Walking back from all the ruckus in the middle of town, it didn’t take long for Willie to start hammering me in the head with his anxious comments and such. I can’t lie...that was starting to grind on me just as bad as everything else around here lately.
“You don’t have a bit of sense when it comes to how blasted lucky you are, Deke! What did you go and chase Sarah off for?”
“There’s bigger things going on right now that Sarah Cutler and her being fancy on me, Willie.” I said.
“Nothing that you can do anything about. So why don’t you just relax and think with your own heart every once in a while?”
“You seen how them riders from out of town bully the rest of the good folks around here. What happens if something goes South when my daddy’s forced to step in and strap them back from doing anybody else any harm?”
Willie frowned up a touch, and he said, “Again...ain’t nothin’ you can do about it, Deke. It don’t mean you can’t follow your heart...”
“Sounds more to me like you’re asking me to follow her’s instead.” I told him, grinding my teeth a little bit. “Maybe she ain’t for me, Willie. Don’t that count for nothing?”
“Well, if it ain’t Sarah Cutler then who IS for you? I ain’t never so much as seen try to snatch a kiss from none of the ladies in this town. Not a one. I wish I had the kinda face and favor that you got so I could run through a couple of these women, myself.”
“Well...I wish I could give it to you.” I picked up the pace in my step, hoping to part ways with Willie once he got tired.
“I wish you could too. I wouldn’t be as stuck up about it as you are!”
“GOOD! Then maybe you might find it in you to leave me the hell alone once in a while!” I snarled.
He paused for a moment as we kept walking through town. But I came to a quick stop...quick enough to kick a few clouds of dust up...when I heard Willie mumble, “Sometimes...I don’t know about the odd part of you, Deacon...”
Something about it just set me off. Maybe I was angry, or maybe I was just deeply hurt, but I reached out to put my hand on his chest and glared at him with all the evil I had in me at that moment. “What are you getting at?” The fire in my eyes stunned him, and he found himself unable to answer me at first. “If you’ve got something to say to me...then SAY it!”
I felt my fist balling up, and even I didn’t know if I was willing to give my best friend a good shot for making the accusation that there was something ‘odd’ about me. Then again...it almost felt like I didn’t have much of a choice if he decided to say the words out loud.
“I wasn’t assuming nothin’...” He said, looking away from my piercing stare.
“Good.” I told him. But after trying to put my inner conflicts back in the bottle and cork it up, I made sure to tell him, “Just ‘cause I ain’t like you...don’t you ever make it your business to think that there’s something odd about me. I’ll knock you flat. You hear me?” He nodded, bewildered at my overreaction to such a claim. But I just turned around and kept walking on my way back home.
I noticed that Willie didn’t follow me any further.
The sun was beating down on me, and I took off my hat to fan myself a few times as the sweat began to drip down...but all that wasn’t really the main cause of my discomfort. Over and over again, I kept hearing Willie’s voice in my head. ‘The odd part of me’, he said. Can he see me? Am I exposed? Can my daddy see it? Can Sarah see it? I couldn’t make heads nor tails out of what I was feeling in that moment, but it cut6 my breath in half. Partially from fear of being on display like this where people can muster up awful thoughts about me without my permission...and partially because of the growing ache that I felt growing in my belly, along with the rising desire that I had to see Colby again. It nearly tore me in two.
I didn’t ask to be ‘odd’. But maybe I am. I reckon that there’s no way to explain what comes over me whenever I look Colby in the eyes and he’s looking back into mine. No way that I can expect them to recognize the luxury of petting his hair...touching his skin...or tasting his kiss. You’d think that it would make me feel special and blessed to appreciate somebody that other people can’t and never will. Not like I would. And yet...instead...I just feel...
My thoughts stayed twisted in knots for the rest of the day, with my stomach not far behind. I couldn’t let it go. Lord knows that I tried, but the further I tried to push dreamy thoughts of Colby out of my mind...the deeper his beauty weaved itself into me. Had his pretty smile been a poison, I would have fallen over a long time ago. But as the sun was beginning to set, and my evening chores were close to being over and done with, I found myself staring back over at the fire that I hadn’t found the courage to light yet.
Should I? Or should I leave it alone?
I could walk away from this chaos. No darkness, no odd feelings, no monsters with bright golden eyes. I’ve been given a chance to escape this hellish temptation and possibly get back to a normal life in a rational world without any of these plagues resting heavy on my shoulders. It’s possible, ain’t it? I’ll forget in time. Or at least numb the pain of it all. I did it when I lot my mama...I could maybe do it again. All I know is that I’ll be bringing a trio of devils into my life if I set the fire to burn again once it gets dark. I could do it. I could call his lovely heart right back to me.
But, I reckon that life ain’t always about being ‘happy’. Sometimes being happy ain’t what’s right...
“Deacon? You come on in now and get you some supper.” My Uncle Buster called out to me. My thoughts were broken instantly, but I told him I’d be coming in as soon as possible.
“I gotta put Benny in the stables first.” I called back.
“Don’t get yourself too tangled. Everything smells divine. You might just miss out on a portion or two if you ain’t quick enough on your feet.” He smiled, and I grinned back at him before taking Benny by the reigns and guiding him back to where he needed to be.
The sky was getting dark now. It caused me to take a long, hard look back into the darkness...my heart breaking as I gently closed my eyes and turned my back on it. I need to let it go. Maybe I always knew that I’d have to eventually...so why not now? Now...before my heart rots any further in my chest than it already has.
Sitting at the dinner table, it wasn’t no secret that I was being much more quiet than normal. Hungry as I was, it was like the food didn’t have any sort of significant taste to it. The water was warm, my chair felt uncomfortable and out of line, and I didn’t dare to look anybody in the eye for fear of having them bear witness to the disturbance within me. It’s not like they couldn’t tell, though.
“You know...your momma used to make that same face when something was troubling her.” My daddy grinned, and he looked over at Buster, who nodded in agreement with a smile. “If you ain’t the spittin’ image of her, sometimes. Does my heart good to see reflections of her in you, boy. It’s like the past replaying itself all over again.”
“She looked the same way when she started getting all tangled up over you too, ‘Sheriff’. Heh...” Buster replied, still shoveling more of my daddy’s stew in his mouth until the juices dribbled down his chin.
“Did she now? Well, in that case, I’m honored.” Daddy replied, and just seeing them be so normal and open about the whole idea...somethin’ about just made me feel that much more alone. “You getting enough to eat, there, Deacon.”
“Yes, sir.” I told him, my eyes still sadly focused on the tabletop. “Ain’t got much of an appetite tonight, is all.”
He seemed concerned, but Buster interrupted his focus by saying, “You can scrape the pot for me if you like. My appetite is working just fine, rations like this.”
I looked up at the window, the sky almost turning black now except for the stars above. And after a few minutes of wrestling with myself, I finished my bowl and asked, “Is it ok if I can be excused for a spell?”
Daddy kept watching me, but he didn’t put up much of a fuss. “Well...if you think you’ve got your belly full, I don’t reckon that you have much use sitting here and listen to our lips smacking all evening.”
“Thank you.” I said.
“Put your bowl over to get washed.” I nodded and did as I was told. I saw the matches sitting up by the cupboard, and I felt a tremble in my chest as well as a twitch in my fingers...right before making the choice to take them and hide them away in the palm of my hand. Can’t tell you why I felt guilty about it, or how I thought I’d be hiding it from anybody if I used them to get the fire going...but I couldn’t help but to feel a senseless loss of control in doing so. I wish I didn’t...but I did.
Whatever my heart was pumping through me...it was bigger than me and my worries. There’s no more denying that now. There was no doubting it before...but Lord bless if I didn’t try!
I walked out into the night, my eyes trying to adjust as I looked at the fire barrel in front of me, and I sighed in defeat as I filled it up and struck the match. I felt the heat on my face as the flames began to rise, and I nervously sat down beside them as I, willingly, invited the devil back into my heart again.
I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. For all I knew, he may have already come seeking me out by now, and I was too late to catch him before he felt reject and run back off into the woods to find away to fulfill his part of the bargain and stay away from me from now on. I think I would hate it if that was the case.
I didn’t mean to hurt him none. Even more so than Sarah Cutler. But it was getting more and more difficult to really figure out what I was feeling anymore. Got to the point where my own emotions tightened up around my throat like a dead man’s noose...making it damn near impossible for me to catch my breath whenever it came to thoughts me and Colby being together. Good times and bad.
I just hope I was making the right decision. Can’t say that I’ve ever had a buzz like this before...
“I was starting to think you made your mind up.” Came a young voice from over my shoulder. “In the negative, I mean.”
I looked back to see Colby’s eyes glowing in the dark, almost as bright as the fire lighting up his face to let me see him clearly. Pretty as ever. Maybe even prettier. It made me shiver and shake all over, much as I tried to hide my excitement. And as he moved more into the light, approaching the place where I was sitting, I was quick to stand up and turn to face him, removing my hat and trying to fuss with my hair before looking down at my feet.
Already I could feel my parts getting stiff in his presence, making me wonder and hope that he couldn’t see me blush like this in dark. “You alright, Deacon?” He asked softly.
“Huh? Yeah. Quite alright.” I mumbled quietly, now moving my hat in front of me to keep him from seeing my current condition.
“It’s ok, ain’t it? If I come close?” He asked. I nodded, but only peeked up at him briefly before I felt myself losing my senses again. He stepped forward a bit more, asking, “Is it ok if I...touch your hair? I miss the texture of it.” Now I was gettin’ plain scared, but without thinking...I nodded again. This time lifting my chin to look him directly in the eyes. My heart got to pumping so hard that I was worried I might crack a rib. “Deke…?”
“Yeah?” I whispered.
“Can I kiss you?”
I felt so helpless, but far from empty. It was like I was falling, and I couldn’t grab on to anything to stop myself. So, I looked back at the house, making sure that my daddy and Buster wasn’t peeking out for me. And then, without saying another word...I leaned right in, tilting my head to the side, and I let my lips connect to his until we were both too lost in the moment to care much.
I didn’t realize how much I was hungering for him until his lips mashed themselves up against my mouth, and I dropped my hat in the dust as I moved forward and pressed my stiffness against him, not sure if it helped me to stand the strain of it or if it made it that much harder. Like stone, it was. And his kiss tasted like magic. It felt like the stars above was watching us, envious of how bright we shine whenever we’re together. I was craving him so much that I brought my hands up to clutch the sides of his face as our tongues began to tangle and the gentle strands of his longish hair swept lightly back and forth across my knuckles. I heard myself moan from the erotic contact, and then it rose in pitch until it became a whimper.
I was swooning over Colby something awful. My toes began to wiggle like a baby boy, and the more he gave to me, the more I wanted him to give to me. Especially when I let my hands slide down and my hands gripped him from behind, squeezing and pushing those soft spongy cheeks together like I owned them. And as I started to grind myself into him, nearly about to bust all over myself...I suddenly felt the breeze of a quick wind and Colby disappeared right out of my arms, leaving me hugging nothing but air. I opened my eyes to see where he went, and that’s when I heard my daddy’s voice coming from the front door of the house.
“Deacon? You ok out here?” Thank goodness Colby took notice of him before he was able to catch us kissing.
I gasped out loud and spun around to face him, forgetting that I was sticking out in front like a cat house favorite! So I was quick to reach down and snatch my hat back up and cover my lap with it, trying not to look too guilty in the process. “Yes, sir.” My voice was shaking, but so was the rest of me.
“You sure? You’ve been mighty quiet tonight.”
“Yes, sir.” I repeated. He looked down at my hands. “I dropped my hat.”
My daddy gave me an awkward look, but I was too scared to come up with much else to say in that moment. It just kinda came out. “You...dropped your hat?” He asked.
He was a touch confused, but he let it go. “Well...don’t be out here all night. Your Uncle Buster and me, we’re gonna turn in for the evening.” I nodded, and it seemed like he was trying to scratch me out, but then just turned to go back in the house. “You make sure you put that fire all the way out before you come to be. Ya hear?”
“Alright. Goodnight then.” He said, and he shut the door behind him.
Finally getting the strength to catch my breath again, I turned back out to the darkness and tried my best to search Colby out and see if he was still out there somewhere. I whispered, “Colby? You gone? Or are you just foolin’ about?”
I felt a finger poke me in the side from behind and I jumped with a start. Colby was standing there giggling like crazy at the fact that he startled me so much. “That was a close one, wasn’t it? Hehehe!”
I swatted him with my hat. “What in blazes made you want to scare me like that???”
“The look on your face! I couldn’t buy that if I wanted to!” He laughed.
“I can’t stand you!” I pouted.
“I can stand you though.” He smiled, and even though I turned my head away from him in defiance of his wicked charms, when he said, “I love you, Deke. More than the night sky itself.” and leaned in to kiss me on the side of my neck, digging his nose and lips in until it got to be too ticklish to hold back from snickering any longer, he knew had me all turned around again.
“Go on, now! Turn me loose, hehehe!” I said.
“Can you stay with me? Just for a little while?”
With a long sigh, I said, “I reckon it’ll be a few minutes before my daddy comes huntin’ for me again.”
“Ok. Good.” He said, and we looked each other in the eyes.