Sentinel Mountain

 

Chapter Forty-eight

Horses and Ponies

 

 

The two lovers stood, looking across the valley, Josh's arms wrapped around Alex, silent, entranced by the lush green vista before them. Alex turned slowly in Josh's arms, pulled his lips to his in a hot kiss. Josh opened his mouth to his lover's tongue and the taste of Alex filled his being. Their kiss became more and more passionate as their tongues did battle. Josh was hard, his iron cock gushing precum. Alex was as well. Josh realized afresh where they were and the danger they were in. He broke the kiss and said, “Barefoot Boy, it will take us half an hour or more to reach the House where your medicine is. I'm surprised you haven't reacted to our love-making.”

 

Alex looked at Josh as a spasm hit him. Josh's hard cock quickly went soft, but there was no throwing up on Alex's part and he was fully alert, looking into Josh's eyes as several other spasms shook his body. After a shiver, he said, “Babe, I hope nobody's looking,” and dropped his pants revealing cum-soaked underwear, “but you just sent me over the edge.” Josh pulled the front of Alex's trunks from his body in order to get them over his still hard cock and peeled them from his body.

 

As he pushed the trunks down, Josh saw that Alex had shot one hell of a load in them. His hard cock was cum slick and Josh took a risk and took it in his mouth, sucking the last cum from it and then licked it clean. Josh then helped Alex out of his cum-soaked trunks and Alex pulled his jeans over his round butt and soft cock. Then he said, “I think we've run enough risk.”

 

“But what a reward, at least for me!” He gave Josh a quick kiss and asked, “Want me to give you some relief?”

 

“Babe, I don't know.”

 

“Well, I don't think we have to worry about me getting an erection in the next five minutes. He moved behind Josh, dropped his pants, pulled his trunks down and started stroking his cock. Josh leaned against his lover and was soon groaning then shot again and again, anointing Sentinel Rock. Alex quickly moved around Josh and cleaned his cock as his lover had done his.

 

Josh drove down the mountain and when they reached Louise's place, she and Shane were sitting on the porch cuddling. As soon as Louise saw them she yelled, “Hey! Come join us.”

 

Josh stopped the Jeep and they walked to the porch. “I guess this means you two are more than friends?”

 

“I think that would be a safe assumption. You two been to Sentinel Rock?”

 

“Sure have,” Alex said, “man, what a view.”

 

“There's another one close by if you climb the fire tower.”

 

“Can I take a rain check? I think I have pushed my luck far enough today.”

 

“Any time. You can walk around the side of the house, but that's a pretty steep climb, too. If I'm not here, go on in. Like all the houses on the Mountain, my door is only locked at night if I am here, otherwise, we trust each other. You can go through the loft and save yourself the climb around the house.”

 

“Thanks,” Alex said.

 

They chatted with Louise and Shane for half an hour, then left the two on the porch and drove back to the House, stopping by the waterfall.

 

Monday morning, Alex, Josh, Nelson and Walt flew to Asheville to pick up Mr. VanWinkle. The weather was perfect for flying and Alex and Nelson got a thrill at being able to see the mountains since it had been night when they flew in from Atlanta. Mr. VanWinkle met them at the airport and they flew back to Sentinel Mountain. Josh picked up the black plastic box with Elijah's ashes and Alex drove him and Mr. VanWinkle to Sentinel Rock at eleven. Fortunately, the stiff breeze sweeping the Rock was blowing toward the valley when Josh opened the box, took out the bag of ashes and cast them from the edge. The breeze carried them in a great fan shape out and over the valley as the three men stood in silence. After several minutes, they went back to the Jeep without speaking.

 

Half-way down the mountain, Mr. VanWinkle said, “Josh, I sense you have decided to make Sentinel Mountain home.”

 

“I have. I guess I still have to prove I'm going to do something constructive with it and I think there's no doubt that will be the re-opening of Boys' Camp, which, by the way, will need to be renamed, I think, something honoring Elijah. If only we could get the state to move, we could have it open by the new year, but right now that's a big 'if.' Physically it is in good shape but, after all, it has been closed for years. There will have to be some renovations and updating, but I don't want to start until I have some idea what the state will require. Shane seems to be getting the runaround, so we're stuck.”

 

“Damn,” Mr. VanWinkle said, “I thought everything was all smooth in Raleigh. Let me make a couple phone calls when we get back to the House. By the way, I talked to June yesterday. I could not believe what he and Bull pulled off.”

 

“You know Bull?” Josh asked.

 

“Sure do. I have known him for about twenty years I guess. I had a slam-dunk civil case against a crook here in western North Carolina, but he and his money disappeared. Mentioned that at a family reunion and June said, 'What you need is Alessio Bull Marino, Tracer of Lost Persons.' He gave me phone number and said, 'Give Bull a call. Tell him I sent you.' I wasn't too happy about spending more money on skip tracers since I had a couple who'd failed already, but I gave Bull a call and he had him within a week. Son of a bitch was living in Asheville as a woman!”

 

When we got back to the House, Mr. VanWinkle went to Josh's office, closed the door and didn't emerge for half an hour. When he came out, Josh said, “Mr. VanWinkle, lunch is ready.” Josh had asked Shane to have lunch with him as he wanted him in on anything Mr. VanWinkle came up with. He had also asked Walt and Cam to join them since he had kept Walt too busy to do any grocery shopping. Given the number of people around the table, he had asked Janie to set the dining room table.

 

When they were seated, Janie and Alma put the food on the table and sat down also. Josh introduced everyone. When he finished, Alexander piped up with, “That's not Mr. VanWinkle!”

 

“That's not Mr. VanWinkle,” Joshua parrotted.

 

Susan was embarrassed. “Sharp fellows you have there, Susan. I'm not the Mr. VanWinkle you know, he's June. I'm Jordan.”

 

“You're Mr. Jordan?” Alexander asked.

 

“That's right. Mr. Jordan VanWinkle.”

 

“Ok,” Joshua said and dug into his lunch. “Uncle Alex, will horses be here after lunch?”

 

“After your nap, Joshua, you know it's after your nap.”

 

“Ok, short nap.”

 

“A long nap,” Alex grinned.

 

“Ok.”

 

A short while later, the two scampered down from their high chairs and Alexander said, “You need to put us down for our nap, mommy.” Susan excused herself and went with the boys upstairs.

 

“I can see where things are going to be lively on Sentinel Mountain for some years ahead,” Mr. VanWinkle said. “So, they are your grandsons, Alma?”

 

“They are.”

 

“Delightful and amazingly well-behaved for three-year-olds. Great vocabulary as well.”

 

“Thank you. You can credit their parents for that and they do have their three-year-old moments.”

 

“Their father not here?”

 

“Not yet. He's due this afternoon with the horses.”

 

“Yes, the boys seemed pretty excited about the horses. You going into the horse business, Josh?”

 

“I'm in the horse business. I guess you could call this the east coast branch,” he laughed. He then explained how he happened to get in the horse business. “At this point, Sentinel Mountain station will be Mustangs and ponies. The boys don't know it, but they were selected by two ponies well over a year ago, but when they moved to Oakland, the ponies stayed in Utah. They are also coming. Within the next six months, I will add Mangalarga Marchador. I am purchasing five mares and a stallion from my Portuguese teacher who is having to give them up because he is no longer able to care for them and I wanted to breed them anyway. Nelson is, according to his dad, one of the best riding teachers he has ever known. If he likes the Mountain and wants to stay, at least until he has to go away to finish college, he will be riding teacher for Boys' Camp. Mavis, a teacher from Boulder who teaches English as well as Western riding and was Alex's and my trick riding teacher, will also teach here part time. She will be coming soon to design the riding school. Winston, the twins' father and Alma's son, will teach the hands-on part of auto mechanics -- I guess, more accurately, internal combustion engine mechanics -- and operate a garage here on the mountain.”

 

“Why not teach all of it?”

 

Josh felt he had placed himself in a bind, but Alma came to the rescue. “Winston had a very high fever when he was less than a year old. It damaged part of his brain. Book learning is very difficult for him.”

 

“He is, however,” Josh said, “a genius in other ways, such as his ability to deal with engines, to negotiate and to ferret out stuff. He worked for Blankenship in purchasing for some months before Kelly and after when I hired him back before I asked him to come here. He saved the company hundreds of thousands with his negotiating skill and his ferreting out those taking kickbacks, over-bidding contracts, other shady tactics. He will also be an example for boys who have disabilities in some areas."

 

“Sounds indeed as though you have done a lot of serious thinking about Boys' Camp.”

 

“Very serious.”

 

“Well, we'll talk more after lunch.”

 

The rest of lunch was spent talking about other aspects of life on the Mountain, Alex's need to return to Boulder and other related subjects, but nothing truly serious. When they finished lunch, Mr. VanWinkle suggested he, Shane and Josh discuss Boys' Camp and the two went into Josh's office. When Josh asked Alex if he'd like to join them, he said he thought he best rest awhile and went into their bedroom.

 

“Josh, I am very excited at the prospects of having Boys' Camp alive again and I really like the idea of it being resurrected with a new name honoring Elijah. It's a fitting tribute to him. It was very close to Elijah's heart and it did an amazing job. Elijah was years ahead of his time in what boys growing into men need to know and do, in his ideas about education, in his belief in the importance of work and the humanities. Times have changed and the technology is vastly advanced over what he had to work with, but his thinking is as sound as ever. That having been said, an awful lot of the education establishment disagrees. While most lament the standardized test as a measure of success or failure, in practice, students and teachers stand or fall on standardized tests. That presents both a challenge and an opportunity. The challenge is to overcome the resistance of educational officials in Raleigh to your proposal for a charter school and the opportunity is one to show them there is a better way.”

 

“Seems to me the opportunity is non-existent until we accomplish the first.”

 

“True. That is why a group of inspectors who are in agreement with what I see as your goals will be here within the next few days to go over the facilities with a fine-toothed comb and make recommendations. We both know what is here is better than ninty-nine percent of the public schools, but with state inspectors being nit-picky, we can make sure there are no legitimate problems with the facilities. For example, children and teachers sometimes have an allergy to chalk dust, so white marker boards are now the thing. I haven't looked, but I suspect the classrooms now have green blackboards as I have heard them called.”

 

“They have, but Shane suggested we install the new electronic marker boards. Read a report about their positive impact on students in a poor South Carolina school.”

 

“Good. That's another thing. Back up anything out of the ordinary or not the latest educational fad with good solid research. Sounds as though you have a good man here in Shane.”

 

“Excellent.” Shane actually blushed.

 

“My second suggestion is to bring in an outsider who is capable of writing in bureaucratese, but who is knowledgeable and who supports your, and Shane's, educational philosophy and have him or her write your proposals. You will have the support of some very powerful political friends in Raleigh and Sylvan county, but bureaucrats can scuttle any project by delaying tactics and nit-picking.”

 

“Any suggestions? Blankenship has people who deal with government contracts all the time and have to deal with petty bureaucrats, but of course there is not a philosophy to peddle. Winston is a negotiator par excellence, but not able to understand or discuss educational theory. Shane knows exactly what we want to happen here.”

 

“And you have the facilities and financial backing for the project, that's your team. I know a woman who can put the proposal together and when it's ready, I'll arrange a sit-down with people who will have the power to approve it, but then is when you need someone ready to deal with the bureaucrats and their throwing around the little power they have.”

 

“When can I meet the woman?”

 

“You and Shane get what you want in as good shape as you can and give me a call. I'm sure she can come on short notice....”

 

“No! No! Don't hurt me!” A scream came from the bedroom. After the initial words, there was just one long wailing scream after another. It had to be loud because the three men heard it clearly in the office behind a closed door and Josh was sure Alex had closed the door when he went in to take a nap. He hoped he had not locked it. Josh shot out of his chair and rushed to the bedroom prepared to do what was required to reach Alex. The door was not locked and when he burst into the room, he saw Alex lying in the bed, bound by the sheet wrapped around his body. In his tossing and turning, he had managed to wrap himself like a mummy and, Josh supposed, thought he was being restrained.

 

Josh went to the bed, crawled on it and started unwinding it from around Alex who was still screaming at the top of his lungs. When Josh finally freed one arm, Alex swung at him and landed a very solid punch on the side of his face. Josh saw it coming and quickly turned his head or it would have landed in his eye. He realized he needed to free Alex and wake him, but Alex was now strong enough to do him damage, so he grabbed the edge of the sheet and simply unrolled Alex. When he was free, Alex stopped screaming and started whimpering, “Don't hurt me, don't hurt me.” Josh again climbed on the bed, hugged Alex to himself and started stroking his arm.

 

Suddenly two bundles of concern flung themselves on the bed and got on either side of Alex and wrapped their tiny arms around him, lay their heads against his back and patted his back saying, “S’all right, Uncle Alex. Bad dream. S’all right,” again and again.

 

Alex opened his eyes, saw Josh and kissed him then looked down and saw the tiny arms around him. Josh released him and he turned and pulled the twins to himself and kissed each on the head. “Thank you for waking me up.”

 

“You having a bad dream. S’all gone away?” Alexander asked. Alex nodded.

 

“Good!” Joshua proclaimed. “Now see the horses.”

 

“Are the horses here?” Josh asked.

 

“They here, they here,” the two said jumping up and down.

 

“Well, you two wait right outside the door and as soon as I get dressed, we'll go see them,” Alex said.

 

“Come on, Zander,” Joshua said. “Hurry, Uncle Alex.”

 

They went outside and as Alex dressed, he asked, “Was it as bad as I thought?”

 

“It was bad,” Josh said and kissed him. “I heard you screaming in the office.”

 

“I dreamed I was tied to the bed and one of the nurses was hitting my cock and balls with a cattle prod, grinning as he asked, 'Still queer, faggot?'”

 

“Bad, but when you woke up, you were not in really bad shape. I think you are making good progress.”

 

“A pair of boys didn't hurt,” he said. “I cannot imagine they did what they did when the horses were waiting.”

 

“Good genes, I guess, but they do seem to have good instincts. Let's go see the horses.”

 

Rob and Susan were waiting outside in the Jeep when we emerged. “I see you were found by the hoodlums,” Susan said.

 

“Watch what you are calling my rescuers,” Alex said as he climbed into the Jeep and reached down and picked up a boy and put him on his lap. “You'll hear the whole story later,” he added as Josh picked up the other boy.

 

“What did you do with Mr. VanWinkle?” Josh asked.

 

“Janie took a load in the SUV. He insisted he was staying until all was well and really wanted a look at the horses, so he went along. Everyone else is at the horse station waiting for you and the horses to arrive. The vans hadn't reached the valley when I left. Sally called and said they were fifteen or twenty minutes away and, of course, the road to the horse station from the entrance will mean slow moving.”

 

The horse station was on the opposite end of the valley from the cattle station, behind Boys' Camp and the residences in that area. There were no paved roads in the valley and the road to the horse station had been a mere trail until it had recently been made wider and graveled and had not settled, so Josh knew the vans would have to take it easy.

 

When they arrived, the entire population of the valley was perched on the new corral fence, waiting in eager expectation.The two boys were not about to let their uncles out of their sight, so they rode on Josh and Alex's shoulders until there were lifted off and perched on the fence. Mr. VanWinkle can over and asked Alex how he was doing and was assured he was fine.

 

Suddenly the car with Sally, Brenda and Winston rounded the corner and came to a halt in front of the stables. As soon as he had stopped, the door opened and Winston came running to the fence, grabbed the boys in a hug, then Susan. He kissed the boys and still holding them, embraced Susan and the two kissed, not a 'in the presence of Mom' kind of kiss, although Mom was present. Sally and Brenda were right behind him and Josh said, “Ok, folks, this is Winston, the father of Alexander and Joshua and not incidentally, Susan's husband. The two ladies are Sally, my partner in the horse business and her wife Brenda. I'll let all you Sentinel Mountain people introduce yourselves.”

 

As he was speaking, the first van came into view and the boys were giving Winston a hard time, bouncing in his arms. He finally sat them on the fence and said, “You better be still or you will fall off.” They stopped bouncing, but with difficulty.

 

The van pulled up to the stables and the drivers got out and stretched. Josh walked over to them, introduced himself and asked if they could begin unloading the horses. One of the drivers said their job was to deliver them and they were finished and ready for a hot shower and at least twelve hours in the bed. “As soon as we have the horses unloaded I am sure we can supply both and thanks for taking care of the horses. I'm afraid things would have been in bad shape had you guys not taken over.”

 

“You are right about that. Joel and I are real horse people and these are magnificent animals, including the ponies. Neither of us has ever dealt with Mustangs before and I feel honored the boss called on us to take over. I guess he learned his lesson about overbooking and hiring drivers who have no experience transporting animals.”

 

“Well, again, thank you and we'll get you to the House and a hot shower and bed soon. Lunch as well and you are welcome to stay on the Mountain as long as you like.”

 

“Thank you. The boss has given us until day after tomorrow before we have to head back to headquarters.”

 

Winston lowered the ramp and went into the van and came out with the stallion, a beautiful buckskin. As soon as he was down the ramp, Sally went in and brought out a bay mare. She needed a good currying and brushing, but so did the buckskin stallion. Brenda brought out a sable mare and Nelson went inside and came out with a buckskin. “Beautiful!” Alex exclaimed. The horses were put in stables with fresh water always available and a small feeding of grain. Alex and Josh brought out two more, both bays. As Sally passed Josh she said, “Josh, I thought I'd give up the black mare we captured last fall, but Brenda reminded me you have the twins which will be breeding mares in two, two and a half years. We have seen herds in Arizona and Montana with black mares and we plan to make captures in both. With Princess and the twins and semen from a black capture stallion, you will have a good start toward a black strain. With our black mare and semen from Prince, we'll also aim for an occasional black.”

 

“They are all beautiful,” Josh said as Brenda and Nelson entered the trailer. Brenda walked out another sable and Nelson came out leading two ponies which he put in the corral. The boys did not recognize them and looked disappointed. The driver pulled the van out of the way and parked it, making way for the second van from which five horses and three more ponies were led. When all the horses were in stalls, Janie and Sherry, Rob's wife, took the drivers to the house for showers and meals. Janie asked if it was all right to put them in rooms with twin beds and Josh told her she was in charge of the house. “Do what you think best.”

 

Nelson and Sally made one last trip into the van and brought out the last two ponies. The boys saw the black and Palomino at once and started calling to them. The ponies' ears pricked up and they whinnied. As soon as they were in the corral, they went to their boy and started nuzzling to be petted. Before anyone could stop them, the boys were off the fence and in the corral with the seven ponies. Everyone froze for a moment since they were in a corral with seven ponies, three of which were totally untrained. Alex and Nelson were over the fence in a flash and handed the boys over the corral fence to Susan and Winston, two very confused boys it was plain to see. No-one wanted them to become frightened of ponies and horses, but all were weak-kneed over the idea of them being in a corral with the unbroken ponies. Josh said, “Boys, the corral is for horses and big people. You must never go inside. We'll bring the ponies out.” He and Nelson brought the two ponies around to where the boys were sitting on the fence and put each boy on his pony. They promptly threw their arms around the ponies' necks and started petting them.

 

Sally and Brenda had bought saddles for the two and Nelson and Alex took them from Winston when he handed them from the van. They buckled them on and put a boy in the saddle and adjusted the stirrups. The ponies stood perfectly still and they didn't act up at all. Susan watched over them as they rode around the corral and back. They had no opportunity to ride since the family had moved to San Francisco and the ponies remained in Utah, nonetheless, they were riding well.

 

Josh, Alex, Nelson, Sally and Brenda all went to work currying and brushing the horses. As they finished with one, they turned it into the corral until it contained the buckskin stallion and twelve mares: three sorrels, one with coffee points, one with black and a blond sorrel; two sables, Sally said they were confirmed sables from their DNA; three paints, one black and white and two brown and white; three bays and a black. All were beautiful. The gathered Mountain population sat on the corral fence and just watched the animals.

 

When they finished with the horses, they went to the pony stables and started grooming them. “I guess you can’t count, Sally, I see seven ponies here. I thought we agreed on half a dozen.”

 

“Well, Stud, I figured even a gay man would realize it takes a stallion before a mare can drop a foal.”

 

“I’ll admit I guess I thought the six would include a stallion and I am embarrassed to say I didn’t notice one was a stallion.”

 

“The other Palomino is a stallion. I expect we’ll be exchanging sperm among you, Jack and myself. He had a black stallion and I have a paint.”

 

“Sounds like we’re in the pony business sure enough.”

 

“You’ll sell three ponies before you sell a horse and, by the way, Jack and I have discovered we need to check out the buyers. Too often a pony looks like a toy to a spoiled brat and cute to mommy, and something daddy wanted when he was a boy. Add a major temper tantrum from spoiled brat when told ‘No pony’ to that mixture and you have a recipe for disaster when spoiled brat gets a pony to shut up. Also make sure you don’t sell to a real sleazy ‘pony rides’ operator. They are also a disaster for the ponies. There are some good ones, but mostly those do not travel from small town to small town. Hell, Jack and I check out potential owners as if they were adopting one of our children. Horses? Just be sure people know keeping a horse is a costly proposition.”

 

“Thanks for the advise. Lesson I won’t have to learn the hard way.”

 

Reminders

Editors: Jesse and Scott

As always, I own the copyright, so no use beyond personal copy, without permission. If you are too young or whatever to read literature which may describe explicit sex, don't or take any consequences.

All persons and places are fictional and any similarity to persons or places living or dead is coincidental. Again, it’s fiction, folks.


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Sequoyah