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    MacGreg
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Dissonance - 25. Confrontation

Ben studied his reflection in the full-length, three-sided mirror. The jacket he'd slung over himself was a vintage 1950s western-style black gabardine piece with ivory filigree embroidery braiding, arrow details around the pockets, and pearl, diamond-shaped snap buttons lining up the front. The style shouted retro-rockabilly with a hint of Johnny Cash thrown in. Paired with blue jeans and the right shirt underneath, Ben knew he'd found the prefect piece to wear in Chicago.

"Here." Travis shoved a black beaver-felt Stetson atop his head. "Now your outfit's complete."

A giggle erupted from the owner of the consignment shop, Vicky, who stood nearby witnessing the movie-star fashion show with glee. She was of slim build, in her late-fifties, with a boisterous attitude and a head of frizzy brown hair. From the moment Travis and Ben had entered the consignment shop, she'd doted on them, helping them comb through racks of clothes, most of which weren't worth a second look, until the retrieval of the MacMurray jacket. "Oh, I completely agree," she smiled now, sizing-up Ben's appearance in the large mirror. "You look fantastic. The black goes great with your dark hair. Like Johnny Cash meets Desperado."

Ben gave his reflection a final review and smiled. He was satisfied. Pulling the garment off gently, careful not to harm the vintage lining or any of the intricate stitching on it, he handed it over to her and said, "I'll take it."

"The hat, too?"

Ben removed the Stetson from atop his head and rolled it over in his hands, giving it a quick examination. It, too, was in good condition, hardly worn. It also happened to be the correct size for his head, thick hair and all. He handed it over to her. "Sure. Why not?"

Travis smiled and slapped his shoulder. "Now you're a cowboy, buddy!"

"Pftt. Cowboy, my ass. I'm not castrating any calves." Ben nudged Travis' hip and sent him off-kilter into a nearby rack of clothing. After quickly righting himself, Travis returned the push, and they laughed and wrestled each other the entire way up the aisle to the front counter. There, Vicky was tenderly folding up the jacket and tucking it inside tissue paper, ignoring their adolescent behavior.

Ben steadied himself and pulled out his wallet to choose a credit card. Travis landed beside him, hip to hip, and Ben whispered, "You sure you didn't see anything you like?" He'd wanted to buy him something, a gift, but the guy hadn't seemed interested in anything they'd looked at.

"No, I'm good," Travis replied. "You, on the other hand, need some cowboy boots, to complete the look."

"Believe it or not, I've got boots," Ben said. "A pair of Ariats. After 'Roustabout' wrapped up, I kept them. I always snag souvenirs when a production's over."

"Ariats suck." Travis leaned an elbow against the glass countertop and peered up at Ben with a small grin. "They're not even American-made. You need to get some Justins." He pointed down to his tattered pair, the boots he always wore which obviously served him well. There was something to be said for such durability, but, for now, Ben was content with his Salomon hiking boots. He wasn't ready to turn full-blown cowboy just yet.

"Speaking of 'Roustabout'," Vicky interrupted as she placed a credit card slip and pen in front of Ben, "I have to say that your portrayal of Toby was superb. Such raw emotion. I cried more than once. In fact, I'm sure there wasn't a dry eye in the house by the end, especially when you were laying face-down on Levi's grave. Such a tragic story. I was really rooting for you and Levi to make it. I wanted you to make it. I think you would have been so good together."

Once he'd scribbled his signature on the slip, Ben pushed the paper back over to her and said, "Thanks." He wasn't sure what else to add to the conversation. Her comments highlighted the negative outcome of Toby and Levi's ill-fated relationship - the pain, the suffering, the suicide - and he compared that somberness and futility to himself and to Travis, which, of course, was a mistake, but his mind went there anyway. This wasn't West Texas, and he and Travis weren't roughnecks working the oil rigs on a movie set, but even so, their situation held some similarities. It was art imitating life. Or was it life imitating art...? Either way, Ben needed to make sure that kind of turmoil didn't befall the two of them.

Travis pulled a cigarette from his pocket, stuck it between his lips, touched Ben's elbow. "Meet you outside, okay?"

Ben nodded. "Sure."

After the purchase was complete, Vicky proffered a large paper shopping bag. "Thanks again for coming in," she crooned sweetly. "It's not too often we see celebrities around here, unless they're passing through to the slopes. Are you staying in town for long?"

Ben glanced over at the entrance Travis had just exited out of. "Unfortunately, no. I leave for Chicago tomorrow. But... I'll be back soon."

"Well, I'm glad to hear that. There are plenty of gems in Southern Colorado, if you know where to look for them." She, too, glanced to the door Travis had exited out of, as though she'd been referring to him. In a softer tone, she added, "A place like Cooper Ranch could use a fresh face."

Ben studied her, searching for clarification in her emerald eyes. If she and Travis knew each other, they hadn't acted like it. From behind the counter, she produced a copy of the morning's edition of Global Star and laid it on the glass. Pointing to the cover, she said, "I wasn't sure of the validity of this. But, now I see. You have a reason to return. That's good. I'm happy for you. And for him."

Ben frowned and pushed the magazine back across the glass in her direction. He'd already grown tired of seeing it. "That's nothing but trash," he muttered.

At this statement, Vicky tilted her head. She appeared to be disappointed at his pronouncement. "Yes, but is it all trash?"

Ben bit the inside of his cheek and looked at her. Contemplated responding affirmatively that it was a giant lie spurred on by greedy sources, but he decided against it. "Those magazines have a tendency to blow things out of proportion. But... no... there is some truth to that story." He gestured to the periodical, and she brushed a curlicue of hair from her line of vision and smiled warmly at him. There was something calming about her presence, and he relaxed his stance.

"It can be hard to hide the truth behind lies," she said. "Eventually, it always finds its way out of the shadows and into the light, whether we're ready for it to appear or not. It's how we handle it that matters. We can choose to retreat from it or face it head-on with dignity. Wouldn't you agree?"

"Very wise words." Ben shifted the large shopping bag down to his side and took a step back from the counter. He planned on making his exit before she delved any deeper into his psyche. She was a kind woman, but now he felt uncomfortable under her scrutiny; she'd opened him up, examined his insecurities in a very short amount of time. "Thanks for helping me find the jacket," he said. "If you catch Dunn & Darby in the morning, you might see me wearing it."

"Great! I'll look for you. Best of luck, Ben... with everything."

"Thanks." He smiled, turned, and pushed through the front door.

Outside, Travis was waiting for him, casually leaning against the wooden post of the front steps while finishing off his cigarette. His Resistol was perched low across his forehead to shade his eyes from the late afternoon sun. When he peered up from beneath the brim, he flashed Ben a sly smile, and Ben fought the urge to flick the hat from his head and tackle him to the ground.

"Are you finally ready to go?" Travis asked, only slightly teasing. He pushed off from the post, snuffed his cigarette out against the railing, and dropped the butt into an empty ceramic flower pot that housed dozens of other cigarette butts. They made their way across the small patch of grass to the Dodge parked at the curb and strategically avoided eye contact with the photographer who was poking a lens out of the window of the silver Lexus a dozen yards away.

"Let's ditch him," Travis said.

"Sounds good. How about I buy you a beer somewhere?"

"Like, a bar around here?" Travis pushed his hat back from his eyes and peered at Ben with a smile. "You sure you wanna brave that?"

"Take me wherever you want." Ben set his shopping bag in the backseat and climbed up into the front.

Travis joined him and brought the engine to life. Pulled out onto the pot-holed, two-lane road which led back to the main thoroughfare. "You oughta be careful giving me permission like that," he stated, sliding a hand up Ben's thigh. "I'll take you straight to the motel again."

"That wouldn't be the worst idea you've ever had."

Travis gave his leg a hard squeeze. "I see I've successfully corrupted you. Only a few nights ago, you were resistant to the whole motel room idea."

"That was then. This is now."

*    *    *    *

The lackluster interior of The Eagle's Nest bar mirrored the drab appearance of its exterior: a modular building placed on the outskirts of town with a no-frills, utilitarian design - not meant to be architecturally inspiring but simply a place for the locals to drink. Of the dozen or so patrons congregated inside the room when Ben and Travis arrived, a few acknowledged Travis with a nod or a handshake, but not a single person approached Ben, despite second glances and expressions of surprise that he was inside their dark, unassuming establishment.

After picking up beers at the counter, they took a table in the corner near a small, empty stage. A digital jukebox pumped out overplayed rock and country tunes with a volume so loud that conversing without yelling was a challenge. Travis and Ben were forced to lean in close to one another in order to be heard.

"So do you know the owner of that thrift shop?" Ben asked.

"No. But I've been in there a few times. Why?"

"She acted like she knows you. She mentioned Cooper Ranch."

"This is Buena Vista. Everyone knows Cooper Ranch. Doesn't mean they know me."

Ben took a swig of his Budweiser. "OK, so tell me this," he prompted. "Those who do know you - like some of the people in here, for instance - do they know you're gay?"

Travis took a long gulp of his own Budweiser and chirped a low belch. "I don't know. Secrets like that are difficult to keep quiet, especially around here. But I don't stress-out about trying to hide it, not anymore. I'd make myself nuts if I did that."

"And no one's ever given you shit for it?"

"Oh, I've gotten plenty of shit for it."

Ben frowned. The response wasn't what he'd expected. Travis leaned in close, near enough so that his breath caressed Ben's cheek. "This is hick country, Ben," he said. "I've had to fight my way out of a ton of altercations. But those who've kicked my ass leave me alone now. I kick ass right back, and they've learned that."

Images of a younger Travis having to defend himself against homophobic bigots angered Ben. When Curtis' violent tendencies popped into view, he was even more angry. Pointing to Travis' temple, he said, "Curtis really did do that to you, didn't he." It wasn't a question.

Travis slumped back and chugged the rest of his beer down. If he was contemplating an answer, he gave no indication of revealing it. Instead, he pushed his chair back and went up to the bar. A few minutes later, he returned balancing four rock glasses in his hands. Each glass full of amber-colored liquid housed an additional shot glass of darker liquid inside. Two he set down before Ben, the other two he kept for himself. Then, holding one up in a toast, he announced, "To city boys, country boys, and motel rooms."

Ben chuckled. "And to what lies ahead," he added. They clinked their glasses together and simultaneously slammed back the liquor, amber and dark liquid combined. A jolt of lightning rushed through Ben, and he shook his head and coughed and swallowed a few times. "What the hell was in that?" he demanded through constricted throat.

Travis laughed. His voice was scratchy as he replied, "Jägermeister and Red Bull. A drink with a kick! Now, drink your other one, buddy, you gotta get the full effect."

Ben did so and immediately felt his head spin. Because he'd consumed the rest of the Budweiser directly beforehand, the result of slamming back two full Jägerbombs in rapid succession was a swift and brutal blow. The bison burger he'd eaten for lunch shifted in his gut.

"Still with me?"

Ben nodded. Leaned back in his chair and watched the ceiling fans spin above. The digital jukebox changed its tune from Merle Haggard to Lynyrd Skynyrd, and Ben shut his eyes and hummed along to "Sweet Home Alabama" for a minute until the sound of a woman murmuring "Hey, handsome" brought him back to the room. The older, buxom blonde who'd voiced the flirtatious sentiment stood over Travis, pressing frosty pink lips to his scarred temple.

"Hi, Darlene," Travis responded in a banal tone. Politely, he set her aside as though she was an unwanted toy.

The woman was clueless to his disinterest. "Come, dance with me." She tugged on his shirt, beckoned him to rise from his chair.

He plucked her fingers from his collar. "Not right now."

In response to the rejection, Darlene leaned down and shoved her cleavage in his face. "Why are you always puttin' me off, Cooper? At least buy me a drink."

Travis sighed, glanced at Ben, pulled his wallet out to retrieve a five-dollar bill from inside. "Here," he said, offering her the cash. "Go get yourself a rum and Coke. On me."

Her expression twisted from a flirtatious smile to a pout, but she didn't protest, simply snatched the money from his fingers and sauntered off in search of another prospective beau. To Ben, she gave no notice. He was invisible.

After she was gone, Travis leaned in and said, "She never gets the hint. I swear she's one of the only ladies left in town who doesn't know."

The Jägerbombs were kicking in; Ben could feel it in his chest, in the speed of his heart rate. Alcohol, caffeine, and sugar. He must have appeared slightly off-kilter, because Travis touched his knee under the table and said, "You all right?"

"I'm great."

The front door to the bar swung open, and low-level sunlight filtered in. Doug appeared on the threshold and waited a moment for his eyes to adjust before he entered in. Scanning the room, he noticed Travis and Ben, and a smile spread across his face. He approached the table and offered fist bumps to each of them before plopping down, exhausted, into a chair. Pulling off his baseball cap and tossing it to the table, he said. "What's the word? I didn't expect to find you two here." His short, spiky hair was unruffled from the weight of the hat.

"Ben suggested a beer."

"You chose the classiest spot in town, Coop." Doug gestured to the empty glasses and beer bottles. "Looks like I came late to the party."

"There's still time for you to catch up." Travis retreated to the bar and returned cradling a bottle of Budweiser and three lowball glasses of neat whiskey. The beer he handed to Doug; the whiskey glasses he passed around, one for each of them.

Ben looked at the glass he'd been given and pushed it aside.

Travis took a large sip of his whiskey and said, "How'd the job in Alma go?"

"Had to redo all the fuckin' plumbing." Doug snarled. "Always one obstacle or another on these shit remodels. But I'll get it done." He peered at Ben. Kept his eyes fastened on him while he sipped his beer. Ben shifted in his chair. Turned his gaze down to the Texas star tattoo on the underside of Doug's right wrist. There were countless tattoos up and down the man's arms, but the star tattoo sat alone, no other markings surrounding it, like it was special, like it was meant to sit in seclusion.

"I showed Ben around town a bit," Travis said. He finished off his whiskey and slammed the empty glass down.

"Oh, bet that was exciting," Doug teased. "Not a lot happens around here. Nothing like L.A."

"I kinda like that part of it," Ben muttered.

Doug grinned and raised his bottle in a toast while retaining his transfixed stare from across the table. Ben returned the stare, equally transfixed, then stood up and headed in a somewhat crooked pattern to the rear of the bar, passing a few curious eyes along the way. The men's room was grubby and small: one urinal, one stall, a floor covered in dirty paper towels and piss. Ben opened his fly and pulled himself out and aimed for the urinal as best he could. His head felt frothy as he stood there. Goddamn Jägerbombs.

Once completing his task, he splashed cold water across his face and grabbed a paper towel to wipe the moisture off. Then, the door pushed open, Doug entered into the cramped room with a salacious smile, and the walls closed in tighter. Doug unzipped his tight jeans and stood at the urinal, and Ben commanded himself not to look, but as soon as piss hit porcelain, he took a peek. The man was uncut and thick. Doug smirked to himself, aware that he was being watched. Obviously, he enjoyed playing the exhibitionist. Was he daring Ben to take action? I could do it. I could grab him and kiss that fucking smirk right off his face and follow him into that empty stall. His crotch expanded at the play-out of this ten-second fantasy, but the scenario ceased as soon as the door opened and another guy stepped in. Ben was relieved by the interruption. Depositing the paper towel atop the overflowing trashcan on his way out, he exited into the cacophony of jukebox music and bar patrons beyond.

Maybe Travis had been right. Maybe there was little chance that he could resist fucking other guys when opportunities arose. In his heart, he wanted it to work, but he was insatiable now, and temptations were bound to be everywhere, dissolving his resolve. It's all Travis' fault, he cursed. But that was neither fair nor accurate. He'd been hungry for cock since puberty; he'd just never had the guts to venture out and try it until now.

Meandering his way back to the table, he noticed that Travis was no longer seated but standing at the bar, leaning in close to a copper-haired man perched on a stool. Ben hung back, watched as Travis retrieved a small object from his pants' pocket and slammed it down onto the wooden counter. The copper-haired man, the infamous Eric, regarded the object with indifference. Although Travis controlled the volume of his voice, he spewed red-hot fire into the guy's freckled face.

Seemingly unruffled by the verbal attack, Eric responded with a malevolent grin. Picked up the ring that Travis had placed in front of him and slowly slipped it onto his ring finger. Then he slid from the stool and said something to Travis that further provoked him. Travis rolled his hands into fists. A muscle twitched in his jaw. Ben recognized the signs of his rising fury and knew that Eric was about to get his ass kicked - no doubt about it. In a swift motion, Travis grabbed the guy by the elbow and propelled him toward the front door.

No one else in the bar seemed to notice or care that a fight was about to erupt in the parking lot. Ben immediately made to follow the pair, but a hand clamped down on his shoulder, halting him in place. "Give them a minute," Doug commanded.

Had Doug had been sent in as a diversion to give Travis opportunity for this confrontation? Bullshit. Ben shook free of the hold and headed to the door.

Outside, the early evening air was still warm. The sun had dropped behind the mountains. The sky was now a violet purple silhouetting the range. In addition to the chirps of crickets, the distinct sounds of a scuffle filled the air, along with a slew of curses. Ben rounded the corner of the building and found Travis holding Eric by the throat, pressing his body up against the aluminum siding. During the tussle, they'd both trampled through chokecherry bushes, and their boots were now tangled up in branches, like shackles. Eric, unable to get a proper foothold on the ground, choked beneath Travis' grip around his neck and the thumbs pressed firmly against his windpipe. In futility, he clawed at Travis' wrists while his face turned red, purple. Travis showed no signs of easing up on him.

"Travis!" Ben yelled, but the intrusion was ignored. Travis smacked Eric's head against the siding a few times, leaving the man dazed and groaning. A flashback of being similarly handled by Curtis in the stables that very morning crashed forward in Ben's mind, and for a split second, he thought he was witnessing Curtis' twin acting out the same aggressive scenario. "Take it easy, Travis," he said as he took a few steps closer. He was conflicted on whether or not to intervene. On the one hand, he wanted Travis to inflict serious pain on the guy. On the other hand, he didn't want to deal with a murder. No matter how things played out, he feared this confrontation wouldn't end well.

Doug appeared at Ben's side, amped-up and excited. "Kick his fucking ass, Cooper!"

"Jesus, shut up, will ya?"

A couple of bar patrons who traversed the parking lot chose to take a wide berth around the altercation rather than get involved. When Travis finally released his victim, Eric seized the opportunity and side-swiped him with a left hook to the jaw, sending him backwards across the chokecherry bushes. Travis hit the pavement and smacked his back against the hard surface. Without hesitation, Eric pounced on him, grabbed him by the shirt collar, wrestled with him for an indeterminate amount of time. All the while, curses and grunts filled the air. Anger, resentment, hatred. Eventually, Travis gained the upper hand and rolled onto Eric's chest, pinning the man's flailing arms beneath his knees. One, two seconds passed, then Travis proceeded to smash the hell out of Eric's face, not stopping even when his knuckles bled - until Ben pried him off. Even then, he continued to throw punches, lashing out at the air, trying to kick Eric with his boots. Ben held tight to his waist in order to restrain him. Doug was zero help.

"Let me finish it!" Travis insisted, struggling to free himself. "Just let me fucking finish it!"

Eric hoisted himself up to lean against the wheel of a Chevy Tahoe parked nearby. His legs were twisted awkwardly beneath his torso. His face was a pulpy mess. “Shit, Cooper,” he muttered, spitting blood. “I'd heard rumors you were fucking Ben Mansfield, but I figured that was just some pathetic joke."

"Shut the fuck up," Travis commanded, almost breathless.

Ben noticed the malevolent smirk on Eric's face as he looked up at Travis. Noticed, too, the unmistakable cruelty in his eyes. "He's a handful, our Cooper," Eric said, trying to smile wide through cracked lips. "All the Coopers are. A word of advice for you, Ben: keep your boy on a tight leash. He needs discipline."

Ben considered releasing Travis and allowing him to finish off the job he'd started, but Doug beat them to it. Kicked the guy straight across the face and sent him sailing back down to the ground.

Travis slumped in Ben's arms, all willpower and resistance gone. Doug moved in close and cradled his face in his hands, planted a kiss on his moist forehead. "He deserved it, Travis," he whispered. "He had it coming for a long time. You know that. We all know that."

Travis responded with a defeated nod.

"Get him out of here," Doug calmly instructed Ben. "Take him home. I'll deal with this."

With arm still tightly wrapped around Travis' waist, Ben guided him over to the Dodge. Rummaged inside his pocket for the keys and helped him climb into the passenger seat. "I'm taking you home, babe," he whispered with a kiss. "You don't have to worry about anything. It's over now."

By the time he rounded the rear of the truck and climbed into the driver's side, Travis was hunched over, sobbing like a child into his bloodied hands.

Thanks for reading, following along, and offering comments. Much appreciated! Cheers - Mac

Copyright © 2017 MacGreg; All Rights Reserved.
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"All the Coopers are." That one sentence actually frightened me. What has Eric done, and to whom? While Katie is the obvious one, I can't help wonder if Curtis is also a victim.

 

Another great chapter. Ben is caring less and less about people knowing about his relationship with Travis. They still haven't tried to work out what happens when Ben returns to his other life, his career as an actor. Travis won't move so it'll be up to Ben to make the biggest compromises. I think he will, but the details are important. 

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7 hours ago, Graeme said:

"All the Coopers are." That one sentence actually frightened me. What has Eric done, and to whom? While Katie is the obvious one, I can't help wonder if Curtis is also a victim.

I vaguely remember seeing a movie (possibly more than one) where a stranger seduces all four members of a family: both parents and an adult son and adult daughter.

 

Is it possible Eric seduced all four of the Coopers?

 

 

I’m wondering what the repercussions of the fight will be.

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On 5/5/2017 at 1:53 PM, BlindAmbition said:

Good Job Mac, 

 I was enjoying what seemed to be a nice date. Without any outside distractions. That was until Eric made an appearance. Happy to see his ass get served to him. There is something about Doug that is rubbing me the wrong way. 

 Oh brother, Darlene is one of those women who is going to be doing that same routine when she is 50. Been there, seen that, have the T-shirt. 

 Their was a little bit of good advice that Vicki was telling Ben. Hopefully he'll take time to consider her words. :2thumbs:

Thanks, BA. Vicky was one of the only stable people in this chapter, lol. She did have some wisdom to share - it's up to Ben if he wants to take note of it or not. Haha, you know a Darlene, too? :) I appreciate the kind words here, my friend. Cheers - Mac

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On 5/5/2017 at 5:44 PM, Graeme said:

"All the Coopers are." That one sentence actually frightened me. What has Eric done, and to whom? While Katie is the obvious one, I can't help wonder if Curtis is also a victim.

 

Another great chapter. Ben is caring less and less about people knowing about his relationship with Travis. They still haven't tried to work out what happens when Ben returns to his other life, his career as an actor. Travis won't move so it'll be up to Ben to make the biggest compromises. I think he will, but the details are important. 

You readers are so astute. I throw in a four-word sentence, and you all pick up on it... Thank you for your comments, Graeme. As always, I value your input. Still much to reveal as we move along. Thanks for following along, even though I'm not posting as often as I would like. Cheers - Mac

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On 5/6/2017 at 1:20 AM, droughtquake said:

I vaguely remember seeing a movie (possibly more than one) where a stranger seduces all four members of a family: both parents and an adult son and adult daughter.

 

Is it possible Eric seduced all four of the Coopers?

 

I’m wondering what the repercussions of the fight will be.

As I mentioned to Graeme, you all picked out that one sentence. Like a beacon, it stood out to you. Eric is evil; he got his ass kicked hard for a reason. Thanks for the comments, droughtquake. Cheers - M

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Eric is slime.. all the Coopers.. ugh.. gross. I would have let Travis finish it I think. or not.. don't know. I dont know i'm frustrated for Travis.. surrounded by all these people that know.  It's a horrible feeling.  Being confronted with that is horrible. I hope that Travis and Ben get on with it.. All these busybodies who think they know Travis.. awful. 

 

You've done a good job with this.. cuz it's really upset me.. moved me.. 

 

 

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On 5/6/2017 at 3:32 AM, Timothy M. said:

I hope Doug drives Eric far out in the wilderness and leaves him there to spend a few day walking back. Otherwise I can see the bastard claiming Ben helped beat him up.

I like the way you think, Tim. ;) There's no mercy for Eric.

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On 5/6/2017 at 9:21 AM, JeffreyL said:

Eric is clearly more evil than I thought. Just from this brief exchange, manipulative doesn't begin to describe him. Can this story ever segue into HEA? Or at least end up with fewer kicks to the head? More good writing. Thanks. Jef

I know people are rooting for HEA. Don't give up quite yet, Jeff. I won't make any promises about less kicks to the head, but keeping you engaged is a good thing... right? Thanks for the comments. Cheers - Mac

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On 5/6/2017 at 2:28 PM, Valkyrie said:

First I have to say that I absolutely love my Ariat paddock boots. ;) lol  But I think of them as more of an English company, so I imagine there are better western boots out there. ;) Whew... that was yet another intense chapter!  I can't muster up much sympathy for Eric.  He certainly deserved to get his ass kicked.  I also picked up on the line "All the Coopers are."  It's certainly ominous.  I don't think we've seen the last of Eric yet.  Your writing, and this story, just keeps getting better and better.  Oh, and you have me worried now about Ben's revelation that he may not be able to stay monogamous. :unsure:  I'm still rooting for an HEA.  

Sorry Val, I wasn't personally dissing Ariats. They're a fine boot. But I do love my Justins. :) I'm still rooting for an HEA, too. Lol. I make no promises to the future. Eric doesn't deserve sympathy, so don't feel bad for not having any for him. He got what he deserved. Whether or not he appears again, I cannot say. Thanks, as always, for your continued support and feedback on this story. It means a lot. Cheers - Mac

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40 minutes ago, Mikiesboy said:

Eric is slime.. all the Coopers.. ugh.. gross. I would have let Travis finish it I think. or not.. don't know. I dont know i'm frustrated for Travis.. surrounded by all these people that know.  It's a horrible feeling.  Being confronted with that is horrible. I hope that Travis and Ben get on with it.. All these busybodies who think they know Travis.. awful. 

 

You've done a good job with this.. cuz it's really upset me.. moved me.. 

 

 

Um... thanks? I'm glad it moved you and all... but sorry if it upset you. Yes, Eric is slime. Finishing him off might not have been a good move for Travis - considering he was well on his way to killing him. Ben was trying to protect Travis by pulling him off. Still, Travis has to find a way to get past all this mess. Thanks for offering your feedback, tim. I appreciate it. Cheers, my friend -Mac

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Got to say I hate this chapter.

And I've got to explain that statement. Travis did to his abuser what I wanted, and to some degree still do, to do to my abuser.

It's taken me three reads to read and take in each word. The first couple of times there were sentences and paragraphs that I just glanced over. I couldn't deal with it.

 

Mac, don't apologise for writing so well.

Years ago an English teacher told a class I was in, "A story should make you cry, shout and scream, and if it doesn't then it has failed to tell it's story honestly."

Keep telling your story honestly.

 

I know from what I and several other people I know have experienced, that what you have written happens, no matter how much we try to ignore and dismiss it.

We all want our lives and the lives of our friends and loved ones to be all happy happy joy joy, but the reality is it's rarely the case. We have troubles, joys, love and laughter, grief and agony. You've just written what happens. Keep doing that.

 

Love you and what you write.

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On 5/7/2017 at 11:31 PM, Skittles said:

Got to say I hate this chapter.

And I've got to explain that statement. Travis did to his abuser what I wanted, and to some degree still do, to do to my abuser.

It's taken me three reads to read and take in each word. The first couple of times there were sentences and paragraphs that I just glanced over. I couldn't deal with it.

 

Mac, don't apologise for writing so well.

Years ago an English teacher told a class I was in, "A story should make you cry, shout and scream, and if it doesn't then it has failed to tell it's story honestly."

Keep telling your story honestly.

 

I know from what I and several other people I know have experienced, that what you have written happens, no matter how much we try to ignore and dismiss it.

We all want our lives and the lives of our friends and loved ones to be all happy happy joy joy, but the reality is it's rarely the case. We have troubles, joys, love and laughter, grief and agony. You've just written what happens. Keep doing that.

 

Love you and what you write.

Hey Skittles - thank you for your in-depth comments about this chapter, and the story itself. I managed to touch on a few readers' raw nerves with this chapter, and I won't exclude myself in that statement. You're right, life is not all happy, happy, joy, joy. Bad stuff happens. Shitty stuff happens. Finding a path to healing is crucial. We all want Travis to heal. I had to read your comment a couple of times, just as you had to read the chapter a couple of times, before I could respond, because your words punctured me a bit. Thank you for being a supporter of this story. xo

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Ok, so I'm with everyone  and the slime bag made my skin crawl. In this case I don't know, I think finishing him off would have been justifiable...

Ben. Is it me, or is this new caution to the wind just a bit reckless behavior on his part.(not as in destructive) That's all well and good, but he still hasn't addressed Hollywood, his mother, sister or agent. I like that he's thrown himself visibly into the relationship but... and there's always a but. In his heart he wants it to work, but...temptation. That's honest acknowledgement...but.  lol. I feel like he is riding high now and the crash is coming. I need to get to the other side of this already. But take your time, no need to compromise your writing for my mental health. -_-

Thanks for another well done chapter Mac.

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22 hours ago, MacGreg said:

Hey Skittles - thank you for your in-depth comments about this chapter, and the story itself. I managed to touch on a few readers' raw nerves with this chapter, and I won't exclude myself in that statement. You're right, life is not all happy, happy, joy, joy. Bad stuff happens. Shitty stuff happens. Finding a path to healing is crucial. We all want Travis to heal. I had to read your comment a couple of times, just as you had to read the chapter a couple of times, before I could respond, because your words punctured me a bit. Thank you for being a supporter of this story. xo

Didn't mean to puncture you bloke. Sorry.

What you wrote hurt, but I needed the hurt to make me focus on healing.

An Australian rap singer wrote, Yeah, it ain't good to be bullet proof cause in the end that bullet will be good for you.

In your writing you showed me the truth in those words. And more so the truth I had to face.

I'm grateful to you. You  did in one chapter what psychologists haven't managed to do in nearly 30 years.

So, Thank You.

XOXO.

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It took me a while, but I finally read the chapter! :lol:

 

Eric deserved what Travis did to him and so much more, but as Ben said to himself, he doesn't want a murder here. That's all he needs is to be wrapped up in a murder!

 

I also picked up on the "All the Coopers are". That doesn't sound too good. Yeah, we haven't seen the last of Eric yet. Too bad.

 

 

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2 hours ago, droughtquake said:

I was amused to read a Comment by @Peter from Perth and then a Reply from @MacGreg to “Skittles” which in turn was Replied to from @Peter from Perth again! You can change your name, but remnants of your old identity remain behind. Odd, but understandable Forum software behavior.  ;-)

Peter. Skittles. Interchangeable. ;)

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On 5/10/2017 at 5:25 PM, Defiance19 said:

Ok, so I'm with everyone  and the slime bag made my skin crawl. In this case I don't know, I think finishing him off would have been justifiable...

Ben. Is it me, or is this new caution to the wind just a bit reckless behavior on his part.(not as in destructive) That's all well and good, but he still hasn't addressed Hollywood, his mother, sister or agent. I like that he's thrown himself visibly into the relationship but... and there's always a but. In his heart he wants it to work, but...temptation. That's honest acknowledgement...but.  lol. I feel like he is riding high now and the crash is coming. I need to get to the other side of this already. But take your time, no need to compromise your writing for my mental health. -_-

Thanks for another well done chapter Mac.

Looks like I never responded to your comment, Def. Sorry about that. I imagine you've calmed down now, since the chapter postings have been much fewer and farther between. Don't worry, I'll get you to the other side. Eventually. Cheers.

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On 5/27/2017 at 9:22 PM, Lisa said:

It took me a while, but I finally read the chapter! :lol:

 

Eric deserved what Travis did to him and so much more, but as Ben said to himself, he doesn't want a murder here. That's all he needs is to be wrapped up in a murder!

 

I also picked up on the "All the Coopers are". That doesn't sound too good. Yeah, we haven't seen the last of Eric yet. Too bad.

I never responded to this one, either. Sorry, Lisa! This must have been when GA's new system wasn't alerting authors of comments. Thanks for your take on this chapter. Yes, a murder would have been bad, for everyone. Thanks for reading. A new chapter will be out soon. Cheers.

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On 6/3/2017 at 10:49 AM, JayT said:

Okay I'm ready for more....

Are you still ready for more...? Soon. Thanks, Jay.

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