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I had become so used to seeing the kitchen table set for just Gramps and me that it surprised me when I saw that Cam's mother had set five places. Hearing us come in, she looked up from setting a platter full of sandwiches on the table. Wiping her hands on her apron, she nodded in the direction of two chairs on the opposite side of the table away from the stove. "You two can sit together and Mr. Brockman can sit at the head of the table if'n he's a mind to. Lucas and I will sit facing you two scamps," she said smiling as she turned back to the sink's drain board for a large pitcher of milk.
Nostalgia washed over me for a minute as I remembered how my Grandmother had always sat with the stove behind her in case more food was needed. Most of the time, she didn't need to be asked but would jump up and re-fill the bowls or Gramps's coffee cup. Cam and I sat where she had indicted; and, while she filled our glasses with milk, we waited until she sat down with a cup of coffee.
I started to reach for a sandwich when I felt Cam's hand groping for mine as his mother reached across the table, taking his hand and mine in hers. "Give the blessing, Cameron," she said, bowing her head.
Cam gave the blessing, and I was surprised at how well he said it but felt embarrassed at having forgotten about saying grace at the table. We always had when Grandmother was with us, but after she died we both neglected what had always been a routine. We both sort of slipped away from the church; but, every now and then, when he was feeling lonely Gramps would read from her Bible as I sat beside his chair on a stool. I'd lay my head on the soft velvet arm of his chair, and he would put his arm over my shoulders while he read out loud.
"Bradford," Mrs. Foster said softly. "Are you all right? Cameron won't leave you anything on the table if you don't eat."
"Yes, Ma'am, I'm okay," I answered, snapping out of my reverie and placing two ham sandwiches on my plate.
We had almost finished eating two thick slabs of an apple pie that Cam's mother had in the stove warmer when Gramps and Lucas entered the kitchen. Glancing out of the window over the sink, I saw Fred and Charlie standing under an elm tree, still harnessed. That wasn't like Gramps; and, when I looked up at him, he said, "I know what you're thinking, Brad, but it's darned hot out and I ain't near as young as I used to be. We were hoping that you boys would be finished with your lunch and that y'all would take care of the horses while we eat."
Cam glanced at me quickly; but, just as I was about to answer, his mother interrupted.
"They can take care of the horses, and you two can march yourselves out to the wash-bench and clean up before you sit down to table," she exclaimed irritably, shooing Lucas and Gramps toward the door.
"Gramps, do you want to water' em down or let 'em back out to pasture?" I asked.
"Both, Boy," he replied, turning to look at me from the doorway. "Let 'em drink and cool down before you turn 'em out to pasture. You know Fred will head right for the creek if you don't let him drink and cool down first," he said with his hand on the screen-door and looking at me in amusement with one eyebrow cocked.
"Yes, Sir, I knew that but you didn't say, and I thought that maybe you might not be finished hauling rocks and just wanted us to water them," I said, a little embarrassed from his reprimand in front of Cam.
"I'm sorry, Brad," he replied as he ran his gnarled fingers through his thick gray hair. "I reckon I'm getting a little old for this heat but I don't reckon we need to be doing any more hauling this afternoon. What do you think, Lucas?" he said, looking over his shoulder at Cam's father.
"It is getting kinda hot for rock hauling, Walter. What little bit there is left to do Cam and I can finish after the morning milking when it's cooler, if'n that's all right with you," Lucas answered from where he had been waiting for Gramps just outside the screen-door.
It really was not like Gramps to leave a job unfinished, but the temperature had increased considerably since morning, and he looked a little more haggard than I remembered. Working in the open under a hot sun can do that to any man, not just someone in his sixties. I could see he was torn between wanting to finish what they had started and letting Lucas and Cam finish it later. But just as I was about to suggest that I could help, he made the decision for me.
"That sounds good to me, Lucas. You boys put the sled over by the corncrib and then unharness old Charlie and Fred. Cool 'em off and water them good, but watch Fred because he's a gulper and he will drink himself sick if you don't hold him back. When you've finished with them, let 'em out to pasture and see if you can find the mules. Jack usually leads the other two up to the barn this time of the afternoon, and they probably will be standing on the backside of the barn in the shade. Put Jack and Jane in the barn but keep an eye on Jill when you do. She might take offense at being left outside and put up a fuss, but I reckon the two of you should be able to handle her," Gramps said, grinning at Lucas before going on. "After we finish eating, Lucas and I will drive the Conestoga over to the McPherson farm, so that I can introduce him and leave the wagon and the mules for the Founders' Day Parade that they've been planning in Lewiston. You can drive the truck, Lucas, so we can get back. You boys can go with us unless Mrs. Foster has more for y'all to do," he said, turning his head and looking at her.
"They did a right smart this morning, Walter; and there is more that needs doing, especially in Cameron's bedroom. I don't reckon he'll be using it for a few more days, and what is left I can be doing. But!!" She said sternly, "From the way they are smelling, I do believe they should be taking a bath if'n they don't have nothing else to be doing this afternoon except riding with y'all."
"I was wondering what it was, I was smelling," Lucas said, rubbing his jaw and grinning at Gramps. "What did you boys do, wallow in the mess the critters made?"
"No Sir, Dad, we didn't do nothing like that," Cam said indignantly. "There was a lot of that stuff on the walls and floors. It took some doing trying to get it off, and we worked up a real sweat scrubbing and cleaning. Didn't we, Mom?"
"I reckon you did," She said, holding her hand over her mouth trying to suppress a grin but not having much luck with the twinkle in her eyes.
Cam and I stood next to each other, and Gramps and Cam's parents looked at us for a minute before Lucas and Gramps burst out laughing. It surprised us, and we stood riveted to the floor until Mrs. Foster turned to Lucas and flicked her dish towel at him exclaiming," Lucas Foster, fooling with 'em is one thing, but outright laughing at 'em ain't fair, and you know better. They did work hard this morning, and it ain't easy cleaning animal droppings off'n walls and floors without some of it getting on you," she said, trying to hold a straight face with a twinkle still in her eyes as she said it.
"I'm sorry, Mother, but they both looked like chickens about to get their heads chopped off, and I couldn't help but laugh," he said, glancing at Gramps who was holding his sides from laughing so hard.
"Didn't mean no harm, Elizabeth, but you're right; we shouldn't have laughed," Gramps said. "Tell you what! After you get the horses and the mules taken care of, you boys get a couple of bars of Tag soap and some towels for a bath. I reckon Elizabeth can have enough hot water by the time you get finished, and you can take a bath in the big tub. Think you'll have time to boil a pot or two of water by the time they get back, Elizabeth?"
Turning toward Cam, I saw a glint in his eyes; and, before his mother could speak, I turned back to Gramps, "Would it be all right if we took a bath in the pond instead of the tub, Gramps?" I asked, tentatively.
"I don't see why not," he answered after looking at Cam's mom and dad. "It'd be better than, Elizabeth, boiling water in this heat and I reckon the pond water has heated up enough from the sun that it should be tolerable for taking a bath and swimming," he said, his eyes still twinkling.
"Yes, Sir," we both answered quickly as we bolted from the kitchen, before they could change their minds.
* * * * * * * * * * * *
Fred and Charlie, with their tails swishing from side to side at any flies that were foolish enough to land on their flanks, were standing patiently under the elm tree where they had been left. Charlie was on Fred's right where he usually was, and he turned his head, nickering softly when he heard us talking and walking toward them. The long leather reins were wrapped around the sled brake handle; and, when Cam unwrapped them and took them in his hands, I looked at him, "I reckon you've driven horses before?" I asked, cautiously.
"Yeah, lots of times," he answered. "My Dad was with me when I did; but I reckon if Fred let me ride him I can handle both of them," he said, puffing out his chest and looking at me with an excited gleam in his eyes.
"I reckon, but be careful of Fred," I said . "He leans to the right when they are pulling, and that's why Gramps puts him on Charlie's left. Charlie won't let Fred take the lead, like he tries to do and except for that, Gramps says you won't find any two better pulling horses in all of Grant County."
Cam didn't say anything; but, when he clucked his tongue and shook the reins, both Fred and Charlie turned and looked at him standing behind them but they didn't move. I guess they didn't recognize Cam's clucking; and I put my hand over my mouth, giggling and trying not to laugh. Cam clucked again and instead of shaking the reins over their backs said, "Come on, Boys."
Charlie and Fred must have made up their minds that it was okay as they suddenly leaned into the traces, catching Cam off guard. I couldn't help but laugh at the way he trotted along behind them trying to keep up. I saw Fred lean to the right as he pulled and then Cam pulled on the reins, turning his head to the left, following Charlie's lead in the direction of the corn crib.
I broke into a run to catch up with them, and by the time I caught up Cam had the sled sitting where Gramps wanted it. He was grinning at me with a triumphant gleam in his eyes, but he was panting, and his chest was heaving from the effort. "You were right about Fred, Brad. He surprised me when he started to lean like you said he would, but Charlie held him off just like you said he would until I could rein-check him."
"I told you he does that, but you caught him before he could really lean into Charlie. If you hadn't done that, Charlie would have leaned into him until you did, and sometimes Fred doesn't like that and acts up a little. Gramps says it's because he's younger than Charlie. He keeps a couple of corncobs in his pocket and throws one at him when he starts acting up," I said as we started unhitching the traces.
"I ain't never heard of that," Cam said, still breathing hard with dark sweat circles forming under his arms.
"It's an old trick; Gramps told me his daddy taught him. He doesn't need to do it often; Fred and Charlie know when he's behind them. Maybe Fred was testing you when he looked back and saw you holding the reins. He did it to me the first time Gramps let me drive'em," I said as I hooked the trace chains to Charlie's harness rings.
"My Dad told me that as long as you talk softly to them they usually will do what you want as long as you don't make any sudden moves they ain't looking for," he said as he hooked the chains to Fred's harness, same as I had done to Charlie's.
"That's what Gramps told me," I replied, shrugging my shoulders at the feel of sweat running down my back.
Cam finished hooking the chains to Fred's harness; and, checking to be sure he hadn't overlooked anything, he took Fred's bridle reins and led him away from the sled as I followed with Charlie.
* * * * * * * * * * * *
When we reached the barnyard railing, we removed the harnesses and hung them over the railing before leading the horses to the watering trough. Both of them were thirsty; and, while we might have thought we were leading them, they were anxious to get to the trough. We heard them sucking, and we could see them swallowing and could trace the movement of the water rolling down their throats. Charlie would look up every now and then, but Fred kept on sucking the water with his nostrils just above the water line, gulping like Gramps said he would.
"Cam, you better pull him away from the trough," I called out.
He tried pulling Fred away by his bridle; and, when that didn't work, he tried pulling on one of his ears. Fred nickered and tried shaking Cam's hand off of his ear; but Cam won out when he grabbed a handful of his mane and, pulling harder, leaned into him forcing him from the trough. Charlie, being his usual stoic self paid no attention to Fred's antics except to stomp one hind foot and swish his tail at the ever present flies.
Fred threw his head up and snorted; but, when he realized Cam was not going to stand for his stubbornness, he settled down. After stroking his neck, and whispering a few soothing words in his ear, Cam let him finish drinking. When both horses had their fill, we led them to the back gate and exchanged their bridles for halters. While I held both of them, Cam opened the gate, and I let go of their halters. Fred whinnied and bolted into the open pasture, throwing his head up and kicking his heels while Charlie moved at his usual slow energy-conserving pace picking his way over the rocks. We stood watching them for a few minutes when, out of the corner of my eye, I saw the mules standing in the shade of the barn where Gramps said they probably would be. Jack was standing by the fence watching us, but Jane and Jill were grazing a few feet away from him.
* * * * * * * * * * * *
It only took a few minutes to put Jack and Jane in the barnyard, but Jill protested at being left in the pasture and brayed loudly. While I was sliding the gate bars into place, Cam hollered, "Brad, I think we better put them in the barn instead of leaving them outside. Jack seems to be getting nervous from all of the noise, Jill is making."
"I think you're right, Cam," I answered. "We can put them in one of the holding pens until Gramps and your dad finish eating. Jane seems to be a little edgy too," I said, taking her halter and following Cam inside the barn.
Dust still hung in the air from when we had thrown hay down from the loft, and particles of dust drifted in the beams of brilliant sunlight that filtered through cracks in the wooden walls giving us enough light to see without turning on the lights. I closed the barnyard door, and Cam followed with Jack as I led Jane to a holding pen at the back of the barn. Jill was still putting up a fuss; and, as soon as we turned Jack and Jane into the pen, Jack turned around with his nostrils flared a little and his ears pointing forward as if he was listening. While I was pushing the gate bars back into place, Cam nudged me in the ribs and I turned toward him.
"It looks like Jack's getting horny," he said excitedly as he put his arms on the top rail. "The suckers got a foot of dick hanging down from his belly. Lord, what would you do with that much cock?"
"There isn't much Jack can do with it Cam, not since Gramps had him gelded. He can't make any babies but I reckon he still wants to and that makes him horny," I said feeling my cock getting hard as I watched the movement of Cam's hand inside his overalls.
"Me and Jack ain't the only ones getting horny," he said huskily as he turned toward me still playing with his cock inside his overalls and groping for my hard cock with his free hand while moving closer. His dark brown eyes sparkled and his chest was starting to heave with the same excitement I was feeling. Each time he squeezed my steel hard cock I sucked in air at the intense feelings flowing over me. I felt the hot magma of sperm boiling in my balls and I pushed my groin against his hand, exclaiming, "Oh Christ, Cam, keep it up and I'll shoot my load."
He stopped the teasing, squeezing of my throbbing cock but still covering it with his hand; he stood with his nose only a few inches from mine, his eyes flashing with excitement and passion. We both were breathing heavily; and, when I glanced away to look around the barn, half-way expecting Gramps and Lucas to come in, he brushed my lips with his. I felt the hot tip of his tongue, and then he whispered, his voice trembling with emotion, "Break it out, Brad, we can jerk off before they get here."
By the time he said it, I was just as hot as he was and my fingers trembled with excitement as I fumbled with the buttons on the fly of my overalls. Cam's cock jumped out of his fly, and he stood stroking it and grinning as I fumbled to get mine out.
"That's not fair, Cam. You ain't wearing any underwear," I whined watching as the head of his thick cock slid in and out of its sheath.
"I told you I don't wear any, most of the time. You don't need to either," he chuckled, leaning back against the fence rails and thrusting his hips out.
We both leaned against the railing with our hips thrust forward jerking off. With each stroke, my breathing was becoming faster; and my heart was pounding so fast from the intense feelings filling me that it felt like my heart would jump out of my chest. I felt the fire boiling in my balls; and, when I felt my cock starting to get harder and throbbing, I looked over at Cam. His head was laid back against the railing with his mouth open, and his right hand was a blur as he jerked off and squeezed his balls with the other. We both were panting and gasping for air when I heard him gasp loudly, "It's coming, Brad, oh shit, shit," he cried out straightening up and thrusting his hips out.
I watched, fascinated, when thick streams of milky white cum shot from the blood-engorged head of his cock, arching upward and falling to the barn's dusty floor. The excitement of seeing him shoot his load sent me over the edge; and I gasped as loudly as he had, "Oh, shit, Christ," I exclaimed as my throbbing cock gushed with an intensity that sent streams of thick cum into the air and I gnashed my teeth with each pumping sensation until I collapsed back against the fence rails letting my arms fall by my sides. I closed my eyes enjoying the euphoric ecstasy that flowed through my veins, a deep satisfying warmth spreading over me. I felt the residue of my orgasm oozing from my softening cock and then I felt a sensation I had never felt before, a sensation that sent shocks coursing from my loins into every nerve in my body; and my muscles tightened at the feeling of Cam's lips and tongue touching the head of my cock.
"Jesus, Cam," I exclaimed loudly, straightening up and jerking my cock away from his lips wide-eyed and surprised. "What are you doing?"
"Just seeing what you taste like," he answered, grinning as he ran his tongue over his lips. "You ain't mad at me are you?" He whispered, his gleaming eyes boring into mine as he moved in front of me, his still oozing cock hanging from his fly. Leaning forward, he placed his forearms on the railing behind us; and, when his half hard cock touched mine, I felt a bolt of fire shoot into my loins and I started getting hard again.
"Cam,...please," I said shakily, my body trembling from the sense of excitement I was feeling.
"You liked it, didn't you Brad?" He asked pushing his stiffening cock against mine. "I can tell you did from the way you're getting hard again," he said, a devilish gleam in his eyes.
The lingering feeling of his lips and tongue touching my cock made me shiver with excitement at the thought of him sucking on my cock and my insides felt all quivery and jelly like. I wanted to feel it again, I wanted to feel all of my cock in his mouth and from the way he was looking at me and pressing his cock against mine, I could tell he wanted to do it some more.
"Yeah, I liked it; but you surprised me," I said softly, lowering my eyes from his intense gaze. "I didn't know what you were doing."
"Don't you remember this morning when I asked you if you had thought about another boy sucking on your dick like the calves were sucking on their mommies' teats and you said, 'no'? But then you said maybe you would like to try it, and I could tell from the way you were breathing that you did like it. It felt good to you when I licked it and put my lips on it, didn't it, Brad?" He said as he leaned against me, rubbing the back of my neck with his hand. I looked into his eyes and could see a softness deep in them.
"Yeah," I breathed softly, pushing my hard cock against his. "It felt warm, and tingling shocks went all through me, and my legs got all shaky like a calf's when it has just been born."
"You want me to do it again?" He asked, his voice trembling a little as he slid his hand between us and wrapped his fingers around both of our cocks, squeezing.
I could feel the excitement building inside of both of us; and, as much as I liked the feelings that he had caused, I looked furtively around the barn expecting Gramps and his dad to burst through one of the doors and catch us. Just as he moved back and started to kneel, I grabbed him by the arms, "Cam,... not now, let's wait until later. My Gramps and your dad are going to be here any minute, and if they catch us...I don't know what they would do."
"Jesus," He said straightening up and quickly looking around the barn. "I got so fucking horny, I wasn't even thinking about anything else. We better get straightened up, but I don't know how long it'll be before my cock gets soft."
"Me either," I said, laughing softly at him trying to stuff his cock back into his overalls.
We finally managed to get our clothes straightened up and had kicked some straw over the gobs of cum that were on the dusty floor when we heard Gramps call out, "Brad, Cam, where you boys at? We got to be going."
Cam and I jerked around at the sound of Gramps voice, quickly looking at each other. I answered, "In the barn Gramps. Cam and I put Jack and Jane in here."
As if she was confirming the dastardly act of being separated from Jack and Jane, Jill brayed mournfully and Cam and I looked at each other grinning when the doors to the barn opened and Gramps and Lucas came inside.
"I can see why you put them in here with all the noise she's making," Gramps said as they walked toward us.
"Why do you reckon she's doing all that braying, Walter? Mules don't usually get that excited."
"They don't as a rule but Jack and Jill are sort of like sister and brother. They both are out of different horse mares but by the same jack stallion. Jill is not quite two years old and Jack just passed four. Jane is the oldest and she works better with Jack than Jill. It's sort of like working Fred and Charlie together, Jane keeps Jack in line," Gramps was saying while he opened the gate. "You'll learn about all of their little quirks the longer you work them."
"I reckon so," Lucas said, musing for a minute before turning toward us. "Where did y'all put the harnesses?"
"We hung them on the fence by the watering trough like Uncle Walter told us," Cam answered.
"You and Brad bring them in here, Son; and, after you help us with the harnessing and hooking up, you can git." He said, aiming his hand playfully at our butts as we ran by him.
As we ran out the door, we heard Lucas say, "Them boys are near-about like brothers, Walter, and they've only knowed each other two days."
"Boys are like that, Lucas. They get to know each other real quick; and, besides, Brad and Cam are only a year apart. They'll like as not be doing all the things boys do together. Don't you remember when you was a boy?" Gramps replied and we heard the sly tone in his voice.
We didn't hear what Lucas said but Cam looked at me grinning, his eyes sparkling. Throwing the horse collars over our shoulders we drug the harness chains down from the top railing and took them inside. It really didn't take us long to harness and hook Jack and Jane to the Conestoga that was sitting in the back of the barn under the feed loft.
"You boys open the doors and then go on and get your bath or swim or whatever," Gramps said as he climbed up on the seat and reached for the reins that Lucas handed up to him.
Cam and I opened the big barn doors; and, instead of leaving right off, we stood and watched as Gramps drove the big Conestoga out of the barn. When he was clear of the doors, we shut them. We watched Gramps and Lucas drive away and we could hear the clop of the mules hooves and the steel rimmed wheels on the roadway long after they were out of sight.