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Life on the Farm

by Joe Writer Man

Chapter 19

Eric, wrapped only in a towel, with his hair still dripping water, was coming down the stairs just as I turned the corner to go up. I grabbed his arm and pulled him up the remaining stairs, turned left and led us to my bedroom. I closed the door, then I pushed Eric onto my bed. Clearly, his expression was surprise and bewilderment.

I, of course, felt an ornery grin spreading, but soon wiped it off realizing just how close we came to getting into trouble for Kevin's transgression. He said, "What's up… ya gonna keep me in suspense?"

"Okay, I'll tell ya… Kevin had a slip of the tongue… no, actually, Dad mentioned that Kevin had expanded his language skills to include the f-bomb. Dad wasn't really pissed, but he wasn't amused either."

"You are shitting me, right?" Almost immediately, before I could say 'no I am not shitting', he added, "Fuck. We gotta watch it around him. He's like a sponge. Okay, well, we've gotta talk to him, Kevin, that is. Did Mom hear him?"

"I don't know about that… I kinda think so… just the way Dad mentioned it… we're not in trouble, this time."

Eric leaned back to rest against the wall, scratched his nuts and pubes, tweaked his fully erect male gland, looked into my eyes, then started jacking off when I stood up, lowered my underwear and joined him. But we didn't get started. Hearing a little boy's voice screaming and laughing from the top of his lungs and his little footsteps beating the floor half to death – stopped us cold. Eric bounded out of bed, walked to the dresser drawer and pulled out a pair and just about had them up when Kevin barged through the door, grinning, laughing, and just being a little boy of 4 years old. He plopped against Eric's leg, grabbed hold, and giggled at seeing a filled out tent in front. I must admit that I giggled, too. But that wasn't all, he pointed to my filled underwear and said, "Hard!"


Both Eric and I sat down after getting those threads arranged. Eric pulled the boy between us and said to me, "Don't make me do this alone." I nodded, then to Kevin he continued, "Kevin, we need to talk... brother to brother."

Kevin's head swiveled. He had this grin plastered across his cherubic face as he looked into Eric's eyes. Kevin, squirmed around so that he could fully see Eric, said, "You're my big brother. Am I in trouble?"

Eric calmly patted Kevin's back. I put my arms around Kevin's chest, all the while searching for the right words to say so that the little bundle of energy didn't feel threatened or shamed. Finally the words came to me, "Kevin, you're growing up... so Eric and I decided to have this brother-to-brother talk with you."

Kevin beamed a smile. He kissed my cheek. He was all ears. Eric, contemplating, said, "Yeah, you're getting to be a big boy. Pretty soon you'll be big and strong like us. We had to learn about what's right and what's wrong, too... what we are talking to you about is that you can't go using cuss words in front of Mom and Dad."

I rejoined, "We all have to watch our mouths, Kevin. It's no big deal right this very second, but it is something that can and will get us in trouble if we slip up the tongue."

Eric, nodding, continued, "You can't go around using that 'fuck' word. It means bad things, and it hurts Mom to hear it."

Kevin clearly went into deep thought... the wheels in his head were nearly spinning out of control. Clearly perplexed, he said, "But... Stacy... she said it... is she in trouble, too?"

"She would be if, Mom and Dad heard her, right Eric?"

"Oh yeah, definitely. Kevin, you aren't in trouble. Like we said, Dad and Mom aren't pissed or anything. Tell ya what, why don't you go downstairs and just tell Dad that you made a mistake. He'll say something like 'Okay, Son, just don't do it again.' That way the air is clear; you'll have done the right thing."

Kevin looked into my eyes... I nodded. Then, just like that, he tore out of my room running ninety to nothing. Eric took off for his room to get dressed.

I felt need, so I closed my door...

After a series of pleasantries escaped, I got dressed, put in an applicator of medicine, and headed downstairs. As I walked into the dining room, Mom was on the phone. Clearly, she was very upset. Tears were running down her face. I walked to her, put my hand around her shoulders and pulled her in, just to let her know that I was there, and would always be present whenever she needed me. When she reached for the box of Kleenex, I pushed them toward her, all the while squeezing her shoulder as she put her head down and cried softly.

I'd never before seen Mom that upset -ever. And I never wanted to see her that way again, not if I could help it.

"Kay, I'm sorry. You know that. I'm going to get my purse... my husband and I will be right over."


"It's no bother. We'll be there shortly."


"Good bye, Kay. I love you."

After hanging up, Mom stood. I pulled her in for a hug. She shuddered violently, then straightened up. After gathering herself up, as much as possible, she said, "James, would you go get your Dad. Something bad has happened... on second thought... would you round everybody up... we need to go to Kay's house. They've had a death in their family... we need to be there for them... it's the right thing to do."

I kissed her cheek. I turned to leave and got about halfway through the kitchen. She said, "Thanks, James."

I nodded, then tore out to find Dad and the others.

Mum was the word. Mom just said there had been a bad accident, that we needed to be with the family, and, as much as we could, we needed to be strong for them in their time of need. The ride was quiet… nobody else said anything, even Kevin was quiet and subdued.

When we arrived, Stacy picked Kevin up and carried him into the house, following Mom.

Dad pulled us boys aside. A highway patrol officer walked over to Dad… by now, Eric had his arms around my waist and was tugging at my shirt. His breath was blowing on my cheek… clearly he was worried. I put my arm around his shoulders.

The officer took Dad aside for a moment, just out of ear shot. Dad's shoulders heaved a huge heavy breath of air, he rubbed his forehead, lowered his head down, then turned to the officer, asked some questions, nodded, then slowly, turned to us.

I was getting scared as all hell. What had happened? Why did he look like somebody took a swing to his gut? I looked at Eric… panic was passing across his face… Dad arrived. He took Luke, Eric and me into his mammoth arms, and said very carefully, gravely, "I have some very bad news to share… I'm sorry… I'm afraid that John has been killed in an ATV accident this afternoon."

Angrily, Eric wailed, "No… that's not true… Dad, tell me it's not true. It can't be. He's only 12."

I racked my brains, trying to figure out who John would be… the only two dudes that I really knew, or knew of, was Rocky and another boy, but I didn't remember his name. Dad took Eric into his arms, held him firmly as Eric wailed and cried. Dad had tears running down his cheeks, too… he looked at me, "John was the other boy you and Eric mud wrestled with… Eric was good friends with both Rocky and John. John's Rocky's cousin."

Luke took Eric's place next to me when Eric fell into Dad's arms, sobbing his heart out. I looked into Luke's face… he, too, had tears running out of both of his eyes. We came together and hugged each other tightly. I found myself loosing the will to be strong, as I was getting caught up in their sadness… I'd never felt like this before… so the heavy heart feelings were strange and foreign, yet I was feeling them.

As one, Luke and I gathered around Eric. Dad extended his arms to include us into the human sandwich we'd made and were holding onto.

"Dad, did Rocky get killed?"

"No, Son… I don't know where he is; he's probably in the house. Let's go inside. Oh, boys, I am so sorry this happened… it's my worst fear… I can't even imagine losing any one you boys."

We walked inside. The house was jammed packed with people. With Eric pretty much glued to Dad, they made their way through the crowd… I figured Eric needed the time alone so Luke and I gave up trying to make our way in… we bowed out, made our way back outside and sat down on the steps away from the many people going in and out.

God, Luke was trying so hard to say something, the harder he tried the more frustrated he got. Finally, I just pulled him, actually we pulled ourselves together, hugged, and just stayed that way. My tears dried up, but I continued feeling a heavy weight tugging on my lungs and stomach. Luke broke our embrace, got up, took a few steps away, then snorted and spit a lugie onto the ground in front of him. He kicked some dirt around to cover it up. He returned and sat back down, scooted close to me and wrapped his arm around my waist.

A few minutes later, Dad, with Eric pinned to his side, came out on the porch. He said, "James, you and Eric need to go find Rocky. Bring him back here. I'd go with you, but I think you two would be better. Just remember, he lost his best friend. Luke, I want you to come with me. I've got something for us to do." Luke looked at me… was he asking permission? I don't know, but he drew me in and briefly touched my lips with his. I returned the kiss. Eric grabbed hold of my arm and pulled me up, locked our arms, and off we went.

Eric had to stop a few times as the profound grief racked him to the point where he couldn't walk for a while. He'd recover, then we'd continue. When we were about halfway across the pasture, Eric said, "Rocky pretty much lives down at the creek. That's the first place we need to look for him." Soon we arrived at the tree-line, then descended down, down, down to the creek bed. The water was flowing rapidly. From all the rains we'd had over the past several days, the creek was nearly full.

When we arrived at a tree that had been felled at some time, Eric crouched down on his hands and knees and peered inside into the darkness. He stood up, turned to me and said, "He's not here. There's only one more place he could have gone to… it's about a mile from here… are you up to it?"

"Yeah, I'm okay. Let's go."

Eric warily nodded. He held his gaze for a moment too long, his eyes penetrated deep into my being… I added, "I'm a little sore. The doctors have said there' nothing wrong… let's get on with it." He turned away, knelt back down, went inside about halfway, then crawled out. He had a pack of cigarettes in his hand. He opened the package, took one, handed it to me then took another for himself. After lighting up, we took off down the creek bank.

A few minutes later, we reached a juncture in the creek… there was only one way to cross to the other side, and that was to go through the water. Eric stripped to the skin. He pushed his underwear into the jeans pocket, then rolled up his shirt and put in a leg which he then tied off, handed me the smoke package and lighter, then tossed them across the creek. He lobbed the wad across. It landed on a pile of rocks out of the muddy area. He then turned to me, waited for me to undress. I followed his lead, tossed the bundle across, narrowly missing the mud patch. He grinned. The current was swift – and damn, it was cold for some reason. We complained that our ball-sacks were nearly wrapped around our necks, but it was all good. We'd been all hot and sweaty, and the fucking mosquitoes had been like bees on honey. Eric made some wiseacre comment along the lines that boys are sweet and attractive. That got us to laughing, if only for a little while.

Dried and dressed, and with purpose, we took off. A while later, we reached another spread of land. Eric said that the property had belonged to Rocky and John's grandparents when they had been alive. As we were walking along, Eric said that John and Rocky had been really close to their grandparents. They took their deaths very hard, but often returned to the home where they'd felt the most comfortable. He didn't say why the two boys spent so much time away from home.

As we were walking through the overgrown brush, once lush grass that made really good hay, we would occasionally cross a rabbit's den... they'd go scurrying for shelter, causing us to both react startled. As we got closer and closer, as the large buildings got bigger and bigger. Eric's pace sped up, until we were at the whitewashed fence separating the barnyard from a path leading up to the house. I just assumed Rocky, anyone who was seeking shelter, would automatically go to the house... Eric took hold of my arm, began calling Rocky's name, and led us to the barn. He said, "Rocky's used to living in the outside... he won't be in the house... there are too many memories for him there."

We received no acknowledgment from John. We crawled over the fence and dropped back to the ground. In short order we were inside the barn, looking around for signs of life. I checked the stalls while Eric walked to the ladder and began climbing up the narrow rickety slats of wood made into a stairway, of sorts. When he got to the top, he waved for me to join him. I started that way while Eric came down. He missed the second to the bottom rung and landed on his ass. He quickly got up. By then I was there and helping to dust the dirt away. He motioned for me to go first, so I did. He had his hands on my butt pushing me up as I took each step very cautiously. Those slats were even narrower than they first appeared.

Like those in our barn, the hay bales were neatly stacked from the floor to the rafters. There was, however, an opening... no bigger than the width of a bale... on the floor. Eric crouched down, got on his belly and wiggled through the opening, at which time a voice, not Eric's, wailed from despair and devastation.

Quickly, I followed him in. By then, Rocky was sitting up, firmly embracing Eric with his head firmly next to Eric's. Sensing another presence, he opened his eyes. Clearly, he recognized me and reached out his arm to shake my hand or something… bunk on that, I enveloped him and Eric into a hug, squeezing firmly just to let him know that I cared and was there for him.

After a few minutes, Rocky's sobbing subsided to occasional hiccups as he attempted to regain a modicum of composure. Eric signaled for the cigarettes. I dug them out of my pocket… although they were a bit mashed, they were okay; none were broken, thankfully. Eric lit one for Rocky, then one for me, and finally one for himself. Nobody said anything. The only sound was that made by our lungs inhaling and exhaling, and an occasional cough.

Seeing that our cigarettes had burned down to the filters, I took their butts (I wish!) to the window, looked down to make sure wasn't any dry kindling below. A puddle was just below the window sash… so I tossed them into it. While I was up, I pulled my soft rod from its confines, released a high-arching pee and let out a mighty butt-cheek-flapping fart. Eric and Rocky joined me at the window. I took hold of Rocky's belt-loop as he was a bit wobbly on his feet. He looked around to see what I was doing. He nodded appreciatively and returned to his business, shook it a few times, then put it away, and walked back to the bale of hay, sat down, and looked at me with the saddest expression I'd ever seen on a human being.

He motioned for us to sit, saying, "I hardly recognized you… your name's James, right?"

"Yeah… Rocky, I'm so sorry… Rocky, I don't know what to say. I wouldn't want to be alone… that's why we're here."

Rocky seized up. Eric turned Rocky toward him and drew him into a deep, deep hug, telling him to just let it all out, to not hold anything back; that we're there for him, and would always be present whenever he needed us. Rocky was wailing something about the accident being his fault, that if he would have just stayed with his cousin he wouldn't be dead… he used the dreaded words – "I killed him… it's all my fault!" He continued to pour out his grief. I, too, told Rocky to just let it out, to not hold back, that we'd talk about it sometime later.

I ran my hand up and down his back, from his neck to the waistband of his underwear. Then, all of a sudden, he leaped up, ran to the window, leaned over and gagged. Quickly, Eric and I ran to him and held onto a belt loop so that he wouldn't fall off the ledge. Once we were assured he wasn't going to throw up anything, we took him back to the bale of hay and sat down on it, and wrapped our arms around Rocky after taking off his shirt and tossing it aside.

Rocky took a deep breath, exhaled slowly, and said, "I should have been with him. I was riding ahead… and he was riding the good machine…"

"Rocky, you'd never hurt John in a million years. There's no way you would have done anything to… we're here for you… what happened? Why do you think… just tell us what happened. We've got all night. We're not leaving." Eric said while pulling Rocky into a hug, a hug that he initially tried to ward off, but then he gave in. I put my hands on Rocky's bare back, rubbed big circles to help calm him just a little bit.

Rocky leaned over… I was afraid he was going to upchuck… instead he reached for the pack of cigarettes, took one, lit it, and then passed the pack to Eric. Eric took one then handed over the package. I took one, and then lit ours. Rocky took a deep drag, sputtered a bit. Eric said, "We've gotta quit these things someday."

"Not today." I quipped.

"No, definitely not today." Rocky said while flipping an ash to the floor.

Rocky sat up, opened his eyes, and said, brokenly, "I was ahead of him. We were riding the ATV's to the field to check on one of our horses that had injured its foot last night. I should have stayed with him... but I didn't..." He sobbed a couple of deep deep breaths, gathering himself back. Continuing, "When he didn't... I stopped and went back... I didn't see him... but I heard his screams, then they stopped. I got off the machine... I saw his ATV smashed up next to a tree... but he wasn't there... it didn't make any sense... his voice came from somewhere else. I looked so hard for him. As a last resort, I looked over the edge... you know, the path that goes down to the creek. It was then that I saw him... he was lying... <sob>... he wasn't moving... he was laying face down at the edge of the water. I jumped down... but it was too late... he took his last breath... I was holding him as he did." With that revelation, Rocky totally lost all composure, sobbing and screaming uncontrollably.

Eric, bless him, was trying so hard to maintain so that he could support Rocky. Yes, tears were flowing freely out of my eyes and running down my cheeks, but I needed to be there for them… I just had to be. Under the circumstances, I felt totally inadequate, but then a thought came to my mind. Without waiting for a 'right moment', because there would never be a right moment, I said, "Rocky, you were there with him... you know, he wasn't alone. I don't know if this will help you any... but I just about died alone, all by myself. I'm sorry this happened, Rocky, but in the end you did the right thing... you were there for him."

Rocky looked questions into my eyes... I couldn't read him. He got up, walked to the opening between the barn and outside, took hold of his nose, then blew hard sending a goober to the ground. I reached across to Eric and patted his shoulder. He was having a hard time with this, too. Very softly Eric said, "Rocky was my first friend after I moved here. John came up here the first weekend after school started... and, well, we all became the best of friends."

Rocky returned, sat down on the bale of hay, and after taking a deep shuddering breath, continued, "Our Dads were there within minutes... I mean within minutes... they were walking... I didn't hear any ATV's... all I heard were birds chirping and shit. I found that weird, but I wasn't thinking right... I guess Jed, John's Dad, was out of it. He walked to me, gave me this very angry look, and walked off... you know, like he was trying to gather himself up... it just seemed weird. Dad pulled John out of my <shudder> arms... he told me to go up to the house... but he didn't tell me what to do when I got there... I didn't know what else to do so I did, I went to the house. Mom and Virginia were there... they just were taking off for town... it all went downhill from there. I had to take them down to where John was... you know... he was dead; it was too late."

When we got down there, you know, when Mom and Virginia and I got down there, my Dad started going off on me because I didn't call the cops... I thought he had his phone. He always has it. Mom said something to Dad, then she tore into Jed, John's Dad, about something. Aunt Virginia... she was holding John, trying to bring him back, giving him mouth to mouth and everything..."

Rocky went on to say that his Dad got into his face and told him over and over again that John's dying was all his fault. Add to that, Jed had walked over... Rocky's mom had to get between Rocky and his uncle. Rocky was certain he was going to get hurt... John's dad had his fists clenched and drew his arm back… to hit him

Unbelievable. Totally unbelievable. I mean… what the fuck.

Yet, we believed Rocky. And, I believe that Rocky believed that we believed him. He went to sleep in my arms, leaning over from where he had been sitting.

The sun was not too far away from disappearing over the horizon. I was hungry, evidenced by my stomach rumbling its protests for not being fed for some time. I was sure Eric and Rocky were also hungry. Eric stood, dusted himself off, grabbed the pack of smokes, took one, lit it, and said, "I'm going to the house. Stay here. Don't go anywhere. Something's not right."

Weakly, Rocky protested that it was getting too late, that he didn't want Eric out in the dark all by himself. Eric assured us that he'd get to our home before dark. His plans were to get a jug of water and some snacks, but couldn't guarantee that he'd be back in time.

I took off toward home, hoping that Dad or Thomas had returned... even Stacy would be okay. I needed to call Dad, if he wasn't home, so that he could determine what we needed to do next. I had a hard time believing, yet I did believe Rocky's account since he told me, about what had happened after the accident.

Following the creek going south, I arrived home soon. The house was dark, save for a light on in the living room. I stripped down in the ante room, went inside, and found that I was alone. Nobody was home. Without delay, I went to the phone, sat down, opened up the phone book and found Rocky's home number and made the call. Kay, Rocky's Mom answered the call on the third ring. I told her who I was and asked for Dad. She said he and Thomas had left a while ago, but my Mom was there.

Mom was definitely worried about us. She started getting into my case pretty good, but I told her the basic Reader's Digest version of what was going on. I didn't say where Eric and Rocky were holed up... she didn't ask. I would have told her had she pressed the issue.

I went upstairs and was using the facilities when the phone rang from downstairs. I stuffed a wad of bathroom tissue where it needed to be stuffed, then ran down the stairs and answered the phone. It was Thomas.

He said that Dad was busy, but would not say with what.

I relayed the story Rocky had told us... about John's death and what had happened after he passed.

Thomas, sympathetic to the cause, listened carefully, then, when I was finished, told me to stay put, that I may be needed at home. I told him that I needed to do chores, and asked what was the most important that needed done that night, what could wait until the following day. Even though I knew what the answer would be, I cringed when, of course, he said the chickens. I already knew that; I just wanted to hear something different.

After finishing up with what I'd started before the phone rang, I got on a clean pair of coveralls, grabbed a couple of cookies from the full platter – oatmeal raisin, then took off to do the nasties.

Rocky remained sleeping, moving only occasionally... I don't think his movements were purposeful... I could understand just how exhausted he was, but I also knew that I had to be there for him, in case he awakened. I got to thinking about too many things; stuff from the past; stuff that I thought I had put aside.

Yet, I pulled myself back into the present, remembering that I had a family who I loved... and a family that loved me, regardless, in spite of my past. My last thoughts before leaning forward into Rocky and falling asleep was that I needed to stay strong, and that perhaps this was one of those pay-it-forward opportunities.

When I got off the phone with Eric, Mom was looking right at me... clearly wondering what was going on, why Eric wanted to talk to me instead of her. I'm glad he did.

I knew Jed and Jimson, both brothers who'd married twin sisters, were no good. They took advantage of the town folk. I thought it was wrong, but Dad reminded me that our town went to the aid of its members... I knew that to be true... yet... it didn't seem right to me, yet... Kay and Rocky were the people who were being hurt the most... no, I'm not talking about physical hurt... I'm talking about emotional and spiritual abuse.

The boy, Rocky, had always acted like he needed to talk to me about something... yet, he hadn't. Maybe that was because I never made the time... you know, going to extra distance to make the opportunity available.

I walked to the porch after telling Mom that I had some business to attend to... mainly that I needed to go find James and Rocky. I had a good idea where they were... Eric had given me all the important landmarks... the main problem was that the sun had gone down, making it pitch-black dark outside, making it virtually impossible to get to them overnight.

Sandy was sitting with Virginia on the porch. She's a wonderful lady. I thought that I'd ask my Sandy to be my wife just as soon as I had a little more money to buy a suitable ring for her to wear. We'd talked about it several times, more often recently. We figured we could probably buy the old Sanderson place, the same place where Rocky and Eric were holed up. Although the property hadn't been farmed in about 7 years, the house and out-buildings were still in good shape. The place had 7 bedrooms... we wanted to fill them up with our own children. I loved her with all of my heart and soul.

She was also very, very tired, having worked a 12 hour shift ending at 6pm. She was also one of the first responders to the terrible accident that had happened today, one that took the life of a member of our families here in town. We had not yet had the opportunity to talk about what had happened to the boy.

I went outside, sat down beside her, pulled her into my arms and gave her sweet lips a chaste kiss. I put my hand on Virginia's shoulder as she, once again, expressed her sad emotions.

She looked up and into my eyes. Her expression asked many questions. Nobody probably had a clue as to how to answer them.

Kay got away from the crowd inside, well-wishers with good intentions, though they were inept, because they knew not where she was coming from. She sat down next to her twin sister, took Virginia into her arms and held on firmly. Kay looked into my eyes, then into Sandy's before asking the question if we knew where her son was.

I told her that I had a good idea where he was, and that I'd be out at first light to find him and bring him back home to her. She said, "This isn't fair. This isn't right. This should not have happened. Virginia, we have to get the law involved. It's time."

Virginia took a Kleenex offered by Sandy. Daintily, she wiped her closed and eyes and replied, "Not until your son is found safe. You can't go through this. There are only two places where he can be... Thomas... go find him. Bring him back here. He needs to be with his Momma."

I found it odd that Jed and Jimson had carried John's body to the house before calling the law. I have known for a long time that they were no good moochers off the town. But, this town has an unspoken law to help out wherever and whenever necessary. Several of the men-folk of this normally quiet bedroom community had talked of their situation, as we knew it, and, well, we just pulled together to be of assistance for Virginia and her son, John.

We also knew that they, Jed and Jimson, were raging, out of control alcoholics while drinking. Their behavior was unpredictable. They'd had many brushes with the law here in this small town. They'd had checkered pasts. Jed had done time in prison for unknown reasons. He'd disappeared one day about 12 and a half years ago, right after John had been born. It was learned that he'd been arrested in Topeka and incarcerated in Lansing.

Five years later, he reappeared and acted like nothing had ever happened. The town-folk had kept up their place, simply because it was the right thing to do for – Virginia and John – only.

Today, Jed and Jimson left just before law enforcement arrived. Sandy and another paramedic had arrived on the scene, did everything they could do but the boy had already died. The coroner officially pronounced John deceased at 2:17pm.

Other than for Virginia, Kay's primary interest was her son, Rocky, who'd taken off, going to wherever it was that he went. Kay had mentioned that he found his most solace out in the fields, and even that he had his own little place, down by the creek. Eric and James had taken off to try and locate the boy. I was concerned because it was getting late, the sun had begun its journey in the western sky. The weather had been predicted to rain that night... I just hoped the boys would be okay... I knew they would be, I just worry about them at times, and this was one of those times.

Just as I was about to go walking into the house to see how my wife, Vera, was holding out, they, Kay, Virginia, and my lovely bride exited and sat down on Kay's porch swing. When they were situated, Vera got up and walked to me. I pulled her into my arms. She was holding up pretty well, considering the circumstances. She told me that Eric had called and spoke to her for a few minutes before talking with Thomas. She said that there was a lot behind the scenes that he wasn't telling her, which concerned me greatly. Eric has always been very forthright with us, especially me. He had and has a lot of things to talk about... he's at a very vulnerable age... a place where he could go either way... but we felt he was doing okay, especially since James had arrived. Eric had more or less taken James under his wings, so to speak. Watching them interact was heartwarming.

Sandy then came out of the house. She nodded to me then sat down next to Vera. Now, there's a fine girl. I would be proud to have her as a daughter-in-law. In kind of a roundabout way Thomas had inquired about purchasing the Sanderson homestead... the way he asked it... I knew he was serious.

A few minutes later, Thomas exited the house. He and Sandy hugged deeply, then he turned to me and motioned for me to take a walk with him. We stopped at the car. He looked deeply into my eyes. In his, I saw pain and uncertainty.

He told me what Eric had told him on the phone just a few minutes ago, "James is with the Sanderson boy... they'll be okay till first light..."

"No. They are not alright. Rocky is carrying a load on his shoulders that ain't his to carry. I'm going into the house to call Sheriff Gaines. We need to get this settled tonight." Thomas nodded.

I walked back to the ladies and said that Thomas and I were headed out to get the boys and bring them home, that they needed to be in their own beds, and that it was supposed to rain.

Rocky moved around every so often... each time he did, I'd awaken. The sun had set resulting in total darkness... you couldn't see your hand in front of your face. Although I couldn't see out of the window because it was higher than we were sitting... there weren't even any property lights to be seen... then I remembered that since the spread was abandoned, surely the electric had been turned off. I fell back off to sleep. Not for long, though.

I was awakened when Rocky tried to sit up. "James, I need to get up... sorry. God, what time is it?"

"Dunno. It's probably pretty late."

I got up, too. I didn't want to say anything that would make Rocky feel guilty or anything... he had enough of that going on in his head, but I followed him to the window. When I heard his zipper going down, I brought out mine, pointed out it into the dark and let loose.

Finished, we went back to our little place. Rocky pulled me down on a bale of hay. He seemed to be intuitive – ya know, knowing that I couldn't see anything, and well, he probably didn't want me falling off the edge. "Want one?" Rocky said as his Bic lighter lit up, splitting the darkness in half.

"Sure. I've got to quit smoking one of these days."

For the first time, Rocky snickered a little bit, and replied, "I just started."

"Oh bullshit. I saw you at the fairgrounds..."

"Yeah, well... anyway, we might as well get comfortable. We're not going anywhere until it gets light. Going back home, now, is too dangerous. Even I have trouble... ya just can't see jackshit. The moon isn't even out tonight. I have a sleeping bag for you to sleep in. We can just arrange it on top of a bale... it's a hell of a lot more comfortable than trying to lay on this hard floor to sleep."

No sooner had he gotten up than I heard a thud and a resounding "SHIT!!! Fuck, that hurts!"

I hurried up from my sitting place, and also banged my noggin on the rafter above our heads. For the very first time since we'd been together... we laughed... Rocky said that he normally does the preparations prior to it getting totally and completely dark. In short order the sleeping bag was stretched out across a bale of hay.

Before trying to get some shut eye, we sat down on the floor, lit up another cigarette and shared it. We hadn't realized we'd smoked them all, all except that one. Soon it was gone. Heh, I used the lighter to light the way to the window to toss it out – hoping that it landed in the puddle. I then took a healthy piss. Rocky joined me. Once his stream started, he said, "Thanks for being here with me. I didn't know about, you know, what happened to you before you came to live with the Richardson's. They're cool people, really they are. I'm happy for ya. Are you getting adopted, or is this just a foster home?"

"It's for real. The hearing's next week, on Thursday, I think. Can I ask you a question?"

He zipped up... I realized I was still standing there with my dick hanging out the window, getting blown by soft breezes, and becoming 'awakened'. I stuffed the critter in its confines and zipped up. At the same time, Rocky took hold of my elbow to help lead me to where we had been sitting.

"Sure... what's your question?" He asked we sat down and got comfortable, at least as comfortable as one can get while sitting on a hard wood floor.

I debated my question for a moment, wondering if he would think I was being intrusive into his personal life, but I was curious why he had stuff set up to live in, at least temporarily, here in the barn and down by the creek. So I asked, "Just tell me to be quiet if you don't want to answer... it's probably pretty..."

"Go ahead and ask your question. It's just us. I usually try to be an open book with my friends."

A friend? Me? Why would he say that? What did I do to earn that? I was totally lost in thought when he elbowed me in the ribs, not hard, just to get my attention, I guess. His statement was not what I was expecting, far from it, was he lying? No, probably not. Rocky hasn't struck me as the kind of person who would lie... he'd given me no reason to doubt whatever he said... besides, I know things about people... I got good vibes from him... so, with just a little more hesitation to gather up my strength, I foraged forward with a new question, "I'm your friend?" My voice came out more as a statement than a question, though.

"Well, yah. I mean, besides you and Eric, who the fuck else is here? James, I'm going to tell you something that was told to me, something that I'm finding true for myself..."

Immediately, my brain went on overdrive... just exactly what had he been told? And from whom? And why? Is my past going to continue to be a fucking... before I could finish that thought, Rocky continued, "Sorry... I wasn't told anything about your past if that is what you are wondering... I was just told that you can be silent... are you shy?"

"Mostly. At least until I can get to know someone better... okay... uhm, why... do you come down here... to get away from bullshit? If you do then I understand..."

Although I couldn't see him, I felt him lean back. Our shoulders touched. Then it was quiet, the silence only slightly broken by the sounds of our breathing. Rocky took in a deep breath. He then did one of those cough like things, you know when you're trying to hold something in... well, that's what he was doing. I didn't think he would mind so I leaned back just a little bit, all the while maintaining our shoulder contact, and then put my arm around his neck and gently pulled him into my side while he gathered his thoughts, and very possibly his composure, too. Instead of gathering his composure, he began sobbing fitfully while trying to maintain at the same time. Then he began sobbing hysterically, and in the process wrapped his arms around my chest. I felt his pain. Instead of hurting, myself, I was willing my strength into him, all the while whispering for him to let it all out, to not hold back, that he was safe, that I wasn't going anywhere. This may sound selfish and all, but it really felt good to hopefully comfort someone else instead of me being comforted all the damn time.

A few minutes later, he gathered himself up just enough to make a feeble attempt to pull away. I moved my arms just a little bit, enough for him to get away if that's what he wanted to do, but, if anything, his arms went around me just a little tighter and he abandoned any idea of letting go.

Rocky took in a deep breath, then, while letting it out very slowly, shuddered, "My stepfather beats me, so I just stay away. My Mom's okay with him... I mean he doesn't hit her or anything. If he did, I'll fucking kill him. I swear to God. He hated John with a passion. He accused us of doing all sorts of things... you know... sex stuff... getting into trouble with the neighbors and all that shit."

"Why does he think that... is there any reason... I'm not blaming you for anything... I'm just trying to understand... I'm still trying to understand why my Dad did that shit to me... Rocky, whatever he did is not because of you."

"I don't know, James... that's the question of the century. I mean, yeah, he caught us jacking off... but we were doing it solo, we weren't even touching... besides we're not even that way... I mean John and I are cousins... geez."

I sat back, not quite knowing what to think... but then my mouth engaged, "I don't think there's anything wrong with jacking off with family... me and my brothers jack off all the time... heh, there's this great rock down by our branch of the creek... after a swim... well... we do it. Dad says it's normal and natural... beats wet dreams." I laughed. Rocky chuckled, then snorted up a goober and spit it to our other side.

"Uhm, James, don't you think this is weird..." He squeezed me with his arms, then released. As much as I didn't want to, I let him sit up, but I kept my hand on his back to let him know that I was still there for him.

"Not really." I answered quietly, then added, "We're friends... Rocky, I don't understand why our Dad's do or did, in my case, what they do. A counselor told me that my Dad was just angry inside... that it wasn't my fault he was like that. I ran away a bunch of times. Just before he tried to kill me, I found a farm that wasn't too far away from the hellhole. I used to run around, play, and just have fun..." Chuckling, "I found this cool tree that had been felled by a lightening-strike. I used to lay on it... it was huge... I could look up into the trees and imagine that everything was a-okay. I relaxed... heck I even jacked off while taking it all in. Nobody was around... for as long as I was there – I was free."

"I love it here, James. This is where I belong... I'm kinda like you are. Nobody fucks with me down here. I don't even think he knows this place exists... and I haven't told him either... he's asked and tried to beat it out of me but I won't give. John was probably down here more than he was at home... and I thought I was bad. He had it worse, though. His old man is my step-dad's brother, a chip right off the old block." Rocky stopped as another wave of emotion gripped hold of him. I pulled him back into my side and just held him for as long as he needed or wanted. I was there for him.

"Uhm, well, his step-dad used to put a rope around his neck. He'd threaten to push him off the loft. Other times he'd just call John a moron and leave him there. He'd dare him to move. He'd taunt him and threaten to beat his mother... and he did beat her, too... the motherfucker. My Ma's got a shotgun that he doesn't know about... Virginia doesn't know about it either... Mom had told me that she was going to get him one of these days if he didn't stop beating her sister. Mom and Virginia are twin sisters."

"I saw that they looked a lot alike."

"Yeah. James, Ma had that gun locked up... I swear to God I would have killed that son of a bitch... and I would have gone to prison with a clear conscience. I swear it! Things don't add up, James... John and I have rode that trail thousands of times...he knew the property as well as I do... he's more careful about things than I can ever think of being... he's a daredevil but he's not fucking stupid... there's a difference."

"Yeah, my Dad was about ready to kill my ass when I got on Coltrane... Coltrane's my horse... he used to buck anybody who tried to ride him... actually, Coltrane more or less pulled me onto him – it was his own fault!" I snickered a bit, remembering that day when Dad just about had a conniption fit when I asked to ride him out in that field.

"The black one?"

"Yeah. He's dark as a piece of coal. That's how he got his name, well, at least partially... he runs and gallops like a train." I related proudly.

We sat there in companionable silence while thinking over what we'd just shared with each other.

Quietly, Rocky continued, "My Mom... she's a proud woman... but there are sometimes I think she's stupid for putting up with that shit... please don't say anything to anybody about what I just said... it would just get worse... I don't want my Mom going to prison. I've tried to get into that locker... God I've tried..." Somehow, deep down inside, I knew he had... he made his statement with such conviction that I shivered, though only slightly.

Rocky leaned back onto the bale of hay, took in a deep breath, then let it out, "Get some sleep. I'll stay awake and keep watch. I'll be back in a few minutes."

That perked my curiosity, "Where are you going? Ya can't see shit."

Rocky got up, "I know this place like the back of my hand... I'll be okay. Just stay here. I'm just going to dump a load... gotta do it outside."

"I've been sitting on a load for a while..."

Rocky reached in front of his legs, then flicked the Bic lighter, and said, "Follow me. Just be careful, don't step anywhere you can't feel with your foot."

A few minutes later, we were sitting on the outstretched sleeping-bag lying on the bale of hay. I was tired as all hell, but I'd promised myself to stay awake. Rocky began yawning his fool head off. We engaged in small-talk just to stay focused – on what? I have no idea... stay awake? Why? It was pitch black dark... there was no light anywhere.

I scooted back on the bale and found it to be quite wide, actually. I let him know that there would be room for the both of us if we laid on our sides and bent our knees just right.

"You don't think that's too weird? I mean, you know, sleeping like that?"

"Nope. Come on." I replied assuredly, then stripped off my shirt and kicked off my shoes. I laid across the bale in back so that he could lay in the front. He joined me. I had nowhere to put my free arm... I didn't want to put it across his frame in case he thought that was 'weird', so I laid it down on my hip and tried to fall asleep. Rocky was out like a light being turned off, in nearly a heartbeat. His breathing became deep, rhythmical, with his chest going in and out with each exertion.

I took a chance. I felt close to him. I'd told him some things that I'd never really talked about before, and I think he talked about things that he'd never shared before, too. My freaking arm kept falling off once I'd start slinking down into sleep, which would wake me up. I carefully listened and observed any movement as I brought my arm up and very lightly draped it across and beneath his free arm. Then I felt his arm move slightly, and then he lightly wrapped his hand around my wrist and wiggled his body up close to mine, pushing his hips into an area that did not need to be messed with – my appendage was hard as could be... uncomfortably so. But I just put it out of my mind … I mean, what do you say, "Hey, Rocky, get up, I need to beat off." Nope, can't do that. Sleep finally overcame me... and yes, I was thinking pleasant thoughts... I felt right... and Rocky was soundly sleeping. His aroma was nearly overpowering, though.

I don't know what time it was... I only knew it was really, really early, just before the sun came up... Rocky startled awake, which startled me even more than I already had been... he jumped up, then leaned down into my face... his face was so close to mine... we could have... he whispered, "Don't move. Don't say a word. Somebody's here. Shssshhhh." I nodded understanding. He patted my back, then stealthily walked over toward the stairway, keeping low, and very quiet.

He turned back to me and said conversationally, "It's okay. Your Dad and the Sheriff are here."

I got up and put on my tennis shoes, but left my shirt off. I was hot, sticky, and sweating, too. And I was fully boned up. I looked down... my penis was growing bigger... but I didn't have time to fully assess the situation because Rocky said, "You can admire that later. Nice."

My head went up like a jackhammer. I observed the tale-end of a smirk that was passing across his face, then he turned away and made ready to descend the makeshift stairs leading down. I grabbed my t-shirt and put it on, hoping to put out of sight that which was trying to be seen, at least to me, and to Rocky, too. Did he think I was weird? Am I weird? Those were my thoughts.

When I got down from the loft, Dad took me into his arms and squeezed lightly. He asked, "Are you okay?"

Other than being tired and hungry... I nodded that I was fine. But was I really? No, not really... I took Dad's arm and led him outside so that we could talk alone. We walked the dusty path to the corral, leaned against the rickety fence. Dad asked, "James, I'm proud of you for staying with Rocky... he needs all the friends he can get. I'm afraid to say that his Dad is going to be put away for a good long time. That goes for his Uncle, too... especially his uncle... he's a low-life piece of pond scum."

"Uhm, yeah, that's what I wanted to tell you... Dad?"

"Yes, Son."

"Uhm, do you remember when you and I talked... we were talking about private stuff... you know about trust? <Dad nodded>. Well, Rocky and I are friends... we talked about some stuff... Dad, he's being hurt... his jackass father, sorry, has beat him for no reason... I'm only telling you this because... because we can't keep secrets if somebody's being hurt or somebody's going to get hurt..." I shrugged my shoulders. For a brief moment, I thought I was saying stuff that I shouldn't share because it was told to me in confidence, but, yet, I mean, well – Rocky's being hurt. And we're friends.

"Son, you did right by telling me. This is something we did not know. I'll tell you what..." But his words were interrupted when Rocky and Eric came walking to us. Rocky looked to me then to Dad... he just kind of stood there.

I said, "Rocky, I told Dad about you being beaten. You're my friend. I can't keep a secret when my friend gets hurt... I just can't. That's all I told Dad. Trust me... I can't let you get hurt. I just can't."

At first, Rocky looked angry, but it very quickly passed. He quickly reached up to his face and smeared wet dirt up his forehead... he then put his head down and started to turn to walk away, but, then, had a second thought. He turned to me, "I'd do the same thing for you. It's okay. It has to stop sometime... you know what I mean... we talked about it last night."

The way he said those words, and from the intense look in his eyes... I knew exactly what he meant. Involuntarily, I shuddered slightly and goose bumps went up and down my arms. I nodded.

He then looked to Dad, his eyes once again got really heavy and dark. Without saying anything, he turned around and lifted his t-shirt over his head. I gasped in horror. His back, his beautiful back, his strong back, had whelps all up and down it, and across his shoulders. I couldn't believe it, but I saw it with my own eyes. Eric choked. Dad set his jaw, his eyes narrowed to slits, his fists clenched. Without hesitation, Dad walked to Rocky, pulled him into his arms after gently lowering his shirt so that his back and belly were once again covered.

I didn't know. I had pulled him into my chest last night so that he could sleep... I had no idea. Tears began freely flowing. Eric muttered, "Fucking son of a god damned bitch", as he walked toward the barn. Within 2 seconds he was returning to us with the Sheriff on his heels. Eric's jaw was set as though it was cast in concrete. Meanwhile, Rocky was softly sobbing into Dad's expansive front side. Eric, without asking, gently lifted up and out Rocky's shirt so the Sheriff could see the extent of how badly Rocky had been beaten.

The Sheriff looked closely at the whelps. Professionally, he said, "Rocky, I'm sorry this happened to you." Rocky turned around, but did not argue or try to pull away when Dad lowered his shirt and pulled him back in, only facing forward so that he could hear what the officer was going to say. "Son, now hear me out... can you do that for me?"

Rocky looked up, "Yes, Sir. I'm listening. I don't mean to be any trouble, Sir."

The sheriff, quick to respond, said, "For the love of God, boy, you are in no trouble. Let me do my job. You will never have to have anything like this ever done to you again... I promise you. Believe me, if I have anything to say about it, and I will, the man who did this to you will never again see freedom. There is some stuff you do not know about him... and now is not the time to get into that... here's what we need to do: I'm going to drive you to the hospital so that you can get checked out. The first purpose is to make sure you are not seriously injured. The second purpose is to have your injuries photographed. The evidence is crucial. And then, I'll take your statement which will be a part of the official record. Please cooperate with me... we've got to make sure all the bases are covered. The longer we can put him away, the safer you and your Mom will be in the long term. Can you do this?"

"Sir, I'm afraid... he said he'd kill me if anybody ever found out... or if I told anybody. Are you sure?"

"Well, Son, what you just told me is that you received a very credible threat of great bodily injury, to the point of first degree murder of a child. As it is right now, you have been assaulted with great bodily harm... these two charges, in and of themselves, will put him away for a good long time, maybe even 20 years. You'll be, what, in your 30's then?"

"Yes, Sir. I'm 13 now. Are you positive?"

"I have no doubt." Sheriff Green said with total conviction. I shuddered.

"Uhm, okay, can Dan, I mean Mr. Richardson go with me? I don't trust many men right now. I trust him, though, please?"

Dad patted Rocky's shoulder, but stopped when Rocky winced.

Dad said, assuredly, "I'll go with you. I want to tell you, though, that only hospital and law enforcement personnel will be in your exam room. They need to see you without any outside interruptions. They do this for your protection."

"That's right, Rocky. I'll be there. We'll have a contract photographer taking the pictures. He's been approved by all law enforcement agencies in this area. He's professional and sworn to secrecy. Once the medical exam is performed, I'll get your statement. If you're up to it, your Dad's arraignment is scheduled for 3:30 this afternoon. If you can, you'll be asked to give a statement to the judge handling the case. Your Mother is going to be there, too."

"Okay... he's not my Dad, though... he's actually my step-father, if you call it that... I mean 'him'. Sorry."

"I have a few more questions for you before we get going... you might want to talk to me alone... they are or can be embarrassing, or at least they are very personal." Sheriff Green said softly yet professionally.

Rocky shrugged his shoulders. He looked at me, then to Eric, then turned his face upward to look at Dad. He replied, "Last night I told James that I try to be an open book... he's my friend, so is Eric, and well, Dad, I mean Mr. Richardson is their Dad... it's okay with me, I mean, if they stay. Well, uhm, can they, please?"

"That's fine. I don't have very many more questions... are you hurt anywhere else?"

"Yeah, my legs... they're pretty bad."

"Would you show me? Would you rather go into the barn?"

Rocky looked all around. Thomas was walking out of the barn and turned our way. Rocky shrugged his shoulders, grasped the zipper on his jeans and lowered them to the ground and stood up straight. He visibly shuddered, then took hold of the hem of his shirt and lifted it. Whelp marks covered almost each and every square inch of his body. I couldn't believe it, but I saw them, so I had to believe. My heart sunk. Rocky said, "I'm okay inside my underwear, well in front anyway." He then turned around, faced Dad, then lowered the back of his underwear... his butt was beaten and battered, too. He quickly raised them back up and over his hips.

Sheriff Green said, "Rocky, I'm going to have the doctors count each and every one of those whelps on your body... each one will be a felonious assault charge against that man. I have one more question. Please be honest, or if you would rather, we can talk away from your friends..."

Rocky, finishing with the zipper to his pants, asked quietly,"Uhm, I have a question for you..." Without waiting for an answer, he continued, "How many years does a felony charge have?"

"Since you are a minor child under the age of 16, each count runs about 6 years without the possibility of parole. That's just a beginning, though. With the other charges expected... I'll guess that we're talking about a hundred years or so, give or take a couple."

"You're sure about that?"

"Rocky, juries in this state always go with kids, when they've been injured at the hands of an adult. I'm sure. He's got some other things going against him, too. I am reasonably certain he will not ever again draw a breath of free air."

"What's your question, Sir?"

"Did Mr. Sanderson touch your penis or testicles?"

"Yes. Once. And only once. He lived to regret it, too. I, uhm, well, can I get in trouble? I hit him in the head with a 2 by 4, but only once? I then ran. That's when I started pretty much living in the wilderness."

"Did he show you his penis?"

"Just that once. I wouldn't let him do what he wanted to do."

"What was that, Rocky?"

"He wanted to fuck me in the ass. He was holding me down, but I got away. I hit him hard, Sir."

"Did he touch his penis on or around your mouth or bottom?"

"Like I just said, he had me down but I got away. No, Sir, he didn't have the chance."

"That's kidnapping – which is federal. Attempted rape of a child under age 16. A hundred years plus, probably another hundred, and then there is the federal charge... hmm... kidnapping is right around 25 years... of course, the kidnapping would be upped to aggravated."

"Okay, what does all that mean?" Rocky asked decisively.

"Even with 'good behavior', he's looking at around 150 years of hard time."

For the first time, other than the little grin he gave me just as we came down from the loft, he cautiously smiled. The only other time I had seen him smile was at the mud-wrestling tournament, and then it was the major thing that stood out because of the mud all over his body. Then he turned dead serious, "What about my Mom? He's hit her, too… are there more charges against him?"

"Oh yeah. The answer is a definite 'yes'."

"Okay I trust you." He adjusted his lower parts, then took off for the barn, but before he got very far, he turned around. To the sheriff he said, "Fuck him. The son of a bitch can rot in hell for all I care. Mom and I'll be okay. I'll make it okay."

"Dad, Sir, I need to be with Rocky. Please?"

Dad nodded his approval. I took off into the barn after Rocky. He was standing still in the middle of the barn, working the zipper. He looked up, nodded, and went back to fiddling with his pants.

I walked over, stood in front of him. We looked into each other's eyes, then I looked down when he pulled his hands away… they were shaking, and they too had been smacked hard… the knuckles were bruised.

He leaned in and whispered in my ear, "He smacked my hands, usually with a board, to keep me from, you know, jacking off. But I did it anyway... fuck him." He didn't hiss his words; rather they came out in a way that sounded like a sense of accomplishment by defying that stupid motherfucker. I had to chuckle... I understood.

I reached my hands out toward his lower regions. I looked into his eyes to see any sense of 'not wanting me to do that'… there was none. He'd gotten the fabric of his underwear snagged in the zipper. With some difficulty, and with some accidental casual touches of his dick, which was sprouted up and out, somewhat, I got the job finished.

We parted, but I didn't want to part... I wanted to hug him. I wanted to hold him. I wanted to... I don't know what else I wanted to do with him... something nice. I'd never felt that way before, not with anyone, even Seth. I pulled back and looked into his eyes... there was a light on. The darkness was almost gone... there was something else in there, but I couldn't tell what it was. It wasn't bad, whatever it was. I don't know. I know what it was – I wanted to kiss him. I wanted to hold him in my arms, like we did the night before. That's as far as I got with those thoughts... Sheriff Green said, "Rocky, are you ready to go?

"Yes, Sir, I'm ready. I need to get something out of the loft... I'll be right back. Coming?" Rocky said to the Sheriff, then to me.

I looked to Dad for my answer. He nodded. We took off, clambered up the ladder, then stood in front of each other. Eric came up, too. We were just standing, waiting for somebody to say something first.

Eric said to Rocky, "James will understand…"

I looked with questions to Eric. He winked, turned away and took off back down the stairs, leaving Rocky and me to ourselves.

Rocky swallowed hard, like he was about to choke. He took a deep breath, exhaled, then said, "Only Eric knows my secret. He said you'll understand… don't hate me, please. I'm scared. I'm really scared, James, really I am." A lone tear escaped from his right eye and ran down his cheek. I closed the distance between us, reached up and wiped away the drop of water resting on his chin.

And then... he leaned forward.

And then... I leaned forward.

And then... Dad's voice boomed from down below, "You boys about ready to go?"

"Be right down, Dad." I said, never once letting my eyes wander anywhere from Rocky's. He swallowed hard. I felt a lump raise in my throat... I thought I was going to asphyxiate, but not quite.

"James." Rocky whispered. His breath was so close, yet so far away, but we were only an inch, no less, no more, apart. He licked his lips, very, very nervously.

"I'm right here." I whispered to him.

The world seemed to stop mid-rotation. The world was waiting. A decision had to be made. And it had to be made right then and there. There would be no turning back. At the same time, I didn't want to turn back.

Like Rocky, I licked my lips. While my tongue was out, Rocky's eyes locked on it, and then, like a stroke of lightening, his lips touched my tongue, and then he devoured it, and I devoured his. Our bodies came together, front to front, and that was all she wrote... showers and sparks, better than any damned 4th of July celebration ever thought about being, signaled the moment of no return. Rocky's hands urgently cupped my butt cheeks, and mine grabbed him just as I lost all sense of consciousness. I do believe our sheer weight was all that was holding us up at that point in time. I don't know, though, there may have been other factors involved, to keep us standing.

Recovered, somewhat, from the most colossal experience ever, we stood there just looking into each others' eyes, smiling, enjoying our moments alone. All time seemed to stop, as if it didn't even exist. Finally Rocky broke the silence by whispering, "I was just going to tell you that I'm gay. I didn't intend for this to happen... I was afraid that you'd hate me... Eric's the only person that knows."

I pulled Rocky back into my arms and said, "I knew there was something about you since that day you walked through the crowd at the fair with your torn and tattered underwear hanging off your hips. Did you have an erection, no kidding?"

"No kidding. That was embarrassing... was it that noticeable?" Rocky giggled.

"Well, it was if you're looking for it. Heh heh heh, I wasn't really looking FOR IT, but since you were on display... if ya know what I mean."

"Oh yeah... if I recall correctly... <snicker>... I wasn't the only one with a bit of a problem."

"You got that right. Eric had one, too. We thought we packed enough mud around to make it not all that noticeable."

"Well, like you said, if you were looking for it... and I admit – I was looking. Nice stuff. God, I can't believe I'm saying these things to you... I'm not really a whore. I've never been with a guy before... though I've thought about it a lot."

The first thought that went through my head was Seth. Then my thoughts were broken when Rocky put his hands on either side of my face, pulled me in and kissed me tenderly. Just a quick one. But it was from his heart, I could just tell it was.

I was just getting ready to tell Rocky about Seth, but Dad stopped me by hollering that it was time for us to go. "Okay Dad, we'll be right there, promise."

Just as we were ready to part, I looked down. Rocky had a definite bulge in the front of his pants, in fact you could see the markings of his dick head, and then I started laughing – he'd definitely shot his stuff because it was running down his pants leg, or at least it had; it looked very wet. He looked down, then blushed bright red. I grabbed my shirt off the hay bale and began rapidly wiping the evidence away. The wet stain was definitely there, but, at least it was a little less noticeable.

Rocky called later on that afternoon. He told me that his examination went okay, but that having the photographs taken on his entire body was embarrassing as hell. I could relate. Been there done that, and I said so. Telling him that seemed to comfort his concerns. I told him about the chain of custody thing, that those pictures, especially those that were taken of his privates would be kept sealed unless he had direct injury to his goods. He, once again, reassured me that everything 'there' was okay, reminding me about our earlier experience in the loft, as if I could forget that – not happening.

I asked for and received permission to go to his house tomorrow to help do his chores. Since the asshole was in jail, Rocky would be required to do his chores, but he didn't mind because he loved the farm just as much as I did, and do. Like him I couldn't imagine living anywhere else.

He said the hearing was no big deal. Asshole was shackled and cuffed, didn't say anything, even when the judge asked him how he plead. He was remanded into custody without bail. A federal prosecutor from Kansas City had been brought in just in case the judge ordered a low bail amount. Not only was asshole charged for Rocky's stuff, he was presented with an additional 17 charges for assault on his wife, Rocky's mother.

He said the reason for his step father's incarceration came out in open court. He was too upset to tell me what it was, right then, but assured me that he'd tell me the next day. He sounded very upset... he had no idea that that was what the asshole went to jail for, back before he and his mother got together, but that everything was starting to make sense to him, now that he thought about it.

I helped everybody out by doing extra chores that evening before dinner, and then again after dinner and before bed. We got them done just as the sun was setting on the horizon. The sky was beautiful... there were all variations of reds and oranges and yellows passing through high cirrus clouds. For about 5 seconds, Eric, Luke and I debated on dashing to the creek and rinsing the sweat, grime and stink off of us, but it was getting way too dark and Dad did not want us down there that late.

After stripping down and going into the house, I went on upstairs, turned right toward the bathroom, and was just closing the door when Eric barged in. He was smiling. I knew exactly what he wanted to know – what did Rocky and I do, what did we say to each other, and if I liked him.

While Eric ran the bathwater, I sat down and took care of business, causing quite a bit of discomfort since it had been over 24 hours without medicine. I was a bit bloody, again, but not too much.

With Eric on one end of the tub and me on the other, I straddled his legs, sat back, and told him most, but all of what Rocky and I had talked about, but not really about what we 'did', or, directly, 'what happened'. His curiosity was answered, at least temporarily, or at least I thought so.

We had to change water 3 times; the last time was for a thorough rinse. When Eric leaned forward to wash his hair under the faucet, I longed to lean forward and kiss his butt. His deep dark crevice was in full view, even the little dimple in the midst of his globes, but I didn't. I was hard as hell, but I'm always hard these days. Instead of kissing his butt, I soaped up a washcloth and washed his bottom for him, including the dark crevice separating his cheeks south of the border. "Hey, you've got one little scraggly little hair growing right here..." I grabbed it, pulled on it just enough to make sure he was aware. Aware he was... he turned around very quickly and pulled my hand away from his private area. He wasn't mad... his butt he's pretty sensitive about.

In bed, alone by myself for a change, I tried to make my masturbation last for a long, long time, but, within seconds I was over the top, and that was that, even though the little guy wanted more. Sleep prevented any further pleasure adventures.

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