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Any use of real places, events, corporations or products within this text are strictly for the purpose of adding realism and authenticity to the writing. Critiques are always welcome. Also, please let me know what you think of the format. If you want more information about any rodeo events, there are tons of resources online.

Written exclusively for Nifty Archives. This story involves sexual relationships between boys, aged 15 and older. If this is illegal in your area, please do not read on. This story is work of fiction. Any similarities between real places, people, and events is completely coincidental and unintentional. If you read the archives frequently, then you know the drill. Take the rest with a grain of salt. This story is (c) 2007-08, Milos. All rights reserved! Please do NOT repost this story without permission.

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Summer's End.

We sit under a big blue sky. Wild yellow grains sway in the wind. It's like a grassland out here. Hell, I think it is. There're wind turbines higher up on the hill behind us. A slow whoosh whoosh whoosh. The dry sound of locusts fiddlin' their legs together. There's a road at the bottom of the hill, goes straight out ahead of us, off further to the east. To the middle of nowhere. You can see for miles from here.

Mattie brought a tan blanket to sit on. We packed a small lunch and drove a hundred or so miles east. Found a few out of the way roads. Looked in the atlas for a good bit of state land we could perch on without really being seen.

Mattie's sitting on the ground. Knees up. I'm sittin' between his legs, resting my elbows on his knees. My back against his chest. He's got his arms over my shoulders, playin' with a set of dog tags Jason gave me. Nibbling on my neck every so often. He's comfortable to lean on.

I watch a little jackrabbit run across the road. Duck away into his little hole.

Weather's so nice, I decided to take my shirt off. Shadow's wearing a short-sleeved button-down. He kept it on, but undid the buttons down the front. Let it kinda flap around in the breeze.

We'd probably be eating right now if we hadn't eaten our lunch on the way over.

I turn my head toward him the best I can. Give him a nice, long kiss. Look into his eyes. They reflect the wheat. "I'm gonna miss this."

He has a guitly look on his face. I reckon I know why. Starts rubbing my belly. Puts his chin on my shoulder and looks at the horizon. "Beautiful out here."

"It's lonely."

He squeezes me. "It's not lonely with you here."

He makes me feel worthless when he says things like that. Probably because I know he could do better than me. I fake a smile. "You're too much, sometimes."

"What's wrong?"


"Think two guys like us could stay together like a man and woman? Like, live together and be lovebirds of a sort?"

I look over my shoulder at him. Shrug. "I don't see why not."

"I wonder what..."

I pull his face into mine, just, shut him up. It's too much temptation him being here like this. I push up on my arm and turn, push him over and lay on top of him. Feel a warm breeze across my back. Work the button on his pants apart. Fight with his clothes and get him down into nothing but his shirt. Lean down and start kissing him again. Touching tongues. Bite his bottom lip. Heavy breath. Cradle the back of his head.

He gets me by the belt loops and pulls down. Gets a thrust outta me. Wraps his legs around my back.

I stick my finger in my mouth. Slobber on it a little and start rubbing his ringpiece.

He moans.

I drop down. Put his head in my mouth. Suck on it for a bit. Go all the way down. Taste something sweet. Thick. Something that tells me he's ready for anything, that he's waiting for it. I start kissing him again.

I feel him workin' under me, trying to get my belt unbuckled. My pants. He gets them around my ass.

I kick them all the way off. Just lay on top of him. Kiss the better part of me. Love him.

"Fffuck me!" He's got a hunger in his eyes.

I've got a burning in my heart. Feel a tingling pressure, almost an ache, building up behind my nuts. A feeling just shy of my shame. I reach over to the little cloth cooler I brought for the drinks. Unzip the little storage pocket on the front. I didn't know why, but I figured we might need it. I've been hiding a small bottle of it in my truck, where Jason used to hide a can of Skoal.

Squeeze a little onto my fingers. A bit drips onto Mattie's stomach. I rub his hole with it. Massage it.

He rolls his hips.

I stick a finger in, work in a second one.

"OH, God!" It squeezes around my fingers.

I Pull them out a little and push them back in. Out and in. A little faster.

Mattie makes sounds like a whining dog, a cur. I don't think he cares as long as I'm in him.

I make a hook with my fingers. Pull up on the knot with a little force.

The pressure causes him to lift his back off the blanket a bit. "Uhhhhhhh-- huh! Uh! Uh!" A string oozes from the tip, the spendings I'm forcing through him. I could milk him just like this. We could stay here all afternoon, me with my fingers up his ass just dripping him dry.

He puts his heels on my shoulders, thrusts his pelvis up. Still rockin' his hips. A front row seat to what I'm doin' to him. Deep in the center of all his nerves. Twist my fingers and knock my knuckles into the wall. Makes him cry out, a pleading like he wants more. Push down toward his spine for a bit. Pull back up. Find the bump again. Give it a good push. Watch the fluids drip out the nozzle, puddle up on his belly and roll off the side of his stomach.

I work him over for ten minutes with just my shakin' hand.

He puts his feet down and turns over. Sticks his ass in the air, face down, shows me the peach pit. I squirt a little jelly on his hole, rub it on good. My dick is getting pretty wet itself. I wrap my fingers around it, pull like I'm milkin' a cow. Catch the slime with my slippery hand and slick my dick. I rub his hole, the bottom part of it toward his balls. Push my finger against the tract below his hole, rub it along to his nuts and back. This small, pink fissure. My stomach turns. If there wasn't lube on it, I'd have my face in there. Here I am thinkin' this is the most beautiful thing I ever seen. What's wrong with me? It's an asshole!

"Fuck me, Lem!"

I run myself through the crack a few times. Slide up and catch the ridge of my pecker on his hole. Knock the head in.

Shadow grabs the blanket. "God!"

I take it slow. Mattie doesn't even buckle or jump, he just lets me slide right on in. Here I am on the side of a hill in the middle of nowhere, balls deep in my best friend and praying to God my brother really isn't looking down on me right now from a satellite somewhere off in space...

We go for a while, but I don't like this position. I can't see his face. "Lay on your side."

He turns and lays down. I straddle his lower leg, grind his thigh. Pull his upper leg against my chest. Push myself back in.

"Uhhhhh. Uh-uh-uh-uh-uh-uh-uh-uh."

We get to goin' again at a pretty fast clip. I'm slamming him pretty good, gotta be rattling the teeth around in his head.

He gets me behind the neck, shifts his body so he's on his back and pulls me down on top of him. Puts his legs over my shoulders, kinda lets them slide off so they're around my arms. Got a look on his face that he's far away from here.

I grab his dick, squeeze.

A few thick veins raise up. He shouldn't have any lack of pride for his blessings. He's big enough that I can wrap my fingers around it and barely touch the first knuckle of my pointer finger with my thumb. Makes me cringe thinkin' that thing's been in me before. He's six-five. A grower, not a shower. Not a horse by any sense of the word, but enough to give my ass a workout from a decent distance away. He's dripping. "Ahhhgh! Unnnn!" Grunts like a wild animal.

I feel it building up in me. I want him to go first. Don't think it'll be an issue. I work his pole pretty fast, his breathing gets faster. Vein in his neck. Squeezes his eyes shut, bares his teeth. His face is turing red. I slam him as hard as I can. Feel his hole start grabbing.

A long, thick string shoots across his chest, then another.

I can't take it anymore. I pull out, barely touch it and fling my load clear across his face. The next one lands on his stomach, mixes with his own. He's still going. One hot throb after another. I've never seen such a mess.

Mattie lies there, heaving breath like a fuckin' athlete. He's got his feet planted on the ground, legs shaking like a leaf. Glistening hole, red, throbbing. "Fuck," he tries to say between breaths.

# # #

Breeders and contractors speak very highly of their animals. In fact, when their time's come and gone, they reflect back on their ranks like they were part of their family. Having a truly great buckin' bull is a thing of great honor and respect.

Some get attached. When Playboy's owner sent him off to the slaughter house, he asked for Playboy's head. He tied the head to a tree in his front yard, just to let it weather. The old man always said he liked it hanging there. It gave him something to look at.

At least Red Rock was buried.

Makes me wonder how Backdraft's gonna be remembered when he gets old and dies.

# # #

We stopped at a small gas station about ten miles from the hill. One of those places that's old enough that the bathrooms were outside, and you'd have to get a key from the attendant. Didn't want to go home smelling like musk and jizz. Washed off best we could. Don't think it'll be too noticeable.

Mattie's holding my hand, looks like he's about to fade out. Looks over at me once in a while with a smile on his face.

I sigh. I'm about to fuck up a perfect moment. Squeeze his hand. "Shadow?"


"Why're you thinkin' about following me to South Dakota?" I look over real quick.

He sighs. "Don't you want me to?"

Deep in my heart, I really don't wanna say this. "No, I don't."

He looks confused, sad. Lets go of my hand and folds them in his lap.

"Mattie, you've been given something I can't give you. You have your school all taken care of. You have a future. I won't let you give that up because of me."

"I can make it work. I'll work through college to pay my bills. Maybe get a loan."

"You'd be stupid if you did that! And I'd be selfish."

"You're beginning to sound like my brother." He leans his head back against the window. Crosses his arms.

"Be level-headed about it, would you? I'm trying to be reasonable."

"Yeah, well, I resent it." He looks off at the mountains.

I pull off to the side, park on the shoulder. Squeeze the steering wheel. "I'm saying it because I fuckin' love you, you... Goddamned idiot." I grab onto him and squeeze. "Do you know how much I didn't want to say this? Any of it! You just can't give away something like that because of me."

"I'm doing it because I want to. I want to spend my life with you."

"Mattie, you're seventeen!"

"So the fuck what!?"

"Please, just, go to Arizona."

"You don't want to be with me, do you?"

"You have no idea how much I want to be with you. Just... fuckin' listen to me. I want you to go to Arizona and go to school. Go to college. Learn new things. Meet new people." I feel a tear run down my face. "We could get together for breaks and everything. We could still spend time together, Mattie. After it's done, if you still wanna get together, I mean, if you haven't found someone..."

"What do you mean if I haven't found someone?"

"There're better people than me out there."

"Don't let my fuckin' brother get to you!"

"It ain't got nothing to do with Ronnie. I want you to be happy. If you find someone else, I don't want you to feel guilty, and I don't want you to think I'd hold it against you. Maybe you'll find a nice girl to marry, or a guy if that's what your heart wants. Look at what you did--you got away from me for a year and now you're going to off to college early!"

His face tightens up, starts crying. "Why does it hurt so much, Lem?"

I slide over and hug him. "It hurts me, too, but you need to do your thing for a while. I will always love you deep inside. No matter what. Nothing will change that, ever!"

He kinda laughs and sniffles at the same time. "I hate what you do to me, Lem. It feels like you've gone and put a curse on me."

# # #

Hard, orange light hits the side of Mattie's face. Makes his eyes look almost gray and clear. The fire's crackling and popping pretty good. Mattie's laying on his side with his head in my lap. I'm sittin' against a rock, indian style. Fixin' to hold this stick over the fire pit and roast this marshmallow. I just don't want it drippin' on Mattie's face.

Chase's sitting off to my right a few feet, just staring into the flames. Joey and Heather are sitting across the way, both of 'em perched on a log. It feels strange having Mattie like this with my sister here. She hasn't really seen us together like this before. I guess she's okay with it, maybe 'cuz she grew up around him too. She looks over once in a while, sees me strokin' Mattie's hair or somethin'. Just beams at us like she's happy.

I'll always have my real family, but this is my family, too. I can understand why Ronnie is the way he is; I'd die for any one of these people.

I guess this's what we'd call the send-off party. I got ol' Dawson to get me two sixers of hard lemonade. One's cranberry flavored. Just sittin' here, having a drink or three, enjoying the company. Chase has been pretty good, so far. Said she won't have more than two, and she's still nursing the first one. I wish I had that much self control back when.

Mattie sits up, finds his stick. Slides a marshmallow on the end of it and sticks it in. After a bit, he catches it on fire. Blows it out and sticks it on his s'more fixin's.

I put my stick in the fire and get it good and brown.

He holds the stick to his face, blows to cool it off. Takes a bite. A big glob of chocolate goop drips down the side of his face. He tries to wipe it off, but just ends up smearing it all over. Got it on the side of his lips, around his mouth. It's like we were kids again.

I giggle at him. Slide my marshmallow across my graham cracker.

"What's so funny?"

"Well, isn't that a hot mess?" I take a bite and end up getting mine everywhere.

He turns red.

I hear Chase giggle.

Joey laughs. "You two look like little boys!"

I feel myself starting t blush. "Take a picture, it'll last longer."

She does. I forgot she brought her damn camera. Snaps a few more.

Mattie giggles a bit and puts his arm around my shoulder. Poses for a few more. She gets one with us leaning our heads together.

I can feel it all over my face. Lick the corners of my mouth, but I don't think it's doin' much good. Chase taps me on the shoulder. When I look over, she holds a paper towel out at me. Leans over and hands Mattie one, too.

I open a bottle of water next to my feet. Get part of the napkin wet and start cleaning my face. Look over at Mattie.

Joey snaps another picture, about blinds me with the flash. Gets another one when Shadow throws his arms around me and about knocks me over.

I get a quick glimpse of Heather outta the corner of my eye. She looks a little uncomfortable right now. Kinda lookin' down like she's not sure about something. Says it matter-of-factly. "This ain't so bad. Wish I'd have known y'all sooner, before everyone decided to go off to school."

Joey winks at her, gets a little too coy. "You ain't too bad yourself."

Heather blushes a little, then turns beet red. "I... Ugh!" She stands up and walks off. Goes past me and Mattie.

Everyone looks at each other like they don't know what to do.

"God, don't everyone get up at once!" I stand up and start heading up the trail after her.

I hear Joey over my shoulder. "I didn't mean nothin' by it! I was just tryin' to be friendly."

I walk through some bushes that have grown over the trail. Find her rubbin' Abia's nose.

She looks over at me, then down at the ground. "I'm sorry, Lem. I don't know what got into me."

"What's the matter?"

She stays quiet.

"Wanna talk about it?" I take a step closer, pat her horse on the neck.

"It's all too much. You an' Matthew. Joey. I don't know why, but something deep inside me just doesn't want to... you know... see it for what it is."

"See what? Me and Mattie?"

She nods.

"We didn't make you uncomfortable when we was holding hands or anything, did we?"

"Not too much." She blinks. Shrugs. "I don't know."

"You've made it this far. I mean, you knew about us before we even came up here. Besides, Joey didn't mean anythin' by it."

"It's unnatural!" Her eyes dart back and forth, mouth goes a little slack. Looks away. "God, Lem. I'm so sorry I said that just now. I've just made a complete ditz of myself."

I sigh. "I had problems with it for a while."

She looks at me. "You did?"

"Yeah. I mean, it was confusing for a while. I just felt so damned guilty every time a person would look at me, like they knew. And I was afraid that someone would find out and hurt Mattie."

"Sounds like quite a burden."

"It is. You get to a point when it just kinda clicks. I'm not saying that it's natural or anything. I still have issues with it. I never asked for things to be like this. Just sorta happened."

"Guess the bible says to love the sinner, not the sin."

"I guess that's a way to look at it."

"Aren't you afraid of going to Hell or something? I mean, doesn't that bother you that's what everyone thinks?"

I shake my head. "For some reason, it really doesn't bother me. I mean, Momma takes us to church on the holidays and everything, but I've never really been a religious man. I believe there's something out there, but I don't think whatever it is hates me for the way I turned out."

"I don't know what to say to that, Lem."

I pause. "You don't hafta say anything."

"I guess I should go. If I go back in there, I'll look like a huge bitch or something."

"Heather..." I sigh. "Nobody's gonna think anything less of you."

"What about Joey?"

"Give her a chance. A friend like her could be good for you."

"What if she wants something I can't give her?"

"If she gets fresh, you just tell her to knock it off! Tell her you just wanna be friends and nothing else. Joey can respect that."

She nods. "I wanna be different than this. I don't wanna be like my parents."

"Nobody's asking you to be like your parents. Mattie was running around quoting Gandhi from a book a few days ago, when we were out riding around. There was one that kinda stuck with me, and I know I heard it somewhere before."

"What was it?"

"Change starts with you."

She nods. "You two're very smart."

"I ain't smart! I think all the rodeo's rattled out what's left of my brain. Hell, it's Shadow that's taking the philosophy classes, not me."

"I wish I could find a guy like him. Quiet, smart, handsome." She shrugs. "Guess it won't happen 'till I get outta here."

I start to wonder if that's what this's all been about. Mattie. I dodge it for now. "We should get back to the others." I put my arm around her shoulders. Give her a little squeeze. "If someone's doing something that makes you uncomfortable, just let me know. Okay?"


We walk down the path a little ways. The fire's dying down a little. I can hear Joey laughin' about something all the way up here. Come into the light a little bit and I spot Mattie tryin' to balance a bottle on his forehead.

Joey and Chase look over at us. Mattie goes to turn his gaze, knocks the bottle over and smacks himself in the head. "Owww."

Heather giggles. "Careful, there, Matthew!"

# # #

I look out the window and watch the scenery fly by. Dad's got some business he needs to take care of in Bozeman today, so Momma thought it'd be good to get my school shopping out of the way. Get some things for my dorm room, some new clothes, school supplies.

Mattie came along with us. He's sitting next to me in the middle seat. Got his head back and he's conked out. Chase is sittin' on the other side of him.

Dad takes the exit and slows down.

Mattie wakes up when we cross the rumble strip, looks around the cabin. "...but I don't like lemonade!"

Momma looks over her shoulder, smiles. "You okay, kiddo?"

Mattie blinks a few times, looks like he finally woke up. "Huh?" Rubs his eyes. "Did someone say something about lemonade?"

I shake my head. "Dude, nobody was talkin'."


Chase giggles.

There's a strip mall ahead of us. Has a lot of the bigger shops in it. Office Depot, Best Buy. Linens 'n Shit. Dad must know his wallet's in danger. "We're just gettin' stuff for Lem," looks her dead in the eye, "right?"

She slaps his arm.

He rolls his eyes. Makes fun of Momma. "Oh, look at this, isn't this cute, Chase? Oh, we could use one of these. Look at that! Oh, and that!"

"Gary! I don't sound like that."

He parks the truck. Leans over and gives her a kiss.

Momma sits back and crosses her arms.

"Go easy on me, will 'ya?"

We get out of the truck, start heading toward Best Buy. "There's a Kohl's over there. Looks like we're gonna be able to get everything in one stop." Momma looks over at Dad. "When's your appointment?"

He looks at his watch. "I've got two hours or so before I have to get going. Maybe we could drop the kids off at the coffee shop over there and I could have you drop me off so you could keep shopping or something."

"I don't have my key to the tonneau cover."

Dad examines his key ring. Starts working a key out of the metal hoop. Hands her the key. "We said a thousand, right?"

Momma nods, pops the key on her keychain. Stops just inside the door. "Why don't you two go look at the microwaves and fridges. We'll be over in a minute."

Dad looks at his watch. "I'm gonna go look at the TV's."

Momma calls after him. "Don't you get any ideas!"

I shrug, lead Mattie down the isle.

We walk back to the appliance section. I start lookin' at the microwaves. Some of these are way too nice for a dorm room. With the price tag, I don't think mom'd go for any of them. "This sucks. They don't have much of anything. That eighty dollar one looks like a piece of crap. I don't think it's the right power requirements, either."

"Do you know what you need?" Mattie runs his leg into the corner of a desk, almost racks himself. He rubs his leg and keeps walkin' along with me.

I check my pocket. "Shit. Momma has my list. All I know is it has to be under a certain wattage for the dorm rooms."

We walk around, find Momma standing in the computer isle talkin' to some salesman. She looks at me when I walk up.

"I need the list. I can't remember what they said for power limits."

The salesman walks down the isle.

She nods. Hands me the list. "Keep the cost down. Remember you need one of those little fridges, too."

The guy walks up to Momma. "I did have a student copy." He holds out a copy of Microsoft Office. "You're going to need a student ID of some sort to qualify for the pricing, though."

"Can it be a high school ID?"

"Not usually, but I think I can swing something." He smiles. "If you go with the that HP instead of the one you were looking at, it's more powerful and it comes bundled with an all-in-one printer. The screen's a bit better than the one that comes with the Dell. Nicer for playing games."

"He won't be playin' games on it." She looks over her shoulder at me.

I grin ear to ear. "You're gettin' me a computer?"

She nods her head toward the other side of the store. "Go get your microwave."

# # #

Last night here at home. Momma's been on my ass all day with the packing, and I think I finally got a break while she makes dinner.

I called Mattie, see if he wanted to hang out. Maybe help me load and stay the night. Eat dinner with us.

I walk over to the tractor shed and go in to wait for him. Hear someone shift, so I figure he must be here already. Go up the ladder, but I don't see anyone. Suddenly, I feel something hard poking me in the back.

"Drop the pants and hand me the cock if you want to live."

I smile. "We'll need to go to the chicken coop if you want a cock."

"Smartass." Mattie wraps his arms around me, kisses me on the neck. "What if I would have been some big, bad mugger or something?"

"Guess I would'a had to drop my pants and hand over my cock, then."

"What's stoppin' you?"

"Dinner'll be ready in fifteen minutes."

He sounds disappointed. "Oh."

I turn around. "Don't worry. We'll have some time to mess around later." I grin at him.

He looks at the floor. "I wanted to talk to you about somethin'."

"What? What's wrong?"

He gives me a hangdog smile. "Well, since this is our last night together, well, at least for a while, I wanted to tell you that you mean the world to me. And... and I'm not ashamed of myself for what happened anymore. As long as I have these scars, I'll always have you with me." He looks down. "I know it kinda sounds sick, what I just said, but they remind me of the best thing I ever had in my life."

"Shadow, I..."

"I want you to look after something for me." He starts taking off his leather bracelet. Ties it around my wrist. "Lem, I want you to know you're my tether. You're the one that keeps me from floating off into the darkness."

"I can't take this, Mattie. It's too nice."

"Wear it for me, would you?" He scratches his arm. Looks me in the eyes. "I want you to be happy, too. No matter what happens, if you meet someone else, if we grow apart..." He trails off. Looks lost. "I don't care what happens, Lem, just, please, don't forget about me."

I hug him tight. "Fuck, Shadow, there ain't no way I'd ever forget you. Never."

# # #

Momma's still on the road. I pull into a parking spot and turn the truck off. Letters on the side of the building tell me I'm in the right spot. Brooks Hall. I get out and lean against the front of my truck, check my watch.

I've got Dad's cell phone in my pocket. It starts buzzin' and just about scares the living shit outta me. It's Momma's number. "Hey, Momma. Where are you?"

"I'm about fifteen minutes outta Spearfish. I think I should be there in about half an hour. Where are you?"

"I just pulled into the dorms."

"Why don't you go try to find out where to get your keys and parking permit so we can get this stuff unloaded and I can help you get unpacked."

I look around. "Where do I go?"

"There's gotta be an administration office somewhere. Do you see anyone playing a guitar or hackeysack? Ask them."

"Real funny. I'll figure it out."


I hold the phone in my hand and look for the hang-up button. I've never been good with gadgets like this.

I follow the sidewalk around the side of the building. There're about five guys standing in front of me. They've got a rope tied up between two trees, and one of 'em's up walkin' the line like a tightrope walker.

I walk up next to one of the guys. "Pretty cool stuff. Tightrope walkin'?"

"Parkour. Workin' a little on Équilibre since security won't let us use the handrails." He turns back toward the group, crosses his arms. "You should give it a try."

I have no fuckin' clue what he's talkin' about. "I ain't got balance for shit." Giggle nervously. "Could you tell me where I'd go about gettin' checked in to a dorm room?"

He turns his head toward me, look on his face like he wants to say are you serious? He uncrosses his arms. "Um, I think the Residence Hall Association is closed until tomorrow. Could probably talk to Jerrod. He's the RA for our floor. Might be able to get you a key or something."

"Where'd I find him?"

He sighs. "Follow me." He walks toward the guy on the rope, knocks him clean off balance. "God, Shelby, you're such a push-over!"

"Fuckin' jerk!" He lands flat on his ass. Gets up and rubs his butt.

The guy cackles. Walks toward the front door. "Frosh, huh?"

"Huh?" I take off my hat. Scratch the back of my head.

"It means freshman."

"Oh, yeah."

"I'm Mos."


"Yeah. Thomas. But call me Mos."

"I'm Lem."

He cocks his head at me. "What kind of name is Lem?"

"It's my middle name. Lemuel. Just what I always went by."

"What's your first name?"


"Yeah, there're tons of Eric's around here." He unlocks the door into the dorm, holds it open for me. He talks to a guy sitting on a couch in front of a big screen television in the lobby. "Mike, you seen Jarrod?"

"He's around."

"Yeah? Where?"


Mos walks around and stands in front of the TV. "Where?"

"I don't know, man. Check his room!" Mike chucks a pillow at him.

Mos catches it. Clobbers Mike over the head a few times. "This way." He nods down one of the hallways. "From around here?"

"Burlee, Montana."

"Where the hell's that?"

"A grain of dust about sixty five miles from Cutbank. We're about forty miles from the Canadian border."

He knocks on a door. Opens it a bit and sticks his head in. "Anyone jerkin' it in here?"

I hear someone inside. "What's up?"

He pushes the door open a bit. "Our friend Lemmy just got here from Montana. Needs to check into his room."

"You know what floor he's on?"

Mos looks over his shoulder at me.

I shake my head. "No idea."

"You're gonna make me get up, aren't you?" A blonde guy with glasses stands up and looks around the corner. From the looks of him, he hasn't shaved in a few days. He's in nothing but a pair of shorts. He walks to his desk and starts going through a drawer. Pulls out a few papers. "What's your name?"

"It'd be under Eric Taylor, I think."

He lifts his glasses off his face a bit and squints. "Looks like you're at the end of the hall. That was easy." He looks over. "You talk to the housing administration yet?"

I shake my head. "We just got in."

"You sign your paperwork yet?"

"We did the application and everything."

"But you didn't sign for a key and a parking pass?"

"Not yet."

"Shit. They'd have my nuts on a salad." He sighs. "You stayin' at a hotel for the night?"

"No. My Mom's headin' out after she helps me unload."

"Okay, let me call campus security and make sure it's okay if you park for the night, until you get your parking pass. I might just accidentally leave your door unlocked. Just don't tell anyone I let you in before you signed the paperwork. Savvy?"

"Yeah. Savvy."

He smiles. "Cool. You owe me a beer or somethin'. Come on down." He nods at Mos.

Mos nods back, heads toward the lobby.

"Things're pretty chill in this hall as long as you keep things pretty respectable." He puts a key a door and pops the lock. Pushes the door open. "Your suite, sir. I don't know when your roommate will get here. Might be another week or so. You're lodgin' up with a Sophomore."

"You know him?"

"By reputation." He laughs softly. "Guess the beds are first come first serve. The desks are shared space. Place for your fridge and microwave over there. Squeeze in a couch or a few chairs."


"Your first time away from home?"

"Um, yeah."

"Well, don't worry too much about it. A lot of us come across as assholes, but we get to be like brothers. Pretty tight group." He scratches his arm. "Oh. Bathrooms, just around the corner there. I'd suggest a bath robe, since some of the guys like running off with towels while you're walking around in them." He claps his hands together like a set of cymbals. "Rip it right off ya'. And this hallway has it's own laundry facilities. Pretty general shit."

I nod, look around. This place feels foreign to me. "Sounds good." The phone rings in my pocket. "That's probably Momma."

"I'll let you get unloaded. There's a door prop just outside the door right here." He walks out to the hall and points at the door to the end of the hall. "Just make sure both the doors get closed when you're done."

I nod. "Thanks." Hit the send button on the phone. "Hey, Momma."

"Did you find your room?"

"Yeah, but the housing administration's gone for the day. The RA let me in, but I'm not supposed to tell anyone he did."

"Why not?"

"I haven't signed out a key."

"Oh. Come out. Let's get this unloaded."

I hang up. Prop the doors open and head for the parking lot.

Momma's lifting the tonneau cover up on the hinge. "What're the rooms like?"

"A little smaller than my room back home. I get to pick my own bed."

"You gonna have room for all your clothes?"

"Pretty sure. You told me to pack light."

We make quick work of the unloading. Get everything where it needs to be. Momma locks the tonneau cover and comes inside. Starts helping me unpack.

I have her help me get the little fridge outta the box. Get down on my hands and knees, plug it in and push it back into the little compartment. Put the microwave on the counter above it.

"We should get you a little electrical teapot or coffee machine or something."

I shrug. "Maybe."

She finishes threading the curtain on the rod. Gets it up on the hooks in the wall. "You get your bags unpacked?"

"Part of 'em. I can get the rest later."

She checks her watch, sighs. "Let's get some supper before I head back." She smiles.

"Let me check in with Jarrod. Make sure the truck's okay." I walk down the hall, knock on Jarrod's door.

Takes him a few minutes. "Come in."

I open the door.

Jarrod's sittin' at his desk. Looks over at me. "Hey man, just knock and come in. That's the way everyone does it around here. If you don't want someone coming in, you just lock your door."

"Oh, okay."

He laughs. "I was like, yeah, who the hell just knocks? It's totally cool, man."

"My Mom wants to get a quick bite to eat. I just wanted to see if my truck was gonna be okay."

"I'll call it in right now. What is it?"

"'89 Ford Pickup. Tan and brown."

"Montana plates?"


"I'm sure it'll be fine. They're pretty lenient the first week of school with all the new freshmen coming in."

"How should I get back in?"

He looks around his room, picks up a keychain on his dresser. He takes one of the keys off the ring. "This is my personal front door key. Just make sure I get it back when you get back in. Okay? Don't lose this!"

"Thanks. I appreciate it."

# # #

Momma pulls in right next to my truck. She looks over at me, gives me a sad smile. "Don't forget your doggie bag."

It's sittin' right in my lap. I hold it up to show her I got it. I hop outta the truck and walk around to her side.

She's standing there waiting for me. Opens her arms for a hug. She's gonna squeeze the life outta me. "I'm gonna miss you so much. I'm so proud of you."

"I'm gonna miss you too, Momma."

She sounds like she's gonna start crying. "Be careful. Don't go to any parties. Stay outta trouble. And I want you to call me once a week and let me know how you're doing."

"I will."

"God, you kids're growing up too quick. I don't know what I'm gonna do with myself when Chase leaves the house."

"I'm sure you 'n Dad'll manage."

She sighs. Wipes away a tear. "Reckon we will." Smiles. She hands me an envelope. "There's a little something from Grandma and Grandpa Taylor in there. I put in a few hundred, too. Just make it last, because I won't be able to help you out much."

I nod. "Okay."

She turns and grabs something from inside the truck, fishes out a box about the size of a book. "Your Dad and I wanted you to have this. It's only for emergencies or for calling us. I'll put some time on it every month. If you want to use it all the time, you're gonna have to help pay for it."

It's a new cell phone. A cheap one, but still a phone. "Crap, I got a computer I'mma hafta figure out, now I have to figure out this thing, too?"

"You got all weekend. I'm sure you'll manage."

"Can I call Mattie?"

"I guess. If you keep it short."

"Okay." I hug her again. "Drive safe."

"I will. You behave." She gets back in the truck. Waves as she drives outta the parking lot.

I turn around. Get a good look at my surroundings. I feel strange right now. It's a little like being free. When Momma's truck goes over the hill, out of sight, I know what I'm really feeling.




Please let me know what you think of the story. Send critiques to with the subject "Lem.". Thanks for reading!