Lower Than the Heart


"And this fishing tackle box you said you had that needs fixing. There's really such a thing? You weren't just wrangling to get what you got?"

"No. It's real. I really do want it fixed."

"Well, bring it around tomorrow or the next day. If I'm not here, you can just leave it on the porch. If I'm here, I'll let you know if I can fix it. And I'll fix you some more too. You're a real good lay. You shouldn't be going any year without letting guys get in there, doing what men need to do with other men. Getting their rocks off."

Trent didn't answer. He was savoring what he'd gotten. He was looking forward to getting it again.

"One question before we're finished here," Buster said. "Earlier I said I thought you'd open your legs for me every hour on the hour. Tell me that's right."

"That's right," Trent murmured.

"So, next time I don't have to ask for it."

"You didn't ask for it this time."

"Precisely. And the last two times you panted for it. That's how bad you needed it. Think about that in case you get an afterthought to complain about what you got. I got work to do now. You should know your way out—when you can get it together enough again to move, that is."

Trent heard a laugh and then he was alone.

* * * *

Trent had a highly productive night. He was so jazzed that he was working on all cylinders on inspiration and zappy one liners and got the second act of the play so polished up that he could have started back to Washington the next morning and called the retreat to the Eastern Shore a success.

But Trent didn't go back to Washington the next morning.

He ate a leisurely breakfast after only five hours of sleep and sat in the cottage's combination kitchen and dining room and looked out on the ocean and watched, Scandinavian movie style, the waves gently roll into the sand. He didn't even think much in the way of thoughts. He knew he should have thought about what Buster had said concerning his life and what he needed and was avoiding. But all of that was counter to what Buster had done for—no, not for, to—Trent the previous day. That was the confusing part. He had treated Trent like he was just some convenient hole for him to get off in—and, god, could the man reload and go again fast. Leaving aside anything he said—and all of that so much more direct and ribald than Trent had ever heard before—what he actually did was just use Trent. And he used him roughly and impersonally.

And yet, now, when Trent could go back to Washington early and get right back to work and save a few expensive production days at the theater, he was dawdling. He told himself it was to get his father's tackle box fixed. But as soon as he'd said that, he gave that same horselaugh Buster had.

No, Trent knew he definitely was still here this morning because he wanted to go back and be fucked again the way Buster had fucked him before—and not just once. So, how did that set with the life's advice Buster had given him?—that love wasn't the answer for a man; a buried cock and an ejaculation were. That it was all about something lower than the heart. He didn't want to even begin to unravel that one today.

So, after a couple of hours of just watching the ocean monotonously be the ocean, Trent dressed in jeans and a T, went out and got into the car, and drove into Oyster.

He parked next to the small CVS drugstore and had to wait in the car for a few minutes because a long-distance bus stopped there to let passengers off and momentarily blocked him in from opening his door.

As he watched the front of the bus through the car's windshield, Trent saw a young man, clearly no older than he was and quite probably younger, probably no older than nineteen, step off the bus. He looked like he'd stepped off a western ranch and into an entirely different world. He was slim and tall and good-looking. He also looked like he either was Hispanic or had some mix of that in him. He was wearing jeans and intricately carved cowboy boots, a cream-colored flannel cowboy shirt with silver buttons and silver studs at the points of the pocket flaps, a red bandana around his neck, and a white cowboy hat. He had a duffel bag he took off the bus with him. He set that down on the sidewalk next to a telephone pole, took out a pack of cigarettes, lit one, took a puff, and then looked around him with a somewhat dazed expression.

The bus had moved on by then and Trent got out of the car and headed for the front door of the CVS. He was meeting the sheriff for lunch at the café, but he was early, so he decided he would fit in a couple of other store visits, and maybe a call to the theater. If he was leaving soon—if he was leaving soon, he pinned down the thought—he didn't need too much more in the way of supplies, but he didn't really know right now when he would be leaving the area.

"Excuse me."

Trent heard the voice, a mellow baritone, and turned. The young cowboy was seeking his attention.

"Is there someplace around here I could get something to eat before my next bus leaves."

"Yes, but only one place, really. The café's over there, across the green. Can you see it? It's the only one here, but it's clean, the prices are good and the service friendly, and the food isn't worse than what they're asking for it."

"Thanks," he said, tipping his hat to Trent and giving him a winsome smile. Trent got the impression that he could have stayed and talked more—that they would have recognized in each other somewhat kindred spirit—but Trent didn't linger. His mind was already ticking off the items he needed that he thought he could get in the CVS and wondering where the best place around would be to get good cell phone reception.

Three-quarters of an hour later, after he'd made a cell phone call to Zelda at the theater in Washington to tell her all was well with the script and that he should be back in Washington soon, he was walking across the green toward the café himself. As he approached, he saw the Jeep Wrangler parked down the block, and he would have liked to have said his heart skipped a beat, but, true to what Buster had thrown at him a couple of times, the twitch occurred somewhat lower in his body.

Trent saw them, at a table toward the back, as soon as he entered the café. Buster and cowboy guy were sharing a table and talking to each other in low, pretty intense tones. The sheriff was at a table nearer to the door, though, and gesturing to Trent to join him.

"You look a lot better than you did the other day when we lunched," Amos said as Trent sat down. "Made progress on your writing, or are you just getting better sleep?"

"Both, I guess," Trent responded. The sleep part was a lie, but Trent figured that what Amos probably was seeing on him was the satisfaction of the fuck, and he couldn't very well tell Amos about that.

"So, how far along on the writing are you?"

"I think I've finished what I have to do."

"So, you're going back early?"

"Maybe. Probably not. I might be staying around a bit longer than planned."

As Trent said this, he spied that both Buster and the cowboy were rising from the table at the back and moving, together, toward the door. As they passed, Trent noticed that Buster had a palm on the other guys butt—just like he'd had with that Paul guy on Saturday. Trent's eyes followed them all the way out, concern forming in his mind that he had guided the cowboy here—although it was the only café in town. When Trent turned his attention back to the sheriff, he was looking at the young playwright closely with a little frown on his face.

"I've heard that you've taken up with Buster, Trent. I hope that's not true."

God, Trent thought, news travels faster than lightning in this small town.

"Had a problem with my car and a gas station attendant said I could get it fixed at Buster's. I took it there and he fixed it. That's about the extent of it. Not really 'taken up' material. And I have my father's fishing tackle box that fell apart that I'd like to be rehinged. He said he could do that for me."

"I hope you're not getting involved with Buster, Trent, because he's a bad lot to get mixed up with."

"Happily I don't mix up," Trent said. His forearms were resting on the table and the sheriff reached over and touched one of them lightly with a couple of his fingers. If Trent had thought more about it at the time, he might have thought that those fingers were lightly stroking his arm.

"Good, because I know that you're here with some dilemmas in your life you're struggling with."—Trent had given the sheriff a general rundown of his "man" problems in an earlier lunch when the sheriff hadn't flinched upon hearing Trent was gay—"Buster is just the sort of guy to take a vulnerability like that and twist it. I think you deserve a lot better than that."

A chill went up Trent's spine. What was the look the sheriff was giving him telegraphing? It looked eerily familiar to looks Trent had gotten before when there was no doubt what was on offer. But the man was married. And he had children. God, though, was he ever a hunk.

"I'm on an even keel, I think," Trent answered with a little smile, taking his forearms off the table as innocuously as he could. "Getting this work finished has been a big help. I'm feeling 110 percent now."

"Good," the sheriff said. "But then you say you are finished with your work but might be staying around for a while."

Trent didn't answer that directly. He let his attention drift to the hamburger and coke in front of him. It shouldn't be obvious he was uncomfortable with the subject if he decided to do some chewing on his meal. They were here for lunch. "I still have a few things I need to do," he finally mumbled.

"Just be careful, Trent. And know that I'm here if you need me. In every way you can imagine."

Then, looking a little embarrassed, the sheriff stood up, took his hat off the pillar of the chair at the side of the table, and settled it on his head. "Guess I better get back to keeping the bad guys away from the good guys. See you around, Trent."

"Yeah, see you around."

Trent went back to the cottage and tinkered around for a couple of hours. Every time he walked by it, though, the broken tackle box, sitting on the dining room table, nearly reached out and grabbed him. At last, he couldn't tinker anymore and scooped up the box and headed for the car.

The Jeep Wrangler was parked next to the shed, so Trent figured Buster was around somewhere. He wasn't in the shed, though, as far as Trent could determine, so he decided to walk around the property, looking for him, before checking on the house.

They were on the back porch of the house. Trent wasn't a bit surprised. He figured the cowboy would have been here earlier—or Buster would have been elsewhere with the cowboy—but he thought Buster would be finished with the guy by now.

He wasn't.

Buster was sitting in a plastic chair on the porch, his legs spread out in front of him. He was holding the cowboy in his lap, facing him, but arched all the way down to the floor of the porch, his arms flung over his head, his wrists bound in handcuffs. All he was wearing were his cowboy boots, one hooked on Buster's shoulder, the other dangling off the arm of the plastic chair, and the red bandana around his neck. Buster, holding the cowboy's waist in his hands, was slamming the young man's channel back and forth on that black cock of his in a fast, hard rhythm. The cowboy was just laying back, collapsed, his tongue hanging out and a sloppy smile on his face, spent-looking like he'd been fucked for hours. Trent didn't doubt that that was the case.

Trent went back to the car and drove away. He didn't leave off the tackle box. He didn't want Buster to know he'd been there. Buster wouldn't have cared, obviously. But, for some reason, it meant something to Trent. He just couldn't buy fully into the anytime, anywhere, anyone attitude Buster had.

He went back to the cottage and began working on the new concept for a play that had crept into his brain the other day at the pond. The concept was good, he thought, but he didn't know where it could play. Off Off Off Broadway, obviously. And he didn't know if it was too revealing of himself. It was a homosexual play and dealt with what a gay man wanted in a relationship. Suddenly ideas were flashing through his brain and he was typing almost faster than his laptop could manage. It was late in the afternoon when he ran out of gas. Scrolling back through his notes, he realized, with consternation but still with an eye on what could be used and what couldn't, that much of what he'd written had come out of what Buster had told him the previous day.

The thought of Buster reminded him that he still hadn't dropped the tackle box off to be repaired. He showered and then contemplated what to wear. He settled on just tight, low-riding jeans and loafers without socks. He didn't have to think about why this was all he would wear. He knew why, and as humiliated and cheap as he felt at Buster's casual and democratic view of sex, he didn't want to lose his opportunities for sexual satiation. With Buster, he had no responsibilities. He just had to be there—or, rather, his ass channel had to be there—letting Buster do whatever he wanted to him. But what Buster did to him completely "did" him.

Buster's house was dark when he got there and the Jeep Wrangler wasn't in sight. Trent waited in his car for a half hour, but there was no activity. He was about to start up the car, when the porch light came on, and there Buster was, standing in his doorway, leaning up against the frame. Naked. Naked and that dark-brown cock swinging and black ball sack hanging low.

"Are you going to sit out there all night, or are you going to come in?" he called out to Trent.

Trent stumbled out of the car, bringing the tackle box with him. He held it up, embarrassed, and called back. "I've brought the tackle box."

"So there really is a tackle box." Buster laughed. "Put it here on the porch and come inside."

"I really just came to bring the box."

"I said put it on the porch and come inside. I'll have it ready for you tomorrow afternoon. You can pay for it now. Inside."

Buster moved out of the doorway and to the side as Trent walked past him and into the small foyer. A living room was to one side and a small dining room to the other. The stairs to the two bedrooms rose in front of him.

"Upstairs," Buster growled.

"I can come back later," Trent said with a tone that was close to a squeak. He was looking into the dining room. The cowboy was belly down on the top of a small, oval dining table. His arms were stretched above him, his hands over the rim at two corners and bound to the base of the table legs on either side with handcuffs. As earlier, he was only wearing the boots and the scarf. He appeared to be asleep.

"I said upstairs," Buster said.

They only made it three-quarters of the way up before Buster, coming up from behind Trent, pushed Trent forward onto the stair treads. Surprised, the breath knocked out of him, and busy checking his body for evidence of pain or bruising, Trent did nothing to counter Buster unbuttoning and unzipping the jeans and pulling them off Trent's legs.

Scrambling on top of Trent, Buster thrust his cock brutally up inside Trent's channel and began pumping him hard. Trent, groaning, writhed under him and scrabbled with his hands at the bare wood of the treads about his head, trying to maintain traction.

"Ever been fucked on the stairs before?"

"No," Trent squeaked.

"It's good for you. We're gonna have fun here. You've gone right hard."

And indeed he had. Buster continued stroking Trent's ass with his cock and Trent's cock with his hand until, with a jerk and a groan, Trent came. Then Buster carried him upstairs, to his bedroom. He slammed Trent down on the bed on his belly and climbed on top of him at full stretch and thrust up into him again. For several minutes, Trent thought this was going to be a close, almost romantic fuck. But his eyes popped open and he let out a gasp as he felt Buster turning on top of him. Trent had felt nothing before like the sensation of a cock turning 180 degrees inside him. Buster was still on top of him, thrusting down into his channel from the reverse, grabbing Trent's ankles in his hands, and wedging Trent's head between his calves. Then Trent was moaning as Buster pulled Trent's legs up and locked his ankles behind the older man's neck. Almost simultaneously, Buster dug his feet under Trent's armpits and, with almost superhuman strength, arched Trent's back up. He started rocking their bodies, with the effect of moving his cock inside Trent, fucking him in long strokes. They both came then, Trent first and Buster a few minutes later.

Through the twilight dimness in the room, Trent heard Buster say, "As I said, you can pick up your tackle box tomorrow afternoon. Don't plan on going anywhere for the rest of tomorrow then. Your ass is mine." That was all he said. But it was enough to make Trent shudder and a current of pleasurable, but guilty, anticipation run through his body.

Exhausted and his muscles both bruised and stretched, Trent lay on the bed, moaning, for some time after Buster left him. Eventually, though, he managed to drag himself up from the bed. He found his jeans and his shoes on the staircase. Pulling those on, he continued down the stairs. It had grown dark and a light was on in the dining room. The cowboy was still trussed on the table and now Buster was glued to his butt and fucking him hard. The cowboy's eyes were open, but they had the dazed look in them of an experience pushing the edge of paradise. No doubt, Trent thought, this was what he'd interrupted earlier and that Buster had just let his perceived needs play through.

Trent walked out into the night, got into his car, and drove off.

He was sorry that he broke into the cowboy's ultimate adventure, but Trent wasn't sorry that he had gone to Buster's. Something in the back of his brain told him that he should be, though.

Later, in the night, Trent learned what an arousing sensation terror could be. In the dark he was being pulled out of his bed and forced onto his back on a braided rug. Strong hands—Buster's hands—were grabbing his calves and pulling them up into the air, bringing Trent up onto his shoulders and neck, and Buster was crouching over his buttocks and stabbing his hard cock down into Trent's channel, slamming down into him again and again.

After several minutes Buster freed his hand holds and Trent just collapsed in a heap on the floor. Sensing Buster was no longer there, close by, Trent started to crawl his way toward the door to the hallway, still in shock and terrorized that he could be assaulted even here in his bed, that all of his choices of what, when, and where were being jerked away from him. Loving the fucking, but being overwhelmed at the total lack of the control and foreknowledge of where he could be and what he could be doing from moment to moment.

And terrorized as well at Buster's total disregard for anything but his own pleasure and obsessions.

Buster hadn't left, though. He'd just moved to retrieve his toys. As Trent was crawling toward the door, he felt his ankles being gripped and pulled. He landed flat on his belly with an "ufff," and he was being dragged back across the floor toward the bed. He didn't make it up on the bed, though, Buster fucked him right there on the floor. Trent heard the handcuffs being snapped on his ankles, and then Buster was above him, handcuffing his wrists.

He moaned and begged for Buster not to hurt him in the fuck—knowing the fuck wasn't over—as Buster used a couple of belts to bind Trent's thighs and calves together. This tightened Trent's channel so that when Buster started working his cock into him it was like the first time they'd had sex. A collapsed channel strained to handle a thick cock. Buster pulled Trent up to his knees and, managing with difficulty to bottom inside Trent's channel, started his signature staccato plowing.

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