tagNon-EroticBeau and Sweetheart of the Show

Beau and Sweetheart of the Show

byPuckIt©

Hey, y'all. This is an entry in the Valentine's Day Contest 2018 for Literotica.com in the Non-Erotic category.

For the slow folks in the class, that means all story attempt with no stroke material for this one.

However, there are several more to choose from. And, as always, participants would treasure all votes and comments on the ones you deign to read to the end, dear reader.


*****

For reasons that passed my understanding, our Ag instructor and school FFA chapter sponsor decided to take a group of us to the National Livestock Show in Phoenix, Arizona my senior year. We'd never done it before then, but he decided it seemed like a good idea.

Most parents and students disagreed with him and I wasn't so sure I wasn't one of them.

First off, it was over seven hundred miles away in Arizona. That's a long damn way when you're in high school. Or, I would imagine, an animal in a stock trailer.

Next, it wasn't just a stock show. No, nor just a rodeo. About the only difference between it and a county fair was there were no Ferris Wheels nor other rides, and there were a bunch of competitions such as meat judging, skill-a-thon, and ag mechanics. It was like a huge melting pot of everything FFA and 4H concerned themselves with thrown together in one week.

While others had branched out and gotten involved in athletics or band or drama club or whatever else the school offered, I was a bit of a farm geek. Everything I was involved in other than required classes was through FFA.

But, I was involved in everything FFA covered. It all just made sense to me. Everybody has to eat. And if you eat, you are into agriculture.

But, before Mr. Buchanan decided to take us to the National event, everything I was involved in had been separated and fallen out on different weekends in different places.

For that week, I'd had to pick and choose carefully just what I was going to do. And I was still worried about getting it all done.

To make matters worse, my longtime girlfriend had a definite issue with my going. Primarily because it was the week in February that included Valentine's Day and the Sweetheart's Dance. Which didn't make much sense, since other than the "Cotton-eyed Joe" and the "Texas Two-step" most of our dancing was me shuffling my boots in a slow circle with my hands on her butt.

Helen and I had mostly been an item from kindergarten when we'd first met. I say mostly because Charles Howard Waters the Fourth moved to town with his family our freshman year in high school and threw a pebble in my quiet pond.

Before Upchuck came to town, the rest of the crew of misfits in our cohort acknowledged my claim on Helen and left us alone to each other thanks to a few pointed reminders out in the schoolyard.

When Upchuck decided that as the prettiest boy in school with those long girlish blonde locks, my Helen as the prettiest girl for three counties should be with him, it sparked a feud between us.

I took him out behind the woodshed as I had many others, but it backfired. While I whipped his ass despite his fancy karate kicking mumbo jumbo, Helen and just about every other soul in town took a dim view of it.

Which didn't really make just a whole lot of sense, since I'd taken Keston Houston down about three pegs just months before for smacking her on the butt and no one had seemed to mind.

But, I'd lost Helen for about two months to Upchuck before I'd managed to win her back.

She'd spent the rest of our high school years bouncing back and forth between us like a tennis ball until finally, just before Thanksgiving, Upchuck had been caught in flagrante delicto with one of his sister's college friends.

While not the way I would have chosen to win her for good, I would take it. Oh, yes. I would take it indeed.

Now, my parents weren't poor sharecroppers. But, we didn't have a whole chunk of change jingling in our pockets begging to be wasted on frilly froufrou like a class ring. So, I hadn't had anything for Helen to wear to mark her as mine like when she wore Upchuck's class ring on a necklace.

But, in February, I'd decided it was time, and probably past time, I declared my intentions. We were eighteen years old and on the downhill slide to graduating. And Upchuck had shot his bolt, clearing the way for me. But, I was nervous enough about college looming on the hazy horizon I felt I might should establish just what we were and would be.

The ring I bought wasn't some huge chunk of rock. In fact, I guess most people would probably think it was a dinky little thing, hardly more than a diamond chip nestled between two overlapping hearts, one upside down to the other. But, I felt it suited us. And the two hundred dollars cash I laid out for it was about everything I had that wasn't tied up in scholarship and trusts to pay for college.

Well, other than what I had to sink into traveler's checks for the upcoming final trip of my high school career.

I never got a chance to show Helen that ring.

When I walked up to her parent's house the evening before I was supposed to leave, there was a familiar red sporty convertible parked in her driveway. I didn't let that stop me, though, as Helen had made very clear that she wasn't going to forgive Upchuck.

But, apparently, she had.

Helen came out and walked me over to the porch swing we'd claimed as our own the better part of thirteen years earlier. There, she explained to me, or tried to, just how important Valentine's Day and the Sweetheart's Dance was to an eighteen-year-old senior girl. It just made sense, she told me, that since she hoped to win that stupid plastic tiara, with me out of town, she should go to the dance with the boy most likely to win the cheap plastic crown to match the cheap plastic tiara.

I think I was angrier than I've ever been that evening, either before or since. No, I didn't hit her. There are some things you just don't do. I might've hit Upchuck if he'd been brave enough to stick his jackrabbit head out her parent's door just then, but I wasn't about to go into their house after him. Instead, I stood up, turned my back on Helen, and walked away for the last time.

She'd broken something that I hadn't thought could be broken. Namely my give a damn as it applied to her. I was done with Helen and her little piss-ant games.

Three o'clock in the damn morning comes early even on a farm. At least it did that morning as I rolled out of my bunk to finish pulling myself together for the trip. That's the only reason I can think I pulled those same damn jeans on with that dinky little ring still in my change pocket.

Gerald Buchanan drove his big dually pulling a goose-necked stock trailer with his daughter Mandi, the only girl in our chapter that year, riding shotgun beside him.

Mrs. Buchanan, his wife, the school art teacher, and our other FFA sponsor for the trip, drove the school van with the rest of us who'd had any desire, or at least Mr. Buchanan had been able to talk into it, whose parents hadn't minded him taking us two states away, or at least he'd been able to talk into letting him.

Dan Carver rode shotgun beside the woman anybody who could see lightning and hear thunder figured would be his mother-in-law sooner rather than later.

Keston Houston had claimed the rearmost bench seat with his two lackeys Eric Cox and Jay George filling in the next two. Each had promptly lain back and gone back to sleep.

That left me sharing the seat right behind the driver with the Buchanan's son, Matt. Matt was the only one of us not eighteen and a senior. In fact, he wasn't even in high school yet and wasn't technically a member of FFA. But, his mom and dad pulled double duty with the county 4H, so they were sponsoring him that way.

They'd tried to get my sister to come along as well, but my parents weren't quite ready to let her fly that far from the nest. Even with me along for the ride.

Although, that may have had more than a little to do with the same folks that saw Dan and Mandi walking down the aisle figured Matt and my sister would too some day. Personally, it didn't bother me as I'd long since made clear to Matt just what would happen to him if he ever made my sister cry. But, it wasn't my call.

I didn't get along too good with Keston and his crew but was pretty friendly with everyone else on the trip. Usually. That particular morning, I wasn't in the mood to be friendly, or even cordial, with anyone. Nor to sleep either.

Instead, I brooded out the window at the gradually lightening countryside until we stopped in Albuquerque, about the halfway point or close enough, to check the animals and get some food in us all.

I was, as I should have figured, the only one to get in the trailer with Mr. Buchanan to check over the animals and give them a drink and a handful of fodder.

Dan and Mandi were too busy trying to steal a moment out from under her parent's eyes. I don't know just what they thought they were going to do in that moment with a crowd of other people around at a roadside McDonald's, but that didn't stop them from trying.

Matt was being a little dick to his sister, as is every brother's prerogative, following the couple to spoil their attempts to find a moment of privacy. (God knew I'd done it enough to him and my sister in turn.)

Keston, Eric, and Jay went off to search for the trouble they could get into. I didn't know what they would find at ten o'clock in the morning at a roadside McDonald's in Albuquerque, New Mexico, but I had every confidence they would and the rest of us wouldn't like it.

Mrs. Buchanan trailed along after the others to try in vain to keep an eye on them all.

Keston's steer managed to put its hind hoof in my hip hard enough to bruise when I was watering him, but the other steer, four hogs, and three lambs seemed to be making it all right. I wondered again if I wasn't asking for trouble bringing two lambs and one hog when the rest had brought one animal apiece. On top of preparing them to show and then actually showing them, I was also slated for the meat judging team with Dan and Mandi and skill-a-thon as an alternate to back up Keston, Eric, and Jay (who I didn't figure had a chance but wanted to try it). There were other events I might have competed in, events that I often did other times, but what I had on my schedule would be more than enough to keep me hopping.

And, perhaps, busy enough I wouldn't be thinking about Helen and Upchuck at the Sweetheart's Dance. And after.

"Thanks, Kurt," Mr. Buchanan said warmly as he clapped me on the shoulder. "Gonna miss having you on these trips next year."

I bit my lip to keep from pointing out if he would start refusing to allow people along who hadn't contributed on the last trip, his life would be easier. The sad fact was that there was less and less interest in the FFA and 4H programs even in our rural school. Those of us who were in it were looked down on by those that weren't.

Which struck me as just ridiculous. Everybody that eats is into agriculture, whether they'll admit it or not. But, it just wasn't cool to interact with food before it was in the grocery store.

So, Mr. Buchanan had his hands full just rounding up enough interest in the programs without running off participants for being unreliable and irresponsible.

"Let's go get us some breakfast before those yahoos clean the kitchen out," Mr. Buchanan said.

Inside the restaurant, it was about what I'd figured it would be. Dan and Mandi were snuggled up in a booth (much too close!) on one side of the dining area with Matt trying ineffectually to play chaperone.

Mrs. Buchanan had Jay and Eric cornered on the far side where, judging by what I could see and hear, they must have decided blowing spit-wads at each other, and various other targets including the other patrons, sounded like a good plan.

Mr. Buchanan split off to close in on Dan and Mandi, who spread apart enough it might have been possible to squeeze a crowbar between them, just as I realized I didn't see Keston anywhere. A chill ran up my spine as I thought of just what Keston usually got up to on his own.

I wandered back to the bathrooms where I gave the girl's bathroom door a hard shove. As I'd pretty well expected, it only opened two inches before slamming back shut. On the other side, I could hear Keston's nasty chuckle and the voices of two girls that were getting just a tad shrill.

The only B of my high school career had come from Coach Mac in his Public Policy class. Pretty much everyone knew as a form of payback for my not playing football for him. He claimed if I would have just suited up, he could have won state. I don't know anything about that, but I did generally have what it took to get the job done when I set my mind to it.

I set my mind, and my shoulder, to that girl's bathroom door. As the door boomed against the wall, Keston fell to the floor holding his own shoulder. Two girls that were much too young to be wearing that much makeup and hair product, not to mention skirts that short, leggings or no, were clinging to each other and looking wide-eyed.

"You two, out," I growled.

"What the hell, Kurt?" Keston asked as the pair fled past me. "I was just having a little fun."

"Yeah. And your 'fun' is going to get you an all expenses paid at the barred bed and breakfast someday," I snarled. "Not this trip, Keston. Not while you are wearing the same jacket I am. You and your buddies will fly straight as arrows from right now until this trip is over, or we're going to have a problem. Do you hear me?"

"Fuck you, college," Keston sneered.

Mr. Buchanan came in to find us in one of the stalls with Keston pushing against the rim of the bowl to keep me from putting his head in it, and gradually failing.

"Kurt, let him up!" Mr. Buchanan snapped. "Keston, you want to tell me why there is a pair of little girls out here crying about some big guy in a blue FFA jacket barging into the girl's bathroom and trapping them?"

Our short break stretched longer than originally planned as a man in a brown uniform with a badge came out and asked the same questions, much more pointedly.

When we finally did hit the road once more, we were two people light as Mr. Buchanan had opted to rent a car and drive Keston back to his parents. If it had been up to me, Keston could have stayed with the boys with badges until his parents came to get him.

I ended up being detailed to drive Mr. Buchanan's dually towing the animals in the stock trailer. Mrs. Buchanan as the only school employee in his absence having to drive the school's van. The van we wouldn't have needed if Mr. Buchanan had gone ahead and taken Keston's two minions back as well. The rest of us could have easily fit in the four-door dually. Had on several occasions.

Not that I minded driving alone. Seven hours alone, listening to the radio, as I fingered the ring I'd found in my change pocket while I paid for my breakfast was about right.

I don't know if any of us thought about Keston's steer until we'd arrived at the Arizona Fair Grounds and were unloading. I hadn't, and I was pretty sure Keston hadn't either.

I found myself corralled after putting my own animals in their respective pens in two separate barns to unload Keston's steer and get it penned in yet a third barn.

It's no excuse, but running into Eric and Jay who were supposed to be tending to their own animals slinking off to look for trouble to get into pissed me off. Enough that I'm ashamed to admit I pretty much just made sure Keston's steer was locked tight in its pen before I hustled back to my own responsibilities.

If I'd been a little more with the program, or a little less annoyed, I might have at least noticed Pattie nearby watching as I penned the steer and hurried away without doing so much as thinking about water and fodder.

It wasn't until a hand closed on my shoulder as I was working on making sure my pair of fine wool lambs were settled and spun me around that I really noticed her.

"Hey! I'm talking to you."

"I beg your pardon?" I glowered at the interloper getting my lambs, a skittish breed even at the best of times, riled once more.

They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and Pattie proved them right. The mop of untidy black curls with the white lock hanging down over her left eye and the smattering of freckles across her cheeks and nose didn't exactly scream beauty queen. Neither did her five foot and change height with her buck fifty weight.

Then again, I guess most girls don't look their best when they are scowling and growling at a guy.

"I asked if you are going to see to that sad sack of shit you dropped off in the cattle pens."

"Nope," I said. "It's not mine. I just unloaded it because our sponsor asked me to since it's owner got himself taken back home. I've got other things, my own responsibilities I need to see to."

"Then you're a dumbass," Pattie spat. "Do you have any idea what kind of damage a two-ton animal can do if it gets riled up and loose while looking for food and water? Do you have any idea just how many people might get gored or trampled? Do you have any idea what that beast is doing right now over there?"

Maybe if I hadn't been so ashamed, I might have taken Pattie chastising me a little better. While I didn't show cattle, they were just too damn big and too expensive to fool with, my family kept a small range herd. And I actually did know better than to run off and leave any animal, much less one that size, hungry, thirsty, and nervous in a strange new environment. And judging by the scrubby appearance, I figured the Jersey to have been a range animal until that very morning. It would fit Keston he would do something that boneheaded.

Maybe it was being ashamed of having been caught out being irresponsible. Or maybe it was some vestige of my crumbled hopes for Helen. But, something made Pattie hit me the wrong way right from the very start.

Which was fair since she was less than thrilled with me as well.

After five minutes or better of arguing with her, I gave in and followed her in an effort to get her to just go the hell away and stop nagging me. And stop stirring up my lambs who were about ready to jump out of the damn pen.

The first glimpse of what Keston's steer was up to when we entered vindicated Pattie coming looking for me, but that just made me dislike her all the more. The big bastard was working on hooking the heavy iron fence with his horns and trying to throw it over his back. And, yeah. It was most likely trying to get at the water and feed in the next pen over.

I spotted Mrs. Buchanan giving Jay and Eric what looked and sounded like a first class reaming not far away from where the steer was acting an ass. Why the hell didn't they do something about it?

I caught Pattie by her elbow and steered her towards the trio, intent on getting this straightened out once and for all. She tried to jerk her arm away from my grip but didn't have much luck until I let her when we were standing in front of Mrs. Buchanan.

"Hi, Mrs. Buchanan," I said. "Sorry to interrupt, but the cattle cop here wanted to know which of us was going to tend to Keston's steer there."

"Don't you two go anywhere!" Mrs. Buchanan snapped. "We aren't done yet. Oh, my. Is that Keston's steer? I wondered why no one was seeing to it. Kurt, I hate to ask, but would you be a dear and see to it until Gerald gets back and decides what we need to do about it?"

That's the biggest drawback to being the reliable responsible one in the group. They know they can rely on you, so they do. Despite how it fucks with what you were already trying to take care of.

Pattie turned up her nose and looked insufferably smug as Mrs. Buchanan rounded on the pair of troublemakers who were trying to sidle away. Jay could damn well have taken care of Keston's steer since his was in the pen right next to it. But, he was too busy trying to fuck off with Eric who should have been over in the hog pens seeing to his own animal. No, it wasn't difficult to see why Mrs. Buchanan chose me.

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