The Births, Lives, Times, Secrets and Deaths of Ennis del Mar and Jack Twist

Brokeback Mountain The Complete Novel 1943-2006 VII

Chapter 7 ~ Fate Finds Johnny Twist

Lust & The Pentecostal In-Laws
Martha Caine's parents were poor Montana business owners. In the midst of the Great Depression they knew they couldn’t hold onto their failing little restaurant just north of the Wyoming border, so in 1935 they sold it for what they could get and moved a few miles south. Her father had purchased a house at a foreclosure sale that had been taken by the town of Lightning Flat for back taxes and got a job there as a supervisor at the federal northwestern postal service hub.

It had taken ten years for the town to struggle back from droughts and numerous locust outbreaks. The locals resorted to "dry farming" to make ends meet, and a sort of real estate boom was occurring when investors were swarming in to buy property up for a song.

Martha was fourteen and her younger brother Harold was thirteen then. She was very pretty with dark brown curly hair and was well liked in school. Her friends dubbed her "The Cherry Blossom Queen" because she’d draw cherry flowers on anything she could get her hands on from school notebooks to her parent’s mailbox. All of her blouses and skirts were embroidered with them, and her favorite color was cherry red.

When her clothes started getting too small as her teenaged bust began developing, she’d wear them anyway, which earned her a lot of popularity with the boys...

...Edward Twist was lucky enough to have found barely sufficient ground water for irrigation, though he wound up mortgaging his farm to buy and maintain the equipment for it. Though he had more than most, his tiny family was barely making it financially themselves. That didn't stop less fortunate neighbors from regularly showing up at his doorstep seeking help, or especially their church with their hand out.

His conceited wife insisted on having only the finest fabrics to make her clothes with. As long as she was envied at Sunday worship services, that's all she seemed to care about... which didn't help convince anyone just how much they were struggling.

His teenaged son Johnny had the same problem Martha had affording new clothes and would wander around town shamelessly without a shirt in old worn tight jeans that were getting too small, showing off his muscled brawn and weather-beaten good looks. Martha had a schoolgirl crush on him but it never seemed to go anywhere.

Though they were barely more than just acquaintances, three years later at the age of seventeen, Martha agreed to marry Johnny right after his high school graduation without realizing what she was getting herself into. It was a nearly loveless marriage of convenience arranged between her parents and his; who were ranchers less interested in romance for their son and more concerned with him producing grandchildren to help run their vast spread.

To all outward appearances they seemed like a good match.

For Martha, it was considered love because her world was ruled by the heart - For Johnny it was lust at first sight. Like his uncaring and heartless father before him, he believed that women were for obediently cookin’, fuckin’, and raisin’ offspring; no more - no less.

The first stretch of their young marriage was spent living with his overbearing and increasingly puritanical parents on their D/Rocky Point Road ranch on the outskirts of town.

John Twist was an only child and also spent most of his time like his father Edward before him, working like a slave for his pa and fantasizing an escape route to his own place.

"Ma" Twist used to go around "putting on airs" claiming that she was related to Grace Scott, the founder of Lightning Flat... until the Scott family quietly posted a letter to her warning her to stop or they'd expose her for the liar that she was.

The Stott house was one of the grandest in all of in that part of Wyoming. At the time no one could've foreseen that fifty years later it and the church would be one of the very few structures in town left standing intact... just barely on both counts.

Martha spent her time working next to him in the fields, more often than not being fucked almost continuously anywhere that was out of sight of his constantly moralizing mother.

Ma detested having to listen to the newlyweds at night trying unsuccessfully to make the grandkids they demanded.

With the farming economy regularly going sour and the Twist ranch on the verge of failing, Johnny’s parents pressured him into trying to find outside work to bring in money for seeds and supplies.

Martha found a part-time job almost immediately working for her father sorting mail at the postal hub in town. Johnny applied too, but was turned away. Papa Caine sensed how Martha was being treated by her ever-horny husband and his holier-than-thou parents and wanted nothing to do with any of them… besides maybe it’d take his cocky son-in-law down a peg or two if it got around town that he was being supported by his wife.

With that kind of pressure on him, John doubled his efforts to find a better job than she had, which hopefully would make her quit hers.

[At about this point in time Kyle del Mar, separated from his wife, abandoned his ranch, and had just left Sage on his own to find work. His wife Frannie moved her two infants Kyle Junior and Cornelia across the road to live with her parents.]

Mr. Bossman's Compliments
A few days’ frustration later Twist had just come out of the general store from applying for a job as a stock handler. He’d made it part way down the street when people mysteriously started coming out of shops to stare in his direction. He began checking himself to see if he’d split his old jeans or forgot his fly buttons or something.

They weren’t looking at him; they were looking behind him!

Someone had pulled up to the curb in front of the market he’d just exited minutes earlier and his eyes widened at the sight of a 1938 Packard coupe. As the astonished murmuring crowd gathered around it, some looked in the shop’s windows to see whom it was that could afford such a automobile.

Fat old Mrs. Morrison came out of her dress store to stand beside him, gestured at the gathering throng and chuckled to herself.

In poor rural areas the streets were still an equal mixture of horses and old farm pickups, so when a magnificent machine like this appeared it was an event. That’s why Johnny was puzzled that the men were staring at the general store’s door instead of the car… in fact so were the ladies.

A brunette woman with long straight hair to her waist emerged a few minutes later, solving the mystery of why so many slack-jawed men were waiting. She wore fancy white boots and a matching cowboy hat, little tight shorts, and a stretched blue plaid men’s shirt that accented a very large gravity-defying bosom hanging over a trim waist. Immediately behind her was one of the tallest and most muscular men Twist had ever seen, wearing blue jeans, a tan cowboy hat and a black work shirt with the sleeves rolled up to reveal impossibly huge biceps.

A clerk behind the couple struggled out parcels stacked to his chin as the large man opened the sexy woman’s door for her.

He motioned for the young man laden with packages to follow him and strolled around the rear of the impossibly shiny automobile to the driver's side, removed his hat and then placed it atop the Packard. Opening the rear door he took the boxes and put them on the back seat.

The clerk tipped his hat in thanks for his business and turned to leave but the handsome man stopped him by catching his forearm.

They stood there a moment as the big gentleman closed the door and then dug money and little slips of paper out of his pocket. He scanned the crowd as if looking for someone, tipped the clerk and then pointed toward three or four women at random before his eyes landed on Johnny. He seemed to study the young rancher for a moment and then suddenly moved his massive arms.

The crowd gasped as he pulled the tight shirt up over his head to reveal an incredibly developed torso. Tossing the jersey in ahead of himself, he grabbed and replaced his hat and said something to the man beside him nodding toward Twist, then he climbed aboard, roared the engine to life, and drove away.

As all eyes followed the magnificent machine down the street, Mrs. Morrison remarked, "Too bad they’re probably skedadlin’ tomorrow. Trade gets so good when they hit town."

Johnny gave her a quizzical look and asked, "Who?"

She cackled out a laugh and replied, "Ya been livin’ in a cave loco boy? That’s Big Jim Bossman ‘n his wife; they own the rodeo show that’s been at the arena all week."

Just then the store clerk appeared beside him and handed him a yellow ticket to the rodeo show. Smiling he said with envy, "Mr. Bossman's compliments, sir," and sprinted after a woman and her children that'd also been pointed out.

Wondering if they were hiring, he figured, "What the hell" and decided to spend the afternoon at the stadium. Once there, he worked his way through the crowded arena’s aisles over to the gates to watch the brawny cowboys as one by one they carefully mounted their bulls in turn and then nervously waited in the tight confines of their chutes.

The next one up was a plaid-shirted youngster with bright sun-bleached blond hair that looked so feather-light that Twist doubted the snorting behemoth under him even knew that there was a rider on his back.

After about half an hour of baking in the midday heat Twist unbuttoned his shirt and wiped sweat from his forehead. The sweltering temperature was distracting his studying of the athletic show, their techniques, and the deadly horns and hoofs on the huge beasts, Twist began considering bull riding or bronco busting as an escape route from his parents. He could probably get a job tending animals or taking tickets, but those weren’t high paying jobs.

C’mon; I Wanna Show Ya Somethin’
A man came over and sat down close beside him to his right on the crowded bleachers. John barely took notice of him as he concentrated on a rider that’d just been bucked off.

His new companion pointed a leather-clad glove down at the action and the young man’s voice challenged, "Reckon ya could do that?" as below them a panicked cowboy dove into a dented wooden barrel to escape his huge bovine attacker.

Twist turned his head to discover the lean young rider that he’d watched earlier and was taken aback that the kid couldn’t be more than seventeen… if that!

Below them came the sound of another rider leaving the gate and they turned to watch while the announcer barked out his usual encouragement over the loudspeakers and the cheering crowd applauded around them. John gradually came to notice that people closest to them seemed to have stopped watching the action and were peering at him… no not him… the kid!

The young athlete, who was John’s height, stood up and began stripping, first his worn gloves, then the new "Good-guy’s" white Stetson revealing the tousled head of sun-blond hair he’d seen earlier, then the neckerchief, thick cowhide vest, shirt and two woolen undershirts.

Aghast, Twist asked, "How the blazes can ya stand this infernal heat in all that?"

The boy was the proud owner of two mesmerizing brilliant blue eyes and a smile that could bend, capture and melt anybody's will. Through a lot of practice for his young age, he knew how to use them too. Laughing, he replied, "It’s called padding – gits a might rough down there!"

Now dressed in only boots, chaps and jeans, he reseated himself, clapping and whistling with the rest of the crowd. Only then did John notice the elastic support bandages at his left elbow.

When he first sat down, his boyish build didn't betray the body of a bullrider, but a second glance revealed thin skin that seemed vacuum-sealed to his lithe but strong frame featuring a little larger than normal abs, pecs and biceps. A bruise here and there with callused hands said he’d been at this for a while, despite his apparent age.

Every young girl’s jaw in the immediate crowd dropped and some began raising their hands frantically in the cowboy’s direction. That appealing grin lit up his handsome face as he wiped his sweaty brow with the undershirt, balled it up tightly, and tossed it slightly forward way up in the air. Enthusiastic young girls scrambled from all directions and a short fight broke out over it in the stands.

The other undershirt went flying off to the right and suffered the same fate.

Next came his discarded red plaid shirt and after rubbing it all over his strapping chest, he flung it backward as more shrieking girls jumped for it.

As he settled his hat back on his head, schoolgirls beset them from everywhere asking the cheerful grinning teenager for autographs and with nervous giggles began kissing his cheeks. Several asked John if he was a bullrider too. He shook his head no and was instantly ignored.

Parents impatiently called their daughters back to their seats and the young man was left with a handful of scrawled phone numbers and several shades of lipstick on his bright grinning face and neck.

Johnny’s new friend started babbling in some strange language and Twist had to grab him by his left bicep to ask what the hell he was talking about.

The kid cracked up laughing, and asked, "What part?"

John just gave him an impatient look.

The kid’s grin got wider and he pointed again at the action, "What’s differnt ‘bout the bull he just rode?"

"No horns?"

He nodded, "We call that ‘muley’." To Twist’s nod, he continued, "That there’s ole stinky, he’s hard ta ride; so he’s ‘rank.’ Now Billy, he got himself put on Stinky there, so he got what we call a ‘bad draw’… like in poker; he drew the hardest bull to ride. I’ve gotten ol’ Stinky myself a time or two… Damned animal has a lotta ‘try’ in ‘im."

Johnny shook his smiling head in understanding and asked, "How long a stretch did it take ya to learn all that?"

"It comes to ya pretty quick."

Twist scanned the crowd and gradually noticed it was mostly teenaged kids and their parents. The boys (and their fathers) studied the riders’ techniques and admired their athletic trials until they noticed the buxom young girls in fancy white cowgirl shirts and obscenely tight white satin shorts weaving through the crowd yelling, "POPCORN!… HOTDOGS!… PEANUTS!"

John would soon learn that in these extremely tough financial times a show had to have a gimmick to draw crowds. Just for decoration, the owner and his pretty wife picked only the most attractive girls and handsome men and the resulting crowds may not have realized it, but that's why they flocked to Bossman's Rodeo Show more than any other.

The young farm girls in the audience seemed to be ignoring the action in the arena altogether and were instead frantically waving at muscular riders in the stands apparently on a break from the action like apparently this kid beside him was. The virile young male riders, all of whom seemed to be shirtless, were interspersed within the crowd. Those who weren’t bare-chested appeared to be dangerously surrounded and close to having their clothes torn off.

Meanwhile, the local ranch hands seemed to be buying snacks from the sexy barkers faster than the concession stand's kitchen could produce them. Eventually the guys seemed to sense a loss of attention from their girlfriends and before long there wasn’t a male (except Johnny) under 30 with a shirt on in the whole crowded stadium!

...which is what brought the ticket buying teenaged girls to the show.

A nice-looking woman of twenty with one too many buttons undone on her blouse settled down close on John’s right and brushed an ample barely covered breast against his arm. With an encouraging smile she asked him through pouting lips, "Y’all mind if'n I set here a spell?" A gust of wind caught her collar revealing she wasn't wearing a bra.

Before he could reply, she noticed his wedding ring and wordlessly got up and walked off.

As he followed her swaying hips, the kid offered his palm, "How-do? I’m Pete Hutchison by the way - I ride bulls fer a livin’. Muh friends call me ‘Hutch’."

Twist reluctantly pulled his eyes away from her and shook the affable young man’s hand. "Johnny Twist," he replied while stealing one last glance at her.

Pete continued his schooling, "Take a gander down there," he said, pointing towards the gates. "Now ya spot Roy down yonder all in black duds?" he asked.

Twist's eyes sought a beefy man with his hand on the back of a bull about to climb on and nodded.

"Each of them men got a chore to perform. Al is the flank man; he adjusts the flank strap when the gate opens; he’s our stock man ‘n knows them bulls better’n anyone - he’s the big toad in the puddle. We call Hoyt in the dark blue shirt the latch man; when we signal ‘im we’re a'ready, he yanks on that rope to open the gate. That commences the ride timin’."

John smiled and realized how easy it was to catch on.

While Twist laughed at a clowning bullfighter diving in and out of a big wooden barrel while distracting that last bull, a little boy with an adoring expression and a too-big black cowboy hat, came up carrying a scrap of paper and a stubby pencil, meekly asking for the young athlete’s autograph.

As the previous rider finally made it to the fence, Hutch said, "Them bells ya hear ain’t fer show. They’s made out of heavy metal to weigh down the bull rope so’s it comes off easier after the ride, and so’s the rider ken hear where the dagged thing is without lookin’ after he gets bucked.

A hot wind picked up across the stands bringing dust and nearly taking John’s tan cowboy hat.

The crowd jumped to its feet cheering a local young man’s ride until it was cut short at 7 ½ seconds because his free hand made contact with the bull’s back.

As the announcer encouraged the native son’s consolation applause, across the way a blue shirt flew upward into the breeze like a kite as eager females pushed and shoved chasing after it. Forty or fifty yards to the left near the front admission gates another ascended, then fell with the same result.

John glanced at his new companion and observed, "Y’all must go broke buyin’ duds fer yerselves!"

Pete moved intimately close until their shoulders and hips touched. Leaning in, he said in a low voice, "We get ‘em free from the boss. Each one has a tag sewed in ‘em sayin’ what store or mail order catalogue provided ‘em at no charge in exchange for free advertisin’!" Gesturing to a shapely girl in her early twenties seated in front of them, he added with a hungry leer, "We get them free too," as he flinched an eyebrow.

Suddenly everyone stood up and gasped. The two young men came to their feet and saw that they’d switched to bronco busting and a local man had just been thrown and appeared hurt. A moment later he got up under his own power and limped away to the applause and cheers of his friends.

As they reseated themselves, Pete shrugged back into his vest and asked, "I reckon ya don’t come to these very often. Wha-duh-ya do?"

Another bronco bucked off a contestant as Twist replied without much enthusiasm, "Raisin' stock 'n farmin’ my pa's ranch mostly."

The young man met and stared into his eyes. After a moment, he gave John a knowing nod, "Bad times."

A tough, yellow-haired sturdy looking man in his mid-30s sat down on the other side of Pete.

John did a double take; except for the fifteen year or so age difference, he could’ve been the boy’s identical twin or most likely an older brother. He was dressed all in denim with a worn sweat-stained white cowboy hat that hid his eyes. After a suspicious glance toward Twist he leaned into Pete and asked in a low voice, "Ya still sellin’ yer uh… yer horse."

"Oh yes sir," the young cowboy replied instantly, also trying to keep his voice low.

"Fifty like last time?"

Pete’s distracted eyes followed an attractive young girl barrel riding in the middle of the showground intermission tournament. He frowned and answered with a shake of his head, "Sixty; I got other bidders."

John caught a look of anger crossing the older man’s face that vanished instantly when he noticed Twist watching him. "Satisfaction guaranteed?"

"Yep, ‘bout seven tonight?"

From somewhere below and to the far right near the rear of the distant stock pens, a man let out with a shrill whistle and bellowed out, "Hutch; git yer scrawny ass down here directly!"

Pete’s mysterious friend nearly fell backwards out off his bleacher, swiftly putting distance between them and disappeared into the people watching the next rider get ready.

Hutch stood and pulled Johnny up with him by his shirtsleeve. "C’mon; I wanna show ya somethin’," and they shuffled sideways through the bleachers off to their right, then forward and down to the chutes, turned right and spent the next five minutes weaving through narrow gates and pathways.

The distant crowd roared for someone as the two young men followed a narrow passage between stands. They turned left and continued on a path that hugged the rear wall of the arena to their left.

The hot breeze from the open space to their right blew against them carrying the scent of hay, popcorn, and animal shit.

The people above suddenly erupted into an anguished and loud "Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!" The thunderous announcer joined in with them over the P.A., then added, "He come all the way up here just fer the day to try his luck folks... Give him some encouragement 'n a warm hand fer his very first ride. That was Kyle del Mar from down south in Sage Wyoming. He'll be back folks... he'll be back."

As the fans broke into polite applause, he added. "Yer always welcome to come back up here 'n try again in friendly Lightnin’ Flat son..."

They passed a set of truck trailers to their right, one of which had a steady stream of slightly soapy water running out of it that instantly was absorbed by the parched soil beneath it. A thick rubber hose ran from the stadium’s nearby private water tower to it. Beyond it in the corral, three or four docile looking bulls were being hosed down while another was loaded into a cattle truck.

Friend Of Yours?
Just ahead, a small weathered overhead sign protruded outward over a door on which the nearly worn off lettering barely read OFFICE. As Pete reached for the knob, someone inside sharply yelled out in pain as if they’d just been struck.

Seemingly unconcerned, Hutchison pulled it open and ushered Twist in ahead of himself. The difference of bright daylight to the dark room was startling as Pete closed the door behind them and their eyes adjusted barely in time to avoid plowing into the backs of two burly overweight men standing shoulder to shoulder just inside.

The door was in the middle of the front wall of a stuffy windowless 15' x 15' office that smelled of sweat and cigars, and was lit by a single dim lamp on the desk situated in the middle of the far wall facing the guarded passage they'd just entered. Walls, floor and low ceiling were covered in old cheap dark wooden utility planking.

Above their heads came the shuffling of feet and a muffled cheer from the capacity crowd.

The men at the door parted and turned to give them unwelcome scowls.

Someone was sprawled on the floor at their feet and looked like he’d been mauled by a bull. He was about Peter’s age or younger with short dark hair. He had an athletic build and wore a grimace of pain. His nose and lip were bleeding, his left eye was swollen and the skin was torn over his knuckles.

The burly doorman on the right reached down, grabbed him by his torn shirt and lifted him to his feet as if he were as light as a rag doll.

The imposing man in charge behind the desk remained seated, head down, studying something on its surface while their eyes still adjusted.

After a moment, Twist realized this was the man with the fancy car and the pretty wife. He looked up, giving a threatening glare to greet the uninvited stranger who’d just interrupted his meeting, until he noticed who was behind him.

"Pete!" he exclaimed with a smile.

The young blond cowboy burst through everyone from behind and instantly stood nervously in front of the desk. Jim "Boss-man" Bossman had wide-shoulders covered by a new open-collared dark blue dress shirt beneath a tan suede vest that looked expensive. He had blondish hair that was turning prematurely white, startling light-gray wolf’s eyes and gave off an air of confidence and authority.

He had money, power and women, and this was a man you didn’t cross or defy easily without dire consequences.

In the center of the wall to the left of the boss' desk was a plain wooden door. Johnny Twist moved carefully in a sort of hesitant sidestep shuffle towards it as if he were a mouse hoping to go unnoticed by a dangerous cat in the room.

The heavyweight doorman holding up the injured guy let go and his victim slumped with a moan weakly into a leather chair against the wall opposite John. The injured teenager painfully held his reddish puffy right wrist while staring at the floor as if terrified to look up.

Twist scanned the room wondering if the door now at his back was just a closet or maybe a possible escape route. Beyond the desk in a dark rear corner to its right was a high stack of big unmarked cardboard boxes.

That’s when his distracted gaze noticed something and gave out with a loud intake of breath before he could stop.

With the sound of his gasp, all eyes suddenly fixed on him. His were transfixed on more money than he’d ever seen or hoped to see in his whole life.

Covering the right side of the desk, were measured stacks of quarters, fifty-cent pieces, silver dollars, and rubber-banded bundles of ones, fives and tens, forming a mound that was piled so high that the whole thing looked like it would fall over if another thing were added to it.

It had to be the day’s gate receipts, which explained the toughs at the door. The two hired muscles looked like they were sizing Johnny up for a fight that he’d definitely lose.

The injured guy’s eyes met Twist’s and urgently and unmistakably said, "RUN!"

In the smothering silence, the desk chair squeaked and everyone flinched. The boss leaned forward and looked at Pete, "Friend of yours?"

"Oh uh yes sir…" lied Hutch, "Johnny Twist; he’s a’thinkin’ uh joinin’ up."

Still seated, Boss-man’s expression changed as if he’d just noticed something. He stood slowly to his enormous six foot-eight height, staring down angrily at Pete’s face as if the boy had just uttered an insult. As he rounded the desk towards them, both young men were near panic, convinced they’d been caught in a lie.

Hutchison was roughly grabbed by his vest and flung across the room, sailing directly at young Twist, who caught him in a crashing hug before the cowboy could slam into the hard door at the farmhand’s back.

The finger that pointed at them looked more deadly than a loaded double-barrel shotgun. "Don’t never come up to me a’lookin’ like that again boy!!!"

The athlete that Twist intimately held in his arms trembled with fright, his head shaking "no," lost to understand what his sin was.

John whispered in his ear, "Ya got lip rouge all over yer face from them girls."

The booming voice of God ordered, "Git your ass under a shower ‘n warsh that shit off. We got customers due directly; you know that."

What happened next seemed to occur in the blink of an eye in one seamless motion. Pete was an experienced bullrider despite his age and slender frame, and had the unexpected musculature to prove it. He panicked, grabbed at the doorknob behind them, shoved it open, seized Johnny, frantically stuffed him through the opening ahead of himself and pushed the door swiftly shut behind them.

Twist lost his balance as he was tackled at his stomach and flung backwards, crashing against something as he seemed to lose his sight...

More Money Than You Ever Dreamed Of!
John instantly found himself heaving deep breaths, disoriented in total darkness with his back pinned against the other side of the door. The scared young cowboy intimately bear-hugged him with his head resting on Johnny’s muscled and pounding chest. The kid’s still-trembling breath came in huge gasps and after a long minute it slowed.

Lost as to what to do, the ranch hand held him calmly in his arms until he felt uncomfortable and whispered, "Where’s the dang light switch?"

The teenager left him and a dim caged overhead bulb sprang to life revealing that they were at the left end of a tiny humid locker room, very wide, but only about ten feet deep front to back.

An old worn out wooden bench was directly in front of the two young men and close beyond it was a row of old pine lockers fixed to an unpainted cinderblock wall facing them. To his immediate left shoulder was a wall barely wide enough for a big open bull barrel, space to get around the bench, and two wooden stools before its corner met the lockers.

To his far right, a wide opening revealed a slender room with four showerheads set in the wall that the lockers the boys faced were attached to.

Against the distant narrow wall were two simple toilets at opposite corners without privacy enclosures. Wedged between them were two adjacent sinks with narrow mirrors above them. The only sound was a big caged exhaust fan rattling in the ceiling over the spray heads.

Facing the showers was a row of wooden towel hooks with a bench beneath them.

The place hadn't been cleaned in a while and smelled it.

No windows, no other doors, no exits... no escape.

Peter high-stepped over the bench in front of them, shrugged out of his vest, and sat down facing away, at a cubbyhole he’d just pulled open to begin pulling off his scuffed boots. The boy had so little body fat that his back revealed an anatomy lesson in muscles as they writhed and worked. He wasn't skinny, just thin-skinned.

Hutch twisted his head to look back at the farmer after Twist asked, "How in tarnation do I git outta here?"

Pete gestured his chin at the entrance they’d just come through and returned his gaze to pulling his socks off.

Both jumped in fright as something heavy hit the office side of the wall and a muffled cry was heard. Twist suddenly felt the need to plan a fighting defense and thought of his trusty pocketknife but knew he’d better not try. The injured man in the office hadn’t been hurt riding a bull; he’d been, and apparently still was, being beaten up.

Oblivious, Hutch stood and removed his jeans and was naked with his back to Johnny. The sight of this young man's developed and bruised calves and thighs left no further doubt that he was a competitor out there in the arena. Wordlessly Pete tossed all of his clothes except his boots into the big wooden barrel by the door and then moved off to the right. After fiddling with the old squeaking knobs a moment to get the temperature right, he stepped under the nearest showerhead.

Johnny sat down on the bench where Hutch had been sitting and stared at the door out to the office with scared eyes. His imagination began running wild as the sound of terrified male begging and pleading could be heard beyond it. In macho Wyoming, very few things will bring any man to tears.

Finally he hesitantly stood up and moved closer, cautiously listening at the doorframe.

The boss slapped his victim and warned, "If'n I ever see ya again it’ll be so slow… real slow… you’ll be beggin’ me to kill ya afore I’m done."

From outside and above wafted long final applause and whistles. Over the hiss of the showerhead, a drum and fiddle started up, followed by a steel guitar and bass playing some country-western ditty over the loudspeaker as footsteps overhead moved towards the exits. In the silence that followed, John was startled by a harsh warning whisper from the shower, "Ya best get away from there Bud, er you'll git yerself runned over!"

John went over to sit on the bench in the shower room, leaning his back against the wall, absently watching Pete rub a soapy washcloth all over his nearly hairless body. Trying to take stock of the situation, Twist was deep in thought when he realized that his distracted eyes were following Hutch's hands erotically rubbing suds into his crotch and the young man's cock was growing.

He shuddered and averted his eyes towards the office door off to his left. In an attempt to distract himself, he asked, “How old ‘r you anyways?”

Pete grinned, “Seventeen goin’ on twenty… why?”

Johnny’s eyebrows jumped skeptically and he returned his gaze to the young man, studying his physique again, “Ya don’t look more’n fifteen! Yer daddy run ya off er somethin’?”

Hutch seemed to stop a moment and said sadly, “It’s a long story… I’ll tell ya sometime.”

Johnny asked with a puzzled frown, "How come ya stay with the show?" referring to the sounds he'd heard just moments ago.

Pete stopped soaping himself and the young bullrider replied without hesitation, "More fuckin’ money than I ever dreamed of!"

That got Johnny’s attention as Hutch began moving the washcloth again and Twist’s eyes followed it without realizing. Steam was rising up all around him giving the sight of the attractive naked teenager a dream-like haze.

Peter added, "I help pay the monthly note in my pa’s farm, 'n feed 'n clothe my brothers ‘n sisters too."

Mystery solved. "Oh that’s right; ya buy ‘n sell horses."

Hutch stopped soaping himself a second time to frown, "Huh?"

"The guy in the stands," he explained. "I ain’t ever seen a horse worth no $60. Shit, I ain't never saw one worth half that. Yer folks own champion thoroughbreds er somethin’?"

Twist jumped slightly from nerves as two male strangers abruptly pushed the door open off to his left.

They looked like they were in their early thirties, both medium height and build. Both sported cowboy hats. They resembled business owners. Local independent rodeo scouts maybe?

One of them split a stack of fluffy white bath towels with his companion, and then they seated themselves on the stools against the wall wedged between the barrel and the lockers. They glanced at John, probably wondering what a fully clothed man was doing in the shower area, then studied Hutch under the hissing water, apparently sizing him up.

Pete noticed their entrance and only smiled to himself.

You Can Turn Me Loose Now
Suddenly the door burst open again and someone applied a doorstop to keep it that way. A bunch of dusty bare-chested cowboys came in, chattering and laughing with each other. A moment later fully dressed local men in cowboy hats followed them in until they seemed to outnumber the show guys two-to-one. A handsome blondish haired young man had his right arm in a makeshift sling and seemed to be having trouble talking regular.

The sound of the shower stopped and Pete walked up dripping wet to Johnny at the bench, grabbed his own pale blue towel and after rubbing himself all over with it, wrapped it around his waist and sat down to Twist’s right with an amused look on his face. He seemed to be watching the two rodeo scouts, if that’s what they were. The two men watched the competitors who were pulling loose money and their wallets from their jeans and stuffing them in their boots.

As their denims came off Twist noticed that none of them wore underwear.

John recognized several of the locals, as they stood around bullshitting with the experienced men from the traveling show.

A blizzard of sweat-drenched jeans, dusty chaps and socks began flying at the barrel while the group continued to either trade stories or brag about their women and/or kids. As more riders entered, others collected their belongings and left. John began to realize that only the seven brawny young regular show members remained where they were, and had stripped naked. After lingering briefly with the towel men, they made their way one by one to the showerheads as if the locals were instructed to change and shower at home.

Twist thought about it and it made sense considering the limited supply from the smallish water tank out back.

"Johnny!!!" exclaimed a high school friend from a couple of years ago. Twist responded toward the voice near the lockers with a friendly wave as Ben Carter escorted the guy with the arm sling over to them.

Ben wore his dark hair very short nowadays and on arrival grabbed Twist’s hand showing off with an exaggerated grip. He introduced the blond stranger as Kyle del Mar from somewhere downstate. Johnny responded by politely introducing Peter.

Half-sarcastically Ben warned Pete and Kyle, "Remember the name Johnny Twist, boys. One of these days he's a'gonna be real famous... er at least that's what he told me all through school!"

The ranch hand half-heartedly told his friend to shut up and looked embarrassed.

After a couple minutes of gabbing, the two newcomers promised to keep in touch and left.

The shower area was now crowded with seven men for only four spigots. The two scouts had left the towels behind to move closer and seemed to be studying the bruised and battered rodeo contestants. After hanging up their towels, the show riders milled around naked and quickly decided not to wait, pairing up two-each to a showerhead.

As the scouts’ faces turned serious, Twist realized that the muscular pro bullriders and broncobusters had started soaping each other in the confined space they stood. Foaming hands and washcloths seemed to linger longer than normal on chests and asses as soapsuds flowed slowly down, clinging to their fit bodies.

The young rancher had the sudden urge to get out of there but seemed rooted to his bench in fascination having never before seen something like that. Fighting confusion; it was as if he were witnessing a scene out of Sodom and Gomorrah from the Bible.

Hutch beside him actually grinned as a handsome cowboy reached down without hesitation and soaped his partner’s partially swollen cock and balls.

Peter explained, "They gotta be quick ‘for the hot water runs out-that’s why I got here early!"

The man with the showerhead to himself on the far left called out, "Petey, help me with my back, friend?"

Seeing John’s growing discomfort, Hutch leaned into him and whispered, "Don’t hightail it outta here without me - not if'n Bossman’s out there lookin’ fer ya." He stood up, dropped his towel on the bench and added, "Wait outta sight over by the lockers."

Distracted and confused by the scene, Twist stood and moved to his left over to the connecting locker room and sat down in a mental fog facing the open office door.

Through the opening, boss man’s voice said something softly to one of the hefty guards. A moment later came the sound of the outer door closing as sunlight from outside was cut off leaving the room in near dark again.

To John’s left, the two rodeo scouts leaned shoulder-to-shoulder against the left doorframe closest to the showerheads, quietly whispering back and forth to each other. The man on the right must’ve had crabs or something the way he kept scratching or rubbing his crotch through his jeans.

A long moan of pain came out of the showers from Hutch, causing Twist to jump up and look between and over their shoulders in concern.

Hutchison was being tightly hugged from behind by a big muscular man whose naked chest and slowly gyrating hips seemed glued to the boy’s back.

He… he… was he… is he raping Hutch while all around did nothing?

The brave outraged cowhand moved to rescue his new friend, but froze dead in his tracks when it abruptly became obvious that the anguished grimace that Pete wore was in extreme pleasure - not pain. In fact, he seemed to be anxiously pushing his ass back against the man’s groin!

As steamy water ran down both men’s’ bodies, mighty, hairy and soap-slippery forearms moved tightly up and down the young blond bullrider’s tightly defined chest and belly from behind like rolling pins. The adolescent man’s untouched swollen horse-sized cock pointed straight at the ceiling and looked about to explode.

Just beyond them, a burly team member stood with his broad back to them as another was down on his knees facing him, the big man’s hips hiding what the other was doing.

Twist had seen enough and turned around to swiftly get the hell out of there only to find his face buried in the shirt of someone big’s powerfully-built chest. He instinctively grabbed around the man’s firm waist to keep from falling and found himself peering up in transfixed panic, trapped in Big Boss-man’s piercing gray wolf-eyes that were looking down into his fear-filled soul.

Glancing up over everyone’s heads, the show owner’s booming voice ordered, "You boys finish up in there."

Instantly multiple "Yes, sirs" were mixed with the sound of men rinsing off, talking and even laughing in low voices.

Bossman’s eyes dropped back down to Twist. In an even mixture of annoyance and amusement he patiently commented with a chuckle, "Uh, you can turn me loose now, son."

Johnny was so aghast at the last thirty seconds; he almost fell in a faint when he finally talked his arms into releasing his mighty captor. Silently, a huge steadying hand swiftly gripped and supported his left bicep as the farmhand was walked/guided out into the office and forcefully planted in the worn leather chair that the now-absent injured man had earlier occupied.

Twist sat facing the locker room door across the room and wondered what would happen next… and how to get out of there.

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Important notice about this novel: This adaptation of the original short story was
written by Vernon "Jet" Gardner © 2005-2012 and contains enhanced versions of all of the original's events written by Annie Proulx, Larry McMurtry & Diana Ossana in red/
All text in blue written by Vernon "Jet" Gardner published here ©2005-2013.
Reproduction in any form or use of unique characters is
forbidden without permission of the author.


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