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|-- ERIK --|
"So, who's getting surprised this time?" Randy asked as Tracer handed him the work schedule on paper. "Wait... Ryan's birthday is coming up. So I'm guessing it's him."
"Give that man a prize!" Tracer exclaimed. "Yup. Will's taking Ryan on a trip before school starts. It's our birthday present to Ryan this year."
"Where they going?" Randy asked.
"Assateague and Chincoteague Islands," I explained.
"Long drive," Randy commented.
"Very," Tracer agreed. "Over five hundred miles from what Will said."
"Damn. You don't think about Virginia being that big of a state," Randy said.
"I'd guess it's about as long a drive as you can get from point-to-point in the state. Well, I guess it would be worse if you lived down in Gibson Mill." I saw a puzzled look on Tracer's face and explained. "That's down in the point near Cumberland Gap. Another hundred miles southwest of us."
"Gotcha," Tracer replied.
"So what are Will's plans?" Randy asked.
"Surprise Ryan Monday morning when they get up. He wants to have both of them packed and ready to go. They'll drive cross the bottom of the state, then north - up to Chincoteague and set up camp. Tuesday through Thursday they're going to enjoy hiking on Assateague, seeing the wild horses, and beach time - swimming in the ocean. Finally drive back on Friday," Tracer detailed.
"Sounds like a great trip," Randy said.
"Should be a nice way to end the summer," I agreed.
Later that Friday afternoon, I came across Will and Patrick working on the fence along the back property line. We'd had a couple severe thunderstorms come through the area in the last week, so ensuring we didn't have any damage was important.
"How are things going?" I asked as I dismounted from Shadow Dancer and tied his line to the fence.
"Not too bad," Will admitted. "We've inspected four hundred and thirteen fence segments today and made repairs to six. About five hundred segments to go for the back line."
"You've counted?" I was stunned.
"The boy's all Type A about things," Patrick interjected. "He wants to know how many, how often, how everything..."
"Hey, why not?" Will defended.
"How'd you come to know your total? I mean nine hundred and..."
"It's a swag," he explained. My puzzled look probably spoke volumes. "Some Wild Assed Guess. The back line is about a mile and a half long. That works out to just over seventy-nine hundred feet. Each segment is about eight feet in length. Divide and you get the answer."
"Hmmm... maybe we aren't working you hard enough, if you've had time to figure this all out?" I teased.
"Having Patrick along is breaking up the monotony and giving me time to use my brain for other things. So I've been ticking things off as we go to have an accurate count when we're done."
"Nobody said farm work was glamorous. But it pays the bills."
"This farm's done more than pay the bills from what I've seen. I'm just lucky I hooked the right guy!"
"How are your plans for the trip coming along?" I asked.
"They're set. I confirmed the reservations at the campground yesterday. I got the one closest to Assateague, we're going to rent bikes to get back and forth to the beach."
"About four miles," Will explained. "That's why I signed up for bike rentals."
"I've seen maps, but never been."
"I'm really excited about it."
"I know Ryan will be. It was one of those places we always talked about going but never did."
"Good. I'm hoping the surprise goes over well. I do need one bit of help though," Will said.
"At some point on Sunday I need time to pack us; get the bags hidden; get everything ready for Monday morning."
"Should be easy. We'll rig it that Ryan goes out with one of the rental groups scheduled that morning. That should give you a good two hours total."
"Super. I need to get back to the fence check or I'm going to be out here in the dark."
Addressing Patrick, I asked, "How'd that job interview go yesterday? I haven't seen you since."
"It went OK. But I'm not sure I want to work in a power company's front office. I really want the job I interviewed for last week with Appalachian School of Law. That would be killer!"
"When should you hear?" I asked.
"They said a couple weeks. I'm hoping sooner rather than later."
"I'll keep my fingers crossed," I replied. "I should let you two get back to work."
"Thanks," Will said with a hint of sarcasm.
I just laughed a bit and untied Shadow Dancer. "Don't forget to mark the segment where you stop, so the next team will know where to start."
"Understood. See you later."
I rode off, working back through the woods until I hit the trail. I rode it a bit coming to Sugar Run. I turned off the path and went up the edge of the creek. From the path I noticed that the plants Josh and his team installed were all thriving. I hadn't gone up the creek bed in a while and was amazed how far back all the new plants went. It certainly gave the feeling that it just went on forever. I made a mental note to talk over whether we should add an auxiliary trail along the creek bed with the guys.
I cut up one of the hills, picked up the trail and headed back to the stable. When I got there I found Dr. Cranston talking with Tracer. I rode up next to them.
"Afternoon, Doc. I didn't realize you were coming out today."
"I dropped by since I was down this way," he explained. "I spend so much time with dogs and cats it's nice to come out and see these big, beautiful beasts of yours."
"In a hurry?" I asked.
"Not particularly. The office is closed this afternoon - it's time for farm calls. I'm all done with those, so I'm headed home."
"Where's home?" Tracer asked.
"I live over in Honaker. My last call was down in Hash Hollow, so I was actually passing by."
"Want to take a ride on one of the beasties?" I asked.
"That would be great. Whenever I'm out here I spend all my time treating them, I never get to ride."
"Stop by anytime you want a ride," Tracer said. "On the house."
"I'll take you up on that," he agreed.
I dismounted and tied Shadow Dancer to the nearest post.
"Let's find you a ride," I said.
"I'm going to get Night Dancer for me," Tracer said. "Why don't you get Clinchco's Revenge for Doc."
Tracer went one way to get his tack on Night Dancer while I took Doc the other way to get Revenge ready. Within a few minutes the three of us were ready to ride.
"It's been too long since I've been in a saddle," Doc admitted.
"As Tracer said, if you want to ride, stop by, we'll find someone to put you on. We always have one or two free horses, even if we're busy with groups."
We started out across the fields and ducked into the woods on the outer loop trail. Tracer led us around a bit with Doc in the middle and me trailing. Just before we reached the first bridge over Sugar Run I called out to Tracer.
"Hold up a minute," I said. The three of us bunched up. "Let's head up the creek."
"Up for something more challenging?" Tracer asked Doc.
"Sure. I might not have ridden in a while, but I'm pretty good at it. And this is one fine horse."
Going along the creek bed we came to a point where the water trickled and the bed was clear. Tracer broke into a medium trot. Each of the horses kicking up considerable water - I got drenched!
When we got to the second bridge on the trail, Tracer pulled up and led us back onto the path.
"Oh, shit!" he exclaimed. "Sorry about that I didn't think about how wet you two would get."
"It's invigorating," Doc admitted. "I'll take a shower and change when I get home."
"Well, I feel like a drowned rat, but I'm not complaining. Earlier, I was wondering if we should put a trail along the Run to let folks really enjoy it. But this has got me thinking, maybe we could offer something to advanced riders where we let them ride up the creek bed - weather permitting."
"I'm going to bring my wife and let her do this," Doc said. "She's a good rider as well - it's just something that fell by the wayside of late."
We rode up to the picnic area and then came back on the other path. After we got the three horses back in their stalls, Doc took off and Tracer went to the office to close up for the evening.
I went straight up to our room and stripped down for a shower. I was just stepping out of the stall when Tracer walked in.
"Drats," he said.
"I was going to join you in the shower," he explained.
"I could just stay in and wash your back," I suggested.
"That sounds nice," Tracer said, "but how about I get a shower and we take a short break on the bed!"
"Mmm.... You'll need a shower afterwards! So don't bother. Let's just get sweaty!"
Tracer pivoted in the doorway and went back into the bedroom. He left a trail of clothes from the door to the bed.
Before he could climb on the bed I turned him so we stood naked together. I ran my hand gently down his face and pulled his lips to mine. I placed my hands behind his head pulling him deeper into the kiss. Tracer's tongue pushed between my lips and started dueling with my own.
As the kiss continued, I let go of his head and my hands started wandering down his body. My fingers played with the hair on this chest, then tweaking his nipples.
I broke off the kiss and started licking down his neck. When I got to his nips, I started nibbling on them. My attention made each tit stiffen. I could tell it was turning Tracer on, his dick got hard between us. Tracer's body shivered as I continued playing with his nips.
"Should I continue?" I asked.
"Damn right," he replied.
I put my lips back on this right nip and let my hands slip between us. I wrapped one hand around his cock, stroking it lightly as my other hand played with his balls.
"Shall we get on the bed?" Tracer said quietly.
Lying on the bed, I grabbed Tracer's dick and wrapped my lips around the head. I licked the precum off the tip and then worked my way down his shaft.
"Fuck, yeah," Tracer groaned. "That feels good!"
I buried my face into his crotch. Tracer thrust upwards a bit. I started working my mouth up and down his shaft. I let the saliva flow thick as I gave him my best blow job. I ran my right hand up his shaft getting it wet.
I worked one-spit lubed finger into his hole and worked it around as I continued to suck him. Once he felt a little loose, I slipped a second finger in. I worked the two fingers around to open him up well.
Pulling my fingers out, I spit on my hand and added the lube to my cock. As I slipped into Tracer's hole he moaned.
"Fuck me!" he urged. "Shove that dick up my ass and fuck me hard! Fill me up!"
"You want it hard, Big Boy?"
I pulled out and dropped his legs.
"Up on all fours!" I commanded.
He flipped over and got into position. I grabbed him and pulled him till his ass was at the edge of the bed. I stood up behind him and shoved my dick in.
"Aw, YEAH!" he groaned.
I took hold of his hips and started thrusting hard and deep into his hole.
I pulled almost completely out, then slammed back in.
I pulled all the way out and pounded in.
I pulled out again, grabbed his hips and slammed in while pulling him towards me.
"DAMN!" Tracer complimented.
I repeated the same motion about a dozen times and then started a series of hard, deep thrusts.
"Scratching your itch?" I asked.
"That you are, Baby."
I kept fucking him - keeping up the intensity and power. Finally, I pulled out.
Tracer got on his back and I pulled his ass to the edge of the bed and pushed his legs up. I lined up my cock and slid right back into his hole. I picked up the tempo and started building towards an orgasm.
I leaned over and kissed Tracer deeply between thrusts.
He hawked up some spit and started stroking his dick.
"Shoot, Stud!" He ordered.
Tracer's hand was flying back and forth faster and faster. "I'm gonna cum!"
As the cum shot out and up his chest, his hole spasmed. I buried my dick in his hole, it clamped down on me and worked its magic.
"FUCK!" I yelled as I shot deep in his ass.
Done shooting, I collapsed on top of him. We kissed and just lay together for a while.
After cleaning up, we went downstairs in shorts and t-shirts to join the rest of the guys for dinner.
Early Saturday morning I was awakened by a loud noise. A few seconds later, another crack of thunder hit. "Shit," I mumbled to myself.
"Bad storm going through," Tracer said. "You've slept through the first thirty minutes. I couldn't decide if it was a storm or you snoring at first!"
"Funny. I snore very quietly. Unlike some young men."
"I don't snore at all," Tracer said with mock seriousness.
"I think the rest of the house would beg to differ."
He started trying to tickle me, but I moved out of his way and then jumped out of bed.
"Come back and take your punishment for that statement!" He declared.
"Hey, you started it. I snore no louder than you do!"
"Get outta bed and get a move on," I teased. "We've got a lot of work ahead of us today."
"Not if this storm lasts."
"True. I guess it's time to check the weather."
"I'll run downstairs and check on the computer," Tracer said. "You get your shower."
I was stepping out of the shower stall when Tracer reappeared.
"The line of storms is a lot bigger than they predicted last night. They run from I-81 to the east back to about Prestonsburg in the west."
"That's nearly a hundred miles driving, so I'd guess - hmmmm... about seventy five miles straight, as the crow flies. How fast do they appear to be moving?"
"My guess is we've got three to four more hours of rain."
"So, somewhere between eight thirty and nine thirty before we see a let up."
"The trails are gonna be muddy. Expect a few cancellations for today's riders," I said. Before I could continue, another loud crack of lighting interrupted me. "And potentially more damage from limbs falling. We should probably put a team out on the trail to police it as soon as the rain stops."
"Agreed. Patrick's here today, so I'll send him out with Josh."
"He's working on a Saturday?" I was surprised.
"Trying to put in a few extra hours since he missed some time for those interviews. Until Tiffany gets her first paycheck, he's their main source of income."
"Has he looked to see if the Breaks Park has any openings?"
"I don't know, but I'll ask him later."
We finished getting dressed and headed downstairs for breakfast. I was surprised that no one had beaten us down there.
"What can I do to help?"
"Pull out the biscuit dough from the fridge and form ten or twelve on a cookie sheet."
I followed directions while Tracer started slicing and frying scrapple and eggs.
"Yeah, slice some of the cheddar cheese."
Pretty quickly we had breakfast of scrapple, eggs, cheese, and biscuits ready. And just in time as Will, Ryan and Josh showed up downstairs.
"That's a huge sandwich," Will teased Ryan.
I looked over to see that Ryan had two slices of scrapple, two eggs, and a lot of cheese stacked on a single biscuit.
"He claims he's a growing boy," I added to the teasing.
"If he keeps eating like that, he's going to be growing the wrong way!" Will continued.
"Funny. Very funny! I haven't gained a single pound this summer!" Came Ryan's retort.
"I've lost fourteen pounds," Josh interjected.
"Congrats!" we cheered.
"I'm going to need a new wardrobe when school starts," Josh admitted.
"Saved up enough this summer?" Ryan asked.
"Yeah. But I don't want to blow all of it on clothing. I'll have other expenses to deal with," Josh explained.
"True," Ryan agreed.
"Don't forget a suit," I interjected. That got a puzzled look from the boys. "You're going to need one for interviews."
"Thanks for reminding me," Josh said. "I hadn't thought that far ahead."
The conversation continued regarding expenses until we finished eating. The boys went out to start on chores while Tracer and I cleaned up. Once done, we joined the gang in the Saturday morning routine.
The day started quietly, thanks to the rain. Once it stopped, Josh, Will, and Patrick went out to clear the trails and start on fence maintenance. At one, Ryan and Trevor took a small youth group from a local church out on the trails. I was thinking about running into town when my walkie-talkie squawked.
"What was that Ryan?" I heard Tracer's voice respond.
"...horse down..." Ryan's voice responded.
"Ryan, you're breaking up." Tracer's voice responded clearly.
I broke into a run for the office, having heard horse down. I got to the door at the same time as Randy and Tracer. I grabbed the base unit's mike and responded.
"Ryan, one more time. You're breaking up on the walkies."
"We've got a horse down," Ryan's voice was clearer, thanks to the power of the base unit. "Rider appears OK, bruised and banged up. But Otello is down on the ground. I think his leg's broken."
"FUCK," Randy said over my shoulder.
"Where are you?" I asked.
"Outer trail," Ryan replied. "In the valley, just after you cross the creek, almost to the picnic area."
"Tracer and I will get the gator and the small trailer loaded onto the big trailer and drive it up to the picnic area. We can get there faster that way. We'll come in from that side," Randy said.
"I'll take the first aid kit and ride out," I replied.
"Guys?" Ryan's voice asked over the radio.
"We're coming," I replied. "I'll have the first aid stuff to you in five minutes. Randy and Tracer are coming with the gator and a trailer."
"Roger that," Ryan replied.
Game plan in place, the three of us got busy. I was just exiting the stables on Shadow Dancer when the three boys came riding in.
"We heard," Will said. "What can we do to help?"
"Tracer and Randy are taking the gator up to the picnic area so we have the trailer," I explained. "I'm going up with first aid supplies. Why don't you three come with me."
I spurred Dancer into a gallop and took off. I knew Will and Patrick should be able to keep up. I wasn't so sure about Josh. During the entire ride I focused on what might have happened and how injured the rider was; my biggest fear was that Otello's leg was really broken.
Just after Dancer and I crossed the second bridge we came on the group. I grabbed the kit out of my bag and walked over to the rider and Ryan.
"How're you doing?" I asked the injured rider.
"I'm fine," the young man replied. "Just a little banged up."
"Fortunately, he didn't get thrown," Ryan explained. "When Otello went down, he kinda got squashed."
"Squashed?" I asked.
A woman sitting beside him added, "I'm the chaperone. He's fine. The horse went down and Jason stayed in the saddle, but his leg got pinned and he kinda hit the ground partially under the horse."
"I'd still like to have him checked out. We've got a tractor and trailer coming from the other direction. They should be here in a moment or two."
"Checked out?" She asked.
"Either take him to a doctor or call an ambulance," I responded. "For insurance purposes, I'd rather make sure all is OK now, then have something pop up later."
"Oh. That makes sense."
I heard the gator coming over the rise. "Why don't you and... Jason, isn't it? Ride back to the picnic area on the tractor. From there one of the staff can take you both back to the stables. We'll call your parents and then we can arrange for that checkup."
"I hate doctors," the teen said.
"Well, it's really important that you get checked out," I replied.
Tracer and Randy walked up. I looked over and saw that the boys were comforting Otello. I really wanted to go see how he was doing, but knew that the customer came first.
"Tracer, take Jason and Ms..."
"Pamela," she replied.
"...and Pamela back to the office. Call his folks, let them know what happened, and let them talk to him. Tell them we'd like to take him over to the immediate care center in Richlands just to be safe."
"Will do," Tracer said. He helped Jason up and over to the gator. Randy had the trailer detached and rode with Tracer back towards the picnic area.
"Trevor," I called. "Why don't you and Josh get the rest of the group saddled up. Ride them back through the picnic area and back to the stables. Tell Tracer to work out with Pamela for another ride for the group sometime very soon - free."
"Will do, Boss," he replied.
When I mentioned the free ride I could see the teens' faces go from a bit bedraggled to a weak smile. I walked over to Otello and Ryan started to speak. I put my hand up to hold him off.
"Let the group leave," I said very quietly.
Trevor led the group and Josh followed the pack as the trailer. The group disappeared out of sight about two minutes later.
"So what happened?" I asked.
"I'm not exactly sure," Ryan admitted. "I was leading the group and all was well. We came down over the rise and were pretty stretched out in a line. Most of these kids have been here a few times, so I felt a bit more comfortable with them. Trevor was trailing and said he didn't see anything as Otello and his rider were in the middle of the pack. My best guess is that he stumbled on something and went down. Jason's explanation and those of the kids around him didn't add anything."
"Damn," I cursed. I'd been checking Otello's leg while Ryan explained the situation.
"What's wrong?" Patrick asked.
"It's feels like it's broken in multiple spots," I explained. "At first it only looked like one spot up here." I indicated a spot in the radius of the front leg. "Up here we'd have a decent chance of him healing. But see down here, there appears to be a break in the cannon bone or the lower joints."
Ryan started to tear up.
"Simple words and pictures, please," Will nudged me.
"You know the old story. Horse breaks its leg and has to be put down."
"I thought that was just a tale from the movies."
"Nope," Ryan replied. "We could try surgery I guess, but it's rarely successful."
"Why's a horse so different?" Patrick asked. "I mean these two did a number on themselves and they're fine."
"Think of it this way," I explained. "First, a horse lives standing up - they even sleep standing up. As a prey animal, they aren't really comfortable lying down. They can't escape fast enough. Also, there isn't a lot of blood circulation or muscle in the lower part of the leg. Without that, the area can't respond to infection which is common in a horse. Finally, there's age. Otello here is nineteen, so he doesn't have a good chance. Ryan, go up to the top of that hill and radio Tracer or Randy. Have one of them call Doc Cranston."
Ryan took off up the hill. He came back a few minutes later.
"Tracer said he'd call immediately. They were just getting back to the office," Ryan explained.
"At least with one of them at the base station, they can drive a message through to us," I said.
"What do we do in the meantime?" Will asked.
"We just need to keep Otello quiet and down. If he feels threatened and starts to try to stand up, things will only get worse."
"Will the other horses bother him?" Patrick asked.
"They shouldn't, but let's take them out of the equation. Why don't you walk them up over the next rise till they're out of sight and tie them to a tree on a long lead."
"Will do," Patrick said. "Come on, Will."
The two guys took the horses out of range and walked back.
"Anything else?" Patrick asked.
"It's going to be a long wait. The vet has to get here; we have to make a decision, then move Otello as appropriate."
"What happens if..." Will started to ask.
"If we have to put him down, Doc will take care of it. Then we'll have to transport Otello to the burial site," I explained.
"Do you need to get authorization from the insurance company?" Ryan asked.
"Huh?" Patrick grunted.
"Our horses are insured. If Doc recommends putting Otello down, we'll need to call the insurance company for authorization."
"Or they won't pay for it?" Will asked.
"No. Horses are valued like cars. In Otello's case, at nineteen and being one of our rentals, there's not much impact, so if we can't get the authorization if it comes to that, then we'll do it anyway."
"It's a weird concept," Patrick replied.
"We think of horses as pets, friends, companions; however, in business they are also an asset that needs to be insured, maintained and replaced," I detailed.
"Makes sense," Will agreed. "I don't remember learning anything about this in any of my classes."
"It's something I learned early on when I took over the farm," I said. "Our original insurance agent explained it all to me." I looked at Patrick. "You probably should ride back to the stables so you can get home at a decent time."
"I figured I'd stick this out," he said.
"You might be here all night," I replied.
"Oh. I hadn't thought of that."
Before I could reply, the walkie-talkie beeped. "Erik?" Tracer's voice rang out.
"What's up, Tracer?" I asked.
"The boy's parents are going to meet us at the immediate care center. I've called the center to let them know we're coming. They said things were quiet today. Dr. Cranston should be here in about thirty minutes. Randy will bring him out to you when he arrives. Trevor and Josh are getting the rentals back into their stalls and the rest of the church group has headed home."
"Thanks for handling all that," I complimented.
"I'll buzz you when I get back."
"Hey, before you go. Can you make sure Randy brings lanterns. I don't want to end up being out here without lights."
"Sure. Anything else?" He asked.
"Yeah. Have Josh make some sandwiches and bring them out."
"Certainly. Anything else?"
I looked at Patrick. "You really in this for the long haul?"
"Yeah," he replied somberly.
"One last thing," I said into the radio. "Call Tiffany and let her know what's going on. Tell her Patrick will be home eventually."
"Roger that," Tracer replied.
I sat the walkie-talkie down and we all sat quietly with Otello, trying to keep him calm. About forty-five minutes later Randy arrived with Doc.
"Evening all," Dr. Cranston said.
"Howdy, Doc," I said quietly.
"How's the patient?"
"He's been down for nearly two hours now. We've been keeping him very quiet."
"In my unprofessional opinion, I found three places I think the leg is broken."
"Let me check."
He spent a few minutes working with Otello's leg. Patrick, Will, Ryan and I worked to keep Otello calm and quiet.
"Not good," Doc finally said. "Not good at all. I agree with you, Erik. At least three breaks in the leg and two below the knee joint. He's an older fellow, isn't he?"
"Otello's nineteen," Ryan said.
"Almost a senior citizen," Doc responded. "I won't lie, he's got maybe a twenty percent chance of recovery - if that."
"Damn," Randy muttered.
"Yeah, my sentiments exactly."
All eyes turned to me. I looked at Ryan and saw tears running down his face. Will was in the same state.
"I guess we don't have much choice," I said. "Can you do it via injection?"
"Most certainly. He's quiet enough now," Doc replied.
The rest of the evening was stressful on us all. Tracer got back from the immediate care center as we were digging Otello's grave. Having been out of the loop during most of the events, he was very emotional about the loss. He did have good news that the young man had not been injured and that the parents had been very impressed with our level of care.
It was somber that night at home.
|Prev||To be continued . . .||Next|
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