Slapout: Chapter 03

Wednesday Briefs

Small time town with big time drama.

Chapter 03

The sounds of Ben working filled the back of the garage. It had been a long hot day for Gage as he’d dealt with different calls, but he couldn’t imagine being in the shop with only fans to deal with the heat. However, even with the struggles, he knew Ben enjoyed his work as much as Gage liked his.

“God damn it!” Ben said as he banged the wrench against the farm truck he was trying to get running again. Despite the frustration his husband struggled to cope with, Gage chuckled.

For a moment, the fans made the only sound in the stifling garage. Ben blew out the breath he’d been holding.

“Gage. I hope that’s you.”

He stepped around the tool chest and found Ben laying on the creeper he’d been using to get under the truck. The first thing he noticed was the gray-green shirt with ‘BEN’ stitched across the pocket was soaked with sweat. In some places there were patterns of salt where the heat had dried the perspiration into the fabric. Ben’s appearance was enough for him to lose his joking demeanor and become concerned with Ben’s well being.

“Come on, babe. Let’s go home so you can clean up. Remember, we invited friends over for a cookout. Before they show up, you need to shower and get a little rest.”

From his expression, Ben’s resolve weakened, but he still made a weak argument. “I told Eli I’d have the truck working tomorrow.”

“Eli’s coming to the picnic tonight so he won’t expect you to work late to get it running.”

Ben wore a blank expression as a gust of dry hot wind swirled around them and sent bits of sand to pepper their skin. Once the breeze subsided he looked even less coherent and Gage used the husband card.

He took Ben by the arm and led him to the office. “Get stuff straightened up and I’ll go clean the shop.” He walked over to the ancient pop-machine and hauled out a bottle floating in the ice laden water. He found one of the old-style glass bottles Ben insisted on stocking it with, and handed it to Ben. “Here, this’ll help cool you down.”

Gage decided Ben needed something more than just a cold drink and ducked back into the garage. He located the bin of clean rags, grabbed a few and returned to the office a second later. Without a word to deal with Ben’s silent questions, he dunked the squares of cloth into the icy slush. As he swished them through the water, he twisted to address Ben. “Sit down over there. These will cool you down.”

Ben eased himself into one of the red vinyl chairs and locked a suspicious eye on Gage. He lifted the dripping towels and draped them across Ben’s neck and shoulders. The resulting yelp left Gage laughing.

“Holy shit,” Ben said. “That’s cold as hell!”

Gage laughed as he disappeared into the garage to put it back into the orderly condition Ben liked. He placed the last wrench into its designated drawer before he heard Ben rustled around. It didn’t take long before Gage finished putting things into order. He hung the push broom in its place and went to see how Ben was doing.

He walked in to find Ben filing away the last pieces of paperwork. But he smiled to see the wet cloth still where he’d put it. After finishing the final count for the day, Ben slid the register drawer into the wall safe he’d had installed a few years ago. He closed the heavy metal door and spun the dial before turning to Gage.

“You were right. It’s time to head to the house. I’m beat,” Ben said.

Gage pulled him close and slipped him a small kiss. “Let’s get home. You can wash while I get the sides finished and light the grill.”

Ben smiled, rested his hand on the back of Gage’s neck and gave him an affectionate squeeze. “Sounds like a great plan. Let’s get our asses in gear.”

The links listed below go directly to the individual stories.


Slapout: Chapter 02

Wednesday Briefs

Small time town with big time drama.

Chapter 02

After a few seconds hesitation, Alec headed toward the door, digging in his pocket for the keys. He unlocked the diner and held the entrance open for the pair. They had been working since predawn to keep the animals from suffering in the heat of later in the day.

Judging from the animated conversation the two were having as they came through, he’d been right.

“That new ram should do fine,” Eli said.

Cullen shook his head in disagreement. “I don’t think some of those big east coast bred rams can tolerate the conditions out here. It takes all their effort to walk from the feed trough to the water bucket, much less cover a group of white-faced ewes.” Their conversation ground to a halt when Eli acknowledged Alec and Miss Dorthy with a nod.

“Morning, everyone. The college boy was just trying to educate the middle-aged farmer. But right now, I can’t think of nothing besides a big plate of what Miss Dorthy is taking out of the oven,” Eli said.

Cullen turned red and gave Alec and Miss Dorthy a shy smile. “Sorry about that. I get wrapped up in our discussions sometimes. Breakfast sounds great. I’m starving after being up at four to saddle the horses and move the sheep to new pastures.”

Eli chuckled and gave Cullen a friendly push toward the corner table they sat at each morning. By the time they settled into their seats, Alec had dished up their usual meals and delivered the steaming platters to the table. Eli gave Alec a wink before gathering up a fork full of flaky biscuits smothered with cream gravy with liberal helpings of spicy pork sausage. Before he’d finished the first bite, Alec had returned with a fresh pot of steaming coffee strong enough to keep them going for the rest of the morning.

Alec filled their cups and Eli washed down his food with a gulp of the steaming liquid. He turned and tipped his cap toward the cook. “Oh, lordy. Miss Dorthy, you make the best food in the entire panhandle. I bet it’s known up into Kansas and down to Texas too.”

“Oh, don’t be silly. They’re just the ones my momma taught all us girls how to make.” She gave them a bashful wave before ducking back into the little kitchen to start the next batch. The sight of her piling flour onto the counter, making a well in the center, and adding the rest of the ingredients by feel—well Alec found the process mystifying. In a few quick minutes, the dough covered the floured table, and she was cutting palm-sized discs that were spiked with bits of butter. The pan filled in no time and disappeared into the hot oven with a soft rattle.

The bell over the door announced the arrival of more of his early morning crowd. One of the new arrivals consisted of Ben Kovac, who was the local master of fixing all things mechanical. Stocky and masculine, he was amazing eye candy. Ben’s arms were knotted and coiled from physical work. Alec liked the dark hair that coated Ben’s forearms. His sleeves were rolled back today and had his fur and extensive tats on display. Alec motioned toward the almost empty diner. “Pick a seat and I’ll get you coffee.”

Ben settled into a table close to the kitchen and had barely seated himself before Alec was filling his cup with the steaming dark drink.

He’d taken a sip before his husband came through the door. Gage Reid was twenty-seven and served as the deputy sheriff for beaver county and was also hot as hell in Alec’s book. He fit the role of peace keeper and was a lighter skinned version of Ben. Gage had his sandy blond hair clipped tight against his skull. His groomed beard fit him perfectly. As he made his way to the table where Ben sat, Alec stole a glimpse of Gage’s round ass packed into his uniform.

Gage settled in beside Ben and smiled when Alec filled his cup. “Good and strong. Just what I needed this morning.”

Alex grinned in return as he sat the pot of coffee on the table. With order pad in hand, Alec held the pen over his notebook. “The usual platters, guys?”

Gage seemed a little embarrassed, but it was Ben who answered. “We’re trying to cut back on the carbs and drop a few pounds. So, we’re passing on the biscuits and gravy this morning. No pancakes either. We’re going for two Denver omelets.”

Gage shook his head and looked dejected. Ben reached over and squeezed Gage’s thigh. “You’ll live, and it’s not like we’ll be suffering to have two of Miss Dorthy’s specials. We both had too many handcrafted beers on our last vacation. You’ll be looking for a skinny little dude to replace your fat husband.”

Gage snorted, “Fat husband, right.” He turned to Alec. “Tell him Alec how dumb he’s being.”

Alec caught himself tongue tied and stammered out a reply. “You’re both hot.”

A second later, when a soft twitter filled the diner, Alec turned red as a beet and fled to the back of the kitchen.

The links listed below go directly to the individual stories.

Slapout: Chapter 01

Wednesday Briefs

Small time town with big time drama.

Chapter 01

It felt like a search light burned into his vision in the pitch darkness, and he burrowed into the bedding and pillows covering his bed in the tiny apartment he occupied over the grocery-cafe-gas station which he owned. Once he adjusted to the brightness, he knew full well it leaked from the diner kitchen where Miss Dorthy created the homemade biscuits she came to town six days a week to make for him.

It was a good thing she did too, because no one would pay to eat what he cooked, but they would drive across the county for an order of Miss Dorthy’s biscuits and sausage gravy. Unfortunately, to keep his six-am customers happy, the breakfast cooking had to begin at the un-Godly hour of four in the morning.

The noise of the pots and pans being dragged from their storage created a din Alec had learned to overlook. The bang of metal against metal, jarred him from the sleep he’d drifted back toward.

He considered pulling the pillow over his head for a little more slumber, but a minute later he heard an enormous whisk against the metal bowl.

Get your ass out of bed, Alec. Miss Dorthy isn’t going to put up with crap from you, and if she quits you’ll be out of business.

With a soft groan, he slipped his feet from the quilts and dropped them onto the cold wooden floor. He stretched to his full six-feet-three-inches and felt his joints pop. His morning woody tented the front of his briefs to an impressive degree. He grinned down at his monster, but resisted the urge to take it for a little early morning activity.

Instead he moved to his tiny bathroom and turned on the shower. He did a fast check of his appearance and found the same heavy scruff he’d dealt with since high school. I’m a hairy shit, there’s no way around that fact. But he kept the heaviest thatch trimmed, so he didn’t look like an Oklahoma Bigfoot.

More sounds from the kitchen below set him into motion. He pushed down his underwear and kicked them onto the small pile of clothes accumulating in the corner of the room. With a final change to the shower spray, he stepped into the cascading water.

Alec turned slowly, letting the searing cascade wake him up. He stood under the pouring stream and let it run off his head. He peered through the runlets traveling down his face and grabbed the bottle of body wash. After filling his palm with the blue gel, he coated himself with its lather. The spicy scent filled the air as he washed the soap from his skin, with the methodical pace of someone coming awake.

He lifted the hand-shower for a final rinse and sprayed the soap from his lower parts. Once he finished with his morning rinse, he moved through the rest of his pre-dawn routine. It didn’t take long before he was pulling out his clothes for today. Most days the choice was a no-brainer: black jeans and T-shirt with a pair of shoes comfortable enough to get him through the day.

Alec tucked the shirt in and threaded a hand-tooled belt through the loops in the pants. He moved to the full-length mirror and turned a few times to make sure he had overlooked nothing. But he couldn’t find any problems this morning. The last bit of grooming consisted of styling his hair. A well-practiced task, a few minutes later he had his waves in his preferred flip over his forehead.

Without a glance back, Alec snapped open the apartment door and descended the stairs at something approaching a run. He jumped the final step to land beside a set of pegs and grabbed his apron. After looping the top around his neck, he focused on tying it over his waist. He glanced up to find Miss Dorthy’s warm smile greeting him.

“One of these days you’ll try to jump that last step and break yourself into a dozen pieces of Alec,” Miss Dorthy said.

Alec winked at her before organizing the kitchen for breakfast. The tiny space was more like a typical home setup. But Alec didn’t have an issue with that difference, he didn’t need to have a diner that would hold hundreds. The small group of regulars were enough to keep him in business.

Miss Dorthy’s next words changed his focus. “Looks like the first boys are here. You best get the coffee started.”

Alec followed her line of sight to see Eli and the college kid who was helping this summer with the enormous flocks of sheep he ran along with an expansive cattle operation. He stood frozen until the pair walked through the glass front door and into the diner… and twisted Alec’s stomach into a knot.

The links listed below go directly to the individual stories.