A Love Born From Steel
Junior was sitting in her father's favorite chair on the porch, legs twisted beneath her, reading The Mystery of the Brass-Bound Trunk. Jenny was on the floor next to her, planning an elaborate wedding with her Barbies.
Junior looked down at her sister. "Do ya have the two Barbies gettin' married?" she asked.
Jenny nodded. "Yup."
"Why are the Barbies gettin' married?" Junior asked. "What about Ken?"
""Cause," Jenny explained, "I have two weddin' dresses for Barbie, but all Ken has to wear is a bathing suit and Hawaiian shirt. That didn't seem right for a weddin'."
Junior nodded. "Hmmm, I s'pose yer right," as she turned back to her book.
They both started when they heard a car coming down the drive. "Is Daddy expectin' anyone?" Junior asked.
"I dunno," said Jenny, shrugging.
They stood up and saw a blue Volvo station wagon parking next to the house. The driver's side door opened and a tall man with sandy hair and glasses got out. "Hi," he said, walking in front of the car. "I'm Tom. Tom Lawrence."
"Hello," said Junior shyly, "I'm Junior—Alma—Del Mar. This is my sister Jenny."
"Oh, you must be Ennis's girls," said Tom. "I heard you were visiting." Junior nodded. "You having a nice time?"
"We're havin' a very nice time," said Junior. "We don't want t'leave."
Tom smiled. "That's nice. When do you go home?"
"Sunday," said Junior. "Daddy's drivin' us back t'Riverton."
"I'm sure your Dad's been happy to have you around for a nice long visit," said Tom. "I know he's been missing you." He paused for a minute. "Speaking of your dad, is he around? Or Jack?"
"Daddy's mowing the far field, I think," said Junior. "Uncle Jack's down in the barn. In fact," she said, pointing, "there he is now."
Tom turned and waved to Jack, who was walking up the road. Jack waved back and when he got to the house, pulled Tom into a big bear hug. "Good t'see ya, Tom," said Jack. "I wasn't expectin' ya. Why the surprise visit?"
"Um, Uncle Hal called," he said. "Somethin' came up, really needed t'see me, said it was urgent. So, I got in the car and drove on up."
"Hmm," said Jack, "that's interestin'. We were both there for a visit yesterday and he didn't say anythin' t'us."
"It was a family matter," said Tom, twisting his hands in a fidgety way. "You know how Hal can be private."
Jack nodded. That was certainly the truth. He motioned to the porch. "Can I get ya somethin' t'drink? Beer, iced tea?"
"No thanks," said Tom. "I'm going to get right on the road. Janet is expecting me home tonight."
"Well, okay," said Jack, not quite sure why Tom was in such a rush.
"I wanted to stop by and say hi…but I was also wondering if you have any news on the business loan?"
Jack shook his head. "No, nothing since last Monday when we dropped the application off." Jack thought back to that morning. He and Ennis had arrived at the bank, thinking that "dropping an application off" was just that—a simple matter of handing it to the receptionist.
The receptionist however, had other ideas. "Oh, I can't take an application," she had said. "Mr. Crocker handles all those personally. Do you have an appointment?"
"No," Jack had said, "I didn't realize we needed one."
The receptionist looked over her shoulder at the glass cubicle that served as Norm's office. "I see he has someone with him right now, but I think he is free after that, if you want to wait a minute."
Jack looked at her. "Is that what we should do?" he asked. "Or come back another time?"
"I'm sure he'll want to see you. Have a seat," she said, motioning to a line of chairs that served as a waiting area.
They sat down as requested. They watched Norm finish with the customer who was in his office, then come out and speak to the receptionist. He glanced in Jack and Ennis's direction, but did not acknowledge their presence. "What the fuck?" Ennis whispered under his breath, and Jack gave him a poke.
"Shhh," he said.
They watched Crocker return to his office, sit in his large swivel chair, turn his back to them, and proceed to pick up the phone and dial a call.
Jack walked over to the receptionist. "You said he would see us?" he asked.
"He said he has three urgent phone calls to make and will talk to you after that," she said.
"Should we come back at another time?" asked Jack.
"Oh no, three phone calls should only take a few minutes. He knows you're here."
The few minutes stretched into forty-five. Jack could feel Ennis next to him, getting angrier by the minute. "The girls are in the truck, Jack," he hissed.
"I know En, but we've waited this long, let's just get this over with."
Finally Crocker came out of his office, an oily smile on his face. "Mr. Twist, nice to see you again." He looked at Ennis. "You must be Mr. Del Mar?"
Ennis nodded, his face a stony mask. He did pointedly did not shake Crocker's hand.
"We have the application," said Jack.
"Wonderful," said Norm. "Come into my office and we can make sure everything is complete."
They sat down in the two padded chairs opposite Norm's desk. Crocker pulled the papers from the manila envelope. He looked quickly at the forms, made sure their signatures were in the right place and then said, "This looks complete. It will go before the loan committee and we'll be in touch." He stood up, obviously dismissing them. "Thank you."
Jack and Ennis stood, thoroughly confused. "You don't have any questions?" Jack said. "Need more information?"
"No," said Norm. "This looks like everything is in order. Thanks for coming in. I'll call you when we have a decision."
Jack paused. "Any idea how long that might be?" he asked.
Crocker's voice became a little less friendly. "I told you, we'd be in touch. Thank you."
Ennis and Jack left the office. Ennis leaned in to Jack, whispering, "What the fuck was that all about?"
"Shhh," said Jack. "Wait 'til we get outside."
"That stupid asshole," whispered Ennis, ignoring Jack's request to wait. "I can't fuckin' believe he made us wait 45 minutes and then didn't even talk to us for a minute."
Jack didn't reply. They walked across the lobby and out through the door. When they reached the sidewalk, Jack stopped and turned to Ennis. "I agree, En, " he said. "The guy's a fuckin' asshole, but we need t'make nice because he's a big part of our future right now."
"I can't believe we have to deal with that stupid fuck," said Ennis. "Isn't there another bank we can go to?"
"I don't think so," said Jack. "According t'Lureen, Quanah Savings and Loan is the only game in town when it comes t'small business loans."
"Shit," said Ennis. "What an asshole."
Jack brought himself back to the present and smiled at Tom. He briefly considered telling Tom about what went on at the bank—perhaps asking his opinion, as Jack was sure he had more experience with things like this—but decided to keep it to himself. Jack didn't want to plant any seeds of doubt in Tom's mind about their fitness to buy the Lazy L. "The loan officer, a guy named Norm Crocker, said he'd be in touch when they had a decision."
Tom nodded. "Okay, well, keep me posted."
"I will, Tom," said Jack. "I'll give ya a call as soon as I hear anything."
Tom looked at the house. "Okay if I use the bathroom before I leave?" he said.
"Of course," said Jack. "You don't need t'ask." He looked at Jenny, sitting on the porch. "Jenny, honey, do you think you could take yer bike and ride down and get yer dad? I'm sure he'd want t'say hi t'Tom before he leaves."
"Sure, Uncle Jack," she said, grabbing her bike from where it leaned against the side of the porch.
Tom came out of the house a few minutes later. This time, Jack did persuade him to have a glass of iced tea and wait for Ennis to arrive. Ennis rode up on the mower, Jenny following behind on her bike. The three of them sat and chatted for a few minutes, enjoying a cigarette together. Tom kept glancing at his watch and after about fifteen minutes, said, "It's been great, guys. I wish I had more time to talk, but I really need to hit the road." He gave them each a quick hug, said good bye to Junior and Jenny, and then quickly got in his car and drove back up the road.
"What the hell was that all about?" said Ennis. "He acted like he had ants in his pants."
"Yer guess is as good as mine," replied Jack. "It was all I could do t'get him t'wait five minutes and say hi t'you."
"Well," said Ennis, "whatever, I'm goin' back t'work. I'm almost finished with the field." He headed back to the mower and drove away.
Jack looked at his watch. It was almost 4 pm. "Girls," he said to Junior and Jenny, "do ya want t'go for a swim?"
"Sure!" they replied in chorus.
"Okay, go get your suits on. We'll drive down in my truck. We can swim for an hour and then come back and get started on supper."
"Ohhh," Junior said, "what are we having tonight?"
"A new recipe I found in my cookbook," said Jack. "Pork porcupines."
It was Saturday night, and Jack and Ennis were in bed. "I need t'get me a lot of lovin'," said Ennis. "I ain't gonna see ya tomorrow."
"I'd think ya'd need t'get a lot of sleep," said Jack. "Yer leavin' at three in the mornin'." Ennis was leaving in the morning for the long drive to take Junior and Jenny back to Riverton. Jack knew, from years of experience, that it was a fourteen hour trip. They had found an old mattress in the attic and fashioned a bed in the back of Jack's truck, which had a cap. Ennis thought that by leaving at 3 a.m. the girls could sleep away a chunk of the drive, which would hopefully make it less tedious for them.
Ennis smiled at Jack. "I took a nap this afternoon, didn't ya notice?" he said.
"I did notice," said Jack. "Ya never take naps."
"Well, that's why," said Ennis, "so I'd have some energy for tonight." He leaned in and kissed Jack's collarbone on the righthand side, then when he finished, he rubbed it with his finger. "I love this spot," he said, giving Jack a funny smile. "I don't know why, but this is one of my favorite spots on yer body."
Jack laughed. "Ya know what I like on you?" Ennis shook his head. Jack looked at him, then tracing his fingers, said, "Yer jaw. I love this angle of yer jaw."
Ennis sat up. "Cowboy, d'ya have a bandana?"
"Sure," said Jack. "Top drawer in the dresser. What ya gonna do, tie me up?"
Ennis winked at him as he got up. "There's an idea. We haven't tried that yet." He fished in the drawer and pulled out a blue bandana. "This'll do." He walked back to the bed and arranged the bandana over the lampshade. It cast a bluish shadow across the room. "There," he said. "I wanted t'see ya but the light was sort of bright. That's better, don't ya think?"
"That's nice," said Jack.
Ennis slid back into the bed. "Where were we?" He kicked the sheets off. "These goddamn sheets, why d'we bother with them anyway?"
Jack laughed. "When I'm sleepin', I like somethin' over me—but right now I don't think we need 'em." He pulled Ennis in close. "Lemme give ya a kiss." Ennis happily acquiesced. When they finished, Jack looked at him. "Ya know, that's been one of the nice things 'bout this summer," he said.
"What's that?" said Ennis.
"It's been so hot. We don't need any covers, we don't need any clothes. Our fishin' trips, we were always in the friggin' cold. Half the time we didn't even get undressed, just pushed our pants around our knees."
"That's true," said Ennis. "I never knew I liked this spot on yer collarbone—in fact, I'm not sure I ever saw this spot on yer collarbone," he said, as he rubbed it with his finger again. "I think it needs another kiss," which he proceeded to give it.
Jack laughed. "I like you sweaty, En. You fuck me and ya get all sweaty."
"Ya like my sweat?" said Ennis, looking up.
"Yup, spunk, spit, and sweat—I like all the liquids ya produce."
"Ya talk like that, ya get me hot, cowboy," said Ennis, sliding down in the bed and picking up Jack's cock. He licked it a bit and then kissed it on the tip. "This is another part of ya I like," he said, smiling up at Jack.
"That I knew," Jack said, turning on his side so he could watch Ennis, who started in on a nice little blow job.
Ennis pulled back and looked at Jack's cock. "It's amazing how they work, ain't it?" he said. "Gettin' all hard and erect like that?"
"And I bet yers is doin' the same thing," said Jack, smiling back.
"Ya know it is, cowboy," said Ennis. "And I think I need t'do somethin' 'bout that." He motioned to Jack who reached into the drawer of the bedside table and handed him a tube of K-Y jelly. "I think of all the times I just rammed it into you," said Ennis. "It must've hurt like hell."
"It wasn't too bad," said Jack, "but I will admit, this is better." He watched Ennis for a minute, then said, "Can we stop all this talkin' and get t'the lovin' business?"
Ennis laughed. "With pleasure." He braced himself on his knees and lifted Jack's hips, easing his cock in. "Feel good cowboy?" he asked, in a throaty whisper.
"It always feels good," said Jack, feeling the muscle relax and Ennis's cock slide in over the pleasure point. "Always," he said.
Ennis started thrusting rhythmically, slow at first, then faster, as his arousal grew. Jack could tell when Ennis was about to come—he always screwed his eyes shut and grimaced—it almost looked like he was in pain. Then, his face relaxed, he opened his eyes and gave Jack a big smile. Since May, he always ended it with, "I love you," which, to Jack, was like music to his ears.
Ennis pulled back and then began massaging Jack's cum into his pubic hair. He kissed the base of Jack's cock. "Hmmm," he sighed. "I can never get enough of you."
"Tell me 'bout it," said Jack. "I'm yer sex slave."
Ennis slid back up next to Jack and lay on his side, looking in Jack's eyes. "Hey bud, can I tell ya somethin'?"
"Shoot," said Jack.
"When we buy this place, one of the first things I'd like t'do is put in a shower. That handheld thing is a pain in the ass."
"Yer not kiddin'," said Jack. "I was thinkin' the same thing." He paused. "Ya remember Lamar?" he said. "When ya fucked me in the shower in the cabin at the horse motel?"
Ennis laughed. "How could I forget? That was the only time I've ever done that."
Jack smiled at him. "It was fuckin' fabulous. I was thinkin', we put a shower in here, mebbe we can put in a big one—not just a little stall or a shower in the bathtub."
"Whaddya mean?" said Ennis.
"I mean, a big walk-in shower, with a sliding glass door—mebbe even two shower heads."
Ennis looked at him with a wink. "Two shower heads? D'ya think people might get the wrong idea 'bout us?"
"What people?" said Jack. "Besides yer daughters, are ya plannin' on having lots of company?"
Ennis pulled him in close. "Cowboy, ya want a big shower with two shower heads, I'll build ya one. Shit, mebbe I'll even put in three—or four."
Jack laughed. "Two will do, I think," he said, giving Ennis a kiss. "While we're on the subject, ya know what I want?"
"Shoot," said Ennis.
"I want t'buy a new bed. This mattress is lumpy and I want t'get a bigger bed."
"Bigger?" said Ennis. "How big d'ya want?"
"King size would be nice," said Jack. "But I don't think it would fit in this room. We might have t'settle for a queen."
"When you ever been in king size bed, Jack fuckin' Twist?" said Ennis with a smile.
"Last winter. I went to a sales meeting in Dallas and stayed at the Hyatt. My room had a king size bed. It was great."
"And who was in that fuckin' king size bed with you?" said Ennis.
"You were," said Jack. "I fantasized 'bout you all night. The goddamn bed was so big, one spot would get wet, I'd just move t'another, then another. It was great."
Ennis laughed as he pulled Jack in for a kiss. "You are too much, cowboy," he said. "That's why I love ya."
"Did ya ever do that, En?" asked Jack.
"Get off thinkin' 'bout me?"
Ennis gave him a sad little smile. "Sometimes. Not too much. It hurt too much, made me sad, thinkin' 'bout ya so hard." He looked at Jack for a minute, then shook his head. "Let's talk about somethin' cheery," he said. "Buyin' a bed. Where do they sell 'em? I ain't ever bought a mattress before."
Jack laughed. "Furniture stores or stores like Sears. They have 'em." He paused, then gave Ennis a wink. "Ya know, when ya buy a mattress, ya need t'lay down on it, to test it out. How we gonna do that, lay down together on a bed in a store?"
Ennis thought about that for a minute. "Well, first, I think we go t'a store we ain't never gonna go t'again. If we know we're never gonna see the salespeople again, then we don't care what they think 'bout us, right?"
Jack nodded. "That makes sense. Mebbe we can go down t'Lubbock. It's a big city."
"Then," said Ennis, "we find a saleslady, not a salesman. Y'know, Jack, I've noticed that women really don't seem t'care 'bout us—care 'bout gay guys, I mean. It's men who seem to have more of an issue with it." He paused, then corrected himself. "Well, except for Alma, of course. But that saleslady when we bought the curtains…she didn't give a shit and I think she figgered us out."
Jack looked at Ennis. "Did you just call yerself gay?" he said, looking surprised.
"I was speakin' in principle," said Ennis, with a smile.
Jack smiled back. "Ennis, when in hell are you goin' t'admit you are as gay as me?"
"Mebbe when I get through the ordeal of lyin' on a bed with you in a department store," said Ennis, with a laugh. "Mebbe that'll be the thing that convinces me."
They both laughed together at that, then Ennis pulled Jack in for a kiss. "Ready for some more lovin'?" he asked. "I told ya I needed a lot before I left."
Jack could feel a warmth flowing through his body. "Sure, cowboy, but this time it's my turn. Ya know I love yer cock as much as you love mine."
The Big Ben alarm clock sounded very loud at 2:30 in the morning. Jack reached over and pushed the button to silence it. He yawned, stretched, rubbed his eyes then turned to Ennis. "Time t'wake up, cowboy," he said softly into Ennis's ear.
Ennis stretched. "Yup, give me a minute," he said, yawning.
Jack sat up. "I'll go make some coffee," he said, pulling on a pair of jeans that lay on the chair in the corner.
"Sounds good," said Ennis. "Make a big pot. I'll take a Thermos."
Jack pulled on a shirt. "Will do, cowboy," he said.
In the kitchen, Jack got the coffee started on the stove, then went down to the basement to bring up the cooler. He rummaged through the box of camping supplies and pulled out two bowls, two cups, and some spoons. He brought everything back upstairs.
He opened the refrigerator and took out a carton of milk and another of orange juice and put them in the cooler. He had made a bunch of sandwiches the night before and wrapped each individually in a sandwich bag. He added those, along with a baggie of sliced cucumbers and carrot sticks. Beverages were next—several cans of Coke along with two beers for Ennis. Then, two apples, a banana, and a package of Oreos, followed by the finishing touch: three individual boxes of Cheerios. Jack figured the girls would be hungry when they woke up and they might not be somewhere where it would be convenient to stop for breakfast right away.
Ennis came into the kitchen as Jack was finishing his packing. He looked at the cooler, then looked at Jack. "You take such good care of me, cowboy," he said. "Thanks."
"My pleasure," said Jack. He looked at Ennis who had a little piece of tissue stuck on his chin, "What's this?" he said.
Ennis laughed. "I should never try to shave when I'm fuckin' half asleep," he said. "I nicked myself."
Jack pulled the tissue off, licked his finger and rubbed the spot. "I think it's stopped bleedin'," he said. "Yer okay now."
They carried the cooler and dishes out to the truck then went back into the kitchen. Ennis poured himself a cup of coffee. "Ya want one?" he said, motioning towards Jack.
"Nah, I'm gonna try t'go back to sleep," he said. "Better not have any caffeine."
"Ya lucky bastard," said Ennis, "I'd like t'be next t'ya in that nice warm bed." Ennis took the pot and filled the Thermos, screwing the cap on tight.
"Ya want somethin' t'eat?" Jack asked. "A bowl of cereal?"
"No, I'm fine," said Ennis. "I'll eat when the girls wake up. "
Jack smiled at him. "So, the plan, ya get t'Riverton…"
"I get t'Riverton sometime this afternoon—hopefully by five. I'll stay at the famous Siesta Motel…," Ennis said this with a wink.
"What a dump," said Jack, laughing.
"You callin' the Siesta a dump?" said Ennis, with a smile. "It was the first place we ever screwed in a bed. It's got special memories for me. Mebbe I'll ask for the same room. Ya remember the number?"
"Just ask Mr. Memory," said Jack, really laughing now. "Eleven."
"Okay, so I'll stay at Siesta in room eleven, wring it out a few times thinkin' 'bout you," Ennis continued, laughing along with Jack.
"Give me a call, will ya? Let me know yer there safe and sound?"
"How d'ya call long distance from a motel?" asked Ennis.
"You reverse the charges," said Jack. "Just call the operator and say, 'I wanna make a collect call,' then give this number. When I answer, I say yes, and then we can talk."
"Okay, will do," said Ennis. "Then, tomorrow, hopefully I can talk t'Alma first thing in the mornin', not get into a screamin' fight, and be on my way. I figger if I'm on the road by ten, I'll be back here by midnight."
Jack nodded. "Sounds good. I'll wait up for ya."
Ennis turned and rinsed his coffee cup in the sink. He looked at the clock. "Three a.m.," he said. "Time t'get this show on the road."
They went upstairs to get the girls. Ennis carried Jenny and Jack walked Junior sleepily down the stairs. They tucked them into the makeshift bed in the back of the truck and gently closed the tailgate.
Ennis opened the driver's side door and started to get in. "Wait a minute, cowboy," said Jack. "Gimme a hug."
Ennis happily obliged and after a long and satisfying kiss, followed by several mutual "I love yous," slid into the driver's seat. He started the truck when Jack remembered the Thermos was still in the kitchen. He ran into the house and came back out, passing the container to Ennis through the window. "Drive safe, lover," Jack said. "See ya tomorrow."
"Will do," said Ennis. He put the truck in gear and drove off. Jack stood and watched the red tail lights until they disappeared in the darkness.
Jack sighed, then laughed to himself. "I'm like a lovesick teenager," he thought. "My man leaves for 48 hours and I act like he's goin' off t'war."
Jack went back into the house, turning out the lights in the kitchen and living room. He headed upstairs, intending to go back to bed, but realized that he was wide awake. He sighed. "Well, my clock's gonna be all fucked up for today," he thought. "At least it's Sunday, I can take the day off."
He made the bed, pulling the sheets taut and fluffing the pillows. He looked at the bandana, still draped over the lamp, thinking about Ennis and what a sweet gesture that had been. He pulled it off, folded it, and put it back in the drawer in the dresser.
He went into the guest room. He stripped the sheets off the twin beds and dumped them in a pile in the hall. Then he retrieved two sets of clean sheets from the linen closet, made the beds neatly, and folded the bedspreads up over the pillows.
Jenny had left her suitcase of Barbies. "I'd rather have them here to play with when I come visit," she said. "That makes them special." Jack slid the suitcase under the bed and as he did so, he saw a piece of paper. He pulled it out and looked at it. It took a minute to register, then he realized what he was looking at—a drawing by Jenny, of him and Ennis kissing. Jack smiled. It was pretty obvious who was who. They both were wearing jeans, but Jack's shirt was blue and Ennis's was brown. Their arms were wrapped around each other. Ennis had a mop of yellow hair while Jack's was black. Their faces were touching and their eyes were closed. Jack loved the little touch of eyelashes for each of them. The best part—they were wearing their cowboy hats.
Jack smiled at the picture. "Ennis, ya wanted a picture of us kissin'," he thought, "well, ya got it. I just never expected it t'be a drawing from yer daughter."
He went into their bedroom and laid the picture on the dresser. The snapshot of them sitting on the porch was there, too. "That's it," he thought to himself. "Tomorrow I'm buyin' picture frames, one for each of these."
He went back into the guest room. Junior had also decided to leave her collection of Nancy Drew books behind, using the same reasoning as her sister. "That'll give me somethin' t'look forward to for my next visit," she said. The box was too big to fit under the bed. He thought for a minute about where to put them, and decided that the bookcase in the living room was the best place.
He went downstairs with the box. He needed to rearrange some books to make space and decided to pack the paperbacks away. Once that was done, he pulled out the Nancy Drews. He noticed that each one had a number on the spine. He realized this must be their order in the series. Number one, The Secret of the Old Clock. Number two, The Hidden Staircase. Number three, The Bungalow Mystery. Jack lined them all up neatly on the shelf, then sat back and looked at his handiwork, thinking about Junior and Jenny. "They're such sweet girls," he thought to himself. "I'm gonna miss 'em."
As he continued to look at the books, he tried to remember which one Junior said was her favorite. The Mystery of the Tolling Bell? He shook his head, no that wasn't it. The Quest of the Missing Map? No. He concentrated, then remembered—number two, The Hidden Staircase. He pulled the book off the shelf and flipped it open. "Chapter I. A Rude Visitor."
Jack stood up, walked across the room, and lay on the couch. "Mebbe I'll see what the big deal is with these books," he thought to himself, as he settled in for a long read.