Two Men in a Pickup
by Rock Lane Cooper

This is a work of gay erotic fiction. If you are offended by such material or if you are not allowed access to it under the laws where you live, please exit now. This work is copyrighted by the author and may not be copied or distributed in any form without the written permission of the author. I may be contacted at:

Chapter 9


Pulling into the driveway at the farm, he was expecting to see the Fairlane parked by the front gate, but the place where Danny usually parks his car is empty. There's only Rusty at home, standing in front of his dog house, giving his one woof and smiling as Mike gets out of the truck.

Mike puts down his lunch pail in the gravel and gets down on his butt to scratch behind Rusty's ears and talk to him for awhile. He's been alone all day and he's happy to see someone. Mike hugs him, still talking, calling him all his pet doggy names, feeling his fur against his face, his slobbery tongue on his neck. "Who's my boy?" Mike says. "Who's my boy?"

After a while, he gets up and looks around. Ranger is watching him from the pen beside the barn, and barn swallows are zooming through the late afternoon air, beaks open and sucking up bugs. Off in the distance, from the stretch of hayfield along the river, he hears a pheasant rooster scolding.

The quiet that follows is not the usual country quiet that makes your ears ring. Tonight it's dead quiet. No sound of Danny in the kitchen cooking up grub; none of Kirk's racket or the TV on full blast. Too much like when he lived here by himself.

He heads into the house. It feels dark and empty with both of them gone. He takes off his work boots and sets them side-by-side on the porch, then unbuckles his belt and pulls off his jeans, hanging them neatly over a chair in the bedroom. Next his shirt and socks, into the laundry basket.

He usually does this routine with Danny standing in the bedroom door, talking while supper cooks (who knew he'd be a cook, too?). He'd feel Danny's eyes on him, watching him, interested, and there'd be this funny little rush he never had with other men, his penis filling out in his boxers, sometimes poking its way through the fly.

He'd walk over to Danny to put one hand against his jaw and lean forward to kiss him and press against him, all sweaty and unshowered, both of them. The day could have been a bust, some new guy at work fucking up or a truck breaking down, and whatever in him was all in a knot, it would melt away with Danny's warm tongue pressing against his.

It had taken him a while to get up the nerve. But after one of these kisses, he'd finally said it. "I love you, bud." And afterward he realized the corners of both his eyes were wet.

Standing now in his boxers, he glances at the empty doorway. His dick stays put. He scratches himself, looks at the bed and feels a wave of tiredness, then heads for the kitchen to get a cold beer and check the refrigerator for something to eat.

— § —

The last light of the long day is coming from behind the shelter belt, and Mike is sitting in the pool with his third beer, watching the fireflies in the shadows under the trees. He's left his boxers over the arm of one of the lawn chairs out on the grass, and when he hears the kitchen phone ringing, he just walks naked and dripping into the house.

"Yup," he says, expecting it to be Danny.

But the voice at the other end of the line is female, and it's what Danny would call "agitated." He finally pieces together that it's Carol. She's looking for Don.

This has not happened since high school. Don would be lying low at Mike's and she'd call wondering whether Mike had seen him. That pretty much ended when things started getting hot and heavy between her and Don, and he got to prefer getting laid to hanging out with Mike.

"Maybe he's still at work," Mike says to her. A puddle of pool water is gathering around his bare feet on the kitchen linoleum.

Don never showed up at work, she says, even more agitated. Never even called in. Nobody around town has seen him or his truck all day. She's apparently had the dragnet out for him.

"Danny's got the truck. He borrowed it this morning," Mike says. He doesn't offer to explain why.

This is news to her. She says she can't take much more of this.

More of what, Mike is tempted to ask, but he gathers he's supposed to understand from the tone of her voice. He promises to tell Don, if he sees or hears from him, that he's needed at home. And they both hang up.

Mike frowns and takes a pull from the bottle of beer he's holding in his hand. He stands wondering, as the kitchen fills with the dusk of evening. "Fuck," he says.

He's still standing there when the phone rings again. "Hello," he says this time. And this time it's Danny.

"Hey, bud," Mike says, half aware that his dick is now stirring between his legs. "Where are you?"

He's calling from Valentine and there's been no sign of Kirk. Hoped to have found him by now, but lost his trail. "Rich says he took off with Frank," Danny says.

"Crazy Frank?"

Danny thinks so. May still be around somewhere. "I don't know, Mike," Danny says. "Should somebody call the police?"

Mike thinks for a moment, imagines the cops asking questions and getting more and more curious. Maybe put in a call to Kirk's mother, and all hell breaking loose. "Let's wait a while before we do that," Mike says.

But a dark fear turns in him as he says it. What if they wait too long? What if it's been too long already?

"I know he's just a little shit," Mike says. "But he's done this disappearing act before." After all, he'd disappeared from home when he showed up this summer at Mike's, and then in a couple weeks he was ready to go back home again. Hell, they should have let him go then.

"Don thinks it's a bad idea, too," Danny says.

"Is Don with you?" Mike says.

There's a funny pause at the other end of the line. "Yeah," says Danny. "Didn't you know that?"

"No, I didn't," says Mike. "But it explains why Carol called here looking for him."

"She doesn't know either?" Danny says.

Mike laughs. "Looks like we got ourselves two runaways," he says. "Let's hope it takes one to catch one."

"You wanna talk to him?" Danny says. "He's sitting right here in the truck. I'm at a phone booth."

"No, just tell him his wife is looking for him."

Danny says OK, but sounds like he doesn't want to get involved, and who could blame him.

Then Mike says, "And if Frank's anywhere around, look in every bar in town. He's bound to turn up in one of them."

They say good-bye, and Mike hangs up the receiver. He wanted to say "I love you" or "I miss you," but he's never said that to another man on the phone before, and it seems strange starting now.

It wouldn't make a difference anyway, because he instantly feels alone again. The darkness of the house rolls up around him; he flips on the kitchen light switch. There's the sound of Rusty scratching at the front door, and he walks onto the porch to let him in.

On the refrigerator, there's a snapshot of Mike and Danny, one of those photo strips from an automat. They were at the bus station one night, waiting for some parts coming in on the Trailways from Omaha. They are squeezed into the booth together. Mike looking sober and kind of deer-in-the-headlights, and Danny with a big grin, because out of camera range, Mike has slipped one hand between his legs.

He studies Danny's face now, his black-rimmed glasses (before they got broken) making him look all college boy, and his fine blond hair in a flat-top pressed into cow licks by the straw hat he'd been wearing all day. His forehead is paler than the rest of his tanned face. Mike is wearing a soft camou cap, the bill broken just off-center. He needs a shave.

In the last picture on the strip, their expressions have reversed. Mike is grinning and Danny, who has just kissed him, is looking all innocent now for the camera.

A paperback is lying open and face down on the kitchen table where Danny left it. Danny is a bookworm, always reading something, even while they're watching TV or last thing at night before lights out. Getting into bed with him, Mike teases him to put down whatever he's reading by stroking fingers across his chest and down to his belly button.

"Ah, 'The Sun Also Rises'," he might say reading the cover of the book. "Let's see what else you got that rises," slipping his fingers into Danny's jockeys. Prying Danny's book away from him has become part of foreplay.

This, in fact, is how Danny's glasses got broken. Dropping his book one night, he dove onto Mike's stomach, and started wrestling. This began evolving into a blowjob and Mike's legs came together around Danny's ears -- a reflex -- snapping the frames right across the bridge of his nose.

Mike looks at the page Danny was reading, folds over the corner in a neat dog ear, and flips back to the front and starts reading. He takes another bottle of beer from the refrigerator, whacks off the cap one-handed with the church key he keeps on a hook over the kitchen counter, then walks, still naked, to the bedroom, reading about some guy from Princeton who takes up boxing and gets hit in the nose. This doesn't sound much like Danny, but he reads on, wanting to know more of what goes on in Danny's head.

On the bed, the cold beer resting between his legs, he reaches over his head to switch on the lamp, and he lets the story unfold for several pages. He hasn't opened a novel since the westerns he read in high school, not counting the copy of "Peyton Place" he found once emptying trash at the Mobil station, with all the good parts marked.

The cold beer between his legs is making his nuts numb, and he finally moves it to the chair beside the bed, next to his watch, his wallet, and the alarm clock. But holding Danny's book is not keeping his thoughts from Danny, and he finally lets it tip forward onto his chest. He puts his hand down to warm his testicles and lets his eyes focus on a picture of some Rocky Mountain meadow that hangs on the opposite wall.

— § —

What his mind drifts to is the night about six weeks ago, when he picked up the phone and it was the voice of what sounded like a young man, looking for work. Mike has this day job. He drives a tank truck that makes the rounds picking up bulk milk from farmers. He needs a hired hand through the summer to take over some of the work on the farm, so he decides to list an opening at the Employment Office in town.

"Can't pay much," he says to the man writing up the job. "But I can put the guy up if he needs a room, and he can eat for free."

"We'll fix you up with somebody," the man says smiling. He has only one arm and writes left-handed with a ballpoint pen on a file card. When he's done he stands and holds out his left hand for a handshake. Mike, of course, is curious about the man's other arm but tries not to let on. The guy says, "Lost it in a cornpicker -- years ago," then pats Mike on the shoulder as they walk to the door.

"Ever miss it?" Mike asks.

"It's like your nuts," the man says. "They say you only need one, but it's nice to have both of them."

Lying in bed, Mike traces the contours of his balls with his fingers and then cups his hand over them, while his memory goes back to the phone call.

"Ever work on a farm before?" Mike asked.

"I grew up on one," was the answer. "Been driving tractor since my legs were long enough to reach the pedals."

"Cultivate corn?"

"Till the cows come home."

"Well, we don't have any cows here," Mike says, not sure what to make of that remark. "Just corn and hay. It's still a small operation."

"That's fine with me."

"What'd you say your name was?"

When Danny told him, it should have clicked, but it didn't.

The two of them had met before when Danny came by last summer, measuring cornfields for the Agricultural Stabilization Commission. After several long, hot, sweaty hours of walking together around the farm with a 50-foot tape measure, Mike had persuaded him to stay for a beer. Then he and his buddy Ed had got him drunk and naked in the backyard pool, and before the evening was over they'd had some fun with him.

"I think your college boy has passed out," Ed had said finally. And Mike had carried Danny inside to the couch, covered him with a sheet, and folded up his clothes where he could find them. The next day, when he and Ed woke up, Danny was gone. The only sign of him was a pair of jockey shorts still floating in the pool.

Mike didn't make the connection until Danny showed up bright and early for his first day. On the phone, they'd agreed to get Danny started cultivating corn before Mike left for work. A thin layer of clouds in the east was turning every shade of pink when Danny arrived in his Fairlane and parked beside Mike's dusty black GMC pickup. Mike had the Farmall gassed up and running already. He was on the tractor, working the hydraulic controls, raising and lowering a four-row cultivator.

When he glanced up, he saw Danny come walking over to him, wearing a button-down collar shirt, levi's, boots, a western straw hat with the brim curled up like a cowboy, and a pair of dark-rimmed glasses. He looked about as much like a farmer as Mike looked like a bank president.

Mike got down off the tractor and they shook hands, Danny trying to match his grip. And then he saw who it was, the cornfield measurer he had tucked in on the TV room couch a year before, who had come around long enough to put his arms around Mike's neck and say, "I think I love you."

Rusty, of course, remembered him and wagged his tail, looking up at Danny like he was a long, lost friend, but Mike wasn't ready to let on anything. When he listed an opening for a hired hand, this wasn't what he had in mind.

"Think you can operate this rig?" he asked.

"Blindfolded," Danny said.

"Well, there won't be any call for that," Mike said, climbing back into the tractor seat and driving over to the field that comes right behind the barn. Danny followed behind on foot and then hopped up beside him to ride along.

Mike dropped the cultivator blades between the corn rows, throwing up dirt around the stalks to cover the weeds, keeping one eye on Danny, who had a white-knuckle grip on the fender, like he was trying hard as hell not to slip off and into the machinery.

At the far end, he popped the cultivator out of the ground, made a turn, and dropped it again into the next four rows. He stopped, throttled back the engine, and looked at Danny.

"That's all there is to it," he said. "There's just three things to remember. Don't drift to one side or you'll tear up the corn. Don't go too fast or you'll cover it up. And don't get hung up in the fence when you turn around."

He watched Danny's face for any sign of a question, but there was none. He seemed perfectly confident. So they swapped places, and Danny took the wheel.

Sure enough, he did fine.

Mike watched him, his shoulders working under his shirt as he steered the tractor, his shiny horseshoe belt buckle over the folds of denim in his crotch, jeans snug over his thighs as he worked the foot pedals. He glanced now and then at Danny's face, a few blond whiskers on his cheek, his skin pale and smooth. But he had grown since last year, was more of a man, less of a kid. He liked that.

If Danny knew Mike was checking him out, he made no sign. He seemed to concentrate totally on what he was doing, only once shouting something, which Mike couldn't make out over the decibels from the tractor engine.

"Nice job," Mike said when they got to the other end, and he hopped down from the tractor. "I think you're gonna work out fine."

Danny beamed. He obviously liked praise, or liked hearing it come from Mike. Before he turned to leave, he told Danny to meet him at noon for dinner at the B&E truck stop on Highway 30. He'd find out how things were going, and they'd talk about the rest of the job.

"You're the boss," Danny said.

Heading now toward his pickup to go to work, he realized he was kind of tickled by this development. He looked over his shoulder and saw that Danny was watching him walk away. "Weren't you the one here last year measuring corn?" Mike called out to him.

Danny nodded. "That was me."

"Kinda thought so," Mike said, giving him a grin, and then kept walking to the truck. Behind him, he heard the tractor make a turn and start back across the field.

— § —

At the stroke of noon, Mike was pulling into the B&E, its parking lot lined day and night with long-haul semis parked everywhere. Danny's Fairlane appeared from the opposite direction, and Mike followed him around behind the garage where there were a couple shade trees to park under.

He stepped down from his truck and walked around Danny's car. In the back window was a Playboy sticker, the rabbit with cocked ears, and this got him wondering if his new hired hand took his recreation on both sides of the fence -- or just the other one.

Danny got out of the car and joined him, and together they walked across the hot asphalt to the front of the diner, passing in front of the big window panes that wrapped around two sides, with their view of passing traffic, the gas pumps, and a weedy open field bounded in the distance by the Union Pacific railroad tracks.

Inside, they sat on stools at the counter. One of the waitresses poured coffee and handed them menus. "Order anything you like," Mike said. "It's on me."

Waiting for their food, he asked Danny how the morning went and mentioned some other things he'd want him to do, help with the sprinkler system Mike uses on the hayfields, then when the irrigation season starts, set siphon tubes along the ditches to water the corn.

"I can do all that," Danny said. "I can stack hay, too."

"Gonna bale this year," Mike told him, stirring sugar into his coffee. "How are you at lifting bales?"

Danny put up one arm and flexed his biceps. "I'm your basic 90-pound weakling," he said. "But I make up for it in brain power."

"Whatever it takes," Mike laughed.

When the food came, they settled into eating and didn't say anything for a while. Finally Mike got up the nerve to say, "You know, that night last summer. We got kinda carried away. I don't want you to think that's part of the job."

"Don't worry about it," Danny said. And it was impossible to tell whether Danny was relieved or disappointed. Plays his cards close to the chest, Mike thought. Could mean something, or it might not.

"So that's understood," Mike said. "There's an extra bed, and it comes with the job if you want it. I'll throw in meals, too."

Danny took a bite of his lemon meringue pie. "Yeah, I can do that."

"Good, you can move in tonight," Mike said.

And that's exactly what happened. About 5:00, when Mike came home, Danny knocked off and headed into town to get his stuff from where he'd been living with his dad since coming home from college. His dad's a nice enough guy, Danny explained, but it's a small place and he's got himself a live-in girlfriend. He'd probably be glad Danny wasn't underfoot and taking up space there all summer.

When he got back to the farm, with his duffel bag of clothes and books, there was one of those long, lingering summer twilights hanging in the trees, and Mike was out in the barn, with his friend Ed's horse, scratching Ranger's forehead and talking to him. A couple of barn cats were rubbing against his legs and purring.

He told Danny there was Col. Sanders on the kitchen table and ice cream in the freezer, and to help himself. Which he did. Then Danny took a shower, and when he got out, holding his clothes and boots, he found Mike in the darkened living room, his feet up, watching something on TV, and patting Rusty, who was stretched out on the floor beside his armchair.

"I put all your stuff in that back bedroom," he told Danny. "You look like you're ready to call it a day."

"I'm bushed," Danny said. His skin was damp, and there were drops of water on the lenses of his glasses.

"Kinda warm tonight," Mike said. "Sorry there's no A/C."

"I'll deal with it," Danny said, shifting his clothes under one arm. Mike now looked him over -- slender build with a flat stomach, a little trail of hair running south from his navel, and a downward lump in the front of the towel around his waist.

"If you open both windows back there, you might get some cross ventilation," Mike said, watching him walk down the hall.

"Thanks. Good night," Danny said and was gone.

Mike left the TV on but had stopped watching it. There had been guys like Ed, who came and stayed for a night, and besides their company and the storytelling and getting a little drunk together, there was the sex at bedtime, which was good, and the pleasure of drifting off to sleep next to another man. But this was something else, a guy who had come to stay for a while. Someone to get to know; someone to maybe even care about.

Or is that just the way it seems now, six weeks later? Didn't he worry that with another guy in the house, there'd be no one-night stands with old Air Force buddies and the handful of men he'd met along the way who were good for a noisy roll in the sack, no strings attached?

He can't remember for sure. Because for everything that was nailed down and in order about Mike's life, after those crazy years when he didn't know whether he was coming or going, or who or what he was -- after getting it all straight, this young man with glasses had come along and just by showing up, turned it all upside down.

What he does remember is this: that first night, waking up in this same bed, moonlight in the windows, and the house silent, and knowing that he was dreaming something intense, he couldn't remember what. And he lay like this for a while, stroking himself through the fly in his boxers until he was about to doze off again.

Then he heard the bedsprings squeaking in the back bedroom and in a couple minutes the sound of Danny's bare feet in the hallway, pausing for a moment at Mike's open door, then heading to the kitchen. Rusty got up from beside the bed and went to inspect, his toenails clicking on the hardwood floor. From the kitchen came the sound of water running.

On the way back to his room, Danny stopped again at Mike's door. Mike lay still and could make out Danny's naked form in pale moonlight.

"Everything OK?" Mike asked.

"Can't sleep," he said.

"Problem?" Lumpy mattress? Too warm? Bad dreams?

"Not exactly," Danny said and came walking across the room to sit on the edge of the waterbed, setting off a wave that rolled under them and back.

"What's up?" Mike said turning onto his side, one hand extending into a square of moonlight on the bed sheet.

Danny didn't answer. Just took Mike's hand, pulled it toward him, across his bare thigh, and pressed it between his naked legs. Mike's fingers bumped against Danny's dick, hard as rock and hot as a pistol. So that's what was up. He wrapped his fingers around it and gave it a friendly squeeze.

That was all the encouragement Danny seemed to need. He flipped onto the bed, setting off more waves, and wrapped himself around Mike, hands stroking his arms, back, chest, the soles of his feet rubbing Mike's legs. He kissed the side of his neck, sucked on his nipples -- right, left, right, left -- running fingers through his hair, opening his mouth over Mike's mouth and running his tongue and teeth over Mike's moustache, pressing his body against him, rocking from side to side.

"Hey, Tiger, whoa," Mike was saying. He twisted around so he was lying flat under Danny, reaching both arms around him, stroking his back and gripping him by the ribs. "Hey, buddy, take it easy," he kept saying.

Danny was pushing down and bucking hard with his dick against Mike's boxers, then rearing straight up and shooting cum all over him. It was a genuine cowboy six-shooter, one blast after another, until he was finally out of ammo, just the after-shocks and reverberations echoing off canyon walls a mile away.

Then he eased back down again, breathing hard, lying on top of Mike, his smooth chest and belly all wet, his face buried in Mike's shoulder. Mike's arms were still around him, hugging him, one hand kind of patting his butt.

"Man," Mike said, "do you always come that fast?" He reached up and switched on the light over the headboard.

"I wanna see what you look like," he said, and Danny slid off him to one side.

"Kinda cute without your glasses," Mike said.

Danny muttered something and moved farther away, covering his face. Mike spread his hand on Danny's wet stomach, rough calluses on his soft skin. Then Mike reached down to his dick, still full and stretched out over his leg.

"Looks good for another go," Mike said. And he leaned over to get his nose right against the slippery length of it and the nest of curly hair around it, breathing in the smell of him, feeling the glow from his skin, and burying his face in his crotch, all warm, and damp, and soft, and hard, and hairy.

Then he sucked him into his mouth with a pop, and Danny rolled farther backward, practically falling out of the bed. Mike let him hang there, one arm and shoulder over the side, as he went to work with his tongue. In seconds Danny was breathing hard.

When he had come again, he was almost completely on the floor, and Mike had to give him a hand to pull him back up onto the mattress and all the way over to lie right beside him. The hair on Mike's chest and belly was matted and wet, and Danny lay cool and damp in his arms.

"What was all that about this not being part of the job?" Danny asked.

"Shit," Mike said, "I was just waiting for you to make the first move."

Mike's dick was stiff in his boxers, and Danny pulled them down to get a close look. Without his glasses, this required a really close look, his breath falling softly against Mike's balls. And Mike's dick lifted with each throbbing beat of his heart until it was standing clear of his belly.

When Danny glanced up, Mike said, "Well?"

"Ready?" Danny said.

"As I'll ever be."

And Danny opened his mouth over the end of Mike's cock, like he was biting into a hot dog dripping with mustard and relish. His teeth struck home about half-way down.

"No, no, no!" Mike laughed. "Not that way."

Danny stopped, rolling up his eyes to look at Mike.

"Ease up with the teeth, OK?"

"Mmpf," Danny said, and opened his mouth, Mike's dick sliding out and resting on his lower lip. Then he repeated the motion, this time all warm tongue and soft palate.

"That's better," Mike said. "Have you ever done this before?"

"Hm-mhunh," Danny shook his head, still looking up at him.

"Aw, heck" Mike said, reaching down to ruffle his hair. "I didn't know that." And he coached Danny for a while, giving him pointers. Do this, now try that, yes, real good, getting better.

Then he traded places with Danny, and gave a demo. "Are you watching?" he asked after lubing up Danny's dick with his tongue. "You can't see with your eyes shut."

He hadn't done this in a long time, giving lessons to another guy. Made him think of Mr. Jackson, the algebra teacher he had a crush on, who would stand by Mike's desk sometimes, thumbs hooked in his side pockets as he talked to someone doing a problem at the blackboard, a piece of chalk held in his curled fingers. How Mike lingered after class to have more time with him and kept in his memory for weeks the touch of his hand one day on Mike's shoulder.

He leaned up from Danny's dick and said, "Remember. You aren't just making the other guy come."

"You're not?"

"You want him to feel appreciated." He was talking about all those feelings he felt when Mr. Jackson smiled at him and praised his homework. "You want him to feel wanted."

As he talked, he held Danny's penis in one hand and his balls in the other. "For him, this is the most precious thing he's got."

OK, so maybe it sounded like bullshit, but he believed it.

This went on until finally Mike grabbed Danny by the ankles, dragged him off his pillow, and then hoisted up his legs so they were bent back over his head. "Pay real close attention to this," Mike was saying and put his whiskery chin into Danny's butt, nuzzling his balls with his moustache. Then he gave a good, long wet lick all along his crack.

"What are you doing?" Danny gasped.

"Nice, huh?" Mike said. "That's when you really wanna make a guy happy. Makes his toes curl."

Now he was ready to finish off what he'd started. He sucked Danny's balls, and letting his legs down over Mike's shoulders went to town on his dick again. By now there was no holding back, and with his hips lifted totally off the bed, Danny was coming again, Mike sucking him dry. Not letting a drop escape.

Spent, Danny fell back like a sack of Purina Chow and dropped into something resembling a coma. Mike stretched out with him, turning off the bed lamp and wrapping his fingers gently around Danny's dick, holding him and listening to him breathe in the darkness, the square of moonlight falling softly now over their bodies.

Mike's cock stayed hard, his skin from head to toe alive with a gentle fire. As Danny fell deeper and deeper into sleep, he let go of Danny's cock and, pressing against him, began stroking his own.

When he came, it fell in warm gobs over both of them, smelling rich and strong. Then he reached his arm across Danny, putting his hand on his chest, feeling the rhythm of Danny's heartbeat under the palm of his hand.

— § —

Mike rolls onto his back -- then stops -- pulling out "The Sun Also Rises," which has slipped under him, and setting it on the chair on his side of the bed. He pulls Danny's pillow closer to him and stuffs his cock back into his boxers. His hand is wet with cum, and he puts his fingers in his mouth, getting the salty taste of himself.

"I've been wondering about something," he'd said a few days later. "That Playboy sticker in your car?"

"It's not my car," Danny said. "Belongs to a friend of mine in the Peace Corps. He asked me to keep it for him till he gets back."

Mike had smiled, mostly to himself. "So you're not going to leave me for a girl."

"Who said I was leaving?"

Mike reaches out of the bed to set the alarm for morning. The hands on the dial glow in the darkness. Rusty stirs and sighs on the floor at the foot of the bed. Mike turns to the pillow again, lifts a leg over it, and hugs it to his chest.


© 2003 Rock Lane Cooper