Castle Roland

Endless Black Ribbon

by Rick Beck

Short Story

Short Story

Posted: 25 Apr 16

Endless Black Ribbon

Copyright by Rick Beck

Prologue: Joe Buck can tell you how to get from Kankakee to Indio and he doesn't need a map. He can tell you where you'll find the best food and the cheapest fuel without thinking twice.

Joe doesn't have a lot of creature comfort but he'd trade comfort for a good lumper. A good lumper handles the freight, cleans the truck, and has it ready to roll when it's time. For a cross country trucker, that's as good as gold.

The best lumper is an indispensable friend on the long haul. Troy is about to become Joe Buck's best lumper.

(A standard truck, eighteen wheeler, in the U.S.A. is sixty feet long and has a load limit of 80,000 pounds in most states, and would be called a lorry in Britain.)

Part 1

When I start a coast to coast run, I know where I'm going to eat in three days before my wheels turn. Even when slowed by weather or traffic, my stops will remain the same.

My goal as a professional is to keep my stops short. That means easy to reach cheap fuel with a good restaurant within walking distance from the pumps. This helps to makes a trip successful. Time is money and stops are measured by the minute.

That said, you can't drive too far for a good cup of Joe; coffee for you four wheelers. There's some rank coffee out there. My rule being, if it smells like diesel fuel when the waitress slides it to me, I slide it back.

There aren't any Starbucks on the Interstate. A trucker won't pay five buck for a cup of Joe. Coffee keeps us moving. We wouldn't be truckers for long paying Starbuck prices.

Truckers want quality and they're willing to pay a fair price to get it. It's out there if you look. While you're looking for quality at a fair price, you'll find guys looking to swindle you. They're everywhere.

It's all out there on that long lonesome highway.

I like my coffee hot, strong, and black. Surprisingly, McDonald's has a consistent cup of coffee everywhere I go. When I see the golden arches in Bangor or in Grant's Pass, I know I'll get a decent cup of Joe, and I can eat their greasy burger and fries if I'm running behind. They'll even fill my thermos for a price. That price isn't consistent.

Most drivers look for the pretty waitress – not to mention easy. There isn't a lot of time for romance. The wheels need to keep turning.

For me, it's the diesel jockey, wash rack attendant, or tire changer who gets my pulse racing. It's one of the good things about fueling.

When you're out there 24/7, and you need service, you go where the scenery is good. I remember where I spot a hot guy, even if all I get to do is look. Natural beauty often makes my day and the vision keeps me smiling for miles.

When I go out of my way to say something nice to one of the guys I like, I may get a smile and a wave for my trouble. He'll remember me. One day when I stop, he'll take his break, and I'll show him my bunk. It's how memories are made. We are everywhere, you know.

It's a long hard road and we all need a hobby.

I find the best guys in the mid-west. They have more than their share of healthy looking guys with easy smiles. Once you leave the East Coast, guys stop wanting to fight if you look them over. Even if they catch on, country boys like being admired. When they look down to see if they've arranged their package just right, you've found a friend.

It's why they wear their jeans soooooooo tight.

Mostly I'm just looking, thank you, but I do dream. I like to think one of those handsome guys would want to ride with me for a spell, but I usually find that kind of guy on the side of the road with their thumb out, and when I ask, 'Where you heading,' they give me a blank look, as if they hadn't given it a thought. Everyone needs a little help from a friend from time to time.

The good looking fuel jockey wanting a ride on my truck didn't happen that often. This story is about the time it did.

The Iowa City Texaco truck stop was just off Interstate 80 on the exit to Iowa City. I didn't get too far from the Interstate unless it was worth my while. I'd have stopped at that Texaco I had to get in crosstown traffic, if it was five miles away.

Troy was my favorite fuel jockey. He came out with a big smile, wearing jeans packed full of wonder. I wondered what was inside. He worked the pumps between 4p.m. And midnight six nights a week. When I planned my trip, I'd be at the Iowa City exit needing fuel, sometime after five.

I'd drive in cross-town traffic to look at Troy for five minutes.

For two years he'd been there every time I'd stopped in the evening. I'd get out his way eight or ten times a year on coast to coast runs.

Route 80 was a direct road to northern California by way of Truckee, Donner Pass, and Sacramento. Each time I came down that section of Route 80, my truck knew where to turn. Luckily, and the food at the Texaco was good.

By the time I was on Iowa City's surface streets, my pulse was increasing. If that boy didn't get your juices flowing, you needed urgent care.

After driving the several miles to the Texaco, I was disappointed when another boy came out in Troy's place. He was no Troy and I was loyal to my pump jockeys.

I'd been looking forward to watching Troy work around my truck since I pointed my truck west. Since the first time he serviced me, this was the first time he failed to appear when I pulled up to those pumps. Even my appetite was gone. Change was hard on me, especially when one of the best boys moved on down the road.

Since the new guy wasn't that interesting, I wandered back along the service bays to see if Troy might be assisting a mechanic or doing one of the shit jobs the mechanics passed on to whomever was handy.

He wasn't around and I needed to pay for my fuel and get my truck off the fuel line, although it was quite quiet at seven forty-five.

I did a quick walk around inspection to make sure all my lights were working. Maybe there'd be someone interesting inside, I thought as I walked toward the restaurant.

The place was all but deserted. The smell of bacon was nice, but it got better fast. As I approached the trucker's section, I saw Troy seated at a table in the farthest corner. It was only a side view but I'd know him anyway.

I sat at the next table to be facing him. The man of my dreams, in Iowa anyway, appeared as if the Gods were favoring me. Just as I was about to give him a big, 'Howdy, Troy, how's it hanging,' it became obvious he was in some distress.

Sure glad I didn't let the 'How's it hanging' remark get away from me.

I was at a loss for what to do. Seeing him so sad tugged at my heart and he didn't know I was alive. Especially he didn't know I was sitting there looking at him. In spite of his misery, he was still one hot guy.

The line, 'amber waves of grain,' described his blond hair with a distinctive red tint. His eyes were vividly blue, his lips were moderately full and his smile could warm my heart.

His hair hadn't been combed. The light appearance of facial hair was a new feature. His wrinkled shirt was open several buttons down, exposing the middle of his chest. There were light red hairs there. His hands were folded in front of him on the table. His coffee cup was empty.

It was the first time I'd seen Troy when he wasn't beaming. He leaned forward looking forlorn. I was sitting eight feet away and he didn't know I was there. I wanted to comfort him. I felt like I knew him.

Should I leave him be or should I break the spell that was dragging him down. I was only a trucker with a hard-on for him. Maybe leaving him alone was the best idea, but I'd seen too much for that.

"Hi Troy. Missed you out at the pumps," I said to break the ice.

It took him a few seconds to look up from where he was. His eyes were so red, he'd been crying. He knew I knew he'd been crying. Why didn't I leave well enough alone?

"Sorry. Don't work here any more," he said in a raspy voice.

The waitress had walked between us to pour both of us coffee. When she left, I took my cup to Troy's table and sat down.

"Mind if I sit down?" I asked, after i sat down.

"Help yourself," he said.

He tried to gather himself together. I still didn't know if I should mind my own business. If I really liked the kid, I shouldn't insert myself into what was obviously not one of his good days.

I looked him in the eye with great concern for him.

"I've never introduced myself. You've been fueling my truck for several years. I'm Joe Buck," I said, not offering my hand. "I know when I see a man in trouble. I'm just passing through, Troy. I'll be moving on down the highway after dinner. I'm not an educated man but I've been told I listen well. I'd listen if you feel like talking. I've never seen you unhappy. You might say it disturbs the natural order of things to see you so sad."

He looked up from his big freckled hands. He took a deep breath but didn't make eye contact. His eyes gave him away.

He cleared his throat before speaking. His eyes were moist.

"I just found out my girl, Bonnie, is screwin' my best friend, John."

I heard a rapid discharge of air. It came from me.

"Woe," I said, unable to hide my reaction. "A girl you're dating went out with another guy? Whatever was she thinking?"

"No, they aren't going out. They're fucking," he clarified with venom. "I'm engaged to her. I've been best friends with John forever."

"She's obviously not as engaged as you are, and as friends go, John's a creep."

"Don't I know it. He was dropping me off at work. My cars fucked up. Then he's going over to her place to fuck my girlfriend. He offered to drive me any time I needed a ride."

"Sly bastard," I said.

"Harold didn't need me two nights ago. One of the mechanics dropped me at Bonnie's. John's car was there. The lights were off. I pay her rent. I figured a fuse blew. She called John for help. He was helping all right. I turned on the light and he was humping away...."

He stared blankly, seeing it all over again.

"Jesus. People are real pieces of work, Troy. Good thing you found out before you got married," I said, shaking my head.

"Do you think?"

"What can I say? It'll pass? Love can bust your ass wide open sometimes. I've been there. The only advice that comes to mind, send Bonnie packing, and send your buddy John with her."

"I figured that out on my own. I quit the Texaco. I'll hit the road. They're my entire life. I hardly see anyone but those two. I live with my sister but we aren't close. She rescued me from the state home when I was sixteen. She's let me stay with her since then, but I can't stay here. I'll be the laughingstock of Iowa City if I stay."

"I understand how you feel. You don't want to see those two together."

"I'd kill them," he said angrily.

"No you wouldn't. You're the good guy, Troy. Don't let anyone make you into the bad guy. Walk away."

"I can't guarantee what I'd do if I saw them together."

"You have no alternative. You've got to leave until you cool down."

"That's how I figure. I don't know if I can ever come back here. I don't know where to go. I don't have any family. I live with my sister. My car's ten years old and the tranny's trashed. I thought of Chicago. It's not far. I can get lost there. Should be work there."

I winced.

"Bad idea, Troy. Don't go to Chicago. It's a great town, loaded with adventure and opportunity, but it's loaded with trouble. They'd see a country boy like you coming. They'd eat you alive. Big cities are jungles if you don't know what you're doing. If you know someone who can show you the ropes, you'd be OK."

"I've only got a few hundred bucks and a car that won't make it out of Iowa. I don't know what to do," he said, looking into my eyes, as if he was hoping I'd give him an answer.

I thought for a moment before giving him the only answer I had.

"You like to travel, Troy?" I asked.

"Sure, but... I don't know. I've never been out of Iowa. I thought of hitchhiking. It's scary. I could starve. Get picked up by a weirdo."

"How'd you like a job that'll take you out of Iowa and away from your trouble. You can see the country; get a taste of what you like. It doesn't pay a hell of a lot, but you'll get fed and you'll have a warm bunk to sleep in when I'm not sleeping in it. It'll be cramped, but it'll be better than standing on the side of the road in the middle of nowhere, freezing your ass off, while waiting."

His eyes widened. He didn't move them out of my eyes.

"You mean you'd hire me on just like that? You don't know me."

There was a bit of disbelief, followed by a smiled. He had the answer before I gave it to him.

I simply nodded my confirmation. I didn't think telling him that I thought he was the hottest guy on the pike was a good idea just then.

"Everything has complications," I said, intending to come clean.

"Like staying here might end up with me going to jail complicated?"

"That's not what I had in mind, but it's complicated like that. I'll hire you and be glad to have you. You'll handle the freight and get eight bucks an hour when you're working. I don't pay riding time and I expect you to keep the truck clean and ready to roll. For this I pay your food and expenses within reason. You need a new pair of those super tight jeans or a pair of gloves, that's on me."

"It'll get you away from here, and you'll be safe," I said, staring at a face that was completely changed.

"Take your time. Think about it. Think about your options."

He thought for a minute, not using the entire minute.

"You just hired yourself a helper," he said with a warm smile.

There was no way I could avoid telling him. I wouldn't put him in that position. I should have lead with the hard part but we'd never have gotten to me hiring him if I had.

"I'll get Harold to watch my car. My bag's already packed. All I need to do is put it in your truck."

"You remember me saying, 'Everything is complicated?'"

"You said, 'Everything has complications.'" he reminded me.

I hesitated, wanting to make sure it came out the way I wanted. "There's one you need to know about before we do this, Troy."

"Shoot. I'm listening," he said, leaning on his forearms to study me.

Something told me he already had a hunch about my interest in him.

"I'm telling you this to avoid complications from arising. I'll give you the job. You can help me for as long as you want, but we're going to be together 24/7. The bunk is thirty-six inches wide. I've shared it before. I'm saying there isn't a lot of room. We live close."

"OK," he said. "I told you I live with my sister. Speaking of close! At least we're guys. That will help."

"I'm not your sister."

"And I appreciate it. See, problem solved. It's one more thing I need to escape. If you can live in close quarters, I can. I've been sleeping on my sister's couch for over three years. She's got three little kids and a big boyfriend more often than not."

"Jesus!" I said. "Do you ever need to get away. How come every time I saw you, you had a big smile on your face?" I asked.

"Being clueless helps. I guess smiling is better than frowning. Harold said I should act like I want to be work here. So I did."

"That's not the point I'm trying to make. This isn't easy for me, because I'd really like to take you out of this place."

"Thanks, Joe. We'll be fine. Let's go. I'm cool with whatever it is."

I put my hand on his bare forearm. I found it invitingly warm. He didn't flinch but he looked at my face, which is what I wanted.

"I'm a gay man, Troy," I said, lowering my voice. "I don't want any misunderstandings. I don't discuss this with my help. We'll be living in a confined space. Ordinarily it doesn't come up, but as much pain as I found you in, I think you need to know."

He watched my confession closely. I'm sure he was thinking about all the times he caught me checking out his package or how his ass filled his jeans. He had to know I was attracted to him, but that wasn't what this was about. I wanted to help him.

He stared at me for what seemed like a long time. He did not look down at where I was touching him. He didn't look distressed by my words. It took him a minute to speak. He did think about it.

The waitress picked that time to come toward us with the coffee. I waved her away. I could see he'd made up his mind.

"This job is about work, right?" he said, after searching out words he was comfortable using. "It isn't about you and me, uh, me doin' shit like that with you, is it?"

"Absolutely not," I said, shaking my head.

"It's not about us doing anything like that. The job's yours. I just want you to know I look at guys. I've got books on the truck. You'll no doubt run across them. Some are with guys doing guys. You know... porn. I wouldn't want you finding one and thinking I'm going to make a move on you. That's all."

"Any sex books with girls?" he asked.

"A little bit of everything. I buy what looks good. Whoever's on the truck can use them or not. Being on the move so much, having backup makes it easier."

He seemed relieved.

"You jack off with your help?" he asked without alarm.

"I have. Some are bashful and like to fly solo. Some would whip it out and go to town when it needed attention. A lumper who has a healthy sexual appetite doesn't worry me."

"You ever do stuff with the help."

"A couple of lumpers needed a helping hand. Others just use their imagination and their hand. I think most dudes prefer that."

"I don't care about the other thing. As long as my ass isn't part of the help I give you, I'm fine. We're cool, Joe. I don't want anything to do with any of it at the moment. I might never fuck again and we've been fucking constantly, when I wasn't working."

"Where you put your ding dong is your business," I said.

He laughed.

I could see no sign of the trouble he'd had when I found him.

I slid out of the booth and stood up.

"We're cool then," I said. "I'm going to get a sandwich to go. You get your bag and take it out to the front of the station. I'll meet you there before I go to the truck. Can I order you something?"

"No, I'm cool. Harold's getting me cash for what he owes me. I'll get my stuff and meet you out front."

Everything Troy took was in a single gym bag. The boy traveled light, except for a heart overflowing with sorrow. His mind was made up. This is what he was going to do, but it didn't take away the pain.

Our conversations had been confined to, 'Hello.' 'How are you.' 'Have a nice day.'

For the first three hours, Troy talked about Bonnie. Maybe he was making a mistake. Maybe he should give her another chance. Maybe John really wasn't screwing her. Maybe he was helping her find her vagina. Maybe! Maybe! Maybe!

Maybe not.

"Did I ever tell you about the guy who gave me my first blow job?" I asked.

He immediately sat up straight, looking at me strangely.

"Why would I ask you that?" he asked baffled.

"For the same reason I can't wait to hear more about you fucking Bonnie all over Iowa City, the adjacent counties, and local municipalities,," I said bluntly. "Did I tell you, truckers don't care what you do with your ding dong?"

"Oh!" he said, going quiet.

For an hour it was entertaining but the blush had come off that rose. Silence was a vast improvement.

If they did it as much as he said they did, he was a good man for a woman to keep handy. He wasn't bashful, being careful to describe what he liked to do and how he liked to do it.

Over the next hour he was silent, cried twice, stared without blinking out the windshield while sitting on the edge of his seat. As it passed midnight, he unbuttoned his shirt. It hung back off his chest when he sat back in his seat. Even late into the night the truck stayed warm at night except on the coldest nights. The engine furnishing plenty of heat. On nights when it didn't cool down, it could get uncomfortable.

This view of Troy, visible by the light of the gauges in the cab, verified what a healthy Iowa boy he was.

He noticed me looking his way. He didn't button his shirt. Going on one a.m., I couldn't read my new lumper.

I broke into the silence.

"You want me to hit the air conditioner?" I asked as I looked to see the trace of red bunny tracks that had appeared under his now visible belly button.

Looking into his side of the windshield I got a view of his reflection.

"No, I'm fine," he said, sounding fine. "I always feel warm when I'm in a car too. I've always been like that. If I took my shirt off Bonnie right away wanted to be feeling on my.... Ops! Sorry. I'll be quiet."

I laughed.

"You're quite the stud, Troy. Do you think about anything but sex?"

He looked at me for a minute as if I'd asked a serious question.

He laughed pleasingly.

"No!" he said, glancing at me. "Is there something else?"

We both laughed. He looked at me again. This time he was taking my measure. He'd just gone off, left the only world he'd known, with a perfect stranger.

"You use to look at me," he said, having had time to think about it.

"I still look at you. When you stop looking, they call that being dead."

"Why me?" he asked. "You were always nice. Tipped me a five every time I fueled your truck. You know how many truckers tip me? None."

"I do. Most truckers don't make a lot of money and they tip the waitress."

He turned his head to look at the highway. There was a question he wanted to ask but didn't. We'd known each other for six hours. The questions would come.

"You do?" he asked. "Have money?"

"I make enough to tip a guy who puts a smile on my face. You did a good job, so I tipped you for it," I said.

"Why me? There's a dozen guys look like me around there to look at."

I looked at him. He looked down to see what I was seeing.

"You ever look at yourself in a mirror after you squeeze into those skin tight jeans?"

"Yeah! I want to make sure I look good," he said, sounding sure of himself.

His back was now leaning against the door. He was facing me so he didn't need to turn his head to see me. He was the only lumper who did this.

In traffic and near big towns, he had to sit in his seat and buckle up, but late at night, west of Lincoln, the highway was straight, smooth, and empty. I liked it when he watched me.

"I don't do it for guys," he said. "I know they look. I know you looked. I figured the five was for something other than pumping fuel."

"Yeah, it's for taking pride in yourself. Taking the time to look good. You didn't need to do it for me. I got the benefit. I appreciated you pumping my fuel, but not five dollars worth. The five was for the effort you put into looking the way you do. A down payment on your next pair of skintight jeans."

"What's that mean?" he asked, his face a picture of curiosity.

"I don't want to get myself in trouble. Let's drop it. I think you look good. Let's leave it at that. We'll talk about later."

"You aren't going to get off that easy. I need to know these things. I'm trapped in a truck with you."

"No, say the word. I'll find the nearest bus station and give you the money for a ticket... home. That's a promise. Any time you say."

"Cool," he said, turning his head to look at the highway.

"When a nineteen year old boy bolts on his jeans the way you do, you know what you're doing, Troy. You pack it right up front for everyone to get a good look."

"I do not," he said, trying to see himself. "I want to look good is all."

"And you do. Right now, needing a shave and a shower, without combing your hair, you still look good."

"I do not. I look like a homeless guy. Package yourself the way you do at the Texaco, stand in front of any first class hotel after eight at night in a big city, and you'd be homeless for about fifteen minutes, and that's without shaving or combing your hair."

He was still trying to look at himself. Finding his reflection in the windshield, he sat back in the seat to see himself.

"For a gay man, you might say they see it as advertising. When a nineteen year old does it around where mostly men see it.... I'm just saying. It doesn't mean anything but it says a lot."

"So you say. I don't do it for guys," he objected, looking at the highway so he didn't need to look at me telling him how I saw it.

We were establishing our boundaries. Getting acquainted.

"Guys don't look at your dick?"

"No. No one asked them to look at it. They get to look if they want. It's difficult looking good for the ladies and the guys don't see it. I don't care who looks. I don't do it for men is all."

"But you know what you're doing?" I said. "Quite a statement for a guy who's engaged and ready to give his life to his woman. That marriage would have lasted about a half hour before one of you was fucking around."

He turned his head to stare at me like I just slapped him into consciousness. He was explaining how he showed off to the general public, and he's heartbroken because Bonnie is screwing John.

I'd hit a nerve.

"Just saying," I said.

He looked back at the highway.

"Twenty!" he said. "I turned twenty two months ago in June. I'm proud of what I got."

"As well you should. There's nothing wrong with knowing how to package yourself, but you need to know why you're doing it."

"I don't do it for guys. I may get a little off willing babes. I get horny. I'd never screw Bonnie's best friend. I've got more class."

"Of course you wouldn't," I said. "Her best friend is John."

"I'd fuck him just to hear him scream," Troy said hatefully.

"You're an interesting young man. You have a lot to learn about life, but I predict you'll be OK. I predict some babe will be rubbing on your crotch before we get to where we're going. She won't even ask you your name if you have those jeans on."

"I'd take my jeans off for that. You really think so?"

This idea perked Troy right up.

"I'd be surprised if it didn't happen." I said.

"That crack about John was cold, you know," he said.

"Truth hurts," I said. "And men look at your package. If you'd fuck John to make him scream, he'll still be a man you're screwing. Just saying."

"Yeah! I suppose," he said.

I was blunt with my observations so he'd think about what I said. For our first night together, he'd opened up far more than I anticipated.

Part II

Troy slept in the seat he sat in, once we stopped for the night. I tossed him one of my pillows and I got a blanket out of the side compartment for him. It was still warm in the truck but it would cool off once the engine cooled down.

I slipped out of my clothes and slid back into the bunk.

"You sleep naked?" he asked.

"Don't you?" I asked.

"When I'm with Bonnie. ...Was with Bonnie."

"One of the great joys in my life are clean sheets. Since washing them takes time, I don't get in the bunk with my clothes on. Keeps the dirt out. The sheets stay relatively clean, until I have time to do wash."

"Cool," he said. "Makes sense. Thanks for the pillow and blanket," he said, beginning to work on getting comfortable.

"Joe?" he said after a short time.

"Yeah?" I answered.

"Thanks for letting me go with you. I feel better."

"Good, Troy. I'm glad to hear it. You're a good kid,"

"Don't hear that too often," he said, pounding the pillow again.

I listened to him breathing. There were a few sobs, more pillow pounding. He sat up for a while. Then there was more pillow pounding before the silence took hold.

It took time to fall asleep. Having a major hunk four feet away didn't do anything to quell my libido. Keeping my mind off of what I wanted to do to him wasn't an easy proposition.

It was going to be a long day tomorrow and I needed at least three or four hours sleep. Luckily I was tired enough to finally make the leap into a sound sleep, leaving thoughts of Troy behind.

Two days later we were in Eureka to unload. We had a leisurely evening with time for a hot meal, showers, and we cleaned the truck and did laundry. Both of our dirty clothes didn't make a full load.

Troy stood with a towel wrapped around his waist, giving new meaning to bubble butt. Both pair of his jeans were in the wash. The towel was the order of the evening, and His tight youthful lines were easy on the eyes.

"I'm giving up underwear," he told me. "I'm not wearing underwear with skid marks. I'll keep my jeans clean and go native."

"I'm not part of this conversation. You have it your way," I told him.

"I will," he said. "I don't see any underwear in the trucker's wash. They see it the same way I do."

He turned to face me and my eyes took him in from his size eleven feet to his twenty-four carat smile.

I wasn't a fool and I took my time folding my clothes. I was staying for the main event. I didn't see where it violated our contract to observe the dropping of the towel. I figured it would be quick.

As we separated our clothes, he dropped his towel, grabbing his jeans. We were in a public space and women did laundry as well. No one was particularly interested in Troy's bare butt. I got the view of him in all his uncut glory.

He began pulling on his jeans, but the heat from the dryer had tightened his skin tight jeans. Once they were up on his thighs, the wiggling began and his ding dong was hanging out, big time.

When he realized my eyes were on him, he turned to finish what he'd started, giving me a perfect view of his very nice butt. It soon disappeared inside the jeans.

With that image in my head, there would be little sleep tonight. All of Troy's secrets had been revealed.

We finished up and took the clothes to the truck before going to eat.

We hooked up to a loaded trailer outside of Sacramento and were on our way to Dallas. By the time the second trip ended, we'd established our routine. I didn't need to tell him what to do. He automatically went into action once the wheels stopped turning.

Instead of letting the fuel jockey clean the windshield, Troy did it. Once he was done, I had a great view, until the bugs began squashing themselves against the glass again.

Each night he checked all my lights and pounded the tires to make sure the air pressure was satisfactory. He kept the trash from our eat and run meals on his side, dumping it at the next fuel stop.

When we got to Dallas he spent four hours in the trailer unloading the freight, while I got a nap, and I was ready to roll when he brought me the signed bill of lading, which meant my business was done there..

After the first night, when Troy opened up to me, our conversations were rather mundane. I was expecting to hear more about his sexual escapades, but I think that reminded him of Bonnie, and he didn't want to be reminded of Bonnie.

He was a hard worker. As a lumper, he made my life easy. I spent most of my time behind the wheel and in the bunk. Troy sat facing straight ahead in the seat, seat-belt on, and he wore tee-shirts, which accented his muscular chest and arms. During the second week, he began to talk.

"A couple of truckers look at me, when I fuel them. One felt my package when I moved between the pump and his fuel tank. I told him I didn't swing that way. He was cool about it."

"You knew I was gay?"

"Figured, didn't know. It's not a big deal. I was in a state home. You think it doesn't go on in there? I was with Bonnie. That mattered to me. I'm not sure about anything any more. You gave me some things to think about. I've thought a lot lately. Thought a lot about going back."

"I figured you have. A lot of guys would do the same thing, Troy," I said. "But the question you need to answer, 'Is she forever or just easy sex?'"

"I'm still here," he said. "I like the truck. How old do I have to be to drive one of these things?"

"Twenty-one," I said. "I'll teach you if you stay."

He leaned with his back against the door and watched me. He hadn't done that in a while. He was wearing one of his button up shirts he hadn't buttoned up. It was late in September and it was cooling outside but the truck stayed warm inside and we were heading west again, so the sun shined in the windshield.

"You'd be willing to put up with me for that long?" he finally said.

"No put up with to it. I like you, Troy. You're a good lumper and you don't require a lot of upkeep."

"I still think about her at night," he admitted, looking at the highway.

"Easy to love easy loving," I said. "Not always smart getting it."

"You're kidding. I gave it all I had. Bonnie took a lot of loving to satisfy her. The words, 'Didn't we just do this,' meant nothing to her."

I laughed.

"You had it rough."

"I think about her. This is the first time I've rested up in two years. I think three nights is the longest I've gone between all nighters."

"Ah to be young again. Do it well once is my philosophy."

"You think it was just the sex that kept me going back?"

"I'm not sure, but there's more to love than easy sex. To have a better shot at making it work, you both need lives of your own, friendships, interests of your own, away from each other. Being with the same person all the time gets boring. Your life gets dull."

"Never a dull moment with Bonnie."

"I thought you lived with your sister. I'm missing something."

"Saturday nights and Wednesday nights I'm with Bonnie. She worked while I was off the rest of the time."

"I bet she did," I said. "You ever happen by her place on one of the nights she was supposed to be at work?"

"No, she worked. Why would I go by?"

"You've got a lot to learn, stud. Most guys would go by when the wood got to be too much for them. You know, hope to get lucky."

"She lived outside of town and my car limped to my sister's, which was only three miles. Has a bad transmission. Bonnie picked me up."

"She had you on this schedule for two years? How old is she?"

"Twenty-five," he said, watching me for a reaction.

"How long after you got out of state custody did she come along?"

"Nearly a year," he said. "I got out of state custody before I turned seventeen. I met her just before I turned eighteen. I'd just started at the Texaco. She was in the restaurant. She came to my table to talk. We started dating a few weeks later. She'd pick me up at the fuel pumps at midnight on Wednesday and Saturday."

"So I'm guessing you hadn't been with a lot of women at that time?"

"Didn't know how to talk to people then. I'd been at the home. I learned to keep to myself. I did my work and minded my own business. She just started talking to me."

"State institutions are no place for kids. They don't have the funding to raise children properly. You're lucky you overcame it," I said.

"After leaving the home, I watched my sister's kids all day, while she worked. I was lucky to get on the night shift at the Texaco."

"You've had quite a life, Troy."

"Taking up with Bonnie made me feel good about myself. I was this scrawny kid and she's this hot babe. She liked me in spite of me being all arms and legs."

"And dick. Don't leave out dick. That seems to be her main interest."

"You make it sound like that's all she was after," Troy observed.

"I'm trying to see it the way Bonnie saw it, when you met her."

"I hadn't had much of a life up until then, Joe. Having a good looking woman come on to me was quite a change of pace."

"Yeah, famine to feast," I said. "Hard for a teenager to resist."

"She was the first person who really liked me."

"You've lived with your sister."

"I did. I could come and go as I pleased. As long as I watched the kids when she needed me, I could do what I wanted. My sister and I never got along that well. She went and got me out of that place, when she was nineteen. She said she'd take care of me.

"She never once said she'd send me back there if I didn't act the way she said. She did all she could for me. but she has more trouble than she needs and I didn't do anything to cause her more trouble."

He turned so his clear blue eyes focused ahead on the highway. We drove for a while in silence. I made the mistake of bringing up Bonnie, but that wasn't what was on his mind.

"I used to dream I was back there, after she got me out. I'd wake up yelling for guys to get off me. Sheila, my sister, would come in to quiet me down. She has kids, you know. She never once threatened to toss me out."

"Sounds like a rough road to go down," I said. "Was your sister in a home?"

Once again his eyes were on me. I couldn't read his look.

"I don't know. She was twelve when Mama died. They separated us right off. When she came and got me, she said she wanted me to have some kind of a home, and the state home wasn't it. If she'd been in a home until she was eighteen, that might be why she went looking for me. They'd have kept me until I was eighteen.

"If your mother is going to die on you, tell her to wait until you're sixteen. You can make it on your own at sixteen."

"The state has trouble getting out of its own way. They have no business raising kids. It rarely ends well for the kid."

"I'd hardly call it raising. They keep us under lock and key and kiss you goodbye at eighteen, without the kiss," Troy said. "I was no easy keep. I ran every time I got a chance. They always caught me."

"I'm sorry, Troy. I know it couldn't have been easy," I said.

When I slipped into the booth at the 76 truck stop in Slidel, I put his pay in front of him, after our delivery in New Orleans.

"What's this?"

"Your pay. Four hours."

"That's thirty-two dollars," he said. "I can't make change."

"You earned forty. Don't argue when I'm feeling generous. I might not have extra next time. You do good work, Troy. That makes me money. If you keep it up, and decide to stay, I'll give you a percentage of each load."

"I'm having fun. You're cool, Joe. I felt like shit when you picked me up. I feel fine now. Better, I mean. I like being on the truck. I like moving. It feels right to me."

"I'm glad, Troy. You're a good guy. You deserve to be happy. There are people out there who aren't looking to fuck you over. The trick is to take your time when you're picking someone you intend to fall in love with. You don't fall in love because the sex is easy."

"It's easier when it's easy to get, you know," he said.

"It also ends up with your best friend screwing your woman because she's easy to get. Think it through."

"Don't think I haven't thought about it. How many guys didn't I catch her with? While I worked so I could afford to take her out and treat her nice, she was doing other guys. I was going to marry her."

"You loved what she gave you. When it's too easy, you need to think about what that means. You're young. You learn from experience."

"I hope so. I don't want to go through this again. I'm making myself raw from jacking off. Every time I get a chance I jack off. I've got a hard-on most of the time."

"TMI," I said.

"What's that?"

"Too much information. You know I'm gay, don't wave it in front of my face and expect me to pretend you aren't a good looking guy."

"I do that?" he asked, looking at my face for the answer.

"I'm saying, don't do it. I'm being good, Troy. Don't make it hard for me to be around you. That's all I'm saying. Just do what you do and we'll be fine. Don't say things that make me think you'll do what I do, and we'll be fine."

"Sorry," he said, looking at his hands and then out at the restaurant.

"I don't look that good. I don't think I do. I'm sort of awkward."

"Please," I said. "I like you. I like you being on the truck. We aren't doing anything to fuck that up because you get a wild hair you might want a blow job one night. I'm not kidding here. You know you're hot. Quit pretending you don't know the score. I've told you the score."

"Sorry," he said.

"Quit apologizing. It's my problem, not yours."

"Sorry," he said again.

He looked away and then he looked at me and smiled.

"I am sorry. I didn't mean to piss you off. I didn't intend to."

"You didn't. I'm heading off trouble. You're trouble, young man. I've been there before, Troy. I know trouble when I see it."

He blushed but he didn't look at me for a while.

"I haven't seen you even look at a guy," he said. "That's weird for a gay dude, isn't it. They like to get it on."

"I look at you," I said. "You're a dude."

"I know, but we aren't... we don't... you know what I mean. I'm always looking at girls. I think about sex all the time. You don't? I'm hard all the time, Joe."

"You're with me. You're on the truck. So, I take to looking around at what's available. I find a guy I really like. He likes me. He wants to come on the truck with me and keep my chrome polished. You're on the truck. My word, we've run out of room. So long Troy. So you see, I don't look at other guys because you're on the truck."

"Oh!" he said, like something clicked into place.

"I thought it was me," he said.

"It is you. You're with me. You need to be on my truck. In a while you'll get tired of being on the move all the time and I'll start looking at guys again. Until then, I have you to keep me from getting bored."

He laughed and then blushed again.

For the first week Troy's emotions were all over the place. He'd go from laughing and seeming like he was OK to morose. By the end of the second week he wasn't having the big mood swings. We got along fine and his initial apprehension about being in a confined space with a gay man hadn't come up.

My emotions were less predictable with Troy on the truck. I had been attracted to him from the first time I saw him. Having him four feet away from me most of every day and night was a challenge. I went out of my way not to touch him, but there were the typical brushes of hands and bodies in the narrow spaces where we worked.

I did not confess that I also was erect about half the time. It wasn't my usual condition. It didn't take a brain surgeon to know what stimulated me at this particular time. It wasn't easy exercising self-control, but I liked Troy being on the truck and didn't want to expedite his departure.

"You're too damn cute for your own good, you know?" I said, as we ate.

Self-control only went so far. Stating the obvious wasn't that risky.

"Am not," he said. "I don't mean to be. Anyway, thanks, Joe."

"For what? Telling you you're cute embarrasses you."

"For putting up with me. For not looking for someone to replace me. I like being on your truck. You treat me good, Joe. Thanks for that."

"Actually, saying you're cute isn't being completely honest. You're sexy, Troy. You have a quality that goes beyond looks. Like thanking me for saying things that make you uncomfortable. It's charming."

"Now you're just saying that to make me feel good. Thanks. You don't know how much of my life I didn't dare feel anything. You do make me feel good about myself. Being on the truck feels safe."

"I call 'em like I see 'em," I said. "The truck is my home and yours too, when you're on it."

He took a major bite of his cheeseburger, looking quite satisfied.

We found smooth highway for most of the next week. Troy was quiet and life felt good to this trucker. All the dark clouds seemed to have passed over and we went about being trucker and lumper without much rough road. We enjoyed our travels and the incredible scenery America offered, while sitting eight feet above the highway..

Reaching the end of our third week, Troy began to engage in horse play. After delivering office furniture to the offices for a new surgical unit in Mendocino, Troy folded blankets in the trailer.

The blankets were taken off as the furniture went into the building. When I drove away, the offices were ready to do business. There was no plastic or cardboard all over the place. The lumper folds the blankets so we're ready to cover the next load of office furniture.

Once the bill of lading was signed, we were done, except for tiding up.

As Troy folded the pile of blankets in the middle of the floor, I moved up behind him and tossed a loose blanket over his head. Faster than I could see, he tossed the blanket back, so it covered my head, and he drove me into the pile of blankets.

He'd been ready for me, even with his back turned, and he was quick as cat, and strong as a baby bull. We wrestled for a few minutes and I enjoy the feeling of muscle against muscle. I'd had the urge to hug Troy to comfort him since we'd embarked on our journey together, but as is not unusual, this was how it was finally accomplished. Touching each other while doing battle was allowed by men. A simple comforting or encouraging hug was not always welcome.

When all was said and done, he was on top of me, the front of his body pressed against the front of mine, and both of us were laughing uncontrollably.

"That was fun," he said, as he rolled off me and lay on his back in what was left of the pile of blankets.

We'd made a mess. I'd help him fold them so we could head for a truck stop and see what was shaking on our next load.

Our wrestle in the blankets meant we both needed a shower. Most of the blankets were new and clean, but there were always a few that had been dragged across the dirty deck of a trailer, and they collected their weight in dust.

We also needed to wash clothes and clean the truck before having a casual dinner and settling in for the night. As was typical, my phone call to dispatch came back, 'hold tight, call in the morning.' Some times getting into California was a lot easier than getting a load out, but a day off sounded good to me.

Usually I'd have taken a day or two off after delivering several loads, but I figured work gave Troy less time to fret about Bonnie. The last few days he'd been so easy to get along with that a day off seemed to be in order.

We used one shower room to save five bucks. I, being the senior member of the team, went first. Troy folded his clean jeans and shirt, dumping his dirty clothes on the floor, while I showered. As I came out of the shower, his body brushed mine as he went in, evoking an immediate response.

I kept my back to him while drying off and allowing time to ease the strain in my crotch. When I sat to dry my feet and legs, Troy was facing the shower, vigorously lathering up his crotch. I mean he took care to slip the skin back and massage soap into the gland and fold of skin created during such a move.

This was fascinating to me. I'd seen uncut men before but rarely got to see the care they took to keep clean under the excess skin that protected the gland so it remained super sensitive for the greatest gratification.

As with our blanket party in the trailer, Troy knew I was watching, and he probably knew I'd stiffened back up again as well. He ignored my presence and bent to do his feet, lower legs, thick muscled thighs, and then his butt. He didn't take as much care with his backside, but at one point he bent so that I saw the tan hot spot that had a delicate look to it in spite of his manly body.

He made small circles under the shower after being lathered from head to toe. The lather swirled on the bottom of the shower stall and left his skin shiny under the sheet of water that caressed it.

When he turned his back and began to lather his crotch with care, I knew that it was time for me to finish dressing and give him privacy. He made no secret he jacked off in the shower and a guy like Troy might do it with his back turned, but he wasn't going to do it while I watched.

He was still working on the gay thing. When he leaned against his door and watched me drive the truck, those crystal clear eyes were working on more than the operation of the truck. A man who fancied himself straight, couldn't simply understand a man who said he wasn't.

Besides being strong and a hard worker, Troy was smart. He hadn't had the education he deserved, so his intellect was but partially developed. There was little I needed to tell him, as he figured new things out in a flash, even before I explained it to him.

Most of it was simple mechanics, but even some of the mechanics hadn't been easy for me to learn. Troy picked everything right up. He'd make a good trucker. I'd teach him what I knew about the business, but Troy needed to finish being educated so that he could have an easier road to go down than trucking.

If the state of Iowa hadn't ruined him on being educated, he might be able to accomplish something special, but these were things way beyond my ability to facilitate such a thing. I'd make it as easy as I could for him to do what he was best suited to do, but finding his direction and doing the work to achieve such goals was up to Troy.

Unfortunately he was dressed when we did laundry this time. I liked him standing around in the towel. He cut a lovely figure in a towel. Now he was so squeaky clean and his hair, uncombed, gave him the look of an athlete in his prime.

"What are you looking at?" He asked.

"Just amazed by how you look after a shower. Being on the truck must agree with you. You're getting better looking all the time."

Usually he argued my admiring his looks. This time he smiled and went back to watching our clothes going round and round.

It was still early when we were caught up and ready to eat again. We'd had a late breakfast once we got to the truck stop, after our delivery, but that was before noon and I was looking forward to dinner. I knew the truck stop and they offered great food.

We both ordered T-bones, baked potato, and a salad. The steak was a half pound of tender beef and you didn't need a lot of extras. Troy, as usual, dug in. His abs were naturally flat. His legs were well muscled, and his chest was full and cut nicely without being too much. There wasn't an ounce of fat on him. He ate like a horse.

"You like steak?" I asked.

"Yeah! This is great," he said, shoveling in a substantial piece.

"Doesn't cost much more than burger and fries," I said.

"You serious? This is dynamite. I haven't had steak much, Joe."

"You want me to order another one. May as well eat while you can get it. Most places don't know how to do steak right."

"You serious?" he asked.

"Do you want another one or not. May as well order it now so you don't need to wait."

"Damn right. Thanks!"

"No, thank you, Troy. You're a damn good worker. What do you want to do with the rest of your life, and you have a job with me as long as you like, but I was thinking you might have thought of something you really like doing."

"Drive a truck. You said you'd teach me."

"I will. It's a good career if you don't mind the hours and being in constant motion. You don't really have a life if you are on the road all the time. What I mean is, for a guy like you, you might find a girl in every port, but it's not safe to sleep around too much. You don't know the people you meet that well. It makes it difficult."

"You manage," he said, after I flagged down the waitress and ordered the second T-bone for Troy.

"It's what I do, Troy. This is my life," I said. "What's right for me might not work for you."

"I want to be a trucker. I'll meet woman. I'll figure it out as I go. If you teach me, we'll be together for a while," he said.

"How old are you?"

"Twenty years three months and some days."

"I can't get you authorized so I can teach you to drive, until you're twenty one. That's almost a year."

"Cool," he said, chewing on the final piece of his first steak. "Boy this is good."

"Texas has a couple of places better. More expensive too. We'll stop there when we get in the area of one of those restaurants."

"Cool!" he said. "Can I ask you a personal question, Joe?"

"Shoot, cowboy. Ask away."

"I mean," he said, looking from side to side and then over his shoulder. "When do you take care of business, Joe? I mean," he looked around us again, "I pound away every chance I get. I never see you.... You don't.... How do you take care of it?"

His face had turned a wonderful shade of red.

"You're young, Troy. As you grow older, having a really nice partner makes the experience something memorable. When you like someone a lot, sex is like... it's like nothing else. The mingling of two bodies, the rise and fall of having sex together makes it wonderful. Do I masturbate? Yes, but not that often. When I was twenty, I did it all the time. Four, five times a day some days. Your hormones are racing at that age. Your at your sexual peak. In a different setting you'd be making out like a champ. You lack experience and your hormones rage away."

"So if I wasn't on the truck, you'd be having better opportunities."

"That's the difference between being twenty and forty. Having you around creates a certain... difficulty. Knowing you are out of bounds creates the barrier that keeps things under control. At twenty there isn't a lot of control. You're horny all the time."

"You can say that again. I'm horny all the time, Joe. I jacked off twice in the shower and I'm hard as a rock," he said, whispering and leaning across the table toward me with this confidential confession.

"Makes me glad I showered first," I said.

Troy noticed the waitress standing there with the coffee pot, listening.

"Oh! Sorry!" He said, turning that lovely shade of red again.

"OK, honey. You'll fit right in," she said, filling my cup and moving on.

"Why didn't you warn me she was there? She heard us."

"I was listening to you. I didn't see her. She's heard worse, Troy."

Troy was an amazing mixture of man and kid. It was obvious his upbringing hadn't allowed him to mature emotionally. He blushed like a thirteen year old boy with a constant erection.

A charm came with Troy as he became more open.

Part III

I respected Troy. That didn't mean I wouldn't take advantage of the shows he put on for me. These were limited to when we showered in the same room or peed on the side of the road. Standing beside the truck, facing the direction the shoulder was on, no one could see what we were doing.

A few times Troy said he'd be a minute, once I was done, and my West Coast passenger side mirror told me he was taking matters in hand. I should have felt guilty as he pounded away, but I didn't. He'd only take a few minutes and he didn't know I had a clear view.

Time was money and he didn't hold me up long. I wasn't able to tell him to take his time. I'd give myself away. A couple of times I joined in as I watched, hurrying to finish before he did.

He was pretty sharp. He'd catch on if he hadn't already figured it out.

We moved down to Marysville the next morning. It was easier to get loaded in that region. We were lucky enough to pick up a loaded trailer east of Sacramento later that day and we headed east. September was coming to a close. Fall was taking hold in the middle of the country, but we were still in mild weather, once we got passed the chill in the mountains, dropping into Nevada.

Troy had put on his long sleeve button up shirt when we stopped on Donner. As it heated up, the shirt hung open as he leaned against his door, looking out at the highway. His chest glistened with sweat. He was deep in thought or captured by the barren landscape. The yellow, reds, oranges, and browns were amazing to see, but it was mostly dirt and rock.

I kept the windows up for aerodynamics. I had an air conditioner, but that put a drag on the engine and was used in only dramatic heat.

Going east in the afternoon put the sun behind us. So it was a warm day as we crossed the desert. Troy had gone three days without a shave and the hair was barely showing on his face. His hair had been combed but it had taken on a less organized look as the day went on.

I saw him turn his head so he was looking straight at me as he leaned back and arranged his legs. A look of realization came over his face. I knew this by glancing into my West Coast mirror on his side.

He stopped looking at the highway and he was watching me. He was ready to speak, but he didn't. He organized his words before speaking. It's what I thought he might be doing.

"I had a blow job," he said, catching me by surprise.

"I've had several," I said, trying not to act like we were blazing new territory.

"I need to know about this why?" I said, playing along.

"I'd forgotten about this. You'll like it."

"This wasn't part of Bonnie's repertoire?" I asked.

"No, she wouldn't do it. She broke up with guys who insisted on having it done to them," he said, recalling her version.

"I suspect they broke up with her because she wouldn't furnish them with oral stimulation. I'll bet you didn't insist on it?"

"Hell no. I was happy to get what she'd give me. She did most of the insisting."

"Wrong approach. You need to be happy you satisfy a lover. You need to own your feelings and realize you're as important to your partner as your partner is to you. Takes two to tango, Troy."

"I'm not sure what that means," he said.

"You'll figure it out. So Bonnie is your one source of sex? The blow job fell on you one day?"

"Yeah, it did. I was at the home. This was maybe the month before Sheila, my sister, came to get me. I wrestled on the school team. We wrestled each other. No one wanted to wrestle the kids at the home. There were eight or nine of us. We worked out and wrestled for the supremacy of the state home. Big Whoops, huh?"

"It does explain your body. You're quite muscular. Not in an obscene way, but in a way that might come from athletics. I can see you as a wrestler," I said.

"I worked out all the time. Most guys worked out when we were scheduled to work out. I liked being alone and I'd go to the wrestling room to exercise. There was a mat and stuff. Nothing fancy.

"I just put on my short. No jock. I took my underwear off because I didn't want to get it smelly with sweat. I'd work out an hour or more two or three times a week. I was on the mat stretching out my hamstrings and Lenny comes in. I was one fort-five. Lenny was one thirty-two. So here I'm doing exercises and my equipment is hanging out of my shorts, because I didn't wear my jock."

"Sounds like an invitation to me," I said. "I guess.

"He wanted to wrestle. We paired up a lot because most of the guys were bigger than we were. There was one guy, Farara. He was the smallest guy and then Lenny and then me.

"Anyway he's on top of me and his hands, as I feared, ended up on my stuff. He didn't seem to notice he was feeling me up. He was slippery quick, and each time I maneuvered him off my stuff, he's got his hand between my legs again. It isn't that unusual in wrestling, but when I only had on shorts, which wasn't enough.

"I felt the problem rising. The longer his hand was there the stiffer I got. I'd get his hand to move he kept moving it back, until it was standing stiff and proud. That's when he did it," he said with alarm.

"He blew you."

"He put his mouth on it, sliding slowly down on me. What do you say when a guy has your dick in his mouth?"

"Watch the teeth?" I said.

"What?" he asked.

"What do you say...."

"Oh, yeah, I wasn't thinking. I told you i have this problem and about the time he'd got half way down on me, I shot off like a rocket. I may have grabbed the back of his head and forced him down on me."

"It's what I'd have done," I reassured him.

"He starts coughing and he says, "You did it in my mouth. Why'd you do that?"

"It's what happens when you put your mouth on someone's dick," I explained.

"Never did before," he said. "That's not nice. Why'd you do that?"

"It went like that a few minutes and he got up and left. Once he got his mouth on me, it was going off and there was nothing I could do."

"No, he did it all," I said.

"I'm stiff talking about it. I'm a mess. Anyway, a guy blew me once."

"I'll keep that in mind," I said, afraid to think I had a shot.

"I was sure he was going to tell someone. I don't know who, or why. I felt guilty about letting him do it and me going off so fast."

"Mostly about going off so fast," I said.

"Yeah, I did kick myself for not being able to hold off."

"He was the one that did the deed. He wasn't going to brag about it. We may be in a new enlightenment, Troy, but male to male sex is still a major threat to a lot of straight men, especially if they have a desire for men. Lenny wasn't telling anyone he liked to suck cock."

"I worry about stuff like that," Troy said. "I don't want people to think.... I don't know why I'm afraid of something I liked."

"It's not something you want everyone to know. I rarely tell anyone about my sex life. It's none of their business as far as far as I'm concerned, unless I'm having sex with them at the time."

"I've noticed that. I thought you might be a monk or something. You never talk about sex, even when I tell you things about me."

I laughed.

"You're a young man. I'm not so young any more. My sex life shrinks in comparison with yours, Troy."

"At the Texaco, it's all we talk about," Troy said.

"Why'd you let Lenny do it?" I asked. "Why didn't you stop him?"

"I wasn't busy at the time. It felt good. It was something to do."

"You liked it," I said.

"There was that," he admitted. "You can't imagine how miserable you are in a place like that, Joe. You're in a cold environment with no one who really gives a damn about you."

"It sounds pretty bad."

"I only had my mother and sister, and my mother was sick for a long time. Then I didn't have anyone. They came and got me. There were some nice people, but my life was over as a kid."

"I'm sorry, Troy. You made it out and you're doing pretty well."

"I was doing better when I thought Bonnie loved me."

He didn't say anything else.

He was looking at the highway again.

I was too, but I had to if I was going to keep the truck on the road.

The conversation was over for the moment, but he'd gone out of his way to tell me he got a bj from a dude. This was a pattern with other guys I'd had on the truck. It happened about the third week a lumper was on the truck. Most lumpers make it clear that they aren't straight, they're super straight. Three weeks in curiosity is getting the best of them. Being on the road limits the opportunities for sexual conquest, even for hot studs.

I'd lost two lumpers outright after the curiosity got them past their inhibitions to act on being horny. The farther they went, the more enjoyable they found it, the more likely they'd cut and run soon after.

There are things people learn about themselves, they aren't prepared to know. A lifetime of prejudice undone in a moment of abandon. It's surprising how flexible young men become when they are horny. Long held beliefs become so much clutter for the waste basket.

While they know what they know about themselves, it doesn't mean they can face someone else who knows the truth. Since I was part of the discovery team in these findings, they needed to leave me and the truck behind, so they can keep their secret. Even go back to condemning that which they've found out they like.

When I had a good lumper, I didn't want to loose him. If the subject came up, and they announced they wanted to cross the Rubicon, I'd say, 'I don't diddle the help.'

Once someone knows you're gay, denying you'll have sex with them often brings on the, 'What's wrong with me syndrome.'

Popular entertainment will tell you a gay man will have sex with anyone at any time, and it may well be true of some gay men, but there are those of us who aren't gay men. We are men who are gay. A tiny difference which means, probably most of us, are many things and sex isn't always the first thing on our minds.

Stereotypes are what is seen and believed, and so even a trucker who is trying to be good, can be cornered into a sexual liaison with someone they don't want to loose, but also don't want to insult. Gay men may well be easier when it comes to sex, but when you consider we are well into our teens and twenties before we can express affection, it's no surprise the desire for sex, touching, holding someone, is at first a compulsion, once we're free to express ourselves.

Add a good looking, muscular, young horny dude to the equation and compulsion becomes obsession. I was seriously attracted to Troy. He had everything I liked, but he was still young, finding his way through what he now knew was a cruel world.

I had no right or desire to complicate his life more than it had been complicated, but when he reached the Rubicon, I would be powerless to deny my feelings for him. That could damage both of us, but I couldn't say no to him.

So did these things make me the stereotypical gay man? Even when my life was about much more than who I slept with?

Now Troy had confessed his most notorious sexual escapade to me. He was thinking about sex with a dude. He was one of the best lumpers, and person, to come my way. As badly as I wanted to feel his body against mine, I didn't want to lose him to guilt over exploring his sexuality. Our society almost demanded guilt over our sexuality.

Trucking is like any profession, you learn as you go. You know what you should do, but life being what it is, you can't always do what you know you should.

The difficulty in being human is built into everything we do.

We delivered in St. Louis, picked up in a western suburb of Chicago, delivering into Atlanta. Loading in Atlanta, we unloaded in Los Angeles. We picked up in Ventura. We delivered in Phoenix the next day, picking up a loaded trailer waiting for us in Tempe just before dark. We were heading for Detroit.

We got to Flagstaff before the restaurant closed at Little America and ate. At least I think we ate. I was falling asleep and even three cups of coffee did nothing to keep me awake.

"We need to sleep here tonight. I'm beat," I told Troy.

"I've been beat since we delivered in Los Angeles. I wondered when you were going to stop long enough for a nights sleep."

"When the loads come one after the other, I need to take advantage of them. It'll get slow in a month or so. I want to have money in the bank for the winter when the freight slows down."

"A good nights sleep will get you a lot farther than if you keep pushing yourself. You look like shit."

"Thank you. Now I feel better," I said.

"Sorry. You need some rest, Joe."

"Glad we are in agreement, and now I'm going out and collapsing in my bunk."

"I'm going to get a shower and finish my dinner," Troy said, separating from me for the first time in two weeks.

Climbing into my bunk, I missed the sound of him in the front seat, but not enough to keep me from falling asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow.

"Hey! Hey! Wake up," someone was saying as he shook me.

"One of us better fucking be on fire," I growled. "Go a-way,"

"Joe, I'm freezing my ass off. Move over," Troy said as he moved into the bunk with me.

"Don't worry, I took my clothes off. I did laundry after I showered. It was warm when I fell asleep. Damn it's cold. This is comfortable. I don't know when I laid down last."

"Troy, it's called going to sleep. Shut up."

"Sorry!" he said, and I realized his naked body was up against mine.

It was suddenly very hot in my bunk.



"Can I have some of the covers?"

I lifted the blanket and he rolled up against my chest and when I lowered it my arm was around his beautiful chest. I wouldn't need to fall asleep. I was faint and my best part was quite aroused and against the crack of his butt. I wasn't the only one to notice.

"Don't even think about trying to fuck me. Do we understand?"

"The though never entered my mind," I said, fully awake now.

"Right!" he said. "I'm straight not stupid. This is a big step for me. Just keep that thing a safe distance from my asshole and we'll stay friends."

"Yes, sir. You warm."

"Oh, yeah. This is nice. Just why did you make me sleep up there?"

"Lack of imagination?" I asked.

"I like this arrangement way better. Am I crowding you."

"No. We're fine," I said, so overheated he didn't know how close he was to needing another shower.

It wasn't everything I ever wanted, but it was pretty damn close.

I could have fallen in love with Troy, but I didn't.

He wasn't as straight as he said, and i wasn't so horny that I had to make a move on him to satisfy my carnal desire.

Having Troy sleeping in my arms at night was like dying and going to heaven. From the night he crawled into my bunk in Flagstaff, that's how we slept. He held onto my arm so I couldn't stop holding him. I sensed as good as it made me feel, it made Troy feel even better.

I did not try to take any liberties. Holding him suited me just fine.

Each night his body molded to mind. He didn't usually move once he settled into my arms, and each night my erection stayed pressed against the crack of his ass.

If he woke up when I got up to move on down the road, I didn't sense it. The other benefit in sleeping in the bunk, he slept in until I hit the air brakes the first time, and the loud swoosh of air the brakes made was his wake up call.

That's when he rolled out of the bunk and was pulling on his jeans. Then he was out cleaning the windshield and get the trash out of the truck while we fueled, and then we'd eat or get takeout.

Being a healthy young man, he had his morning hard-on for me to admire. After the first few mornings, he stopped trying to keep me from seeing his erection. Troy had it all and it made him nearly irresistible.

The quality of his work didn't slack off any, because he knew I was smitten with him. I do believe it relaxed him to know how much I cared about him, and yet he'd not had to give anything up. The truck was his port in the storm that almost wrecked his life.

He smiled a lot, watched me drive with his back up against the door. I don't know what he was seeing but he often sat watching me. The rest of the time he looked out at the highway, seeing what I was seeing. The road was ahead was clear and smooth.

He'd relaxed completely two months after coming on my truck. A week after he first climbed into my bunk with me, I woke up with Troy's face on my chest, his arms around me, mine around him. I was his employer, protector, and a safety valve who came for him at the darkest moment of his young manhood. I hoped our friendship would take hold and grow.

There had been over a dozen lumpers before Troy. Most stayed a few months some stayed most of a year. One called on his worst days to see if I needed a lumper. My truck was a refuge for boys like him.

Constant motion isn't for everyone. Sooner or later boys get bored with the endless black ribbon I drive and they need to stop moving.

Knowing the nature of the business I'm in, I am a cautious man. I can stop my feelings from developing beyond a certain point. Having experience means, not falling in love with a lumper. If I was going to fall in love with one, it would be Troy, an admitted straight man.

I knew better.

First Troy got in the bunk with me, which made for many sleepless nights; not unpleasant just sleepless. At some point in the weeks that followed, I woke up with Troy's arms around me.

It was a first for one of my lumpers. Even the ones who wanted to walk on the wild side, were reluctant to let affection enter into it. It made it difficult to maintain my distance. This was a snag I hadn't anticipated and with which I had no experience.

The good thing was that Troy slept soundly. When I got up to start driving, he stayed in the bunk and slept. This meant we didn't need to discuss what us hugging each other at night meant.

I didn't know how to have that conversation.

Being resourceful, and not having nearly the experience I had, Troy didn't need to deal with my inhibitions. He intended to have the conversation I was happy not having. In this case experience didn't win out.

"Is there something wrong with me, Joe?" Troy asked as we waited for dinner.

His voice told me that this was a serious concern for him.

"Nothing I can think of. You do your work. You're easy to be around. I thought everything was fine, Troy. Did I say something to offend you."

"How long have I been sleeping with you?" he said, disregarding the other patrons who were also there for dinner.

"You've been sleeping in the bunk for a few weeks," I said. "I didn't mark down the date. Maybe it's been a month."

"You haven't touched me. I mean, I thought you gay guys were all cock hounds and couldn't stop chasing dick. It's what I've always heard. There's something wrong with one of us."

"Do we have to do this here? Right now?" I said, looking at the diners who were becoming aware of us.

The conversation I didn't want to have? Now I wished we'd had it, and somewhere besides in public. I was not ready for this.

"Don't try to put this off any longer. I want to know why you won't touch me? You know, touch me, touch me?" saying the second touch me in a low sultry voice.

"Troy, whatever you've heard. I can guarantee, it has nothing to do with me. What you said is insulting and you happen to be straight, or have you forgotten?"

"Whatever you've heard about that isn't me. Did I think I'd need to be here asking you for... you know what I'm asking for."

"I work for a living. I keep pretty busy in case you haven't noticed. Besides, I recall the words, 'I'm straight, not stupid.' I won't have you saying I ran you off, Troy. I promised I'd take care of you," I said.

"You aren't taking care of me," he sang. "That's the problem. Do you only fuck? That comment was about you fucking me."

People at the next table coughed in unison.

"Troy, this isn't the place to discuss this. Can't it wait?" I said softly.

"No, it can't. When I got into your bunk, I expected certain things would happen. I didn't want your dick in my ass. That may be a leap too far," he said in a whisper, leaning toward me as he did.

The people at the next table leaned to hear what we were saying.

"Joe, what I'm saying.... ...I'm saying I'm horny. I told you about Lenny. Didn't you wonder why? Are you sure you're gay?"

"You being horny is no secret. Your telling me a story about what happened to you at that home isn't exactly inviting."

"When nothing happened, I started sleeping with you. I sleep naked. You sleep naked. So, what's wrong with me? I want to know."

"Troy, I like you a lot. You're a big help to me. I don't want to take a chance of losing you. I don't want you leaving any sooner than necessary."

"I got nowhere to go. I'm not asking to have your children."

I laughed at the idea.

"That's a relief," I said.

"I'm tired of jacking off. I've gone from more sex than I knew how to handle to no sex to handle."

"You say yes, yes, now, because you're horny. When you aren't horny, the guilt sets in. I've seen it, Troy. I'm not going there with you."

"I'm always horny. Everything I do you can say it's because I'm horny at the time. By getting into the bunk with you, I thought you'd get the hint. Boy was I wrong."

"I don't want to complicate things. I like how it is. How we get along."

"Well, if you want to keep getting along, we'll meet in the bunk tonight. We're going to start getting along even better."

I laughed again. Speaking of an offer you can't refuse.

"What? Riding makes me horny."

"Troy, you're always horny," I said. "You are a mess."

"You telling me. When did I start thinking about doing it with a dude?"

"I don't know," I said. "But if we do this, and you leave me, I'll...."

"I've got no where to go. I live with you. We live on your truck. I'm where I want to be doing what I want to do."

His look told me he was serious. His clear blue eyes never left mine.

"I never had a male friend before I met you," he said.

"John?" I asked.

"Do you remember everything?" he asked.

"Things I consider important, I remember."

He thought about this.

"John was another kid. We liked some of the same things. He was someone to hang with. If he were my friend he wouldn't be sleeping with my girlfriend."

"Can't argue with that. You need to decide what those things mean to you. I don't know anything but what you tell me. Words convey meaning and that's all I have to go on."

"You getting tired of me?" he asked, and he watched my face.

"Do I act like I'm tired of you? I'm afraid I'll lose you."

"I don't know anything but what you tell me," he said, smiling. "I like you. It would be easier if you just grabbed it and I let you do what you wanted to do, but I can see that isn't the way to go for you."

"What do I want to do?"

"Blow me," he said loud enough for everyone to hear.

There was more coughing at the next table.

"I think you'd like to swallow my dick," he said seductively. "I'd like it."

"Swallow would be ambitious," I whispered. "You need me to make the move so you don't need to face what it means if you make the first move."

"Now you're a shrink?" he asked.

"Believe me when I say, if every boy who got a blow job from another guy were gay, half the men would be gay. It means nothing. It's something men like but don't like to admit. If it feels good, do it."

"In other words, I should be responsible for what I want and feel? What if I have no idea what I feel? Except for feeling horny."

"You'd belong to a very big club. Men aren't encouraged to feel. Horny may well be another word for being lonely."

We did need to get some miles behind us after dinner. The discussion about what happened once we stopped for the night had ended. Troy got my thermos filled before we left, and I was good to go.

Four hours later I eased into a rest area just outside of Nashville. I had run out of steam. As I began to undress, Troy did likewise. When he got his jeans down to his knees, his cock stood stiff and proud.

"Don't trip over that thing if you stand up."

Grabbing it suggestively he said, "Takes two hands to handle a whopper."

"You do like to show off," I said. "Nice when you've got the equipment to do it."

"I think it's grown because of the drought. It's looking for relief," he said.

"You sure you're ready for to do this? You can still change you're mind," I said.

"Nice try, Joe. You aren't getting off that easy. You've still got work to do. The night isn't over yet."

Work wouldn't be what I'd call it. Troy was a handful in more ways than one. He didn't wear out easy. At first he was sedate, living up to his description of being fast on the draw as soon as my mouth made contact. It wasn't instantaneous reaction, but it didn't take long.

For a few seconds he held my head and then moved his hands. His chest was heaving and I don't know if he was disappointed at how it felt or disappointed it was over so fast.

"Don't," he said, when my mouth came off.

"You OK?"

"I'll be ready to go in a couple of minutes if you put your mouth back."

I did. He was. After two starts and two stops, it got more serious and he became more animated. He rearranged me a couple of times and positioned himself to do more of the work himself.

It was a labor of love and I didn't want it to stop. I had nothing to compare it with as Troy was one of a kind. Nothing had changed but the barrier between Troy and my deepest feelings was cracking.

"You OK?" I asked as he laid flat on his back.

"Just thinking," he said.

"We don't have to do it again, Troy. You're straight. You tried it and no one is going to pressure you for more. I was pretty damn glad to be that close to you."

"You talk too much. You also take my breath away. You better pressure me more. If you don't, I'll be pressuring you," he said as he regained his composure. "I've got this to say about that, Wow!"

"I'll take that as an endorsement of my oral capabilities," I said. "I only know what you tell me. I'll take that as approval," I said. "You know what you like."

"I was afraid of how I'd feel after you did that," he said, "I do know what I like. I like you, Joe. I like being with you."

"I'm glad you feel that way. You'll get no argument form me."

"You still horny?" I asked.

"What time is it. I've been horny since we left Iowa City. I'll be horny when we leave here, and I don't know where here is. I'm a twenty year old guy who has horny down pretty good."

I laughed as I looked across his beautiful chest down to his semi-erect penis. I put my hand on it before feeling his balls. He didn't flinch, but his eyes were on my hand. There was no expression on his face.

The thing I noticed, now that we moved into the realm of desire, he had pure white skin. There wasn't any sign of pores as I studied his skin. It was silky smooth. His nipples were dark pink. The red hair in the middle of his chest was fine and sparse.

When flaccid, his penis was golden brown. As he became aroused, the color darkened to a dark yellow with an orange tint. When it turned that color, he was filled with lustful intention.

Once he got to that point in his arousal, Troy intended to stay for a while. If I'd lost sleep during the hours I held him close to me, once we crossed into the arena of lust and desire, sleep was limited to the hours Troy was worn out. I did my best in that pursuit.

Luckily, as October became November, the freight slowed and I was able to extend the number of ours I wasn't behind the wheel.

One night, climbing into the bunk after me, Troy immediately wrapped his arms around me and squeezed. This usually came after we were done and ready for sleep. He held onto me every night.

"You're a nice guy, Joe," he said. "Is what we do good for you. I mean I get my rocks off and fall asleep. until I fall asleep. I don't know if that's cool. I don't do anything for you."

"Oh, brother, are you ever wrong. You light my fire. I'm fine."

"Are you sure?"

"As long as you're OK with it, I'm fine. Quit worrying. We're cool."

I didn't answer the question. I wasn't going there until he took us.

"When I first started sleeping in the bunk, you were always hard."

"You were in the bunk," I explained.

"You know why I like that?"

"Why?" I asked, wanting to know.

"I feel safe with you. Do you know the first time in my life I felt safe?"

"No," I said, not sure where we were going.

"The first time I knew I was safe and wasn't going hungry, homeless, or getting my ass kicked, was when I got on the truck with you, Joe. That's why I'm not going anywhere. I feel safe with you."

The tears filled his eyes. He held me tight, squeezing as he cried.

I wiped my own eyes. It was the nicest thing anyone had ever told me. The barrier I kept around my feelings for Troy was gone.

I was in love.

During the heat of summer, in the afternoon, a cleansing thunderstorm can roll past, leaving the air fresh and cool. The birds sing and the day feels perfect.

That's how the next day was to me. We had to be up early and we delivered before noon. We wouldn't be on another load until the following day. We turned into the Petro truck stop next to the Interstate. We fueled, cleaned the truck, did our laundry, took a slow two man shower before dressing for dinner.

I spotted a three foot tall teddy bear in the trucker's store. Once we'd ordered dinner, I got up and said I'd be right back. I bought the teddy bear and sat it beside Troy when I came back to the table.

"What is this?" he asked, unable to hide his delight.

"I figured you never had one of those. Now when I get up to drive in the morning, you can hug Lit'l Joe.

Troy laughed and laughed, sitting the bear on his lap. He smoothed the fur and straightened the ribbon around it's neck. Then he looked at me.

"You're something, Joe Buck."

"I wouldn't have it any other way. You are safe with me, Troy. I care about you. I wouldn't let anything happen to you."

"I know," he said.

We took our time with dinner and played some video games and watched part of a bad movie before going back to the truck. Nothing was said as we got ready for bed.

I climbed into the bunk and Troy climbed in, his back to me this time, and moving his back close up against me.

"You got off having your dick against my ass, didn't you?"

"I wouldn't say got off, but yes, that's a good position for me, but don't we have some business before we assume his posture?"

When his hand found my erection, I did jump, not expecting it.

"Sorry. Did I do something wrong?"

"No. You surprised me is all."

"Didn't mean to do that, but I didn't know how to say I was about to grab you dick," he said.

"No apologies necessary," I said, not knowing where this was going.

"Yours tappers," he said, feeling from the head down the shaft. "Mine is thicker but the head isn't like yours. My head is the same thickness as my shaft. It's more blunt but yours tapers down from a big head. It might not hurt that much."

"I'm circumcised. The skin that covers your gland, the head, folds up around the head. It's all about functionality. You get hard, the skin folds up to fill the space between the shaft and head when you've got an erection. All that's been cut off of me. That's why it's tapered."

"I'd like mine to look like yours. Bonnie said something about me getting circumcised."

"No! Don't even think it, Troy. It's mutilation. They do it to defenseless boys before their old enough to kick their ass. They cut off part of my penis. Do you understand that? Supposedly in our culture that is one of the most private and secretive parts of a human body, and they take it upon themselves to cut parts of it off."

"When you put it that way. Why do they do it?"

"In case you haven't figured it out, people don't need a reason for being stupid. They do what they want come hell or high water. They are especially good at it with defenseless people, like babies."

Troy laughed.

"I take it I can't get circumcised?"


"Aren't you being like them. Telling me what to do?"

"I'm trying to help you. They're trying to be idiots. They're good at it."

"OK. I won't ask you to circumcise me."

"Someone with the equipment you have, being circumcised would probably kill you. You are stitched up where they cut parts off. If you get an erection for a week or ten days after the operation, the stitches are ripped out."

"Oh, no thank you. You talked me out of it. No erection for a week to ten days. Maybe ten minutes."

"I'm waiting for some kid to sue their parents and their doctor for mutilating them. I'd like that."

"You'd rather be like me?" he asked.

I laughed.

"It would take more than undoing an operation for me to be like you," I said.

"Why's that?"

"You're fishing for compliments. Your body is perfect. Your cute as hell, and your hung better than some ponies I know. I couldn't be like you on my best day."

He laughed.

"I love you too, Joe," he said.

I couldn't see his face but it got quiet fast. We listened to each other breath. I held him close and it felt a little like heaven.

After a few minutes, he rolled around and held my dick on his hole.

"Stop," I said, realizing what he was about to try..

"Hey, you just got lucky, sailor. You want me to stop?"

"I do not have a condom handy. You don't do this without a condom."

"Fuck!" he said. "I had to get my nerve up to dare try it."

"No fuck," I said. "Hey, don't you know about AIDS. I know you don't have unsafe sex."

"I've heard of AIDS. I'm not gay. It's a gay disease," he said.

"If you had a brain, you'd be dangerous. A disease isn't gay. If it's in the blood and semen, it can be in anyone's blood and semen. There are precautions and ways to be sure you won't catch it."

"Joe, do you have AIDS?"


"There you go. Fuck me," he said with determination.

"No. We need lube. You don't just stick a dick up your ass."

"Glad to hear there's a lube for this kind of thing."

"There are more kinds of lube for fucking than for cars," I said.

"You might be turning down the only time I've got enough nerve to let you try this," he said with a sigh.

"I'll take my chances. I'm not going anywhere and if I'm lucky, you aren't going any where, and one day you might want to try it again."

"Probably. I been thinking about it since I started sleeping back here. I bet you've fucked guys without a condom or lube before."

"Yep! I confess. I have had unsafe sex."

"But you won't do it with me?"

"Nope. If we do it, we'll do it the way that teaches you how to be safe. In case when you get old and feeble, you leave me, you'll know how to be safe."

"If I'm old and feeble, I won't care if I'm safe or not," he said, kissing me on the lips. "You're a keeper, Joe. Don't try to get rid of me."

"I'd get rid of the truck first."


In my travels I've met many young men on the road who were happy to take a job as my lumper. Troy was the best of these. He had the usual prejudices fostered by an unenlightened society, who still believes sex is something dirty, except when they do it..

Troy could learn. It wasn't that he couldn't feel. He learned not to feel. It was safer. Many men refuse to feel. It's less risky. I've learned before I take a lumper with me, I tell him I'm gay. This was the point when they all said, 'As long as you leave me alone, we're fine.'

When the wheels begin to turn, they're sure of the facts and know where they stand. In time they sense living without feeling isn't cool, once they decide to feel, they discover a truth about themselves they hadn't known. The inevitable question, 'Why haven't you...?' comes up. They think about what they've been taught, and what they know, and it doesn't add up.

All lumpers don't get to this phase before leaving the truck.

I was surprised how little men know about sexuality and how little they allow themselves to feel. Sex education comes from the usual sources. Short on facts and long on, 'Just say no,' and magically pink ponies and purple unicorns fly out of their arse when they fart.

These are the boys I find on the side of America's highways.

Because what they've been taught doesn't match up with their feelings, they shut down rather than risk a major embarrassment.

Lumpers like Troy knew they got the truth from me. They knew I did what I said I'd do. No longer vulnerable, some lumpers stay longer than others. Some have more experience with life, and they are on the truck to take a break from the road.

I was never happier than when I had a lumper beside me. My saddest moments came when a lumper said, 'I'll get off at this exit.'

The last thing I saw of these boys, the last thing they saw of me, were the eyes. They'd stand where they got out, watching, listening to me shift through the gears, easing back onto the super slab.

My eyes would be on them. Their eyes would be locked on my right hand West Coast mirror. They'd watch my eyes grow smaller as our lives became separated by the miles we traveled.

Well, time to get rolling. See you the next time I'm out this way. Troy's been on the truck two years this week. I'm taking a load of waiting area furniture to McCarran Airport, Las Vegas.

After we deliver, we'll spend three days at the Pyramid, where we intend to eat, drink, and be merry.

Keep the shiny side up and the rubber side down.

Joe Buck

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