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The Moment


Where were you at the moment when your sexuality became part of your adult good self and not something to find a private place to practice it in hiding? Priests and Protestant preachers teach us to be ashamed of it all from the moment you are capable of free thought. It’s a miracle we’ve got a population if you ask me. Comes right down to it, its a messy business — and nothing you want to do with any gentleness when you are out in the wilderness in a wagon or your thighs have been wrapped around a saddle all day long. I’d learned in my slow sojourn westbound to just conceal it. To know how to identify a spot you won’t be found that is all your own. Even then it never is.

I was showering that morning, the sun peaking through the trees — and the jury rigged outdoor shower felt like my own private waterfall. I don’t know where my mind wandered to — during and after spraying my lust out in the modern air , before I realized he’d been standing there. Possibly the entire time. I wasn’t sure how to respond. He was there in his shorts, clearly as aroused by the morning light as I still was. The look in his eyes was a softness I’ve never seen matched. I remember trying to brush it off, while trading places and getting myself dried off.

“Its nothing to be ashamed of, “ he said quietly. I looked back at him expecting him to be covered in lather to find he had his now completely erect cock in his hand, at a slow measured use.

“Really. it’s not. I see the way you watch people… or don’t. I’ve seen how the ladies and their way don’t bring your eyes. I know what does…. I’ve been out here a long while, and I know things…. and well, if’n you’d ever like to do it with someone in the morning sun. you’d just need ask.”

I gathered my things and didn’t say a word in response. I headed out in the pasture to the day started, our conversation sticking and repeating in my head all day long. We saw each other again as suppertime rolled around. The small cabin with the fire going, felt unusually quiet. We were scraping through some stew when, without really thinking much more about it, I spoke quietly.

“That suggestion you had this mornin’…… “ I said with a small awkward pause, “Well, I think I’d like that. I think I’d like that very much.”


Water to Ice

We’d cleaned up, but not properly bathed, in our bed clothes when he spied me trying to figure out a sleeping arrangement by the fireplace.
“First off, you are one pine spark away from waking up in the night on fire that close. Second, it’s a lot warmer in the bed and its just sensible.
I’m not going to get fresh on ya or hurt ya in your sleep. It’s going to get cold, even with the fire. so you’ll sleep in the bed.”
I was too exhausted to muster up a complaint. We had come in off the trail, racing in front of a snow front. You could smell it in the air, the change from water to ice. Before we’d fed the horses and headed back up to his small cabin to make supper, a light snow had turned into a steady one. You could almost feel the cabin ache as the temperatures dropped further after dark.
So there I was hours later, listening to him sputter and sniff in the dark. It is strange, that soft and foreign sound a man makes when he’s sleeping. He was a big man, but by no means a loaf. He’d earned his muscle and size from forest work. Logging, hauling, and hay bailing in the fall.
He had that beard that meant he wasn’t committed to growing it out proper, but wasn’t all that committed to shaving either. As he breathed out he sputtered subconscious gibberish that sounded like they could be whispered spells from around a witches caldron.
In a flicker of firelight, I noticed some thick scars on his neck and upper back. A man’s body tells stories that he can’t hide. Worried he might catch me staring over at him, I turned my back and tried to get back to sleep.

Independence Rock

independence rock
The trail was a grotesque mixture of dirt, manure and ice. It simultaneously crunched and slid under your boot. We'd spared the womenfolk - putting them up in the wagons. That was part of this life, this journey we'd chosen. It was a life of dirty, thankless work.
We'd left the preacher, and his never ending line of kin, back at Independence Rock. Apparently all there was in his life was praising God and fucking his wives.
I'll admit there were nights when they'd all batted down, that I was a bit jealous, thinkin' of him having his pick of who shared his bed out on the trail on a late winter's night. But there was always a next day where what you left behind the night before - was standing there waiting for you. No life on the journey was easy, even if you had God to play at the gambling table.
He was going to set up a church on the prairie - thinking that someone might appreciate a little Jesus in the wilderness. Figurin' he'd make his mark out on the frontier rather than joining the rest of the Mormon folk at the Great Salt Lake.
The thing with religion though, is one man's savior is another man's sin. I smiled occasionally at the thought of him saying or implying the wrong thing to one of these Plainspeople Indians. Him violently and completely meeting his maker, so much sooner than he'd originally planned. His kin blowing the wind to the west and the south. That was the truth of life out here, don't plan anything to awful into the future - ya never know what 'right now' is waiting behind a corner.
Our Sunday stroll, as we'd come to call it, proceeded down the west face of the Rockies. We'd arrive at Pocatello in another couple days. There, these families would decide on California Gold or the unexplored Northwestern woods and rivers leading out to the new ocean.
For me, I'd get my pay and sit a spell. All them unknowns would still be there when I'd made up my mind. A rifleman could make a living on any of these trails. For what it was worth, fear still paid a really good wage.

átawit láp'ulp'ul


The phenomenon is known to the Nez Perce as átawit láp'ulp'ul - the ashes of love. The remnant of someone burning like an ember in your subconscious. For a long while I found it comforting. I would lay down at nigh, punishing myself for past transgressions. Like a salve I would brush up against, his voice would come into my head and show me the fallacy. I would imagine us walking in the woods like we always had. A spectator would conclude that I was living in the past. But I was very much living in the present. My present. About a week ago his voice faded. I can't say that I reached out to keep it from going. It just felt that he'd naturally probably outstayed his welcome as it was.

Knocked out of the thoughts in my head, I noticed out the window that I could see campfires out in the valley below. New settlers were arriving now that the snows had thawed in the Rockies. The Umatilla grass it's unnatural fresh spring green.

I smiled imagining small children who had never known the old world, whose first steps had been in a Wyoming prairie town where their wagons had stopped for the winter. Now they were running in circles of play, never realizing they were the first of their kind.

I'll put on my old hat, mount up, go down 'n introduce myself to them in the morning.



I walked into the apartment, pulling my key from the doorknob. I crossed the lushly carpeted living room and thats when my feet made the first tell tale splush of wet carpet. Oh gosh there was a lot of water.
I walked gingerly through the master bedroom and could hear the water running. Walking into the bathroom - there was a rush of rose water scent as it wafted up from the bubbles covering the floor. They'd started moving out onto the bedroom carpet like a Hawaiian lava flow. I reached down and turned off the water and looked back at my great aunt.
For someone who had been assuredly dead for a few minutes to an hour - she looked miraculous. Carol always had a flash for the ridiculous. Rather than be ashamed of it, she always enthusiastically embraced it. She was famous for arriving at parties in her latest ridiculous fashions. She'd stop in the doorway and announce herself.
"This!", she'd say motioning down her body, waving with her hands, "This amount of staggering beauty is a lot of work."
She sat there in one of those fifties neon flower shower caps that represented every color in the rainbow plus a few colours not really found in nature. Immortalized in her right hand was a half full glass of bright crimson red wine. On the tray in front of her, a now soggy national enquirer open to a page about the stars. She loved her Hollywood gossip. Her stars. Her cosmos.
At 94, she looked like a starlet herself. The tiniest hint of expensive blush and the latest, trendy loud red lipstick. She'd talk wild romantic fantasies of what she'd do if she could get only "her grubbies on that Italian stallion at the Maybelline counter."
I loved the idea of Carol going this way. There she was in the midst of her favorite past-time, enjoying a beautiful California red and maxing out on every possible idea of glamour.