For the Glory of the Earth


"As I noted earlier, the refining aspect is very important for the local economy," Carson said, casting an indulgent smile in the general direction in which Sadie Harrison was sitting in the dimly lit room. "Your political representatives have lobbied hard with EnergyFuture to establish a mine in the White Creek valley area. It will bring several hundred jobs to this region."

"Jobs for folks in Pittsylvania County, or workers from elsewhere?" Lamont Jackson, one of the small-holding farmers a few holdings north of Ervin's farm and Ervin's erstwhile lover called out. Ervin knew that Lamont was one of the farmers who was really hurting and probably would sell out to EnergyFuture if he could—and would probably be one of the first in line for a job with the company if it came here. Although this saddened Ervin, he could understand the financial spot Lamont was in. Lamont's wife hadn't been as forgiving as Ervin's wife had been. She took him for all he was worth, which wasn't much, when she left him.

Of course, it was Ervin's own sin that had led to Lamont's wife leaving him, just as Ervin's wife had left Ervin. That had been enough of a shock—especially having lost visiting rights with his own son—to Ervin that he had been able to deny himself for over a year, during which he lived a solitary life. And then Monte had come to the farm. Monte had not seduced him; he had merely done what Monte did—moved around shirtless, exposing his magnificent back to Ervin. And then, when Ervin's weakness got the better of him, merely lifting his tail to Ervin, as Ervin covered his back, and letting Ervin slide inside him.

"Both, of course," Carson answered. "We would hire in the county and bring in specialists from elsewhere if we could not fill those jobs with local hires. No matter where the workers come from, though, they would be bolstering the region's economy."

Lamont tried a follow-up question on just how many of the jobs would be open to locals and how specialized these jobs were, but Carson was already concentrating on locating the next questioner, and those sitting around Lamont shushed him down.

Carson managed to recognize the raised hand of one of the softball question pitchers, who droned off into a longwinded question that most likely was designed to put everyone to sleep. Instead of dozing, though, Ervin looked over at the large map chart that was an on easel on the platform beside where the company huckster—as Ervin thought of Carson—was positioned.

Ervin had come thinking he'd have to fight for his land, but seeing from the chart on the easel that this wasn't so had kept him more quiet on the question end than he thought he'd be. The chart showed that the boundary of the holdings the company was seeking to acquire came up to the edge of his farm but didn't encroach on it. From the pattern, he could see why this maybe was so. His farm lined up with the vast land holdings of Sadie Harrison—it was Sadie's family that had owned Ervin's once and thus small section at the edge of Harrison land that the Walker family had been given. The lines appeared to have been purposely drawn to keep her property out of the holdings the mining company sought, evidently to try to keep her from fighting the acquisition. But if they thought that would satisfy or deter Sadie Harrison, Ervin thought, neither EnergyFuture nor the politicians and lobbyists supporting them in Richmond and Washington knew Sadie Harrison very well. Better that they had waited for the old woman to die. Of course she'd probably outlive everyone in the valley.

Of even greater interest to Ervin in viewing the chart after he had recovered from the discovery that his own land wasn't in danger was the pattern of land already owned by the mining company and that yet to be acquired. The two categories were denoted by different-colored overlays. Viewing the chart revealed that it looked like a crazy quilt. It occurred to Ervin that the company would have to control most of the land and still had to acquire several key acreages owned by others to be able to have a mining operation at all.

He was snapped out of this reverie by another called out question from Bill Kemp, shouted out over the convoluted dissertation being given by the man Carson had recognized from the audience.

"What kind of mine is this going to be? Tunnel or open pit?"

"And what about the radiation problems of an open pit uranium mine?" Sadie Harrison called out. "Won't rain bring up the radiation, and the weather too—we've had hurricanes and tornadoes go through here. Even had an earthquake as recent as three years ago."

"The dangers are minimal at best. Everything is covered in these studies here," Jack Carson answered over the hubbub of those protesting one side of the issue or the other. "But I see someone from the library staff signaling from in back. I'm afraid we'll have to give up the room now. We will, of course, schedule more town meetings on this. We have appreciated the opportunity to tell you what a godsend this will be for this part of Pittsylvania County."

Several residents of the land affected tried to move forward to talk with Carson as the meeting was breaking up, but some of the others were there before them—some of the obvious company plants—and evidently were going to engage in filibuster conversation until there was no time for anyone else to talk with him.

"Let's go, Monte," Ervin said, turning to the young man sitting beside him. "It's obvious this is a put-up job. Should've known. Makes me thirsty. Let's finish the day at the Roadhouse."

At hearing the name of the Roadhouse spoken Monte came out of the trance he was in of watching the hunky-looking representative of EnergyFuture Incorporated continue to work the room. They'd serve him anything he wanted there, and it was a bar, out in the country off of Route 29 between Danville and Chatham, where the likes of Ervin and he could be comfortable.

Giving Ervin a big smile, he uncoiled from the folding chair and voiced a cheery, "Ready." Still, his gaze remained on the squared-away Marine type, Jack Carson, until he and Ervin had cleared the meeting room.

As they got into the truck, Ervin said, trying to make it sound off hand, "You looked at that white man like you could eat him. He's city and white, Monte. Not in the same universe with you."

"Ain't seen a white man put together that good is all," Monte answered. "Still, I wouldn't say no if he wanted to eat me."

It was all said so naturally. Ervin gripped the steering wheel hard. Ervin wondered if Monte would ever lose his innocence about sex. He hoped not.

* * * *

Ervin didn't give a second thought as to anyone else, certainly not anyone he didn't want to see, going on from the uranium mine proposal meeting to the Roadhouse bar, which was a good twenty miles north of Danville. The Roadhouse catered to men like Ervin—and now Monte—in the evening hours, men who enjoyed the company of men and who might leave the place with a man they didn't come in with. Later, after midnight, it was likely to get rowdy and there'd be some entertainment on the platform by the bar, most likely put on by the young black guy, Slick, who took care of the table trade earlier in the evening. There might even be some action in one or more of the back rooms down the corridor to the john.

The meeting had gone on longer than Ervin thought it would, so he and Monte were arriving at the bar near to 11:30, within the transition time for clientele. All Ervin intended to do was to have one drink there and go on home and, because he was so keyed up from the meeting, fuck Monte silly. He'd make Monte forget the white man at the meeting. He didn't want to stay until midnight mainly because he didn't like having Monte in the bar for the late-night crowd. Monte was like honey to the latter-shift men, who tended to be rough trade, truck drivers and construction workers from down in Danville. Ervin didn't want Monte getting sniffed around by men like this. Monte was of a pretty basic nature, and it was clear that he felt no guilt about having sex with men. Ervin was afraid that the late-night clientele would eat Monte up—and that Monte just might let them.

As willing as Monte was, Ervin was confident that there had only been the coach and him. Monte had no concept of what a gangbang by truckers could be.

Ervin was only half way through his drink, though, when he was given reason to stay on past midnight. Speaking of the devil, which Ervin had occasion to talk about from time to time, he was about to chug his drink and tell Monte to down his too so they could leave, Ervin not liking the look being cast Monte's way from a burly guy with big muscles and curly red hair who had been getting out of a semitrailer out front when Ervin and Monte drove up, when who walked through the door but Lamont Jackson. And behind him, already looking like he owned the place, came that EnergyFuture shyster, Jack Carson.

As soon as Carson saw Monte, he gave a big smile, which then turned, but only briefly, to more of a scowl when he saw Ervin standing alongside Monte at the bar. Ervin could see, out of the corner of his eye, that Monte was returning the smile.

Slick almost ran to Lamont and Carson to show them to a table and to pay particular attention to Carson. Ervin had to allow that Carson wasn't the hulkiest guy in the bar now, but he probably was the hunkiest one. In the phenomena that exists in instant selection in male-on-male cruising, most of the catchers in the room were casting eyes of interest on Carson, while most of the pitchers—who until now had been watching Monte—were eyeing him as possible competition. Slick was nearly drooling over him and couldn't get him anything he wanted fast enough.

Ervin knew that Lamont was one of the guys—it had been Ervin himself who had initiated Lamont to this life—but he was surprised that Carson was. Since the man was in this environment, though, there was no doubting by the way he cased the room, that he knew what kind of bar this was and why he was here—and that he could get any bottom in the room to lie down for him and open his legs to him.

But his eyes kept going to Monte.

Lamont didn't seem too happy to be here with him, but no doubt Carson had correctly gauged Lamont's leaning either at the meeting or earlier in land purchase discussions with him, and had pressed Lamont to bring him here. He'd had time to lay Lamont between the meeting and arriving here, and Ervin saw no reason not to assume that he'd done so. It also seemed evident that Carson knew that they would be following Ervin and Monte here—and that Carson's primary interest was in Monte. Something in the disappointment Lamont showed told Ervin that, no matter what Carson had done with Lamont, the interest he'd shown in talking with Lamont was in Monte—that even as he was pumping Lamont's ass, he probably was asking him about Monte.

Ervin hadn't been aware of the buildup to this back at the meeting, but now, in hindsight, having Carson's interests pegged, he realized that Carson had been doing a whole lot of looking in Monte's direction. He already knew that Monte had done lots of looking at Carson, and Monte had been straight-up open afterward about his interest in Carson.

Ervin turned his face toward the bar and ordered another beer and told Monte he could have one too. Then he put a possessive arm around Monte and Monte just sort of folded into him. Ervin didn't need the drink, but he wanted to invest a little time into signaling to Carson that Monte was taken. That's why they'd be staying longer in the bar than he originally had intended to.

He took a couple of peeks in the direction of the table that Lamont and Carson were sitting at and saw that they were deep in conversation—probably haggling over the sale of Lamont's farm—and that Slick was still buzzing around them. The next thing he knew, though, when he took a look, Carson was no longer at the table, and Lamont was sinking into his glass of beer and looking not the least bit happy.

Ervin looked around the room but didn't see the huckster from Richmond. He half expected to find that he was circling in on Monte even though Ervin still had the young man in a clutch, but he just wasn't around.

"Stay put here for a few minutes, and drink up," Ervin said to Monte. "I have to go take a piss, and we'll go on home when I get back."

"Sure thing," Monte said. There were some wooden puzzles scattered out on the bar top, and Monte was absorbed in trying to put one of those together.

The john was at the end of a corridor off the back through a doorway covered with a beaded curtain. There were small rooms off the corridor on either side on the way back that were rented out in fifteen-minute increments. Ervin saw, in passing to the back, that Jack Carson and Slick occupied one of these rooms. Carson was seated on the side of a cot and Slick was kneeling between his thighs and sucking him off. When Ervin returned from the john, Carson had proceeded to pull Slick onto his lap, both of them naked from the waist down, and was lap fucking the young man. Slick was revolving his ass on Carson's buried dick and his tongue was lolling out of his mouth like he'd never been fucked this good before, which was hard to believe as often as he'd been spiked.

Good, Ervin thought. That will hold the fucker long enough for me to get Monte out of the bar.

But Ervin had a different problem when he pushed through the beaded curtain and out into the main room. Monte appeared to be gone already. His beer glass was empty and the puzzle he'd been working on was put together—Monte was clever in fixing things—but Monte wasn't in the room. Neither was the muscle-bound, red-headed trucker.

He found them out in the parking lot. The passenger-side door—the one toward the shadows at the back of the parking lot—of the semitrailer's cab was hanging open. The trucker, bare legged, was standing on the running board, facing the interior of the cab. Monte's construction booted-feet were wedged at the top of the door frame, front and back. His legs were bare otherwise as well. From the movement of the trucker and the grunts and groans, Ervin knew that Monte was getting fucked hard and fast.

He didn't intervene. The trucker was a lot bigger, more heavily muscled, and very likely much meaner than Ervin was. The trucker also was white and there was a filled gun rack mounted on the back wall of the semi cab, which Ervin clearly could see, and which the trucker could get to before Ervin could anywhere close to him. He hadn't survived in this rural part of Virginia by taking risks and asserting rights. And he had no right to Monte, really. If the young man wanted a younger man than Ervin fucking him from time to time, Ervin didn't really see that he could kick about that.

And from the noises Monte was making, he was clearly enjoying himself. Ervin just wished that Monte didn't give it away so easily and naturally. Even there, though, Ervin, who was very much aware of his own sinning in this respect, wasn't going to be hypocritical about how easily Monte was prepared to give it away.

After the trucker was finished, he pretty much pulled Monte out of the cab and deposited him on the ground in a heap. He then pulled on his jeans and was zipping himself up as he walked around the front of the truck, got in the driver's side, and pulled the semi out of the parking lot and down the road, not even glancing back at Monte.

Ervin rushed over to Monte's side, but he could clearly see that Monte was moaning and had a big grin on his face. He was still humming and giving a little smile in the Ford pickup on the way back to White Creek valley. All that he said was, "He gave me twenty dollars, and he had a right good cock. First white man I've had."

When Ervin got him back in the farmhouse and on his bed, Monte allowed as how Ervin had a right good cock too—and that from what he'd experienced so far, black cock was a whole lot bigger than white cock.

Ervin didn't fuck him in anger. It was more with relief that Monte didn't show any change in opening up for Ervin after having it rough from a trucker and in a concern at how innocent Monte seemed to be and how easily he could be taken advantage of—and some anger at himself for not being able to resist joining those who couldn't resist fucking Monte.

A large part of the attraction to Ervin of Monte was the young man's earthiness—how naturally he took to the sex, how willing he was to celebrate it and to give and take without constraint—and how gloriously beautiful he was in his natural state. Ervin felt the same way about Monte that he felt about his own farm and about White Oak valley.

* * * *

Chock full of remorse but fully recognizing that the flesh wasn't going to lose its weakness anytime soon, on Sunday morning, in the old one-room schoolhouse in Pleasant Gap that his mother had converted into a church, Ervin gave an impassioned sermon on the word he'd been given on the ridgetop the previous Friday—sacrifice. He was just letting the word pour through and out of him as it would. He had little idea what he was preaching, and the five other people in the small room—the Lincoln sisters on the front row, whispering gossip to each other; old Jethro, dozing and his hearing aide turned off three rows back; and the spooning couple right on the back row—weren't trying very hard to follow him either.

In the middle of his gyrations, Ervin stopped dead in his tracks. For the first time he really paid attention to the word—to the word "sacrifice." None of the others seemed to realize he'd even stopped. The meaning of the word suddenly hit him—not the meaning for this sermon, but the meaning for what was going on in the life of the valley.

Pronouncing a quick benediction, with the Lincoln sisters suddenly becoming aware, in shock and guilty pleasure, that the service was drawing to a close—a full half hour earlier than usual—Ervin bowed to the faithful and nearly ran from the building, headed back to the farm to begin a series of phone calls, calling a meeting for that evening.

* * * *

Ervin and Monte were belly up to the bar at the Roadhouse in the hour approaching midnight on Monday night. Ervin had never brought Monte here before on a Monday night, and it didn't escape Monte that this was unusual. For the first time the young man seemed to be nervous being here. To a great extent the crowd there was composed of the same men who had been there Saturday night. That wasn't particularly a surprise, because Pittsylvania County was a sparsely populated rural one, and there are only so many men around such an area who were out in the open enough to come to the Roadhouse regularly. Lamont Jackson was there, as was Slick. Slick seemed always to be there. The trucker from Saturday night wasn't there, but Ervin figured he wouldn't be there—hoped he wouldn't be there; counted on him not being there, in view of how often Monte had mentioned how much he'd enjoyed being rough fucked half in and half out of the semi cab—because he wasn't a regular patron of the Roadhouse. Ervin figured he'd just been passing through on a long-haul transport.

Lamont was standing with Ervin and Monte at the bar. Monte was fidgeting, looking around the room, once again a major attraction, but not being able to hold eye contact with any of the men who obviously wanted him.

Along about 11:30, even Jack Carson was there, having come in, looked around, spied Monte and smiled, and then gone to a table to be slobbered over by Slick. Monte settled down a bit after Carson appeared and did give him shy smiles now and again. But the hand that picked up his beer glass still trembled like it never had before in the Roadhouse.

Not more than fifteen minutes after that, the fire sirens started going off, following the telephone lines up from Chatham. There was such a siren on the roof of the Roadhouse, but the signal was heard from up Route 29 before it got to the Roadhouse. Ervin and a couple of the other men were chugging their beers at the first sound of the distant alarm and preparing to race their trucks to the nearest fire house, which was in the small town of Dry Fork. Ervin was a volunteer fireman; Monte wasn't.

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