Accounts Payable… June… Dr. Cordis, Veterinary $5,291.23… Double K Farm ‘N Ranch $19,312.76… Quarterly taxes… hmm… Where is it!?!
Charlie’s eyes widened nervously as he scrunched over his laptop, a pile of vendors’ receipts was strewn around it. Figures spun wildly through his head as he poured through, now for a third time, the spreadsheets that organized the Kimrick Family ranching operation’s finances. His nervousness was growing by the second, fearing that his ornery boss, James Kimrick (who went by Kimrick), would fire him on the spot. In his boss’ eyes, any work less than perfect indicated laziness, a severely punishable offense. And $27,000 unaccounted for was far, far, FAR less than perfect.
Insurance… $41,5…. Wait.. 41?
"THERE IT IS!!!” Charlie exclaimed out loud.
He finally found his typo, having reversed the “4” and “1” in a spreadsheet cell. He crunched the numbers again just to be safe. Crisis averted. A wave of calm fell over. He wouldn’t be berated for the mistake, wouldn’t lose his job with no hope of finding another, wouldn’t become homeless… and could breathe a sigh of relief.
Just when he fixed his error, as if he summoned a demon with his spreadsheet formulas, his boss moseyed through the door. Kimrick was the classic, rancher-type cowboy replete with bulging biceps and chiseled chest. He a had penetrating turquoise eye over which his blonde hair wisped gently – the poor guy lost his other eye in a tragic car accident that also claimed the lives of his mother and sister. He’d known Kimrick for a long time and even when he was younger, he had a hard exterior. But the accident virtually shut off all emotions from him. Though Charlie could appreciate this raging ball of rawhide-ridden manliness, he realized that his incessant self-doubting and timid nature would only spell disaster for any kind of relationship, especially with one as un-gay as one could seemingly be. So, it was pointless to even consider him as an interest.
But sometimes, though. Sometimes, a person seems so right and so perfect that you just can’t help but fall for them, even if they’re straight. This is was the case for Charlie with the new ranch hand, Wes, who happened to be tagging along just behind Kimrick.
Wes was beyond anything Charlie could dream up in any universe. His wide, friendly, inviting eyes drew Charlie in. He marveled at how they were clearer and bluer than the purest of ocean waters. His thick, slightly long yet perfectly placed jet black hair covered one eye, and flowed out from the grey Stetson tilted forward just slightly on his head. He wore a form-fitting black western dress shirt and, unconventional for cowboys, black skin-tight Wranglers. Everything bulged in just the right places. The full ensemble gave him that edgy, badass, “don’t tangle with me” country rocker look that made Charlie’s innards tingle with excitement. And, though he was smaller in stature than Kimrick, Charlie could drown himself in the testosterone that oozed out of every pore. Charlie couldn’t understand how he hadn’t ended up on the cover of a Country Music Magazine…. or as the featured cowboy on a Studs N’ Spurs Calendar. Oh the number of times he imagined Wes wearing only long-fringed black bullriding chaps and his hat pulled on tight ready for the ride of a lifetime… oo boy…
Though he never spent any one-on-one time with Wes, he saw how he interacted with others on the ranch. For instance, though everyone else made fun of Kylee, Wes treated him with respect and even tried to help him learn how to ride a horse. He was also a very outgoing prankster. He was amazed that he could get Kylee to kiss Kim that night at the bar. It was that personality that made the difference. And the whole package, looks and personality, were something that Charlie had never seen the likes of before. A genuinely nice and honest guy, extremely outgoing, the life of the party, hot as the Texas sun beating down during a heat wave. Absolutely. Beyond-Perfect. Boyfriend. Material. And that boyfriend material, Charlie decided, was so far out of his league….and again, woefully, regrettably straight.
It didn’t hurt to ogle just a little and fantasize “what if..” except when you get so lost in thought that you miss your boss’ question without realizing.
“I said, did you finish those numbers?” Kimrick asked with a stern, cyclopsian gaze.
Charlie jolted, sat up straight and tried to regain his composure. “Umm… uhh.. Yes! Everything balanced out and you’re clear to get new horses for the hands,” Charlie said with some trepidation and a forced smile on his face. He hoped his boss wouldn’t be able to tell that something had been slightly amiss.
“Good. Then, I need you an’ Wes to go ‘n check out som-o-the quarter horses they got for sale down at the Brisby farm.”
“Wes?” Charlie questioned. Wes leaned over from behind Kimrick, with an exaggerated smile and started pointing his thumb at himself and wobbling his head. “That’s me!!” he exclaimed, halfway mocking his priggish boss, halfway prepping to adore the attention he might get. Charlie let out a small chuckle, causing Kimrick to turn sharply toward Wes. Unsurprisingly, he let out a small grunt of resign.
“Yup. This rodeo clown over here knows his way aroun’ horses an’ can figur out right quick if any of em’ll be good for ranch work, and… uh… if one’d be good fer Kylee.”
Charlie raised an eyebrow at that last comment. Ever since that night they went to the bar, he seemed to act much softer towards the younger teen. Initially, he thought Kimrick was crazy bringing on someone with zero knowledge of ranching, but now he wondered if more was going on than meets the eye. Maybe Kimrick was trying to help Kylee get his life back on track? A big brother sorta thing?
“Kylee?” Charlie questioned. “You want a horse for Ky….” He was abruptly cut off by his boss who clearly had no intention of being questioned on the matter. “Y’all can take my truck an’ leave now. Be back in 3 hours. I need Wes t’help with the cattle after lunch.”
And with that, Charlie nodded and Kimrick began to walk out of the office. He stopped abruptly in the doorway and quipped, “an’ don' go gittin’ into any trouble. I want that truck back in one piece.”
Wes reassured him, “Don’t worry, boss! What could possibly go wrong?”
Kimrick scratched the back of his neck and said, “With yer jokin' around? Who knows. No trouble,” before walking off.