Monday, February 3, 2014

Tuesday Tales - Field

Welcome to Tuesday Tales! This week I`ll be sharing excerpts from my 2013 NaNoWriMo novel, Laco Law – The Gnarled Oak. Laco Law is an M/M historical western romance, set in the fictional county of Laco, Texas in 1867.

This week our word prompt is 'Field’. In this excerpt Zeke and Clay are confronted with their first possible clue concerning Clayton`s kidnapped nephew, Boyden.

A note for my readers:  This is a gay romance novel, and so the romance that occurs is man on man. If this is not your cup of tea, no one will think less of you if you read no further. 

As this is my NaNo work, it is quite rough. I do ask that you overlook any glaring mistakes you may find. Please do check out the other wonderful writers after you`re done reading by clicking on the Tuesday Tales link at the bottom. Thanks for stopping in!

             “They have damn fine lemonade at the Double Sun,” I relayed to the man sitting rigid as a new fence post at my left elbow.

            “Nice for you,” he commented. “I shared a trough with two horses and a dog.”

            There was not one thing I could say to that comment that would alleviate the way the world treated Ezekiel Fire Sky. I wanted to try though, but didn`t know how to go about it. What could I say that would not sound trite?

            “You`re the best deputy I have ever had the pleasure of working with.”

            Zeke snorted like a fat sow in slop. “I`m the only deputy you`ve ever worked with, Pan.”

            “That`s neither here or there,” I said as we put some distance between us and the Double Sun. Hessie was feeling her oats. She pranced along, ears high, filled with energy. “I was trying to convey . . .”

            “I know what you were trying to say.” Zeke`s big grey threw his head as if to challenge my mare. Hessie tried to grab a nip. “I like working with you too, Clayton,” he said before giving his horse its head. Dog raced off yipping with excitement, his tail barely visible after he ran into the lush field.

            “Smug bastard,” I murmured with humor, laid down low on my mare`s back, and then told her to run like the wind. The race was freeing. The warm wind battering my face, Hessie`s mane blowing across my eyes, the tender knowledge that somehow – among all the darkness in my life – something bright was beginning to glow within Zeke and I. 

          When we finally slowed we had covered several miles. Zeke had won. I accused him of cheating. He informed me that his people were just superior in horsemanship skills among many other things. I stood up slightly in the stirrups, my hand dipping into my front pocket. Hessie was too spent to act out. I looped the reins over the pommel then gently opened Charlie`s hidden missive. What was scribbled on the tiny scrap of meat wrapping paper was perplexing.

Big cow hide small package

            I read it over a few times then handed it to Zeke. He pushed his hair from his face before he read. Dog trudged along, tired as the horses from the long run they had enjoyed.

            “What does this mean?” he inquired. I raised then lowered a shoulder. We both worked the cryptic message over in our minds. “Did he ram a gift up a cow`s ass?”

            I snickered at the mental imagery of that tiny Chinaman anally assaulting a longhorn with a gaily wrapped present. We rode silently for a few moments longer.

            “It`s not to be taken literally, I suspect. Maybe he means that we should check out the cattle for some sort of clue?” I asked, removing my hat to allow the wind to blow over my sweaty scalp.

            “What kind of clue could cows have?” Zeke wondered aloud. The creak of leather mixed nicely with the rustling grass. Scores of little yellow birds swooped and dove amid the rushing wind currents. “Should we go find where the herd is gathered for some reason? Branding, maybe?

            “That`s a good thought.” I was transfixed by a blue bird among all the yellow warblers. Boyden had always had a fondness for blue. We had taken special note of the rusty-breasted blue birds back in Louisiana. Jays thrilled him terribly. He had gathered a wooden box filled with various blue beads, feathers, and bits of thread or string. Anything blue grabbed his hazel eyes. Becky used to say she thought her son was one of those bower birds she had read about.

           I hadn`t realized that Hessie had stopped until Zeke nudged my foot with his. The stirrups clanked dully. I coughed while dragging the back of my hand under my eyes. When I had possession of myself, I looked over to see Zeke staring out at the ocean of green grass.

            “Do you know anything about cattle drives?” I asked, secretly thankful for the man`s ability to pretend he didn`t see me falling apart.

            “Little,” he said then wet his lips. “Beef are rounded up from grazing ground. Then, those who need it are branded. After all have the ranch mark, they ride them to the trails,” he said as we picked up the pace a bit. “Used to be the drives ran up the Shawnee Trail to Kansas City or St. Louis. Your war came along. Lots of beef was sent to the armies, or was supposed to be,” he amended when I made an odd face. 

          If any beef had come to my regiment, we grunts surely never saw it. Zeke stared at me intently for a heartbeat or so, and then fell back to talking about cattle drives. I cursed myself for slipping like that. “Rumor has it that some man named McCoy has built stockyards in Abilene, Kansas, and is willing to take the Texas cattle that no one else will take.”

            I rode along mulling over Kansas, round-ups, cattle, ticks on Texas beef spreading sickness among the herds, the lack of meat when I wore grey, and the knowledge that time was slowly running out for Boyden. It had been close to a month since Becky had been killed, I had been shot, and a little sandy-haired boy had been taken.

            “How do you know so much about it?” I asked when I returned to the conversation.

            “Just do,” he said mysteriously. Guess I wasn`t the only man sitting on secrets. I opted not to push him about his, and I hoped he would respect my need for privacy as well. So far he hadn`t pushed too hard and for that he had my eternal thanks.

            “Good enough,” I commented casually. A blow fly landed on Hessie`s neck. I crushed it between my fingers. “So, do we ride back to Laco for provisions, or do we ride across Price land to investigate this baffling clue from Charlie the Chinese Butler?”

            “Riding back to Laco will cost us valuable time,” Zeke said, those bright blue feathers dangling from his hat band tickling his temple with each gentle gust. Boyden would love those feathers. “I say we hunt as we go. The cattle, they`re still grazing here on Price land, so the paddocks where branding would take place should be empty.”

            “Alright, we`ll double around, skirting the cattle and the cowpokes that ride with them,” I responded, my eyes already roaming the swaying tides of buffalograss, thistle, and little barley for the telltale signs of suspicious shapes sneaking through the tall grasses. Guess the war never quite leaves a man.

Copyright 2013 ©by V.L. Locey


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See you next week with more from the old West!


Jillian said...

I'm enjoying this story. Can't wait to see where we go next.

SherryGLoag said...

Wonderful story, gently written, but delivered with great power. Loving it.

V.L. Locey said...

Thank you so very much, Sherry and Jillian.

Anonymous said...

Excellent - as usual. The imagery is terrific. I feel like I'm right there. I love the dialogue, the interaction and the building relationship of these two.

Tricia Andersen said...

I love their relationship, how they can draw so much out of each other.

morgan said...

What a wonderful scene brought a tear to my eye.

V.L. Locey said...

Thank you all so much. Zeke and Clay are quite special to me as well.