Book 1: Billie Joe's Journey

by Rick Beck

Chapter 8

Lonesome Highway

It was cool in the morning, but Raymond was wearing some ridiculous cutoffs that left nothing to be imagined.

We were hitching after leaving the truck and Hank, and we picked up our first ride about forty five minutes after we first stuck out our thumbs. I leaned against my gym bag dozing when a car stopped behind us about ten feet from my feet. It was an elderly man. He was going to Roseburg. He kept drifting onto the shoulder looking at Raymond's long lean legs. Raymond kept smiling at the guy like he knew what the guy wanted.

We rolled up the ramp across from a Texaco Station on the other side of Route 5, and Raymond said before we got out, "Don't you want to ask me something."

"No," the man said nervously.

"I know what you want. For the right price it's all yours."

"I'm getting out. Move Raymond," I said.

I headed out toward the Texaco, needing a Coke. I tried to call my brother. He was already at work. He would be pissed I didn't call the night before. Raymond came charging up to me at the Coke machine.

"Don't you ever fuck with me when I'm doing business. You cost me twenty bucks. Or more! I could have hooked that old fart."

"I just said let me out."

"You fuck. You knew I was going with you. I don't want to split up."

"I'm just a fuck. You don't need me."

"I don't need anyone," he said, indignant. "You need my help. You're not road wise," he said.


"You buying?"

"Sure!" I put my money in the slot and handed him a Coke.

"I drink grape," he complained.

I grabbed the coke out of his hand and threw a wounded duck spiral into the middle of the street fifty yards away, sailing it just over the roof of a passing car.

"Why wouldn't you let me kiss you this morning? I really liked you holding me last night. I mean thank you."

"Fuck me. Did you say thank you, Ray boy?"

"Don't call me that. Tricks call me that."

"Oh, poor Ray boy. Ain't I your trick, Ray boy. Didn't I give Ray boy what he wanted last night."

"Why not?" he persisted, refusing to take his eyes off of mine.

He leaned with his long, lithe body up against the soda machine like it was his man. One arm stretched up the side with his hand holding the top, and the other hand was around the front of the machine like it was someone's midsection. The side of his face touched the side of the machine at the front. His blue eyes were clouded with red lines. There were heavy shadows under his eyes. His red hair blazed on top of his head. He almost looked angelic as he studied every inch of me.

"Give me a break. We screwed last night. You can't kiss me?"

"Screwing you was learning something. It told me I would rather hold you. I'm not looking for love, Raymond. I'm looking for myself. You fascinate me in a repulsive kind of way. I don't want to make love to you. I don't want to swap spit with you. I answered my biological needs by screwing you. Because you did everything you could to get me interested, might I add, or you wouldn't have added me to your trick list."

"Why not answer the call of your lips."

"They belong to someone else. I'm in love with Carl. When he kisses me it is like the grandest experience of my life. Our first kiss lasted for hours. It was like being in heaven. There isn't anyone else that could do that. Even if there is, I don't care. I've been kissed by the best."

"Why screwing and not kissing? I got good lips. I can kiss good. I'm experienced."

"Seems less personal. I wasn't really screwing you. I was getting a nut, as Carl would say. You waved it up in my face and offered it to me. I could have gone in a stall and whacked it, but I know all about that. Why not do it in a way that is new to me. That's why I'm out here."

"You're crazy. You don't like me? I don't turn you on, Billie Joe? Why aren't you with what's-his-name anyway."

"Does it really matter, Raymond? I told you he's gone overseas."

"I don't know. I want you to like me. I like you. Why don't you like me? Everybody likes me for a couple a times anyway. I don't think of you as a trick. Tricks pay. I give it to you gladly because you're good for being so young."

"You scare me. You're looking to get whacked, and I don't need it. I want to learn something. I promised I wouldn't get dead or hurt. You're going to get hurt. I don't want to be around when you do."

"What do you want me to do to make you like me. I give good head. Hank could have told you."

"You can't make me do anything. I'm going down the highway. You're going down the highway. We're going down the highway together right now. We satisfied our needs last night. That's all."

"You don't find me attractive at all?"

"Why don't you leave it alone. I like looking at you. Especially I like looking at different parts of you. That's why I went with it last night. I wanted to know what it was like with someone that attracted me in a pure sex way. All I wanted was to do it and see what it was like."

"What did you think? Will we do it again?"

"I think it was okay. I don't know, and I think we should hit the road."

"Carl didn't attract you?"

"Hell no. He was an asshole. He got in my face, pushed me around. Treated me like a kid."

"Kinda like me, huh? Until he started wanting you. Seeing you sexual. He wanted it when he found out what a wild little fuck you could be."

"No. Not like you . . . . Yeah! Come to think of it -- kinda like I didn't like you at first, too."

"There is some hope we can stick together? You just said you liked me. You said it," he beamed.

"Today. That's all. We'll see what happens today. You quit being a wise ass and I might say yes."

"You need me, Billie Joe. I know the streets. You'll die out here alone."

"The way you act, I'll die out here with you. Tone it down or we get different rides next time. I'm telling you right out. You come on to someone like that old man again, and we get off at different places. I don't even know you, you do that again."

"I can't help it. It's the way I am. Make a buck when you can."

"That's something else. I won't ever do that. I won't ever sell myself. I've too much respect."

"You're proud to be gay, are you?"

"Fuck you, Ray boy. I'm proud of who I am even if that means I'm gay. I'm not proud of having to sneak around, break the law, be made to feel like I'm some rodent. That don't do much to make me proud. But I'll never do nothing that makes me ashamed again."

"What made you ashamed, Billie Joe."

"Sneaking looks in the shower. Wanting to touch. Making up ways to get what I wanted. Hiding what I felt inside. Even from me."

We walked back toward the road. Raymond made me uncomfortable with his questions. He made me think about stuff I would prefer just to let slide. I was attracted to him, and sex with him was better than all those years alone with my hand. His redness gave me a thrill down right behind my best part. He made me tingle when I got too close to him, and he made me hard when I could smell him. He always smelled of sex. He always smelled like he just climbed out of a shower, and like sex. That was Raymond.

"What else don't you do so I know?"

"Only one thing."

"I was waiting for an entire list. We might do all right after all. Give me the last rule, Billie Joe. No lovin' on you. No kissin' on you and . . . ?"

"My ass is Carl's. No one will ever have that but him."

"You are dreaming. You're out on the highway and think no one is going to put a knee in your back and your face in the dirt and make you bleed? Dream on gay boy. Dream on."

"That's what I said. That is a promise I made to myself. Carl will be the first when he gets back."

"Carl. Carl. Carl. He must be something."

"Yep! He's something. You got that right."

The sun broke through the clouds and we ended up at Fat Somebody's Truck Stop a hundred miles north of California. We decided to get lunch since it was afternoon. They had all you could eat biscuits and gravy left over from breakfast. We both packed it in . Best meal I ever ate, but it was the first one that day, so the five pounds of food just filled me up. I could hardly walk when we left. It was a bright warm afternoon. We decided to walk and hitch. Raymond wanted to just stand. The trees were all green and thick. I liked smelling them. I liked to walk. I felt like running, but with Raymond I knew better.

The car was black with those smoke windows. I should have known not to get in. You get those little nagging crawlers on the back of your neck when you're doing something stupid. My legs were tired, and we'd been walking for over an hour. We weren't even hitching, just struggling to get up this hill we were on. The car passed, slowed, jerked onto the shoulder like he was checking us.

"Where you boys going," he said leaning toward the door Raymond opened.


"Hop in."

"You brothers?"

"Shit!" I said, as Raymond held the seat so I was forced into the back. I preferred being far away from people I didn't know, so I didn't protest his obvious control maneuver.

The guy seemed nice enough. He couldn't have been thirty. He yakked and yakked like he hadn't talked in weeks. I fell asleep after all the fresh air and walking, and a ton of biscuits and gravy of course.

Raymond's yelling woke me up. I don't know what he said, but I heard my name, and this guy is like ripping his shorts off. We were up on a ramp. It was almost dark. My heart was going like a million miles a second. My first thought was getting the hell out of there. Every man for himself.

"Sit back there, you know what's good for you, kid," the guy yelled, putting his hand in my face pushing me down.

"Get out! Get out, Billie Joe! Get out while you can! He wants you cause you're small."

I heard the cloth rip and the guy unzipped his pants while his other beefy arm held Raymond by the throat. I heard Raymond squeaking for breath as this guy pulls out his big hard dick. It was all red and raging, and then he was fighting with Raymond's arms and trying to get his legs up as he got his weight between them. I couldn't think. I started to reach for the door again, and his big hand let go a roundhouse. He smacked me upside the head, knocking me back onto the seat

Thank you Jesus. Never underestimate the value of marshal arts training. He had made his fatal mistake. It shocked me, stunned me, scared me, not unlike a hundred nights at Karate. I used the position he put me in and leaning back on my elbows I stuck my foot in his ear with about five hundred pounds psi. I heard his head crack against the windshield as I caught him by total surprise. He slid off Raymond and down on the floor groaning.

Instantly, Raymond's naked ass was up and out the door and running up the side of this ramp out in the middle of nowhere. He rolled down a bank and ran up into the woods. I was right behind him. I never looked back once I got through the door of his car. The guy was still on the floor groaning, and I didn't waste time seeing if he was recovering. I went into the woods where Raymond disappeared. I ran for fifty yards or so before I stopped and looked back toward the highway and the terror.

It was utterly quiet standing there. I particularly listened for anyone coming into the woods. I knew the guy could handle both of us easy once he was prepared to do battle . I wouldn't let him get that shot. I stood as my heart calmed. I listened to every sound. Our sudden entrance scared the woods into a dead silence.

Slowly the frogs and crickets started back up. There were no footsteps, and no movement save a squirrel rustling long dead leaves as he hopped off in the distance. I sat down with my back against a tree that faced the road. I looked out in all directions and tried to find the best escape route if it became necessary. I looked for Raymond. He had run in the same direction, but he'd stopped by the time I stopped to listen. Then I realized I could hear him crying somewhere close. I stood up, still checking for anyone approaching. I took one precise, slow step at a time. Raymond was on his face with his hands over his head, naked but for a T-shirt that was now stretched down off both of his shoulders, and his shoes.

"Don't. Don't. Don't kill me. Please don't kill me," he sobbed.

"It's me, Raymond. It's okay. He didn't follow us."

Raymond turned over and sat up holding his knees up to his chest looking around, shaking. Finally he looked up at me.

"Wipe your mouth. It's bleeding pretty good. He got you a good one all right."

I felt my face and the bruise on the side. There was a trickle of blood at the corner that ran down to my chin. It hurt as soon as I touched it. The side of my head now ached.

"Thank you."

"Thank me. All I did was get my ass out a there."

"He was fucking me . I think he would have killed us. He got all crazy when he pulled up that ramp. Said to piss. We were just joking and then he was on top of me. I mean it was like he was smiling and kidding like a regular guy, and then he was ripping my clothes off, saying he couldn't wait to finish so he could get the 'little boy,' he said, and was taking out his cock. He woulda raped me for sure. Like it happened before. I've seen that look. That animal craziness comes to 'em. He wanted you most of all."

Raymond drew a deep shuddering breath.

"You get your stuff? I lost everything. My money was in my bag. He got it all."

"I got mine. I got money. Here. I have a pair of sweat pants. They'll be way short, but you're skinny as me in the waist. Cover yourself up will you?"

I held my bag out digging through it and tossing him my gray sweat pants.

"Turning you on there, Billie boy?" he joked through his tears.

"Yeah, Raymond. Something like that. You need help?"

"I can't get up. I don't know if I'm just scared or I hurt myself. I can't get up."

"Take my hand. You'll be okay. You were running like a thoroughbred champion when I got out of the car."

I pulled Raymond to his feet and he stood on his own and against my arm. He grabbed me and held me, and then, with a gulp, he sobbed and sobbed and sobbed. I wanted to move away from the front of the woods, but he just lost it big time. After awhile he leaned on me and put on my sweat pants and an old shirt that only came down to six inches above his belly button. He looked like he had gone through a quick wash and dry and everything had shrunk up on him. It was kind of funny, but I couldn't laugh or appreciate the humor much at the time.

We walked deeper into the woods. He still held onto one of my arms and walked like he might fall into some chasm he imagined was in the dark.

"Let's sit for awhile," he finally said, after we walked maybe half a mile into the woods.

"Sure. This should be safe."

We sank to the ground at the base of a big tree. "We should stay here tonight. We can't risk being on that road at dark. He's still there. I know he's still there. He'll look for us to get back out there. We are in the boonies. No traffic at night. He'll have a free shot at us if we go out there."

"No! No!!" Raymond agreed with mounting panic in his voice. "I don't want to go to the highway. I need to rest. Will you hold me, please, Billie Joe. I need you to hold me."

We leaned against the tree and I held him as he put his face next to my chest and cried. He shook for a long time and went to sleep. I sat listening to the sounds, waiting for a foot to crunch a leaf. I didn't dare sleep. Terror rested in the pit of my stomach, waiting to take me again. My body was as tight as a guitar string. Every sound was a threat .

The dark closed in and took over everything. My eyes betrayed me. The night won a victory over vigilance, leaving us at the mercy of fate with no one awake to divert it.

There were traces of light shining through the highest limbs when I felt my heart racing wildly inside my chest. The sudden reality told me I'd been asleep. I forced my eyes wide open looking for the terror to be upon me. Instead it was Raymond's nursing mouth. It took me all of a minute to realize he was giving me head. I wanted to smack him, make him stop, but there was something about what he did that assured me I was still alive and not being stalked by some predator with no name. I leaned my head back and let his mouth draw me farther and farther from last night.

My body belonged to him after a minute or two more of his devoted sucking attention. Each time I thought I was about to fill him up with my fear and longing, it suddenly stopped rising, and fell like a stone into some black hole. Struggling to climb up to know I lived and could reach heights I knew would set me free from the terror, I watched him move up, down, around, never letting up or fading in his ardor. His red hair teased my passion with a wanton lust that I didn't feel around Carl. My own hand went to work on him as a sticky puddle surrounded my fingers in only a minute. His mouth became more intense after he knew I was a part of his attempt to enslave me to his desire.

My hand filled with his bountiful reward as he squirmed and squeaked and moaned on me with his mouth. The sucking became furious and demanding. Through his actions, he commanded me to respond while he was still giving me the fruits of his labor to rub through my fingers and to taste and to smell and to rub on my face and lips and onto my neck, and then into his hair as he took me there without my having thought it was a place I could or would ever live to reach again. I held his face down until his lips touched my skin behind my thick cock hair. He took me there and I was alive and well and forcing him to endure my rage and lust as I rammed myself into his mouth, pressing his face into my groin, and wanting to force him to swallow every drop and then to wash me clean with his licking. My body stopped quivering and still he was stiff and ready for more if I was inclined to encourage my handful of his lust. I stood up, put myself away, and watched him look up at me like a puppy. The sweat pants were around his knees and he stood straight out when he rolled on his back looking up at me with his craziness back on his face.

"Nothing like being alive, Billie Joe! Nothing like sucking a dick when you're alive. Nothing like tasting that essence of your soul in my throat. You are talented and good at what you do. Thank You."

"Thank you? You fucking sucked me off while I was sleeping. Thank you?"

"For saving my life. I told you that you needed me, but it was always me that needed you. I know things. I knew you would keep me alive. It's the only thing I have to give you now. My talent."

"I kept me alive, Raymond. You were just in the way when I split, that's all. I didn't save you. You saved you."

"Right, Billie Joe. I saved myself with that guy strangling me and shoving his cock up my ass like I was a pound and a half of ground round he bought for the purpose. You saved yourself, and you saved me in the meantime. The only way I feel alive is having sex, so when I woke up, I wanted to feel alive. I didn't have to do much but unzip you. You were already ready for me. Waiting to ride my mouth."

"Did he hurt you bad."

"Some. I'm still bleeding, but it will heal. Did before."

"Let me see," I said.

Raymond rolled over on his face turning so his ass was facing me and got down on his elbows and poked his ass up at me. I spread his cheeks and told him it was pretty red and one little corner was still dribbling blood a little.

"I'll live to fuck again, Billie Joe."

"No doubt. Let's get the hell out of here."

"You want to go to the road?"

"We'll stay in the woods. We'll walk back where we came from before we get on the road. He'll expect us to be south of the ramp where he raped you. He won't figure we'll go north. Since he was heading south he won't want to go any further north than necessary. I think he's gone, but I don't want to risk it by going right out there."

We tracked through the woods for a couple of hours. Always going north, with Raymond making enough noise to alert California we were coming. He dragged his feet through the leaves and held the waist of my sweats up because they kept sagging down around his red hairs. The string was gone, lost during a spin dry cycle back in Minnesota. We sat on the ridge next to the woods, and each time I saw a car that wasn't black with smoke windows, I raced down and shoved out my thumb. Each time it passed I climbed up to the tree line looking for the next one.

The car was new and shiny. The couple was old and gray. There was a back door, and they gushed over "two such attractive little boys" being out on the road. They wanted to know what happened to my face. I told them I had fallen in the dark. The old woman drove while the old man studied the red hairs that showed four inches below Raymond's belly button. Raymond was right. They all wanted it.

We let them think we were brothers because it was what they made up for us. We decided we'd keep their fiction for future rides. Something about brothers being together and fighting for one another if necessary. We talked it over and liked it. We rode deep into California before we stopped near Redding at the 76 Truck Stop late in the day. We were both starved and I spent too much money feeding us, but what good was money if I was dead. I started to think about going home for the first time. It just came to me as an option I hadn't had the day before. The day before I was king of the road. Today I was scared shitless.

I called my brother. He must have been sitting on the phone. Half way through the first ring he was yelling at me already. Why didn't I call last night? Where had I been? Where was I? What was going on? I said I was fine and hung up. So much for going home.

Raymond and I walked out toward the woods to sleep that night, and passed behind some "bed buggers." They started talking to us. They were furniture haulers from the east coast waiting to get out of California. One was named Ingmar. When I told him I was from Minnesota we were suddenly old friends, and he told me about all his aunts and uncles and cousins from the old Country. Yahhh! They were all scattered across Minnesota now. Ingmar was a huge and friendly guy. He made us sit with him and his crew. It seemed better than being alone.

I hadn't drunk beer before, but it seemed like the proper time to add another law to the list of the ones I was smashing to bits in my wake. I drank two whole beers and felt like I had just conquered the world. Or the 76 Truck Stop, at least. In the back of Ingmar's truck I felt safe for the first time in 24 hours. Ingmar made us a place in a massive pile of blankets that they apparently used to protect the furniture they carried. Raymond and I crawled back toward the rear and he stripped naked, covering us with a blanket as he curled up next to me. He fell asleep two minutes after we lay down, with his arms around me and his best part at the ready and digging into my thigh.

My mind rode around propelled by beer foam. I thought of Minnesota. And you know who. I cried because I didn't think I could remember what he looked like. Then I thought of my parents and cried. Then I thought of John and how damn mad he was, and I went to sleep knowing that tomorrow I had to go outside the truck, outside the truck stop, and out to the highway. I shivered while having nightmares about Raymond screaming and dying in the front seat while I slept. I woke up with the driver on top of me and strangling me and ripping my clothes off. I shook and cried and held onto Raymond, who only woke up a little to ask what was wrong. He was sleeping again before I answered or could calm back down.

I sat with my eyes wide open. The affects of the beer and the foam were gone. I lay awake for what seemed like hours, listening to huge trucks moving around the lot. The engines rumbled endlessly, and the activity never stopped. It somehow became a comfort after a time, feeling the vibrations of the giant beasts as they roamed the lot searching for the terror. I took off my clothes and pulled Raymond's body next to mine and assumed the position I loved so much. I buried myself in his breach and held his soul in my hand. His skin was cool and refreshing and I immediately found comfort and pushed out the demon terror, having found a quiet way to rest as close to him as I could get. Drifting away from the viciousness of my world was my reward for realizing I needed Raymond's body as much as he needed mine. We had become brothers out of necessity.

I truly never knew fear before the sedan with dark windows stoopped for us.

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