1 Chapter 1

I turn forty on the way north. The day is like any other, sunlight upon me as I ride along, my horse, Ned, content with walking. Occasionally he gets an idea we’re going too slow and starts acting like a colt, fairly dancing along, so I give him his head. We then have us a good gallop, and it’s Ned, not me, who decides when it’s over. We’ve been together seven years, longer than I’ve lasted with any man.

We ride north from Tombstone, headed for Colorado, and I’m in no hurry to get there. I tried like hell not to go. Spent a week drunk in Tombstone, fucking whatever held still, but once I sobered up, the past sat waiting on me, bigger now, like holding it off gives it strength. It was over and done, twelve years’ worth of done, but now it’s raised up and won’t lay back down. A river of time has come and gone, a damned flood, yet here it is again, Jack Hinch with it. Me and Jack Hinch.

That’s the trouble with Ned and me walking along. Too much time to think. When events come calling, I click to Ned and he’s off again. We enter Colorado in pure heat, location confirmed when we hit Durango, a fine town that’s most welcome. I take Ned for a slow turn along its streets and find myself telling him how the place has grown.

We come upon a livery, and I leave Ned there with orders to the worker for extra oats and a good brushing. “Take it easy,” I tell Ned before I take bedroll and saddlebags from him and set out for a hotel. All my possessions are in what I carry.

I recognize some places and enjoy the familiarity at the same time I enjoy not being known by a soul. There’s much to be said for being a nobody, and this is one of those times. I take a room at a modest hotel, The Evergreen, where I can enjoy a bath in my room. This is possibly the best of progress, personal needs accommodated right there instead of down the hall or down the street in a bathing establishment. Things are changing as we approach 1900. Five years to go, but it seems society is racing to get there and I am fine with that. Running water still tickles me, as does indoor plumbing.

While Ned enjoys his brushing, I wash away trail dust, then enjoy a good soak. Lying back, I attempt to savor the situation but, being naked, Jack Hinch comes to mind. Maybe because of what we did in the tub and lots of other places. I take my dick in hand and give it a slow pull, pushing away all but the good parts of the past.

I’d gone to work for Jack on his Hinch Brothers Ranch back in 1878, coming up out of Texas the year before. Jack and his older brother, Jim, owned a spread north of Gunnison, grazing cattle in the North Fork of the Gunnison River Valley. They ran Herefords and Shorthorns, and I’d become their employee, noting Jack right off. Around my age, he was lean and muscled, like most cowboys, but it was his eyes that did it. Dark brown, they’d drilled me to where everything in me stirred, dick included, and I knew that minute, that very second, that he went my way and further, that he had been interested.

Now, my dick is stiff with recall, so I soap it and set to work. I think on Jack in the tub with me, sitting on me as I drive up into him. We’d splash out half the water before I’d buck and come, and I do that now, rise swift because I’ve been going without. As a climax overtakes me, my hand becomes a fury, and I don’t care that water slops onto the floor. I am coming in Jack Hinch. At least, I think it that way.

Once done, Jack disappears, which is for the best. I enjoy the satisfaction a good come gives a man, but it’s not long before this fades. The water turns cold, so I get out, towel off, and put on fresh drawers. I’ll take my dirty trail clothes to have them washed, wear those that have been inside my bedroll, but there’s no hurry to any of it.

Peering out my second story window, I watch folks pass by on foot, on horseback, in wagons. A bustling scene. I’ll join them soon, take a meal, go around the town some, have a drink or two. Tomorrow I’ll ride on to Gunnison, then to the ranch, but I’d best not think on that now. It’ll come soon enough.

I shave, dress, and don holster and gun, not caring about the town’s refinement. I sling my saddlebags over my shoulder since they carry all my money. I’ve saved enough to allow a new start, being presently unemployed.

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