Lester “Les” McCoy is a retired cowboy who now lives in the city, working days at the Ranch and Feed. He loves his country music. Not so his tenant, Damien Ridley, who lives downstairs in his duplex and works evenings at the gym.
”Metal boy,” as Les likes to call him, prefers to listen to all things rock and metal at decibels that make his ears bleed. Damien is attracted to Les, which he makes abundantly clear with those translucent gray eyes and his hot, kissable mouth. Problem is, although Les is in lust with Damien, he's an old prairie bachelor and sees his metal boy as too young for a roll in the hay. He'd rather be put out to pasture.
Enter a friend who's gay-bashed and a co-worker who kicks his head out of his ass, and Les reconsiders whether a heavy metal dude can help an old cowboy with the blues.
"He fell asleep again," Damien whispered when I returned an hour later. Kenny was stretched out on the couch, a blanket covering his slim, tragic figure.
We both stood by the couch and stared down at him. "I'm glad he had you to turn to. I mean that. You're a good friend." I leaned in to kiss Damien’s cheek.
Damien looked shocked. Touching the spot, he asked, "What was that for?"
"Because you are beyond awesome, despite your taste in music."
"You think I'm so awesome, why don't you cook me dinner? I haven't eaten since this morning and I've been running around trying to arrange things for Kenny."
"Maybe just this once. Leave him a note or something. Put it on the table so he won't freak out if no one's here when he wakes up."
"Good idea." That done, we both headed upstairs to my place.
"I have some leftover tuna casserole. That work?" I asked as I headed to the kitchen to get us some food. I was starving, too.
"Sounds perfect." He rubbed his hands together enthusiastically, a huge grin on his face.
"Good. Make us a salad. Stuff is in the fridge, bottom drawer."
Fifteen minutes later, we were enjoying our meal, and Damien regaled me with some anecdotes about the gym and some of the members' shenanigans.
"So,” he said, “I'm cleaning the showers in the men's locker room, right? And this guy comes up to me, naked, and strikes a pose, like I was supposed to be impressed with the goods. I ignored him, mainly because a pencil dick on top of two pebbles isn't my thing." I snorted.
"Anyway, he comes closer to me and tries again. Still nothing. Then, he reaches out like he wants to touch me and I turn around and spray him with the handheld showerhead. The water was really cold. He wasn't happy."
"Oh, that's evil. I kinda like it." I chuckled. "My turn.” I took another bite of the casserole and chewed for a bit.
“Okay, this customer comes in looking for a hat. Greenhorn, gettin' ready to go to some dude ranch out in Kansas. Thinks it's her God-given right to find the ugliest damn hat in the store, and call it cute. Well now, I look at her head, and I guess she's about a size seven. She don't believe me, though. And of course, she wants the hat with the leopard print design that's just too small.
“You should have seen her struggle with that thing, pullin' it this way 'n that. I tried to keep a straight face. Really I did, but I burst out laughing. She got mad and told me it was all my fault the hat didn’t fit, threw it down and stalked out the store. I apologized to the hat and put it back on display. People suck."
Damien was rolling by the time I was done. It was a pleasure to watch him laugh. He calmed down after a while and wiped away the tears on his cheeks.
"Oh man, I wish I could have seen that. Priceless!"
We were both finished with our meals by now. I got up to clear the table. "Let me help," he said.
"Sure." We got everything put away and the dishwasher stacked in record time.
"Beer?" I asked.
"Sure, thanks." I got two bottles of Budweiser from the fridge and led him out to the living room. The stereo was on from earlier, and soft music played in the background.