Maverick Cattle Company Ch. 02byreddirtwriter©
Unable to follow through the flooded gap, they rushed back to the house for lights and equipment to search for the animals. While they were loading the pickup, Mitch made a quick call to their neighbor Doug, who promised to bring his heelers and to make a few quick calls for additional help. Gathering on the road closest to the breeched fence, they were soon joined by Doug, his dogs, and a few other people. Doug had a map of the area that they spread across the hood of the pickup and in short order everyone was assigned to search areas. As they spread out, Mitch hoped they would find the steers quickly. Sooner than he might have thought his cell phone rang. It was Doug, the cattle had been found, but not without injuries.
Following Doug's directions, Mitch soon pulled up to the group of animals that had been herded into the portable corral someone had brought. But he could hear the bellowing of an animal in pain. From the drawn looks surrounding him, he knew it wasn't good. Following the sound he walked to the top of a ridge. One of the animals was sprawled below him with one leg twisted grotesquely and obviously broken in multiple places. Several people had followed him and were quietly looking down at the steer.
"Put him down. We'll help you butcher him out so it isn't a total loss," said Doug.
Mitch nodded and went to the pickup and pulled out the pistol he had stowed behind the seat in case of this scenario. Moving in close, he put two slugs into the animal's head, killing it instantly. Quickly several others hoisted the carcass, bled it and then began processing the meat to save what they could from the situation. Everyone pitched in, but Mitch insisted on doing the lion's share of the work. Once they had the carcass cut up and put in the ice filled coolers someone had retrieved, the volunteers began to disperse. Mitch walked back to the pickup to see if there was something for him to clean the blood off with, and walked into the scene of an older woman berating Josh. Seeing Mitch as he walked up, she turned on him.
"You! Yes! It's people like you who make young boys like this think these sinful thoughts. If you hadn't messed in things that were none of your concern he would still be with his parents and in church like he should be. You should be ashamed of yourself. You are leading this boy to a life of sin and an eternity in hell."
It took Mitch a minute to process what was happening. Finally the reality of the situation broke through his exhaustion and brought all the recent problems to a head. Before she could catch her breath to continue her homophobic rant, Mitch locked eyes with her and he began,
"Really? Your church is the one that let his parents beat him with a belt buckle? The parents he had to be rescued from? Honestly? If you want to talk about sin then let's talk about physical and mental abuse. Why do you care about who someone loves? How sick is your faith when it's ok to hurt someone who's gay, because that's a sin according to your interpretation of the bible. Ma'am, your religion stinks if that's what it teaches. We didn't convert Josh to anything. All we've done is try to give him the time and space to decide how he feels about things. Now, leave him alone, leave us alone. Until your life is perfect I'd suggest you go back to your church and . . ."
Mitch felt a hand rest on his shoulder and squeeze lightly. His breath shuddered out in a series of gasps as he realized a small crowd had gathered. Glancing around he quietly sighed at the problems his exhaustion spawned rant had probably caused him. Turning to look at Darrin, his mouth quirked and he shrugged slightly. Surprisingly the next person to talk was Doug.
"Mother, you're out of line. If I'd known you were going to do this to my friends I'd have never told you about them."
"They're sinners! Sinners must be confronted and purged!"
"Yeah, I know that's what you think, Mom. But Mitch and Darrin are my friends and you know I don't agree with you," said Doug. Turning to Mitch he said, "I'm sorry, Mitch. I didn't know this would happen or I would have left her at home."
Mitch let out his unconsciously held breath and nodded. "Sorry I went off, Doug. I just couldn't let it go. Especially not when it was aimed at Josh."
"No need for apologies. I understand. I think you've got everything under control now, so we should leave," said Doug.
Mitch nodded and the crowd rapidly dispersed. Soon it was only the three of them. Josh looked first at Mitch and then Darrin with a look of dejection on his face. Darrin gently laid his arm across Josh's shoulder.
"Josh, you didn't do anything wrong. There's no need to feel bad," said Darrin quietly.
"I should have defended myself. You and Mitch shouldn't need to keep baling me out when there's a problem," said Josh quietly.
Darrin let out a sad laugh, "It helps to be mad. But it also helps to be older and more comfortable with yourself. Hell, you just turned 18. You shouldn't be jousting at windmills yet."
Josh looked puzzled. "What?" he asked.
Mitch laughed and patted his shoulder. "Don't worry about it, Josh. That's just College showing his education. But you did fine. I may have blown it with our neighbors though. I just lost it."
Josh smiled at Mitch. "I'm glad you did. I thought she was about to take me apart limb from limb."
Mitch chuckled and nodded, "It does feel like that sometimes. But we have a long night ahead of us. We have to haul these steers back home and then we're going to be processing beef for hours."
Darrin and Josh nodded and fell to work getting everything in order to bring some kind of successful conclusion to this day.
Darrin and Mitch were enjoying the quiet conversation in the pickup as they came back from their night on the town. It had been their first evening out in weeks and they had both needed the break. They'd met Sam and Gordy in Wichita Falls and had a great time. The entire evening had been catching up on old friends and where they were. Gordy had a job offer, but he and Sam were discussing their options. They had even enjoyed the long drive as a time to reconnect with no one else around. It had been a wonderful salve for their psyche.
They had pulled into the driveway feeling very relaxed and thankful for the few hours away to decompress. But driving in they saw an unfamiliar pickup parked beside the house. Rolling quietly to a stop beside it, they studied the dark house with concern.
"Did Josh say anything to you about someone coming over?" asked Darrin.
"You don't think it's his family do you?"
"No, I don't think the lights would be turned out if it was his parents," said Mitch with a furrowed brow.
"So . . ."
"Well, I'm not sitting in the pickup all night because Josh has someone in there with him," said Mitch.
They quietly exited the vehicle and walked up the sidewalk. Darrin was hoping the noise they were making was enough that Josh would know they were coming. But as they came in through the kitchen it was obvious from the sounds emanating from the dimly lit living room that Josh was only aware of one thing. When he and Mitch moved to the doorway, Darrin was glad that all they could see was the back of the couch and the rumpled shirt thrown over it. After a few seconds with the air thick with the sounds of young lust, Mitch nudged Darrin and tilted his head toward the scene. Darrin sighed and nodded, recognizing that Josh was, more or less, his responsibility. Clearing his throat Darrin raised his voice.
"Josh. We're home."
"Shit!" came the muffled oath, followed by a loud thump as someone hit the floor.
"Oh fuck! Wait!" echoed through the room.
Darrin and Mitch watched the ensuing routine that was reminiscent of a Three Stooges routine with barely controlled humor. As clothes flew through the air and a faintly lit arm reached up to grab the shirt off the back of the couch the frenzy in the living room continued. Mitch snorted softly as muttered profanity, in two different voices, filled the room. At the crescendo of the performance two dim silhouettes stood and Mitch reached over, flipping on the lights.
Darrin studied the two young men standing in front of them. Josh's clothes were half off, his shirt was buttoned crooked and he was frantically trying to close the front of his jeans. The other boy seemed less embarrassed as he tucked his football jersey back into his pants. Darrin looked over the tall blond haired athlete and had to say he could appreciate Josh's taste in men. The stranger stepped forward with his hand extended. Mitch raised an eyebrow and took his hand.
"Sir, my name is Tony Barra. I'm sorry to have met you this way. I'm a friend of Josh's from school."
"Hello, Tony. I'm Mitch and this is my husband, Darrin."
Mitch waited for a reaction but none seemed forthcoming. But then they had caught the kid in the throes of making out with Josh. So maybe a same-sex couple wasn't as shocking as it might have been under other circumstances. After a few awkward moments of silence Tony grabbed his jacket from a chair and nodded at the pair.
"I guess I need to get home," said Tony and then turned to Josh, "I'll see you at school. Thanks for the evening." He moved toward Josh to give him a kiss but aborted it under Darrin and Mitch's gaze.
Josh's face was bright red, his ears practically glowing. Unable to speak he nodded and remained frozen as Tony moved through the door. Darrin wondered if this kid wasn't a little too smooth and collected in what should be an awkward situation at best. Darrin was surprised at his reaction. But if Tony was playing with Josh's feelings, he would regret it.
When the front door shut, Josh turned to leave. Mitch barked out, "No. We're not done. Sit down."
Josh turned with a look of fear on his face. Darrin felt sorry for the kid and knew he was scared of what Mitch was about to say. But Darrin knew that Mitch was a softie too. He just hid it better. When it quickly became obvious that Josh was frozen in place, Darrin gently took him by the shoulder and moved him to the couch. Once he was seated, Josh's body started to shake with the stress and Darrin could see the tears begin down his face. Darrin watched with some concern of his own as Mitch sat down on the coffee table directly in front of Josh. After a few more moments of building silence, Mitch awkwardly reached forward and patted Josh on the knee.
"Josh, you're not in big trouble. I just want to talk with you about . . . what happened," said Mitch softly.
A huge sob wracked Josh body as he tried to speak. Finally through the sobs he managed, "I'm so sorry. I'm really sorry. I know you must be really pissed at me."
Darrin had squatted down beside Josh, and with his sniffling plea, Darrin let out a sigh. Darrin reached out and started rubbing his hand over Josh's back to comfort him.
"It's ok, Josh. Calm down," said Darrin.
"Josh, stop crying and look at me," asked Mitch.
Josh looked up, smaller tremors still traveling through his body as he met Mitch's eyes.
"Ok, first. Making out with someone you are attracted to is fine. But don't just do it because there's another warm body. One-night stands get old, quick. Try to not let your hormones rule what you do."
Darrin glanced over at Mitch, wondering again about his days of sowing wild oats before they met. Deciding this wasn't the time to ask, he refocused on Josh.
"Second," Mitch continued, oblivious to Darrin's thoughts. "If you do decide to be with someone, then you need to be safe. Where are the condoms I gave you for your birthday? Do you need more?"
Josh pointed to his room, flushing deeper at the personal direction this talk was taking. "They're in my drawer. And . . . I still have plenty."
"And do you know how to use them?"
"Jeez, Mitch!" Josh said as he wiped the tears from his face. "I'm not stupid."
"Then tell me when you use them," said Mitch with a hint of steel in his voice.
"You know, when you . . ."
"When you fuck," said Mitch bluntly while Darrin groaned at Mitch's lack of tact.
"Yeah, that," agreed Josh.
Mitch took a deep breath and continued. "Look, Josh. I'm not trying to embarrass you but you can get STD's other ways than fucking. If you're going to be sexually active, and from what we walked in on that seems likely, you need to be as safe as possible."
"Yeah, I know. I'd wear a condom."
"You both have to wear them and you have to wear them from when you start. Even precum can have HIV and cum sure can. No barebacking. Use a condom during oral sex. Use a condom during any kind of sex. I don't care about the heat of the moment. I want you to be alive in 30 years and not taking 50 pills a day to stay that way," said Mitch with a stern look on his face.
Josh's eye bugged a little at the information. He thought about it and then looked at Mitch. "Really? The guys on the videos only wear them when it's . . . in." said Josh, his embarrassment temporarily overshadowed by the information Mitch was giving him.
"Those guys are taking a risk. Yes, anal sex is the highest risk, but all the other stuff is risky too," said Mitch. "Some people say oral sex isn't as risky as we thought, and you have to decide for yourself what chance you're willing to take. But it's still more of a risk than using a rubber. When you find a partner you want to be monogamous with, you and he can both do all the testing and make sure you both agree to be exclusive. Then, and only then, is it safe to not wrap it up."
"Josh," Darrin said as he picked up the thread of conversation, "Don't let some cute guy sweet talk you into unprotected sex either. If they don't want to wear a condom, or to make sure you have one on, then you need to be careful. There are guys who will try to trick you into barebacking, and you don't want to put yourself in that position."
Josh gulped and nodded, getting a definite "deer in the headlights" look at his face.
Darrin gripped Josh's shoulder and squeezed. Looking at them both he said, "I think that's enough 'Gay Sex 101' for tonight. Let's get some rest." Gripping Josh's shoulder tighter he looked over at Mitch.
"Mitch is right. You have to be safe. We want you to have fun, but you have to protect yourself. If you have questions, ask one of us. And that boy tonight, he seemed . . . well it didn't seem to bother him that we walked in on you two. Don't let someone talk you into something you aren't ready for. Being gay doesn't mean you sleep with anyone. So be careful."
Josh nodded, "I know. And I'll be careful. Tony's a great guy too, I really love him."
Mitch's eyebrows shot up his forehead. "You love him?" said Mitch.
"Yeah. He's so sexy. He's varsity football. And he said we were going to the senior prom together," said Josh in a dreamy voice. Josh realized what he had just revealed and turned red again. Shooting a panicked look at the other two Josh asked, "Is it alright if I go to bed? I'm beat."
Darrin and Mitch mutely nodded, stunned at the news Josh had shared.
Once they heard the door to Josh's room shut, Mitch looked at Darrin with a slight smirk.
"I'm glad he's yours."
"He's in love . . . and going to the prom?" muttered Darrin.
"I'm going to pay for my raising," said Darrin in disbelief. Turning to Mitch with a smile he nudged his husband, "Oh hell, I was a good kid. I'm paying for your raising."
Mitch chuckled and helped Darrin up from his knees. Wrapping his arm around Darrin's waist they walked to the bedroom with their heads spinning from all of tonight's revelations.