Gritty Times in Wyoming Pt. 01byEgmontGrigor2011©
Female novelist in Chicago seeks homely
ranchers to host her for several weeks,
perhaps at intervals over months, while she
researches for a new novel set on a modern
ranch. Will pay for food and lodgings.
Write Skye Brock, Reflection Publications,
1B Sim St, Chicago, Il 99999
Bored at spending Saturday at home by himself, Ryan Hobbs replied to the magazine advertisement in front of him:
'Dear Ms Brock. We would be most interested in having you stay with us. I'm an avid reader and we are in Wyoming, the heartland of old Cowboy Country. You should be here for calving in mid-February. We have 350 cows so you will see plenty of calves, you can help with haymaking and listen to my husband's colorful stories. My handsome young son can take you horse riding to photograph antelope and mule deer and capture breathtaking vistas and give you a real feeling of how it is for young folk to grow up on a ranch in glorious Wyoming.'
Grinning Ryan signed his mother's name Glenys Hobbs and took the letter out to the mailbox at the road for collection and decided not to say anything to his parents.
Two weeks later he collected the mail when returning home with stock feed supplements and opened the letter from the sender who according to the return address was Skye Brock, novelist.
'Thank you dear Mrs Hobbs. I have decided yours was the most exciting location plus proposal of the thirty-three I received and I'll arrive on February 12. Please let me know if that date or my arrival is not suitable. Otherwise I shall see you in thirty-two days. I'm very happy you and your family appear to welcome this intrusion. I confirm what I stated in my advertisement: I will pay for food and lodgings and will help out around the place. Affectionately yours, Skye B.'
"Oh jeepers," Ryan huffed. "I've really done it this time."
Shaggy-haired Ryan kept putting off telling his mom and then late afternoon on the 12th he saw a red Ford coming up the track.
"Mom Skye Brock is coming up the track. Best get your apron off."
"Hmmm, The only Skye Brock I know of is a new author. How can you recognize the driver from this distance?"
"Perhaps I really don't know and it won't be her and I'll be saved."
"Ryan what on earth are you prattling on about?"
"Just a minute you might like to read this file," Ryan said, grabbing the file from the bottom drawer of the kitchen computer desk. "I have to go and help dad shift some bulls."
"No wait... I need to know more," Glenys said but seconds later heard the backdoor slam and knew he was gone.
Glenys just had time to speed-read the brief correspondence when the red candy Taurus pulled up outside the kitchen door.
"The little asshole, I'll kill him," Glenys gritted and went to the door but returned to take off her apron.
* * *
Flaxen haired Skye Brock with tired baby blue eyes was stiff after her 1200-mile drive, broken for a motel stop the previous night in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. She eyed the house and thought it looked drab but then so did many of the others she'd seen. At least that made it typical.
She looked at the blue sky and the mare's tails galloping across it toward the heavily snow-capped mountaintops and breathed, "Omigod."
Her smile radiated.
A tall and solidly built woman in a beige jacket with brown faux fur collar rushed out and opened the car door. Skye was a little disappointed it wasn't like the old movies and the woman was wearing an apron.
"Greetings and welcome Skye. I'm Glenys Hobbs."
Glenys then scowled and asked, "Skye do you know how to kick butt really hard?"
"Well that's the only interesting comment I've heard all day and a most unusual greeting."
"My son saw you arriving, spilt the beans and then raced off to escape immediate trouble. He's just given me the correspondence between you and him to read and that's the first I knew you'd been invited here to stay. He garbled your name and I said the only Skye Brock I was aware of was an author and...
"You have heard of me?"
"I purchased your 'Carey Green's Crazy Mother' eighteen months ago and borrowed your latest, 'The Lake is No Place for Carey Green' from the library in Buffalo last month. That was before my delinquent son wrote you."
That was enough to wise up Skye. She clambered out of the car, swiped back her hair back and hugged her angry hostess. "Good gracious you must be mad."
"I'll get over it."
"Well perhaps you might give me coffee and then I'll go."
Glenys looked shocked.
"No way. We are country folk and hospitality is woven into our lifestyle. The men will bring in your luggage. You just bring your overnight bag and makeup bag through and I'll show you his sister's room. Linda married and went away four months ago. How old are you Skye?"
"Thirty and not married in case that was the next question."
"Well I'll keep my delinquent son away from you."
"Are you sure you want to do that Glenys? I am here for adventure."
"He's only just twenty-two."
"Oh I know, a deepening voice and spots on his face?"
"No that stage began and was over when he was sixteen."
"Oh. Um so he wrote that reply I received?"
"Yes the little bastard. He'll probably claim he was bored."
"Well it was written well enough to make me focus. What's the little shit's name? Ooops I shouldn't have called him that."
"It's fine, he often teases or frustrates me enough to goad me into abusing him."
"He's probably bored."
"Nothing. What's his name?"
"Well I suggest you deal with Ryan when he returns and don't be bothered by me being an interested spectator. I am researching a family and its rural lifestyle, remember?"
"Oh yes. Then I promise to really let it rip," said the cheery-faced woman in her mid forties who looked powerful enough to toss the visitor over the kitchen table.
"Um I have tended to spoil him. Ryan was my biggest gift to this family and the conception came so unexpectedly. He's eight years younger than Linda and his arrival gave Fergie the son he'd yearned for."
"Omigod, I think I can see what's happened. Ranchers on across-generations family land need a son to continue their land ownership, don't they?"
Glenys sniffed and pushed the bedroom door open wide and she said, "You are very astute but I guess you being a writer will be like that."
Skye glanced into the all-pink bedroom and gasped, noticing the wedding dress hanging above the closet door.
"Is there somewhere else I can sleep?"
"Not really apart from the bunkhouse with our three guys. Why?"
"You haven't touched this room since your daughter left."
"Very astute," Glenys muttered, throwing apart the curtains and folding the dress over an arm to take it away.
She turned and smiled, showing great teeth. "Change had to come and this is it. If it hadn't been you it would have been some other houseguest. We use the guestroom as an office and for the pool table."
"You're entitled to miss your daughter and carry your secret you wanted nothing to change."
Glenys' dark eyes were shiny as she looked up. "Skye darling, it's going to be a joy having you here with us. You are the same age as my darling Linda and I can tell you know so much. I miss having a female to talk to."
They heard four heavy thuds on the back porch and Glenys said, "That will be Fergie. Only his mom and her sisters ever call him Ferguson. He'll be now sitting down and you'll hear two softer thumps as his boots hit the decking."
"God you must be lonely."
Glenys' chin shot forward and she said she got by.
The door burst open and Skye sat upright in alarm and looked in the doorway and gaped. A man in his thick padded jacket filled the doorway, the entire doorway.
Glenys laughed and said fondly. "That's my man. He's a big boy."
The visitor had no reason to doubt that.
"Hi and who is this pretty thing eh, an old friend of Lindy's?"
"No Fergie. She's a writer who's come to live with us while she researches for her next novel. Greet her like you always did to Linda. Don't be afraid Skye."
With incredible easy and a very soft grip Fergie picked up Skye high, held her up and pulled her in and kissed her softly.
"Welcome to our house beautiful young lady. You grace everything around you."
He lowered her smoothly and stood away.
Skye, an avid reader, reviewed from memory an often-used phrase found in Victorian literature... 'She thought she was about to swoon'.
Omigod. Skye was beginning to think she'd landed hip-deep into a literary gold mine. The Hobbs family appeared larger than life and yet reeked of homely authenticity.
"Where's that little asshole?"
"Steady on," the giant said, accepting his mug of coffee. "If I used those words about Ryan you'd be after me with a broom."
"Well where is he? He rushed off to help you shift bulls?"
"We don't shift them till Friday."
Glenys snorted. The weasel. He's slithered over to the William's to escape the line of fire."
She then filled Fergie in and he looked a little disturbed.
"But why would he stupidly mess around with people like that?"
"I have no idea."
"Do you have the letter?"
Glenys fetched it and Fergie took it to the wall calendar and said "Ah-ha."
"The date on this letter was a Saturday, the day you and I went to the christening of your niece's baby over at Casper. He must have been sitting in here alone twiddling his thumbs and being the tease decided to be a little creative."
Fergie pulled out his phone and made a call.
"Hi Myra. Could you please tell Ryan to come and face the music?"
"Oh so he hasn't told you. Well I suppose in time it will seem so funny and worth relating. Ask him and then boot him on his way. Thanks honey."
* * *
Skye watched the door opened, wondering what the young guy, who'd written to her and describing himself as his mom's handsome son, would look like. Well a haircut would be an improvement but he had had strong, well-defined facial features, really great teeth and perhaps he could just squeak in as being classified as handsome. His hazel eyes had a similar intensity to his father's eyes. She was interested to see which way the scene that was about to unfold would go. Would the son be clever enough to defuse his parents?
It was a no-contest.
"Mom, dad I've been so stupid, such a fool. I'm really sorry for embarrassing you guys. Miss Brock, I'm Ryan Hobbs, the person responsible for this mess but I had confidence in my mom sorting everything out and securing a successful outcome ending with you staying here as intended."
Skye watched as the guy eight years her junior walked right up to her, spread his legs and said, "Here, kick me in the nuts. I sure deserve it."
She clamped her hand over her mouth in a giggling fit.
His father roared, "Ryan get out of this house."
His mom yelled, "No you don't Ryan. You stay there and apologize to Miss Brock for your unbelievably bad behavior."
Confused, Ryan sat down on the sofa beside Skye and placed her arm around her and said he was sorry.
She removed her hand from her mouth and said this whole episode had given her more fun and anything she'd watched on TV in recent weeks. She kissed him.
Ryan reached down and placed a hand over her breast and his mom squeaked, "Ryan!"
His father roared, "Ryan would you please behave."
"Yes dad, sorry mom, you kiss really great Miss Brock.
"Ryan could you please get us all a drink," sighed his mom, and that restored calm and order.
Skye thought oh well done Ryan.
"Nice drive through heartland America getting here Miss Brock?"
"Yes indeed. You may call me Skye if that's okay with your mom."
"You ask me properly."
"Oh forget it."
Glenys said yes it was okay but he was not to pester Skye who was there on important research.
Taking the offered white wine Skye asked, "I hope you guys don't mind me asking this but how can just one person cause so must disruption and disorder in a family?"
"Since Ryan joined our family it's always been like this," Glenys sighed. "If it had been a daughter acting up like that Fergie would have adopted her out with my consent."
After dinner Skye was in her room unpacking when Ryan came in and slumped on to the bed, his feet in grubby socks draped over the bed-end.
Skye, putting away skirts into a drawer, said, "Did you used to sprawl there when your sister was in this room?"
"Yes, almost nightly."
"You were close to here I guess," Skye asked, having turned on her recorder hidden in her pocket, the remote microphone being pinned to her lapel. This was so she didn't have to rely on memory recall when logging quotes, thoughts and observations nightly.
"Yes I always liked her. She was so much fun. She pretended she was my mother until, well until she went to high school I think it was. Then she seemed to grow up."
"Would you be in here when she undressed for bed?"
"Yes I liked watching her fuss around. She was like a moth."
"So were you attracted to her body?"
"Not that I can recall. You must remember she was quite young when this started. It became a routine or more like our little club. And then when I got older and had school homework I would read out the problems and she would discuss them with me rather than answer them outright. She became a teacher you know."
"No I didn't know that. How lovely."
"Mom is hoping she'll get pregnant soon."
"Yes of course. Returning to what we were discussing, did you use to touch your sister?"
"Yes of course but I guess you mean sexually."
"Well I can put your curiosity to rest. No we never have had sex and I've not touched her sexually. But when I lie here I look at you and think of sex. You'll have to decide whether you want me to be in this room again?"
Skye couldn't believe the way her heart was thumping. The jerk was interested in humping her. Then she looked at him and saw how calm he appeared and she felt ambivalent about what he represented.
"Do you assure me you'll never seek to have sex with me without my consent, not that it would be offered?"
"Jeez yes lady, who or what do you think I am? I'll respect you and you'll not experience harm from me."
"In that case you are welcome to come in here whenever you wish."
"Thanks. Is all this stuff part of your research?"
"It is but please understand I don't use everything I record, nowhere near it. And it may not be recognizable when I use such information because my form of writing is creative fiction. What I'm collecting is information that may be of use to me when writing."
Ryan sniffed, screwed a finger into his left eye to remove an itch and said, "Why are you here? Really scratching for your next novel I suppose?"
The shock of that hit Skye between the eyes.
She rubbed the top of her nose and said, "What makes you say that?"
"If you were writing a book you wouldn't be here and I read the library book mom had, although I'd forgotten your name as author, about that dumb chick Carey Green who served six months with the Coastguard on Lake Michigan and the guys kept teasing her because she resented it and she didn't like going out in rough weather and she didn't like the DVDs they choose. When it was her turn to choose two dozen DVDs before they sailed, her bag of disks was grabbed without her knowledge and the disks exchanged back at the depot for the blood and guts ones guys like. She was so mad when she found out and wanted to fight the guy who did the deceitful swap but they all claimed they'd done it and she cried. But it was a good laugh."
"A good laugh? Are you aware I was out on the Lake Michigan for a month to research for that novel and they charged me $8000 for the privilege? However when the book was published, and they decided I'd shown the Coastguard up in a good light their chiefs refunded me that money. You are being unfair, those harsh things that happened to Carey happened to me."
"Ah you are correct on that other count though. The publisher finally rejected my next manuscript that should have been published about now."
"Here," she said, digging into her bag, and tossing the manuscript at Ryan. "You tell me what's wrong with it. I don't accept what the editors told me. Fucking dipsticks if you ask me."
"Don't let mom hearing you use that Coastguard language."
"What language? Oh god I did shoot my mouth off didn't I?"
"I wasn't offended."
She giggled and then said would he read the manuscript and tell her exactly what he thought of it.
The next evening Ryan flopped on to Skye's bed.
She gave a big start.
"God I'm sitting here in just my panties doing my nails. I thought you weren't dropping in tonight, it's 9:30. Don't you knock?"
"Not if I can help it. Here's your manuscript he said, tossing it on to her desk. Show me your tits."
"No," she said hunching her shoulders.
"I've just finished your draft and I know where you went wrong."
"Where," she said, turning round and making his eyes pop. She noticed that but made no effort to cover up. They were only breasts.
"You were comfortable with the dumb Carey Green heroine although her feet were stuck in concrete and her mind had not advanced much since she was in the Girl Guides. But this Zina Mace rings hollow. She processes to be a good-time girl but reading throughout the novel I found her spending most of her time screwing up. I wanted a heroine and I could love and respect and share in her triumphs and yes, a heroine to screw. But frankly this Zina left me limp and even her screwing up appeared faked, I mean unbelievable. I spend most of my time wallowing in her bitching. And then when some action appeared likely the three times she went to a nightclub she fell asleep. Well I ask you. Zina Mace Finds Love is the working title and that title would never had made it to the printing press. On the introduction page you wrote, 'A Love Story.' Well she did meet Leo McIntosh and oh dear, what a caricature he was and there was no suggestion he was capable of getting it up tizzy Zina. Neither of them appeared to have heard of penetration. I did well at high school on literary appreciation. I'd give your manuscript three out of five but only because much of the dialogue and scene setting is damn good."
"That's what the senior editor said, that my scenes and the interaction between my characters was excellent."
"Well at least your professional assessors appear to have good judgment."
Skye scowled and said, "Um what should I do?"
"Leave that draft novel aside for some weeks and concentrate on what you're doing now. Let my kiss your tits and go to bed."
"Why do you have to go? You are very interesting tonight."
"Because there's rough weather coming in. The first calves will arrive after midnight."
"How can you possible tell that? That's bullshit."
"There's nothing like a weather change to set females off."
"That's nasty bullshit. No you can't kiss my breasts."
"Your lips will do. Here goes. Goodnight our illustrious young promising author, as mom said some book critics have called you. People might say many author are called that that but hey wait, what about the aspiring young authors who never get such praise pinned to their tail?"
"What do you mean by bad weather."
"Big wind driven snow."
"Oh god, I might as well be back in Chicago. I came here to sample the differences."
He just grinned and left.
* * *
Banging on the window awoke Skye and she almost had a seizure, thinking the house was under siege or something. Then she saw by the torch held under the chin it was that young fool Ryan.
She shot up and window and yelled, "What!" wondering why he was outside and why did he have snow on his hood and shoulders. God it was cold.