I saw that photograph. I saw it that first evening, when I went in to turn the bed down because Charlene was busy out in reception. I had already figured he had been doing my dad all these years, and it's something that had come between me and my dad. Not that Dad knew what I knew or at least strongly suspected. But our connection just couldn't be the same anymore because of it. But seeing that famous author guy, Kincaid, in that old photograph he'd put on his dresser that just set me off. I could have killed him then and there. Putting that photograph there was like he was flaunting it, flaunting his control and his power.
The photograph showed that big elk he'd bagged up in the mountains here. But that's not all it showed. In the photograph, he had his arm possessively around the waist of my grandfather, who had taken the famous author on that hunt when he was staying at our family's dude ranch, Wolf Creek. And it showed to anyone who might have half suspected it that the elk hadn't been the only animal Kincaid had bagged up in the mountains.
I tried to be angry at my dad for also putting up with Kincaid's attentions all of these years, but I knew he'd done it to keep the family business going. It's what paid for my college down in Boulder; it's what was setting me and the rest of the family up for our lives. And J. Harvey Kincaid, the famous author of those men's novels on male bonding and 'man against the elements,' was the main patron and pull for our celebrity dude ranch and had been for decades.
Dad had left me to manage the ranch for a couple of weeks this summer while I was home for college. He'd gone up to a rodeo in Laramie specifically so that he wouldn't be around to bail me out of tough decisions at the ranch. And Kincaid's showing up at the ranch was the toughest decision I was faced with.
He came three or four times a year. But he always came when my dad was going to be there and could take him up into the mountains, up near Medicine Bow National Forrest, to hunt elk or so they said. Kincaid had called ahead this summer and I told him on the phone that my dad would be gone then. But here he was anyway. And he wanted to go up into the mountains to hunt elk. And he was the patron of the family business.
So I took him on up. I couldn't be in two places at one time. So, I left Charlene in charge at the ranch and picked out the most steady of the ranch hands and paid them extra to do what they could to help her out and keep a protective eye on things while I was gone. And Kincaid and I saddled up two horses and headed up into the hills, toward the still-snowcapped reaches of Hahn's Peak.
I went with the intention of staying my distance, of being polite but standoffish. I didn't want Kincaid for a friend, and I was afraid that if I could get within striking distance, I'd kill the man for what he'd done to our family. Not just what he did to my grandfather and father but how dependent we'd become on his patronage. I couldn't see the point of his fame. I'd read the books and seen the movies done from them, and, yes, he was an engaging, persuasive writer. But that macho male friendship and combining strengths and resolves to take on all comers, whether the scenario was the American West or the battlefields of Iraq, got old pretty fast, I thought.
But the longer I was riding around with him up in those deserted hills of magnificent wild beauty, just the two us, with him weaving stories for me in a rich baritone voice that lulled and stroked me to the very quick, the more I could see how he worked on a person. He must have been over sixty by now, but he was still quite a man, the virile, solid, handsome man of power and decisiveness that he wrote about, and for which he had received international accolades for four decades.
The third day we had struck camp in a cottonwood grove next to a racing stream running down an isolated, sheltering ravine and then we'd ridden on up toward the snow line in search of elk.
We found a mud slide instead. Neither one of us got hurt and the horses weren't any worse the wear for the slide either. But we were filthy. With a hearty laugh, Kincaid challenged me to a horse race down to the crystal clear little lake the stream in our ravine fed into, and off he roared with another laugh.
It wasn't his horse, so he flew with reckless abandon and was already off his steed and in the lake before I got there. When I arrived I somewhat dumbly said I couldn't come right in because I hadn't brought a swim suit and wasn't wearing anything under my jeans for that matter, and he just rose out of the water and threw wide his arms and said there was no need for such modesty out here in the wilderness. He was buck naked and showed off exceptionally well for a man his age. He tossed out a 'Real men don't need swim suits' at me in that macho voice of his and, challenged to the quick, I stripped down and dove into the cold, clear water.
We paddled around a good ten or fifteen feet away from each other, cleaning the mud off ourselves, as he wove another one of his male bonding stories for me a story of young men starting off in life and those with experience of the world doing so much better than those of limited horizons and narrow views. He told of the story of a young architect, taken under the wing of an older, established one. And how their lives merged and how much their bonding developed the lives and works of both in enriching ways that could never have happened if they'd lived in isolation. I couldn't help but listen to his story in fascination. I aspired to being a writer I'd shyly told him that several summers ago and I could see parallels. And I fancied I was drawing those parallels on my own.
He suggested a race, a race across the lake. I didn't think that quite fair, an author in his sixties and a nineteen-year-old athlete who had been ranch handing for the last two months. But this was his hunting trip. He was calling the shots. So, I laughed and asked him what we were wagering on. He said if I won he'd both clean and cook the fish for dinner and if he won I'd have to give him a shoulder rub right there in the lake and listen to another story he was trying to work out before he wrote it. He said all of the riding had made his body sore.
He, of course, won. I surely didn't like either cleaning or cooking fish, but Kincaid had much more at stake than I did. Or did from his perspective, at least.
So, there I was, that ten or fifteen feet no longer between us. I was standing behind him in water up to our nipples and massaging his back and shoulder muscles deeply. The water was rippling around us and moving us in waves, moving his butt from time to time back against my groin. And I have to admit this was having its effect on me.
Meanwhile, he was unfolding his idea for a story. About a young man who wanted to write about life but who hadn't really experienced life deeply and fully enough for anyone to take notice of what he put in writing. But then he was taken under the wing of an older, more experienced, far more successful writer. The young man won a scholarship to study with the older man for a year, and the two went off to a tropical island country to work on developing the young man's writing in private, without distractions. But for months he could think of nothing to write. There was no experience to draw from, no passion from which to write. The tropical island went into chaos. A revolution was erupting around them, and they had to hide out in interior rooms of the house they had let. They went through travails of protecting each other from the threats around them, and they became closer and closer. And they bonded, becoming one. And the young man was writing now. Writing from a wellspring of experience and passion. And after the revolution, when they emerged from hiding, he wrote a Pulitzer-winning novel. A novel enriched by deep experience and passion.
Sometime during the weaving of this mesmerizing tale, the waves were no longer moving us together. Kincaid had his butt plastered into my groin now and had my now half-hard cock encased between his thighs. And I hadn't even noticed this was happening until he took one of my hands in his strong fingers and wrapped it around his very hard cock, his hand on top of mine.
He was murmuring to me in that sing song baritone voice of his, 'I know you want to be a writer, Jamie,' he was saying. 'But do you really think you have the experience and passion for it?'
'Yes, of course,' I quickly answered, trying to take my hand away from his cock, but being held there firmly in his grip. And then, with more thought. 'No . . . No. Probably not. I do find it hard to decide what to write about. And when I do, it often comes out so naive.'
'You know what all of the successful men writers have that you're lacking?' Kincaid whispered.
I remained silent, afraid of the answer. And my mind focused on my cock being held closely between Kincaid's thighs and my hand on his throbbing cock.
'Bonding,' he continued. 'That's the success of my writing, Jaime. I write of the most important things men bonding and taking on the elements together. I live on passion. I need passion for my writing. I can't imagine that you are different. And I'm eternally grateful for all of the inspiration I get from bonding. And I am a giver. I help those who feed my needs.'
He let that sink in, as his thighs began massaging my cock, making it harden out, and his own tool lengthening and thickening between my fingers.
I was confused. And frightened. And aroused. I remembered that I had come out here with some sort of resolve, but I couldn't quite focus on what I had resolved. His voice. His strong body. His very presence. His slow persistence. I was melting.
'Have you ever experienced someone's lips on your manhood, Jamie? Have you ever experienced the passion of that? I have, and it has inspired my writing.'
'Uhhh . . . yes,' I had to admit. 'Sure, there have been girls . . .'
'And no men, Jamie? No men? The level of passion and inspiration is entirely different, I assure you. No men?'
'No, of course . . . well, there was a fraternity party once last spring . . .'
'And the passion of it? The comparison of the girl and the boy?'
'Well, I was more than half drunk at the time. But as I recall . . .'
'Oh, no. You have to be fully there, Jamie. Fully there to make full use of the experience, of the inspiration. Here, let me show you.'
'I don't know . . .' But before I could go further, Kincaid had turned me around in the water, facing him. He had crouched down in the water and my legs were hooked on his shoulders as he pulled my torso into his face. He was supporting me with hands on the small of my back and my shoulders and the back of my head were floating in the salt water of the lake while he gave me a cock teasing and deep-throating blow job like I'd never experienced before, not that I'd experienced much of anything like that before at all, of course.
He was right. I had known nothing like the feel of his lips and warm, moist mouth on my cock. I'd had no experience until this moment worth inspiring writing anything worthwhile. I had no passion. This was more passion than I'd ever felt before. Who was I kidding? Kincaid was the real writer. You had to go through what Kincaid had gone through to be a real writer.
I howled with passion and experience as I shot off all over his face, globs of my passion peppering his face. He laughed and deep-throated me and cleaned me off. And then he was standing in shallower water and forcing my head down to his cock and I gathered a whole new experience and a whole new sense of passion. He was mine, centered on me. Giving himself to me. The famous novelist. The man who could be my mentor. Having passion for me. Moaning and sighing because of what I was doing. Stroking himself inside my mouth, ever deeper, ever more vigorously. Crying his own passion as he jacked off down my throat. Centering himself entirely on me. Giving me his all.
He was crouched in the water then, drawing me into his lap, whispering to me of male bonding of wanting to be my mentor, to help give me the experience and the passion I needed to become a first-class writer. He had his bulbous mushroom cap at my rim, and I was grunting and groaning, letting him know I didn't do this sort of thing, that I'd never done this before, that it hurt.
'Experience is pain,' he was whispering in that persuasive voice of his. 'Passion is pain. The only good writing comes from pain.' If I wanted him to be my mentor, we simply had to bond. We had to become as one, to move as one, to share experience and passion. Is that what I wanted?
'Yes, oh yes.'
Beyond pain was paradise. Passion and paradise and inspiration. Did I want that?
Did I want to seize it like a man or work slowly into it, taking the risk of being denied the prize by not seizing the moment, not taking the risk? Did I trust him, love him? Or did I want to second guess my actions every step of the way? Grasp the golden ring or take my lesser chances of relative safety and uncertainty?
'I want it all. Now,' I cried in my own world of ecstasy. Grab for that golden ring. Fame, fortune.
'More pain at first but then more pleasure, deeper passion, richer inspiration,' he was breathing in my ear.
'Richer inspiration,' I cried.
And his cock centered on my hole now, he thrust up violently, strongly as he forced my hips down hard. I screamed and writhed and cursed and cried. He started pumping immediately, fast and furiously. My cries of pain and frustration were turning to passion and new heights of ecstasy. He was laughing and yelling out his joy, his victory. The slushing of the lake water inside my passage was operating as a lubricant and increasing the wave sensation of the fuck. He was making animal sounds, groaning and grunting and moaning and speaking rapidly, telling me of the deepness of male bonding in this way, of his love and passion for me. Forever and ever, til the end of time, as if there was no tomorrow.
I arched my back to him and presented my face so that he could take my lips in his and tongue-fuck my mouth. I was lost in love for him. His now for whatever else he wanted to do as he flowed inside me in three great bursts of virility.
As we rode back up to the camp, he was telling me of plateaus in male bonding and that he couldn't be sure of my commitment without my showing complete trust in him, my willingness to follow his every lead as he worked on developing my writing. To show that I was willing to be dominated by his will, by his knowing what was best for me.
To prove myself fully his to form, I let him strip me and turn me on my belly on the leather seat of a saddle laid out between and in front of the cottonwood trees. Leather straps ending in metal stirrups were strung out on either side toward a cottonwood tree, and lengths of ropes were tied on each of the stirrups and then wound round a tree and tied at the other end around each of my wrists so that I was held there on the saddle, not going anywhere, denied the use of my hands. Open to him. All of my trust in him.
And then a towering, naked mentor crouched down behind and above me, his thighs encasing mine, and he thrust his cock into my puckered, tilted-up hole and rode me hard to a second ultimate bonding experience. Then he turned me on my back so that my hips were raised up onto the saddle. I particularly felt the bond of this third merging of our bodies, because I could see his eyes. I could see how much he loved me in his eyes. I could see the honesty of all that he wrote and believed about the ultimate goodness of male bonding.
That night I slept in his arms, on a blanket, under the stars, and he side-split me from behind once, twice, three times during that long darkness while I listened to the racing of the water in the stream and the wind whistling through the tops of the cottonwood, suddenly full of experience, inspiration, and passion I'd never even imagined before. His manhooded domination was complete. His cock a veritable battering ram, plowing me hard, caressing the inner walls of my passage, shooting off again and again, slathering me in buckets of his virile juices. J. Harvey Kincaid. My mentor. The man who would bring me to the age of mature, experienced, passion-filled writing. The secret of male bonding. Repeated, deep male bonding.
I woke to the sound of the gunshot in the darkness. The fire had gone out long ago. I was alone on the blanket. I stumbled around until I found him, lying beside the racing stream, a smile on his face. The mentor gone, the experience not to be undone. the passion in question. Inspiration surely there, but perhaps never dared to be inked on paper.
I don't know why but a deep suspicion, almost a realization, hit me at that very moment, as I looked down at Kincaid's face, smiling a very self-pleased smile in death. The relevance not very clear but also crystal clear. When my grandfather had died, everyone said it was an accident. In fact, they said it was a accident so often and so distinctly and so loudly that just the saying of it contained the seed of doubting it. He knew the Colorado mountains. He knew you didn't try to drive over Rabbit Ears pass in January in a snowstorm. He knew. But that's what he had tried. Right after one of his hunting trips with Kincaid.
I was careful in handing the shotgun. There were going to be suspicions enough in any event. Motive just below the surface, begging to be set free, hidden, but there in plain sight for any damn fool with half a brain to see.
When I had reached the ranch, the deflated body of Kincaid, devoid now of all of its mesmerizing presence and power its malicious soul slung unceremoniously over his horse, I heard immediately that my dad had returned from Laramie and also that the sheriff had been called up from Hayden. I didn't want to face my dad; I was much more willing to face the sheriff. So I hid until I saw the police cruiser nose through the log gate up the road. In the end, I was saved any suspicion. While the sheriff was driving down from Hayden, he'd gotten a call that Kincaid had left a suicide note at his home in Jackson. He had terminal cancer and considered a slow death unmanly.
That left my dad. I knew he'd ask what happened between me and Kincaid up in the mountains, and I was fully prepared to tell him that nothing had happened, that Kincaid had been withdrawn into himself the entire time and hardly spoke to me at all the whole three days. There was no one to dispute me, and I saw no reason to indulge Kincaid's last, intentional, I was sure, little victory over the Raven family.
Now there only remained the damning photograph. But I couldn't find it. When I went to Kincaid's room to search for and destroy it, all of his things had been cleared out already and sent down to Hayden with his body.