Postcards From the Ledge (and Other Extraordinary Folk): Some Men Go Just Where They Want (Story 2) ~ Part A

Ken Painter By Ken Painter, 2nd Jan 2015 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Writing>General Fiction

Join me in a stroll through an eclectic collection of short stories filled with gay and straight characters in the mid-Michigan communities of Lansing and East Lansing and surrounding areas as they laugh, love, and find their lives intertwined in inexplicable ways. (Some of the stories - not all - contain softcore male/male sex scenes, and some of the material contained has been previously published on Wikinut by this author and have been modified from its original form.)

The Beat Begins

Gavin and Harley had settled into their usual routines in their little love nest for lack of a better term, their upper apartment in the rehabbed house just east of Wyoming, but they were showing no signs of becoming an old married couple not if their sex life could be the barometer used to judge anything between the two. That was as intense as ever as Gavin entered the second semester of his second year at Pines Junior High as the 8th grade Science instructor. He still loved teaching, loved his students, and he got along well enough with his principal Tom Dunbar. The area was more conservative than the Lansing - East Lansing area, but it was showing some moderation, and the school faculty all seemed to treat him with respect and Harley too when they both appeared together at school functions. The couple were not hiding their relationship behind closed doors not in this day and age though they had adopted a pact at home that they would keep their public displays of affection to the barest of minimums in this locale and save it for either the privacy of their own home, Lansing and East Lansing when they were visiting, or the one lone hangout in the area where they felt the safest, Embers. Oh yeah, there was that hayloft up in the main barn at the Double H Ranch . . . , but that wouldn’t qualify as a public display of affection Gavin thought as he drove home from school that Friday evening and promised himself to get Harley up there again sometime that weekend.

Once home and settled in Gavin opened up his laptop to check his e-mail. Out of habit he never did this at school anymore. Call it a wariness on his part, but he just preferred the sanctity of his own home to look at his own private business anymore not that there was any hardcore porn involved, but one could never be too careful these days. And ever since he’d been buying Harley some Andrew Crockett underwear off and on for the past couple of years Gavin had found that he just couldn’t trust a stray pop-up or two of a somewhat overexposed nature to appear out of nowhere, and the prying eyes at Pines Junior High whether they were young or old just didn’t need to know. On the other hand Harley sure looked great in his Crockett Rocketts and Crockett Jocketts! Damn! Amateur model material! And with that cowboy hat cocked at just the right angle . . .

His e-mail files showed the usual junk in his spam folder. Delete! And it appeared that some of that spam had leaked over into his Inbox too as he quickly scanned its contents, but coming to one from RCE Music, Gavin quickly stopped and opened the contents. RCE stood for Rainbow Chaps Enterprises which was really the title given to it by Eric Lindstrom lead guitarist and back-up vocalist and Todd Steffey bass guitarist and lead vocalist for the foursome otherwise known as the Rainbow Chaps, and by now Gavin and Harley had somewhat of a working relationship with the group, especially Gavin since they had recorded his song Did I Leave My Wife For This? Eric also shared a music songwriting co-credit with Gavin, because when he and Harley had brought the song to the boys and sang it to them, he had recognized that while his lyric was perhaps strong enough, he sure as hell wasn’t a musician, and any help the boys could give would be much appreciated. Eric rounded out the rough edges and the song turned out so well, the RC’s as they called themselves in private were able to parlay its unique appeal into a release and album deal with the up and coming Turnipseed label. “Small but growing” is how they marketed themselves.

According to Eric’s e-mail, Did I Leave My Wife For This? which had debuted two weeks earlier to rather mixed reviews and was considered kind of a novelty tune was getting some modicum of airplay in some markets mostly in large cities with gay populations, and of course on satellite radio which they all viewed as weird since there were no cuss words in it. However, satellite radio was playing the hell out of it! Of course, it didn’t hurt that Willie Nelson had heard it on the radio and was heard to remark in an interview a few days earlier that he wished he could have recorded it. Thanks to what exposure it was getting DILMWFT? had just cracked the Top 100 on the country charts pulling up at number 93 for the week! We’re getting noticed Eric wrote, and could Gavin write anything else?

Gavin’s reply was short and sweet. He’d try his best, but since that was his first ever try at songwriting he couldn’t guarantee anything. He’d work on it. Good luck with the album.

What had Gavin gotten himself into? The beat had only begun.

Crowd Pleasers

Harley was beside himself with joy at the news from Eric Lindstrom’s e-mail which Gavin bombarded him with immediately barely allowing him inside their door only minutes after receiving the news himself. Drawn into their kiss like a high-powered electromagnet they decided that before the clothes came flying off which was their usual modus operandi perhaps they might just want to save that portion of the celebration for a little later that evening and begin the kick-off with a little dinner and dancing over at Embers, and so after a little individual sprucing up without too much long and pronounced hanky-panky they got themselves out the door and over to the local gay-friendly honky-tonk which attracted a variety of characters from throughout the area. Over the stained cedar door as they walked into the joint hung a vintage sign crookedly suspended with that 50’s scrawled cursive lettering from back in the day beckoning everyone to enter with the yellow invitation on a navy background which the folks down in Ann Arbor would love if they ever got up this way and stumbled upon the place and which read Y’all Come!

As Gavin and Harley walked in the smell of pork barbecue mixed with beer and overlaid with a bit of sweat hit them square in the face like an over-exuberant Howdy! Patsy Cline and Crazy were spinning on the vintage jukebox and a handful of couples both straight and gay were slow-dancing out on the backlit floor, and so the lovers were already getting an early jump on the evening it looked like. However, the guys were sorely in need of refueling first, and so they pulled up plastic stackable chairs in Embers’ “feeding station” as the sign in the center of the hand-hewn tables referred to the area, and each ordered their beers, pulled pork sandwiches and fries vowing to return to a somewhat healthier diet the next day.

After a few songs on the jukebox completed their rotation the bartender flipped the radio back on to their favorite satellite radio country music channel which played a nice blend of the current favorites and mixed in a golden oldie every so often. As soon as the boys finished their meals and another brew they jumped up onto the dance floor just about the time that one of those oldies came on, a crowd pleaser, Boot Scootin’ Boogie, and everybody it seemed got up and joined in the line dance fun.

A couple more songs through the rotation, slower, upbeat, slower with Gavin and Harley and a few of the other crowd regulars drifting back and forth from the dance floor as the mood and song suited them passed when suddenly a cheer rose from the crowd as a very popular new number with a somewhat upbeat tempo and an overly familiar lilt to Gavin and Harley’s ears came over the loudspeakers. Harley grabbed Gavin’s hand again almost dragging him onto the dance floor and into the line dance forming as Gavin smiled broadly but also warned him accordingly, “Don’t you dare say anything now!” Harley shot him back an unspoken I love you, and I’m so proud of you, but your secret’s safe with me as they began stomping and singing along with their friends to Did I Leave My Wife For This? And the song concluded with the now infamous 6-word and 3-second Willie Nelson sound bite which evidently was going to become a requirement for airplay for a while, “Wish I could have recorded it.” Gavin and Harley had no arguments with the attachment of the two, and they doubted that the Rainbow Chaps did either.

Later that evening back at their hayloft love nest at the Double H after they had capped their perfect celebratory evening together with the perfect dessert of lovemaking topped off with two orgasms each as they lie naked and sated comfortably entwined, Gavin looked dreamily into Harley’s dusky eyes and asked, “After tonight do you think there’s gonna be much of a circus with this?”

“I don’t know? I doubt it,” Harley tried to reassure him. “I mean think about it really. How many songs do you love? And how many songs do you really know who the songwriter is?”

“Good point.”

“So unless someone announces to the locals around here that you’re the one who wrote it,” Harley went on, “nobody should ever really notice, and my lips are sealed. On the other hand, it’s a terrific song, and you’ve got nothing to be ashamed of.”

“Oh I know, and I’m not!” Gavin sighed. “But it’s like everything else gay. Everybody’s got an opinion, and you know just like asses everybody’s got one, and not all of ‘em are pretty!”

“Yeah, well you’re right enough about that,” Harley laughed, “but it’s a dang good thing yours is a beaut! Cuz I’m in love with it!” And with that Harley gave a good smack to Gavin’s ass and said, “We’d better get home. This loft is heated, but it’s gonna be a cold one tonight!” And with that they dressed and left for the confines of their warm bed at their apartment.

The Creative Bug Bites

Word never did leak out locally about who the songwriter was of that novelty tune as it was pretty much universally known around much of the area when it did receive any regular airplay. Most of the regular folks didn’t pay it a lot of mind, though thanks in large part to the Willie Nelson comment and all of the airplay on satellite radio and the big cities Did I Leave My Wife For This? kept climbing the country charts finally topping out at #10. Gavin and the Rainbow Chaps had a certified Top Ten hit which helped the RC’s launch their disc Brave New World. The two follow-up releases Show Your Colors, and Brave New World both co-written by Eric Lindstrom and Todd Steffey also went Top 10 and helped seal the fate of their first collection as Gold. And it all started out as Gavin’s lark. Not only was everybody happy, but the folks at Turnipseed were overjoyed beyond belief!

But as Gavin’s second year at Pine’s Junior High closed, and as the Rainbow Chaps were beseeching him for at least one song and perhaps two for their second album of songs which they wanted to record sometime after Labor Day, so far his creative juices had run dry. Gavin was hoping with the upcoming summer break he could free his mind and let it wander to the places necessary to pull a repeat.

Although he’d been working off and on with song ideas, hooks, word phrases, catch-lines anything he could think of to try to strike a fire in his mind, and he’d been diligent about this since the school year had ended and yet the drought had persisted. And so when he and Harley decided about the middle of July to drive north for a few days for a little vacation up to Sleeping Bear National Lakeshore and do a little hiking and climb the sand dunes, maybe find a secluded spot if such were possible at this time of the year for a little hanky-panky, do some swimming in Lake Michigan somewhere, maybe even do some canoeing, all the things they love to do and more, in and around all of this Gavin packed his notebook, because he figured that with all this necessary recharging of his batteries lightning would most likely strike . . . in a good way.

He was not wrong about that.

It occurred on their fourth day out. Gavin didn’t give the song a thought for the first three days anyway. It was fun time, and he and Harley were boys on a mission, and by the end of the third day out they’d managed to complete two-thirds of their list including lovemaking twice outside in super-secluded areas which proved to be such a turn-on for them they weren’t entirely certain they could ever stop. So on the fourth day the extremely happy and thoroughly satisfied couple decided that with such a sunny and warm day it was the perfect day for them to brave the crowds of the Sleeping Bear and climb to the top of the dunes, spread a blanket for awhile and sun themselves, and if they wanted they could decide later if they should walk across the wide and shifting sands to look at Lake Michigan and then cross back before making the steep descent again.

Once up, despite the fact they were in great shape they were winded enough from the steep ascent and finding a decent, semi-sunny spot in which to spread their blanket to sun themselves for awhile, they settled in for a rest. Gavin knew this would be the perfect time to see if he could write. It took all of two minutes for Harley to nod off and for Gavin’s mind to wander.

He began reflecting back on all the word phrases and hooks he’d been working on in recent weeks. All of them were just shit, and Gavin shook his head and thought why am I sitting here feeling sorry for myself? And then he thought again, feeling sorry for myself, hmmm, and he wrote that down. He wasn’t sure about it, but there was a feel about those words. A country feel. A germ. A seed. A starting point.

Gavin looked up and as he looked at the dozens upon dozens, hundreds actually of moms and dads, teens, children, tots and toddlers holding on to one another laughing some on the shoulders of others who were stronger all of them situated below him on the steep and huge sand dune the giant Sleeping Bear, all of these people, these masses struggling to climb this massive monster to arrive near where he lay sprawled on his blanket in the late morning sunshine, he realized that all of them came from somewhere else somewhere larger, smaller cities, larger cities, massive megalopolises escaping to the pristine wilderness outback of Michigan to find some peace and sanity in this crazy fucked-up world, and therein he had uncovered the theme of his song. Voila! Somebody from the city who was originally from the country and wanted to go home because they were feeling sorry for themselves and just plain missed it all! After all, he was even a tad homesick himself. He loved Harley with all his heart, but Gavin still missed his mom Ramona too. Sure, she was only an hour and a half away, and they drove down every now and again for a visit, and they talked on the phone, but still. Gavin tapped into these raw emotions, and he had himself a damn country song in just under 30 minutes!

He recopied his chicken scratches over onto a second notebook sheet and then reread his second copy for errors. Once satisfied with his proofread, Gavin began laughing softly, but evidently it was sufficient to arouse Harley from his light nap.

“What you chuckling about?”

Gavin held up the finished notebook page proudly. “I did it!”

Harley propped himself up on one elbow squinting into the brightness and asked, “Can I read it?”

“Of course! I’m sorry you even had to ask,” and Gavin laid down next to him.

Down Home Country Blues, huh? Good name,” and Harley started reading to himself. When he was finished he continued, “I like it, and I’m not just saying that, because you wrote it. I really do like it. It’s a good strong lyric. Of course, I don’t know the melody, but I can hear your meter in it. The rhythm flow is natural and strong. What time is it?”

“Almost 11:00.”

“Geez, it didn’t take you very long to write that! I must not have been out that long.”

“Nah, only took about a half-hour to write and another ten minutes to recopy,” Gavin giggled. “I’ve heard of some songwriters knocking out hit songs in ten or fifteen minutes before. Did I Leave My Wife only took me about an hour really. I guess you’ve just got to be in the right mood or frame of mind!”

“I guess so. What do say we pack our shit up and hike on over to the lake now?”

“Sounds like a good deal to me.”

Harley took the lead with his slightly longer legs traipsing through the sand as Gavin found himself always trailing a few feet behind like a dutiful wife in a third world country, but they took their time and about a half hour later they arrived at a scenic overlook on Lake Michigan on the other side of the Sleeping Bear. When they found a quiet moment with nobody looking Harley managed to grab Gavin’s hand and somewhat surreptitiously led him quietly aside to a secluded spot long enough to sneak a decent kiss. There were plenty of straight lovers kissing openly near where they had been standing only moments earlier, but the gay lovers weren’t feeling about ready to carry the flag that day. They wanted to, yes, but it was still northwestern Michigan, not San Francisco, and for them to do so there would be like standing completely naked in a crowd of children, and they weren’t about to do that either.

Back on the parking lot side of the dunes awhile later it became time for their descent back down. One would think that it would be a piece of cake. Right! Right? Well, Gavin and Harley discovered that while it was easier than the climb up certainly, they wouldn’t describe it as the piece of cake they thought it would be. Muscle-bound Harley fell three times on the descent to Gavin’s two, of course Harley blamed it on all those muscles he was carrying on top, and Gavin’s mere swimmer’s build wasn’t as difficult to topple him. They just hadn’t planned on the steepness of the descent. You notice it coming up, but you don’t think it will affect you going down. Rough on the knees though! They were still laughing about it over lunch at a little café in Empire so lost in love were these two.

(End of Part A of "Some Men Go Just Where They Want (Story 2)".

Link to Part B of "Some Men Go Just Where They Want (Story 2)" . . . Here


Country Music, Gay Community, Gay Couples, Gay Experience, Gay Lesbian And Bisexual, Gay Love, Gay Men, Gay Rights, Gays, Lgbt, Lgbt Community, Short Fiction, Short Stories, Songwriter, Songwriting, Teacher, Teachers Unions, Teaching, Teaching Children

Meet the author

author avatar Ken Painter
Retired Chicago public school teacher. Singer, songwriter, musician, author, & opinionated old curmudgeon. Married to my husband & living in Colorado, USA. Also a father & grandfather.

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