By John Yager
This is the second of five chapters. This is a work of gay erotic fiction. If such stories are not to your liking or if you are not allowed access to such stories under the laws under which you live, please exit now.
I want to express thanks to Andrew, who has again done proofing and editing for me.
All stories which I have posted on NIFTY can be found by looking under my name in their Prolific Authors lists.
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Dave had gone to bed and it wasn't long before Billy also made his way down the hall to his own room. Jake poured more coffee for himself and Tom and then went to the cabinet where they kept the liquor.
"How about a slug of bourbon in that brew?" he asked.
"Sounds great," Tom said, sliding his mug across the table toward Jake. "I must admit I was surprised you allow booze on the ranch."
Jake stood facing the counter, pouring a generous amount of whiskey into each mug. With his back turned toward Tom, the younger man freely examined Jake's muscular legs and butt. The guy was in great shape, he concluded. When Jake turned, carrying the steaming mugs, and covered the few steps back to the table, Tom boldly continued his examination, staring openly at Jake's muscular chest, at the hard concavity of his stomach and the obvious bulge of his crotch.
Jake, for his part, found himself unnaturally excited by the kid's bold examination, but also a little nervous about what it might mean.
Tom certainly seemed like a regular guy. There was nothing the least bit sissy about him. Yet Jake couldn't help recognizing a certain questioning, perhaps even a look of hunger in the boy's eyes. It was a new experience for Jake, being scrutinized with such openness, such boldness, by another man, and he wasn't sure how to react to it.
"Well, ranching has changed a lot, even in the few years I've been working on spreads like this. There's no reason we can't enjoy life a little." He looked across the scarred old table at Tom and added, "besides, I don't think we'll be doing much tomorrow."
"You don't have calves needing tending?"
"Not yet," Jake said as he sat back down. "We'll get our first shipments in about a month, but between now and then we've got about ten miles of fence to ride. And if this winter has done as much damage as I suspect, we'll be mending about half of that."
"What about horses?"
"There are six in the stable and I want to buy at least four more. We'll have to get out there tomorrow to feed them, no matter how much snow we get tonight."
"So you're really running a sort of feeder operation here."
"Well, not finish feeding, if that's what you mean," Jake said, taking another sip of his well laced coffee. "We get in about a thousand head of young steers in early April and then a few hundred more every couple of weeks until the end of July. We let them graze till late fall. When the market's right, we start shipping them east to feeder lots in Missouri. They'll hit the Kansas City yards about a year from now."
"So this is your down time."
"Yeah, we shipped the final bunch of last summer's herd in November. From then till the first loads come in early April we just have Dave and Billy and me here doing maintenance and getting ready for the next round."
"How many men will you have working this summer?"
"Well, for starters, just the four of us, I guess you could say, but Dave's really too old to do much punching and he's for shit on a horse. He's more or less the chief cook and bottle washer. In late May or early June we'll get in another three guys, four if we're lucky. It takes at least six full-time hands to keep things moving the way they should."
"So it'll be Billy and me and maybe a few other guys doing most of the punching and prodding," Tom said, looking down at the dark brew in his mug.
"Yeah, and I do my share, too," Jake said, "but I also have to handle a lot of paper work." Then looking up at the younger guy, he asked, "how are you on a computer?"
"Okay, I guess," Tom said modestly. The older guy had a feeling the kid had a lot more experience on computers than Jake himself had, but he liked the way Tom underplayed his hand.
"Where do the other guys come from?"
"Some of them are college kids like you, just signing on for the summer. We also get a few of the inevitable drifters," Jake said. "I usually prefer to hire college guys because they are less hassle and usually better behaved. A lot of the older guys who drift from one ranch to another are hard drinking and hard living. I've spent too much time bailing some of those guys out after getting drunk and disorderly at some bar or getting in fights over some whore. It's not worth the trouble."
"I know a lot of college guys who do the same."
"Yeah, I've had to deal with a few of them too but, by and large, they aren't as hardened a bunch as the older men." He took another sip from his mug and grinned across the table at his new puncher. "How about you, Tom? Are you going to give me some trouble?"
The kid laughed. "Probably not, I'm the quiet stay at home type."
"Well, you look to me like you could score anytime you wanted with the ladies around here."
Tom laughed again. "Not my thing, Jake. You don't have to worry about me on that count."
"So you've got a regular girl at home and intend to keep to the straight and narrow this summer."
"No girl at home or anyplace else," Tom said, lifting his eyes from the table top and giving his new boss a slight grin.
"Well, it's not for having the looks to attract them."
Tom said nothing more and the two men sat for some time in silence.
"Tell me about Lazy Pitcher and Robert S. Turner who owns the place," Tom said after several minutes.
"Well, I really don't know much. Turner's first wife's father sort of started things. The old man was named Roger Dodson. Have you ever heard of him?"
"Wasn't he the guy who invented the electric cattle prod?"
"Yep, at least one version of it. I guess he made a bundle from shocking steers and bought up this spread back in the fifties. His only kid was Turner's first wife. When the old man died, she inherited the ranch and the patents to the old man's prod. I guess he'd patented a few other inventions as well, so there where some houses in Dallas and Fort Lauderdale and a bundle of cash lying around.
"About three years after Dobson died, his daughter got drunk one night and wrapped her Jag around a tree. She lived six months on a respirator. Then she was declared brain dead and they pulled the plug.
"Turner got the whole basket of goodies. A couple of years later he married a girl he'd dated in high school. They live in Austin and have a couple of teenage daughters. He makes it up here about once a year, usually about the time we start shipping cattle east. I guess he likes to see the finished product."
"So is the big house empty the rest of the time?"
"It doesn't even get used when Turner comes up. I've worked here four years and I've never known him to stay over even a single night. He just pulls in, driving a big Mercedes, spends a few hours and goes."
"Doesn't he even want to see the books?" Tom asked.
"He sees the financials on a regular basis. I e-mail him reports about twice a month and all the financial data goes to a CPA in Austin who keeps the permanent records and prepares the taxes. So far as I can tell, the Lazy Pitcher's greatest value to Turner is as a tax write-off."
"You've got to be kidding!"
"Oh, the spread makes money, a lot of money, but you can dump a lot of expenses into a ranch like this if you have the right attorneys and accountants doing your legal work and your books."
"What about the house?"
"I have the keys if you'd like to take a look," Jake said. "I've even slept over there a few times when the other guys were off with their families."
"Turner doesn't mind?"
"No, he doesn't care. The place is nicely furnished but there aren't any valuable antiques or family treasures. I don't think Dodson ever lived here either."
"So why did you stay over there when Dave and Billy were away?"
"Well, they both have family they go to over Christmas. There's nothing to do here then, other than feed a few horses and keep an eye on the place, so I give them about a month off."
"Does that mean you end up spending Christmas here alone?" Tom asked.
"No, I have a kid sister who was married for a while and has a couple of kids of her own. She's divorced and our folks are dead, so she and her kids come and spend a couple of weeks with me over Christmas, while her kids are out of school."
"And you all stay in the house?"
"Yep, I don't think Susan would be too happy putting up in this bunkhouse."
"Do you decorate the place and everything?" He was smiling at Jake, just thinking of the celebration.
"The whole shooting match," Jake grinned. "We cook up a storm and have a big Christmas feast. Her kids love it here and it's a hell of a lot better than any Christmas Susan and I ever had as kids."
"That sounds real nice," Tom said. "I would like to see the house sometime."
"Sure, I'll take you over tomorrow if you like. If it really snows, I should go over anyway to check out the roof over the back porch. It tends to leak if there's much accumulation."
"Well, that's certainly quite a story. Is that about all you know about Dodson and Turner?"
"Yeah, that's about it."
"How did the ranch get its name?"
"Well, Turner told me Dodson named it Lazy Pitcher because that was the name of an old mine that was supposed to be somewhere around here. There was some sort of mystery about it, you know, lost gold or Spanish treasure, the usual hog wash. Nobody knows where it was, if it ever really existed, but Dodson apparently liked the story and the name and used it for the ranch. That's about all I know."
"Well, thanks for telling me all the history of the place," Tom said as he drained his mug and rose to put it in the sink.
"I bet you're worn out, fellow," Jake said as the kid stood facing the counter. "He really does have a trim body," Jake thought to himself.
"Yeah, I am more or less wiped out. I was on the bus for seven hours and that bourbon just about knocked me out for the night." He grinned at Jake again and added, "I'm not much of a drinker, I guess."
Jake smiled at the younger guy as he also placed his own empty mug in the sink next to Tom's, and ran water into the two of them.
"Did Dave get you squared away?"
"Yeah, he put me in the second room down that hall," Tom said, pointing in the opposite direction from the way Dave and Billy had gone.
"Well, then," Jake said, "we're neighbors. I'm in the first room and we'll be sharing a bath."
"Cool," Tom said, "I won't mind that at all."
To be continued.