Goats and Bugs

by Nick Brady

Chapter 5

There was a pine forest all around the farm. The whole place had been forested when grandfather Earl cleared land for the farm. Several tall pines had been left to shade the house, and there was another thick grove on the south side of the pond. Willows had sprung out on the other side. Bobby parked the tractor next to the old pine trees. They were ancient and rose up almost out of sight.

"Can you climb a tree?" Bobby asked.

"One of those?" George asked, looking straight up. "I don't know. That's a long way up there."

"It is, but there's a lot of side branches. It's kind of like climbing a ladder. Come on." Bobby went to a tree in the center of the grove and began to shinny up, looking down at George with an encouraging wave. George took a deep breath and followed. He wasn't sure about this but trusted his friend. They made their way up the tree. It was easier than George expected but still, was a long climb and he had to stop several times to catch his breath.

When the tree trunk narrowed considerably, Bobby pointed above them. "There. See that?"

Looking up, George saw what looked like a platform. "Is this a tree house?"

"Come on up and see," Bobby climbed up the rest of the way and disappeared over the top of the platform. When George reached it, he saw that there were two by four boards affixed to the trunk and several side branches, with a platform of flat boards making a perch near the very top of the tree. He heaved himself up to find Bobby sitting in the center wearing a wide smile. "Check the view," he said, pointing all around.

George saw that the small limbs above the platform hand been trimmed away so as not to obscure the view. They could look out over the low side of the farm and past the forest to see the rolling Ouachita Mountains in the distance. Some of the hardwoods that grew beneath the tall canopy were beginning to turn shades of orange, red and yellow under the deep green of the pines. Below them, large birds soared on the air currents. They could see forever and it was beautiful. All George could say was, "Wow!"

"Pretty neat, huh?" Bobby said with pride. "I drug lumber out here with the tractor and built this a couple of summers ago. I don't think my father would approve of it but he doesn't know it's here. This is my secret place. Nobody else in the world has ever been up here but me, and now you."

George sat close to Bobby on the narrow platform which swayed gently in the wind. "This is so special! I can't believe you're sharing it with me."

Bobby did not look at him but said quietly, "You're special too. I wanted you to see it."

George was silent for several minutes then put his arm around Bobby's shoulder and held him to his side. "Thanks. I never had a friend like you."

Bobby did not reply but leaned into George as he held him. They sat like that for a long time. After some time Bobby turned his face to George and touched his forehead to George's cheek. "I' m glad you came out," He said softly.

George wanted nothing more but to tip Bobby's face up and kiss him, but did not want to break the spell. As impulsive as he was, George knew he should let Bobby set the pace for whatever was to happen between them. He sighed and said, "I'll be back for sure."

Bobby looked ahead and chuckled, "Yeah. We need to find you some nice bugs. You ready to get down from here?"

George left his arm around Bobby and said simply, "Not really."

Bobby sat for a minute without speaking, then brought his arm around George's waist so that they were holding each other side to side. "This is nice," he said very softly. There was no sound except for the wind blowing gently through the pines and the hoarse caw of distant crows. They sat like that for some time.

Finally, Bobby straightened up as if he had made a decision. "We need to get back so I can fix us dinner. We need to the get eggs and milk too. I don't want Ely to start looking for us." He rose up and eased himself over the edge of the platform and started making his way down to the ground. Reluctantly, George followed.

The descent and ride back to the house was done in silence. Something deep had passed between them and they were both trying to sort things out in their minds. George had a good idea where he wanted this to go and Bobby was grappling with feelings that were new to him. Neither was inclined to move too fast although for different reasons.

Bobby parked the tractor in the barn. As they walked up to the house, he asked George, "You like chicken and dumplings?"

"My mom never makes them but I had some in a restaurant once. I liked it."

Without replying Bobby went to work, taking a rooster out of the refrigerator and pulling things out of the cabinets. "Where's Ely?" George asked.

"I reckon he's taking a nap. He usually does on Sundays. Open these cans," he instructed, handing George a can of peas, another of corn and some cut green beans from a bowl in the fridge. The chicken went into a pot of water on the stove. He took a box of biscuit mix, added milk and shaped some fat balls of dough. After the chicken had cooked through he took it out to cool, then he added garlic salt, pepper, and basil to the pot of broth and stirred it in.

The chicken was boned, cut into bite-sized pieces and returned to the pot. The peas, beans, and corn were added and he waited until the mixture came to a boil again, then mixed several forks of four into a cup of milk and stirred that in to thicken the juice to a thin gravy The balls of biscuit dough were arranged on top and the pot covered with a lid. After a few minutes, he turned the flame down to a low simmer and sat down at the table. "It will be ready in a few minutes," he said. "If you want a salad you know where the stuff is."

George went about making the salad. "Should we wake up Ely?" he asked.

''He'll be along in a few minutes," Bobby smiled and lifted the lid to check on his dumplings nodding his approval. The fragrance filled the kitchen and seeped out through the rest of the little house. Within a few minutes, they heard a bedroom door open and Ely sauntered into the kitchen.

"Smells good in here. What's for supper?" Ely asked, his nose lifted and a satisfied look on his face.

"Wait and see," Bobby grinned. "Want to set the table?"

"I can do that," Ely agreed. He put three plates, a handful of silver, and a roll of paper towels on the table. Bobby put out three glasses of ice and the jug of tea on the table.

Bobby lifted the lid, poked a dumpling with a fork and announced, "It's ready. Help yourself."

George and Ely need no more encouragement and spooned out plates of Bobby's creation, sat down at the table and dove into their Sunday dinner.

"Oh! This good!" George exclaimed.

"Mighty fine, Bobby. I didn't know you could make chicken and dumplings," Ely agreed.

Bobby shrugged and smiled, filling his plate and joining them at the table.

"What did you boys do this afternoon?" Ely asked Bobby.

"I nailed up those loose boards on the shed then we rode the tractor down to the pond is all."

"Did you show George your tree house?"

Bobby looked surprised. "Uh...."

Ely looked up at him and winked but said no more.

They all had seconds and left very little in the pot.

Ely leaned back with a contented look on his face. "You never cease to amaze me, Bobby. That was fine. You're as good a cook as your mother. It must be genetic.

"Really?" Bobby was surprised. Ely almost never mentioned his late wife. "Thanks, Dad."

Ely nodded, smiled and said, Now you better get to the milking before those cows give up on you and go down to the pond."

"Yes, sir," Bobby replied, gave a nod to George and let Pepper lead them to the barn. George tossed down chicken feed and started gathering the eggs, while Bobby banged the bucket on the side of the barn and Pepper went down for the cows. They finished in record time, put the eggs and milk in the cooler then went to Bobby's bedroom.

Sitting side by side on the bed, Bobby looked at George. "How you doing?" he asked.

"I'm doing great," George replied. This has been the best weekend of my life. I mean it."

"It's been fun because you were here," Bobby agreed. "Even the chores have been fun."

"I'll come back if you'll let me."

"Any time. I wish you lived closer. I'll have to start doing all the chores myself when you go home."

George shrugged. "All I did was pick up eggs. You did everything else. I didn't help all that much."

Maybe not. But you made it more fun. It gets lonely out here by myself. Not that I don't love my father, but with you here, it's different."

"Do you think Ely likes me?"

"Yeah, I think he does. Not as much as I do." Bobby looked away. "Sorry, that sounds funny."

"Doesn't sound funny to me. I like you a whole lot. I think your the best friend I ever had," George said sincerely. "I'd be around you all the time if I could. Everything we did was fun for me. Especially when we went swimming, and you showed me your special place. That was amazing."

"And the massage," Bobby said softly.

"Especially the massage," George agreed. "I liked that a lot!"

"Maybe...." Bobby's voice trailed off.

"Maybe what?"

"I was just thinking that maybe I could give you a massage. I mean to be fair, you know?"

My skinnny body isn't as nice as yours," George said wistfully.

"I think its nice. I wouldn't mind, I mean, if you would like."

George smiled. "I'd like that very much."

"Get ready then," Bobby stood and stripped to his shorts.

A thrill of excitement flowed over George and he quickly complied. He stretched out on the bed face down and said, "Go ahead."

"I've never done this before," Bobby admitted.

"Just do what feels right. That's what I did. I never gave a massage before either."

"I guess there's a first time for everything. Here goes." Bobby put his hands on George's shoulders and rubbed the muscles in his neck and arms, down the center of his back and around his sides. "How's that?"

"That feels amazing," George purred. "Keep going."

"It's nice for me too," Bobby said and wrapped his strong hands around George's slender waist. When he came to his butt, he passed his hands over them gently then went to his upper thighs. The effect on George was electric.

"Umm, I like that," he whispered.

"Really?" Bobby hesitated then put the palms of his hand on George's ass and dug the heels of his hands into his ass cheeks. "Does that feel good?" George sighed in response.

Bobby wasn't sure where this was going, but he started working George's thighs and down his calves. It seemed like the thing to do. After a few minutes, he told George to turn over. George hesitated, reached down to adjust himself and rolled over on his back. His erection was pointed to one side and very noticeable.

Bobby took a good look and whispered, "I guess that happens when you get a massage." He leaned up to run his hands over George's chest and across his stomach. When he came to his waist, he paused to look at the long bulge in George's shorts. There was a small wet spot at the tip. Without thinking, he laid the palm of his hand over it and pressed down gently. George gasped and opened his eyes.

"Oh, sorry. I shouldn't have done that," Bobby apologized.

"No problem," George smiled. "I didn't mind at all."

Bobby nervously began to rub George's legs and down to his ankles. Then he took a foot in his hand and squeezed it and moved it up and down to stretch it. "How's that feel?"

"Wow. Even a foot massage. That feels great. You can do anything you like," George assured him with his eyes wide open. Do whatever you like."

Bobby kept his eyes glued to George's as he stroked back up his legs then touched his erection again. "I've never done anything like this before," he whispered. "have you?"

George thought briefly about his friend William. They had never given each other massages before, so he answered with a degree of honesty, "No. I've never done this before either, but I really like it. Do whatever you like," he repeated and laid his hand on Bobby's thigh, looking at the tip of Bobby's erection protruding from the top of his boxer briefs.

Bobby pressed his lips together with a determined look and laid his hand on George's cock. Squeezing it and rolling it back and forth under the palm of his hand. He moved his hand down and felt of George's balls, glancing at his face to gauge his reaction.

George's response was to take Bobby's cock in his hand and move it up and down inside his shorts. "Is that OK?"

Bobby took a breath, pursed his lips and blew it out slowly. "Yeah. That's OK."

George took the top of Bobby's underwear in his fingers and pushed them down to let his cock spring out. The white foreskin was retracted enough to reveal a dark pink head above a bush of orange hair. It was very beautiful. With his other hand, George pulled the top of his own briefs down to expose himself to Bobby's warm hand. Both boys held very still, not moving except to feel the other in his hand.

Bobby was confused. He was terribly excited and knew what he wanted to do but was unsure about doing it. George knew exactly what he wanted to do, and he did it. Raising his hips from the bed, he slid his shorts down over his feet and kicked them to the floor. "Go ahead," he prompted Bobby.

After a moment, both boys we naked. George took Bobby's arm and tugged at him. "Lie down on me," he whispered. Bobby hesitated, then put his knees on each side of George's hips with his hands next to his shoulders, hovering above him but barely touching. George held Bobby's shoulders and pulled him down until they were touching skin to skin from hips to shoulders. George wrapped his arms around Bobby's waist and held him tight. "Oh!" he gasped. "That feels wonderful."

Bobby let himself be drawn into George's embrace and let out his breath with a sigh. "Yeah," he whispered. "Yeah, that's nice." George rolled his hips from side to side feeling their erections move between them. This was something he had not done before. Holding Bobby's muscular body in his arms was a fantasy come true. He pressed his face into the crook of Bobby's neck and kissed it.

Bobby reacted by holding George closer and moving his neck more firmly into George's face. Then Bobby raised his head, looked George in the eye, hunched his hips into George and kissed him fully on the lips. There could be no doubt about George's reaction.

Bobby had decided what he wanted to do, and he thrust himself into George's groin while continuing to kiss him. After a minute of this, he froze, gasped and George felt the hot semen coat his hips. "Oh! Oh, George!" Bobby moaned. Seeming to come out of a trance, he moved back and looked startled. "I'm sorry! I shouldn't have done that. I'm sorry!"

George looked down at the sticky mess on his hips and stomach. "It's OK," he smiled. "That's not all yours. I liked that too."

Bobby looked down to see a white pool of sperm on George's hips, and another on his stomach. "Did you do it too?" he asked.

"Yeah. Pretty cool, huh?"

Relieved that George was not upset, Bobby sat up to look at the pair of erections and accompanying mess and chuckled. "That was pretty awesome. For sure I never did that before."

George put his hands on Bobby's muscular chest and smiled. "Neither did I, but I'd probably do it again. That was fun."

Bobby looked thoughtful. "It might happen. Think we should take a bath before we go to bed?"

"Might be a good idea. One at a time or together?"

Bobby smiled, "My father is still up so we better go one at a time. Let me go first." He pulled his soiled underwear on again, took a clean pair and disappeared into the bathroom. He returned quickly wearing the clean briefs and toweling his hair. "Your turn."

George jerked on his dirty shorts, grabbed the last clean pair of briefs from his pack and darted into the bathroom. He bathed quickly and returned to find Bobby in bed with the covers up to his waist.

"You ready to turn in?" George asked.

"Got to get up with the chickens."

"Right. Me too," George pulled back the covers to get in beside Bobby and noticed that the briefs had disappeared. "Where's your underwear?"

Bobby held them up in his hand. "Right here if I need them. Most times I sleep naked. Do what you like. It won't bother me." George put his briefs near his hand, slid in next to his red-headed friend and put his arms around him.

"I don't want to get messy again," Bobby said.

"Neither do I. I just want to snuggle with you."

"Oh. I guess that's OK." Bobby turned on his side facing George. They held each other in their arms, and soon both were fast asleep.

Bobby was up even earlier the next morning.

George opened his eyes, "Is it time to get up already?"

"School day," Bobby explained. "We got to get moving. You can go back to sleep if you'd rather."

"No, no. Those chickens will be looking for me." George dragged himself out of bed, pulled on his clothes and followed Bobby out the back door where Pepper was waiting to lead them to the barn.

The routine was familiar now. George did the eggs, Pepper fetched the cows and Bobby did the milking. By the time they were back in the house Ely was cooking breakfast. It was a good routine - predictable and productive.

"I suppose we will have to get along without you after this morning," Ely said. "You've earned your keep."

"It's been fun," George said sincerely. "I appreciate your letting me spend the weekend out here. I learned a lot."

"I told him he could come back again," Bobby said. "I can help him find some cool bugs for his 4-H project and he can help me with my chores."

"Well now, that'd be fair. You are welcome to come out any time, George. We enjoyed having you," Ely said. "Tell your mother we appreciate her letting you visit."

"Get your stuff," Bobby said, "We got to get out and catch the bus for school."

With no further ceremony, Ely walked out to the barn and Bobby and George hiked out to the road with Pepper leading the way. Before long the big yellow bus pulled into sight and they got in and rode to school, making several stops to pick up other kids. Bobby and George sat together but did not say much. George wondered what Bobby was thinking. Was he OK with all that had happened or was he having second thoughts? Bobby was very quiet, but then, Bobby was usually quiet.

For his part, Bobby was not the sort to stress over things. He had enjoyed George's visit. George was fun. Some of the things they had done surprised him, but he liked doing them. As long as George was OK with those things Bobby guessed that he was too. They might not be things that he Ely needed to know about, but he didn't feel guilty about them. They were just playing around and it didn't hurt anything.

Ely respected his privacy and wouldn't pry. He had other things to worry about. As long as Bobby did well in school, stayed out of trouble and got his chores done, Ely left him alone. Bobby loved his father and knew that Ely loved him. They just stayed out of each other's way and didn't make a big deal out of things.

As for George, Bobby wasn't sure how he felt about him. He liked him and hoped he could come out to the farm again soon. He was a friend and Bobby had very few friends. He liked the sex play too. Bobby had no fixed notions of how those things were supposed to work but he knew he enjoyed what they did together. Growing up on a farm, he understood the basics of reproduction, and also had observed that cows sometimes mounted other cows regardless of gender. Now that he and George had agreed that they were both cool with those things, he expected that they might do them again. That made him smile to himself.

The bus pulled up to the school and they got off and walked into the building. "See you in English," Bobby said and walked to his first class.

George watched as he walked away and shook his head. He wasn't exactly sure where Bobby was with what they had done but was hopeful that their friendship would continue. It seemed to be heading in a right direction.

They sat next to each other in English. Bobby handed a few sheets of paper to George. "I Printed off our biographies," he said. When Mrs. Wilson asked for them, they were ready. After class, they went through the food line and sat together while they ate their lunch.

"What did you do with your mounting board," Bobby asked."

"I put it in my locker. I can't wait to start my collection," George asked.

"Lots of insects at the farm," Bobby told him. "You need to come out again."

"I'm not sure my mother will let me come out every weekend, but I'd like to."

"See what you can find in town and we'll get you back out soon. You can do the eggs for me."

George smiled, "I can be your egg man."

Bobby nodded and wadded up his sandwich wrapper. "See you later."

George walked home from school with his rucksack and new mounting board. He was always home for several hours before Phyllis got off from work. His clothes were pretty grubby so he took a quick shower and changed his clothes. He laid out his net, killing jar and new mounting board. He wondered what kinds of insects he could find around the apartment. He poured some of the fingernail polish remover into the killing jar, picked up the net and went outside.

The area around their apartment was rather bare. Thee were some bushes next to the building and a few flower beds along the walkway, but not much else. He saw something fluttering around and snagged it with his net. He wasn't sure what it was, but he could figure that out later. He eased it into the killing jar, screwed down the lid and noted with satisfaction that it quit fluttering quickly.

He walked around to where the trash bin was and snared some big green flies which he added to the jar. Underneath one of the dumpsters, he scored a couple of beetles and a few cockroaches. In they went. He also found some slugs which he passed on. On the way back to the building he spotted a largish brown butterfly which he ran after and after several attempts managed to get into his net. It was a little ragged, but he was in no position to be picky. He figured that this was a pretty good start, so he went back to the apartment.

He sat down at the table and studied the contents of his jar. Everything looked dead except the cockroaches. They were on their backs but their legs were still wiggling. There had to be a reason why cockroaches had survived a billion years. He let them wiggle while he got out his Golden Guide to Insects.

The flies were Green Bottle flies, the small butterfly was some kind of Skipper, the large tattered guy was a Monarch butterfly, and the cockroach was, appropriately enough, an American cockroach. There were a lot of beetles that looked alike but he finally decided that these were Darkling beetles. OK. It was a start.

The cockroaches had stopped wiggling so he thought he would try mounting them. The pamphlet said to run a long pin through the thorax. Let's see, that was the middle part. He was supposed to have long skinny insect mounting pins but he didn't have those yet, so he got a packet of straight pins out of his mother's sewing box. They would have to do. He stuck a pin in each insect and pushed the pin into the center gap of the board. Using other pins, he pulled the wings of the Skipper and the Monarch out to look like they were flying and spread out the legs of the beetles and the cockroaches. There were a lot of pins on there but the idea was that after they dried, you could get rid of all the pins except the one in the middle and stick it in a box for display.

He finished all this before his mother got home. He was ready to show her his progress so she would see how serious he was about his new project. As a matter of fact, he was serious about it. This looked like it could be interesting, there was a lot to learn, and Bobby's farm would be a great place to hunt insects, among other things.

He sat and read through his insect book. There was some information on each kind and where to find them. He found himself absorbed with it. He was startled by the sound of his mother coming in the door.

"Hello, George – are you home?"

"In the kitchen! Come and see my insect collection," he shouted.

"What do you have here?" Phyllis looked at the mess on her kitchen table with mixed feelings.

"Here is the net I made and the killing jar. Bobby helped me make the mounting board. He made it really, and I glued on the cork. He can do anything. I went out around the apartment and caught these insects and mounted them, see? I need some real mounting pins but I borrowed some of your sewing pins. I hope that's OK. Bobby says they have lots more insects out at his farm so I need to go back out there as soon as I can." George gushed all this out in almost one breath.

"Oh really?" Phyllis crossed her arms. "I take it you had a good time at the farm."

"It was great, Mom! I gathered up all the eggs while Bobby milked the cows. They have six of them, cows I mean. He let me try to milk but I wasn't very good at it. Bobby is really cool and he father is nice too. Bobby does all the cooking, well, except for breakfast, and we went to church on Sunday at this little church. Bobby showed me how to fish and we caught a bunch and ate them for dinner!" George took a breath. "It was lots of fun, and Bobby is really cool. Uh, I guess I said that."

"Is that it?" Phyllis nodded. "Sounds like you were busy out there."

"We were. We did a lot of stuff," George decided not mention the swimming and the tree house. Certainly not the massages.

"I see. It was nice and quiet around here without you," she said. "I hope you're not too far behind on your school work."

"We did that Friday night first thing. Bobby has a computer and we wrote papers for English and had them ready for class today."

"Well, I suppose it all worked out then," Phyllis admitted. "I wanted to check on you but I didn't know how to call you."

"Aw, Mom. I was fine. We had a great time. I think Bobby is the nicest friend I ever had."

Phyllis smiled at that. "Do you need to shower now that you're home?"

"I showered when I came home, and changed my clothes. I took a bath every day at the farm. That sort of work can get you dirty, you know."

"You sound like a farmer," Phyllis shook her head.

"I wish I was," George said honestly.

"I'm sure you want to rest after all that work."

"Not really. I like to keep busy," George said. "Do you know how to play dominoes? I can show you how."

Bobby got on the school bus and took an empty seat. As soon as he got home, he went in, changed into his work clothes and went out to the barn. Pepper was there to greet him. He tossed out some chicken feed, gathered the eggs and put them in a basket, then went about his milking. It was a routine he had done twice a day since he was a young boy and it went quickly. He never minded his chores but for the first time, he was mildly discontent. He missed George. Not that George did that much of the work, but he brought an enthusiasm to everything he did that made it more fun for Bobby.

He took the eggs and milk into the house and put them in the cooler then sat down at the kitchen table. He knew he should start something for dinner. Looking out the back door, he could see that Ely was on the tractor. He had always been content living here with his dad. Why should he feel so glum this evening? He looked in the refrigerator to see what was there. There was a bowl of leftover spaghetti. If he made a salad to go with it, there might be enough. He put the spaghetti in the microwave and started chopping lettuce and tomato. When he heard Ely on the back steps, he punched in a setting to heat up the pasta, put a loaf of bread and some butter on the table and got out two plates.

Ely came in looking tired. "Hi, Dad. I'm using up leftovers tonight. I hope that's OK."

"Sure, that's fine," Ely said obligingly. You did a lot of cooking this weekend when your friend was here. You need a break. How was your day?"

"It was OK, I guess. What did you do today?"

"I spent most of the day in our vegetable garden. It's about played out, I'm afraid. The weather is turning cooler and I thought I might put in some winter squash and maybe some snap peas."

Bobby put the leftovers on the table without comment.

They sat down and Ely looked at the boy he knew so well. "Did you enjoy your friend George this weekend?"

Bobby nodded. "It was nice to have some company."

Ely dished himself half the spaghetti and buttered two slices of bread. You get lonely out here by yourself," he said quietly. "George is a nice boy. Maybe you can have him out here again sometime."

Bobby brightened a little. "We got the stuff for his insect collection finished. We have lots of bugs out here."

"You should ask him out again. You can go hunting for things and he can help with your chores. Would you like that?"

"He'd be out here all the time if we'd let him," Bobby said without looking up.

"Well now, that might be alright," Ely smiled. "Pass the salad?"

"Sure, Dad. Ranch dressing?" Bobby grinned.

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