From behind, something black and round rolled towards the street, followed quickly by a mechanic chasing it... A tire?
After unloading the horses, the four men immediately became a raceway pit crew and busied themselves at all four corners of Ennis' old Ford.
Joining him at his door, Linda's arms surrounded a dazed Ennis with a hug and an affectionate motherly kiss. In an excited laugh, she announced, "Yer my 5,000th customer Ennis! That there jest earned ya a new set of tires on the house 'n a free tank of gas!"
Twenty minutes later, the ranch hand drove home dazed, amazed and now really late.
He had so much on his mind that he never did figure out that Twist was behind the whole thing...
...It took Jack two hours, sometimes with tear-blurred eyes to drive the long miles to his boyhood home. D Road traveled zig-zagged north then east then north then east.
Downtown (if you could call it that anymore) Lightning Flat was abandoned, dusty and barren of people. All the buildings and houses had all the paint sandblasted off of them through the years of neglect. He felt a little shudder run through him, when he remembered the busy town he knew from his childhood.
Off to his left in passing was the huge and imposingly tall church where his parents used to worship, now barren and somehow looking lonely.
Randall’s offer to leave his wife, take up with Jack up in Lightning Flat and start a new life together would be impossible unless he could free himself of a lifetime of loving Ennis.
Trying to balance the scales between the hopelessness of ever having something permanent with the man he loved, or with never being able to love Randall as much, weighed heavy on his mind.
Tanny was left behind to wait at the hotel until Jack could talk to his parents. Twist was concerned that when he called the Siesta, they said that Randall had checked out. He hoped the unemployed love-blind ranch foreman hadn’t changed his mind and was trying to arrive at the same time Jack did in order to appear as a happy couple.
By the time Twist crossed the town limits of Lightning Flat and spotted his family’s battered, faded and rusted mailbox, he decided he’d discuss building that cabin, but had also decided to give Ennis just one more hopeless chance to give in and show him the love he’d been hiding all these years and agree to them finally ranching up together.
After the left turn that headed him north again, he traveled fifty yards, turned right, and entered the old single-laned familiar dirt and gravel driveway as his trusty Rolex wristwatch chimed noon; right on time.
After traveling about a hundred yards down the long private dirt and gravel lane that led to his boyhood home, through the blowing dust he saw old lumber or a post from the barbed wire fence that’d somehow fallen over in his way and he smiled that his new truck could run over it without even noticing.
Twenty yards directly ahead of him loomed two large cherry trees.
The front driver-side tire instantly went flat and he cussed his head off as he struggled with the wheel to stay in control.
Coming to a stop just before the left curve, he jumped out to inspect it and exclaimed, "SHIT!"
The back dual tires looked okay; whatever did it must’ve kicked out of the way before they would’ve run over it.
He pulled off his jacket, slapped it over-handed across the hood and reached in to shut off the Silverado pickup.
After scanning the surrounding weathered out-buildings of his youth and hearing only cattle, he put his cowboy hat on top of his coat, rolled up his sleeves, got under the back of his truck and pulled down the spare, jack and tire iron, then set to work getting the front wheel off.
After raising up the stretched dually's front end on the jack, he pulled the tire iron out of its socket and started loosening the wheel lugs.
A sound to his right distracted him as an old familiar battered Chevy pickup pulled up from behind that he recognized as his father’s.
His smile to his old man changed to surprise as an unfamiliar husky young dark-haired farmhand wearing worn bib overalls leaped athletically out of the ancient cargo bed.
The back of the truck bounced on creaking old springs, and Cory Baint stood looking down at the driveway.
John Twist climbed out of his pickup's cab and stood at the open door studying his son. He was about to speak when a sound distracted him and he turned to look behind himself.
A powerfully-built young man in his early twenties dressed in tight dark blue mechanic’s overalls casually joined the farmhand at the tailgate of old man Twist's pickup. The grinning good-looking newcomer wore a green ball cap with shaggy straight blond hair protruding from it.
At first the two strangers stood around facing the barbed wire fence that lined the driveway to the house, then they paced more or less aimlessly together as if looking for something beside the old dirt lane.
Jack frowned as he sensed that the handsome man seemed to be sneaking glances in his direction. Every time their eyes met for fractions of a second, a strange sexual tension seemed to flash between them.
Twist's father noticed his son's eyes stray toward the straw-haired man and seemed to nod his head sadly to himself in confirmation of a dreaded suspicion. Still standing at the door of his pickup, the old man watched the mechanic turn to face forward towards them.
Despite the cool weather Kurt Kirkwood’s coverall zipper was open almost to his waist revealing a brawny eye-catching chest.
Jack fought to hide his reaction as the grinning muscle stud’s right palm casually moved beneath the open blue fabric to cup his left pec.
Jack thought he heard the passenger door of his father's truck open, but by the time he pulled his fascinated eyes away no one was there.
The lean and brawny hunk was practiced at sexual innuendo and the encouraging looks he intentionally began giving Jack were very distracting. The flirting that the powerfully built stud was doing was part of the plan to keep the younger Twist off his guard and it was working, especially when he reached through a side pocket and adjusted his mounded crotch.
Jack's old man turned back to gaze at his son, who had now busied himself with the lug nuts again, noting that his boy's face had blushed crimson. With a barely hidden and disgusted shudder, John fought off false devil-planted memories of Pete and composed himself. He even managed a smile as he paced towards the Silverado.
At a loss at what else to say, he resorted to the absurdly obvious, "Trouble son?"
"That post was layin’ across the road," replied Jack gazing up into his father's eyes from his crouched position at the front wheel. His mind still was trying to comprehend why the golden-haired stranger was sexually teasing him right in front of everyone without a care of anyone noticing or judging his nearly obscene actions.
Jack reluctantly turned back to look for the aforementioned post and found that the stocky dark-haired farmhand was now carrying it toward them as if to helpfully wedge it behind the rear dual wheels to steady the fancy stretched Silverado from shifting on the jack.
The shaggy blond service station attendant was now nowhere to be seen.
The wind picked up, hissing through and swaying the cherry trees’ branches. In the cloudless sky a crow loudly flew over protesting the new intruders in his territory.
Distracted, Jack finished loosening the last nut, set the tire iron down to his left at the ready, and then his fingers reached forward to twist each lug off the rest of the way by hand.
From the other side of his truck came the sound from right to left of grass and gravel rustling along the passenger side of his new Chevy. The mechanic was coming to help him with the tire.
As a shadow crossed his left shoulder at the front bumper, Jack reached out for the long iron tool to hand it up to the shaggy blond tempter, careful to keep his eyes locked on the task at hand.
Twist was still on one knee as L.D. Newsome swiftly reached down for the tire iron before Jack’s hand grasped it and said, "Here ‘Rodeo,’ let me help ya with that."
Jack stood slowly in shock to come face-to-face with his hated and presumed dead father-in-law.
The forgotten dark-haired farmhand joined them to stand with John with a grin that was somehow threatening and inviting at the same time.
Twist noticed that the big wooden post that Baint held had a bunch of new shiny and very long narrow spikes driven through it so that the sharp ends were all pointing outward by a couple of inches or so.
His addled brain struggled with the realization that the blowout might not have been an accident... but why?
The long grass rustled again on the other side of the truck as the well-built blond came around the hood to stand wordlessly to the right of Newsome. Kirkwood was now naked from the waist up; the coverall's sleeves now tied snuggly around his slender hips.
Jack's jaw nearly dropped at the sight of the lean hunk's well-defined torso and broad sturdy shoulders. The afternoon sun perfectly accented each and every deep crease between bulged pecs and incredible abs as Kurt's palm roamed up them to fondle his own hardening right nipple with his thumb.
His sexually smoldering eyes met Jack's like a mesmerizing snake transfixing its prey before the kill.
On the trip north, Newsome seethed over Jack's costing him that quarter million dollars and the loss of his prestige and business. He had decided to take his vengeance further than just a violent beating and get his money's worth.
He’d been paying the premiums on this guy’s expensive life insurance every since he tried to get him shipped to and killed in Vietnam… well now it was time to collect and cut his losses. So what if it widowed his daughter; she’d get over it.
To John Twist’s disbelief, L.D. told him he’d bring a strappingly handsome young man with him intentionally to prove Jack wouldn’t be able to keep his eyes off him, proving Jack really was the homosexual that Newsome said he was… and so far the elder Twist reluctantly was convinced.
What sealed the deal was when Newsome showed John the court papers bringing Jack up on charges for molesting young Bobby - leaving out the results of that trial finding his son-in-law innocent.
The businessman was so smugly proud of himself. Using the religious cons his father had taught him and that as a young boy had participated in himself; he’d actually fast-talked this old fool into participating in the murdering of his own son just so Deke could have his revenge!
The best part? …Well the best part was that since everyone thought L.D. was dead, he’d be the last one anyone would suspect!
John slipped away in the confusion, needing distance to convince himself that he wasn't really participating in this. He'd deluded himself with Newsome's help into thinking that this was not murder in the biblical sense, but merely a Christian mercy killing like it teaches in Leviticus.
He fought a losing battle with his revulsion and need to escape the sight of one man sexually teasing another before his eyes... like he himself had done professionally so long ago with so many customers... No… NO! Lucifer’s demons put those memories in his head to test his faith in the almighty.
John was here to save this man who might be his son from the fate he now suffered himself.
Then again; like father - like son?
Had he done the same thing; was he now a hypocrite; after all he was twenty and Pete was only seventeen.
As he paced away swiftly ever deeper into the wheat field, the pain of his love for Hutch ached and gripped him. The loving feeling of pleasure and need from Pete that Martha had never given him haunted his soul. He fought it away with every fiber of his being.
It didn’t occur to John until that moment that maybe Jack could be "saved" like he was struggling to be, but it was too late for that now… the wheels were in motion. If what Newsome had told him was true, Jack had been a practicing homosexual for the past twenty years… far too long for God to forgive him.
That Salvationist reverend in Montana that he’d been seeing had taught him a prayer that might ease God’s judgment against his tortured soul… and his son.
Jack arrested for molesting his own son… his own son. John nearly vomited the first time he’d seen those misleading court papers and wondered what kind of mother Lureen was for letting it happen right under her nose and yet still stayed married to… to his son.
Unknowingly beginning with L.D.'s father, for over forty odd years John Twist had suffered many assorted priests, ministers and religious con men who conditioned his mind to actually believe that the memory of his sexual escapades as "Champeen bullrider ‘n broncobuster Jumpin’ Johnny Twist" was just a young farmboy’s intense fantasy gone wrong from many years ago that hadn't really happened.
Whenever the mental conditioning began to weaken and his memories of loving Hutch began to play on his mind, he’d change to an even more radical fundamentalist Christian sect to push them even deeper away. Each Holy Roller in turn did increasingly more damage to his mind... and his checking balance.
This flood of rationalizations only partially worked to distract his attention from what was happening in the here-and-now behind his back.
Whether Jack was or wasn't really his son wasn't as important as the fact that John Twist had raised him from birth to be a moral God-fearing man... and had humiliatingly failed. Something he must prevent his fellow Christian parishioners from ever finding out about at all costs.
He comforted himself knowing that his god would forgive him for saving this lost man from a horrid life of sin, debauchery and a later damnation to hell. He hoped it wasn't too late for his boy's salvation, closed his eyes tighter and began reciting the Judgment Prayer, hoping he wouldn’t hear what came next.
As far as he was concerned, Jack was now nothing more than a beloved pet dog that had gone rabid, or a diseased steer that needed to be put down before it infected any more of the herd.
The real sin of the situation was that seemingly only God and Martha Twist knew that Jack truly was John’s son.
Meanwhile Jack's mind was spinning in too many directions at once.
The weather was too damned cool for what under warmer circumstances would be a perfectly normal display of masculine bare skin, so what the hell was going on here? Those nails sticking out of the post. The shock of Newsome's appearance from the dead. Them just "happening" on him right after the tire blew out; and conveniently with a helpful mechanic.
Was this cock-tease of a smiling golden-haired fantasy stud actually openly seducing him right in front of everybody… especially his father?
Mystified and now completely distracted, Jack turned back to ask his dad for an explanation but his old man wasn’t there.
[Click map to enlarge it] After a moment of glancing around, he spotted him far out in the wheat field beyond the front of the Silverado dually, standing at the distant railroad tracks on their southern property line. His back was to them and his father's head was bowed, hands clasped in front of himself as if praying.
Too late out of the corner of Jack's eye, he saw L.D. take a double-handed roundhouse swing with the tire iron. Newsome had insisted on the pleasure of striking the first blow...
...Meanwhile back at the ranch.
Ennis was about to lasso a beautiful wild pure white horse when something slammed into his face hard out of nowhere. He fell backwards out of his saddle to the ground, and was nearly trampled.
The other cowboys came rushing to him, as he clutched his head in agony, swearing his head off and in pain, searching around underneath himself for lost teeth.
He was convinced that he'd been hit after one of his men's horses had thrown a metal shoe.
No one could find a mark on him... nor the shoe or anything else that might've hit him.
A moment later he passed out from the pain and was rushed to the hospital...
...Instantly the left side of Twist’s head exploded in crippling pain, stunning him in agony.
Just before his vision blacked out Jack Edward Twist saw that fence post with all those shiny nails again, this time rushing towards him and only inches from his face.
Jack turned out to be tougher than they anticipated and regained his wits through the pain long enough to put up an agonized fight. He was now in shock from loss of blood, but being in shock now freed him from the agony that gripped him only moments before.
With a punctured left eye and deep cuts flooding his right from his forehead, he was almost completely blind, dizzy and weak. His fists flailed aimlessly, connecting hard with Cory's chin. Twist began gagging on his own blood as he bravely broke away from them at a sprint desperately and ironically seeking his Judas of a father's protection.
Pa won’t let them kill me… Daddy won’t let them hurt me any more! Help me Papa help me.
Kirkwood and Baint had both bought the lie that they were killing a queer who molested young boys and had escaped justice using a technicality in court.
Kurt grinned at Cory while quickly shrugging back into his overalls’ sleeves... he evilly had hoped Twist would run. He liked it when a victim tired himself out before the kill... maybe this fucking faggot would beg a little for his life too before the end.
Newsome, Kirkwood and Baint took off after him, grasping forward, barely landing body and head blows, but still unable to fell Jack.
From where John Twist stood facing away, he heard the sound of someone stumbling through wheat toward him.
His boy was putting up a fight; the devil is not one easy to conquer.
They'd just passed through an opening in a barbed wire cattle fence when Kurt flung himself into the air and brought Jack down with a flying tackle as the other two caught up and continued beating their now helpless prey on the ground.
The loud thumps and pain-filled grunts got closer to John and then abruptly stopped. He forbade himself to turn around and look. He heard a soft painful groan and a sharp final tire iron blow.
Unable to stop as abruptly as the others, Deke Newsome stumbled ahead around five paces to stand off-balance and bent forward with his hands resting on his knees facing away. He drew deep winded gasps for air while listening to his hired-hands finish the killing.
L.D. huffed out a laugh and shook his head, "I'm gettin' too damned old fer this shit. What am I payin' them asshole fuckwads fer anyways?"
Rustling grass signaled that something heavy was being dragged the rest of the way to him from behind through the tall field crop and dropped without pity at Newsome's feet. He straightened up and grinned broadly while staring down at the bloody pulp that was his son-in-law’s head and smiled in cocky satisfaction.
The air was now filled with the almost gagging putrid smell of fresh-spilled blood. His first thought was to lay their victim on the railroad tracks, but it’d be too hard to explain how he’d gotten there.
The disgraced businessman gestured with his head towards the driveway instead and Jack’s lifeless body was dragged by its ankles back towards the Silverado, its limp arms trailing behind it.
Newsome turned around to find John still standing at the tracks with his head bowed. As he trod towards him, Deke could hear him mumbling Bible verses to himself.
The elder Twist was briefly startled as the uncharacteristically gentle hand of L.D. Newsome found his left shoulder from behind. Rather than acknowledge his presence, Old Man Twist switched to the 23rd Psalm, the Lord's Prayer, and then yet another prayer for his son's lost soul.
"Amen," they finally said together.
They'd plotted this killing together, though it was initially Newsome's idea. One was mercifully saving a soul; the other could care less about God or the Bible anymore and was plain and simply out for revenge for a wounded ego.
As far as Deke was concerned, John Twist was an ignorant Jesus fanatic and an over-religious fool who was easily manipulated into killing his own son.
The two men silently paced slowly back to the truck together, avoiding the fresh blood trail. Newsome ordered his men to get kerosene to burn only the long narrow path of dark red soaked wheat and reminded them he wanted no traces left.
In the distance, just barely over the sound of that crow still cawing, a woman's voice wailing in agony and grief was heard.
Newsome and old man Twist quickly looked back across the fields towards the farmhouse to spot Martha standing wide-eyed in the open kitchen doorway in shock clutching her hands over her mouth in horror. They hadn't included her in their plans or motives and now she had by accident just witnessed her son's murder.
The ruthless businessman wondered how much trouble she'd make later and what he would have to do to keep her fool mouth shut.
John grabbed Jack’s hat and jacket off the hood of the Silverado and moved towards his own pickup with a worried look. It had been slowly dawning on him that Deke or one of his hired hands might turn on him and his wife, with their only help more than forty-five minutes away at the sheriff's barracks at the county seat down in Sundance.
Newsome caught John's arm as the old rancher was getting into his truck to go comfort his wife and warned John about being blamed too if this ever came to light.
After a threatening look, L.D. strode off to give more instructions to Kurt and Cory as Twist drove off towards his house.
Kirk was adamant that he wasn’t about to leave the Twist’s to identify them if Martha couldn’t be subdued.
Newsome ordered his men to do as he said… period, offered bonuses to be paid later, and reminded his fair-haired killer that their assignment was only half-finished and there was yet another victim that they had to locate first, reminding Kirkwood of that photo of a girl he’d given him only this afternoon.
Originally, his men were to use the story that they’d been hired to paint Twist’s house in the unlikely event that someone spotted them here.
Newsome had bought ten gallons of whitewash on the way up. Kurt and Cory would quickly slop some paint on the front of the house and then drive Jack down to Childress where L.D.’s own local hired hands would take over the body.
After establishing an alibi there, Baint and Kirkwood were to then drive back up to Riverton from Texas to finish the double chore that he was paying them so much cash to do.
Now that circumstances had changed, the young men were unwilling to risk getting pulled over by a cop in the victim's truck with his bloody and fresh corpse in the back all the way to Texas. That forced L.D. to change plans on the fly and have them set up some kind of phony farm or road accident nearby, but not here.
If Jack just simply disappeared it'd take much longer to settle his estate and would involve the Wyoming state police and maybe the Texas Rangers declaring him dead after a long dual investigation.
That, and in the emotional state that Martha was probably in, the Twists weren’t going to attend that prayer meeting up in Montana to establish an alibi, which might work in his favor if he decided to somehow pin the blame on them.
He grinned and nodded to himself in approval.
He’d give Lureen a quarter of the large life insurance policy he'd bought on Jack, and regain most of his fortune with the rest, and she’d live very comfortably since she already had the farm equipment business for income.
Besides; she and Bobby would also split Jack’s quarter million stock investments assuring them of a comfortable life for years to come.
L.D.’s satisfied smirk broadened as he paced back to his car, which was parked out of sight by the Twist's house next to Kirkwood's Z28.
As the luxury car floated down the rutted driveway, he spotted Baint standing over the body studying it and brought the silver Lincoln Continental to a stop beside Kirkwood standing in the lane by the Silverado.
L.D. looked up from his open window and said softly, jutting his head towards Cory, "I don't trust him... take care of it."
The handsome blond man folded his arms at his waist and said, "Well I do L.D., 'n he's my best friend."
Newsome scowled at Kurt, "When he gets drunk, 'n I hear tell it happens all too often lately, he gets to braggin', I been told 'bout what he says more'n once." L.D.'s eyes grew a threatening look and he added, "Do somethin' 'bout it, afore I do somethin' 'bout you too. Make sure you don't leave no traces down in Signal neither. Time's a waistin' 'n we're losin' daylight. Git 'er done."
Before Kurt could reply, the businessman drove away.
Over the long drive south, Newsome made plans to use the remaining money he'd scrounged to have himself committed to a nursing facility in Houston on the ruse of having suffered a nervous breakdown after the court settlement was paid to his bastard of a son-in-law.
In a few months, he’d simply return to his wife and daughter, announce he’d been "cured," and beg their forgiveness, which he was sure he’d get...
...Kurt and Cory spent most of the early afternoon carefully burning a rectangle of wheat where Jack’s body had been left laying in the tall grass a little to the right of the cherry trees. They also scorched the narrow blood trail where earlier it’d been dragged nearly to the railroad tracks to show Newsome, and then back, watching not to set the whole field ablaze.
Baint decided it’d be better to move the body onto the lane near the Silverado where it’d be easier to rake loose dirt, gravel and mud over the blood. After they moved it again, Cory suggested tilling the charred grass under but Kirkwood lazily replied, "Fuck it; let the old man do it."
Next Kurt walked the lane up to the farmhouse with the fuel can and tools. They’d haul Jack’s body off in the Silverado, but they’d need a follow car to get back in. He demanded, rather than asked for the old man's truck so his Z28 wouldn’t be seen at the staged murder scene or later at the Sheriff’s office.
Meanwhile, Baint should have been busy putting the spare on Jack's truck, but had to wait for his partner to return because Twist's own tire iron mysteriously turned up missing and was nowhere to be found in the field.
...Jack had prayed that playing dead would work and they’d leave him to rot out in the fields so maybe he could crawl back to the house. He'd lost a lot of blood... maybe too much. Sensation was slowly coming back to his head and he gradually felt the intense pain build in his punctured eye again until it was unbearable...Luckily when Kurt arrived, the old truck's tool fit and Baint set to work on the flat tire while Kirk lounged in the Twists’ ancient Chevy listening to the radio.
Cory finally finished and was lowering the big pickup back down when they were both startled by a low moan coming from the body lying in the long driveway near the Silverado’s driver’s door.
Kirk glanced towards his friend Cory, thinking the sound came from him.
Baint's mouth was gaping open and he pointed in amazement as Jack's arm moved.
The son-of-a-bitch was still alive!
Kirk walked over and stood above the bloody man at his feet, shaking his head and sneering in near admiration of the fight that this tough pervert was putting up.
He was glad Newsome wasn't here to witness how much trouble they were having killing only one stupid fairy. He reached down, grabbed his victim's feet and repositioned him lying on his back so that his head now was along side the big fancy tan and dark-brown pickup's front wheel with Jack’s feet towards his cherished cherry trees.
..."What's he doing? What're they doing? Don't kill me, I ain't ready to die yet... I'm scared."
Helpless and terrified tears fell from Jack's eyes from knowing he'd been discovered. The vision in his one good eye faded in and out of focus and was growing dark.
Twist's teeth grit and his mind silently cried out in desperate prayer, “Please… oh please make it quick. Dad come and find me. I don’t wanna die, I’m a'scared to die. Mom stop them before it’s too late… Please don’t let me die. Oh it’s too hard… so hard to think through this, god my head hurts like it’s been split open. Let me live for just one more chance with Ennis… I’m afraid to die God… plee heeeee hease?”
Through his blind and woozy darkness in agonizing pain, Jack heard his beloved Silverado's big engine start up and helplessly realized what was coming next. He sadly swore with all he held holy that if there really was an afterlife he'd watch over Ennis; his one true and only love...
Moments later, now in Jack's truck, a determined Kirkwood backed the shiny "dually" out into the dirt lane, then shifted into gear.
In fascinated horror, Cory couldn't look away as Jack struggled to weakly cry out or blindly move out of the way while Kirkwood very slowly steered the Silverado's front wheel towards Twist's still-bleeding head.
Jack's damaged and pleading eyes seemed to lock with Cory's as the tire finally made contact. For only a fleeting moment the bloody skull supported the weight of his own cherished truck... those begging eyes.
Instantly Twist's head flattened, explosively spurting blood and brains onto the fender, wheel and ground.
The Chevy's front end dropped down, recovered with half a bounce on its springs, and then was backed up a foot to reveal a gut-wrenching sight.
Cory’s mouth flooded with saliva, and stomach acid under pressure hit his throat while Kirk climbed from the Silverado's cab and declared with a laugh, "That fuckin' faggot ain’t gonna be molestin’ no more little boys now goddam it!"
Kirkwood looked sideways to see his pal puking in choking heaves.
Kirk took on the gruesome task of gathering up Jack's mangled and bloody remains, dumping him without respect into the Silverado's bed.
Cory couldn't stomach the sight any of it. In fact, Baint had become fascinated with the tall steeple of the Pentecostal church on the far northwestern horizon as if it had somehow risen impossibly higher to stare at him in judgment above the fields.
Kirkwood picked up the rest of Jack's intestines with a shovel and put them in a garbage bag, tossing it flippantly in the bed of the truck like so much trash.
Cory reluctantly got a rake and pushed fresh dirt and gravel over the blood-soaked spot in the lane; the next rain should take care of any remnants.
In a sick act of cockiness, Kirkwood laughed as he walked over to offer his partner a souvenir of their kill, causing Baint to vomit some more and almost pass out... With a maniacal grin, he held forth in a bloody hand one of the eyeballs that had popped out of Twist's skull.
Later while driving the Silverado around aimlessly, Kurt pushed a cassette into the player in the dashboard. He didn’t like the music and ejected the tape, tossing it backwards to land in the foot well between the front and back seats.
The first thing that Kirk thought of, was to put Jack’s body behind the wheel and leave the pickup parked on the railroad tracks like it’d stalled.
Cory pulled up behind him in Old Man Twist’s pickup after he’d stopped at the crossing and pointed out that with the tracks as straight as an arrow for miles, the engineer would maybe see it in time to stop, or at least slow enough to not do enough damage to explain the body’s condition. Besides; they didn’t know when the next one was due and someone on the road could come up on it before the train came and find him… that and the crossing was too close to the Twist ranch.
Baint suggested instead to make it look like Jack was changing a flat and while he was looking at something underneath, the truck shifted on the jack and the front end fell and crushed his head killing him.
An hour later, after first staging a false accident scene a mile or so from the Twist ranch, the two young men showed up with both pickups at the distant sheriff's office with the body in the bed of the Silverado.
After presenting fake L.D.’s provided by Newsome, they claimed to have found the dead man on the roadside pinned under his truck after the tire exploded causing the pickup to fall off its jack with Twist under it. They explained having John Twist's old pickup by lying about being out getting supplies after being hired to paint his house for him, which was later confirmed over the phone.
They turned over Jack’s untouched wallet and then spent an hour or so filling out paperwork and signing statements.
Around nightfall they returned old man Twist's truck, then unloaded the brushes, tarps and the five-gallon buckets of white paint. It was too dark to start now, so they figured on beginning early tomorrow morning, doing a fast half-assed job on just the front of the house and leaving for their next stop in Riverton by ten or eleven.
As expected, all plans of the Twists going north died when Martha witnessed the murder and refused to leave the house. Just beyond the kitchen door that led to a rear hallway, she was heard softly crying bitterly after being forced to lie to the police over the phone.
After a while she came back into the kitchen and made another tear-filled call to Texas, and while she haphazardly garbled the theory of how her son died to Lureen, John canceled the two young men's plans to spend the night in the ranch house as guests because their presence would upset her too much.
The tough old bird told them to make other arrangements, reluctantly giving them what money he had, a couple of heavy quilted moving blankets to sleep in, and some camping equipment.
Cory flipped him the bird and told him he could paint his own house and that they were going to pocket the money that Newsome had paid them to do it with.
Just before they left in Kirk's Camaro, John warned them holding up his shotgun to never darken his door again.
Kirkwood was already thinking about returning on his own sometime soon to teach John a lesson in hospitality.
He still didn’t like the idea of leaving them behind as witnesses...
The only thing that remained of this once grand ranch was a tumbled down and unusually large house with a collapsed roof near the unkempt and cracked asphalt of the strangely named D Road south of the murder scene.
They'd blundered onto what remained of the proud Grace Scott house.
The place had been vandalized many times. Someone must've come along years ago to take the barn and outbuildings for their valuable wood, because all that was left were the weed-pocked concrete or stone foundations where they once stood.
Most of the afternoon was spent building an unnecessarily huge searing-hot blaze consisting of a pile the size of the average high school homecoming bonfire.
The inferno popped and crackled loudly throwing red-orange sparks into the air as it hungrily consumed a rotted tree stump that they'd built it over using assorted large dead branches, wooden planks torn off the side of the abandoned farm house, and at its heart, a fencepost bristling with nails and covered with dried blood.
Cory went a little overboard constructing it, thinking if it was hot enough it might even melt the nails… and his memory of the killing.
Kurt knew he’d gone too far earlier with the eyeball bit, almost feeling bad he'd done it... almost.
Out here in the middle of nowhere, they were sure the conflagration wouldn't be seen, so he allowed his partner to get preoccupied in his excess in the name of getting the shock out of his system.
This wasn't the first man they'd beaten or killed together on Newsome’s behalf, but it was by far the most gruesome.
Baint was in no condition yet to go along on L.D's next assignment for them until "Kirk" could calm him down and settle his nerves.
Kurt had resorted to alcohol to soothe his partner, almost force-feeding it to Cory, while justifying their actions as heroically stopping a pervert from maybe getting his hands on another little boy.
After night fell they sat drinking more whisky from the bottle with their backs against a big maple tree, watching the fire burn thirty feet in front of them.
Kirk put his brawny arm around his friend and offered low-spoken guilty comfort while trying to coax him into sleeping.
All through the evening Baint would nod off with his head on his big best friend’s shoulder, but he kept waking up in fits and screaming in terror.
By Kirkwood's wristwatch it was now just past midnight. This delay was costing him time and money.
Each time Cory woke up he'd seek solace by hugging the golden-haired athlete in an intimate sideways embrace, clutching him closer and harder.
It was Baint's second bottle – this one scotch - since ten PM and he lifted the pint towards the smoky pyre reciting,
"...hallowed be thy name;
thy kingdom come;
thy will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive them that trespass against us." and then silently toasted the flames with a cocky grin.
At least he wasn't bawling over seeing those accusing eyes staring at him from every direction in the dark anymore.
Earlier in the evening, Kirkwood considered the idea of them sleeping in the Z28 with its reclining bucket seats, but worried of his buddy throwing up in it.
Not far away, a train rumbled by with an occasional blast of its horn. They each looked up to watch its headlight brightly pierce the surrounding gloom ahead of it on its way east.
Kirk came to an uneasy decision and freed himself of his buddy's uncomfortable embrace, stood and stretched, then moved out of the circle of light and intense heat.
A few minutes later, he returned with another big armload of dry clapboards and wall studs torn from the house that they'd stockpiled nearby, leaning them vertically onto the bonfire.
Another shower of embers flew upward towards the dark cloudless sky. For what he had in mind, he also needed this fire hot and he needed it big.
Cory now lounged alone against the base of the old maple nursing an almost-empty bottle.
Moving around to the opposite side of the blaze but still within sight of Cory, he unbuttoned and unzipped his tight one-piece service station uniform down to his waist like he'd done for Jack. A friend might spill his guts to someone about the murder but a lover wouldn't... so he'd have to make the emotionally vulnerable Cory love him.
He already knew Baint loved him as a friend and partner in crime, but now it'd have to go further in order to be sure of any blunders of conscience.
They were safe in this ghost of a town in the middle of nowhere and the nearest people were probably at the distant ranch where they’d beaten the queer to death.
Flickering bright yellow light lit the night and Kirk worried about a wandering deputy seeing it and investigating. He glanced over to his right to see the taillight reflectors of his new car just outside of the wavering glow.
Flexing his brawny chest and arms in a show of machismo, Kirkwood went over to the Camaro and paused at the trunk. Away from the glare of the flames, he looked up to marvel at how bright the stars were away from the city lights he was so used to and shivered in the cold night air.
He'd gotten so good at suckering queers with his fantasy body and comely smile that some of them, even after being beaten up, verbally humiliated and robbed would actually come back to him a few days later, stupidly convinced he'd been forced by the other guys into his actions and actually had been attracted to them wanting more.
After another minute or two, he brought back some fresh clothes next to the fire opposite Cory, and spread out the thick green quilted moving blankets layering one atop the other.
He still wore the bloodstained mechanic's overalls like a cocky badge of honor and made a show of shedding the top half of them from his torso. Bending forward, he then pulled them from his slender muscled legs to reveal a pair of very brief black cotton underwear.
Instead of using each blanket as improvised individual sleeping bags, he combined them to make a double bed they'd sleep in together next to the fire.
The soiled coveralls caused another spray of sparks as they landed atop the blaze.
A moment of panic ended quickly when he remembered that the only thing in the pockets was his phony I.D., and that his wallet was safely stashed in the glove compartment of his sports car.
Flexing his torso and arms again, Kurt sat down on the blanket next to the fire running his hands slowly over his body and looked over at Cory who averted his captivated eyes. The hunk lounged as the flickering fire accented his developed and defined chest and biceps, and felt Cory’s gaze on him, nodding to himself that he was right about his friend.
"We’re headin’ south in about four hours," he said, gazing at his companion through the bright flames. "I gotta lot of drivin’ to do Buddy, so set your fancy watch alarm for 4 okay?" Observing that Cory still wore his bloody denim bibs, he added, "When you're done drinkin' you can crawl in here with me... Burn them clothes before we leave."
Baint looked like he was having trouble breathing and only nodded nervously to his nearly naked friend.
With no wind, the fire was now hot enough to be uncomfortable standing too near it for very long, though just outside its perimeter the air was cold. Kirk slowly lowered his bare back and shoulders onto the warm top blanket instead of beneath it and closed his eyes.
Five silent minutes later Cory swallowed the last of the scotch and the bottle clattered onto the burning branches.
The blond feigned sleep as his best buddy staggered to the car on unsteady legs, retrieved his own change of clothes, and then returned to stand over Kirk.
Next came sounds of him shedding his bib overalls down to his boxers, throwing them on the intense fire, and then moving to sit beside Kirk on the blankets in the heat of the flickering pyre while transferring his wallet and comb to his unoccupied jeans.
"Kirk?" and after a minute or two, "Kurt ya up?"
Another minute passed and then a warm hand lightly traveled from Kirkwood's knee, passed over his hip and landed trembling on the handsome hunk's defined abs.
Fingers explored the crease between each muscle. After a pause he began gently rubbing the brawny blonde’s mounded pecs bringing Kurt to semi hardness.
The hand moved lower carefully, slipped beneath the waistband and began fondling.
In order to gain power over his friend, the muscular stud would first have to frighten him. Kirk jumped to his feet pushing Cory away while straightening his underwear.
Cory was so startled; he sprang up and nearly fell backwards off balance onto the fire.
Kirkwood growled menacingly, "We just got done killin’ some faggot and you’re pullin’ this on me?" shaking his fist at the young man before him.
Cory dropped back to his knees, head down, bowed in shamed submission.
Baint’s jaw moved up and down as if trying to speak but nothing came out. He was so drunk he was swaying back and forth and dizzy. He looked up and his eyes held equal parts fear and sexual hunger as he gazed at his powerfully built friend. Eventually he couldn’t stop staring at the just-barely covered bulging crotch before him.
Kirk moved so that Cory was now between him and the hot roaring campfire.
Baint moved around on his knees to face Kurt again and looked up into his eyes. "I don’t know what come over me Kirk; I always wished I had a body like yers 'n I guess the scotch made me want to... to touch it. I… I couldn’t help myself."
A surprisingly understanding and sympathetic smile crossed the young hunk’s face as he urged his companion to stand up unsteadily in front of him.
Kirk pushed down on the waistband of his mesmerized buddy's boxers and they slipped to his ankles, and then were kicked off next to his folded jeans. Now that his partner in crime was naked, Kirk's hand drifted teasingly down the stocky stomach of his dizzy-drunk pal.
In a husky practiced growl mocking his friend's hick town accent, he demanded seductively, "If’n yer gonna do me, then do it right Cory," and then pushed down on his shoulders. In an instant Baint was on his knees again, his nose only an inch from Kirk’s hard cock straining outward against the black briefs.
Cory sobbed out in reluctant protest, "I ain’t never done n-nothin’ like this before," as confused tears rolled down his cheeks. "I ain't no fag."
Kirk said softly, "Close yer eyes," and guided Baint’s hands up to his chest.
It took the big handsome man a puzzled moment to realize that he’d paused. Dozens of times before this, this is when his buddies would usually jump out of the shadows and beat the shit out of the man on his knees in front of him.
Warm distracting palms shivering in passion began exploring a perfect V-shaped torso from Kirkwood's shoulders to his pubic hair, stopping to explore each individual mound of taut muscle, then the hard nipples and every defined ab crease.
Cory’s hands urged Kirk to turn around and warm fingers explored the valley of his spine from his neck to the top of his ass crack. Fevered hands tugged without asking and the tight black briefs found the ground around Kirk’s ankles and were stepped out of.
Kissing lips and a lapping tongue hungrily explored every inch of the golden-haired hunk’s firm butt cheeks that were surprisingly devoid of hair and as smooth as the proverbial "ten-year-old boy's ass."
Kirk gasped in pleasure and then smiled. He struggled with his macho ego as he bent forward. The frenzied tongue swirled around his pucker, probing but not entering. The sensation was thrilling the sexy blond more than he'd expected.
A kinky ex-girlfriend of the overly macho stud refused to let him fuck her in the ass unless he let her do him first with a strap-on. He was so horny for her that he reluctantly let her plug him with a vibrating dildo and his mind strayed to untouched urges and erotic memories of how it felt when the thing internally rubbed his prostate with her humping him from behind causing an instant and intense orgasm - the best he'd ever felt.
Anxious palms urged at taut hips to turn and face Baint again, and warm lips repeatedly kissed Kurtwood’s rock hard and drooling cockhead. Suddenly the mouth engulfed him and sucked for all it was worth in and out, in and out, in and out, instantly bringing him so close to climax that Kirkwood was shocked at how much he wanted it. For a moment the flabbergasted blonde's mind could only think of the sensations coming from his steel cock that had never ever felt so hard before.
Nearly out of breath, Kirk pulled back until Cory had no more than an inch still in his mouth... then withdrew further until it was about an inch away from those wanting seeking lips.
His shaggy head looked down in the flickering firelight at his drunken friend staring up and smiled at him before he realized he'd done it.
In fascination his eyes studied the tiny distance between his drooling quivering cock tip and that straining mouth that he was weakly holding away with shuddering palms and he nearly came at the thought of Baint swallowing him whole again.
Reluctantly Kurt kept Baint's head just far enough away to prevent his enthusiastic buddy from swallowing him whole again while the blonde hunk's mind desperately tried to understand this sudden need to push himself back in.
Baint’s shoulders rhythmically shook as he rapidly began jacking himself off while his tongue extended to it's limit forward and barely licked around and around the swollen bell's edge of his best friend's cockhead.
The moment it touched him, Kurt's head fell back as he was overwhelmed with a pleasure so hot that he became convinced he was floating within the searing campfire, and that his whole life revolved around the sensation of that tongue teasing him harder and closer. Nothing seemed more important than that mouth that wanted to surround and engulf him like no woman ever had.
Cory's urgent hands gently caressed in, out and around Curt's athletic ass, and as a fingertip brushed his pucker, the beautiful blond again remembered his girlfriend's dildo and he gasped in wanting need.
Realization hit him and Kirk began having second thoughts but this had gone too far to stop. His deep-seated contempt for faggots was urgently trying to get him to realize what he was doing. He hadn’t considered the possibility that once he’d gotten his buddy addicted to his body, Baint might want it again… and again.
Cory was now in the throws of forbidden passion, breathing heaving gasps as Kirk moved forward again, grabbed a fistful of his friend's hair, and then his throbbing cock met that sucking wanton mouth again.
Within minutes of enthusiastic tongue-swirling sucking Kurt began to shoot his hot load against Baint's tonsils.
The beautiful blond stud hadn't had sex in almost three days and thought he'd never stop cumming. He nearly passed out and threw back his head in a powerful lion's roar, amazed at the load he was still shooting, which was greedily swallowed.
In the aftermath, Kirkwood withdrew in momentary confusion, then realized what he was doing, but knew that something more was needed to solidify and justify the experience in his mind. Something that assured that Cory would never tell anyone.
But how could he ever forgive his best friend for bringing these horrible thoughts out of him... and his new craving to have him again... and maybe fuck him.
He looked down to find his friend urgently sobbing like a newly hooked drug addict, "Put it back in my mouth till I get off?" he begged.
Kurt grinned and turned around instead, bending forward to touch his feet.
Baint’s tongue again probed his ass, slobbering as he kissed each cheek in turn. This time his friend's urgent lapping tongue penetrated and a surge coursed up the hunk's spine.
Both knew simultaneously that Cory wanted to fuck that incredible ass. The thought of letting him, and maybe... just maybe wanting him to, suddenly terrified Kurt as his pucker quivered at the idea of a real cock up there. The fact that he still had that dildo hidden in the back of his dresser slammed into him, especially since the last time he came it was all the way up him while he licked his current girlfriend's pussy while jacking off.
No... no, I ain't no faggot... no.
Coming to a decision, Kirkwood straightened up and turned around brushing his semi-hard cock teasingly back and forth against Baint’s nose avoiding his seeking lips.
Cory pleaded, "Are we still gonna s-sleep to-together," looking up with hopeful eyes.
Grinning seductively, Kurt asked his husky partner, "Love me?"
At that moment Baint was in no condition to think clearly and nodded as tears streamed down his face.
"Close your eyes and open your mouth real wide baby," he growled and then warned, "Watch your teeth this time."
Cory started jacking faster and screamed frantically as his lips waited to swallow that craved-for cock again. Throwing back his head in ecstasy, he yelled out, "Ohhhhh, I’m gonna cum!" and began breathing in huge gasps. His hungry gaping mouth waiting, begging for another taste of his friend’s cum... and as his lips sought forward again, he felt the rapture of his first cum spurts of orgasm.
His hungry mouth realized too late that it'd enclosed something hard, cold… and metal.
Kirkwood could never kill a friend, so he gradually had succeeded in his mind's eye of transforming what used to be his best buddy into nothing more than a dirty fucking faggot...
The loud pistol blast blew the back of Baint’s head off and instantly he limply slumped forward as parts of his brain sizzled on the fire.
Kirkwood wiped the gun clean of fingerprints that he’d had at the ready hidden under the blankets. He’d retrieved it when he bent over that second time.
He put the revolver in Baint’s right hand, put the muzzle back in his mouth and then pushed his dead friend backwards so that the corpse was now laying with its back against the big camp fire. The air was instantly filled with the smell of burning hair and bubbling blistering skin.
The blood-soaked moving blankets went over the body and were immediately consumed while Kirk dumped more wood and kindling around the untouched legs, and then averted his eyes from the gruesome scene while quickly dressing.
It was doubtful that anyone would find the body for months; or for that matter ever, but it’d look like some drunk came out here and committed suicide by sticking his gun in his mouth and pulling the trigger.
From Cory’s jeans came his wallet with his phony I.D., his real driver's license and the four thousand dollars and change he'd earned for his help killing Twist. His best friend and partner in crime of six years' clothes, empty wallet and shoes went on the fire.
Deke had given Baint the alias Bobby Bend and Kirk wondered if it was a pun on "Twist" or on "Baint." His own alias was Karl Lureen; according to the newspaper clipping he'd been shown, that was Jack's wife. As he walked back to his car he shook his head at Newsome's sick sense of humor.
As Kurt Kirkwood drove away he’d gotten fifty yards when a loud blast signaled the rest of the bullets being set off by the fire.
As he reached for the radio knob, a switch clicked over in his mind and he muttered, "Faggots," under his breath in disgust and shook his head.
His next stop was a few hours of driving away in some hick-town called Riverton where L.D. wanted him to seduce and then date some girl to get information about where his next target (her daddy) had moved to.
Ennis didn't know it, but a killer without a conscience was headed his way...
...and another had already arrived.
...Not all went as planned down in Texas. Lureen eventually became suspicious after Jack’s will was read and the quarter of a million settlement that her father paid her husband couldn't be found.
Eventually a month-long interstate search would follow for bank accounts or safe deposit boxes, but it was delaying the payout of Jack's estate, so she gave up looking.
She figured he'd lost it in the volatile stock market because her drunken husband only thought he was a good investor... besides she was wealthy beyond all expectations with the life insurance payout.
As expected, L.D. eventually reconciled with his wife and daughter. They and thankfully everyone else involved seemed to have believed the reports from the doctors he’d paid off about his breakdown…
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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/black/green.
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.