The Rogue and the Runaway
Copyright© 2014 – Nicholas Hall
"The Cook's Gift"
"Small service is true service while it lasts;
Of humblest friends bright creation! scorn not one:
The daisy, by the shadow that it casts,
Protects the lingering dewdrop from the sun."
Helping Seth clean up after breakfast took very little time. Once the soiled dishes were in the dishwasher and he sat down at his desk to work on his State reports, I wandered around outside, snooping! I was curious about the grounds and outbuildings the house sat on, so took my leisure and strolled about. While outside, I checked on my truck, noting that all was secure (duh- why wouldn't it be?), and continued on my exploratory journey.
The house at `Pinicon Ridge sat high above the slough and was in a beautiful location, secure from high water, I imagined, and sheltered from winter winds by the surrounding forests. A boat dock extended out into the slough; a long, wide, wooden boat, tethered to it, and powered, I should imagine, by the rather large outboard motor attached to the rear of the boat. On the other side of the dock, a concrete ramp was used for taking out and putting in watercraft. At least I knew from the brief forays we made to one of the yacht clubs my father campaigned at and was a guest.
The outbuildings on the grounds were as Seth described them; one building, looking very much like a three car garage, had one of the bay doors open, so I walked in to look around. Inside there was only an ATV, a shelf with oil and other items on it, and several five gallon gas cans. I could only assume this is where Seth stored his truck. It looked big enough to hold mine as well if I decided to stay; that depended on Seth however, not me! Outside, alongside the garage, was a large gas storage tank set up on a metal stand. It certainly saved trips to town to gas up, I thought.
I decided to forego a look in Seth's storage/shop building and the small barn. The small barn did have a small fenced in area on one side that could have been used for animals at one time and beyond that, another fenced in area that would've served as a garden one time or another. At any rate, before either could be used for any purpose, the fence would have to be repaired. The garden fence would have to be much higher if there were deer about as Seth had said. I'd seen the damage an errant deer did to our flower beds and young trees at home.
Between the house and the barn was another very small building, hardly big enough to hold more than one person. Puzzled, but almost certain I knew what it was, about to investigate the odd little building, when from behind me, Seth said, "That's an outside toilet."
I damned near needed to use it! Seth was so quiet coming up behind me, I jumped, and sputtered, "That's what I thought, but I'd never seen one up close."
"Take a look!"
So, I did; looking inside all I could see was raised, enclosed platform, with a round hole cut in the top; a hole large enough for whatever would drop out of your ass to fall through, but small enough so you wouldn't join it on the way down – even a person with a butt as small as mine!
"I wondered where you were," he said as he stepped closer to me. "I forgot to caution you about snakes, specifically rattlesnakes!"
Oh, my God!
"They tend to be out and about here in the Wapsi bottoms."
"Are there lots of them?" I asked nervously.
"Well, sometimes, especially during high water or in the spring when they come out of their dens and are sorting out their territories. We have basically two types here; the Timber rattlesnake and the Massasauga, a smaller variety. They both are poisonous as hell, but usually won't bother you if you stay out of their way. Usually they give you plenty of warning, but it doesn't hurt to be vigilant when wandering about in the woods. Just watch where you walk."
Man, did I ever on the way back to the house. It was then, looking at my watch, I noticed I'd been gone longer than I thought. No wonder Seth came looking for me.
Lunch was frozen pizza cooked in a small pizza oven on the counter. After lunch, Seth filled a big water thermos with ice and water, grabbed some leather gloves from a drawer, turned to me, a wanting, pleading look on his face and asked, "Will you be here when I get back?"
"Do you want me to be here?" I answered softly, demurely.
"Very much so!"
I nodded, letting him know I'd still be here when he came home. He grinned and started out the door. Almost as an afterthought, he said, "Maybe I'd better pick up something for dinner. It'll be eight or nine o'clock before I get home. Dew starts to settle in about then and we'll call it day."
"No need," I offered, "I'm certain there's plenty for me to fix a meal for us."
"You can do that?"
"I hope so!" I answered skeptically.
A very recognizable shadow of doubt crossed his face and was reflected in his eyes, but, bless his heart, he said no more, walked out from the porch to his truck, and left.
Pondering my brash remarks concerning something for dinner, doubts began to pervade my mind as well. I hoped I'd be able to dispel those doubts, and my own, when he came home this evening, if I could only prepare something delicious and satisfying. Thinking of the word, "home" as I scurried around the kitchen, brought more meaning to me from the word in only one short day and night than all years I'd spent living with my parents and sisters. It seemed like a lifetime of acting the part, smiling on cue, sequestering myself out of sight and mind when not needed for political purposes, and concealing my homosexuality.
With Seth gone, I spent some time unloading my truck and bringing my things to the bedroom. All I really had was clothes, my laptop, cellphone, and my cash. I sorted out my dirty laundry and got it started, while putting my clean clothes in the dresser and closet in the room. The bank bag I'd stored my cash in went in the same drawer with my underwear. I figured since my briefs had secured and protected the family jewels all these years, hiding cash with them wouldn't be a problem!
He had satellite television and internet with a Wi-Fi connection, but I didn't have the password for access to the Wi-Fi connection for my laptop. As much as I wanted to check my e-mail account, I was concerned, no, more fearful the minute I logged on, I'd believed I'd leave a footprint and anyone savvy enough to know and recognize it could begin locating me. My father knew and had working for him computer geeks who just might be able to do it. I knew for certain once I turned on my cellphone there'd be doubt what-so-ever they'd be able to track me. If I was not being sought at this very minute, I'd be very much surprised! Mother and Father couldn't take a chance that I might shoot my mouth off to the press and fuck up dear old Daddy's chance for re-election and mother's social life.
Sighing, resigned and accepting of my predicament, I went back out to the truck and parked it in one of the empty bays in the garage, figuring it'd be out of sight and free from prying eyes should anyone drop by and wonder about the out of state license plates on it. Back in the house I began scoping out what was in the freezer and cupboards that I could fix for dinner. The freezer was well stocked with fish, pork, beef, and chicken as well as bags of frozen vegetables. I found the pantry shelves just as adequately stocked with staples and canned foods as well. Evidently Seth, or someone, made certain he'd never starve. Whether he was adept at preparing anything beyond the basic, I had no clue. Of course, I wasn't all that certain of myself.
In the kitchen, however, a life-saver was tossed my way as I rummaged and perused the cupboards; I found a rather recent and large cookbook! Pulling it from the shelf, I wandered into the living room, situated myself on the couch and opened it. I smiled as I did so, remembering one time when I scampered to the kitchen to tell Cook what a grand dessert she'd fixed and wondering how she could do such a marvelous thing! After giving me a big hug and kiss on my cheek, she said, "Honey chil', anybody what can read can cook."
So, armed with her advice and the cookbook, I began to sort through it, looking for a recipe Seth might like and not too difficult for me to prepare. In the section marked "Pasta" I found one that looked pretty damned good – and easy! Everything I needed was in the pantry and kitchen cupboards, including a covered cooking pot of the right size. The dish, a one pot meal type, would take a couple of hours or more to cook, but I assembled all of the ingredients, set them on the kitchen counter, and fixed myself a drink – it was now five o'clock and "happy hour." Well, it was for me because I had much to celebrate with just having the balls to leave home.
The dish was really quite simple; a pound package of linguini, chopped up onion and garlic, a large can of diced tomatoes (juice and all), quarter cup of so of virgin olive oil (how can you tell if an olive's never been fucked before having the oil squeezed from it?), thirty-two ounce container of chicken broth, some parsley, salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning. Everything goes into the pot, brought to a boil, covered, and then turned down to simmer until the pasta absorbs most of the liquid. When the dish is served, it's garnished with grated Assiago cheese. Dinner should be ready about eight thirty or nine, I estimated. Seth should be home by then.
About eight o'clock I heard his truck pull up by the garage and soon afterward his footsteps rattled on the porch. Poking his head in the door, lifting it as his nose sought the sources of the delight tantalizing his olfactory nerves, he exclaimed, "My God, something smells good in here!"
"Me!" I answered.
"I don't think so," he giggled, "although you do look good enough to eat," and walked over to the stove. Lifting the lid, he smiled, and asked, "Do I have time to shower? I'm filthy!"
Man was he ever! His clothes and every visible part of his body seemed to be covered with dirt and bits of hay, all of it adhering closely, held by the dampness of his sweat. He must have drenched his clothes in perspiration the way he smelled – not bad, understand but still had that "I been working hard" odor about him.
"Want a beer or something after you shower?" I shouted at him as he headed toward the bathroom.
"Anything cold; beer or mixed drink – makes no difference!"
I was really tempted to help him with his shower since there just might be a couple of places he could easily miss without my expert assistance, but, regrettably, I'm just not that forward. My timidity developed living where and with whom I did and it was going to take some time to get over it, if ever. Instead, I set the table and was mixing a whiskey Old Fashioned for him and a brandy Old Fashioned (sweet) for me when he came from the bedroom. I couldn't help but stare at his well-toned body, accentuated by the light cotton tee-shirt and board shorts he'd donned. From the looks of his crotch, he was going "commando" for supper. Did I just feel a twitch in my own crotch? He was so handsome I thought, I just as easily could have had him for dinner also.
I plated up our entre', after we finished our drinks, grated the cheese over each plate, and we ate. Seth was quiet and so was I, albeit a bit nervous wondering what he thought of the meal. When he asked for more, I knew I was home free! Finishing his second helping, he rubbed his tummy, smiled, and said, "David, that was fantastic; where in the hell did you learn to cook like that?"
"Help me clear the table and I'll tell you," I replied.
Fresh drinks in hand, we retired to the living room where I positioned myself on the couch, fully expecting Seth to take one of the easy chairs. Didn't happen; he sat easily alongside of me, scooted up until we were almost joined at the hip, took a sip of his drink, and said, "Okay, now tell me!"
How do I tell him without revealing too much about my background and who my family really was? I figured he already surmised, from the comments he'd made since we met, I was from some sort of southern moneyed or aristocratic household, so maybe that was enough.
"We've always had a cook," I began, "ever since I can remember. Mother didn't cook, didn't like to cook, and hated shopping for groceries. Those chores she relegated to the hired help. Our cook is a large black, buxomly woman, not overly tall, perhaps your height Seth, and is the most gentle, loving, and understanding person God ever put on this earth."
Not only could she cook, but she was always there to wipe away my tears, lend a patient ear while listening to my complaints or problems, offering advice, encouragement, or a mild verbal reprimand when needed, but never, never degraded me or made me feel less than a person.
"Cook was more of a mother to me than my own mother," I confessed.
"What's her name?" Seth inquired.
I thought a moment and replied, amazed at my response, "I don't know; I always called her `Cook' and that's how she was known!"
The kitchen and Cook became my refuge and my solace; the first place I headed to after school. I'd pull up a stool to the center island, she'd pour me a glass of milk and plate up some fresh cookies for me to snack on, and while she worked preparing dinner for us, I'd chatter away about my day, what wonderful things I'd learned or lament the latest troubles I brought on myself.
"One time," I relayed to Seth as he sat silently next to me, "the gardener's grandson and I got into a bit of trouble and when Mother found out, she wailed on my bare ass until it bled in spots. Once I'd gotten free of her wrath, I headed to the kitchen to be doctored and comforted. It was Cook to whom I finally admitted, upon a pledge of secrecy, I liked boys instead of girls. I thought she'd hate me for it and began crying. Tears streaming down my face, she pulled me close, and said, `I know Honey Chil'; Cook's known `bout that for a long time!"
"I remember asking her what in the world I was going to do since there was no way my parents would allow such a thing. Cook hugged me close and said, `You'll do what my people done for centuries; you'll keep your pride about you, your dignity, and when the opportunity comes, Honey Chil', seek your freedom'. The most precious and lasting advice she ever gave me, was that I'll be just as much a man whether gay or not, `so just don't you fret about who likes you or don't. Some folk gonna like you and some folk not, but as long as you like yourself, you be just fine! What you be make no difference; don't make you no less a person. Only this do; you got's to do your best to be your best; that's what makes you what you be. You be smarter than most realizes so's you just lay low, listen, and learn, den you be just fine!'"
Cook made it point, however, to caution me we'd best keep our secret from my folks. She was fearful of what they might do to me and I was scared shitless they'd fire her if they found she knew about me!
Seth sat a moment and finally said with great tenderness, "That's one hell of a fine piece of advice."
The evening and now the night was creeping away from us. Seth yawned and announced he had to hit the sack. "It's going to be an early and long day tomorrow."
He stretched and as he did, the tee shirt pulled up and revealed just the slightest hint of a small, very lightly haired streak just above the fly of his shorts, leading down to his concealed treasure. "I've got to pull box traps, re-bait them and drop them back in and pull hoop nets or fyke nets as they are technically known, reset them, and then, if the catch is good, haul it all to market. I want to be up by four to get everything loaded in the boat and gone by five."
He whispered a good night and went to bed.
I sat there a couple of minutes longer, silently wishing he would've invited me to join him.
To be continued:
Thank you for reading The Rogue and the Runaway – Chapter Four –"The Cook's Gift"
"Small service is true service while it lasts;
Of humblest friends bright creation!......."- (William Wordsworth)
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