Monday, October 7, 2013

A Tumbleweed Adventure Chapter Seven

A Tumbleweed Adventure – Chapter Seven

Jerry held Danny close, enjoying the feel of Danny’s body next to his.   It still amazed him how much he had come to love this handsome man in his arms.   He ran his fingers through Danny’s hair.   Danny looked into his lover’s eyes, and smiled.   “I love you.”

Jerry said, “I love you, too.   We need to go get showered, before Henry starts looking for us.”

“I like Henry,” Danny said.   “He’s kind of cute.”

“What do you mean he’s kind of cute?”
“He has an engaging personality, but don’t worry, Jerry, he’s not my type.”   Danny ran his hand over Jerry’s chest.
“If you keep that up, we won’t be going anywhere for a while,” Jerry said, putting his hands on either side of Danny’s head.   He kissed him deeply.
They were interrupted by a knock on their door.   Danny looked into Jerry’s eyes, and grinned.   “I guess we had better get up.”   He rolled off of Jerry and got to his feet.   He reached down and grabbed his clothes off of the floor.   He quickly dressed, and, just as quickly, unrolled his sleeping bag on the floor next to the bed.   Meanwhile, Jerry had dressed, as well.   There was another knock on the door.
Jerry said, “Just a minute.”
Danny stretched out on top of his sleeping bag and put his hands behind his head, as Jerry moved to open the door.   Henry stood in the doorway, with his wet hair plastered to his head.   He had changed into a clean shirt, but Danny noted he was wearing the same pair of jeans he had worn earlier in the day.
Henry grinned.   “I thought you guys were going to join me in the showers.”
“We were, but once my head hit the pillow,” Jerry said, pointing to the bed, “I was out like a light.”
Henry looked past Jerry, and met Danny’s eyes.   “Aren’t you uncomfortable sleeping on the floor?”
“No, I’m fine, Henry.   We’re used to roughing it.”
Henry gave Danny a look of puzzlement, then his expression changed to one of comprehension.   “Oh, I forgot that you guys were tour guides in Wyoming last summer.”
Danny stood up and walked over to his back pack.   He pulled out a threadbare blue cotton bath towel, his shaving gear and a bar of soap.   “I’m ready to get showered.   Are you coming, Jerry?”
Jerry nodded his head and retrieved his toiletries.   Henry said, “I’ll be in the lobby, waiting for you.”  
They made their way to the men’s room and the showers.   They stripped off their clothes and turned on the showers.   Jerry grinned broadly.   “I wonder if we could get away with having sex in here.”
Danny laughed, and said, “It would be interesting to find out, but I think we’ll have to do it when Henry isn’t waiting for us.”
Jerry nodded his head in agreement.   He leaned over and kissed Danny, before lathering up the soap.   The two men quickly finished their showers, and helped dry each other off.   They wrapped themselves in their bath towels and returned to their room where they dressed in clean clothes.
Jerry pulled Danny into his arms, kissing him deeply.   He released him and said, “Let’s get dinner.”
They walked out of their shared room, closing the door behind them.   They joined Henry in the lobby.   Henry looked up from the book he was reading.   “It’s about time you two guys showed up.   I was beginning to think you weren’t coming.”
Danny said, “I’m sorry we kept you waiting.”
Jerry asked, “Where do we get supplies?”
Henry replied, “The Village Store has supplies.”
“I remember driving past it when we down in the valley,” Jerry said.
“I have some stuff stored here,” Henry said.   “I’ll share with you guys, and we can drive down to the store later in the week.”
“Thanks,” Jerry said.   “What do you have?”
Henry closed his book, slipping it into his back pack.   Danny saw that it was a bible.   “Do you like studying the bible?”
“Yes,” Henry said.   “I don’t agree with the doctrines my parents’ church teaches, so I study the bible on my own.”
“My parents are very religious, as well; but, like you, I don’t hold with their religious views,” Jerry said.
“It seems we’re a lot alike,” Danny said.   “I was kicked out of my parents’ house, because I told my Dad I didn’t believe in his religion.”
As they walked to the kitchen, they compared notes on the three different religions their parents claimed as their own.   They entered the kitchen to find Sherry and Jennifer sitting at the kitchen table, eating sandwiches.
Sherry looked up and smiled at them.  “Hey, guys!   Come join us.”
Jerry returned Sherry’s smile.   “Don’t mind if we do.”   He pulled up a chair and sat next to her.
Danny, noting how Jerry’s tone of voice had changed, and gave Jerry an appraising look.   Danny thought, “I get the feeling that Jerry is very attracted to Sherry.   I wonder what he plans to do, now?”   Aloud, he said, “Thanks for inviting us to join you.”
Henry walked over to the refrigerator and pulled out his foodstuffs.   “Do you guys want sandwiches?”
“Sure,” Jerry responded, not taking his eyes off of the girls.
Danny stood up and walked over to help Henry bring everything over to the table.   He had a loaf of bread, sliced ham, mayonnaise, and mustard.   He took the food to the table, while Henry retrieved some metal plates and cups from the cupboard.   He set them on the table, next to the food.  
“Those look like the dishes we have in our camping gear,” Jerry commented.   “Only ours aren’t in as good a shape as these.”
Henry said, “These have started to lose their color.”   Their light purple and green colors could still be seen, but had significantly faded.
Sherry said, “True enough, but they still work.”
Henry grabbed a knife out of a drawer and took his seat at the end of the table.   “I’ll make the sandwiches.”   He looked over at Danny and Jerry.   “Any objections to mayo and mustard?”
“No, none here,” Jerry responded.   “Jennifer where are you from?”
“I’m from Anaheim, and so is Sherry.   We graduated from the same high school,” she answered.
“We’ve been friends since grade school.   Our families have vacationed here many times over the years.   Neither of us wanted to start college right away; so, my dad suggested that we work here for a year, before deciding what to do with our lives,” Sherry said.
“I’m surprised that they let you come up here on your own,” Jerry said.
“Well, they didn’t,” Sherry said, wrinkling her nose.   “He sent my older brother, Philip, with us.”
Danny asked, “You mean the guy we replaced is your brother?”
“Yes,” she said.   “I feel bad that he broke his leg, but I’m glad he’s not here anymore.”
Jennifer agreed.   “Yes, he was getting very tiresome.”
“Yes, he was,” Henry said.   “He kept warning me to stay away from his sister.”
Sherry laughed, “Poor Henry!   Phillip treated you pretty poorly.   I’m sorry my brother was such an ass to you.”
“Not a problem,” Henry said, grinning.   “He’s not here now to harass me.”
Jennifer smiled at Henry.   “Henry is a good friend.”
“But not your type,” Henry said, grinning broadly at the girls.
Sherry said, “Correct.   We told Phillip that, but he wouldn’t listen to us.   He kept accusing us of trying to steal away with Henry.”
Jennifer said, “Well, now that he’s gone, we don’t have to worry about him calling our parents to report on our activities.   I hated that part.   Mom would scold me for talking to Henry, or not being respectful to Phillip.   Phillip isn’t even my brother, and she would get on my case about not listening to him.   My dad wants to send my Uncle Rich to stay with us, until Phillip can return.   Fortunately, Mr. Brody said he had already hired you guys.”
Jerry said, “Well, we won’t call your parents, so you can relax a bit.”
Sherry looked us over and said, “I hope that means you won’t object to keeping us company.”   Her voice had a husky quality to it, and left no doubt about what she thought ‘keeping them company,’ meant.
Her statement set off alarm bells in his mind.   She was sounding just like Jolene when she had invited him into her tent.   The memory of that night at Jenny Lake still gave Danny the willies; because he had been practically raped by her.   The next morning, he had felt so dirty and filthy from having sex with her that he had to scrub himself thoroughly to get the stench of her off of his skin.    The lake water had been pretty bracing, but he had stayed in long enough to come out completely free of her foul smell.
Danny shuddered, causing Jerry to give him a look of concern.   He asked, “Are you okay?”
“I’m fine,” he replied, not meeting his eyes.   He didn’t want Jerry to see the worry in his eyes.  They had become so close, they could practically read each other’s mind.   So, Danny couldn’t risk looking at him.
Turning back to the girls, Jerry said, “Danny and I will be quite happy to keep you company.”
The way he said it carried just as much innuendo as Sherry’s statement.   He knew, then, that Jerry intended to pursue these girls.   To what end, he wasn’t sure; but, he was sure it would be detrimental to their intimate relationship.
They spent the rest of the evening in front of the fire.   They shared their life histories with each other.   The girls had positioned themselves on either side of the guys, Sherry next to Jerry, and Jennifer next to Danny.   They weren’t exactly subtle about what they wanted.   Sherry was practically doing a lap dance on Jerry’s lap.  Jerry grinned at me, and said, “I think we should get to know the girls better.   Don’t you agree, Danny?”
His statement shook Danny to his very center.   He couldn’t believe Jerry actually intended to have sex with Sherry.   He thought they were a couple, or, at least, in a committed relationship.   Danny was about to disagree, when Sherry responded to Jerry’s inquiry.
She smiled seductively, and responded, “I’m sure he’s in agreement.  Jennifer and I want you guys to sleep with us tonight.”
I looked at Jennifer, who confirmed Sherry’s statement.   “Yes, that is what we want.”  
Sherry had her hand on Jerry’s thigh, and was rubbing it back and forth.   Danny could see he was very aroused by her touch.   Jerry put his hand on hers and moved it to his erection.   She smiled and leaned forward to kiss him on the lips.  
Jerry stood up and pulled Sherry to her feet, deliberately ignoring Danny’s look of utter betrayal.   “We’ll see you in the morning.”
Danny was in a state of shock.   He couldn’t believe that Jerry had just left with Sherry.   He and Jerry had exchanged rings, and had professed their love for each other.   How could Jerry think he could waltz off with Sherry, as if there was nothing between them?
After they left, Henry, looking very uncomfortable, said, “I’m going to bed.   Catch you two in the morning.”
Jennifer placed her hand on my leg and asked, “Shall we?”
Danny gulped hard and swallowed.   It appeared that he didn’t have much choice in the matter.   It had been pretty obvious what Jerry and Sherry were planning to do for the rest of the evening.   He tried to think of a good way to let her know he wasn’t interested in her; but all he could concentrate on, was the fact that Jerry had just left him for a woman.   He nodded his head, standing up from the couch.   She stood up, as well.   She took his hand, and led him to her room.
*** ***
Danny lie awake trying to comprehend what had just happened.   He had had sex with Jennifer, but only because his body had been on auto-pilot.   He could understand why Jerry had become sexually aroused, but he had expected Jerry to resist, to tell Sherry ‘no,’ at some point.   Of course, Jerry had made it clear that he was okay with Danny having sex with Jennifer.   That still didn’t make Danny feel any better about what had happened.   He felt that, somehow, Jerry had betrayed him.   Jennifer shifted in her sleep, and he moved to get more comfortable.  
*** ***
Jerry lie spent, on top of Sherry, the fires of his passion extinguished.   He rolled off of her, and she snuggled close to him.   “Thank you, Jerry.   That was wonderful.”
“You’re welcome,” he responded.  
She laid her head on his chest, and was soon asleep.  He stared up at the ceiling, as logic and reason reasserted itself in his brain.   He realized that, in pursuing his lust for Sherry, he had created a deep chasm between himself and Danny.   He hoped that Danny had taken his hint, and slept with Jennifer.   He had seen Danny’s shocked expression, but had chosen to ignore it.   All he could think of, at that moment in time, was the need to satisfy his need to fuck Sherry.   He hadn’t realized how strong his desire for sex with a woman could be, until that moment when she had placed her hand on his thigh.
He knew that trying to justify his need for sex with a woman wouldn’t get him very far with Danny.   Different ideas kept running through his mind, as he tried to come up with a strategy for dealing with Danny in the morning.   It was a long time before he finally drifted off to sleep.
*** ***
The next morning dawned bright, cold and clear, a beautiful day for skiing.   Jennifer had already left the room to get her shower.   He hadn’t been able to sleep, despite the release he felt from having sex with Jennifer.   Fortunately, his second time having sex with a woman hadn’t been as bad as the first one.   In fact, he had quite enjoyed himself, despite his aversion to having sex with a woman.   He hoped that Jennifer felt the same.   She had confessed that she was a virgin, as soon as they were in her room.   He had told her that he wasn’t very experienced, either; but it was up to her to continue, if that is what she wanted.   He had hoped she would back out of the encounter, and let him return to his room.  Just when he thought she had changed her mind, she came on to him with a ferocity that left him breathless.   He found his body responding to hers, helping him to block out any thoughts of Jerry from his mind.
His thoughts had alternated between anger at Jerry for his betrayal of their commitment to each other, and the intense sadness and grief that caused tears to roll down his cheeks.   He felt a deep sense of loss, an emptiness that he had never experienced before.   He hadn’t realized just how much he loved Jerry, until now.   He didn’t see how they could continue being a couple, now that they had become entangled with these two women.   Jerry had made it pretty plain that he wanted Sherry; and that it didn’t matter to him that he not only fucked Danny a few hours earlier, but had professed his love for him.   Danny felt that everything Jerry had said was a lie.   
He shook his head to clear these thoughts from his mind.   He knew that he needed to get up and face the day.   He didn’t look forward to seeing Jerry, but it didn’t make any sense to try to avoid him.   He rubbed his eyes and rolled to his feet, looking around for his clothes.   He found them and pulled them on.   He left Jennifer’s room, and made his way to his own to retrieve his toiletries and a towel.
As he entered their room, his thoughts returned to Jerry.   He felt deeply hurt, and wasn’t sure where he stood with Jerry, anymore.  He got his stuff out of his backpack and turned to leave the room.   He found Jerry blocking the doorway.  
He grinned at Danny.   “I hope you had as much fun as I did.”   He had decided a direct approach would be the best one.
Danny met Jerry’s gaze.   “You and I both know that I’m not happy about what happened last night.”
Jerry’s smiled faded from his face.   He quickly shifted gears to employ a different strategy.   “I only did it to help us preserve the fiction that we’re normal guys.”
“No, Jerry.   I don’t believe that for a minute,” Danny said.   “If you’ll please move out of the doorway, I was on my way to the showers.”
Jerry started to protest, but stopped abruptly when he saw Danny’s expression.   He backed out of the doorway, letting Danny pass.   He knew that any attempt to excuse his behavior would be met with skepticism.  Jerry knew that Danny was right.   He had wanted to fuck Sherry in the worst way, last night.   When she had placed her hand on his thigh, his desire for her was more than he could control.  
Now, he had created a situation that could only lead to heartache.   He knew he had already hurt Danny; but he didn’t know how to remedy the situation, without making things worse.   It left only one other course of action, and that was to try to persuade Danny to have a relationship with Jennifer.   If he could accomplish that, things would work out for the best.   He loved Danny, but his sexual desire for Sherry still held him in its grip.   The memory of their rough and wild sex roused his passions, leaving him extremely uncomfortable.   He needed Sherry, and he needed her right now.
He got his things and moved them into Sherry’s room.   She had been very insistent that he share her bed from now on.   Since he knew that he had already ruined his relationship with Danny, maybe he could make something happen with Sherry.   Somewhere in the back of his mind he didn’t feel right about what he was doing, but he didn’t have the courage to set things right between himself and Danny.   He came out of Sherry’s room, just as Jennifer came back from showering.
She smiled.   “I’m glad you and Sherry have decided to sleep together.   I was hoping to convince Danny to stay with me.”
Jerry said, “I hope you’re successful in that endeavor.   It would be good for Danny.”   He tried to convince himself that what he said was true, but, deep in his heart, he knew it was a lie.
Sherry came out of her bedroom and wrapped her arms around his waist.   “Let’s hit the slopes.”   He gave her a quick kiss, before they disappeared around the corner, on their way to the kitchen.
Danny returned to his room after his shower, and noticed that Jerry’s things were gone.   That’s when it really hit him that Jerry intended to continue sleeping with Sherry.   If there were ever a clear signal that things were over between them, this was it.   He grabbed his skiing equipment and headed out the door.   He met Jennifer on his way to grab a bite to eat.  
She handed him a muffin and a cup of strong black coffee.   “I grabbed these for you.   I didn’t want you to be late to your first class.   Mr. Brody is very much a stickler for starting classes on time.”
Danny took the food from her hands.   He wolfed down the muffin and sipped on the hot coffee.   “Thanks, Jennifer.”
He followed her outside, where his class had already assembled at the bottom of the bunny hill.   Jennifer left him for her own group of students.   At noon, they took a break for lunch.   Their students flocked to the little sandwich shop.   Jennifer took Danny by the hand and led him back to her room.
Jennifer gave him a quick kiss, then stood back and looked into his eyes.   “Danny, you don’t seem very happy today.   What’s going on?”
Danny met her gaze.   “I had a great time last night, but I don’t want to lead you on, Jennifer.   I’m not ready to have a serious relationship right now.”
Jennifer said, “Neither am I.   I thought we were just having a great time.”
“You’re right, we did have a great time last night; but I wanted to make sure you understood that I’m looking for friendship, and nothing more.” 
Jennifer looked disappointed.   “Is it because I’m not very experienced?”
“No, Jennifer.   It has nothing to do with how you performed in bed last night.   It’s more about me and where my head’s at right now,” he said.   He pulled her into his embrace and gently kissed her.   He put his hand up to her face, cupping her cheek.   “You are a wonderful person, Jennifer.   Please don’t let anyone tell you anything different.”
They left her room to grab a quick sandwich, before returning to coach their students for the rest of the day.   They met up afterward.   Jennifer said, “Let’s get Henry to drive us down to the Village Store.”
He smiled at her, and said, “Sounds like a great idea.”
They went in search of Henry, and found him in the kitchen.   “Hey, let’s go down to the Village Store,” Jennifer said. 
Henry looked up from eating his sandwich.   “Okay.”   He bolted down the rest of his sandwich, and led them out to his truck.  “I’m sorry about the old truck.”
“It’s better than the one I have, which is none,” Danny said, slapping Henry on the back.
The three of them climbed into the cab of the old Dodge pickup truck.   The faded red paint was peeling away, and it had a lot of rust everywhere.   Henry ground the gears as he shifted the truck from 1st to 2nd gear.   Danny grimaced at the sound.
Henry said, “Sorry about that.   I’m not very good at shifting gears.   It’s nothing like our old tractor on the farm.”
“Do you think your family could use an extra hand on the farm?” Danny asked.
Henry gave Danny a surprised look, before turning his attention back to the road ahead.   “Yes, I think they could.   Dad asked me to come home after the ski season to help on the farm.   Why?”
“I’m thinking I’d like to move on.   After today’s lessons, I know I’m not cut out to be a ski instructor,” Danny said.
Jennifer said, “But you seemed to be doing a great job, from what I could tell.”
“I managed, but I think I would do better on a farm.   I grew up on a ranch in central Utah, so I’m thinking it would be a better fit for me than working here.”
“But you just got here,” Henry protested.
“I know,” he replied.   “Do you think I could find someone to take me down to Fresno?   I guess I could hitchhike from here.”
Henry said, “I’ll take you, if you’ll pay for my gas.”
“You’ve got a deal.   I’ll need to let Mr. Brody know I’m leaving,” Danny said.
“He’s not going to be happy about you leaving, after less than a week on the job,” Jennifer said.
“Well, it’s better now than later.   It’s not like I’m leaving him with no one to take my place.   Jerry can take over for me,” Danny said.
“I thought you guys were close,” Jennifer said.
“I thought so, too,” Danny said, trying to keep his voice from cracking from the sudden swell of sadness that swept over him.
Henry said, “Jerry is a good guy.   I hope you guys can work out your differences.   I don’t want you to leave so soon.”
The tone of Henry’s voice caused Danny to give him a long stare.   Jennifer, seeing Danny’s look, asked, “What’s wrong?”
“Nothing,” he replied, and leaned over to give her a quick kiss.   Henry pulled up in front of the Village Store and parked the truck.
They walked inside the store.  Henry had a list of things he needed to buy.   After he paid for his merchandise, they returned to his truck.  Henry asked, “Do you want to see if Mr. Brody is still in his office?”
“Sure,” he said.   They climbed back into the truck.  Henry drove to the park headquarters and parked.
Jennifer said, “We’ll wait here, while you go inside.   I don’t want to see Mr. Brody.”
“Me, neither, especially not after you tell him you’re leaving,” Henry said.   “I still wish you would reconsider.”
“My mind is made up,” Danny said.   He opened the door, and stepped out of the truck.   He walked quickly inside.   He walked through the building to Mr. Brody’s office.   He saw there was a light on inside the office, and tapped on the door.
Mr. Brody’s voice boomed from inside.  “Come in!”
He entered the park superintendent’s office and approached his desk.   Mr. Brody looked at him with raised eyebrows.   “Well, I didn’t expect to see you back so soon.”
“I didn’t, either,” Danny said, trying to control his voice.  
Mr. Brody said, “Have a seat and tell me what’s eating you up.”
Danny sat down across the desk from Mr. Brody.   “I’ve come to tell you I’m leaving on Saturday.”   Danny saw Mr. Brody’s expression darken.   “I’m not leaving you high and dry.    Jerry will still be around to teach ski lessons through the end of the season.”
“I wondered how things would work out between you two.   It seemed odd to me that two guys would be willing to share a single bed,” Mr. Brody said.
Danny said, “Well, we thought we could get along for a while that way, but it didn’t work.   Henry’s Dad may need some help on his farm in Fresno; so, I’m going down to see what I can find in the way of work.”
Mr. Brody said, “I hope you find what you’re looking for, Danny.   I heard you did a good job teaching those rich kids today.   It’s too bad you’ve decided not to stick around.”
“Thank you, Mr. Brody,” Danny said.
“You don’t need to thank me.   You should thank the folks who left me this,” he said.   He pulled out an envelope and handed it to Danny. 
Danny opened it to find a note that read, “Mr. Eccles, Thanks for being such a good ski instructor.   My daughter has tried to learn to ski for a couple of years now; and you are the first instructor to succeed in teaching her the basics.   Please accept this token of our appreciation.   Mrs. T.R. Bowen.”   There were several large bills inside the envelope.
He looked up and said, “Wow!   I didn’t realize I had done such a good job.”
“Apparently, you have quite a way with the young ladies; because, I heard from two other families that their daughters were very happy you were teaching them,” Mr. Brody responded.
Danny smiled, “Unfortunately, I haven’t been that lucky when it comes to finding a wife.”
Mr. Brody laughed.   “You’ll find one, eventually.”   He pulled out another envelope from his desk drawer.   He checked out its contents before handing across the desk to Danny.   “That is your pay for today and tomorrow.   I don’t believe there are any other ski classes scheduled after that.   I hate to lose you, but you know your own mind best.   Tell Jerry I expect him to finish out the season.”
“I’ll tell him that,” Danny said.   He stood up and shook Mr. Brody’s outstretched hand.   “Thank you for your kindness, Mr. Brody.”
“Don’t mention it,” Mr. Brody said.   “I don’t want anyone to think I’ve gone soft.   Good luck with finding a job that’s a better fit for you.”
Danny nodded his head and made a hasty exit, before Mr. Brody decided to change his mind.   He returned to the truck and climbed in beside Jennifer.   “Mr. Brody wants me to teach the ski classes tomorrow; but, after that, I’m free to go.”   He reached across Jennifer, and handed some money to Henry.   “There is your gas money to take me to Fresno.”
Henry looked at the cash in his hand, in disbelief.   “Mr. Brody wasn’t upset that you were leaving so soon?”
“No, he wasn’t upset at all.   I told him Jerry could take my place teaching skiing lessons, which made him happy.   He paid me for teaching classes today and tomorrow, and wished me good luck.”
Jennifer looked incredulous.   “I can’t believe that.   He has always been so gruff and mean to me and Sherry.”
“He’s been pretty stern with me, too,” Henry said.
He put the truck in gear and drove over to the filling station.   The attendant pumped the gas, filling the truck’s tank.   Henry paid for the gas and tipped the attendant.    They drove back to the ski lodge in silence, each of them lost in their own thoughts.
When they arrived at the ski lodge, they found Jerry and Sherry nestled together on a couch in front of the fire in the main area.   Danny turned to Henry and Jennifer.   “Please don’t tell Jerry and Sherry that I’m leaving.   I don’t want Jerry to know, okay.”
Henry said, “Okay.”
Jennifer met Danny’s gaze, and said, “Only if you’ll sleep with me, again, tonight.”
Danny smiled.   “Okay, let’s go to your room, then.”   Danny took her hand in his.   He inclined his head in greeting as they passed Jerry and Sherry, but didn’t speak to either of them.   He led Jennifer past them and on to her room.
Henry followed them.   “Good night.   I’ll see you two in the morning.”  He disappeared into his room.
Jennifer opened the door to her room, and pulled Danny in behind her.   She closed the door, then, turned to face him.   She put her arms around his neck and kissed him deeply.
*** ***
The next morning, he and Jennifer met Henry for breakfast.   They were just finishing their coffee and muffins, when Sherry and Jerry entered the kitchen.   They sat down across from Jennifer and Danny.   Jerry said, “Good morning, Jennifer.”
She smiled and responded, “Good morning, Jerry.”   She touched Danny’s arm.   “We need to get going, Danny.”   She instinctively knew that Danny was very upset about seeing the two of them together.   She didn’t know why, but she knew something had happened between Jerry and Danny.   However, every time she tried to talk to Danny about it, he changed the subject.
Danny avoided Jerry’s gaze.   He looked at Sherry, and nodded his head in greeting, as he rose to his feet.   He tried to keep his face from showing how upset he was.   He didn’t say anything to either one of them, but left the kitchen, following behind Jennifer.  
After they left, Sherry asked, “Henry, what is going on with Danny?”
Henry shrugged his shoulders.   “I don’t know.”   Before she could ask him more questions, he stood up from the table.   “I’ll see you guys on the slopes.”   He made a quick exit, and caught up to Jennifer and Danny.   “Danny, Sherry just asked me what’s wrong with you.”  Danny stopped and whirled around to face Henry.   His face was a mask of anger, and his gaze was so fierce, it caused Henry to step back.   He held up his hands, as if to ward off a blow.   “I’m sorry, Danny.   I didn’t mean to make you angry.”
Danny’s anger slowly drained from his face, and he shrugged his shoulders.   “It’s okay, Henry.   I know both you and Jennifer want to know why I’m upset with Jerry.   It’s a long story, and one that Jerry will have to narrate for you.   For my part, I hope to never see his face again, once I leave here.   Speaking of leaving, what time do you want to leave tomorrow?”
Henry replied, “Let’s go at first light.”
“Sounds good to me,” Danny said.
Jennifer pulled on Danny’s arm.   “Our students are waiting for us.”
Danny followed her outside, and found his group of students.   The day passed quickly for Danny.   He enjoyed teaching skiing, and felt a sense of accomplishment at seeing his students successfully navigate the bunny hill.   By mid-afternoon, they were ready to go on one of the easier runs.      After his last group made it down the mountain, he returned to the lodge with a huge sense of accomplishment.   Every one of his students had safely made it down the mountain without mishap.   He also felt exhilarated from the exercise.   His mind was clear, and he was eager to move on with his life.   He quickly stowed his ski equipment and started towards the lodge’s front entrance.
He heard Jerry’s voice from behind him.   “Danny, wait up.   I want to talk to you.”
He turned to face Jerry.   He met Jerry’s gaze and tried to keep his expression neutral.   He didn’t want to give Jerry any clue that he planned to leave the next morning.   “Okay, talk to me,” Danny said.
“Come out to my truck, where we can talk in private,” he said.   He turned and walked to the parking lot.   He climbed inside his truck and turned on the engine to warm up the cab.
Danny opened the passenger door and climbed inside.   He stared straight ahead and waited in silence.   Jerry looked over at Danny, trying to gauge his state of mind.   He knew, if he were in Danny’s shoes, that he would be extremely angry.   He had expected Danny to lash out at him in anger, but he hadn’t done that.  Danny had completely shut him out, instead.   His stone cold silence unnerved him.   He knew he deserved this treatment, but he wanted to clear the air between them.   “I’m sorry I hurt you, Danny.   I don’t know what came over me, the other night.   I couldn’t control my desire for Sherry.   I admit I’m at fault, and that I’m the one who needs to apologize.”
He paused, hoping that Danny would give him some idea of what was going in his mind.   When Danny didn’t speak, Jerry continued, “I’ve gone too far with Sherry to turn back, now.”
Danny kept his voice even and tightly controlled.   “You’re a real bastard, Jerry.   You fucked me and used me, like one of your whores.   Now that you’ve found another willing victim, you’re ready to kick me to the curb.   Well, Jerry, Sherry can have you.   Don’t expect me to even pretend that we’re on friendly terms.   I haven’t told anyone why I’m so angry with you; but if they ask, I will refer them to you for the explanation.   Maybe you can figure out a way to tell them you enjoyed fucking a guy for the last few months, because you couldn’t find a bitch you could bed.”   Danny opened the door and stepped out into the cold.   He pulled off his glove, removed the ring from his finger and tossed it back into the cab of the truck.   “Here is your ring back.   You can keep the one I gave you.   Maybe you can hock both of them at a pawn shop, somewhere.”  
He slammed the door, and returned to the ski lodge.   Jennifer had been watching for him, and intercepted him as he came in the door.   “Henry thinks we should leave now.   There’s a big storm coming in tomorrow, and we don’t want to get stranded here.”
Danny nodded his head.   “That sounds great.   Are you going to come with us?”
Jennifer hesitated, before answering.   “I would like to go with you.”
“Then, let’s grab your things,” Danny said, glad she had volunteered to accompany him.   He had wanted to ask her, but didn’t want to give her the wrong impression.
They were gathering up their things when Henry knocked on Jennifer’s door.   She let him in, and he looked at her in surprise.   “Are you coming with us?”
“Yes, if that’s okay?”
“I’m glad you’re coming.   That way, I’ll have someone to ride back with me, after the storm passes through,” he said, smiling.
She smiled back.   Danny noted that there seemed to be a spark between them.   It made him feel better about leaving.   With him out of the way, Jennifer and Henry could explore their feelings for each other.   Henry helped Jennifer carry her bags out to his truck.   He returned to help Danny with his gear.   They crowded into the cab of the ancient truck, and Henry started the engine and put it in gear.   He negotiated his way out of the park and onto the main highway that led south to Fresno.   The three of them told jokes and enjoyed each other’s company during the drive to Henry’s parents’ place.   Henry pulled into his parents’ driveway and stopped the engine.
“Here we are,” he announced.
They climbed out of the cab of the truck, and retrieved their gear.   As they approached the front door, it opened to reveal a tall, blond man.   He could have been Henry’s twin, except that he was much older.   “Dad, this is Jennifer and Danny.”
Mr. Miller shook their hands.   “Welcome to our home.   Please come inside.   The guest rooms are down the hall and to the right.”   He looked at Henry, and said, “It’s a good thing your mother did up the second guest bedroom. “
“I’m sorry, Dad.   I forgot to tell you Jennifer was coming with us,” Henry said, apologetically.   “I didn’t know she was coming until we were ready to leave.”
Jennifer said, “Please don’t blame Henry, Mr. Miller.   It’s my fault that he didn’t have time to call you.”
Mr. Miller smiled at Jennifer.  “Okay, I won’t be too hard on him.   I’m glad to finally meet you.   Henry has told me a lot about you.”
Jennifer blushed.   “I hope it’s all been good.”
“Believe me, he has said nothing but good things about you,” Mr. Miller said, winking at Henry.   “Henry, help our guests to their rooms.”
Henry bolted past his father.   “This way, please.”   They followed him, and he turned to Jennifer.   “Please don’t let my Dad embarrass you.”
Jennifer grinned.   “I’m not worried about it.   I know you’ve had a crush on me, since the first day we met.”
Henry face turned red.   “I didn’t know I was that obvious.”
She laughed.   “You’re very easy to read.”  Henry looked down at his feet.   She put her hand to his face and kissed him.   “It’s okay, Henry.”  Danny cleared his throat, and she turned to him.   “Do you mind if I sleep with Henry tonight?”
“Not at all,” Danny said, smiling at Henry’s startled look.
He stammered, “Y-you want to sleep with me?”
“Yes, I want you to be my boyfriend,” she said, seriously.
“Don’t you want Danny to be your boyfriend?”  
“No.   Danny has told me that he’s not ready for a serious relationship,” Jennifer said.
Henry looked at Danny for confirmation.   “It’s true, Henry.   I’m not interested in a long-term relationship with Jennifer.   In fact, I was wondering how to say goodbye to her, without hurting her feelings.”
Jennifer put her arm through Danny’s.   “I’m a couple of steps ahead of you, Danny.   Thank you for everything.   Now, I can teach Henry a thing or two about how to pleasure a woman.”  Henry’s stunned expression caused both of them to laugh.   “Henry, you can close your mouth now.”   Jennifer put her hand under his chin and kissed him.
Danny asked, “Is this my room?”
Henry managed to recover sufficiently enough to answer.   “Yes, this is your room.   Jennifer, this one is yours.   Mine is across the hall from yours, and my parents’ room is around this corner and down at the end of the hallway.”    
Danny stowed his backpack in his room, and returned to Henry’s truck to get his camping gear.   Mr. Miller came outside and helped him unload it.   “So what kind of work are you looking for?”
“I’m pretty much looking for any kind of handy work,” he replied.  
“Well, I’ve got some work you can help me with, but I’ve got to be upfront with you.   I don’t have much work for you, certainly not enough to keep you on for more than a month.”
“Thank you for being honest with me,” Danny said.   “I’ll help you, while I continue to look for other work.   I need to buy a new truck, since my old one bit the dust.”
“I can help you there, if you’re interested in fixing up an old truck,” Mr. Miller said.   “Follow me.”   He led Danny around the side of the house and into the back yard.   There was another old Dodge pickup truck parked there.   It was nearly the mirror image of the one Henry was driving.   “It’s in bad shape, but it can be repaired.”
“I can’t pay you for it,” Danny said.
“Let’s say you work for me in exchange for the price of the truck and the parts to repair it.   What do you say to that?”
“I’m good with that, but how will I be able to pay you for room and board?”
“I’ll include that in our agreement.”
Danny smiled.   “Thank you, Mr. Miller.   I think we have a deal.”
They shook hands on the deal, and Mr. Miller said, “Please call me Tom.   Nobody calls me Mr. Miller around here.”
“Okay, Tom,” Danny said.
*** ***
Jerry picked up Danny’s ring off of the seat.   He placed it in his pocket, with the ring Danny had given him months earlier.   He had taken it off of his finger the first night he had spent with Sherry.   He was glad his confrontation with Danny was over.   He felt he could move ahead with his plans to make Sherry his wife, now that his relationship with Danny was officially over.
*** ***
Three months later, Danny stood in the driveway, looking over his restored truck.   Tom stood next to him.   “It looks pretty good, Danny.”
“Thank you, Tom.   I owe it all to you.”
“That’s nonsense, Danny.   You did all the work.”
“Yes, but you provided the capital to make it all happen.”
“Agreed, but you’ve worked hard for me.   The farm is in great shape, thanks to you.   I’m glad we were able to keep you on more than one month.”
Danny ducked his head.   Tom’s praise made him feel great.   Tom had become like the father he wished his own father had been, when he was growing up.   They had spent many nights working together to restore the old Dodge to mint condition.   Danny would miss the nightly conversations about everything under the sun.  
“Where are you planning to go?’
“I’m going back to Jackson Hole, Wyoming.   I think I’ll try to get back on at one of the dude ranches.   The tourist season is just getting underway and they’ll be looking for experienced help.”
“I wish you well, Danny.”
“Thanks for everything, Tom.”   He gave Tom a hug, and climbed into the cab of his truck and started the engine.   He rolled down the window and said, “Please don’t tell anyone where I’m headed.”
“Why?” Tom asked, raising his eyebrows.
“Let’s just say there are folks I would prefer that they didn’t know where I’m going.   By the way, tell Henry he had better propose to Jennifer soon or he’ll lose her to someone else.”
Tom laughed.   “He bought the ring last time he was here.   He plans to propose to her in the next couple of days.”
Danny slapped the side of the truck.   “Damn!   Why didn’t he tell me?”
“He wanted it to be a surprise to you,” Tom replied.   “Since you’re leaving, I thought I could disclose his plans without him knowing it.”
“Well, well,” Danny said.   “Please give them my best.”
“Sure thing,” Tom said.   He waved to Danny, as he pulled out of the driveway.   He would miss the young man, but he knew that Danny’s future wasn’t here on the farm.   Over the course of his time on the farm, he had discovered the deep loneliness that haunted Danny.   He hoped Danny would find his soul mate, sometime soon
*** ***
He arrived in Wyoming a couple of days later.    Danny pulled into the parking lot of the dude ranch where he had first met Jerry.   He walked into the office and was greeted by Mr. Baker.   “Welcome back!”
“Thanks,” Danny said.   “I was wondering if you had an opening for a tour guide.”
Mr. Baker said, “I don’t right now, Danny.   Let me call a friend of mine at a neighboring dude ranch.   He may have an opening.   One of his best guides recently got married and moved to Seattle.”   Mr. Baker made the call.   He ended the call and looked across his desk at Danny.   “You’re in luck.   Phil can use you right now.   There’s a tour group leaving in a couple of hours, and they’re short-handed.”   He wrote down the address and directions to the neighboring dude ranch.  
Danny said, “Thank you, very much.”
Mr. Baker said, “Not a problem, Danny.   I’m glad you’re back.   Is Jerry back, as well?”
“No, he’s found a California girl, and, as far as I know, is still in Yosemite with her,” Danny said.
“Good for him.   Well, good luck with the new job, and stop in to see us, when you get the chance,” Mr. Baker said, standing up and reaching out his hand to shake Danny’s.
Danny followed the directions he had been given.   He pulled into the parking area of his new place of employment.   He got out of the truck and was met by a small, wiry man.   He had short gray hair, a ruddy complexion, deep set blue eyes, a bulbous nose, and a toothy grin.   “Howdy!  You must be Danny.   I’m Phil Steiner.   Boy, am I glad to see you!   We’ve got a large group of folks ready to head out for a week-long fishing trip, and my main guy is laid up.   He broke his leg yesterday, when he was thrown from his horse.   Have you guided a fishing camp before?”
“Yes, I have,” Danny responded.   He gave Phil a brief rundown of his work for Mr. Baker.
Phil said, “I owe him one for sending you my way.   Let’s get you set up, so you can take over this group.”
Within the hour, Danny had been introduced to his new co-workers, and had become familiar with their procedures.   Phil had made it clear that Danny was in charge of the group.   After Phil left, Danny looked around the small group of men.   “Guys, I know Phil wanted me to be in charge here, but I know it takes a team effort to make this kind of tour work.”   As they worked together to tie up the loose ends for their trip, he soon had them completely in his corner.  
As the tourist group began arriving, the men approached Danny.   Chad, who had been nominated to be their speaker, said, “Thank you for trusting us to do our jobs.   We support you 100%, and we wanted you to know that we’re glad you’re going with us.”
Danny grinned.   “Thanks for the vote of confidence.   I’m nervous as hell, and I don’t want to fail you guys or the boss.”
Chad laughed.   “You’ll do just fine, because we’ll make sure you do everything right.”
Cole slapped Danny on the back.   “Buck up, Danny.   This is going to be the best trip of the season for all of us.”
John grinned at Danny.   “Trust us, Danny.   We’ve got your back.”
Danny looked around at the guys and said, “Thank you.”
He was grateful for their acceptance of him.   All of the guys were single and good looking, which was a plus for him.   Chad was tall and skinny, with dark hair and dark eyes.   He had a crooked grin and loved telling jokes.   Cole was 5’9” with a wiry build.   He had dark auburn hair, blue eyes and lots of freckles.   He had an infectious grin.   John had jet black hair, a heavy black unibrow, and green eyes.   He sported a black moustache over a generous mouth.   He was 5’10” and a bodybuilder.   It was all Danny could do not to start drooling over John.   He was hoping that John might be interested in him, because John had given him the once over when they first met.
They turned their attention to their guests and were soon on their way toward their first camp site.   The trip turned out to be a huge success.   After their guests had left the ranch, Phil called them into his office.
“That trip was by far the most successful one we’ve had this year,” he said.   He handed out envelopes to everyone.   “You’ll find a nice bonus in there, along with your usual pay.   The group went in together to tip you for your extraordinary efforts to make their trip memorable.”
Danny opened his envelope and whistled.   “Wow!”
The others soon joined him, as they chorused their amazement.   Chad said, “Now, I can afford to buy that new truck over in Jackson.”
Phil said, “Don’t spend it all in one place, guys.   We’ll see you in a few days for the next trip.   Enjoy your time off.”
As they left the building, John came up behind Danny and put his arm around his shoulders.   “Do you have a place to stay?”
Danny turned his head to look into John’s face.   “No, I don’t.   I was thinking of checking with my old landlady, to see if she had a place I could rent from her.”
“Why don’t you stay with us?” John said.   “Chad and I have rented a small house.   It’s not deluxe, but it’s a place to crash in between trips.”
Chad joined them.   “Did John ask you if you wanted to room with us?”
“Yes, he just did,” Danny said.
“Well…” Chad said, drawing out the word.
“Okay, I’ll stay with you guys.   How much do I owe you in rent money?”
“We’ll split it three ways,” John said.   He did the math in his head and quoted Danny a figure.  
Danny said, “That’s a great deal.   How did you manage to get such a cheap place?”
Chad said, “It’s my Aunt’s old house.   She wanted someone to keep it up, and I volunteered to live in it.   We mow the lawn and take care of any repairs.”
John said, “It’s a nice place.   There are three bedrooms, so you’ll have your own room.”
Danny couldn’t believe his luck.   He not only had a place to stay, but he was rooming with John.   He definitely had a crush on the guy, and living with him would provide him with plenty of wet dream material.   Maybe, now, he could finally forget about Jerry.
Chad said, “Follow us into town.”   The two men climbed into Chad’s truck.
Danny followed them into Jackson Hole.   They pulled into the driveway of a small log home.   It had a wide covered porch across the front of the house.   Chad unlocked the door and turned to Danny.   “Welcome to home, sweet, home.”
Chad showed him around the tidy, little home.   It had a great room that stretched along the entire length of the house.   The kitchen was separated from the great room by an island that housed the sink and had a bar with four stools.   A small hallway led to the three bedrooms and the bathroom at the back of the house.   There were two bedrooms on the left, and one on the right with the bathroom at the end of the hallway.  
Chad opened the door of the bedroom on the right.   “This one is yours.”
Danny looked inside.   It was a small, cozy room.   There was a dresser, a twin bed, and a tiny closet.   There was just enough room for him to walk between the dresser and the bed, but not much more.   It seemed that this room had been originally intended as a utility closet.   It reminded him of his room at Yosemite, except this room had a window.
“My room is this one,” Chad said, opening the door to the room directly across from his.  Danny looked inside to see that it was slightly larger, but not by much.   It was neat and tidy.   The bed was made and the floor was clean.
John pushed past the two men and opened his bedroom door.   “Obviously, this one is mine.”   Danny looked into the room to see that John was the polar opposite of Chad.   His bed was unmade, and he had clothes strewn across the floor.   “Never mind the mess.”
Chad laughed.   “John has always been the messy one.   We went to school together in Pocatello, Idaho.”
“We’ve known each other since we were in kindergarten,” John said.   He walked into his room and stripped off his clothes, throwing them on the floor.   Chad frowned, but John ignored him.   Danny gave him the once over.   He had a beautifully toned body, with lots of dark hair everywhere.   Danny raised his eyes to John’s, who grinned broadly.   “I hope you like what you see.”
Danny nodded his head.   “You look great!”
Chad laughed.   “Don’t feed his ego, Danny.   He’s already hard to live with.”   He turned to John and said, “Go ahead and get your shower, while I help Danny get settled.”
John laughed.   “Yes, mother.”
Chad grabbed his towel from his room and snapped it hard.  The tip of his towel caught John on the butt, leaving a big read welt.   John yelped, “Damn!   That hurt!” 
“Don’t get smart with me,” Chad said, grinning at his friend.
John looked at Chad, and said, “Just remember; I don’t get mad, I get even.”   He thumped his chest to emphasize his point, and stomped down the hallway to the bathroom, slamming the door behind him.
Chad laughed, and turned to Danny.   “Let’s get you moved in.”
They went outside to Danny’s truck to retrieve his gear.   Chad grabbed his duffle bag and backpack, while Danny brought in his camping equipment.   As they entered the house, Chad nodded toward the far corner of the great room.   “Put your tent and the Dutch ovens over there, with our stuff.   I’ll put this stuff in your room.”
Danny walked over and dumped his gear.   So far, he was very happy with what he had seen of the house.   He just hoped he could keep his attraction for John under control.   He walked into his new room to find Chad had the duffle dumped out on the bed.   The dresser drawers were open, and Chad was folding and putting away his clothes.
Chad looked up, and said, “I hope you don’t mind me putting your things away.   I did this for John when we moved in, but you can see how much good it did.”
Danny laughed.   “I did see how messy his room is.   Thank you for helping me get my stuff put away.   I’m not as neat as you are, but I’m not as messy as John.”
Chad smiled.   “Good!”   He put away a stack of mated socks, followed by Danny’s bright white briefs.   “It looks like you need to pick up some new socks, or you need to learn how to sew up the holes in them.”
“I’ve never been good at mending socks.   I can sew on buttons and patch holes in my jeans, but socks aren’t my thing.”
“I can help you there.   Mom made me learn how to mend my socks,” Chad said.   They worked quickly and had everything put away in no time.   Danny followed Chad out into the great room.   Chad collapsed on the couch, stretching out his long legs.  
Danny sat down in the armchair and asked, “Does John always run around without clothes on?”
Chad nodded his head.   “Yes.   He has always been an exhibitionist.   At school, he would parade naked around the locker room.   We were both on the football team.”
Danny gave Chad an incredulous look.   “You look more like a basketball player than a football player.”
Chad grinned.   “I was on the basketball team, as well.   We had to do two sports in order to be on the football team.   John was on the wrestling team.”
“He looks like it.”
“What do I look like?”  John appeared in front of Danny, water still rolling off of his body.
 John’s very masculine body was having a very serious impact on Danny.   He cleared his throat, and said, “I said you looked like a wrestler.”
“I do, don’t I?”   John posed for Danny.   His state of arousal was becoming uncomfortable.   When John turned away from him, he quickly adjusted himself, in an attempt to relieve some of the pressure.
He met Chad’s gaze.   Chad winked at him, and gave him a smile.   It was clear that Chad knew that Danny was attracted to his roommate.   “Don’t worry, Danny.   Your secret is safe with me.”   
*** ***
A few days later, Chad and John took Danny to their favorite bar.   It was early in the evening, but Chad and John we’re pretty well on their way to being drunk.   Danny had driven them into town, and had ordered a coke, which drew a questioning look from the bartender. 
Danny explained, “I’m driving them home.”   He pointed to Chad and John.   The bartender nodded his comprehension, and handed Danny his coke.   He returned to the booth Chad and John had selected.   He sat down and looked around the bar.   Seeing no one he knew, he started sipping his coke.   That’s when he noticed that the guy at the end of the bar seemed familiar to him.   He sat up straight in his seat, as he recognized the watch on the man’s wrist.   There was no doubt in his mind that it was Jerry.   He had given Jerry that watch for Christmas.  
Chad noticed the sudden tension in Danny’s face.   “What’s wrong?”
“I think someone from my past is here in the bar, tonight,” Danny said.   “Someone I’d rather never see again.”
“Who is it?” John said.
Danny said, “It’s the guy on the far end.   We worked together last year.”
“Do you want to leave?” Chad asked.
“No, it’s better to meet him here, than somewhere else.”
John said, “We’ll take him out for you, if you want.”
“I don’t think that will be necessary, John.   I don’t need you to start a bar brawl, and get us all thrown into jail!”
John gave Danny a wicked grin.   “I’ve never actually been thrown out of a bar, but there is always a first time.”
Danny continued to watch the guy at the bar, hoping that it wasn’t Jerry, while at the same time hoping that it was.   The guy stood up from the bar and turned around.   His eyes met Danny’s across the room.   Jerry smiled and made his way across to the table where he was sitting.   Danny thought he had gotten over Jerry, but his reaction to Jerry’s smile proved otherwise.  
“Do you mind if I join you guys?”
John looked at Danny.   Danny shrugged, and John said, “Take a seat, stranger.   What’s your name?”
“I’m Jerry Wallace.”
“I’m John Weir and this is Chad Blaylock.   It’s nice to meet you.”    Jerry shook hands with the two men.   “I take it you already know Danny.”
Jerry nodded his head.   “Yes, we worked together last year.”
“Yes, he has told us about that.   What brings you to town?”   John’s tone wasn’t hostile, but it let Jerry know that John wasn’t exactly seeing Jerry’s presence as a positive thing.
“I came looking for Danny,” Jerry responded, looking into Danny’s eyes.
“Well, you found me,” Danny said, keeping his tone neutral.
“Yes, I did.   You didn’t make it very easy for me, though.”
“Why did you come here, Jerry?”
“I came because I needed to set things right between us.”   Jerry looked at John and Chad.   “I promise not to do anything to hurt him, if you’ll let us talk alone.   I didn’t come here to fight, or cause anyone harm.”
John said, “We’ll be right here.   If you’re not back in an hour, we’ll come looking for you.”   This last, he directed at Danny.
Chad said, “Don’t forget that you’re our ride home tonight.”
Danny laughed, nervously.   “I won’t forget.”
Jerry stood up and headed toward the exit.   Danny followed him out.   Jerry said, “Is there some place private where we can talk?”
“Yes, we can go to my place.   It’s not far from here,” Danny said.   He led Jerry to his truck and climbed into the cab.
“This is a nice truck.   You did a great job restoring it.   Henry told me you were working for his Dad, and that you had worked out an arrangement to get the truck as payment.”
Danny said, “I thought Henry would eventually tell you where I had gone.   He’s not very good at keeping secrets.”
Jerry laughed.   “No, he’s not; however, his Dad is very tight lipped.   Whatever you told Mr. Miller sure convinced him not to speak to me.   He practically ran me off his property.”
“I’m glad someone honored my request not to give you any information about me,” Danny said, wondering why Jerry had come.
They pulled into the driveway and Danny parked his truck.   He got out and unlocked the door to the house.   Jerry walked inside and looked around.   He whistled.   “This sure beats that old apartment we rented here last year.”
“It’s not very big, but it meets our needs.”  Danny sat down in his usual armchair.   “So, tell me why you needed to see me?”
Jerry sat down across from Danny.   He met Danny’s gaze, and said, “I came because I love you, Danny.   After you left, everything fell apart.   Sherry’s parents shipped her off to Europe to get her away from me.   Henry and Jennifer got married, and moved into a house not far from the Miller farm.   He’s working for his Dad, now.   After Sherry left, I realized that I had made a huge mistake, and that I needed to set things right between us.   I know that you’re angry with me.   I also know that I treated you pretty poorly.   I’m asking you to forgive me for everything I’ve done to hurt you.   I know that I don’t have any right to expect you to take me back, but I’m asking you to let us part as friends.”
The anger and the hurt that had filled Danny’s heart for all these long months, seemed to find its release.   It was like a burden had been lifted from his shoulders.   “I forgive you, Jerry.   It’s been very hard for me to get over you.   In fact, I thought I had finally made it, when I met John.   But, seeing you tonight; has convinced me that I still love you, Jerry.”  Jerry started to get to his feet, but Danny put up his hand.   “Wait.   You hurt me very badly, Jerry.   I can’t just let you back into my life, as if nothing happened.   We can’t set back the clock.   I think we need to have some time to work things out, before we can move forward.”
Jerry said, “I’m willing to do whatever it takes to win back your trust, Danny.”   He stood up and walked over to Danny.   He knelt in front of him and took his hands in his.   “Please, give me a second chance.”   There were tears running down his cheeks, as he continued, “I need you.   I hope that I can prove myself worthy of your love.”
Danny searched Jerry’s eyes, wanting to believe that Jerry really meant what he said.   “I love you, Jerry.   But I need to be sure you won’t leave me again.”
“I give you my word.   That is all I have to my name.   I don’t know what else I could do to convince you that I mean what I say.”
“You can start by making love to me.”   Danny put his hand to Jerry’s face, and wiped away his tears.
Jerry stood up and pulled Danny into his embrace.   Jerry kissed Danny hesitantly, at first.   Danny deepened the kiss, letting Jerry know what he wanted.   Danny led Jerry to his room, opened the door, and pulled him inside.
*** ***
Danny sat in his front room, staring up at the painting of him and his beloved.  “Jerry, I miss you, Babe.   I told you that I couldn’t survive having you leave me again, remember?   Well, I was wrong.   I’m here alone, in this big house, and I’ve managed to survive without you these last few months.   People think I’m crazy, because I sit here and talk to your picture.   I know you’re close and can hear me.   I just need to know that you haven’t really left me.”
Danny paused to wipe the tears from his eyes.   A deep sense of loneliness nearly overwhelmed him.   He looked up into Jerry’s eyes in the portrait.
“I’ve met some really nice people.   One of them is a nice young man who reminds me of me at that age.   His father has kicked him out of his house and disowned him.   I think you would approve of him.   He’s given me a reason to go on living, Babe.   His name is Purev.   You might remember his parents.   They live a couple of houses down from us.   Purev needs someone to look after him, until he can do things for himself.   I wanted you to know that I’m busy, and that when things are okay with Purev, I’ll join you.   I miss you terribly.   I will love you for always.”

1 comment:

  1. OMG This chapter was a world wind. I felt like putting a stake thru Jerry's heart. Had Becks - "Lonesome Tears" playing for Danny because that song describes heartbreak best (at least I think so). What Jerry did with that girl, just blew me away and his reason for finding Danny again left me a little flat - (Like oh well she is gone let me go find Danny), although I am glad they lived happily into old age together. I still thought Danny should make Jerry suffer like he made Danny suffer just a little or maybe a whole lot. I think trust is important and once it is broken it is not easily mended. Thought there would be more of how DeLoy played into their lives, but I guess it was just Derrick's trust fund that financed them? I will have to read chapter 29 again - it has been a few months - see if it puts the missing pieces back together for me. Thank you, Gail

    PS. Still hoping on seeing the Randy & Shawn story.