Monday, June 9, 2008
Longhorns excerpt by Victor J Banis
An excerpt from LONGHORNS, by Victor J. Banis. Buck, a half breed Nasoni, has set his sights on Les, the ranch boss, who insists that he could never fool around with another man. They quarrel and fight, and here, in the way of apology, Les invites Buck to ride out with him to check a watering hole.
Running Press (Carroll & Graf) (July 12, 2007)Carroll & Graf
It was cool and sweet-aired in the shade of the cottonwoods. The Little Bantam Creek that twisted its way over the rangeland made an oxbow here and widened into a good sized pool, the water green-brown and still except for the ripples made by a pair of teals that quickly swam for the cover of the cattails on the bank, their feathers glinting blue in the variegated light. There were more trees, a thick grove of them, on the opposite bank, singing that faint song that cottonwoods did in the prairie breeze. The grasses whispered back to them, deep and lush, and greenish near the water, fading to brown further away.
"Looks clean enough now, I reckon," Les said, dismounting. "Have to keep an eye on these holes, ain't that many of them and the last thing you want is your cattle dying from thirst."
They were on a little knoll, looking down. The pond didn't appear to Buck like it could ever have been fouled, as deep as it was and as strong as the current was, although the recent storm had no doubt swelled it some. It looked cool and inviting after the hot sun.
"I've a good mind to take a dip," Buck said, and glanced at Les. "If you ain't got no objections."
"Go ahead," Les said.
"You ain't coming in?"
"Ain't much of a swimmer," Les said with a shake of his head.
"Me neither, but that don't stop me none," Buck said.
"You go ahead. I'll just lay up here in the grass and rest a spell."
Buck shrugged, and quickly undressed. Les was surprised to see that he wore no long johns under his pants the way most of the fellows did. No wonder them dungarees fit him they way they did. He held his breath as Buck's naked body came into view, and especially when he bared that rounded butt of his. It gave Les some kind of a funny feeling, seeing it naked like this for the first time, white as snow in contrast to the leathered tan of his back. He turned it in Les's direction as he bent down to pull his pants off, like he was modest about Les seeing him in front, and taking his time about getting out of those dungarees, so that instead Les had this unobstructed view of his bottom with its down fringed crack.
Course Les's dick had to right off go and take notice of it, like it didn't have no better sense. Les made himself look away before the boy caught him staring.
Damnation, it was just a butt, was all, he told himself, disgusted cause of the way his dick had gotten all excited over it. A man's butt, even. Wasn't nothing special about that. Everybody had one, and he had never noticed any of them before. He took his Stetson off and held it in front of himself, so that his half-hard wouldn't be noticeable.
Buck stood then and started down the hill toward the water. There were some bushes in his path, between him and the creek, and he pushed them noisily out of his way and smiled back over his shoulder at Les. Les tore his eyes away from that pale backside, embarrassed that Buck might have thought that he was staring at it, and all at once, out of the corner of his eye, he caught a glimpse of something moving in the grass.
"Boy, don't move a muscle," he said sharply.
Buck froze where he was, and when he did, he heard what the rustle of the brush had masked from his hearing: an ominous rattle, sounding like it was just at his bare feet. He stood, scarcely breathing, his smile fading, and watched Les draw his six-shooter, not his quick draw way, but moving slowly, so as not to startle the rattlesnake into striking. Les lifted his Colt and sighted carefully along the barrel. If someone had come along, it would have looked at a glance as if it was Buck he was drawing a bead on.
He fired, once, and there was a violent thrashing in the grass at Buck's feet. He jumped aside and looked down at the rattler, headless now, tossing about in the grass in its death throes.
"Jesus, that was some shooting, Les," Buck said, letting out the breath he had been holding, his grin bursting across his face once more.
"Didn't figure he would give me a second shot," Les said, and grinned back. They looked at one another for a minute. It made Les powerful happy, seeing the kid smiling like that again. It was stupid, but he surely had missed that dumb smile of his once it had disappeared.
"Anyway," Les said, embarrassed all at once, "I doubt that snake could have killed you. Way I see it, ornery as you are, you little fucker, the Lord wouldn't want you, and I doubt the devil would want the competition."
Buck whooped with laughter, like he had been paid a compliment, and even Les had to laugh with him. Damn, if that kid couldn't put a smile on a man's face when he looked like that.
"Maybe I will take a dip myself," he said. He felt strangely all keyed up, like that rattler had taken a shot at him instead of the other way around.
Buck grinned up at him and turned and jumped feet first into the dark water of the pool, vanishing under the surface and then bobbing up a minute later. He tossed his head, droplets spraying from his shiny black curls.
"Come on, then," he yelled, "It feels great."
Les undressed more slowly than Buck had, removing his shirt to reveal his bare chest with its tangle of red gold hair, and stripping off his trousers, and his boots, but he left his long johns on out of modesty. He climbed down to the water, aware that Buck was looking up at him and self conscious of the way his dick swung back and forth in the loose confinement of the union suit. He looked carefully where he put his feet down, in case that rattler had some company nearby.
He paused on the bank of the creek. Buck gave a shout and dived under the water, his butt in the air for a minute, glistening wetly, looking like it was carved out of that shiny rock, they called it quartz. Les stared at it and swallowed, and hesitated. Maybe after all this wasn't the best idea he'd ever had, he thought.
Buck surfaced, and seeing Les standing there indecisively, he suddenly splashed water all over Les's hairy chest and his long johns.
"You chicken?" Buck said.
"You goddamn fool," Les said, but he was more tickled than sore, him standing there dripping wet, and Buck in the water below him, head back, laughing. Les laughed too, then, like a schoolboy on a lark, and he did a sudden cannonball into the pool, catching Buck by surprise and splashing the water all over his head.
Something funny happened then. They stopped being two cowboys and for the next several minutes, they were just two fellows, horsing around together in a swimming hole, laughing and cussing and splashing, trying to duck one another, and wrestling in the water.
It ended as abruptly as it had begun. Suddenly, Les was a cowboy again, and this wasn't no little boy in the water with him, but a man, with everything a man had on him, and in him. He had Buck's shoulders in his hands, in a firm grip. He had been about to dunk him, both of them laughing like fools; and their eyes met, and something like summer lightning passed between them, and they were both of them aware of who they were, and where, and that Buck was stark naked and Les not far from it.
Just like that, it came over Les again, that strange spell that had hit him before. He desperately wanted to…but he didn't actually know what it was that he wanted. Something, that was for sure, he could feel it rise up inside him, but it seemed to get stuck in his craw, and wouldn't come out. It couldn't be sex, he was sure of that, being as he had no interest in that with another man, but it was something.
Oddly, it was not Buck's eyes that held Les in thrall, as if time had been suspended. It was his mouth. Buck was breathing hard, panting almost, like he had just run a race. His lips were wet, and parted. His tongue flicked nervously over them. Lips as red as if they had been colored. Les felt as if he were falling toward them, as if a magnet were pulling him down, so that he could….
"Time we was getting back to the ranch," he said abruptly, letting go of Buck's shoulders and splashing toward the creek bank.
His breath coming in little gasps, Buck stared after him, watched him climb out of the water. Les might as well have been naked, the way the wet long johns clung to his ass, and they were all but transparent now, too, so that you could see the pale pink flesh right through them. They concealed nothing, revealed everything as he scrambled up the bank: the flexing of the powerful muscles in those full rounded mounds, and the deep cleft between them, even the faint shadow far down the cleft that was his hole, and lower still, the pendulous sway of his balls.
Under the water, Buck grew instantly rigid. Jesus, he wanted that, bad as he'd ever wanted anything his whole life. And for the smallest minute there, he had thought Les was about to…but, no, he must surely have imagined that. There was lots of things he thought, hoped, that Les might be persuaded to try, but he could not even dream that Les was ever going to kiss him. That was something that had never happened before, with any of the cowboys he had fooled around with. Hadn't ever happened to him before, period. Nobody had ever kissed him, not since his Ma, and her not on the mouth.
"You coming?" Les said, climbing up the hill to where he had left his clothes. "We need to get moving, boy." He did not look back, or take time to dry himself off, but began to dress like a man in a hurry, putting everything on over his wet body and his wet long johns.
"In a minute," Buck said, willing his erection to go down, knowing instinctively that Les would just be sore if he got out of the water with that standing up the way it was. "I'm taking me a piss."
"Grateful you waited till I was out," Les said, "but there is no need to poison the cattle."