Monday, May 20, 2013

A Tumbleweed Adventure - Chapter Four

A Tumbleweed Adventure – Chapter Four

Jerry held Danny in his arms as they came down from their natural high.    He was totally relaxed and comfortable, more than he had ever experienced with a woman.   It amazed him that he could be taken to such heights of passion by another guy.   In fact, he never had felt as close to another human being as he felt to Danny at that moment.   The more he thought about it, the more it scared him.   He had already gone much further into this relationship than he ever dreamed of going.  

He and Danny had become very close friends since the early summer, and that closeness had always had sexual overtones.   Initially, he had wanted to have sex with Danny.   He thought that fucking Danny would satisfy his desires for him, and that would be the end of the physical relationship between them.   However, last night his body had reacted so strongly to Danny’s touch that it left him with no doubts that he was sexually attracted to him; and, even more disturbing to him, was the realization that he wanted Danny more than anyone else in the world.   It wasn’t just a physical attraction.   He loved everything about this man in his arms.  He was still uncomfortable with the fact that he wanted Danny to be more than just a friend.

That thought brought him up short.   What was he thinking?   Never before had he felt this way.   Yes, he had had the occasional fling with a woman, staying at her place for a short while.   However, he mostly limited his sexual encounters to visits to a local whore house.   That way, there weren’t expectations of a relationship; just sex for money.   That is how he preferred it; no entanglements, no hurt feelings, and certainly none of the trappings of a nasty break up.  He enjoyed his freedom from domestic worries.  

How could he be so sure this was what he had been looking for all of his life – an intimate relationship with a man?   His confusion about his feelings for Danny had evaporated over the last 24 hours.   Now, he knew for certain that he wanted to spend the rest of his life with him.   But that certainty raised other questions in his mind.   What would their life together be like?   Where did they go from here as a couple?   Despite his feelings for Danny, did he have the strength and the courage to be his life-long partner?

Up until now, he had led a very lonely life.   He knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that he didn’t want to be alone anymore.   He wanted to be with Danny.  He nuzzled Danny’s hair and nibbled on his earlobe as he thought about what made Danny the perfect mate for him.   Danny was everything he had ever dreamed of in a spouse.   He was sexy, funny, and liked many of the same things he did.   He was patient beyond belief, and most of all he listened with rapt attention to everything Jerry had to say.   Danny was a man’s man, kind of like the guys portrayed in cigarette commercials.   He was confident, strong, and self-reliant.   Danny possessed many of the character traits that Jerry valued and felt were essential to surviving in this world.   Most importantly, Danny brought a sense of completeness to Jerry, like they were two parts of a single whole.

However, the thing that worried him was the fact that having sex with a man was illegal, and they could go to jail.  He kept going over, in his mind, how they could keep the true nature of their relationship from being discovered.   He was still thinking about a strategy for hiding their relationship from other people, when Danny put his hand to his face and asked, “What are you thinking about, that has you so troubled?”  

Danny liked the feel of Jerry’s nascent beard.   It was just a bit more than a 5 o’clock shadow.   He saw the troubled look on his lover’s face and knew that something was bothering his friend.   He had grown accustomed to Jerry’s mannerisms and could tell when things weren’t right with him.

Jerry said, “I’m thinking of ways to hide our relationship, to keep us out of jail.”

“What did you decide?” Danny asked, gazing into his lover’s eyes.

“We will have to keep moving from place to place.   As long as we don’t stay too long in a particular place, no one will get to know us well enough to figure out that we’re lovers,” Jerry said.

“How long is too long?” Danny asked, thinking this would suit him fine since that is how he had already been living his life.   He preferred not to be tied down.

“It depends on the situation.   In general, I would say that no more than two months in any one place should keep us safe,” Jerry said.   He thought for a moment.   “It will be like it was for me growing up.   My mother always said that we were like tumbleweeds being blown from place to place.   We’ll be carrying on my family’s tradition of never staying put for long.   Are you okay with constantly being on the move?”

Danny smiled and said, “As long as I’m with you, I’m okay with moving around a lot.   I’ve kind of been doing that already, since I was kicked out of my parents’ house.   I’ve found people get too nosy after a while.”

“Well, I think we’ll be okay, especially since neither of us have feminine traits that would cause someone to question our relationship,” Jerry said.

“Not only that, we’re both into the outdoors, and aren’t shy about putting in a good day’s work,” Danny said, straddling Jerry.   He leaned down and kissed him, as he felt Jerry growing under him.   “It’s your turn to fuck me; since I fucked you first.”

Jerry smiled and said, “Has anyone ever told you that you have beautiful eyes?”

Danny laughed and said, “No, they haven’t, but I’m sure my beautiful eyes aren’t what you’re interested in right now!”

Jerry grinned and said, “You’re right about that.”

*** ***

The fire had burned down to a pile of hot coals that glowed in the dark.   A draft of cold air sent a chill down Jerry’s spine.   He roused himself from his post-coital stupor, untangling himself from Danny, and knelt in front of the fireplace to add wood to the fire.   He watched as the dry wood began so smolder, then burst into flame.   He noticed that all of the logs in the wood box were pine.   That meant it would burn quickly, unlike hardwood that would last much longer than these split pine logs.   He made a mental note to replenish their wood supply before they went to bed for the night.   Fortunately, they wouldn't have to go very far to fetch the wood, because someone had stacked it neatly along the south wall of the cabin.

He lay down alongside Danny and pulled the blanket up over them both.   Danny stirred and rolled over, placing his arm over Jerry’s stomach.   Jerry brought his hand to Danny’s face and ran his fingertips along the chiseled jaw line.   Danny smiled and opened his eyes.

“I love it when you do that,” he said, bringing his hand up to capture Jerry’s in his.   He turned it over with the palm up and placed his palm on top of Jerry’s.   He lined up their hands and said, “They are almost exactly the same size, only your fingers are slightly longer than mine.”  

Over the last few months, Danny had memorized everything about Jerry that he could.   He had been cautiously optimistic that Jerry might have an interest in having sex with him.   However, just in case his favorite fantasy didn’t come true; he had committed to memory every detail of Jerry’s personality.   Even now, he was cataloging things in his mind, hoping to build memories that would never fade.   His fear of losing Jerry fueled this seemingly manic behavior.  Their passionate lovemaking had added another dimension to his mental portrait of Jerry.   Comparing his hands to Jerry’s added another layer of pigment to the picture he was painting in his memory.  

Jerry grinned lecherously, and said, “Just like my dick is slightly longer than yours.”

“That’s true, but you enjoy being fucked as much as I do,” Danny said.   “So size isn’t an issue for either one of us.”   Danny’s hand caressed Jerry’s semi-hard steel pole.   Danny noted Jerry’s troubled expression.   “What’s wrong?”

“It’s just that I can’t believe that I’m really lying here talking to you about how much we enjoy having sex with a guy,” he answered.   He was still making mental adjustments as the reality of their relationship sank deeper into his psyche.  

“Why does it have to be a big deal?   Can’t we just accept the fact that we love each other, and leave it at that?” Danny asked, fearing that Jerry was going to bail out on him; just as things seemed to be working for them.

Jerry gazed intently into Danny’s eyes.   He saw the fear in them, and heard the anxiety in his voice.   He placed his hands on either side of Danny’s face.   “Danny, I’m not going to leave you.   That isn’t what I’m trying to say.   I’m trying to work through my feelings of confusion and uncertainty.   I don’t know who I am anymore.   I thought I was a real tough guy who was fiercely independent and had no attachments to anyone.   Now, I find myself madly in love with you.   It has changed my perspective on things.   I didn’t ever worry about where I was or where I was going.   Now that we’re in a relationship that has all changed.   I worry about our future together.”

Danny took Jerry’s hands in his and said, “Leave the worrying for another time and place.   Let us enjoy the time we have together, right here, right now.   There will be plenty of opportunities for us to plan out our lives together.”

Jerry nodded his head.   He heard the pleading in Danny’s voice.   His fears weren’t unfounded, and Jerry felt guilty for not being able to hide his worries from him.    He said, “Okay.   Are we sleeping in here?”

“Only if you want to sleep in front of the fire place, I think the bed will be much more comfortable,” Danny replied, trying to keep his voice light.   He didn’t want to spoil this night with thoughts of what might happen tomorrow.   He knew that Jerry might change his mind about their relationship and leave him.

Jerry said, “I vote for the bed.   I’ll add a couple more logs to the fire to keep it from getting too cold in here.”

“If you want, we can fire up the wood burning stove to heat up some water.   I believe there are some hot water bottles in the pantry,” Danny said.   “We used them when we were younger.   Dad would put them at the foot of the bed to keep our feet warm,” Danny said.   He stood up and walked over to the pantry and opened the door.   In the dim firelight that entered the pantry, he managed to find two hot water bottles, and turned to show them to Jerry.   “See, they are still here.”

Jerry smiled, as he admired the beautiful body of his lover.   His eyes fell on the hot water bottles in Danny’s hands, reminding him that Danny was waiting for him to respond.   “Okay, let’s heat the water.”   Jerry continued to watch Danny with a lover’s eyes.  

Danny walked over and laid the hot water bottles on the counter.   He opened the door to the stove.   He wadded up some old newspaper and placed it inside with some kindling.   He lit the paper and soon had the fire burning.   He added more wood after the kindling was burning pretty steadily.   He closed the stove and filled a cast iron pot with water.   He placed it on the stove, and returned to snuggle with Jerry in front of the fire place.   Danny pulled the blankets over them and folded himself around Jerry.

Danny asked, “What do you want to do tomorrow?”

Jerry said, “I don’t know.”

“Would you like to do some camping?   We could go to Arches National Monument.   They have some good places to camp there,” Danny said.   “We can take a couple of the horses down with us.   I don’t think Golden will mind, and the horses need to be exercised.”

Jerry said, “Let’s talk to Golden in the morning.   Since we’ll be taking horses with us, we will need to make sure we take enough supplies with us.”

“We already have our camping gear stowed in the back of the truck.   That part is done,” Danny said, excitement showing in his voice.   He loved camping with Jerry; but, in the past, they had always been accompanied by tourists.   This time, it would be just the two of them.   “You know, this will be our first camping trip alone.”

Jerry grinned, “Are you saying this will be like our honeymoon?”

Danny laughed and replied, “If we were married, yes, it would be.”

“I wish I could marry you, Danny,” Jerry said, seriously.

Danny’s expression quickly changed and became serious, “We can still be committed to each other; I mean, like married people are.”

Jerry said, “But I want to shout it out to the entire world that you’re my husband and that you’re mine.   All mine,” Jerry said.   “As long as it’s illegal for us to have intimate relations, we will always have to be on our guard.   Are you really sure you want to live a life in the shadows, always looking over your shoulder, wondering when the police will show up and throw you in jail for loving me?”

Danny said, “I love you, Jerry Wallace.   I’m willing to do whatever it takes to stay with you.”

“Including the risk of being beaten or killed?” Jerry asked.   “The United States government persecutes homosexuals, just like the Nazis did during World War II.   Eisenhower signed an executive order banning homosexuals from working for the government.   He said that homosexuals are a threat to national security; because they could be blackmailed, and because they are psychologically unstable.   The FBI hunted them down, and co-workers were encouraged to inform management of any suspicious behavior.   Those who were found out never found other employment and ended up impoverished, if not dead.   That kind of discrimination and hatred still exists,”

“But I’ve never heard of that executive order,” Danny objected.

“That doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist, and that it’s not still in force,” Jerry said.   “All 50 states have anti-sodomy laws on the books that impose fines and jail time on homosexual activity.”

“Why do you know so much about it?” Danny said.   He was surprised that Jerry would know so much about homosexuality and the laws against it.

“I worked for the Bureau of Land Management for a short period of time, and one of my co-workers was caught having sex with another guy.   Both of them ended up in jail,” Jerry said.   He paused and shuddered before continuing.   “They were beaten to death by their cell mates.”

“Didn’t the guards try to stop it?” Danny said, horrified.

“They were the ones who instigated the beatings,” Jerry said.   “Their murderers were already sentenced to life in prison and had nothing to lose.   The guards were reprimanded, but no one was fired or charged with murder.   The district attorney refused to bring murder charges against the inmates and the prison guards.   I overheard the local county sheriff telling his deputies that they deserved to die.”

Danny was shocked that such callousness existed in the United States with regard to another human life.   He had imagined that such atrocities only occurred in third world countries.   He had been raised to believe in the greatness of the United States and its people, and how virtuous and beyond reproach they were.   The image of the officially condoned murder of two homosexuals clashed with everything he believed about his country.   He had been taught his country was founded on the principles of freedom and justice for all.   Now, he found himself wondering what other falsehoods he had been taught all his life.  

Deeply troubled, he asked, “Why would someone allow a murder to happen like that?”

Jerry noted the distress in Danny’s voice.   He hated to cause Danny pain, but he felt compelled to drive home the dangers they would be facing if they continued to remain in the relationship they both wanted.

“Most people don’t consider homosexuals human beings.   They have convinced themselves that homosexuals are abominations and monsters; and, therefore, it is okay to kill them and eliminate them from society,” Jerry said.   “They justify their behavior based on their religious beliefs.   I’ve heard many a preacher quote the Bible to justify committing the sin of murder.”

“My grandparents experienced religious persecution.   When they left the Baptist Church, they had their house burned down by a mob, and their fields were sown with salt.   They moved from Georgia to California, and became very wealthy.   My parents moved to Richfield to be near my mother’s family.   Dad bought this ranch because he thought we needed to learn how to work.”

“I remember you told me about this ranch the first day we met.   You also told me that your father kicked you out of the house when you were 17,” Jerry said.

“Yes, he did.   Sheriff Larson took me in.   He and his wife let me stay with them until I graduated from high school,” Danny said.   “Sheriff Larson couldn’t believe my devoutly religious parents kicked me out of their home because I didn’t want to attend their church.   He told me he was surprised at my father’s behavior, because his dealings with people from our church had always been positive up until that time.   It shocked him that my father, who held a prominent position in his church, would kick me out of his house for my refusal to attend his church.”

“So what did cause your father to disown you?” Jerry asked.   He knew this was important for Danny to share, because it had such a major impact on his life as an adult.   He wanted to know everything about this man who had rocked his world.   He needed to understand what made him who he was.

“I told my parents I wouldn’t go on a mission for their church nor would I comply with their demands that I attend the same church school as my older siblings.   I told them I refused to continue with their program of indoctrination and brainwashing.   I was old enough to make my own decisions about my religious beliefs, and wouldn’t tolerate my father’s insistence that his beliefs had to be my own.   I accused him of being a ruthless dictator in our home; and that freedom of expression was all but non-existent in our home.  I accused him of being a hypocrite, and that he presented a nice face to other people; but did totally the opposite at home where no one could witness his true nature.”

“What did he do then?” Jerry prompted when Danny paused.  

“He told me to pack my things and he would deliver me to the sheriff’s office as I was no longer welcome in his home,” Danny said.   “I packed what few clothes I had in a pillow case and walked out the door.   He told me to get into his car and I told him to fuck off.   I told him that I never wanted to see him or my mother ever again.   I walked the two miles to the sheriff’s office, and told Sheriff Larson what had happened.   He told me I was welcome to live with him and his family until I graduated from high school.   Fortunately, I only had a couple of months left until graduation.   I worked for him in the sheriff’s office, filing papers and answering phones.   I helped cook the meals for the inmates at the county jail, and did other chores around the Larsens’ home to earn my keep.   On Sundays, he told me that I was more than welcome to attend his church, which advocates that God is love and accepts everyone, regardless of their religious tendencies.   I didn’t go with him, because I saw their church as being the same as my parents.   It was a different denomination, but it taught many of the same doctrines.”

Jerry said, “What did you do after you graduated?”   He was really curious to know.   They had shared their experiences about moving from job to job, but Danny had never told him about this period of his life.   It was apparent that it was a painful time for Danny; living so close to his parents, yet not being a part of their family anymore.   Jerry wanted to help Danny heal the wounds that had been inflicted on his tender heart by his so called Christian parents.  

Danny said, “One of my friends from high school got a job working in the pineapple fields in Hawaii; so I applied and got hired, as well.   We spent the next year working there.   Then we decided to try commercial fishing.   A group of us who worked in the pineapple fields hired on with a fishing boat out of Seattle.   I worked that job for a couple of years before I tired of fishing, and moved on to a job tending sheep in Idaho.   I really liked that job.   I worked with one other guy, but we hardly ever saw each other, since we were camped at different locations.   After that, I drifted from job to job about every six months or so, until I ended up working at the ranch where I met you.”

Jerry asked, “Which job did you like the best?”   He had held many different jobs over the years as well.   There were some jobs he liked and there were others he had hated.

Danny grinned, “Do you really have to ask?”

Jerry laughed, “The last one where you met me!”

“That’s right, buck-o,” Danny said, running his hands over Jerry’s well-muscled chest.   “I never dreamed I would find such a handsome man to be my partner.”   He leaned over and kissed Jerry.   He pulled back and said, “I think the water is boiling now.”   He got up and walked over to the stove.   “Will you hold the bottles while I fill them?”

Jerry joined his lover.   He put his arm around Danny’s waist and kissed him.   He released him and picked up the rubber hot water bottle and removed the lid.   He held it over the sink while Danny poured in the hot water with a coffee cup.  

When the two bottles were filled, Danny said, “Let’s go to bed.”

Jerry gathered up their blankets and pillows, carrying them into the bedroom.   The bed was an old brass bed with a mattress that sat directly on the springs which creaked loudly at the slightest movement.   It was a good thing they were in the cabin by themselves, because having sex on this bed would be a very noisy affair.   The thought of having sex with Danny in this bed brought a smile to his face.   He quickly made the bed, placing the hot water bottles, wrapped in towels, at the foot of the bed. 

Danny saw Jerry’s smile and asked, “What’s the smile for?”

“I was thinking of having sex with you in this bed,” Jerry said, as they climbed into it, pulling the covers up to their chins. 

Danny grinned and said, “I can’t wait.”

Jerry pulled Danny into his arms.   Danny molded his body to Jerry’s and soon the two lovers were fast asleep.

*** ***

The next morning, Golden waited at the main house for the boys to show for breakfast.   When they hadn’t shown up by 9 AM, he loaded the food onto a big tray, grabbed his winter coat, and made his way down to the cabin.   He knocked on the door, but there was no answer.   He opened the door and walked inside, closing the door behind him.   He walked over and set the tray down on the little table.   As he looked around the room, his mind was flooded with memories.   He and his wife lived here for many years.   Those were the happiest years of his life.   He still lived here during the summer, when Danny’s parents came down for the summer.   They had moved north to Salt Lake City more than ten years before, leaving the management of the ranch in his hands.   He walked over to the fireplace and extended his hand over the ashes.   He could feel there was still some heat there, and decided to light the fire for the boys.   He pulled out a couple of sheets of old newspaper that he kept in the wood box for starting fires.   He crumpled it up and used it to brush away the ashes from the live coals hidden there.   He placed some kindling on top of the paper and began blowing the exposed coals until the paper caught fire.  Originally, the Eccles hadn’t installed any other heating in the cabin; but after a pipe froze one year, Golden had convinced them to put in electric heat strips along the baseboards.   The strips provided enough heat to keep the pipes from freezing, but that was just about it.   Golden had always built a big fire in the fireplace to keep the place comfortable.   Of course, there was the small wood burning stove.   It helped as well, but it burned through wood at a much faster rate than the fireplace, despite its small size.   He thought about the many midnight trips to the wood pile to restock his wood box.   He remembered how she would greet him after he came in from the cold, pulling him into to bed with her, to warm him up, she said.   He missed her terribly.  

That done, he decided it was time to wake the boys.   He walked over to the doorway between the main room of the cabin and the bedroom.   The boys had left the door open to allow the heat from the fireplace to warm the bedroom.   He stopped and stared at what he saw.   As he stood there, he realized that Jerry and Danny were more than just good friends.   He turned around and walked over to the couch and sat down.
He stared at the tapestry that hung on the wall.   Seeing it; but not really registering that it was there.   The tapestry had been given to him and his wife many years before, by Danny’s parents.   It showed a mother black bear with her three cubs, deep in the forest, with the cubs playing on a fallen tree.  

He usually grew nostalgic as he sat staring at it, but not this time.   He was shocked at what he saw, and wasn’t sure how to react.   He thought about Danny, and everything his family had put him through.   He had seen how happy Danny was yesterday.   He hadn’t known then that Jerry was the source of that happiness.   It was obvious to him now that he had no right to spoil that happiness.   He hadn’t agreed with Danny’s parents and how shabbily they had treated him, and he wasn’t about to join them in destroying Danny’s happiness.   Having decided that Danny’s relationship with Jerry was none of his business; he got up and walked over to the doorway.   He could see the contentment in their faces, even as they slept.   They looked like he and Delores must have looked when they slept there, happy and content in each other’s arms.   He nodded to himself.   He knew he was making the right decision.

“Good morning, boys,” Golden said, smiling.

Jerry opened his eyes and looked at Golden in surprise.  He was about to ask him how he got into the cabin, when he remembered that there wasn’t a lock on the front door.   “Hello, Golden.”

Golden said, “I brought you breakfast.   When you two didn’t show up to eat this morning, I thought I had better check on you.”

Danny rubbed the sleep from his eyes and yawned widely.   He sat up and said, “Good morning, Golden.   Thank you for bringing breakfast.”

“You’re welcome, Danny Boy,” Golden turned to leave their bedroom, but then turned back.   “Boys, I don’t have a problem with you two being lovers, but please be careful not to let anyone else know.   I don’t want to see you hurt or thrown in jail.   It was very hard on me and the wife when your parents kicked you out of their house.   I don’t want to lose you again.”   He gazed steadily into Danny’s eyes.   “You were always our favorite of all the children, and you still are.   I want you to be happy, and I can see that this man here is who makes you happy.   I’ve never been religious, so I don’t have any hang ups with you two loving each other.   But as I’ve already said, be very careful to hide your relationship from the rest of the world.   A love like yours is much too precious to let others ruin because of their religious prejudices and their hatred of things they don’t understand.”  He turned and left the room, whistling a song that neither of them recognized.  

Danny looked over at Jerry and said, “Well, that went well.”

Jerry said, “Yes, it did, but it could have ended very badly.   I think we need to get a lock for that door today.”   He reached up and brushed the hair out of Danny’s eyes.   He loved his amazing blue eyes.   They looked almost ice blue this morning.   Last night, they had darkened to the color of sapphires as Danny’s passion for him had grown in heat and intensity.   When he had commented on Danny’s beautiful eyes, he had meant it.   They were truly mesmerizing.

“We can get it when we pick up our supplies for our camping trip,” Danny said.

“Great idea,” Jerry said.

They got up and padded across the room and into the main room of the cabin.  Set out on the little round kitchen table was a hearty breakfast.   They sat down and made short work of devouring the tasty meal Golden had brought them.

“We have to light the hot water heater.   It burns propane, and I’m sure that it’s not been lit since everyone left in the fall,” Danny said.

Jerry asked, “Why didn’t you mention it last night?   We could have lit the pilot light sooner.”

“I honestly forgot about it until now,” Danny said, defensively.   He stood up and walked over to the pantry.   He opened it and found the long matches used to light it.   “Here are the matches.”

Jerry couldn’t help admiring his lover’s athletic build as Danny walked into the bathroom and opened the closet that held the hot water heater.   He knelt down and took off the metal plate that covered the opening.   He turned the knob to pilot, struck a match and reached in to light the pilot light.   The flame caught and he turned the knob to on.   The burner roared to life as the flames spread quickly from one nozzle to the next one.   He replaced the metal plate and rejoined Jerry.

“That’s all taken care of.   We should have hot water in about 15 minutes,” Danny said, looking at Jerry’s crotch.   He met Jerry’s eyes and knew what was on Jerry’s mind.   He grinned and said, “Let’s clean up.”   He cleared his dishes from the table.   Jerry followed him over to the sink, bringing his dirty dishes to join Danny’s in the sink.

They washed up the dishes together.   When they had finished, Jerry wrapped his arms around Danny’s waist from behind, kissing the base of his neck.   He nibbled on his earlobe and said, “I’m going to make love to you right here and now.”   He was as good as his word!

*** ***

Jerry collapsed against his lover, clinging to him as his body completely relaxed.   He said, “I’ve always wanted to have sex in the kitchen, but women aren’t really into it.   They always want to be comfortable, and it kind of spoils it.”

Danny turned his head and met Jerry’s lips in a deeply passionate kiss.   “I’m here to fulfill all your wildest dreams, sweetheart.”  Jerry still wasn’t used to his best friend calling him sweetheart.   He got a funny look on his face that caused Danny to ask, “What’s wrong?   Did I say something I shouldn’t have?”

Jerry responded, “No, nothing is wrong.   It’s just that you called me sweetheart.   I don’t recall that you’ve used that term of endearment before with me.”

Danny shrugged.   “What do you want me to call you?”

“I’m not sure,” Jerry said.   “I don’t want us to slip up in public by using terms like honey, babe, sweetheart, and lover.   It has to be something no one would recognize as something they would call their wife or husband.   He thought for a moment, then snapped his fingers and said, “That’s what you should call me, Danny.   I’m your partner or roommate.   That way no one will know that we’re lovers.”  Jerry put his hands on the counter and pushed himself up, freeing Danny from his embrace.   Jerry turned him around and kissed him deeply.

Danny put his arms around Jerry’s neck and said, “Let’s get a shower.   The water should be hot by now.”

They walked hand in hand into the bathroom.   Jerry started the water running in the tub and adjusted the temperature before pulling the lever for the shower.   He stepped into the tub, pulling Danny in with him.   Danny reached up and pulled the shower curtain across the opening to prevent water spraying all over the bathroom floor.   They washed each other and let their hands roam each other’s bodies.

Jerry smiled and said, “Thank you for making my life so wonderful.”   He tenderly kissed Danny.   He turned off the water and they stepped out of the tub.   They dried each other off, maintaining contact with each other as much as possible.   Jerry said, “I think this must be what it’s like to be newlyweds.   I want to touch you and I never want to let you go.”

Danny agreed.   “I’m sure you’re right.”

They walked into their bedroom and got dressed.   They grabbed their winter coats and walked up the lane to the main ranch house.   The door opened when they reached it.

Golden said, “Please come in, boys.”  They came in and sat down in the chairs next to the potbelly stove.   Golden joined them.   He could see they weren’t sure what to say to him, so he said, “Let me repeat what I said down at the cabin.   I don’t care that you two love each other.   You don’t have to act any different around me than you normally would.   I’m not condemning you, and, to be honest, what you two do in your own bedroom is your own business.   Have I made myself clear?”

They nodded their heads that they understood what he said.   Jerry said, “Thank you for not judging us.”

“We were worried that you would call the sheriff,” Danny said.

Golden looked horrified.   “I would never do that to you, Danny.   Your parents may have disowned you, but I never did.”

Danny’s eyes were bright with tears.   He swallowed hard before he could speak.   “I’ve wanted to come back here, but I didn’t dare, given how Dad and I parted ways.”

“Your mother was devastated,” Golden said.   “She threatened to leave your father, but he managed to convince her to stay.   He told her that he wouldn’t allow her to destroy the rest of the family by leaving him.   In the end, she bowed to his wishes and stayed with him.   She refused to sleep with him and moved into her own room.   As far as I know, they still have separate rooms.   Your mother used to confide in my wife.   That’s how I know what happened after you left.   Your Dad thought he could make her happy by moving to the big city.   I don’t think it changed anything.”

 “Thank you for telling me,” Danny said.   “I wondered what happened after I left.”

Golden said, “That is all ancient history now.”   He smiled and asked, “What are you boys planning to do today?”

“We want to borrow a couple of horses for a few days and go camping.   We plan to go to Mesa Verde to see the cliff dwellings and then to Moab.”

“You’re going to Arches,” Golden said, smiling.   “That was your favorite place to go horseback riding and camping.”

Danny smiled and said, “It was, and I hope to make it our favorite.”   He took Jerry’s hand in his.   “We’ve decided we won’t stay here very long, Golden.   We don’t want to risk being found out; and the longer we stay the greater the danger for us.”

Golden nodded his head in understanding.   “I’m sorry it has to be that way, Danny.   I want you to know that I will help you in any way I can.”

Jerry said, “Thank you.”

Golden stood up and walked over the kitchen table.   He shuffled through some papers and said, “I think you’ll need these maps.   I used them a few weeks ago when we went out to cut pine trees for the saw mill.”

He walked over and handed them to Danny.   Jerry leaned over and looked at the maps in Danny’s hands.   “That’s perfect, Golden.”

“If you’re taking two horses, you’ll need to take a bigger truck than yours, Jerry,” Golden said.   “If you’ll leave me your keys, you can take my truck instead.   It’s got a bigger engine and there’s more room in the back for all the supplies you’ll need.”

Jerry smiled and said, “Thank you for your generosity.   I had wondered how we would pull the horse trailer while being loaded down with enough supplies to keep us and the horses fed.”

They spent the rest of the morning getting things ready for our trip.   They ate lunch with Golden before setting out on their little road trip.   They arrived a few hours later at the entrance of Mesa Verde National Park.   They checked into Moorehead Campground, and then talked to the park ranger about the best way to see the park.   He recommended driving over to see the Cliff Palace before sunset, and then seeing the rest of the cliff dwellings the next day.   They took care of the horses and then unhitched the horse trailer.   They did as he suggested and drove to the scenic overlook to see the cliff palace.  

Cliff dwellings of the Anasazi Indians, Mesa Verde National Park

They toured the remaining cliff dwellings the next day.   They camped there for two more days riding their horses around the park before driving west and south to Moab, Utah.   They passed the entrance to Arches National Monument on the way to Moab.

“That’s the entrance right there,” Danny said, pointing to the sign announcing the park entrance.

“I saw it, Babe, but we need a place to stay for the night where we can let the horses out of their trailer,” Jerry said.   “It will be better to let the horses rest up before we take them into the park.”

“Okay,” Danny said.   “There’s a campground our family used every time we came here.   Maybe it’s still in business.”  

They crossed the Colorado River just before reaching the small community that is Moab.

Colorado River near Moab, Utah

They bought more supplies in Moab.   They found the campground Danny’s family used and checked in.   The next day, they drove back to Arches National Monument.   They talked with the park rangers and got permission to ride their horses, giving them the details they asked for.   Danny enjoyed telling Jerry of his childhood memories of the many trips his family made to Arches.

Arches National Park

Upon their return, they spent their first evening with Golden.   They sat around the potbelly stove and he regaled them with stories about Danny.   Danny held Jerry’s hand and laughed at the sometimes embarrassing stories.  

Later that night, Jerry took Danny into his arms and said, “I’m so glad we got to spend some time alone, but I’m also grateful to Golden.   His stories of your childhood were great!”

Danny smiled, “It was good to remember the many good times I had as a child.   It has made me realize that my parents were doing the best they could to provide us with a good education and opportunities for us to improve ourselves.   But most of all, I needed to be reminded that my life with my parents was a good one, despite my disagreement with their religious views.”

Jerry put his hand to Danny’s cheek.   “I hope it was enough to let you begin the healing process.   I want you to be able to let go of the hurt you’ve had to carry with you all of these years.   You’re with me now, and I want you to be happy.   I want you to leave behind all of the bad things that have happened to you in the past.”

Danny turned his head and kissed Jerry’s hand, “I love you, Jerry.”

“I love you, too,” he responded.   He pulled Danny closer to him.  

Danny rested his head on Jerry’s shoulder and said, “You are the best thing that has ever happened to me.”

Danny relaxed in his lover’s arms, and Jerry knew he had drifted off to sleep when he heard his breathing slow.   He thought to himself, “I’ve found the perfect partner, and now we’ve begun our lives together.   Nothing can stop us now.”

*** *** 

Author’s Note:

Mesa Verde National Park -

Arches National Park (formerly Arches National Monument) -

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