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    Wayne Gray
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.
Note: While authors are asked to place warnings on their stories for some moderated content, everyone has different thresholds, and it is your responsibility as a reader to avoid stories or stop reading if something bothers you. 

A Silent Song - 2. A Torrent

Rain had fallen fiercely for a few hours overnight over the watershed of the Smith River. First, the waterway swelled directly from the rain that fell into it, but it grew into a raging torrent from the run-off cascading down the mountains and hills bracketing the river.

Standing on the bank, Orson eyed the water. It was now Sunday morning, and luckily, the sun was back in force. He ran a hand through his black hair, the single silver streak glittering like treasure among his dark locks.

"Damn. The Smith is angry today." The sound of the water had increased with the volume, and now violently assaulted the ears with a wall of noise. Orson watched as a branch floated downstream, carried swiftly by the strong current. Thankful that the water had stopped rising, he took note of the mere five feet left of the little riverside beach. Though by the end of the day, Orson expected more of the beach would be exposed once the waters began to recede.

Last night, Greg, the owner of the campground, had taken mercy on the few tent campers. Once the rain had begun to fall in earnest, all three were upgraded to the cabins on the grounds. Luckily, the campground had just enough available to accommodate them all. To ensure there were no hard feelings, Greg had offered to refund any of the current cabin renters, and charge them tent-camping rates - that way it would all be equitable. Nobody took him up on it.

Before he had headed to check out the river, Orson noticed a few more bills crammed into the jar the guys used for donations over at the camp kitchen. He smiled to himself as he thought about it. People are good. Exhaling in satisfaction, he looked back at the river. Though sometimes they can lack judgment. We should post warning signs on the river trail. The water is dangerous right now.

Orson turned and started up the trail, then frowned as his right leg caught on something. Laughing, he bent at the waist. Orson worked to untangle a blackberry vine that had snagged on the articulated ankle joint of his mechanical leg. "That's all I need - trip and take a dive into the river. I could imagine that headline." Orson freed his foot and started back up the path. He waved his hand. "'Man with one leg tries swimming after Smith River reaches near-flood stage! Darwin happy to report his death.'"

Chuckling at himself, Orson went to go find Greg or Clay. Time to make a sign.

♬♬♬

Camp chair clamped under his arm, Bailey looked at the makeshift, cardboard sign staked at the head of the trail that led down to the river. Dangerous Water! Use Extreme Care!

The waterway roared and he'd heard it as soon as he had stepped out of his cabin, so the sign seemed prudent. Well, it can't hurt to go look. At the head of the trail, The Smith raged with a tremendous amount of noise. He could almost feel the vibration of the sound in his chest.

Bailey carefully walked down the trail. Stepping out onto the little slice of land that remained, he immediately noticed the boy he had seen yesterday back on his perch. The big stone under him was still solid, though water now covered half of its base. This time the kid didn't hear him at all, since the river was so loud.

Bailey set his chair back up in the same spot as yesterday and took his seat. The dark-haired boy must have caught movement out of the corner of his eye. He looked over his shoulder, noted Bailey's presence, then went back to looking over the river. Bailey smiled. Yeah, I'm not gonna bother you, kid.

He took out his notebook. Bailey had done a little more research on the soil compaction tests Granite had done for the road widening project, and he wanted to do a few calculations of his own. Can we really get away with this percent of concrete in the roadbase? It seems low to me. Bailey set about to do some relatively complex math. His pencil scratched away, unheard over the roar of the water.

It was oddly peaceful. The river essentially made one of his senses useless, so input from Bailey's ears stopped taking up valuable brain computing power, and the sound faded into the background.

Bailey worked out the first half of his calculation. That concerned how much weight the soil along the 199 highway could take—completely unaltered by the addition of stabilizers, like concrete—before it failed under a known compression load. His figures were close to what Granite had already provided to him. Bailey tapped his pencil eraser against the page. Just because one bit of math is right doesn't mean the rest of it is. Smiling to himself, he started on the next part.

The teenager stood and turned, which brought Bailey's head up. The young fellow looked at him, gave a little nod of greeting, then he made to jump down to the sand.

The youth’s heel caught on a crack in the stone as he turned his foot. His eyes widened, and his arms spread wide as he tried to find his balance.

With a surprised yelp, he fell backward and landed in the churning water.

Bailey shot to his feet. He saw the boy’s head crest the water. Eyes wide in terror, he took a gasp of air, then he disappeared under the brown water.

Bailey looked frantically toward the river trail. There was no way anyone had heard what had happened. No one was coming.

Turning back to the Smith River, he took two steps up onto the stone the teen had just fallen from. Bailey let his strong legs carry him, running down the riverbank, hopping and leaping from boulder to boulder.

There! He caught a glimpse of the boy further downstream. There was a scrape on his forehead, and Bailey knew he must be getting punished by the strong current and the rocks. His eyes locked for a moment with those of the young man before he went under again.

Bailey’s foot slipped, but he managed to keep up on his feet. He pushed himself, and small rocks flew as he pelted downriver under the shade of trees growing on the banks.

A narrowing between the banks was coming up. Jumping onto a large stone that jutted over the water, Bailey snagged a limber, thin tree that grew overhead.

The boy surfaced and snatched a gasp of air.

Too far! Bailey’s thoughts were anguished. The struggling youth was just too far away for him to reach from the stone.

As the boy drew even with him, Bailey made a split-second decision.

Leaping into the shockingly cold water, Bailey flailed out his hand. He snagged the young man’s collar as he was carried past and Bailey hauled as hard as he could against the current.

He still held on to the little tree in his other hand, but the river flowed with awesome strength. Bailey knew either they both got out of its path soon, or they would be swept to their deaths.

Bailey strained with all that he had, his mouth open in a silent scream of effort. He curled the teenager against the current until the boy was close enough to grab the tree too. Now they both held on to the limb.

Reaching, Bailey gripped the stone he had jumped from and pushed himself up onto the rock. Then he grabbed the wrists of the boy.

The teen seemed to be in shock. His hands had a death grip on the limb, and he wouldn’t let go. Bailey grimaced at him. Let go! God, let go! his mind desperately screamed at the kid.

Finally, the boy’s grip faltered, and Bailey pulled until they both lay safe out of the water on the warm stone. Each panted with effort and adrenaline.

Bailey forced himself to sit up. He looked at the teenager. He gently shook him, but the boy was definitely in shock. He lay there and blinked, unseeing, while the scrape on his forehead bled and began to bruise.

Might have head trauma. Bailey stood and flinched. His ankle hurt, but he pushed that aside. He quickly pressed through brush and broke through the ring of foliage around the far edge of the campground.

His entrance didn’t go unnoticed. Clay and Greg saw him. He must have been quite the sight because both guys immediately ran from the camp kitchen, where they had been busy preparing food.

Before they got to him, he turned and dove back into the brush.

“Wait! Bailey?” Greg’s confused voice sounded behind him, as well as the noise of breaking twigs and limbs as they followed. As long as they were following him, Bailey wasn’t stopping.

He made it back to the river. By this time, the boy had sat up, and he held his injured head with one hand. His eyes were teary, and he looked at Bailey when he reappeared next to the river.

Then, seconds later, Clay and Greg showed up, streaming briars and leaves.

“Rayne?!” Greg ran past Bailey, over to the boy. “Are you okay?” The young man threw his arms around Greg’s neck, and he cried, relieved and scared all at once.

Now that the boy had help, a vast relief hit Bailey, and he blew out a breath. Now that he wasn't running on pure adrenaline, he became aware of the pain in his left ankle. Grimacing, Bailey sat down on the rocky shore. He inhaled through his teeth and held his left leg up off of the ground, fingers laced behind his knee.

The boy mumbled something to Greg and Clay where they squatted next to him. Bailey didn't hear it. He gently tried putting his foot down on the ground. The skin on the side of his ankle throbbed, and Bailey saw blood staining his sock. Biting his lip, he tried to push himself up to his feet.

"Here." The big guy, Clay, now stood behind Bailey. "Did you hurt your leg?" He reached down his hands under Bailey's armpits.

Bailey gritted his teeth and nodded as Clay helped him stand. As Bailey held onto Clay and balanced on his right foot, Clay eyed him. "Uh, anything else? No other injuries?"

Bailey shook his head.

Clay narrowed his eyes. "Bailey, are you mute?"

Bailey grimaced and nodded.

"Ah, okay." He pulled Bailey's arm over his shoulder. "Let's get you back up the path. Lean on me." He looked over his shoulder at Greg. "You okay to get Rayne to camp?"

"Yeah." The boy stood by Greg. He was still shaky, shivering and pale, but he was up and walking. The abraded bruise on his head was beginning to turn into a goose egg. Greg steadied him with one hand on his back. "Come on, son. Let's get you by the fire, and we'll do some quick assessments on you. See if you need to go to the hospital."

Clay and Bailey started up the side of the river. Though his ankle throbbed, Bailey was pretty sure he could make it up the river trail just fine. Clay had other ideas. "All right." He hunkered down a bit. "Climb on. I'll carry you on my back."

Bailey blew out a breath in a huff and pointed his face at the sky. He didn't like the plan, but he couldn't communicate with Clay easily. So he went along with what the man wanted. He looped his arms around Clay's neck, and Clay stood up with him. Clay reached down and held Bailey's legs.

Great. Bailey fumed as Clay easily carried him, navigating the rocky riverside, and then the trail to the campground. The only guy I've ridden in two years is via piggyback. Sounds about right.

Greg and Rayne walked behind Clay. Soon all of the guys were at the top of the path. Clay gently allowed Bailey to slide off his back, onto his uninjured right foot. Bailey grimaced as he held onto Clay's arm. Okay, fine. The ankle does hurt.

Greg still had one arm over Rayne's shoulders and glanced at Bailey. "We're probably going to have to take Rayne to the hospital, at least for some testing." Greg turned to Clay. "Can you get Bailey a chair, and let Jeremy know what's going on? He's responsible for Rayne while he's under the auspices of the Raven Project."

Clay nodded. "I've got it." Bailey stood uncomfortably and tested his weight on his left foot while Clay got him a seat. He sat heavily in the camp chair with an exhalation of breath.

Clay jogged through the campground. Less than a minute later, he returned with a short, skinny, bearded redhead running beside him. Rayne was passed into the newcomer's care, and Greg turned his eyes to Bailey, while Clay stood nearby.

"Okay. Rayne told me he fell in the river, and that you jumped in after him." Greg squatted down in front of Bailey's chair. "Thanks for that. That was incredibly brave of you." Greg smiled at him and nodded at Bailey's foot. "You okay if we take a look at that?"

Bailey responded with a nod.

Greg seemed to be the guy with the medical background, and the pair of men helped Bailey over to a currently unoccupied cabin. Opening it up, they took him inside. They sat him on the futon, then Greg gently removed Bailey's tennis shoe.

Bailey twitched and gritted his teeth. He knew it could have been worse—Greg treated him with a lot of care. There was a sound, and the door opened. The redhead from earlier stuck his head into the cabin.

"Guys, Mason and I are taking Rayne to the hospital. He seems fine, but we don't want to take a chance with a head injury. You mind keeping an eye on Avery?"

"We don't mind, Jeremy," Clay reassured him. "Though we might have to pass that on to Orson. Hang out for just a little; we might have to take Bailey here in as well."

Jeremy nodded, then went back outside. Clay and Greg refocused on Bailey. Greg peeled off Bailey's wet sock, then pushed up his pant leg.

"Ouch." Greg's hand squeezed above and below a nasty abrasion on the joint. The skin hung by a flap, and now it bled quite a bit. It was also starting to bruise around the injury. He glanced up at Bailey's eyes. "Did you twist it?"

Thinking for a moment, Bailey shook his head. The joint itself felt okay. Not like a sprain, but just superficially injured. Must have scraped it on the rocks when I was running on the beach.

"I'll be right back." Greg left the cabin and returned shortly with a roll of gauze and some ointment. The man smiled at Bailey. "Sorry. But we've gotta get you out of those wet clothes. Otherwise, you'll get the bandage wet."

Sighing, Bailey lay back on the futon. He unbuttoned his jeans and wriggled out of the wet denim. He also took off his crew-neck long-sleeve shirt. Now he sat in his wet boxers.

As Greg worked to bandage up his leg, Clay picked up Bailey's pants. "Want me to go get your bag? Is your key in your pocket?"

Bailey nodded, and he held up a thumb, a little smile on his face. Clay left and headed for Bailey's cabin. Insightful. Considerate. That's nice.

"Bailey." Greg had a hand on his shoulder, and Bailey turned his head. Greg had finished with wrapping the wound, and he smiled reassuringly at him. "You probably don't need x-rays. Looks to me like it's a really nasty bruise and that abrasion on your ankle. But nothing that won't heal."

Bailey agreed with a nod.

Clay returned with Bailey's bag. Gratefully taking it, Bailey pulled out a pair of warm sweatpants. He shifted until he could stand. Greg and Clay helped him up, then Bailey hooked his thumbs in the waistband of his boxers and stripped them off. While Greg steadied him, Bailey pulled on his sweats.

Bailey was used to nakedness from his days aboard ship and in close proximity to hundreds of sailors. Greg and Clay didn't seem to care either.

Once he heard that Bailey was going to be okay, Clay looked at Greg. "Okay. I'll go grab the van, Jeremy, and Rayne."

Greg smiled at Clay. "Good plan. If you're okay with going with them, I'll stay back to keep an eye on Avery."

"Yep. Got it." Clay disappeared.

Bailey found a warm, fuzzy sweater in his bag. Sitting on the futon, he pulled it over his head. As his head popped through the hole of the clothing, his eyes met Greg's.

It was evident by the expression on Greg's face that he had seen it. It would be almost impossible not to. Bailey's hand went to his neck feeling the long, wide scar that ran from just under his jawline down nearly to his sternum. Typically, he wore high-necked shirts, so that it wasn't visible. But this wasn't an ordinary moment.

Bailey smiled a little, patted his own chest, shook his head, and then opened his mouth and made a motion with his hand from his open mouth outward. I can't speak, Bailey thought and willed Greg to understand. He then gently tapped the scar on his neck. Bailey knew most folks wouldn't understand American Sign Language, so he mimed the best that he could. He realized that Greg had probably heard Clay ask about Bailey's lack of speech down at the river. But he still wanted to clear the water as much as possible.

Greg seemed to get it. "Well, regardless of your inability to talk, your jumping in the river for a kid you don't even know told me more than you could ever say." He extended a hand down. "Come on. Let's start the fire, brew some coffee, and get you warmed up."

Bailey smiled. Then he reached up and took Greg's hand.

♬♬♬

Harlan was surprised to see Bailey sitting beside Greg at the big firepit next to the kitchen. He walked along, on his way to the restroom building. Huh. What's up with that? He was so focused on the pair he nearly ran into the door of the bathroom. Shaking his head at himself, he opened the door.

Finishing with his business, Harlan exited the facility. He kept his face forward but looked over without turning his head at Greg and Bailey. They both held steaming mugs and sat close to one another on the bench by the fire.

Weird. It's warm. Why did they build a fire? It was in the mid-sixties, which is a warm start to any day in October. Then, as Harlan neared them, he saw that Bailey's hair was wet. Harlan was usually good at keeping his face neutral, but he couldn't stop his frown. Did he get in the water? Now? Harlan knew the river was unswimmable. A moment later he discarded that as a possibility. No. Maybe it was the shower. Harlan noticed most everything Bailey did, and he knew the man had already taken his shower early in the morning. But maybe he had taken another. That gave him pause for a different reason. Maybe he's getting laid and needed to clean up. Maybe Greg and Clay decided to play around with another guy?

Continuing to walk past the kitchen and firepit, Harlan clenched his jaw. He felt something in the pit of his stomach—something he’d never really felt before. He got to his cabin and started to open the door.

"Hey." The normally observerant Harlan hadn't noticed that Orlando was on the paved loop near his cabin. Orlando stepped close. The brown-skinned man grinned at him. "You wanna hang out?"

Harlan looked levelly at him and worked his jaw. "Sure." Opening his cabin, he motioned for Orlando to enter. The handsome fellow smiled and stepped inside.

Harlan shut the door then turned to look at Orlando. Harlan's gaze was intense, aggressive, and Orlando's smile slipped a little. "Uh, you okay?"

"I'm fine." Harlan said flatly and stepped close. He pulled Orlando's shirt off.

Harlan soon had them both undressed. Then, while Orlando stood next to the bed, and as he leaned in to give Harlan a kiss, the brown-haired man pushed Orlando down onto the bed.

Orlando made a surprised sound, but he didn't have long to figure out what was going on. Harlan got on the bed between Orlando's legs as he rolled a condom onto his cock. Smearing some lube on himself, he stared down at Orlando.

Smiling up at him, Orlando put his hands on Harlan's waist. He had already responded to the promise of their positioning, and Orlando's meaty, uncut penis lay hard and warm against his belly. Harlan reached down, grabbed Orlando's wrists, and pinned them above his head on the pillow.

It was a lucky thing that Orlando liked sex a little rough. Harlan moved his hips until he lined up, then pressed his pelvis forward. He continued to hold Orlando's hands tightly against the pillow.

"Unnn." Orlando gritted his teeth. The entry wasn't exactly gentle. Harlan's hips moved irresistibly forward. Finally, all of him was inside Orlando. Just as the man on the bottom breathed a sigh of relief, Harlan began to pump his body.

Orlando groaned half in pleasure and half in pain, his eyes rolling back in his head. Harlan kept his hands pinned, and after a few thrusts, he ramped up to slamming his body into Orlando's.

A terrific moan vibrated in Orlando's throat. Harlan knew that Orlando liked to be handled. Well, today that suited Harlan better than it would have typically, and he took out his frustration on the handsome man under him.

Fuck. What the fuck is wrong with me? Harlan gritted his teeth as he hammered Orlando. The man writhed, almost mindless as Harlan punished him with his body.

Harlan's sensation crested into a wild orgasm. He grunted loudly, continuing to thrust. Then, at last, he shuddered, his body motionless other than his heavy breathing.

Orlando looked dazedly up at him. "Holy shit, Papi." A puddle of semen on Orlando's belly glistened, proof that had gotten off from the massive stimulation of their forceful coupling. "I don't know what you were thinking about but," he shook his head, "keep that handy!"

Harlan blinked. He released Orlando's wrists and pulled out. Standing, he removed the condom. "Glad you enjoyed yourself." His voice was almost a growl. He tossed the used rubber in the garbage, then pulled on his underwear. "I've got things to do, so I'll see you later."

It was Harlan's way of not so subtly hinting that he wanted Orlando to leave. The man picked up on it. "Ah, okay." Orlando got dressed quickly. Harlan waited a bit impatiently while he did.

Tying his shoes, Orlando stood up. He smiled at Harlan. "Hey, so this was fun." He leaned in for a kiss.

Harlan's narrowed, green eyes stopped Orlando. He was obviously not into it, and Orlando frowned. "Ah, I guess I'll go." He looked over his shoulder at Harlan. "See you."

Harlan nodded curtly at him, and after a moment longer carefully studying Harlan's flat expression, Orlando left.

Harlan put both hands on the door and pointed his face down. Staring at the floor, he slowly breathed in and out. What's wrong with you? What's your problem? He clenched his jaw. Harlan wasn't used to his mind doing anything he didn't command it to do, yet there he was.

Grimacing, he came to an inescapable conclusion. "I'm fucking jealous." He shook his head at himself. "I'm jealous of a guy who has, up till now, almost totally ignored me."

Harlan sighed.

Chapter two!
The reason for Bailey's silent approach to life is revealed.
And ... then we have Harlan. Hrm. Harlan ... what is going on with you, eh?
I started this story as a self-challenge. I wanted to see if I could write an interesting tale about a guy who couldn't verbalize. Bailey can and does most certainly speak ... but he uses ASL as his medium. That poses a challenge when those around him don't know the language.
There we go. Let me know what you think of the chapter, please.
Copyright © 2020 Wayne Gray; All Rights Reserved.
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.
Note: While authors are asked to place warnings on their stories for some moderated content, everyone has different thresholds, and it is your responsibility as a reader to avoid stories or stop reading if something bothers you. 
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If anyone already knows ASL, it’s Jeremy. But I’m guessing Mason will throw himself into learning something new! Greg and Clay will learn some basic signs as well.

Spoiler

How close are my guesses?

;–)

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Harlan (why did autocorrect change what I typed to ‘Carla’?) is used to everything working out the way he plans them to. He’s used to getting his way. At least a far as his Don allows…
;–)

How long before he realizes that he misinterpreted the scene between Greg and Bailey?

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1 minute ago, Wayne Gray said:

These are Homophones. One is an angsty teenage boy, while the other is liquid precipitation common to the Northern Coast of California. While they may sound the same, they mean two entirely different things.

Really. 😉

Oh the games authors play!
;–)

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1 minute ago, Wayne Gray said:

The laugh reaction is at what is hidden. And I can roundly respond with "I guess we'll see."

I write these things knowing you won’t reveal future events. I write them to see if any of the other readers are thinking the same thing I am.
;–)

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1 minute ago, Wayne Gray said:

Well, some readers have already read it! *eyes chris, Butcher, and a few others in this bunch*

😛

If I stumble across a story that was posted months or years ago, I’ll still write the same sort of snarky Comments, observations, and notings that I leave for you. Something for you to look forward to when I eventually get around to reading Fleeting Eternity
;–)

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1 hour ago, Wayne Gray said:

You really need to be ready for that one. I'm not joking.

30 minutes ago, empresslovesreading said:

You've not read it yet?!?!?! Oh, have a dozen boxes of tissues with you. You'll need them. Wayne isn't wrong when he says you need to ready for that one!😭😭😭😭

I’ve been a little distracted and busy recently…

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