Jerry Wallace woke up with a tree root in his back. He didn’t mind sleeping on the ground. He had been roughing it for most of his life. His parents had led a nomadic life and he had grown up in the many campgrounds they had lived in. His father never seemed to be able to hold down a regular job; so they had moved often. His mother would go from house to house offering her services to clean house or do laundry. Sometimes this led to a semi-permanent situation and they would stay for more than a few weeks in one location.
He raised himself up on his elbow and glanced over at the other occupant of the two man tent. He felt his heart jump at the sight. Danny was still asleep and his dark hair looked like he had stuck his finger in an electrical socket. Jerry nearly burst out laughing at the sight. He remembered how Danny had practically undressed him with his eyes when they first met. They had just been hired on the dude ranch and their boss had introduced them.
“Jerry Wallace this is Danny Eccles. You two will be working together a lot, so I suggest you take some time to get to know each other,” Mr. Baker said. “I’ll see you both back here at 6 AM. You will be hitting the trail with your first group of tourists at 7 AM. I’ve provided you with a pack list and instructions about the trip. I’m sending two of my more experienced guides to show you the ropes. I’ll expect that you will take the next group of tourists on your own. I’ve already scheduled two more fishing trips for next week. I will have all of the food and other supplies ready to go when you get here in the morning.”
We left Mr. Baker’s office and I reached over to shake Danny’s hand. “It’s good to meet you Danny.” I looked deeply into his blue eyes. His dark brown hair hung down across his forward. When he didn’t respond, I smiled and asked, “Cat got your tongue?”
Danny was still mesmerized by Jerry’s brilliant green eyes. Jerry’s touch had sent an electric shock through his entire body. Jerry’s deep tan and sun-bleached blond hair told him this man spent a lot of time outdoors. His wiry build was readily evident under the tight blue jeans and the form fitting plaid shirt. Suddenly, Danny’s longing for a lasting friendship rose to the surface of his conscious mind. He squeezed Jerry’s hand and said, “I’m glad to meet you, Jerry.” He reluctantly released Jerry’s hand.
Jerry asked, “Where are you from?”
“I’m originally from Richfield, Utah, but I’ve spent the past 15 years working odd jobs here and there; mostly in Idaho and Wyoming,” Danny said.
“What brings you to Jackson Hole?” Jerry asked.
“I heard there was work to be had,” Danny replied. “My last job was in Afton, Wyoming, at the Star Valley Cheese Factory. I got tired of the job after about a year or so. There wasn’t any future in it since it was a family owned business and I’m not family.” What he didn’t say was that the family’s youngest daughter had thrown herself at him; but he wasn’t interested. Not that she wasn’t pretty and rich, because she was both of those things; it was because the thought of being in bed with a woman terrified him.
“Same here,” Jerry said. “I’ve been drifting from job to job for years. I’ve never really found one I liked.”
Danny said, “You sound like you’re just like me in that regard.”
They walked out of the ranch office and stopped next to Jerry’s pickup truck. It was a green and white 1958 Ford 250. Danny said, “Wow! You’ve got a great looking truck.”
“Thanks,” Jerry said. “Is that yours?”
Danny said, “Yep. It’s not as nice as yours.” They walked over to a black 1955 Dodge truck.
Jerry looked in the back of the pickup and asked, “What’s all of the stuff in the back?”
“That’s everything I own. I’ve been living in my pickup for about a month now,” Danny said.
Jerry looked at Danny in surprise. “Have you tried living in a campground?”
“Nope. Don’t have the money to do that,” Danny said. “I’ve been using the restrooms at gas stations and grabbing showers at truck stops. Some of the truckers have been really nice to me.”
“Where do you plan to live now that you’ve got a job?” Jerry asked.
“I don’t know. I guess I’ll keep living in my truck. At least it’s a place to sleep out of the elements,” Danny said.
Jerry said, “Why don’t you rent a place with me?”
A smile lit up Danny’s face. He really wanted to get to know Jerry better. Jerry thought he’d never seen a better looking guy. Danny’s smile made his heart do flip-flops. He had never been attracted to a guy before. There was something about Danny that made him feel like he never wanted to let him go. He had been with plenty of women over the years, and at age 35, he had decided that marriage wasn’t for him. Then he saw Danny’s expression change.
“What’s wrong?” Jerry asked.
“I don’t have any money to put down a deposit. I won’t have any cash until we get paid,” Danny said, looking like the end of the world was at hand.
Jerry smiled. “I hope you won’t be offended if I offer to put down the deposit and the first month’s rent.”
Danny’s eyes sparkled with unshed tears. Jerry’s offer was the nicest thing anyone had done for him in many years. “I wouldn’t be offended at all. Thank you for offering to share a place with me.”
“I picked up a local newspaper. Let’s take a look at what’s available for rent,” Jerry said. He walked back over to his truck and grabbed the newspaper off of the seat. He returned to Danny’s truck and spread the paper out on the hood. “Let’s see.” His finger ran down the list of apartments for rent. The rents were high. He knew things were going to be expensive because Jackson Hole had become a tourist mecca. The only thing in his price range was a one-bedroom apartment.
Danny was looking over his shoulder and whistled loudly. “I’ve never seen prices that high. I think living in my truck is a much better idea.”
Jerry shook his head. “You will be okay for the summer; but winter would be the end of that.”
“I probably won’t be here for the winter. I usually don’t stay in one place for very long,” Danny said.
“Let’s check out the studio apartment,” Jerry said.
Danny hesitated. His gas tank was nearly empty and he didn’t have any money to buy more. He had counted on leaving his truck right where it was and sleeping overnight there. That way he would be at work on time.
Jerry saw Danny’s worried look and said, “I’ll drive.” The two men walked over to the 1958 Ford Pickup and climbed in. Jerry started the engine and put the truck in gear. As they drove back into town, he asked, “How old are you?”
“I’m 34,” Danny said.
“Do you have a girlfriend?” Jerry asked.
“No, I’ve never really been interested in women. I guess I’ll be a bachelor for the rest of my life,” Danny said.
Danny’s answer pleased Jerry. He had been afraid that Danny had a girlfriend somewhere. Knowing that Danny wasn’t interested in women gave Jerry hope that maybe they could be more than just friends. As soon as the thought crossed Jerry’s mind, he banished it. What was he thinking? Having sex with a guy could land him in jail.
They pulled up in front of a ramshackle house. They got out and walked up the front steps and knocked on the door. An elderly woman answered the door. She asked, “What do you want?” Her voice sounded rough and raw, like she had gravel in her throat. She gave a smoker’s cough and then waited for their answer. She was thin and had nicotine stains on her hands. Her long gray hair was done up in a tight bun on the top of her head. She narrowed her eyes and looked the men over.
Jerry said, “We are interested in renting your apartment.”
Her eyes narrowed even more. “You aren’t planning on sleeping in the same bed are you?”
“No,” Danny said. “We were hoping there was a couch I could sleep on.”
“There is that. I guess I could rent to the two of you then,” she said, stepping out on the porch. “Follow me.” She led them around the back to an addition to the house. “It has its own entrance. The utilities are all included. Since it’s an addition to the original house, it has its own furnace.” She unlocked the door and let them in.
They walked inside and found that the place had a nice sitting room with a big overstuffed couch and a loveseat arranged around a coffee table. There was a small kitchenette in the corner by the front door. It had a sink, a two burner propane stove and a small refrigerator that sat under the counter. There was a small hallway. At the end of the hallway was the furnace, and on one side was the door to the bathroom and on the other was the bedroom. It was really nothing more than a coat closet. At one end was a full-size bed. There was a dresser near the door and next to it was a shelf that supported a rack to hang up a few clothes. There was barely enough room on either side of the bed for a very thin person to squeeze by to get into it.
Jerry said, “I think it will work for us.”
The owner said, “Okay. I require the first and last month’s rent as a deposit.” Jerry pulled out his wallet and handed her the deposit money. She grinned. “I like you already.” She walked over to the little table and sat down. She filled out the rental contract and asked them their names.
“I’m Daniel Eccles,” Danny said.
“I’m Jerry Wallace,” Jerry said.
She added their names and then handed the contract to Jerry to read. He read over it and handed to Danny. Danny read it and handed it back to the owner. She said, “I’m Mrs. Campion. Rent is due on the first of every month. If you can’t make rent on the 1st, let me know. I’m willing to work with you.” She handed them the keys to the apartment. “You can move in today. I won’t charge you any rent for this month since it’s so close to the end.”
Jerry said, “Thank you.”
“Don’t mention it. I’m just glad to have the place rented,” she said. She got up from the table and said, “I’ll be seeing you two later.”
After she had left, Jerry said, “Let’s go get your truck so you can put your things away.”
Danny nodded his head in agreement. “Thank you for taking care of the rent. I promise I’ll pay you back.”
Jerry clapped Danny on the back and said, “Don’t worry about it, Danny.” Jerry followed Danny out of the apartment. He really liked what he saw. Danny’s tight bubble butt was clearly visible against the fabric of the worn jeans Danny was wearing. Jerry gave himself a mental shake. He was looking at Danny as a potential sex partner. He couldn’t help himself. He was so horny! He needed to find a local whore house to get some relief. Maybe that would help him keep his mind off of Danny’s sexy body. He was determined to become best friends with Danny and he didn’t want to make a mistake by giving him any hints that he was interested in having sex with him!
They climbed into Jerry’s truck and he drove them back to the dude ranch. As they drove, Jerry asked, “Do you know how to ride horses?”
“Yes, I have been riding horses since I was old enough to sit on a horse. My parents have 200 acre ranch south of Richfield, Utah. During the winter, we lived in town and attended school; but we spent the summers on the ranch. My Dad ran 500 head of cattle on the ranch. He hired someone to manage the ranch full time; but Dad liked to be on the ranch when the most important activities were going on. He also liked to go fishing and hunting. So I’ve done a fair amount of both of those things. Dad’s favorite pastime was to ride the horses up into the surrounding mountains and camp out under the stars.”
“It sounds like your family has money,” Jerry observed.
Danny glanced at Jerry, wondering what he meant by his statement. He tried not to let his disdain for his family show in his voice; but he failed. “Yes, they do; but I don’t want anything to do with their money.”
Jerry was surprised at the harshness in Danny’s voice. He said, “I’m sorry if I’ve hit on a nerve. I didn’t intend to give offense.”
Danny said, “You didn’t offend me. It’s just that my parents are very controlling and have used their money to make sure we did as they wanted. I’m the only one of the children that has managed to escape their evil designs.”
Jerry said, “I would have thought you would have taken advantage of their wealth to achieve your goals.”
Danny said, “But you haven’t taken into account the silken cords they use to bind us to their will. My brothers and sisters are chained to them in many ways. I couldn’t live like that.”
“Why not?” Jerry asked.
“My father expects complete obedience to his wishes. He demands submission to his will and heaven help you if you defy him in any way. His control extends into every aspect of your life. He dictated who my siblings could marry, where they lived, what jobs they could have, who their friends could be, and which church we could attend. There was absolutely no freedom of choice in my family. That is what drove me away from them,” Danny said.
Jerry said, “Your family must be super religious.”
“Yes, they are. I don’t believe as they do. In fact, that is why I was disowned by my parents. I refused to attend their church and told them I would never believe in their version of Christianity,” Danny said.
“How old were you when you left home?” Jerry asked.
“I was 17. It was after I finished my junior year of high school,” Danny said. “I told you a lot about me. What about you?”
Jerry said, “I like to claim that I grew up in Shelley, Idaho, even though we moved around a lot. Most of the people there are fanatics about religion. My Dad was a Methodist preacher for a while. He was pastor of the Community Methodist Church. I am the oldest of five kids. We didn’t have much money growing up since Dad’s income depended on the congregation. Our congregation was pretty small and couldn’t afford to pay Dad very much, although they did provide a small house for us to live in. As my parents’ family grew in size, we outgrew the small house. The church couldn’t provide us a bigger place and is the main reason my Dad left the ministry after a couple of years and moved on to other jobs, taking us with him.”
“Where does your family live now?” Danny asked.
“They live in Lewiston, Idaho, with my sister and her family. I stop in once a year to see them. I’m a lot like my father in that I don’t like to stay in one place too long. Mom used to call us a family of tumbleweeds; because we moved around so much,” Jerry said.
“What was your first job?” Danny asked.
“I got my first job working on a neighbor’s potato farm when I was 12 years old. I’ve worked pretty much since then doing whatever odd jobs I’ve been able to find; mostly things that I could do outdoors. From my parents, I learned to save my money. I also learned to do without when I didn’t have money to buy the things I needed.”
“Do you have a girlfriend?” Danny asked. He hoped Jerry wasn’t romantically involved with anyone.
Jerry glanced at Danny before answering. “No, I don’t have a steady girlfriend. If I ever feel the need for sex, I find my way to the nearest whore house. I have found that paying for sex eliminates the nasty entanglements that come with romantic relationships.” Danny received Jerry’s response to his question with mixed feelings. He was glad that he didn’t have a girlfriend; but it also told him Jerry was very much a ladies’ man. He turned his face to the window to avoid letting Jerry see how disappointed he was. Jerry noticed that something was wrong and asked, “Are you okay?”
“Yeah, I’m fine,” Danny responded. He was saved from answering any further questions as they pulled up next to his truck. “Thanks for driving. I’ll follow you back to the apartment.” He jumped out of Jerry’s truck and climbed into his. He followed Jerry back to the apartment. They parked their pickups and Jerry helped Danny unload his gear from the back of his truck.
Danny looked at his stack of stuff and said, “I guess I will need to throw a bunch of things out. I don’t think I’ll need most of it, since we’ll be in the outdoors most of the time.”
Jerry said, “I think you’re right about that.” Jerry left the apartment and quickly returned with his two suitcases. “You can hang your stuff up in the bedroom if you want.”
Danny smiled at Jerry and said, “Thanks, but I don’t think I’ll need to do that. I only have two pairs of jeans and two different shirts. They aren’t anything special and don’t need to be put up on hangers.”
Jerry thought to offer to buy Danny some new clothes; then thought better of it when he saw Danny’s expression. “Okay, suit yourself.” Jerry hauled his suitcases into the bedroom and put his clothes away. He felt almost guilty as he laid out his new jeans in his drawer and hung up his neatly pressed shirts. He had always taken pride in the way he dressed. He hated to make Danny feel uncomfortable by showing off how well off he was in comparison to his new friend.
He returned to the sitting room and sat down on the loveseat. He watched Danny go through his things. He had sorted them into a couple of piles. Danny looked up and noticed him looking at him. He pointed to one pile and said, “This pile is going into the trash can. This one goes back into my truck. There’s space behind the seat so I can lock it up. The rest we can either use or discard”
Jerry looked at the use-or-discard pile, noting most of the items were kitchen supplies, and said, “Have you checked the cupboards?”
“No, I haven’t,” Danny said.
Jerry walked over to the cupboards in the corner of the room and started opening them. They were completely bare. “Well, that answer’s that. I guess we’ll keep your dishes, pots, and pans. It’s a good thing you brought them with you.”
Danny smiled, “I’m glad I’m able to contribute something to this little adventure.”
Jerry grinned, “I like that thought. It is an adventure.”
Danny started carrying things over to cupboards and putting them away. “Do you know how to cook?”
“Not indoors,” Jerry responded. “I’m good at Dutch oven cooking. I spent a few years as a cook for a sheep rancher. I learned to cook almost anything over a fire. However, you put me in a regular kitchen and I’m like a fish out of water.”
Danny smiled, “That makes us a perfect pair then. I’m not good at cooking over a campfire; but you put me in a kitchen and I’m your man. I love to cook. At one time, I even considered going to cooking school to become a chef. The only problem was the cost. Since I didn’t go to France to learn to be a chef, I invent my own recipes at home.”
Jerry smiled, “Well, since you’re a good cook, let’s go find us a grocery store and bring back something for you to make us a meal.”
Danny returned his smile and nodded his head. “Let’s go.”
The two men continued to get acquainted with each other as they prepared their first meal together. As they were cleaning up their dishes, Jerry brushed up against Danny from behind as he reached up to put way their dishes. Danny felt a thrill at the brief physical contact. Jerry noticed his reaction to his touch and thought to himself. “This guy must be attracted to me just like I’m attracted to him.”
Jerry needed to satisfy nature’s call and crawled out of his sleeping bag. He quietly slipped on his jeans and long-sleeved shirt. He unzipped the tent door and slipped his feet into his boots. He walked up the trail to the portable latrine they had set up the night before. He relieved his bladder and made his way back to the site of their campfire. The mountain air was crisp and full of the smell of pine resin. He stirred the ashes and found there were still a few live coals. He added some shredded bark and began fanning the coals until the bark caught flame. It wasn’t long before he had a nice cooking fire going. He looked up when he heard the tent zipper being pulled. He saw his friend standing there with his hair standing straight up.
He laughed and said, “Danny, you need to wet that hair down! You look pretty scary right now.”
Danny grinned, “I bet I do.” He stepped out of the tent and trotted up the trail to satisfy the call of nature. He returned and sat down next to Jerry. “What’s on the menu for breakfast?”
“Pancakes, sausage and eggs,” he replied. “The rest of the crew should be getting up pretty soon. We need to get to fishing pretty soon.”
This was their 3rd fishing trip of the season. Jerry and Danny had gotten into a routine and knew just what to do and when. This group of guys came from Boise, Idaho with one or two from California. They were wealthy businessmen who reminded Danny of his father. He had managed to restrain himself while in their presence. He couldn’t stand their kind and had confided in Jerry just how much he hated them.
Jerry looked at Danny and said, “Remember to be on your best behavior.” Danny nodded and looked away from Jerry’s penetrating gaze. “Don’t create problems where there aren’t any.”
Danny knew Jerry was right; but it was a pretty bitter pill to swallow, given how much he loathed these men and everything they stood for. It didn’t help matters that these wealthy men treated him just like his father had, and he didn’t like it one bit! It was like rubbing salt in an already infected wound.
He was brought out of his thoughts by a touch on his arm. He looked up and met Jerry’s gaze, he was nose to nose with him. “Don’t fuck up or you’ll have me to deal with, Mr. Eccles.” His voice was low, but it carried a threat that was very real.
Danny’s brain registered the threat and he said, “I won’t mess up. I promise.”
“Good. I’m glad we understand each other,” Jerry said. He sat down and returned to cooking breakfast.
The men soon joined them and they ate a hearty breakfast. Afterward, Jerry and Danny cleaned up the camp, while their “guests” relaxed and smoked pipes or cigars. They put together the fishing gear and fed the horses. By the time they had finished saddling the horses, the men were ready to go. Jerry led them up the trail toward the lake and Danny brought up the rear to take care of any problems that should arise on the trail.
They spent the day on the lake. Each of the men caught their limit, and that evening, they built a campfire on the shore of the lake. Jerry fried potatoes and then pan fried the fish. He prepared peach cobbler in several Dutch ovens for dessert. After dinner, the men sat around the campfire, telling stories and occasionally they broke into song. They put out the fire and rode their horses back down to their base camp. Jerry rekindled their cooking fire to ward off the chill of the evening. Most of the men had retired for the night; but one or two had taken up their usual posts at the fire. One of them was an older gentleman from San Francisco. He smoked his pipe in silence, watching the other men around the campfire. Tonight, he was the last one at the campfire, along with Jerry and Danny.
“Well, Mr. Hansen. We’re retiring for the night,” Jerry said.
Mr. Hansen said, “I’ll watch the fire for a little longer.”
The two men took care of their toilet and then retired to their tent. They spoke in low tones about their plans for the next day. After a while, Jerry left the tent to check on the fire. He was surprised to see Mr. Hansen still sitting in the spot where he had left him.
Mr. Hansen gestured for Jerry to join him. Jerry sat down and Mr. Hansen said, “How long have you and Danny known each other?”
Jerry was surprised by the question. “About three weeks. Why do you ask?”
Mr. Hansen leaned close to Jerry’s ear and said, in a low voice so that only Jerry could hear, “Because he’s in love with you.” Jerry sat in stunned silence. He didn’t know how to respond to Mr. Hansen’s assertion. “I know you may not like to hear the news; but I thought you should know. Danny’s a fine man. If I were 30 years younger, I’d pursue him myself.” This last revelation was even more shocking than the first. Jerry was totally unprepared to hear that Mr. Hansen preferred men. Mr. Hansen smiled and said, “Good night, Jerry.” He got up and put out his pipe. He walked up the trail to the latrine and a few minutes later passed Jerry on his way to his tent.
Jerry sat, staring into the fire. His mind was racing a million miles a minute. He was trying to sort out how he felt about the information Mr. Hansen had shared with him. He knew that Danny really liked him. Their friendship had blossomed and flourished since the day they had first met. He had never felt so close to anyone else in his entire life as he did when he was with Danny. He wondered if anyone else had noticed how Danny felt about him. He finally returned to his tent where he found Danny had already fallen asleep. He climbed into his sleeping bag; but sleep was slow in finding him.
The next morning, Danny was up with the dawn. He looked over at Jerry and marveled that he was still asleep. Jerry was always up first and had things moving by the time Danny climbed out of his sleeping bag. He pulled on his clothes and left the tent to attend to nature’s call. He walked back to their camp and stirred the ashes of the fire to find any live coals. He had watched Jerry start the fire many times; so he followed the same steps and soon had the cooking fire going. As he was pulling out the breakfast gear, Mr. Hansen stepped out of his tent and made his way up the trail to the latrine.
Returning, he asked, “May I offer my assistance?”
Danny gave the older man a surprised look. He said, “Sure.”
Mr. Hansen pulled out the pancake mix and poured some into a bowl. He added water and stirred it until it was the desired consistency. Next, he put the griddle over some coals and greased it so the pancakes wouldn’t stick. As he started cooking pancakes, he asked, “How long have you known Jerry?”
Danny looked at Mr. Hansen through narrowed eyes. He was always suspicious when people started asking questions. “About three weeks. Why do you ask?”
Mr. Hansen shrugged. “Just wondering, that’s all.”
Danny cooked the sausage in a large cast iron skillet. He couldn’t believe that this rich man was willing to do something that was beneath his station. He watched Mr. Hansen easily flip the pancakes and then pour more batter onto the griddle. Mr. Hansen looked up from what he was doing and He met Danny’s eyes. “You know that he loves you.”
Danny didn’t register what he meant at first. “Who are you talking about?”
Mr. Hansen smiled and didn’t directly reply to Danny’s question. “I’m from San Francisco where I lived with my life partner for nearly 30 years. He passed away last month. I came on this trip in an attempt to come to terms with my grief. I’ve never been so alone.” He paused and looked at Danny. “I met Herb on a fishing trip like this one. We immediately hit it off, and spent the rest of our lives together. He was a wonderful companion in every sense of the word. Of course, we had to hide our relationship from the world; but we spent most of our time in the outdoors, away from people where we could be ourselves. You and Jerry remind me of me and Herb when we were your age.” Danny looked away, trying to hide his confusion. He wasn’t sure how Mr. Hansen had figured out that he liked men. He flipped the sausages. Mr. Hansen touched his arm and said, “It’s okay, Danny. No one else knows but me.”
He looked at Mr. Hansen and said, “I hope no one else knows. I don’t want to be murdered in my bed.”
Mr. Hansen said, “You don’t have to worry about me. I think these pancakes are ready. Are the sausages ready?”
Danny nodded his head. He pulled the skillet off of the heat and removed the sausages from the pan. He walked over to his tent and poked his head inside. “Jerry, it’s time to get up.” When Jerry didn’t stir, Danny leaned over and shook Jerry’s foot inside his sleeping bag. “Jerry, wake up.”
Jerry stretched and yawned widely. He glanced at his watch and sat up. “Why didn’t you wake me up sooner?”
Danny ignored his question. “Come and eat. Breakfast is ready.”
Jerry looked up at his friend in surprise. “Well, maybe I should sleep in more often.”
Danny smiled and said, “Don’t get used to it.”
He stepped out of the tent to see Mr. Hansen making his way from tent to tent, rousing the sleeping men. They gathered round the fire and ate their breakfast. Afterwards, they returned to their tents to change clothes and strike their tents. Meanwhile, Danny and Jerry cleaned up the camp and took down their tent as well.
Mr. Hansen came over with his 35 mm. camera and asked, “May I take your photograph?”
Jerry said, “Sure.”
“I want both of you in the photograph. Jerry put your arm around Danny’s shoulders,” Mr. Hansen directed. Jerry did as he was asked and was pleasantly surprised when Danny put his arm round his waist, pulling him close to him.
“Smile,” Mr. Hansen directed. He snapped a couple of photographs. “Now, write down your address; so I can mail you a copy of the prints.” Danny took the paper and pencil he held out in his hand. He wrote down the address to their apartment and handed it back to him. “Thank you,” he said. “I will always remember this fishing trip. I hope it has been as memorable for you as it has been for me.”
Danny released Jerry and turned away to hide the fact that he was very aroused by Jerry’s touch. He busied himself with packing the rest of his gear. He stood up and carried it over to his horse, willing his body to relax. Fortunately, his heightened state of arousal abated quickly, and he was able to help the other men with their gear. They were soon ready to move to their next campsite, where they would spend a few more days.
As they rode down the trail, Danny kept glancing at Jerry, wondering if he dared speak about his feelings for him. Every once in a while he would catch Jerry giving him a searching look. Danny would smile and Jerry would look away as if he was trying to hide something. By the time they reached the next campsite, Danny had convinced himself that Jerry didn’t share the same sexual attraction as he did. As a result, he decided that he would rather keep Jerry’s friendship than risk alienating him completely by sharing his feelings with him.
They set up camp and then settled down to do some serious fishing. It seemed to Danny that Jerry was avoiding him. He wouldn’t meet his gaze and later, when it was time to go to bed, Jerry pulled his sleeping bag out of the tent and rolled it out next to the fire.
Danny asked, “What’s up?”
“I’m going to sleep out here tonight,” Jerry said. Danny felt a pain shoot through his heart. He was almost certain that Mr. Hansen had said something to Jerry that had caused him to distance himself from Danny. Jerry saw Danny’s face fall and was immediately sorry for being so aloof. “You can pull your sleeping bag out here if you want.”
Danny read the expression on Jerry’s face and rightly interpreted it to mean he wasn’t really welcome. He didn’t respond; but turned away from Jerry and entered their tent, zipping it closed behind him. He took his clothes off and slipped into his sleeping bag. He tried to convince himself that he wasn’t really hurt by Jerry’s behavior; but he failed miserably. He had been foolishly romantic to think he had met the man of his dreams.
The next morning, Jerry was up before dawn and had the fire blazing. He cooked breakfast and laid it out for the guys to eat. Mr. Hansen was the first one up and he joined Jerry. He filled his plate and took a seat next to Jerry. He ate in silence and when he finished, he washed his dishes and dried them. He walked over to Jerry and stood in front of him with his hands on his hips. Jerry looked up and knew before he spoke that Mr. Hansen didn’t approve of how Jerry had behaved yesterday toward Danny. “I expected better from you, Mr. Wallace. You don’t deserve Danny. I hope he sees what kind of a person you really are and moves on before he gets hurt.”
Before Jerry could answer, Mr. Hansen turned his back on him and walked over to wake Danny. “Good morning, Danny.”
Danny woke up and saw Mr. Hansen looking down at him. “Where’s Jerry?”
“He’s cooked breakfast and it’s time for you to get up,” Mr. Hansen said. “I wanted to apologize for speaking out of turn. I mentioned to Jerry yesterday that you had feelings for him. I didn’t expect him to treat you so poorly as a result of my observation. I’m deeply sorry for hurting you.”
Danny sat up, letting the sleeping bag fall to his waist. Mr. Hansen’s eyes hungrily devoured the well-toned younger man’s body. He knew he was being a dirty old man; but that was too bad! Danny saw the look of lust on the older man’s face and grinned. “It’s all right, Mr. Hansen.” He stood up, letting Mr. Hansen get an eye full of his morning wood. He had slept naked since he had been alone in the tent.
Mr. Hansen said, “How would you like to move to San Francisco?”
“I’d love to move there; but I don’t have a job,” Danny said, stroking his dick.
Mr. Hansen licked his lips and the look of lust on his face intensified. “I can arrange one for you,” Mr. Hansen said. “Think about it and let me know what you think.” Mr. Hansen thought to himself, “Your only job will be to keep me happy.” He grinned and left Danny to get dressed.
Jerry saw Mr. Hansen leave the tent with a huge smile on his face. He wondered what had happened between him and Danny to make him so happy. Danny stepped out of the tent, and he, too, had a big smile on his face. Danny saw Jerry and his smiled quickly faded. He walked over to the fire to warm his hands and then he helped himself to some breakfast. He ate in silence and washed up his dishes. Jerry couldn’t think of anything to say that would make things better; so he, too, remained silent.
They barely exchanged words for the rest of the fishing trip. Danny moved his gear to Mr. Hansen’s tent and kept company with Mr. Hansen, ignoring the other men. He figured that Jerry could handle the rest of them just fine on his own.
They returned to the ranch and Mr. Hansen asked, “Have you made up your mind?”
“No, I haven’t,” Danny said. “I will call you if decide to come.”
Mr. Hansen had known this was going to be Danny’s answer. He was experienced enough to know how to read men; and particularly homosexual men. He was extremely grateful to this young man for helping him forget his grief. He had a great personality, but, best of all, was great in the sack! Mr. Hansen had needed to be reminded how much great sex reinvigorated you. He had been acting like a monk in the local monastery since his life partner had died, not wanting to be with anyone. Danny had made him feel human again. It felt good to make an end to the pity party and begin enjoying life. It was time for him to move on.
“You have my phone number and address. Thank you for a most delightful fishing trip.” He gave Danny a bear hug. He looked deeply into Danny’s eyes and said, “Don’t give Jerry the time of day, young man. Look for Mr. Right somewhere else.”
Danny nodded his head in agreement. “Thank you for the advice.”
Reluctantly, Mr. Hansen left Danny and joined the rest of the men as they prepared to leave. Danny walked over to his boss, Mr. Baker. Mr. Baker said, “Here’s a bonus check for you, Danny. It seems that several of the guys were very appreciative of your services.”
He took the envelope that Mr. Baker held out to him. He looked inside and counted the hundred dollar bills. They had paid him $1,000! He looked up at Mr. Baker and asked, “Is this joke?”
Mr. Baker smiled and said, “It’s no joke. They also left a tip for Jerry.”
Jerry walked over and Mr. Baker handed him an envelope. Jerry looked inside and whistled. “Wow! I’ve never seen so much money in one place.”
Mr. Baker said, “You must have done an excellent job for them to have left you a nice tip.” Danny glanced at Jerry and then back to Mr. Baker. Mr. Baker sensed that something was wrong between the two men. He was about to ask about it; but decided to let them work it out on their own. “Take next week off and we’ll see you the following Monday for the next fishing trip.”
Jerry nodded his head and turned to walk away. Danny looked at Mr. Baker and said, “I think you know that we’re not getting along right now. I’d appreciate it if we could work on separate crews for a while.”
Mr. Baker nodded his head and said, “There’s another group leaving this afternoon for a horseback riding trip. Why don’t you join Richard? I think you will find Richard to be good company.”
Danny smiled. “Thank you so much.” He grabbed his gear and went in search of Richard. He found him in the barn working with the horses. “Richard, Mr. Baker asked me to report in to you. He wants me to join your group.”
Richard smiled and said, “Welcome aboard, Danny.” He shook Danny’s hand. “It’s about time the boss acknowledged the fact that I need an assistant.”
Richard outlined the trip and his expectations of his new assistant. “Well, now that we have the logistics out of the way, let’s get these horses ready for the tourists.”
They spent the better part of an hour saddling the horses. When they had finished, a tour bus pulled up in front of the ranch house and a whole horde of tourists unloaded. They were a mixture of all ages. Richard rolled his eyes. “It looks like we’ll have our hands full.”
Danny had been so busy he had completely forgotten to tell Jerry he wasn’t going home with him. He only remembered when he saw Jerry’s truck driving down the lane toward the main road. He felt bad he hadn’t spoken to him; but then, again, Jerry hadn’t been exactly going out of his way to speak to him. He shrugged his shoulders and returned to the work at hand.
Jerry had hung around for a while, waiting for Danny to come out to the truck. When he hadn’t shown up, he got out of his truck and walked back into the ranch office. Mr. Baker saw him and called him over. “I’ve assigned Danny to the horseback riding tour. He won’t be back until next Thursday.”
Jerry looked at Mr. Baker in surprise. “I thought you said we were off next week.”
“Richard needs the extra help this week because it’s a very large group,” Mr. Baker said.
Jerry gave Mr. Baker a look through narrowed eyes. “Did Danny volunteer to go?”
“Yes, he did,” Mr. Baker said. “Whatever is going on between you two had better solve itself very soon or I will have to let you both go. You two work really well together and people are hearing about the great trips you two conduct. As a result, we are seeing an increase in bookings. Don’t mess it up by arguing with each other.”
Jerry had wondered if Danny had spoken to Mr. Baker about him. Apparently, he had. “Okay,” he responded and turned away from Mr. Baker and walked out of the office. Now, he was steaming mad at Danny for not talking things out with him before going to their boss. He stomped out to his truck. He drove off and decided to find the nearest bar.
To be continued…