Goats and Bugs

by Nick Brady

Chapter 4

The situation suddenly felt too intense for comfort, and they pulled away. Bobby swam to the other side of the pond to let the evidence of his excitement subside. Unsure of Bobby's reaction, George took advantage of the opportunity to get out of the water and dress. When Bobby returned, he put his clothes on quickly and checked the bag of catfish.

"We can have these for supper," He said and tossed them behind the seat of the tractor. George sat behind him, and they rode back to the house without much conversation.

"You know how to clean catfish?"Bobby asked.

George gave him a blank look. "Not a clue. The only fish I ever ate came in a plastic wrapper."

Bobby laughed and said. "I got this. Why don't you go in and wash the pond water off while I clean the fish? By the time I'm through, I'll be ready for a bath."

George went into the house, took a change of clean clothes to the bathroom and started the water in the tub. He had not intended to be so obvious about his feelings for Bobby. He was only now beginning to realize how deeply he was attracted to him. He admired Bobby and liked him as a friend. When Bobby seemed to return those feelings, George may have let himself go too far. Now he feared that Bobby was repulsed by him. He could only wonder how Bobby felt about him. How could he fix this? He bathed and dressed quickly to be finished before Bobby came into the house. He waited in the bedroom to give Bobby time to prepare the fish. After some time Bobby came in the room.

"Did you get the fish ready?" George asked in as casual a tone as he was able.

"Yep. Skinned, gutted, filleted and ready to fry. Let me get cleaned up and I'll start supper." Bobby stripped to his shorts, grabbed a clean pair and went in to draw his bath.

George felt a little better. Bobby was acting like Bobby. If he was upset or cool towards George, it wasn't obvious. In a few minutes, Bobby came back wearing clean underwear. His orange hair was curly and still wet. His skin white and glistening. All the feelings that George had for Bobby returned, but he vowed to be more discreet.

"We have some time before Ely will be back. Maybe I'll try and fix something nice tonight. Come on. You can help me."

George followed Bobby to the kitchen much relieved. "What can I do to help?"

"Let me think about this. I'll fry up the catfish of course. We have corn in the freezer, and I can make a pan of cornbread. You can chop up a salad and set the table so when my father gets here, we can have a nice dinner ready for him."

"That sounds great. I'm hungry."

Bobby went to work. He started a pot of water for the corn, mixed up the cornbread and lit the oven. By the time he poured the batter into a pan and shoved it in the oven, the water was boiling for the corn. With those cooking, he rolled the fish fillets in cornmeal seasoned with salt and red pepper and heated oil in a cast iron skillet. When the oil was hot, he slipped in the fish, flipped them after a few minutes, laid them out on paper towels and started another batch of fish. There would be more than enough for supper. By the time all the fish was fried, the corn was ready, and he checked on the cornbread. It was all coming together.

"Is the salad ready?" he asked George.

"Yes, sir. I chopped up lettuce and tomato, a cucumber and threw in some of that good cheese. That's all I could find in your refrigerator."

"You're doing fine," Bobby chuckled.

When the cornbread was ready, Bobby turned the oven down to the lowest setting, covered the platter of fish and the bowl of corn, set them in the oven and left the door ajar. "That'll keep everything warm for when Ely gets here."

George looked out the back door. "His pickup truck is here."

"He's putting something in the barn and will be here any minute. We'll surprise him with this fish fry.."

In a few minutes, Ely came in the kitchen door. "Hey, it smells good in here. What's for supper?"

"George caught us some catfish," Bobby said.

"You caught most of them, and cleaned them too," George corrected him.

"Get yourself washed up Dad, and we can eat an early supper."

"I'll be right with you, Bobby. I never had anything for lunch."

"Neither did we!" George said.

While Ely washed his hands, the boys laid dinner on the table. When they sat down, Ely looked at all the food and said, "We sometimes forget to offer thanks for our meal, and this is a dinner to be thankful for. Would you say the blessing, Bobby?"

Bobby held out his hands, and they made a small circle around the kitchen table. "Lord, thank you for this day. Thank you for family, for friends, and for the fish who volunteered to be our dinner. Amen"

"Now can we eat?" George asked.

"You bet," Bobby replied and served himself fried fish, an ear of corn, a slab of cornbread and a helping of George's salad. The food disappeared quickly, and soon they all leaned back with satisfaction.

.

"That was fine!" Ely said appreciatively.

"Must not have been too bad," Bobby smiled. "There are no leftovers."

"Let me help clean up," George volunteered. "You just sit still Ely,"

"If you insist," Ely grinned.

When the dishes were put away, they sat back down at the table and Ely brought out a set of dominoes. "It's still early," he said. "Do you know how to play Dominoes, George?"

"That's where you try to make multiples of five on the open tiles, right?" George asked.

"Right. I'll shuffle the tiles first," Ely said.

They played dominoes for some time with lots of cheerful banter. George turned out to be the better player and endured some friendly teasing. After an hour of this, Ely excused himself, and Bobby reminded George that he had chores to do. George followed Bobby to the barn and picked up the egg basket. "I can gather the eggs. You get to your milking," he said.

"You're handy to have around," Bobby smiled. "We may have to keep you out here."

"I wish," George said softly.

By the time the eggs were gathered and the cows milked, it was growing dark and they put their bounty in the cooler then went to Bobby's room.

Bobby leaned back and grinned. "You've really been helpful, you know? It's been great having you out here."

"Thanks. It's been fun."

"If it's fun that's because you don't have to do it every day. It can get old," Bobby pointed out.

"Maybe so, but it made me feel like I'm actually accomplishing something. You think your life is boring. I just go to school and come home to watch TV. That's boring."

"I dunno. Sometimes that would sound pretty good."

"You say that, but you love this farm. You're building something for your future. You'll be here forever."

Bobby smiled. "Nothing is forever, but you're probably right. I do like this place and want to keep it going. Right now it's all my dad and I can manage to keep things going. If something ever happened to Ely, I don't know what I would do."

"By that time you'll be married and have a house full of kids to help out," George suggested.

"I don't know. That's too far away," Bobby glanced away, then reminded George, "You're here this weekend so I can help you with your 4-H project. We better do that tomorrow afternoon before you go home."

"Right. We've been so busy I almost forgot why I came out here. Do you think we'll have time?"

"Oh sure. Did you bring that diagram of your mounting board?"

"Yes. It's rolled up with the gasket cork."

"I got everything else," Bobby assured him. "There's really nothing to it."

George sighed, "I think you can do anything."

Bobby just laughed. "I'm glad you think so." Then he yawned. "We might get ready for bed. It's not late, but we've had a busy day and those chickens get up early."

George nodded, "I'm tired too. We got a lot of exercise today."

"Welcome to life on the farm."

Bobby stripped to his undershorts and climbed into the bed. George watched him as he took off his own clothing. He thought Bobby was the most beautiful person he had ever seen and found it difficult not to stare. Bobby seemed to be unaware of this as George got in bed beside him. They lay quietly for a few minutes then George had to speak.

"I've had a great time with you this weekend," George said. "Especially when we went swimming in your pond. That's the first time I ever went skinny dipping."

"Yeah. That was fun. Ely doesn't like for me to swim by myself, but I do it anyway," Bobby admitted. "I always swim naked."

"It feels nice to be naked in the water, wrestling around and all. That was kind of exciting," George said hesitantly.

"Yeah. It was," Bobby quietly agreed. "I never did that before."

"You've never had anybody stay over with you before?"

"Nope. You're the first."

"It's nice of you to help me with my project. I guess that's why you invited me."

"That's one reason. That and I thought you would be fun."

"Because I'm goofy?"

"That's one of your best features," Bobby chuckled.

George hesitated then said softly, "This afternoon when we were swimming?"

"Yeah?"

"Well. I sort of put my hands on your chest to feel your muscles and I probably shouldn't have done that. I'm sorry if that offended you or anything."

"It kind of surprised me but I didn't mind. It was OK."

"Are you sure? You got out of the water pretty quick and I thought maybe you were mad."

"It didn't make me mad or anything. I thought it was kind of nice, really. It made me feel sort of confused, I guess."

"How's that?"

"Well," Bobby hesitated, "I guess I liked it more than I thought I would. I don't know. It's hard to explain. Nobody ever touched me like that before."

"I shouldn't have done it, but it's just that I'm kind of scrawny and you are so strong. I wish I had muscles like you do," George admitted. "I just wondered what they felt like."

"Yeah? You can feel my muscles if you want to. I don't care."

"Really? Maybe I could give you a massage. What would you think about that?"

"That might be nice. I never got a massage before."

"I could try that if you like. You want to turn over so I can rub your back?" George asked tentatively.

Bobby answered by rolling over on his stomach, put his arms up next to his head. George knelt at Bobby's side, put his hands on his shoulders and started to kneed the muscles in his neck and down his arms. He traced the muscles in his arms and then down his strong back. Bobby made a purring sound as George tried to do what he thought would feel nice. He hoped that Bobby wouldn't notice the bulge that was growing in his briefs. When he got down to the top of Bobby's gray boxer briefs he paused, then skipped over to his upper thighs and continued carefully down to his ankles. "How's that? George asked.

"Um-hmm," Bobby responded with a sigh.

"Um, would you like to turn over?" George asked.

Bobby hesitated, reach under himself to adjusted something then rolled over with his hands behind his head. It was hard to hide the effect that this was having on him.

George put his hands on that beautiful chest and traced his fingers gently over the nipples, across to feel the hair in Bobby's armpits, and rubbed his hands all over his chest and down his sides. The front of Bobby's shorts raised up from his hips enough to show his orange bush.

"Maybe you better quit," Bobby chuckled. "You're giving me a boner."

"I'm sorry."

"It's OK. It's just that I never had a massage before."

"I never gave one before," George admitted. "Maybe that's what happens when you get a massage."

"You don't care?" Bobby asked.

"I don't care if you don't. I think you're beautiful."

"Really?" Bobby looked leased. "I never had anybody tell me that before. Go on if you want to."

George passed over the front of the bulging briefs, letting his hand gently graze what was standing inside then put his hands around Bobby's muscular thighs, rolling them around under his hands as he worked his way down Bobby's legs. It was hard to take his eyes away from the long bulge. "You like that?"

"Yeah. That's nice," Bobby said with his eyes closed and put his hand on George's thigh. "I could get used to that."

"So could I," George sighed. "You have a beautiful body. It's very nice to touch."

"Maybe we can do this again sometime," Bobby smiled. "You ready to turn out the light?"

George switched off the table lamp and lay down next to Bobby. There was less space between them than the night before. Bobby reached down to pull the covers up over them and after a minute said softly, "That massage was really nice. Maybe I should give you one sometime."

"I'd like that. You can do anything to me you'd like." Then George turned on his side. He laid his head on Bobby's muscular shoulder, put his arm around Bobby's waist and sighed, "Anything you like."

The reluctance to touch was resolved when George gave Bobby a massage. Both boys now understood that there was a special bond between them, although they had not entirely acted on that attraction. They slept that night without a space between them. For now, the deepening friendship was intimacy enough.


Bobby slipped out of bed intending to let George sleep longer. "Hey," George murmured.

"You awake?" Bobby asked.

"Go to bed with the chickens – wake up with the chickens, I guess. "I'm ready to get up."

They dressed and were greeted at the back door by Pepper who never seemed to sleep. "You ready girl?" Bobby asked. "Go get 'em."

Pepper led the way to the barn and rushed out to bark at the sleepy cows. George tossed a scoop of chicken feed on the floor and gathered the eggs while Bobby got ready to milk. The now familiar ritual was completed in short order and the little parade returned to the house where they found Ely at the stove over a pan of frying bacon.

"You boys ready for breakfast?" Ely called to them. "How do you want your eggs?"

"Scrambled is the safest," Bobby suggested.

"OK. Scrambled all around," Ely transferred the bacon to a paper towel, broke eggs in the skillet and added chunks of yellow cheese. "I got some biscuits if they don't burn."

Bobby opened the stove to inspect the biscuits. "Looks good. They'll be ready in a minute, Dad."

They gathered around the table and made short work of Ely's cooking. George slathered a biscuit with butter and strawberry jam. "This is great! You guys eat good out here. Thanks!"

George and Bobby did the cleanup. "We are of the habit of church on Sunday morning, George. Where do you and your mother worship?" Ely asked.

George hesitated, "Er, we don't go to church much. Maybe on Christmas is about all."

"I see," Ely replied. "We go most every Sunday, and you are welcome to join us if you like."

"Sure. I'd like that," George said. "Church is cool."

"You better change your clothes," Ely told Bobby, and George followed him into his bedroom.

"I didn't bring anything for church," George said. "Don't worry. Nobody dresses up fat a country church. You can borrow something of mine. Your pants are OK." Bobby handed him a pullover sweater that was only a little short in the sleeves. "That'll work." That settled they went back to the kitchen to polish off the rest of the breakfast biscuits while Ely changed into clean jeans and a blue button-up shirt.

They rode to the Cedar Springs Methodist Church with George in the middle. They pulled up to park at a small white frame church with a steeple over the front porch. The people in attendance were mostly older people and a few younger couples with small children. There were very few teenagers. Ely spoke to some folks who obviously knew him, and he introduced them to George. They took their seats and waited quietly for the service to begin. A stout lady started to play on an old upright piano, They sang a few hymns, someone got up to read from the Bible, and the preacher preached. It made George sleepy.

After another hymn, they adjourned to a side room for coffee and cookies. Ely chatted while Bobby and George went outside to sit on an old church pew under the shade of a tall pine tree.

"That's about it," Bobby said. "What did you think?"

"Oh. It was nice," George said politely.

"Believe it or not, I enjoy this church. It's about the most exciting thing we do all week. No cows or chickens," Bobby laughed.

"Well, it was restful," George said, struggling to find something positive to say.

"My dad likes it. He and my mother were active here back - back when, I guess."

George nodded. Ely came out carrying a paper sack, they got in the pickup and drove back to the farm in silence.

Bobby made them some sandwiches, explaining that they would do better for supper. "You ready to make your mounting board?" he asked. George retrieved his roll of gasket cork and followed Bobby out to the barn.

Bobby found a stack of cedar shingles and laid them on the work bench. "Let's see that diagram," he said. "Hmm. This won't take long." He cut two of the shingles into long pieces, fashioned a frame to hold them at an angle with a gap in the middle. "Let me see that cork." He cut the gasket cork into two sections to fit on top of the boards and found a can of contact cement. "Here. Glue your cork on there," he instructed. "That way you can say you made it yourself."

"Like I caught the fish, right?"

"Something like that," Bobby grinned.

When they finished, George held it up to look it over. "What do you think?" Bobby asked.

"You're a genius," George assured him.

"Tell me that after you try it out." Bobby grinned. "Now do you have everything you need?"

"Everything except bugs. I'll start my collection when I get home, but you have more insects out here than I do in town."

"Maybe you'll have to come back out to find what's here."

"Hunting bugs would be a good reason to come back."

"Any excuse is better than none," Bobby smiled. "You can be my egg man."

"Would it be OK with Ely?"

"I think so. He told me when we got back from church that he thought you were a nice boy. That's high praise coming from him."

"I could move out here," George said impulsively.

"That might be too much of a good thing. You'd get bored with it pretty soon."

"Maybe," George smiled. "I can't believe you did the board so fast. What are we going to do now?"

"I don't know. I need to check to see what Dad has for me."

Bobby put the tools away, swept the sawdust from the work bench and whistled to Pepper. "Let's go."

Ely was sitting in a comfortable chair in their sitting room reading the Sunday newspaper he picked up when they were in town. "Did you get your project finished?"

"Yep. What can we do for you this afternoon?" Bobby asked.

Ely looked over the top of his newspaper. "I think there's some loose boards on the back side of the shed. You might look at those if you want. Other than that, you can do what you like. Sunday is supposed to be a day of rest, at least for everybody except farmers."

"Sure Dad. And I'll try to fix something decent for supper, OK?"

"Sounds good," Ely replied and went back to his paper.

They went out to the barn where Bobby checked the little shed. Hammer and nails were in the bag behind the tractor. Using those he nailed up a few loose boards and declared it good.

"I can show you something neat," he told George.

"Let's go," George replied and they got on the tractor to head down to the pond.

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