Sleeping Under the Stars – Some Memories of My Dad
I live in the south, just about an hour north of the Gulf of Mexico. Warm weather predominates our climate. We’ve had a cold winter, but I’m anticipating spring. I love to be outside – on the beach, in the Hill country or the Piney woods of East Texas. Several times I’ve gone on the Sable version of a walkabout. I tend to get fed up with situations and just walk off – literally. I know its sorta foolish for a woman to go gallivanting on foot alone – but I’ve done it. I’ve spent days just walking, camping out under the stars, not really having a destination in mind. The only explanation I have is that I felt like I could escape my problems if I put time and distance between me and them. Why not drive? I don’t know – walking is just more therapeutic sometimes.
I have experience sleeping out under the stars. When I was young, prepubescent, my real dad would take us to the beach near Galveston Island – Crystal Beach or Gilchrist usually, and we would camp out right by the wave line. The only problem was, we didn’t have a tent. He thought sleeping on the ground in backpacks or in the truck seat or the back of the truck was sufficient. I guess you could say he was a minimalist. Back then, I just thought it was great fun. It’s odd how you’ll accept things like that as a child. And boy did we have some adventures.
There’s really nothing like sleeping right on the beach. The ebb and flow of the tide can still lull me to sleep like nothing else can. The only problem I can remember is my mattress. I didn’t have one. Dad always put me in the back of the truck with my thin Hello Kitty sleeping bag. He thought nothing of it – but the bed of his truck was ridged. It was like sleeping on a rock hard ruffles potato chip. I’d wake up with red stripes on my body from the pressure points. Many nights I would gravitate to the hood of the truck and just drape myself over it like a cat on a rock.
But one of the most memorable camping trips was the night I heard the scream. Yea, it still sends chills down my back. We had come north from New Orleans and was staying near my mom’s family in East Texas. We still have a lake house and a deer camp there, and truthfully, I spend a lot of time in the piney woods. It’s a spot that appeals to me because I’m near the border with Louisiana and can venture between my two favorite states easily. North of the deer camp is a wilderness area that is rich in history. The King’s Highway, the El Camno Real, runs through it. And if you could see the footprints of the ages there would be conquistadors, pioneers, friars and soldiers – all marching into this territory that witnessed so much in our country’s past. There is one small waterway that meanders through the land called Paulo Gaucho Creek. Obviously, this is a Spanish word, but my Dad and so many other country people of the area roughed the pronunciation down to something like “Polly Gotch”. I was grown before I realized how badly we were misspeaking the words. I’d never really seen them written.
Anyway, we camped out at Polly Gotch. Not much fancier equipment, I think this time I actually lay on the ground. Nothing really bothers me but snakes, I have little fear of wild animals. During my youth, I had a pet wolf, a coyote, a wild boar, multiple deer, a possum and an armadillo. Ellie Mae Clampett had nothing on me. But that night, I learned to experience a bit of fear. The allure of Polly Gotch was the crystal clear water, the moss covered banks, the dense canopy of trees and the plentiful perch and catfish that populated its waters. We fished and waded and cooked over a campfire. All of this was prior to Jess’s birth and my Dad’s early demise – good times. I was the only child, the center of attention and I ran wild like Huck Finn. But when night fell…things started happening.
I can still remember it like it was yesterday. One minute we were sitting around the fire, laughing and talking and the next – the most horrendous, blood-curdling scream you could ever image rent the air. I must have jumped four feet straight up. I grabbed my heart, looked at my dad – who was rather wild-eyed himself. He was a New Orleans native, not reared in the woods like my Mom. So, we both turned to her. Was this a banshee? A Jurassic creature of unknown species? An escaped mental patient? It had sounded like a woman. A woman in deep distress carrying razor sharp knives. She looked at us calmly and said one word – “panther”.
Now, the authorities will tell you that there is no such thing as a black panther in North America. They say East Texas has samller bobcats, maybe a jacarundi or two – but my family and many others steadfastly insist that we have bigger cats and some of them are as black as coal. We saw one cross the highway once near San Augustine, TX and my mom’s folks have had more than one sighting. But this wasn’t a sighting, this was a CLOSE ENCOUNTER. We sat there frozen for a few seconds and the dang thing screamed again and I couldn’t be still. I jumped up and headed for the car and my dad started gathering up pots and pans and sleeping bags – and my mother – the nut, she went to the cooler and took out a slab of uncooked steak about the size of a big man’s hand and slung it out toward the darkness.
“What the hell did you do that for?” My dad asked.
“Giving him something to chew on besides us.” She shrugged.
“You just sent him an engraved invitation to dinner.” My dad had a cautious streak that my mother did not have. Needless to say, we piled into the car and waited for dawn to break, sleeping sporadically. I rolled my window down a bit – and listened. That big cat came closer to camp. He stayed in the shadows, but we could clearly hear it breathing. I wasn’t really afraid, I was fascinated. What I wouldn’t have given for a pair of night-vision goggles to really see what was so close – and so scary.
Right now, we’re redoing I’ll See You In My Dreams for the sweeter version – and I thought of this scene. It’s from the erotic version and has a little sex and a little bit of the story above – which actually inspired me to write this. I wanted to share it
Here’s the link. Comment and I’ll pick two for this book – or your choice if you’ve read it.
Kneeling down he unfastened Rex’s halter. “Let’s go to the kitchen and I’ll get you a snack. This has been a rough day.” Carefully, he felt on the coffee table for the tray. He liked to leave the house fairly straight for Rachel. Picking it up, he moved through his familiar home with slow, even steps. He could hear Rex’s toenails clicking on the tile floor behind him.
With practiced moves, he counted the steps into his kitchen. Funny – he couldn’t be sure of what it really looked like. He had it redecorated along with everything else when Margaret had walked out of his life. Oh, he knew there was Mexican tile on the floor and the cabinets were made of oak – but the vision of the room he had in his mind might not be close to the reality. What difference did it make?
Lowering the tray to the counter, he felt around and cleared an area for it, scooting over what felt like a loaf of bread and a roll of paper towels. Next, he opened a drawer and located the can opener and moved over to the pantry and found what he hoped was a can of dog food. As long as Rachel put the items in their designated places, he was okay. “I hope this is your food and not a can of baked beans,” he teased the hungry animal. Finding Rex’s bowl with his foot, he picked it up and dumped the contents of the can in it. “Stinks about right.” Setting it down, he patted the big Lab. “You eat; I’m going to take a shower. You can join me in the bedroom when you’re through.”
Living in a world of perpetual night, he constantly relied on his other senses to make up the difference. Right now, he could feel the downward draft of the air-conditioner; he could smell fresh grapefruit on the counter. Their odor vied with the aroma of Rex’s pungent meal. Standing still, he listened for sounds beyond the kitchen. A faint low of a cow and a bark of a coyote was all he could discern. Zane knew he was fortunate in many things, but sometimes he was so lonely, it was almost unbearable. What he wouldn’t give for someone to just be with him – to share, to back him up. Fuck! He needed someone to hold tight.
With sure movements, he left the kitchen and let his hand slide down the hall wall. How much different it would be if a woman waited for him in his bed. He could imagine her lying there, anxious. “I’m coming, honey. Warm up my side of the bed and I’ll warm you up as soon as I get there,” he spoke to no one. What he wanted and what he felt he should have were two different things. The truth was he was hesitant to ask a woman to share his life. But the image of Miss Presley was haunting his thoughts. Chuckling, he remembered she has said her hair was the color of dirt. Now what other woman would give an answer like that? She was sweet and unassuming and he bet she was as pretty as a picture.
Long silky hair, green eyes – his mind couldn’t help but strive for an image to go with that husky little voice with the tiny hint of a lisp. Most seeing people didn’t realize that blind people who had their sight at one time can still see – in a way. They hear a sound first, like the rush of the water as he turned on the shower faucet. The haunting vision will come from the side and then quickly rush into the mind’s eye. Scientific studies have suggested that the brain rewires itself to create visions from sound rather than sight. So, he couldn’t help but begin imagining how Presley Love looked. As he featured a curvy body, long legs, a face looking up at him with lust glazed eyes, Zane got hard.
Stripping off his clothes, he ran a hand down his abdomen and over his cock to cup his balls. “Miss Presley, I bet you’re fine.” Just the thought of tangling his hand in those long strands of hair, wrapping it around his fist and anchoring her still for a kiss had his flaccid cock stiffening with lust. How long had it been? Too long.
With practiced strokes he massaged his cock, using a little soap as a lubricant, he worked it till it was hard and throbbing. “God, I’m so fuckin’ hard,” he moaned as he rubbed the tender skin up and over the head of his prick in a smooth circular motion. His cock knew what was coming – it was heat, erotic expectation at its best. Zane enjoyed his body, and he had no qualms about giving himself pleasure.
Wrapping his hand around his cock, he slowly jerked it – long smooth strokes, sometimes over the head and sometimes stopping at the base. What would Presley’s breasts look like? He had no way of knowing, unless he asked. She could be flat-chested for all he knew – but probably not. With a sexy name like Presley coupled with a bedroom voice like she had, Zane suspected she had a rack to match. As he conjured up images of round, firm, soft tits he felt the pleasure begin rising from the base of his dick. God, how he’d like to suck on her tits, there was nothing like taking a woman’s nipple in his mouth and nursing. As he fantasized, he could feel his shaft thicken and the head swell. Damn, it felt good. He could have cum right then – but he wanted the feeling to last – so he backed off, tracing the veins and wondering what color Presley’s nipples were. How would they be shaped?
Women’s breasts fascinated him. Now that he couldn’t see – touch would be paramount. What he would like to do was pull the woman back against him and run his hands up from her waist to cup her tits. He would weigh them in his palms – run his hands over and around them – lifting them, cupping them, learning their shape. Just the thought of fondling Presley’s tits, taking her nipples in his fingers and pulling them, tweaking them – milking them – “GOD!” had him back to full strokes. With his other hand he rubbed on his balls, letting his hips pump, feeling his ass tighten. Lord, he needed a woman. He loved to sink his cock into warm, wet pussy – feeling her tight little sheathe stretch to accommodate him.
Zane needed that sensation – that gliding of his glans into a hot, grasping haven. Making a small ring with his thumb and forefinger, he pushed it over the head of his cock, massaging the tip end. “Hmmmm,” he gasped, that felt good. He wondered if she liked sex, some women didn’t. But when a man found a woman that loved to be loved – God, he had found a treasure.
Presley would lay down for him – offer herself – open her legs and let him see the place that would take him to paradise. His daydream made him smile – yeah, he still thought of himself as ‘seeing’. He’d rub the head of his cock up and down her slit, make her moan and beg to be taken. Using both hands, he doubled his pleasure, let the water sluice over his back and shoulders. Still, he toyed with the head, giving himself the illusion of fucking in and out of a snug little pussy and upped the ante by pumping himself, furiously, letting his hips roll with the rhythm. His climax hit him hard – the pleasure and the cum jetting out in long, creamy sprays. Zane groaned, still fisting his cock as it pumped endlessly.
“Presley,” he whispered.
Nights spent in total blackness were endless. Even though he kept his curtains open, he never saw a shaft of light. If he slept in, he would feel the change in the temperature as the sun rose, but most of the time he had to rely on an alarm clock. This morning, however, he just couldn’t stay in the bed. He had a clock that announced the time at the touch of a button – “five-twelve a.m.” Ignoring his morning wood, he promised his Johnson a repeat of last night’s performance later, jerked on a pair of jeans and a shirt and went out to greet the day.
Rex didn’t need any encouragement, he loved these pre-dawn jaunts. Cheyenne knew what was up too, as Zane entered the barn, he was met with several greetings, but his appaloosa had a distinctive, rumbly neigh. It was a welcoming sound. “You ready to go?” With practiced moves, he put on a saddle and bridle, grabbed his whip and led the animal out into the misty morning.
Not many blind men rode horses by themselves, but not many blind men had a horse like Cheyenne. Cheyenne was a seeing-eye horse. Oh, Zane had bought him and rode him before the accident. And he had given a lot of things up, but not his horse. Kane had found a place in South Carolina that trained horses for the blind. True enough, they usually worked with miniature horses or Shetlands, but Kane and Zane had met with them and shown them how special Cheyenne was and just like they had anticipated, the appaloosa had taken to the life-style like a duck to water.
Horses can see phenomenally well in almost total darkness and Cheyenne’s memory was incredible. He already loved Zane and being trained to be on the look-out for danger and avoid obstacles was not a giant leap. At the ranch, Zane had no qualms about taking off with Cheyenne and Rex – he knew he was safe in their hands. Four eyes out of six weren’t bad odds. “Let’s head down toward the creek,” Zane led Cheyenne past the gates, shut them behind him and climbed on. With a gentle pull to the reins they were off. He tipped his hat back, and took a deep breath, enjoying being in the saddle again.
“Woof!” Rex raced ahead, knowing that he was free to be adventurous while the service horse was on the job. A cool north breeze hit Zane in the face and he could smell wood smoke from a nearby chimney. His body moved naturally with the horse, the dip and sways as much a part of him as the rhythm of lovemaking. From the left he could hear the lowing and shuffling of the royalty that awaited the registered auction that would commence at the end of the week. “Narrow miss,” he grinned, relieved that none of his animals were infectious with the dreaded disease.
Leaving the pavilion area, he could tell the ground dipped down. He was headed downhill through a thick growth of white clover. The smell was sweet, but the memory it invoked was bitter. The last time he had made love to Margaret was in this field of clover. A choking sensation of wasted dreams clogged his throat. Five years had passed, five years – by this time he had planned on having children. A harsh laugh erupted from his throat and the horse raised his head as if asking for directions. “Easy, boy, everything’s okay.” Everything was okay. He had a good life. It wasn’t a perfect life, but it was all he had.
The lapping and trickling of water told him they were nearing Piney Creek. Cheyenne’s hooves clopped over the small rocks that littered the ground on the bank incline. He was just about to get down and stretch his legs and let the horse drink when he heard Rex growl. It wasn’t a playful growl. Cheyenne stopped dead still. Even when Zane nudged his knee to move him forward, the Appaloosa stalled. And then he knew why – an eerie, unearthly scream shattered the night. Every hair on Zane’s neck stood up. For a split second, he thought he had run into a banshee – but then he heard the snarling, guttural growl of a large pissed-off feline.
Hell! He heard Rex lunge. He heard a splash. The horse reared, but he managed to hang on. “Rex! Rex!” Cheyenne backed up. The big horse was shivering, frantically trying to do what he was trained to do when every reflex he had was telling him to flee. “Rex!” Without hesitation he unwound the whip from where it was attached to the saddle. “Heel, Rex! Come!”
Zane pulled back on the reins, but Cheyenne was adamant. He didn’t turn. The service animal could see what the man could not. With powerful moves of his hind legs, the animal lunged backwards. “Rex!” Zane could hear the bodies of the canine colliding with the cougar.
Sounds bombarded his mind – the hard panting of the horse, the frenzied barking and growling of his dog and the hissing, spitting angry snarls of the cougar. “Rex – here!” Cheyenne whirled and almost unseated Zane. Zane pulled him back. “Rex!” A wounded yelp from the dog made cold chills run up and down his spine. Damn! He had done this. He had put them all in danger. How utterly stupid – what was he doing? Two animals who would die for him were the only thing between him and a killer cat. And one of his animals might die. “Rex!” he cried one more time. And then he heard him – an answering bark.
“Heel!” He demanded. Finally, he heard the breathing of the dog near the dancing hooves of the horse. Focusing with everything in him, he listened for any evidence of where the big predator was crouching. It seemed as if an eternity past – and then a sound – a snarl. He drew back his arm, flashed the whip in the air and let it go. “Raarrrr!” The sharp, slash of the leather had connected with cat hide. Immediately he repeated his motion, moving the black snake a few feet to the right and he heard the same zing and the same snarl, and then – silence.
Climbing down from off the horse, he searched for his dog. After a few seconds, Zane found Rex laying a few feet away. “Oh God boy, are you hurt?” Feeling over the lab’s body, he felt the slick wetness of blood. There were deep scratches and several bite marks. “Damn” Picking the heavy dog up, he managed to get him across the saddle and climb up with him. “Let’s go, Cheyenne.”
Cheyenne set off at a lope and Zane prayed that Rex would be all right. Every step of the way, he half expected shredding claws and piercing teeth to tear into his flesh. But it didn’t. In a few minutes, he was back at the gate. Cheyenne slowed to a walk and Zane reined him in. “Frank! Frank! Anybody! My dog is hurt!” Rex was more than his eyes, Rex was his friend.
“Boss!” Running footsteps announced that several of his employees had heard him. “What happened?”
“Cougar. Call the vet.”
Zane sighed. He’d be going to the office without his companion today. He’d be lost.