dontravis.com blog post #374
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So their experiences, their romps, their joy in one another continues. But for how long? The stalled weather front has moved on, and the outside world will soon be making demands on the industrialist. Let’s see what happens in this final chapter.
The next day, the world intruded on the two men… big time. De la Roche’s phone burst the dam. Business problems began to pile in on the industrialist. Despite the interruptions, he went out in the field with Austin, but before noon, the call he had been dreading came. The helicopter was ten minutes away. Austin took the phone from him and gave instructions to the co-pilot, advising of the closest safe place to land. De la Roche wondered if the man on the other end of the phone recognized how sexy the voice in his ear was.
Before long, the noisy craft appeared as they waited at the edge of a broad meadow in the middle of the forest. Austin helped lug his bags to the chopper, where two men hopped out and relieved them of their load. De la Roche ignored his Executive Vice President and Chief of Security as he shook hands with the man who had been his lover for the past two days. He was reluctant to release the grip.
“Call me,” he said, finally letting go. “You have my direct line, my satellite phone number, and my Executive Secretary’s phone. You’ll go to the top of her ‘put through’ list,” he added with a chuckle. ‘I won’t forget you, Austin Andino.
“You’re kinda hard to forget too, Forrest De la Roche. I’ll always remember finding you standing like a drowned ape in the middle of the road that day. And other things.”
De la Roche forbade his exec from speaking for the first thirty minutes of the trip to Albuquerque, preferring to savor the bitter, wrenching pain of separation in silence. Then he asked for a briefing and was soon lost in the business of business.
De la Roche quickly found himself immersed in talks with Charles Industries, and was frankly disappointed that his Executive Vice President for Acquisitions had not taken the negotiations farther. Moreover, he was shocked to learn that his interest in the mega-deal had waned. In spare moments and at night when he was alone in bed, his thoughts centered on Austin Andino and his cozy cabin in the Jemez Mountains of northern New Mexico. Strangely, he did not think of the young man in a lascivious way, but as a man who had assumed an unexpectedly important role in his life. He thought of the way the black hair fell across the broad forehead rather than the black, curly pubic bush. He remembered their moments of easy comradeship more than their exciting nights of hot passion.
De la Roche desperately willed the young man to call him, but weeks passed without contact. He swallowed his pride and dialed the rancher’s cell phone more than once, but it went unanswered. He refrained from asking his super-efficient Executive Secretary, whom he secretly considered the source of his power, to raise Austin on the phone.
Weeks turned into months. His daughter’s wedding passed. Rachel looked as radiant and virginal as the first time she married, even with two impish children participating in the ceremony. He was proud of her. Elaine called a truce during the process and was downright likeable. She only mentioned the Filipino houseboy once in passing.
He spent the Christmas with Rachel and her family. New Year’s was to be Elaine’s turn with the children. After a Christmas dinner, he retired to his son-in-law’s home office and considered the situation. Austin would be back in Albuquerque by now. His cattle would be sold. He’d be at loose ends. What were his plans for New Year’s Eve?
De la Roche picked up the phone and dialed a number the rancher had given him. A woman answered.
“Is Austin in?” he asked. “This is Forrest De la Roche calling.”
“Oh, Mr. De la Roche, this is Marina Wells. I’m Austin’s sister. He’s out in the garage working on the Jeep. Would you like me to get him, or would you prefer to call back?”
“I’ll wait, if you don’t mind.”
Eventually, the deep bass voice he knew so well came on the line. “Happy Holidays, Forrest. You have a good Christmas?”
“A fine one, thank you. Spent it with my daughter and her family. And you?”
“Great! Had a roof over my head, food, and presents for the kids, so everything’s okay, I guess.”
“How’d you do on your cattle?”
“Got a good price. Say, I spent a little time at New Mexico State and learned a little more about your small unit ranching. Think I’m going to give it a try on the home place. If it works, I’ll see if I can convince the Forest Service to let me try it on the permit. Looks promising.”
“Great. Glad I could contribute something.”
“By the way, I got your Christmas present,” Austin said, referring to the twenty-year-old sipping whiskey he’d sent. “My brother-in-law and I are going to open it New Year’s, and then it’s going up to the cabin with me next spring. Sorry I didn’t get you something.”
“Didn’t expect it. Speaking of New Year’s, why don’t you come out and spend it with me. I’ll send the company plane to pick you up.”
“Aw, gee, Forrest, that would be great, but I’ve already made plans with the family. I promised to take my nephew and niece to dinner, and then I’m baby-sitting them while my sis and her husband go out for the evening. The kids are already talking about it. I couldn’t disappoint them.”
“I understand. Family comes first. But I’ll toss one back at the stroke of midnight and think of you.”
“Same here. Guess what! I got a letter from the President thanking me for saving your ass! He signed it and wrote a comment across the bottom. Guess I’ve got a collector’s item.”
De la Roche laughed. “What you’ve got is your name on a potential contributor’s list.”
“Oh, well. He’s not a bad president. Maybe I’ll throw in a dollar or two.”
“Here’s a thought, Austin. Why don’t you come out and spend a week with me after the holidays. My schedule’s not too bad for the next two weeks or so.”
“Can’t. Have a couple of meetings. One’s a Cattleman’s Association committee I’m on. Won’t be able to get away.”
“Well,” De la Roche thought quickly, “I’m in DC most of February, you can join me there. I’d swing by and pick you up in the jet.”
“Oh, no! You’re not going to get me mixed up with that crowd.”
“Might do you and your Cattleman’s Association some good.”
“Thanks. But no thanks. Well, the kids are yelling for Uncle to come have some Christmas pie. Good of you to call me, Forrest.”
He waited, sensing something else was coming.
‘Uh… I guess this is really goodbye. I-I don’t think we should see one another again. Damn! That was hard to say.”
De la Roche spoke around a large lump in his throat. “Then why say it?”
“Think back over our conversation. We live different lives in different worlds. It won’t work. At least, it won’t for me.”
“I love you, Austin.”
“I-I guess I feel that way too.”
“It’s too painful,” Austin said, putting the nail in the coffin.
“We could meet for a week or so in the summer at the cabin.”
Austin didn’t speak for almost a full minute. When he did, a sob hid in his voice. “I can’t, Forrest. This puppy dog can’t live half in and half out of the basket. Sorry.” The sob became real. “I-I feel just like when I had to leave Selim… only worse.” With that cry the cowboy closed the call.
De la Roche’s heart shriveled as he dropped the telephone receiver in its cradle, snipping the tie with the most man he had ever known. Hell, Austin Andino was Man. Man squared. Man cubed! Man…amplified!
Think about it. That’s the way things work more often than not. Two people genuinely in love, but neither is able to alter his lifestyle to accommodate the other. Tragic, but both men are strong and will survive. And they have an experience against which to measure others who come into their lives. But is that good or bad?
Those of you who are writers will know that I cut a considerable amount from the original novella. Seven episodes are more than enough.
The following are buy links for the recently released The Voxlightner Scandal.
Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-voxlightner-scandal-don-travis/1132632844?ean=9781640809260
Universal Link: https://books2read.com/u/4AxPDo
Now my mantra: Keep on reading and keep on writing. You have something to say, so say it!
My personal links: (Note the change in the Email address because I’m still getting remarks on the old email@example.com. PLEASE DON’T USE THAT ONE.)
Buy links to Abaddon’s Locusts:
See you next week.