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Sunday, October 4, 2015

TLR Chapter 13

"We're in a bind here gentlemen," James said at the early morning emergency staff meeting.  "The passing of our friend Derek Carlin's mother is a sad event.  He'll be gone for an indeterminate amount of time, handling his mother's estate, so he wasn't able to give us a return date if he comes back.  With Derek leaving, we need a handler, stable master and trail guide."

"As much as I'd like to leave the position open for him, we need a replacement.  Does anyone know someone who might be able to fill Derek's shoes?"

Mutt came forward.  As head of maintenance his opinion was always considered during staff meetings.  "Well, the twins, Jarrod and Jacob, can handle the job as trail guides, at least for now.  Derek had been training them for a while and from what he said they're pretty knowledgeable.  As far as a stable master, I know Scott the owner of Stonemill Feed and Pet.  He might know someone.  I mean, he deals with people who know horses all the time."

James nodded thoughtfully, a small frown creasing his brow.  "It's not going to be so easy to replace Derek.  Whoever comes in as his replacement, temporary or permanent, has to understand what we stand for.  Then there's the background check... and he'd have to agree to sign the nondisclosure agreement."

"Scott's been here making deliveries, and he's a good friend of mine.  Whoever he recommended would be top notch.  And you're right, whoever it was would have to sign the nondisclosure agreement.  If he does, we're good.   If not we just keep looking.  I trust him."  Mutt continued staunchly.

"All right then.  We need some supplies anyway, and you can talk to him when you pick them up. When can you head out to Stonemill?"

Mutt looked toward Jeff who nodded.

"I can head out right now. It's only just past nine."

"Good.  I have the list of things we need right here.  Take the pickup and one or two of the other guys with you to handle loading and pass the word to Scott."

"Will do.  Eric?  Is it all right if Adam and Torren come with?" Mutt asked.

"Yes, I don't see why not.  As long as the three of you stay out of trouble."  He said sternly.

Despite his best efforts Mutt felt a blush starting to rise.  "No sir, no trouble."  He promised.

"Very well then.  They may go."

"Thank you, sirs,” Mutt said before turning sharply on his heel and heading outside to round up Adam and Torren to accompany him.

"Are you sure it was Eric that said we could all go together?"  Torren joked, “We don't exactly have a stellar track record for staying out of trouble when we're together."

"Yes, it was Eric."  Mutt said with a fond smile.  "But...” he said craftily, “If you'd rather not go let me know and I'll get someone else."

"No. No.  I didn't say I didn't want to go.  It'll be nice to get off resort grounds for a while."

"Then we just behave ourselves and do what needs to be done," Mutt replied.  "You two are my best friends and I know I can trust you to do the job and do it fast."

"Yeah, cuz fast means we have more time to horse around in Stonemill afterward."  Adam said, straight faced.

"Instigator."  Mutt smiled, shaking his head.

"I don't know about you guys, but if we get the job done fast enough I'd like to go out for some burgers at Katy's Kitchen.   Or better yet, a nice big dish of their shrimp scampi."

"We make burgers and scampi at the resort and you can get it for free."  Adam protested.

"Yeah, but it doesn't taste as good as it does at Katy's Kitchen."

"I hate to agree with him but he's right,” Adam said.  “I wish we could ask the chef from Katy's to come work for the resort."  

"He's married and has kids.  And from what I understand he's pure vanilla.  Nice guy and all once you get to know him, but I don't think he'd fit in very well with the clientele or the staff," Torren added.

"Well, let's head to the Feed and Pet and get what we need.  I have another job to do so it'll be a few minutes before I can help you load."

"Oh sure, what job do you have to do that leaves the two of us loading the truck?"  Torren asked.

"Something that's none of your business right now, Tor.  Now can you do the job without complaining or not?"

Torren gave Mutt a dirty look.  Mutt just stared back until Torren backed down.  "Yeah."  Torren said sullenly.

"Let's head out then, gentlemen."  Mutt said, tossing the keys to the truck to Torren by way of consolation.  Torren loved to drive the truck.  His face broke out into a wide smile and all was forgiven.  The three men drove to Stonemill, laughing, telling bawdy jokes and singing along with the radio.

"OK guys, take the truck around back, I'll go in and give Scott the list.  Then I'll be out to help load."

"Aye aye, Cap'n."  Adam saluted.

"I'll cap'n ya.  Get goin'!" Mutt aimed a kick in the other man's direction.  He deliberately and theatrically missed by a country mile, which set the three of them laughing again.

Mutt went into the store and found the face he was looking for.  Scott stood behind the counter waiting on a lady who was having trouble deciding on which brand of dog food to buy for her overweight mastiff.  Scott finally helped her choose, she paid and Scott helped her get the sack of kibble into her car.  Finally they were alone.

"Heya Mutt!  How's it goin'?"  Scott asked, landing a hard and heavy hand on Mutt's shoulder.  

Mutt made a rueful face and replied, “I was doing fine before you broke my shoulder!" he grunted.


"Panty waist."

"OK, you can just go find another place to get your grain and hay from."  Scott joked.

"I'll kick your ass and take it."

"No you won't, you'll get that hottie of a husband of yours out here to look me into submission."  Scott laughed.

"Hey, whatever works."  Mutt laughed back.

"All right, so what do you need today, my friend?"

"Same as usual, and one request."

"Hold on a sec.  Max! Web!"  he called into the back room,  "Go out back and fill this order for TLR.  Two of the guys are already there waiting, they'll help load.  Vámonos!  Ok," he said, turning back toward Mutt, "What's the request?"

"Well, I don't like to be the bearer of bad news, but Derek's mom died a couple of days ago and he had to go back to Bangor to settle her estate."

"Derek's mom died!  Jeez, no!  Dang she was a real sweetheart.  Always sent me and the boys care packages for our birthdays. What happened?"

"Heart attack.  In her sleep.  Their family doctor says she didn't feel a thing.  Derek's brother found her.  He'd been calling her because they had a breakfast date.  He went to check on her and... well..."

"Dang."  Scott said again, looking truly grieved.

"Derek’s mother named him as the executor of her will.  He had to go back to Bangor and handle things, and no one knows how long that'll be.  In the meantime, we need a new stable master.  Do you happen to know of anyone offhand?"

"Has anyone ever accused you of being psychic, Mutt?"  Scott asked, askance.

"I've been accused of a lot of things but never being psychic." Mutt laughed.  "What brought that up?"

"I have just the guy for you. He's... ah... he's like you guys... ya know?"

"Like us guys?"  Mutt asked, an edge to his voice.  Scott was a pretty good guy but sometimes he could be a real jackass.

"You know."  Scott said, significantly.

"You mean gay?"

"Yeah,” Scott replied gratefully.  "Sorry, dude,  I just don't know what's PC anymore,"  He continued, blushing.

"So, what's this guy's name?"

"His name is Robert Daily, but everyone calls him Bo." 

Mutt shook his head doubtfully.  "I never heard of him."

"He used to work at a dude ranch as the stable master until it went out of business, about six months ago.” Scott said, frowning in concentration.  

"You trust him?"

"With my Skye,” Scott replied, referring to his dapple grey.

"That's recommendation enough.  Call him and let him know we're looking for a stable master.  See if he's interested."

Scott grinned and walked over to a side door.  He rapped on the door three times and a tall, slender man came out with a curious smile.  "What's up, Scott?  Did you find more stuff for me to do?"

"Nope.  Bo, I'd like you to meet Mutt Tailor.  He works at a nearby resort and they're looking for a new stable master."

Bo's eyes lit up and he looked down at Mutt, his pleasure and happiness evident in every angle of his face.  "I'm pleased to meet you, Mutt Tailor, he said, extending a hand to Mutt to shake.

The man's smile was open and honest, as was his face.  The blue eyes sparkled with good humor and kindness, and Mutt found himself liking the man instinctively.

Mutt shook the other man's hand.  It was warm and dry.  If he was nervous, there were no signs of it in his handshake, which was firm but not overly so.

Mutt looked a question at Scott who smiled sheepishly.  "Well, Bo was one of my best customers and we got to be good friends.  When the dude ranch closed down, it left Bo with nowhere to live, so he's been living in the back room here, helping us out for room and board."

"Well, I guess I lucked out!"  Mutt said with a wide smile.  "Bo, when can you be ready to go?"

Bo looked at Scott who nodded and smiled at the taller man.

"Is now too soon?"

"What about all of your stuff?"

"All I really have to pack are my clothes, TV, DVD player and some books and DVDs.  The rest of my stuff is at Stonemill Storage, and there isn't a whole lot there.  I lived by myself in a small apartment so I don't have much."

"Well, after we finish loading up our supplies, we can stop by the storage facility and pick up your stuff.  There'll be plenty of room in the truck for them, I'm sure."

Bo smiled broadly.  "This is unbelievable!  I've been looking for a job for six months and here one lands in my lap.  How can I ever repay you?"

"By being the best horse wrangler in the world."  Mutt quipped.

"You guys won't regret it, I promise you!"  Bo replied excitedly as he turned toward his room to begin packing his few belongings.

Mutt smiled and shook Scott's hand.  "Thanks man, I’m going to go out back and help load supplies, then I can make sure we have room for the rest of his stuff.  Thanks for all your help."

"My pleasure."  Scott replied, smiling.  


"You did what?!"  Adam asked, amazed.

"We're going to take him back with us,” Mutt replied in consternation.  "What's the problem?  It's not like we don't have room for him or his stuff in the truck."

"What's wrong?"  Torren added, eyes wide in disbelief.  "Mutt, James and Jeff are going to murder you!  Or at least, you'll wish they'd murdered you by the time they're done."

"I don't understand..."

"Man, who does the hiring at the resort?"

"Well, James and Jeff ... but..."  Mutt's face paled as the truth of the matter dawned on him.  "Oh my God.  I'm dead.  What should I do, Ad?  I can't just go in there and tell him he can't come with us!  He's already packing!"

"If you don't go in there and just bring him onto resort property without the OK from James and Jeff, your butt is going to end up in a sling, and I don't mean a fun one."  Torren said seriously.

"If you call Jeff and tell him what you did, what is he going to say?"  Adam asked, more a rhetorical question than expecting an answer.

"I can't go in there and tell him to unpack."  Mutt replied, a sick knot in his stomach.

"You're gonna have to."  Torren replied.

"I'll be right back."  Mutt said a little breathlessly as he headed back into the feed store to call Jeff.

Jeff answered on the first ring.  "Jeff Markham."

"Jeff, it's Mutt."

Jeff could hear the strain in his husband's voice.  "What's wrong?  Are you in jail?"

Despite his sick stomach, Mutt laughed.  "No, we're not in jail... but,” he said, becoming more serious, "I'm going to be in the dog house."
"What's wrong, hon?  Why do you think you're in the dog house?"

"Well, I found the guy we need."

"That's great."  Jeff smiled.

"I'm bringing him, and all of his stuff back with me when we finish packing the supplies."  Mutt replied, trying hard to keep his voice from trembling.


"I wasn't thinking, Jeff!  I mean, he's right here, he's perfect, it was like he'd been put here just for us, it was too convenient that he was exactly what we needed in the first place we looked."

"He can't just come to resort property without an invitation from a resident and approved by James or myself.  You know that."  Jeff said sternly.

"What am I going to do, Jeff?"  Mutt asked close to tears.  "He's packing his stuff now."

"You're going to have to tell him to unpack.  Now, Matthew."  Jeff said in a tone that brooked no argument.  "Tell him he has to fill out an application, same as anyone else does, and it has to go through channels.  There's the background check for one thing..."

"I know.  I'm sorry, Jeff.  He just seemed so perfect!  And James was saying how badly we were going to need to replace Derek quickly."

"Matthew Elijah, march yourself into that store and explain the matter to him.  His reaction will be part of the basis of whether he's considered for the position or not.  Understand me?"

"Yes sir,” Mutt said quietly, blushing hotly.  He knew he was going to look like a fool, or worse, in the eyes of this new man.

Mutt hit end on his phone and turned toward the door that Bo had disappeared through, only to come face to chest with Bo himself.  The man looked sad but resigned.

"I heard your side of the conversation.  I don't have the job do I?"

"I... I'm so sorry, Bo.  It wasn't my job to hire you, but it's not like you don't have the job... I mean, you're still eligible, you just have to go through proper channels."

"How many other people are being considered for the position."  Bo asked, trying to push down the defeat he felt.

"Right now, you're the only one."

Hope sparked in Bo's eyes once again.  "So what do I have to do?"

"Well, you just have to fill out an application and go through a background check.  Then there's the interview with Jeff."

"Forget it then."  Bo said sadly.

"Why?"  Mutt asked, surprised.  "I think you're perfect, and I think Jeff will like you on sight just as much as I did."

"The other jobs I applied for... well I'm going to be straight forward with you, Mutt, so that we can avoid all the unnecessary rigamarole.  I'm gay.  That seems to be a deal breaker with a lot of people, even though they don't come right out and say so.  So, I'm telling you right off the bat.  I'm gay. So let's just stop here and pretend it never happened.  What are you laughing about?"  He asked angrily.

"The resort I work at.  It caters to gay men.  Believe me, your orientation will not work against you."  Mutt smiled.

Bo was speechless for several seconds but then smiled.  "So, what do I have to do to apply for the job?"

"I brought several applications with me to give to Scott.  He knows about the resort so I trust him to send us trustworthy guys.  Plus, he recommended you highly.  I'll get you an application and all you have to do is fill it out.  Do you have a résumé or letters of recommendation?"

Bo smiled, “I have both in my desk drawer in back."

"Then let me get one of the applications and you can fill it out and give me copies of your papers before I leave.  I'll deliver them in person."

"Thank you, Mutt."  Bo said quietly.


It seemed as though it took forever for Bo to get the phone call he'd been waiting for, but three days later, his phone rang.

"Robert Daily?"


"Hello, Robert," came the delighted reply, “I'm Jeff Markham from TLR, calling in response to your application for the position of stable master."

"Hello, Mr. Markham.  Please, call me Bo.  Everyone does."

"And please call me Jeff."

Bo could hear the smile in the other man's voice and was heartened by it.

"Thank you, Jeff."

"I'd like to make an appointment for an interview with you, at your earliest convenience."

Bo tried to keep the excitement and desperation from his voice.  "I'm available whenever you are, sir... Jeff."

"Do you have a car?"

"Yes, actually a truck, but yes,” Bo replied, a little confused by the question.

"I have an errand to run in Boothbay.  I should be done around 1 o' clock.  Would you be able to meet me there?"

"Yes, of course.  Where would you like to meet?"

"Have you ever been to McSeagull's?"

Bo smiled.  "Yes sir."

"Then McSeagull's between one fifteen and one thirty?"

"I'll be there.  Thank you."

As soon as he hung up he ran to his trunk and began to rummage through, looking for some decent clothes, becoming frustrated as he pulled out one pair of torn jeans after another, stained tee shirts and worn button downs.  He let out a sigh of defeat.

He was startled by a knock on the door. "Yes?  Come in."

Scott walked in with a smile on his face.  "I've got some work for you if you're interested."

"I can't.  Or maybe I can,” Bo replied, disappointed. 

"What's up?"

"I just got a call from TLR.  A Jeff Markham called.  He wants to interview me but... I have nothing to wear.  It's all rags."  He said, tossing the worn work clothes back into the trunk.

"What's the problem?  Just go buy yourself a new pair of jeans and a clean shirt and you're all set."

"You had to hear this guy though, Scott.  He sounded like a suit.  I'd have to wear a suit and I don't have that kind of money right now.

"Believe me, Bo.  Jeff is not a suit guy.  The dressiest I've ever seen him is nice denim jeans and a tee shirt.  Just get yourself the stuff I suggested and you'll be fine.  Do you have a decent jacket to wear?"

"Like a suit jacket?"  Bo asked, confused.

"No, like a leather jacket or one of those nice fleece lined deals."

Bo sighed.  "No, all my stuff is pretty well worn out.  I have a leather jacket but...”  He went to the trunk and pulled out an old leather jacket that had seen better days, and showed it to Scott.

"All right, listen, do you have the money for the clothes, maybe a new pair of boots?" He asked, looking down at Bo's old Nubucks.  

"Yeah, I’m not completely broke... yet."  Bo joked.

"OK then, I'll spring for a new jacket for you.  Call it a good luck present."  He said forcefully as he saw Bo start to argue.  "No arguments from you, got it?" 

"You don't have to..."

"I want to.  Now, you're going to get those jeans and a new shirt and boots, and you're going to take the money for a new jacket, or I'm going to deal with you the same way I deal with my boys."

Bo laughed.  He'd seen Scott take the straw end of a broom to one or both of his son's backsides on occasion.  "Well, I can't have that.  I accept your kind offer."

"Smart man.  When is your interview?"

"At one thirty."

"Fine, go shopping now, get what you need, and get there by one.  Even if that means you're sitting there for half an hour sipping a soda, I think it'll show your reliability."

"It won't make me look desperate?"

"If he's not there by one o'clock, how is he to know how long you were sitting there?  If he asks if you were waiting long just say, 'No, I just got here a few minutes ago.'” Scott grinned.  "Just don't drink so much that you'll have to hit the head in the middle of the interview."  He joked.

Bo was sitting at the table when a tall, good looking man walked into the restaurant.  The man was wearing dark jeans and a light blue chambray shirt under a fleece lined jacket.

Many men had entered during his wait, and Bo had looked at them expectantly but they'd all gone to different tables.  He'd checked his watch multiple times, but the hands seemed to have stopped working.  He glanced up at the man, trying to figure out if this one was the one he'd been waiting for when the man stopped by the table with a smile and held out a friendly hand.


"Yes,” He replied, trying to keep the relief out of his voice, “Jeff?"

"Yes.  It's a pleasure to finally meet you."  He said as they released hands and sat down.  He liked that Bo hadn't tried to dress in a suit, as some of the other candidates had done.  To Jeff, it was a mark of the man's authenticity.  "Have you been waiting long?"

"No sir, I only got here a few minutes before you did."

"Wonderful.  I hope you're hungry."

Bo was starving but he'd spent most of his money on the new clothes.  He was about to politely deny being hungry when his stomach growled noisily.  He blushed sweetly when Jeff smiled.

"It's on me, by the way.  This is a business lunch and I invited you, so order whatever you like from the menu."

Bo looked at the menu, his stomach rumbling more as he read all of the selections.

Jeff pretended not to hear the noises and finally ordered almost the entire selection of appetizers and a large Coke when the waiter arrived.

Bo's eyes widened in surprise.  "How are we going to eat all of that?  There won't be room left over for lunch."  He joked.

"That's what take out containers are for.  You'll have plenty left over for dinner tonight and Mutt will demolish my share." Jeff laughed.

"Mutt?"  Bo asked, confused.

"My husband.  You remember him, don't you?"

"Yes, I remember him, I just didn't realize he was your husband."  Bo replied, smiling.  Lucky man, he thought.

"Yes, he loves this place, and frankly so do I.  So have you decided what you'd like as a main course?"

Bo looked at the menu again, a little stunned by the prices.

"Don't worry, the food is well worth the price.  The portions will be enough to feed you for a couple of days."  He quipped.

When the waiter arrived with the appetizers they ordered their main course.

"I'll have the Lobster and Chicken Bomb."  Jeff requested politely.

"I'd like the fried shrimp.  And a large Coke, please?"

"Right away."  The waiter said, smiling as he turned toward the kitchen with the new order.  He knew Jeff's first name, as he was a regular, though he usually came in with another man, and was famed for leaving generous tips.  All of the waiters and waitresses prayed that he'd be seated in their section.

"Well, since this is a business lunch, let's discuss your qualifications while we wait for our lunches."  Jeff suggested.

Bo nodded and squared his shoulders, ready to answer any question.

"I see that you have current first aid and CPS certification?"

"Yes sir.  It's necessary to be prepared in case of trouble either on the trail or in general."

"Blake Ephram from the Bar E Dude Ranch has only glowing reports about you.  He assured me that you have a strong working knowledge of horsemanship skills, that your skills reflected their instructional program and riding policy.  He was impressed by your treatment of the horses."

Bo tried not to blush.  "As for horses, I can't understand people who don't treat their animals with the respect they deserve."  He said.

"Blake also said that you handled horses equally well on the ground and in the saddle.  He also said that you never lost your head in a crisis.  He mentioned one incident where one of the horses ended up with a stone wedged in his hoof, and that you kept the guests calm.  You stayed in control, calmed the horse and figured out what the problem was."

Bo nodded again.  "It was pretty obvious by the way the horse was favoring the hoof.  It took a little doing but I got him calmed down enough to pick the stone out." 

“Blake seems very fond of you."

"Thank you, sir.  I'm fond of him as well.  It was a real blow when the ranch went under."

Turning back to the subject at hand, Jeff continued, "We'll expect you to be able to take control of a group of riders, no matter what their skill level is."

"I know I'll be able to do that, sir.  I've trained riders from novice to adept, and I've had incidents where they and anyone in between have gotten into trouble by messing around, or trying to take on more than they were capable of."

"How did you handle the guests afterward?"

"I merely went over the rules with them, reminded them that the horses are more than just animals... to think of the horse as an extension of themselves, and to avoid putting the horse in any more danger than they would be willing to put themselves in." 

"How do you deal with potentially dangerous situations on the trail?"

"I have emergency plans that I go over with all riders before taking them out, or allowing the expert riders to go out alone.  I teach the riders how to deal with things like rock slides and wild animals, or even the occasional horse shying.  Of course there's no way to know what's going to happen, if anything, so I try to anticipate potential dangers and adapt my emergency skills as necessary."

"Then I have two more questions for you."

"Yes sir?"

"First, I'd like you to understand that TLR is an exclusive resort for gay men.  It's a well-kept secret, and we like it that way.  Would you be willing to sign a nondisclosure agreement, stating that regardless of whether you decide to stay or go, you will not tell anyone about the resort?  The resort is a haven for gay men to live their lives free from judgement.  Would you be willing to sign that agreement?"

"Yes sir."  Bo said, no thought necessary.

Jeff unfolded a piece of paper from his jacket pocket and handed it and a pen to Bo, who read it thoroughly before signing it.

"Thank you."

"You're welcome."  Bo replied, smiling.  "So what was the second question?"

"When would you like to start?"

Bo's heart leapt in his chest but he maintained a calm exterior.  "I can start as soon as you need me. I just need to gather my things from storage and pack up the stuff from the back room at the feed store."

"Will you need help?"

"I don't have much, I just had a small apartment by myself.  The things in the back room will fit into my truck, then there's only a small dinette set, my bedroom set and my living room furniture, more boxes of books and DVDs, bookshelves."

"Well, you'll be living in the old bunk house with several other men.  You won't need your dinette set, unless you're attached to it for any reason?"

"Not particularly,” Bo laughed.

"The common room is furnished but depending on how much you have, your living room furniture might fit.  That's where most of the furniture that's in there came from.  Once you're there you can see what you'd like to leave in the common room, or put into your bedroom."

"I'll have my own bedroom?  When you said bunkhouse I thought..."

"All of our men have their own rooms.  The common room used to be the actual bunkhouse, but Mr. Harrington's uncle turned it into a two story complex with bedrooms upstairs and a common room and kitchen downstairs.  There are two bathrooms upstairs and two more downstairs.  There are three other men living in the bunkhouse besides yourself.  They're all a bunch of great guys, so don't worry."  He said with a smile, seeing the fleeting look of concern cross the new stable master's face.

"We'll send Mutt and a couple of other guys out tomorrow to help you get your stuff to the resort."

"Thank you sir.  I'll see you tomorrow then."

Jeff stood and extended his hand with an encouraging smile.

After the waiter divided up the left overs, Jeff took his leave.  Bo waited until he got into his dependable old Ford Ranger Super Cab to let out a cheer.  He drove back to the feed store to find Scott standing on the stairs with a wide grin on his face.  

"Told ya that jacket was perfect."  He gloated as he pulled Bo's six foot frame into a hug.

"How did you know?"  Bo asked, smiling ear to ear.

"If your grin hadn't given it away, then Mutt calling to tell me would have been more than enough."


  1. I can't seem to be able to stop reading . I am really digging your characters. And thank you for making the chapters longer. I didn't see Scott's name listed under the character description. But he hasn't met a top yet. That's at least how I imagine him.

    1. Happy you are still enjoying the story, Melissa. Scott isn't a resident of the resort and isn't gay or a top or brat. He owns the Feed and Pet store, is married and has 2 boys.
      I added his to the Character List.