you doing down here?”

“My uncle is a NASCAR fan and we’re parked down there in spot 145.”

“Living with your uncle?”

“Yeah, I’m going to college up near Seattle and living in his condo. He’s helped a lot when no one else was interested.”

“You be careful tonight and most of the kids your age are three rows over. You’ll hear the music.”

“Thanks officers.”

“You be safe,” Officer Johnson said.

Zach walked away wondering what was with the newspaper article. He wasn’t too certain he was meant to hear, but he heard Officer Wright say, “Doesn’t look or act queer at all. I wonder what made all those people turn on him?”

For a second, Zach thought about going back and explaining, but he was on a mission and there was a cock out here somewhere with his name on it.

The music wasn’t that loud, but it was definitely country. Four motor homes into the row and Zach saw them, seven teens, three girls and four boys, standing around looking very bored, listening to Kenny Chesney sing about being on a beach somewhere. Zach started checking out the boys, three of whom seemed to be very interested in the girls. The fourth boy, who looked a little older than the others, was drinking a long neck Lone Star and looked like he was enjoying it.

“Hi, is this a private party?” Zach asked as he walked up to them.

“Hey, look it’s another refugee,” one of the girls said.

“Grab a Pepsi, I’m Denai,” a skinny blonde said. “That’s Ronnie and her brother Todd over there. Those two over there are Vicki and her friend Al. This is Brandon and that guy over there is my cousin, Conan. If you’re over twenty-one, he might give you a beer, otherwise you’re stuck with Pepsi.”

“Name’s Zach. Nothing but Pepsi, huh?”

“Sorry, that’s all we got,” Denai said. “I could go inside and get you a glass of water.”

“No, that’s all right.”

“Are you from around here?”

“No, we’re three rows over and twenty spots down.”

“No, are you from around here?”

“We’re down from Seattle.”

“All that way? We’re from Houston and I thought that was a long way.”

“Like a beer?” Conan said at Zach’s side.

“I don’t have fake ID,” Zach said as a strange feeling shot out of his head and down his spine. His dick suddenly twinged.

“Come on, you’re with me,” Conan said.

“Conan? What are you doing?” Denai whined.

“Don’t you never mind,” Conan said. “Come on, Zach, let me give you a beer.”

“You call that beer?” Zach asked.

“Yes, as a matter of fact, I do,” Conan said.

“Well, if you’re that insistent, maybe I’ll try one,” Zach said. “Um, well, I guess it’s okay.”

“How many beers have you had in your young life?”

“Maybe a couple cases, Bud mostly.”

“God, you’re definitely not from Texas.”

“I thought Bud was brewed in Texas.”

“Hell, it’s brewed everywhere.”

“You seem to know a lot about beer.”

“Dad’s a distributor. I know more about beer than I should, but you’re right this is definitely an acquired taste. I prefer Sierra Nevada IPA, but this is what Dad’s hauling this weekend.”

Zach wasn’t paying that much attention to anything other than the conversation and the beer in his hand. When he became aware of the hand on his ass, he wasn’t certain how long it had been there. He swallowed some beer and looked at Conan, who was very close.

“Uh, you seem interested in something other than talking about beer,” Zach said.

“You might say that,” Conan said. “Come on, I know a place where we can go. You want it, don’t yah?”

“Sure, why not?”

“We’re taking a walk,” Conan said. “You kiddies stay out of the beer. I know how many are left.”

Zach followed Conan, but was beginning to feel uncertain about this. Something didn’t feel quite right, but that other part of his brain was definitely ready for action. His dick was puffing up, getting ready for what it was certain was going to happen.

“Come on, Zach, I know you want this, don’t yah?”

“Yeah, sure.”

They walked down the row toward the stadium. Zach looked around, but no one was paying them the least bit of attention. He felt Conan’s hand on his ass, again.

“Too bad we don’t have a room to go to,” Conan said, rubbing his hand up Zach’s crack. “I’d love to get some of this, too. God, you’re hot!”

Zach still felt something wasn’t quite right. This was too easy. It was as if Conan was ready before Zach got there and now he was going off to some dark place, but that was what he went out for, so what was the problem? Why was he having second thoughts? He was going to have sex. That’s what this was all about.

“In here,” Conan said, leading Zach between two small buildings. “Right here. No one can hear us, unless I scream. I tend to scream when I come. I’ll try to hold myself. Here let me get it out for you.”

It was too dark for Zach to see much, but he looked down anyway. He put his hand on it and it wasn’t all that big. It was okay, not too small, but not that big, either. He squatted down to get to his knees.

His mind lit up as pain seared out of his groin. He fell back and felt the boot connect with him, again. Another boot landed in his gut. He screamed out in agony as another boot connected. He tried to get away, to grab at the boots coming at him, but Conan was moving about, changing position before Zach could think.

Zach screamed, again, as a boot hit him in the ribs. He felt his right arm go numb and was certain it had been broken as pain seared away from the numbness. He thought he heard other voices calling out, but unbearable pain darkened his mind. He tried to concentrate, but the pain was too much and he let it take him away.