Double Trouble: Chapter 105


Wednesday Briefs

The continuing saga of three generations of ranching family. Below the story you’ll find links to other flash fictions.

Chapter 105

“Your grandfathers aren’t doing very well. A kid of one of their friend’s totaled his pickup, and they don’t expect him to make it.”

Danny leaned up from the backseat. “Is this the people they went to college with?”

Trent replied without glancing back at the twins. “Gordy has a Ph.D., like Darrin. But he works for some organic agriculture thing around Denver. They’ve kept in touch since college. Gordy is a genius according to Darrin.”

Danny considered what Trent said briefly before plunging in with more questions. “He must be hurt bad. What happened? What’s wrong?”

“They didn’t ask,” Trent said. “All we know is it was an automobile accident.” Continue reading

Double Trouble: Chapter 104


Wednesday Briefs

The continuing saga of three generations of ranching family. Below the story you’ll find links to other flash fictions.

Chapter 104

Mitch dug out one of the huge glass tumblers he and Darrin had collected from somewhere through their life together. But he wanted a glass that was going to take a lot of time to empty. He also didn’t want one of the flimsy plastic pieces of shit either. Mitch wanted a nice thick, hefty glass made out of—well glass damnit. So if I decide to have an ugly fit and throw the glass into the stone fireplace, it would break into a thousand satisfying fragments.

Not that he would ever do that. Mitch had pulled that stunt once during their marriage, and the relationship had barely survived. Mitch had never seen Darrin so pissed off before, then, or after. Mild mannered, polite Darrin had gone bat shit crazy on Mitch’s ass.

But Mitch had learned his lesson and kept away from the drama of breaking a glass and heated arguments. He filled the glass with ice, brought out the pitcher of sweet tea, and filled his glass. By the time he’d put the tea back into the fridge, condensation had coated the glasses exterior. The ran the chilled glass over his forehead as a sigh escaped his lips. Then he lifted the glass and took several gulps, enjoying the cold sweet liquid rolling down his throat.

The amber liquid washed the taste of dirt and alfalfa from his throat and as he cooled he walked to his recliner and sank into its soft cushions. He looked through the window to the sun-bleached landscape. Heat rippled across the blacktop, and he knew without testing it that it was soft under his foot.

“What are you doing sitting in the dark? I know it’s hot as hell outside, but it’s pretty good in here.”

Mitch took a deliberate drink from his glass before saying anything. “I called Gordy today. No real reason. Just haven’t talked to him in a while. They were at the Intensive Care unit at the hospital. One of their kids was in a wreck.“

Darrin grabbed the chair between them and had the appearance of someone who’d been kicked fully in the chest by a mule. He made it to the recliner and collapsed against the leather cushions. Time had lost relevance by the time Darrin could speak. “Which kid? How serious is it?”

“Dennis. Sounds like he swerved to miss a herd of elk crossing the road. He managed to miss the elk, but he wrapped his pickup around a tree. They had to life flight him to a hospital in Denver. It didn’t look good.”

Darrin took a deep breath and held it before letting it ease from between his lips. “That sounds bad.”

“The ER doctor said to bring the family in to be with him…”

Mitch took another drink and tried not to think as the icy liquid slide down this dry throat. Every thought was of the pain he heard coming from Gordy with every word that slipped past his grief-swollen throat. The anguish ripped his heart into pieces. He took another long drink before refocusing on Darrin.

The pain framed in Darrin’s face was as bad as he felt. Mitch wasn’t able to deal with more than the pain already washing through his body. Darrin wiped at the tears flowing down his cheeks. Both of them sat quietly, dealing with their emotions. Then Mitch slammed his glass onto the table beside him. He’d reached the bedroom before he heard Darrin’s voice as he struggled to catch up.

“What’re you doing? There’s nothing for us to do but pray.”

“Prayer hell. I’m going to Denver and help our friends.”


“No. Fuck no. Don’t start.”

“You’d be in the way. They don’t need help.”

Mitch yanked out a travel bag and started pulling out clothes. Darrin walked over and wrapped his fingers around Mitch’s wrists. “Mitch, they’re preparing to say goodbye to their son. What would you do to help?”

“I don’t know, but somehow I could make it easier.”

“No. We’ll wait, and maybe it won’t be as bad as they think.”

He turned to Darrin, the dam holding back his grief burst, his calm facade crumbled, and Mitch’s pain surfaced. Darrin held him as they cried in each other’s arms.

The links listed below go directly to the individual stories.


Double Trouble: Chapter 103


Wednesday Briefs

The continuing saga of three generations of ranching family. Below the story you’ll find links to other flash fictions.

Chapter 103

Danny sat at the dinner table with Trent and Josh flanking him. He looked about as unhappy as it was possible for a person to look. His face was a toxic mix of righteous anger and teenage angst. Josh wished Trent had already taken care of it before he got home, but as it seemed to go too often recently, Trent had waited until all of them were home. Apparently, Samantha had showed up from school, saw the situation and ran. She’d used the excuse of going to a study session, but Josh understood what happened. One glance at the family meeting expression and she was gone.

Josh braced himself against the whiplash he was about to experience. He had no driving need to gang up on Danny, or at least he didn’t want Danny to feel like he was being out maneuvered. Josh hated it when Mitch and Darrin did it to him when he was about Danny’s age.

“We need to talk with you, Danny,” Trent said.

Josh braced himself, this whole thing wouldn’t go well. But there wasn’t much else than support Trent… even if he was worse than Danny when he was a teenager. But that seemed to have escaped Trent’s recall.

“Fine. What horrible, offensive, earth shattering thing did I screw up this time?”

Trent adapted the condescending tone to his voice that sometimes makes me want to punch his face.

“Now Danny. It isn’t that we think you’ve done anything terrible. But we noticed behavior patterns and we find them… concerning,” Trent said. Continue reading

“Showstring” early download

Showstring is available for early download from Pride Publishing.

A little preview.

Ben had told me to be there around seven-thirty in the morning and I wasn’t going to be late. I’d left a little after six to cover the distance from my apartment. My watch said seven-fifteen, but I could already see Ben with the cows. No. Cattle. I grinned. I am trainable.

As I got close, I could tell something was wrong. “What’s up?” I asked.

Ben’s face was laced with concern. As I stepped beside him, I could see why. Norman didn’t look right. Even I knew he shouldn’t be lying on his side with his legs sticking out. “What’s wrong with him?”

as he stroked the bull’s neck. “I’m not sure. I put a call in to the vet right after giving him some antibiotics, just in case.”

I knelt beside Ben and cringed at the massive bull’s labored breathing. “Is there something I can do?”

He looked at me for a minute before reaching a decision. “Yeah, I’d appreciate some help this morning. If you’d feed and water the heifers, then I can stay with Norman.”

I recoiled at the responsibility but pushed myself to do whatever Ben needed. “Okay, but I’ve never…”

After a moment, Ben turned and his eyebrows shot up. “Oh, sorry. Feed ’em first. Then bring ’em each a bucket of water. Then if you’d walk ’em? They haven’t been off the tie rack since yesterday. Most people don’t bother, but I don’t like to leave ’em tied up all the time.”

I nodded, numb with worry. I wasn’t sure I could handle even such a simple thing. I followed Ben’s instructions and soon had one of the tubs loaded with grain and stuff that looked like the pellets I’d fed the guinea pig I had as a kid. I topped it with a piece of hay before maneuvering the tub to the first animal. When I bent to give it to her, she rammed her head in and knocked the pan out of my hands.

“Hey! I was trying to give that to you!”

The deep chuckle from Ben rolled over me and my stomach tightened again. I knew with all my being that no number of times through conversion therapy would ever change my true feelings. I refused to believe straight guys would get a knot in their stomach from Ben’s sexy laugh.

“Sorry, I should have warned you. They all think they’re about to starve, even though you’d be hard pressed to find a rib on any of ’em through the extra padding they have,” Ben said.

“Okay…” I lifted another tub, prepared the same mix then moved to give it to the next animal. This time, when I worked my way between two of the heifers, they pinned me between them. I grunted as they squeezed tightly, but I managed to shove my way through and get the food in front of one of them before she knocked it out of my hands.

I repeated the same process for the next two heifers then watched until their long thick tongues polished the bottom of their tubs. I brought the first animal a bucket of water. She put her nose to it, snorted a couple of times then slurped like a kid with a vanilla shake. A minute or so later, she lifted her head and water ran from her muzzle. I refilled the bucket for each heifer until they’d all drunk their fill. I glanced over to check, and Ben still sat stroking the bull’s shoulder. He glanced up at me and smiled faintly. “His breathing doesn’t seem as labored. I hope the vet gets here soon.”

“Me, too. I’d hate for anything to happen to him.” I watched them for a second, but the moment felt too personal. “What should I do now?”

One of the heifers flipped over her feed tub to scrounge for more grain. “I’d like to get ’em out and walk ’em.” He studied me for a moment. “You think you’d be okay leading ’em?”

I let out the breath I’d been holding. “Okay, I’m sure I can do that.”

“Just hold the lead close to the halter. Otherwise, they’ll play crack the whip with you.”