I got rousted out myself not long after dawn the next morning. I was pretty sore and afraid I wouldn't be able to walk a straight line and would be wearing a sloppy grin all day, but I needed to get the lay of the place before Jason Jenks, the novelist I was supposed to keep alive, arrived. And I also needed to get my expected routine down, now that I had been vetted by ranch management. I'd been ridden hard the previous night as part of an indoctrination into my "expected" routine--but it was no more than I was expecting. I wasn't all that sure just how much the ranch management had been told about who I really was and why I was here, because if they were letting up on me, I'd hate to know how they initiated a guy coming in to work the line for them for real.

Right off the bat in the morning I learned what the costume was going to be for the guys working the line. When I woke, my new uniform was laying at the end of my bunk. There was a jock strap, a pair of tight, worn low-rise jeans with a zipper up the back, buttons at the crotch, and a tube of lube and a string of condoms in the pockets, a pair of leather chaps, workman-looking cowboy boots, a red bandana scarf, leather wrist bands, and a cowboy hat. And that was all. I thought back to what little the guys were wearing who came out to help scrape what was left of Jesse off the floor of Giacomo Arcardi's limousine the previous evening when we'd arrived. It had essentially been the same thing--except for the guy they called "Doc," who was older and was wearing a checked brushed-cotton shirt as well--and I could see that this was how it was going to be for the guys hired here as wranglers.

That's pretty much how the head guy at the ranch, "Side" Slade, had laid it on the line for me when Butch took me in to see him soon after we'd arrived and Jesse had been carted off on a stretcher.

His office was empty when I was taken there and told to keep standing and waiting for Side to arrive.

"Side?" I asked.

"It's short for his nickname," Butch said gruffly. "Sidewinder. That's what we call him. I don't rightly remember his real name." Then he laughed. "A sidewinder's a snake, and Side can be a real snake, but I reckon he got the name because he's got a real snake. And he's got a fetish too. You stay around long enough and he takes a fancy to you and you'll probably find that out. But no need for you to know more than that now. We don't do a lot of gossiping here. It's part of the service. Privacy, silence, obedience, and no talk back. That's what we want from the 'T' wranglers."

"The 'T' wranglers?" I couldn't resist asking. I remembered hearing him refer to me that way back at the airport--but there'd been too much going on then for me to ask about it.

"The takers. Bottoms. That's what you're booked in as. Any problems with that?"

"No," I said, giving him a steady look.

"There are the 'G' wranglers--the givers--the tops," he added. "We don't tell the clients at this ranch which ones they want. They self-select. They pay through the nose to get what they want at this ranch and we give it to them. Now that's enough tellin' for you now. You stand right here. Side'll be in in a few minutes. He's doin' the greetin' thing with the guests who came in. He'll tell you some of what there is to do, and when he's done with you, I want you to use those stairs you saw in the hall as we came in and go down them. I'll be down there, and I'll tell you how's it gonna be in the peckin' order around here and git you all squared away."

While I waited, I looked around the room. It was large, maybe twenty by twenty feet and all decked out in Western-style junk that I was to find set the motif of the dude ranch. This was what one who went to the movies in the sixties would expect a rich cattle rancher's house to be decorated with. But it went beyond the pale; it was almost Disneyesque. My parents, who lived at a ranch and were actually in movies like that in the eighties, as the genre was winding down, didn't decorate like this. There was a buffalo head and a buffalo skin on the wall and Navajo blankets all over the pine floors and pine walls. Crossed Indian spears, with feathers hanging off of them, and Winchester rifles also decorated the walls, and there even was a fancy saw horse covered in horse hide with an elaborate leather saddle on it. The overstuffed sofas and chairs were covered in cracked blood-red leather and the desk in the center of the room was big and heavy in some sort of dark wood. The ceiling was almost two stories up, and two wagon wheel chandeliers flanked one made out of the horns of antelope.

"So you're Folsom," a booming voice sounded behind me. I turned in surprise, expecting a mountain of Wild West bluster and splendor, but finding a man in his late fifties who was thin and tall and range worn. In contrast to the office, this man looked authentic--not movies authentic, but actual rough-life cattle ranching authentic. What he was wearing screamed of dude ranch, though. White shirt with fancy black patches and sliver studs everywhere and tight black jeans descending into cowboy boots with so much silver roping and studding on them that they gleamed in the light from the wagon wheel chandeliers overhead.

"Sadie told me she was sending you. Recommended you highly and told me how she wanted you used. Very unusual. You fucking Sadie? You a favorite boy toy of hers? I want to know what I'm dealing with right off the top."

"No, sir. I don't even know who Sadie is. I was just working in Chicago and told I was being shifted out here."

"Strange very strange. She owns the place. Usually I go shopping and pick out my own wranglers. Sadie knows that. This is the first one she's sent. I didn't really know what to expect. Take off your shirt. Let's see what it is that Sadie would recommend."

I stripped off my blue dress shirt, holding it below my waist in back without taking my arms all the way out of the armholes, a pose I'd learned men liked during a slow strip. Then I stood there, in the center of the room, under the antelope chandelier as Slade moved around me, assessing and hemming and hawing. I tried to look fetchingly demure, eyes down and a half smile on my face and a lock of hair hanging down across my eyes--a pose in "oh gosh" innocence I'd learned from watching my daddy on the screen. Slade put his hands in play, running them over my muscles and torso. He prodded and made a fist and pounded my pecs, none too lightly, to check out my musculature.

"Ummm. Not too bad. Sadie knows her flesh. And a well-studied stance. Some clients will harden up on that alone. You been told what we do here at this ranch, what you'll be doing here?"

"More or less," I answered.

He was standing up real close to me. He cupped my chin and pulled my face up so that he was looking down into my eyes. His were black and beady, and I could clearly see the resemblance to a snake. He was smiling, but even that had a cold, cruel, snakelike edge to it. He had the palm of his other hand on my belly. And he held my chin and my eyes, gauging my reaction as his hand moved down over my belt and tightened over my dick through the material of my trousers. I did what I could not to flinch or lose eye contact or put anything into my expression that would indicate either anger or reluctance.

"You sure you're a taker?" he asked. "You feel like a giver. I was told you were a taker."

"I can do either," I answered in a steady voice. "I prefer to bottom, though."

"We call that a 'T' wrangler here. Did you know that?"

"I was told that much, yes," I answered. "Not much more." I took the "no gossip" to heart. I didn't want to finger Butch for telling me anything at all. Butch looked very much like someone I didn't want to be on the bad side of--which meant Butch looked pretty damn good to me.

"The guys who dick we call 'G' wranglers. For 'giver.' You'll soon see the difference. The clients can see the difference. Strip all the way down for me, please. And if you think you can make it entertaining, do."

I slowly stripped down as he walked off and leaned his butt against the desk top, which was clear of everything but a blotter.

"Yeah, slow like that. The zipper slow. You'll see that you will have jeans with buttons. If the client wants, work those slow. And you'll have a jock, but if you know already the client wants a show, lose it beforehand. But I'm getting ahead of myself. Turn for me, please. You sure you're not fucking Sadie?"

"No, sir, I'm not."

"You're prime, though. How'd she know that, I wonder."

I was prepared for this. "I model. There's a portfolio. And I've got a DVD or two out--me with other guys. Maybe she's seen those. And . . . and . . . I have worked in the Crystal Lounge in Chicago."

"Ah, that must be it. She owns that too. Someone there must have told her you'd fit in here. If she's seen your photos, that probably would have told her a lot too. You look like that actor--a young Scott Sloan. Men like that as much as women do."

"Yeah, maybe that," I answered. "Maybe she's seen my photo portfolio."

"Doesn't say why she'd let you go from Chicago though. You must have been real popular there."

"Ummm, I think they might have been following my preferences. I've heard of this place. I wanted to try it out. Chicago was a bit . . ." I acted that I couldn't quite find the words.

"Refined? Tame?"

"Yeah, yeah, I guess that's it."

"Mean you like it rougher than you were getting in Chicago? More cowboy style?"

"Yeah, I guess something like that." This was all back story that had been carefully constructed. I was a little nonplused, though, as I didn't know if this guy knew more of why I was here than he was telling--which is what I would have assumed--that maybe he was afraid someone was listening to us and was just being careful.

And I was even more confused--and fighting hard not to show it--as I turned toward him and found that he'd dropped his jeans and was unbuttoning his shirt. And now I knew for sure where he'd gotten the snake and even the sidewinder nicknames. His cock was long, really long, and slender and it crooked slightly to the side right behind the bulb. The rest of him was rangy and hard muscle over a thin, angular body--a body I'd call wiry. And his muscles were so hard on his body and tight-fitting, that his veins ran just below the surface of skin, in a pattern that ran all over his body. I rather liked that, and I immediately began showing him my appreciation.

"You harden up that fast for all men?" he asked.

"The ones I like the looks of."

"Can you do it for the ones you don't like the looks of?"

"I've been able to do so thus far," I answered. "You know how it is at the Crystal Lounge, I assume," I said.

"Yes. And so you know how it is here, don't you? We can go more into it later, but this is no different from the Crystal Lounge--except a little more free style and a little rougher and the johns don't come and go as quickly as they do in downtown Chicago. They're here for pretty long stretches of time. If they take a shine to someone, they can work him for days. You work here, you do what you are told when you are told--for as long as you are told. And we get bigger spenders here than they do in Chicago--men who have the money to get all that they want."

"Yes, sir. I understand." The look he was giving me sort of told me that he did, in fact, know more of why I was here than he was letting on--and that he was signaling that I'd have to do it all if I was be successfully inserted into the life of the ranch to do what I needed to do.

"And you understand that, Sadie or no Sadie, I don't have anyone working here who I and Butch haven't vetted? And that vetting pretty much covers everything."

"Yes, sir, I understand that."

"So, come here and kneel in front of me--and show me that you want it."

I serviced his cock, which grew in length, but not much in thickness until I had him breathing heavy. Sucking wasn't my specialty, but I figured I'd make up some ground with him when we got to the main event. That was a specialty of mine.

"Are you good at riding? You're not just a pretty boy, are you?" I heard him almost growl in a low voice.

"I was raised on a ranch," I said. "I can ride a horse." This part was more-or-less true. My movie star parents had had a beach house at Malibu, but they also owned a ranch up in the canyons running off toward Las Vegas, and I had been stashed there much of the time during my childhood--which as I got older probably had much to do with what I'd become. My parents weren't around much. But a lot of their male colleagues and friends found their way out to the ranch. They liked the remoteness and not having a whole lot of people around knowing what they were up to--and a lot of time to take their pleasures slow. One of them once told me I was honey that could be smelled all the way from Hollywood and Vine.

"That's not the kind of riding I mean. See that saddle?"

"You want me to mount that saddle?" I asked. Was this his fetish? He liked to see naked men riding a saddled horse?

"No," he said with a throaty laugh. "I'll be doing the mounting. I want you to sling your belly over that saddle, and when I fuck you, I want you to show what you'll do for a client--that you'll be active in the fuck and not just lay there with your legs spread and thinking about what's on for supper."

He fucked me from behind as I bellied over the saddle on the fancy saw horse, and I fucked him back--tightening and releasing the muscles of my channel as he mined me deep with that long crooked snake of his and moving my pelvis with his thrusts, eventually letting him just stand there while I fucked myself on his tool. From his groans, I could tell he was enjoying it.

"On the desk now," he said in a choked voice. "On your side, stretched out at the edge."

Peculiar, I thought, but I readily did so. And then I found out what his fetish was--why he was called "Side." He stood there on the floor, one hand clutching one of my biceps and the other my leg just above the knee--after he'd worked his cock inside me--and he fucked me sideways, this time telling me to hold still and him doing all of the work--deep inside me at an angle that had me shooting off onto his blotter a long time before he was finished with me.

"Here's the deal. This is how it's gonna be," he said later when we were dressed again and he was sitting behind his desk and I was sitting in a straight chair on the other side of the desk and staring down at the globules of cum I'd splattered his blotter with.

"This is a high-class male-on-male brothel--just like the Crystal Lounge, except with a larger playground and longer playtime--and, as we said, rougher and with clients willing to pay for more than the usual. You get room and board and $2,000 a week and all of your tips. And, in exchange, you open your legs for whatever client--or senior ranch staffer--wants it. Anytime they want it; any way they want it--within reason, of course. We don't do any snuff stuff here, and, although we don't rough the clients up if they get violent, they have to pay through the nose if they get rough enough to damage the goods, and then they may not be invited back. We manage to keep most of them in line. There are limits; you can try to talk them down from the edges. But we do allow more rough than they do at the Crystal Lounge."

"I understand," I said. "I guess that's why I'm here."

"I hope you do understand. You'll be tested at the edges before we take you on fully."

"We do bareback here unless the client wants to use rubbers. You'll have a supply of those, if he does. You'll be tested every week. The clients have to be certified by approved doctors right before arriving here too--and they have to submit a blood sample for our checking upon arrival. If you won't do bareback, you say so, and you'll be on tomorrow's flight out of Denver."

"Didn't we just do that?" I asked. "Same rules as the Crystal Lounge. I have no problem. I like skin on skin--if it's safe, of course."

"Just making sure. And hygiene. That's very important here. You will take showers often--it will be hot and dusty on the ranch proper and you will look desirable at all times. And you will clean yourself out--good, with the douches we provide--a couple of times a day. And always before an encounter that you anticipate. And we have long-lasting lubes to apply after cleansing--so you can comfortably fuck on the fly, as demanded."

"Same at the Crystal Lounge."

"Sadie has specified that you are to be assigned to range excursions. That gives you the fullest range of movement here. You'll be taking clients on overnights up into the mountains or down toward one of the lakes. If they want to take you into town, though, that's not allowed--and we tell them that right off the top. Our services are for the ranch or on our outings only--if for no other reason than that we don't want to have too high a profile around here. You can only get so much from greasing the palms of the local law. You'll be expected to show the clients a good time. Occasionally we do hunts--with rifles. You know how to use a rifle?"

"Yes."

"The client's the boss here, though. He says for you to bend over, you bend over. Sometimes more than one client will be at you. You'll be expected to sort them out and satisfy them both. But if it really gets rowdy, you can call in Butch. He'll sort it out so that you do them both--and together, if that's what works. Do you understand?"

"Yes," I answered, looking directly into his eyes. I had few illusions about what was considered too far here if the client had the money. I'd seen what Giacomo Arcardi and his thugs had done to Little Sandy--Jesse--en route here from the Denver airport. And still Arcardi had been given a royal welcome. This wasn't that big of a worry for me, though. I was a trained cop. If my life were in danger, I wasn't defenseless. I'd just have to be careful to let a client think he was getting away with something he wasn't actually getting away with. And I fully understood that I was here not just protecting a witness from a brutal killer but also, now that Arcardi had chosen to show up, bringing that killer to justice if I could.

"Have you ever been doubled?"

"Not for a couple of days," I couldn't resist saying. "But, yes."

Slade was giving me a look now that was full of assessment.

"We have a special client coming in after the weekend. A novelist. You don't need to know his name, but I think he'll like you. He has some special needs. We don't do much assigning, but if Butch and Doc give the go ahead on you, I think we'll put you close to him."

"Whatever you say," I responded. I looked around for evidence that someone was listening to us. This had all of the markings of a setup on demand. Keeping close to Jason Jenks when he got here was just exactly what I'd want to be doing.

 

Habu

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