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Splendid Desolation (Part Three of Four parts)


dontravis.com blog post #338


Courtesy of Pixnio.com
We last saw Vince staggering around on the desolate desert not much caring whether he lived or died. Will someone show up to save him? Read on.

*****

SPLENDID ISOLATION


I woke at first light wrapped in warm blankets and shaded by an awning of scrap canvas stretched between two boulders. Something soft and wet was pressed against my cracked lips. I sucked on it like a blind baby finding a tit.

“Not too much,” a voice cautioned. Focusing my eyes, I discovered a young man sitting cross-legged beside me holding a dripping cloth to my lips. Davy! He’d come back for me. “Take it slow,” the youngster cautioned.

Despite the words, I sucked the rag dry of the sweetest nectar known to man… water. I tried to sit up, but discovered I was too weak to even lift my head. “Where  am... I?” My voice sounded like a bullfrog with a whiskey problem.

The young man smiled, revealing teeth brighter than Sweetie’s. I realized he was not Davy; this youth had a little bulk to his frame, although he was as spectacularly handsome at that miserable little shit. Dark curls fell across a broad forehead as yet unmarked by life. Turquoise eyes, somewhere between blue and green, smiled along with a broad, sensual mouth.

“You’re safe. You just need to rest and gain some strength, and then we’ll get you to shelter.”

“How’d you find me?”

“That’s what I do,” the youth responded in a light baritone. “I find people in trouble out here. You’d be surprised how many there are.”

“Not if they’re as stupid as I am,” I grumbled, accepting more water from a canteen.

“Folks get insulated from the desert by air-conditioned cars and forget how dangerous it is.”

“Can you show me the way me back to civilization?”

“Sure. As soon as you get your strength back. Right now, I want you to eat some trail mix. We’ll try bacon and eggs later.”

Trail mix had always tasted like confetti, but the stuff this kid fed me was ambrosia. After that feast, I dropped back into a restless sleep. It wasn’t until afternoon that I felt strong enough to put a good, solid meal under my belt. Then I took notice of our surroundings. We were camped on a steep hill crowned by two large boulders. There was nothing but nothing for miles in every direction. I wondered how the dark-haired youngster managed to carry my dead weight up the slope of the hill.

Seeing I was awake, the boy abandoned chopping scraggly bits of wood with a hatchet to check on me. “Feeling better now?”

“Yeah. Think I’ll make it. When can we leave?”

“Not till tomorrow. You oughta be in better shape by then.”

“Why not now? Hell, we ought to make it by sundown.”

The boy looked at me with dawning comprehension. “I’m sorry, man. I don’t have a vehicle. You’ve gotta walk out.”

My heart sank. My dismay must have shown. The kid laid a hand on my arm. “Don’t worry. You’ll be better provisioned this time, and you’ll know where you’re going. By the way, my name’s Skye. Skye Hardesty.” The youth offered a strong hand that reminded me how weak I was. “I know you’re Vince because I looked in your billfold when I wasn’t sure what the situation was. Hope you don’t mind.”

I shook my head. “Sky? Like that up there,” I asked, pointing upward.

“Skye with an ‘e’. My brother got a normal name, Karl, but they tagged me Skye. Go figure.” The kid was not only good-looking; he was also likable. “By the way, your wallet’s empty. Just has a driver’s license and a couple of pictures.”

I swore aloud. “That thieving son of a bitch! I had five hundred and some credit cards. I’m gonna wring his scrawny neck!” That elicited a slew of questions, all of which I answered, laying out my story…minus the romp in the truck bed. Skye agreed there were some pretty bad people in this world.

It grew uncomfortable even under the protective awning in the hottest part of the afternoon, but my rescuer had chosen well. Our hillock caught whatever faint breeze the thermal heat stirred across the desert. Skye suddenly reappeared from wherever he’d been and hovered over me. The kid hadn’t even broken a sweat. Used to it, I guessed.

“I wanta clean you up some. We don’t have a lot of water, but I’ve got enough to sponge you off. It’ll keep you a little cooler, too. Okay?”

I licked lips that felt almost normal and nodded. “Sure. But I can do it.”

“If you’ll put up with me getting kinda personal, I’ll do it. I won’t waste as much water.”

So I sprawled atop my blanket wondering if I could control myself as the boy carefully removed my clothing. Couldn’t afford to scare the kid off…he was my ticket out of this jam. I watched as the young man wet a rag, rubbed it against a small scrap of soap, and set about washing me from head to foot with water from his seemingly bottomless canteen.

When he was finished, Skye sat cross-legged and looked me over carefully. Searching for spots he missed, I guessed. Any though of covering myself quickly died as the evaporating moisture cooled my sunburned flesh.

“You sure are a handsome man,” Skye ventured shyly after a moment.

“Never thought of myself like that.”

“Not pretty, but handsome.”

I laughed aloud. “But you are…pretty, I mean.”

The boy glanced away. He couldn’t have been more than eighteen…twenty, max, but he carried a maturity about him. It was probably his serious demeanor.

After a moment’s silence, he spoke again. “I’ve heard about that place. That Eagle Bar you mentioned.” Skye turned those sometimes blue, sometimes green eyes on me. “I hear it’s one of those bear places.”

I smiled. “Yep, a bona fide cave full of bears, most of them big and hairy.”

“Like you.”

“Like me,” I confirmed. But his close examination cut off my dissertation on the bear subculture of the United States.

Skye faltered. “They’re…they’re homosexuals, aren’t they?”

“Lots of us,” I said deliberately.

“The sex thing…that it’s pretty important, isn’t it? Sometimes sex gives people a clue to the kind of person they are.”

“Who are you, Sigmund Freud?” I laughed, intrigued by the trace of bitterness in his voice.

“No, just a guy with problems of his own.”

“What kind of problems do you have? You’re just a kid.”

“Sometimes that’s when they show up, when you’re a kid,” Skye answered. Then he turned those agate eyes on me again. “You’re a handsome man,” he repeated. Skye put a timid hand to my chest. “Sorry,” he said, jerking away quickly. “Just wanted to see what it felt like.”

That’s okay. I don’t mind. Like it, as a matter of fact.”

Skye leaned over and gently laid his head on my chest. After a while, I realized he was working up his courage.

“It’s okay, kid.”

Instantly, he embraced me with a hunger I’d rarely seen. The world sort of went crazy as we became wrapped up in one another. When it was over, we sat side by side without touching.

“Feel better now?” he asked. “I figured you needed it. I…I don’t do that with everybody.”

“Thanks, kid. You’re right. I needed it. And it was great. How about you? You need any help?”

Skye slowly shook his head. “Not right now.”

We fell silent as we looked out at the desert below the hill.

I shivered. “Such desolation.”

He leaned his shoulder against mine. “Splendid desolation.”

“If you say so.”

He looked at me and smiled. “I do. It is.”

I stretched out on the blanket and closed my eyes to avoid noticing again how handsome the kid was. The next thing I knew, I woke at sunset, still naked but covered by a blanket. Skye handed me a tin cup of stew, which I devoured hungrily.

“It’ll get cold now,” Skye commented, observing the unbelievable sunset to the west. “Beautiful, isn’t it. This is the greatest place in the world.”

“Bleakest, you mean,” I groused, little moved by nature’s garish spectacle.

“It’s the place I chose,” Skye mused. “I’ve never been sorry.”

“To each his own.”

The boy gave me a wry grin. “Yeah. But sometimes it takes a long time to learn that.”

“How’d you get to be so smart?”

“Lots of suffering.”

“Yeah, sure. You look like you suffered daily for all of what? Twenty years?”

“Things aren’t always the way they seem,” Skye turned enigmatic. “You’re stronger, I think. You’ll be on your way tomorrow. I’ll miss you.”

“You’re not going with me?” I asked in amazement.

“No, I still have things to do here.”

“Where the hell do you live?”

The boy motioned to the west with his chin, a touch of sadness hiding in the reflected hues of the dying sunset. “Over there, but there’s a gas station down on the highway that’s closer.” Skye pointed over his shoulder. “My brother, Karl, runs it. He’ll take care of you when you get there.”

“So come with me and see your brother. Is there bad blood between you or something?”

“Not any more.” Suddenly, the youth seemed to cheer up. “But I’ll stay with you tonight. We’ll be together for a while longer.”

I shivered suddenly and considered whether I should put on my clothes. The boy seemed to read my thoughts.

“I used some of the water to rinse out your things. They aren’t clean, but they’re not filthy like they were. Afraid they’re not quite dry. But I’ve got an extra blanket,” he said, going to the mysterious pack propped against the rocks that seemed to hold everything but the proverbial kitchen sink.

Skye built a comfortable fire from the pieces of cactus and desert wood he’d cut earlier in the day. Then as the fire warmed the immediate vicinity, we took to the blankets and shared another bout of love-making. I lay quiet, permitting him to set the agenda. He was competent, tender, but I sensed he was somewhat withdrawn, even as he led me through the most tremendous, the most stunning, the most satisfying intimate experience I’d ever had.


*****


The first time Vince met a twink in a bar, something was off about the kid. Like he took Vince out on the desert for a good time, zonked him with a knockout drug, and stole his pickup. Now he’s met another one, who saved him. But is all as it seems? Next week, we learn the truth.


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Don


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