I looked up from my corporate provided Blackberry to see my little sister walking up. She pushed the handle of her rolling carry-on suitcase in and plopped down in the seat next to me.
"Hi, Jen," I said. "You heard from Mom and Dad?"
"Yeah, I just got off the phone with mom. They should be here any minute."
It was Monday morning and Jen and I were meeting our parents at the airport. We were flying from Chicago to Atlanta, Atlanta to Savannah, then a drive to some tiny town in south Georgia. Our Grandmother, Dad's mom, just died and we were spending seven days getting her affairs in order. Jen and I didn't know her well. Dad moved away for college and never moved back. If you ask me, he wanted to distance himself from his southern roots. He was very concerned with his reputation and the way other people perceived him.
"So how have you been?" Jen asked.
"Eh," I shrugged.
"You dating anyone?"
"No. I just... It's so hard to meet people."
"That's because you don't make an effort to fit in. You shut yourself off from everyone."
"Yeah, thanks, but I don't need to be psychoanalyzed."
I'm 28 years old, 5'8" and 150 pounds. I have blond hair, which is a little longer than my Dad likes. I have blue eyes and wear glasses and look every bit a nerd. Jen insists I'm cute and my ex-boyfriend always told me I was cute. Until he dumped me for someone younger and cuter, that is. It doesn't help that I'm really shy around people I don't know.
I work for a global corporation in the IT department, working on the company's help desk. I fix the PCs and laptops and answer employee questions.
Jen is 3 years younger than me, about the same height, but slimmer. She has long dark blond hair, dyed lighter blond. She wears contact lenses to look less nerdy. She's a resident at the county hospital.
Both of our parents are lawyers. They're very conservative and to say that they're not very understanding of my sexual orientation would be an understatement. My Dad never passed up the opportunity to tell me what a disappointment I was. I didn't 'live up to my potential'.
As much as I hated my job, I was good at it and I sure wasn't about to give Dad the satisfaction of an 'I told you so,' so I pretended like it was the best job ever.
As our parents walked up to the gate with their carry-ons in tow, they were were both on their cell phones. They nodded and smiled at us and took a couple of seats across from us. That was the extent of their acknowledgment of us until we got on the plane and they had to turn their phones off.
I cut my eyes at Jen and rolled my eyes, which made her smile.
When we landed in Savannah, Georgia, we got our luggage then headed to the shuttle to the car rental. I slept the whole ride, not waking until we pulled into Grandma's driveway.
After putting our luggage in our rooms, we freshened up and then Dad took us around the house, making note of anything he wanted to keep or take home.
We then headed to the funeral home. Jen and I stood back and let our parents take care of everything. Dad made all of the arrangements. The funeral would be held on Wednesday afternoon.
Our next stop was downtown. Grandma had an arts and crafts shop that she closed several months earlier when she got sick. We parked the SUV near the park in the middle of the city, and walked down to the storefront. It was the last shop in a chain of stores, next to a sporting goods store.
As Dad pulled out the keys, I stood with my hands in my pockets looking around. My eyes were drawn across the street, kiddy-corner to the shop, to a large farm supply store. In front of the store was a guy having a smoke. He was tall and built big. He was wearing blue jeans and cowboy boots and a black cowboy hat. He had a dark brown beard.
As I followed my parents and Jen into the shop, I made eye contact with the big cowboy and he nodded at me. I quickly turned my head and looked down at my feet.
The store was empty and dusty and I immediately had a sneezing fit. Dad walked around the store, but there wasn't anything to see, not even fixtures. The large back room was empty as well, except for some empty shelving.
Dad locked up the store and we headed down to the restaurant a few stores down to have dinner. As we entered Lucille's, one of the waitresses told us to seat ourselves.
I was looking over my menu when the big cowboy from the farm supply store walked in. He sat at the table next us and took off his hat and set it on the chair next to him. He had short brown hair and as he made eye contact with me, I could see his sparkling blue eyes. Up close, I could see he was the most handsome guy I had ever laid my eyes on.
He nodded at me and gave me a half smile.
I may be inexperienced, but my gaydar was good enough to know that the hunky cowboy was gay. The way he looked at me sent a shiver throughout my body. I felt an instant attraction with him that I never felt with anyone before. I blushed and gave him a bashful smile, then looked back down at my menu.
"Hey, Butch, I'll be right with you," the waitress said to him and then made her way to our table.
I looked over the top of my menu at him. At Butch.
"Hey, folks," the waitress greeted us. "I'm Jody and I'll be takin' care of y'all today. What can I get y'all to drink?"
Jody took our drink order, then took Butch's drink order. He ordered a sweet tea.
When she returned with our drinks, she took our dinner order. Jen and I ordered the pot roast special. I about choked when Dad ordered the fried chicken platter. Mom couldn't decide. They didn't have any pretentious snobby salads, so she didn't know what to do. She reluctantly ended up with a grilled chicken breast and grilled vegetables.
She moved to Butch's table and took his order. He ordered a ribeye steak and a baked potato.
He caught me looking at him again and I quickly turned away.
Dad looked at me and looked at Butch, then grumbled to me, "Why don't you go ahead and put the rope around your neck? It'll save the lynchers some time. But if you're not looking to get gay bashed, then keep your eyes to yourself."
My eyes filled with tears and I looked down at my lap. When the waitress brought our dinner, I kept my eyes on my plate. The food was pretty good, but there was a lot of it, and I only finished about half of it.
As we were finishing up, Butch stood and picked up his hat. He stepped up to our table, holding his hat over his chest.
"Excuse me," he said and we all looked up at him. "I'm Butch Roberts. I own Roberts Farm Supply down the street. I wanted to express my sympathies. Penny Cooper was a great lady. She was like a mother to me. We all loved her."
His voice was deep and he had a strong southern accent. It practically made me melt.
Dad stood and held out his hand and shook Butch's hand. "I'm Philip Cooper. This is my wife Kathy, my daughter Jennifer and my son, Philip Junior."
"It's nice to meet you all," he said. He nodded to us and made eye contact with me and held it for moment.
Oh, yeah. The cowboy was definitely gay.
"Well, y'all have a good night," he said as he put his hat on and turned and left. He had a great bubble butt.
Jen was watching me with a raised eyebrow. I looked at her and blushed and finished my dinner.
After dinner, we headed back to the house. I pulled out my laptop and linked it to my phone to get on the Internet. I did a search for Roberts Farm Supply, but didn't really turn up anything. I did find a Butch Roberts on Facebook, though, but I couldn't see his profile since I wasn't his friend.
After playing around on the Internet for a while, I considered looking up some porn, but decided not to risk it with my sister and parents moving around the house. I shut down and got ready for bed.
The next morning, Mom and Dad met the realtor to get the paperwork started to put the house and the store space up for sale. I decided to walk into town and look around.
"Why don't you stop at the barber shop while you're out?" Dad said as I left. I pretended not to hear him.
I got a few strange looks as the locals passed me.
I must have looked quite out of place in my khakis and Polo shirt. It figures. I didn't fit in at home or at work, and I certainly didn't fit in here. I had packed a couple pairs of jeans. I should've worn those.
I passed a shop that had clothing, so I went inside and looked around. I walked to the boots and was looking at the different styles. The shop owner walked up to me and looked at me with a skeptical eye. He asked if he could help me and I told him I wanted to buy some boots. He showed off a couple of pairs, and I picked a pair of brown ones. I also grabbed a white long sleeved shirt and a blue plaid shirt.
As I left the store, I looked at my phone and saw that it was lunch time. I headed down to Lucille's restaurant and sat down at a table and looked over the menu.
"Excuse me? Philip, right?"
I looked up to see Butch standing in front of me.
"PJ," I said.
"Yeah. I go by PJ... Philip Junior," I explained.
"Ah. Can I join you, PJ?" he asked, with a smile.
I smiled back and said, "Sure."
"I'm Butch," he said as he sat down.
"Yeah. I remember."
Like I could forget. Butch set his hat down on the seat next to him.
"So, how do you like our town?"
"It's nice," I said truthfully. "Very quiet."
I ordered a club sandwich and Butch ordered a double cheeseburger. As we ate our lunch, we made small talk. I found out that he's 34 years old and took over his business from his dad a few years ago. He told me some really interesting and funny stories about my grandmother.
"We didn't know her very well," I said. "She and Dad didn't get along, but if I had to bet, I'd guess that was more on Dad's end."
"Really? She talked about your Dad often, and about her granddaughter the doctor and her grandson the computer whiz."
"Well, I don't know about 'whiz'," I said with a blush.
"You're just bein' modest. I can tell you're real smart."
"Thanks," I said quietly, blushing even harder.
After we finished lunch, we went out front. Butch put out a pack of cigarettes and lit one. He offered me one and I declined.
"No, thanks. I don't smoke," I said.
"I've tried to quit, but... eh," he shrugged.
He took a drag and exhaled away from me.
"Well, I guess I'd better head back," I said.
"Hey... I'm having a problem with the computer in my office. I can't get it to print. Do you think you could take a look at it? I'll pay ya."
"Sure, I'll look at it. No charge."
"Do you have time right now?"
We crossed the street and walked to Butch's store. Butch dropped his cigarette butt and stomped it out with his big boot and we went inside. He said 'hey' to the clerk behind the counter. He introduced me to Chris and told him that we'd be in the office looking at the computer.
I followed him into the office and set my shopping bag on the floor. I sat down at his computer and took a look at the laser printer. I went to the Printers control panel and quickly figured out that it was a problem with the port and driver.
I connected to the Net, cringing as the modem dialed up and connected.
"You need DSL, Butch."
"Is that broadband? I don't think I use it enough to need it."
I downloaded the latest driver from the web, and then deleted the printer and reinstalled it. I printed a test page and pulled it out of the printer and handed it to Butch.
"Holy fuck! How'd you do that? Can you try to print from QuickBooks? That's what I use."
I started up QuickBooks and it wanted him to login with a username and password.
He leaned over me to type his password in. His face was right up against mine and he was pressing into my back. My god he smelled good. He smelled like a man. My heart was beating so fast that I was sure he could hear it. He reached around me and took the mouse and went to the reports and brought one up and clicked 'print.'
The printer whirred and within a few seconds, spit the report out. Butch straightened up and grabbed the printout.
"PJ, you are freakin' awesome! Thank you so much."
I smiled at Butch. "You're welcome."
"How much do I owe ya?"
"Okay, then let me take you to dinner tonight."
I looked at him in surprise. His face fell when I didn't answer him back right away.
"I'd love to," I said as I recovered from the shock.
"Great. How 'bout I pick you up at 6? At your grandma's, right?"
"Yeah. That's where we're staying. I'd better get going."
I stood up and grabbed my shopping bag. I wasn't sure what to do, so I reached out my hand. He shook my hand and chuckled. He put his arm around my shoulders and walked me out of the office. His hand slipped down my back and rested on the small of my back as he said goodbye to me at the door. I smiled at him and said 'bye' and then walked back to Grandma's.
I spent the rest of the afternoon going through Grandma's things with Jen and my parents. Mom and Dad were marking and setting aside all of the items they wanted to keep. I found a scrapbook of Grandma's handwritten recipes in the kitchen. I was shocked that no one seemed to want it, so took it and put it in my suitcase.
At around 5:15, I told them that I was meeting someone for dinner. Dad was not pleased.
"What do you mean you're going to dinner with someone?"
"I ran into Butch today and he asked if I'd take a look at his computer and printer. He's buying me dinner to thank me for it."
"Like a date?" Dad asked, his voice shocked and incredulous. "Do you have any idea how that will look?"
"It's not a date," I lied. "He's just being friendly. I wouldn't charge him for the service, so he insisted."
"Let him go, Philip," Mom said. "It's not a big deal."
Dad grunted his disapproval. "Fine. I hope that you can conduct yourself with a little dignity."
I sighed and went upstairs and took a shower. I scrubbed myself nice and clean. I brushed my teeth and shaved. I decided to forego the hair product and let my hair hang natural. I put on a black t-shirt, my Levis and the new cowboy boots.
When the doorbell rang at 6:00 on the dot, I raced downstairs. Mom answered the door. Butch pulled off his hat and greeted my mom.
"Nice to see you again, ma'am. Is PJ around?" he asked.
Butch was wearing a white cotton shirt and snug blue jeans that showed off a nice big package. He had the black cowboy hat on and a pair of black boots. He had shaped and trimmed his beard. He looked and smelled great. I felt my penis twitch a little bit as I checked him out.
"Hi, Butch," I said. "I'm ready to go."
We told everyone goodbye and Jen gave me a knowing smile as I left with Butch.
Butch opened the passenger door of his big black Ford F-150 pickup truck and shut it when I got settled in the seat. He got in and started the truck and drove towards town, then turned right on Main Street, heading away from downtown.
"I thought we'd go to this Italian place, next town over. They got good food."
"You look real nice, by the way. Those boots new? You almost fit in here."
"Yeah. Story of my life. I 'almost' fit in at home. Almost fit in at work. Almost fit it in here..."
"Hey, I'm sorry. I didn't mean it that way."
"It's okay, Butch. I know you didn't. I'm sorry, just ignore my complaining."
Butch moved his hand to the back of my head. He ran his fingers through my hair and then massaged my neck for a few seconds.
"You stick with me and I'll have you lookin' like a country boy in no time," he said with a smile.
I laughed. "Okay."
It took about 45 minutes to get to the restaurant. We passed by all kinds of farms.
"All these farmers keep me in business," he explained. "Those are peaches over there. There's a big pee can farm right up here."
It took me a couple of seconds to realize that a 'PEE-can' was a pecan and it made me smile.
Dinner was great. The food was really good, but the company was even better. Butch was awesome. He was so funny and so charming. He was also the sexiest guy I'd ever met. I've always liked big guys and this big cowboy bear really turned me on.
After dinner, I used the bathroom. When I got back to the table, Butch had already paid the bill. He got up and used the restroom and then we headed back.
When we got back into town, we stopped at the Dairy Queen right outside town. We sat in his truck and ate our ice cream.
"You having a good time, PJ?" he asked me.
"Yeah, Butch. I'm having a great time. Thanks so much for dinner."
Butch drove me to the house and parked in front and turned off the truck. I unbuckled my seat belt and I felt Butch put his arm on my shoulder. He had removed his seat belt and moved in closer.
I looked back at him and he leaned in, turning his head to keep the brim of his hat from hitting me, and pressed his lips to mine, kissing me lightly. His arms wrapped around me and I brought my hands to his shoulders and returned his kiss. His lips were soft and his beard tickled my face as we kissed passionately.
He opened his mouth and kissed me harder, deeper. I felt his tongue brush against my lips and I opened my mouth for him, allowing his tongue to slip into my mouth. He ravished my mouth with his tongue, holding me close to him with a strong hand on my back. The other hand held the back of my head as he explored me with his tongue. I flicked at it with my own tongue and then sucked on it. My hands moved up his chest and neck to his face. I raked my fingers across his beard.
Butch broke the kiss allowing us to catch our breath. We remained close, our noses touching and our lips brushing against each other.
"Butch," I whispered. "I should get inside. Thank you for a wonderful evening."
"No, thank you. I'll see you tomorrow at the funeral."
I nodded. Butch pressed his lips to mine, giving me two more quick tender kisses.
"Bye," I said as I reluctantly pulled away.
I opened the door and waved at him as I walked up the sidewalk to the front porch. I opened the front door and he waved back to me as he pulled away. I sighed and smiled to myself. He was a true southern gentleman.
Jen and I stood next to our parents, greeting the guests arriving at the funeral. I was dressed in my nicest suit, completely overwhelmed by the people pouring into the church. It seemed that every person in town was here.
When Butch walked in, my heart skipped a beat. He was wearing a nice navy suit, with a pair of shiny black cowboy boots. I smiled warmly at him and he smiled back at me, staring a hole into me, only redirecting his eyes temporarily to greet my parents.
Mr. Madsen, the realtor arrived at the tail end. He shook Dad's hand and slapped his arm.
"What's his story?" Dad quietly asked Madsen, nodding his head towards Butch.
"Butch? He's the town queer."
My blood began to boil.
"He's a nice enough fella," Madsen continued. "Keeps to himself, but I still wouldn't turn my back to him, if you catch my drift."
I scoffed. 'As if Butch would want you, you dried up old prune,' I thought.
At the funeral, I was touched at the number of people that stood and had something kind to say about Grandma.
Then Butch stood. He met my eyes and smiled. His blue eyes glistened with unshed tears. He took a deep breath, then spoke. "Ms Penny meant so much to me. Her shop was across the street from my store. I sometimes still look across to her shop, forgetting that she's gone. After Dad passed, she was always there for me. She always seemed to know when I needed someone to talk to, or when I needed a hug. She had a capacity to love unconditionally. She was an inspiration to me, to the town, and I'll never forget her."
A tear fell down Butch's cheek and he quickly wiped it away and sat down. The minister then looked to Dad, who stared ahead stoically. He shook his head and dismissed the minister with his hand.