WOLF SEED

What WOLF SEED is about

Can a young farmer from North Dakota get into serious trouble by visiting a friend living in an equally peaceful farm community in Canada?

Answer:  It depends on who that friend has for a next-door neighbor.  If the neighbor happens to be DR. PAUL MORGAN, stem-cell researcher with a secret business involving kidnapping and murder, the chances of the visiting farmer getting into trouble are 110 percent.  And the chances are even higher if the farmer happens to be GENE MARTIN, who thinks of himself as a hero type and who jumps head first into any situation where it seems that a victim needs to be rescued.

The shocking situation that he finds in Canada involves not just one victim, but many, a monstrous interference with nature, and is bizarre and dangerous enough to make even a self-proclaimed action hero wonder if maybe he should just go back to riding a tractor on his farm in North Dakota.

For a sneak preview of this book read the sample pages below:

Prologue:  BOOGOO

NATHANIEL OLDSMOBILE SERMON, born of a ghetto family in the worst part of Johannesburg, South Africa, got that amazing name in an amazing way.  At least it might seem that way to those of another culture, but to Nathaniel’s mother and father the choices made good sense.  Nathaniel was a Biblical name, and the father’s Uncle Bomi, who lived in Pretoria where he sold pottery and swept the floor in a Baptist missionary outreach, said the Bible was a good book.  Oldsmobile was the name of a beautiful green car that the parents had once seen back in the days of apartheid.  It had been owned by a wealthy white farmer who drove it into the ghetto one day and handed out candy to the children.  Sermon was another word they had picked up from Uncle Bomi; apparently it meant a speech about God, but it also sounded like Sir Man, and that, of course, had a distinct ring of respect to it.

Nathaniel Oldsmobile Sermon also had a regular inherited surname, Assa, but his parents lopped that off along with Boogoo when they sold him to a rich American couple for five thousand dollars, for they thought these might be a hindrance to him in his new life.  But with a name like Nathaniel Oldsmobile Sermon, and living in America to boot, he would surely grow up to be rich, successful, and respected.

They really had to sell him because they had a dozen other children who needed to be fed, and since these all behaved more or less normally, and Boogoo didn’t, quite, he naturally was the chosen one destined to cross the great water.

There were only a couple of things that Boogoo did that made him seem a little strange.  When the other boys were playing nicely, throwing stones at one another or eating a particular kind of weed and then seeing who could puke the farthest, Boogoo would more likely than not be sitting somewhere staring off into space.  And the other unpalatable thing he did was ask strange and stupid questions, such as, “What is dirt made of?”

At first they thought an intelligent answer would put an end to it:  “Why, silly child, it’s made of dirt, of course.”

“If dirt is made of dirt,” said Boogoo, “then what is the dirt made of that the dirt is made of?”

It was a bit troubling, yet they didn’t think the matter to be serious enough to inform the buyers about it.

Later on, in a small town in Idaho, a test given to all the school children revealed that Boogoo Nathaniel, etc., now called Harry Peterson, had an IQ of 210.

So, even without the wonderful name his blood parents had tried to hang on him, Harry could probably have lived up to their hopes and dreams.  The only problem was that Harry’s adoptive parents were secret alcoholics, and, shortly after Harry turned eighteen, they got killed while driving drunk.

They hadn’t been the best of parents, and, with their passing, young Harry experienced a great sense of freedom.  He dropped out of university where he had been studying genetics and physics, and where he usually had to explain things to his professors instead of the other way around, and went to Canada.

In the small city of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, he found his niche–or thought he did.

A scientist by the name of Paul Morgan discovered Harry and took him under his wing.  It was by no means an entirely altruistic move, for Dr. Morgan recognized that the young man might help him considerably in bringing his own pet scientific project to a successful conclusion.

The project was a secret one, for it was loaded with potential for controversy and misunderstanding, yet it had an overall benevolent purpose which appealed to the optimistic mind of the good looking young man who had once been called Boogoo.

There was another reason why Harry didn’t turn down involvement in the project.  This was the fact that he would be working alongside the most beautiful black teenaged girl that he had ever seen or hoped to see–working with her on a number of experiments.

And some of those experiments would involve having sex with her.

Part One:  THE HOUSE ACROSS THE STREET

 1

THE BIZARRE HAPPENINGS involving Dr. Morgan began to trickle into the life of one Gene Martin on a day that did not look at all bizarre.  In fact, it was a beautiful, sunshiny, autumn day, and Gene himself seemed nothing more than a good North Dakota farm boy whose only concern was to guide a combine along the edge of a field of golden grain.  But, actually, twenty-two-year-old Gene was more complicated than that.

To start with, he didn’t know how good looking he was, or, for that matter, how attractive and engaging most people found his personality.  Although no one would have thought him to be lacking in self confidence, he did, in fact, tend to automatically assume that anyone he met was superior to him; and he would then keep up that strange assumption indefinitely or until the person in question somehow made a complete ass of himself.  And even after that, if said person then did or said something halfway sensible–which, of course, was highly likely–said person would then again assume, in Gene Martin’s generous mind, the aura of a superior-to-himself individual.

All in all this worked out well for Martin.  Without that self-deprecating kink, and with all his qualities, he might have become a complete superior ass himself, and a pain in the collective ass of those who knew him.

At this tender age of just over two decades, Gene Martin had a poster-boy handsome face, brown eyes not afraid to meet other eyes, a luxuriant growth of dark hair, and a muscular, although not yet quite filled out, six-foot-one frame of perfect athletic proportions, slim and supple rather than bulky.

In spite of feeling that everyone was superior to him, Martin displayed a great sense of mental equilibrium.  Nothing ever seemed able to shake him out of a rock-solid state of calmness and self control.  Several witnesses who had heard him being called a piece of rotten shit said that this hadn’t changed the color or expression of his face, nor had he retaliated.  And once when he had been beaten up by three bikers in a Bismarck bar that a good boy like him should never have gone into, those who witnessed the occurrence got the impression that Gene didn’t have any sense of outrage, nor of pain.  Actually, he felt both outrage and pain, but saw no point in jumping up and down or filming a documentary about it.

Brainwise, Martin was as sharp as a filed thorn, and heartwise leaned heavily toward creativity that, in turn, was slanted toward romance in the broad sense of the word.  Likely all that saved him from becoming a drunken, starving poet was that he lived near Bismarck, North Dakota, instead of in Paris, and had been brought up on a farm where good food and hard work were never in short supply.

He had taken over the farm at this early age because of his dad’s health problems.  Mom and Dad had retired to Bismarck, proudly and confidently leaving their family farm in the hands of their only child who had already proven himself to be a capable farmer.

Nevertheless, this confidence and pride was rather recent, for their son had returned home only two years ago after a period of bumming around through the eastern states and worrying them half to death.  But now, for the last two years, he had more than made up for that, farming the land like an old hayseed, milking the cows, slopping the pigs, and shoveling shit without ever letting out a squeak of complaint.

But what they didn’t know was that, while driving the farm machinery, struggling with the bookkeeping, and shoveling manure, he sustained himself by daydreaming about the romantic, adventurous things he would do as soon as he had enough money saved up to go wandering again.  But he also knew that this time he couldn’t leave until he had found someone to take care of the farm.  So far, no worthy soul had surfaced for that honor.

On this beautiful, sunny, late morning in mid-September, Gene was happier than usual, and the reason for that was simple enough.  He was finishing off the harvesting of his last field, a fine crop of oats, and was confident now that he would beat the rain that had been forecast for the afternoon.

The big “Green Machine” John Deer combine was purring along with never a clank nor a thump (a thump could indicate a plug-up resulting from damp straw), cutting a  twenty-five foot swath through the standing grain.  The crop on this back-acre field was near perfect, so full, straight and level that it seemed one should be able to walk on top of it without sinking in, and it was totally ripe as indicated by its golden, almost glowing color.  It was dry too, so there was little chance of a plug-up on this final round.

Sitting up high in the glass enclosed cabin, easily guiding the combine, Gene did what he had been doing on and off all through the harvest, as well as all through the summer cultivating and the spring seeding:  He was daydreaming about the possibility of that adventurous trip he hoped to take sometime during this coming winter.  He didn’t yet know where he’d go, there were so many possibilities, and he didn’t want to decide too soon, because letting his mind roam over the globe was a lot of fun in itself.  Unfortunately, for lack of money, the trip would have to be limited in scope and time.  So the trick would be to go somewhere where interesting things were liable to happen quickly.  A month in Central America, maybe?  There was always something exciting going on there–revolutions, kidnappings.  Maybe he’d get a chance to be a hero.

He was very young, yet not quite stupid enough–he told himself–to go and stick his head in somewhere where it was sure to get lopped off.  But if, on this trip, he could just get close enough to some action to get the real feel of it, maybe that would be exciting enough for now.

As he drew close to the end of the field where he had left a half-loaded truck, he popped out of his daydreaming and almost reached for the CB mike to inform his hired man that he was coming in with the last dump.  But then he remembered that he had let Larry go home yesterday.  With so little left to harvest, Gene had decided to save a few bucks by doing it by himself, even though that way it would take a couple of hours or so longer.

He pulled up beside the truck, made the dump, and shut down the combine.  He decided to leave it in the field until the next day when he’d come back and leisurely clean it before driving it back to the yard.  Today he’d just unload the truck into his last available five-thousand-bushel steel granary and take the rest of the day off.  He’d make a phone call to ask one of several available young women if she’d like to go out for supper and a movie to help him celebrate the end of harvest.  (It never occurred to him that any of them might ever turn him down, even though he believed they were all superior to him.  This was simply because such a thing had never happened.)

This plan went forward almost without a hitch, and would have if he hadn’t gotten the idea of cleaning up in the creek instead of under the shower.  As it was, he came very near to standing up his date, a cute dental receptionist by the name of Janie who had said yes almost before he had finished asking.  He came close to having arrived in town on a gurney as a cadaver rather than fresh and sexy behind the wheel of his old Pontiac.

It wasn’t that he preferred bathing in icy creek water to soaking under a hot shower.  It was just that he had lots of time on his hands and thought he might as well get in one of his homemade training sessions down at the creek.

Wearing a pair of swimming trunks under his jeans and with a backpack that contained all the things he’d need, including towels and soap, he started out walking his short lane.  There was pastureland, his own, on the far side of the country road that passed by his farmyard, and Big Creek zigzagged through the pasture, one loop coming within only a quarter of a mile of the road.

But before crossing the road, Gene stopped at his mailbox.  There was the usual junk and one letter.  He smiled, knowing at once who it was from, even before he read the return address, because of the hand-drawn artwork on the envelope.  It was from Wally Walters up in Canada.

He left the junk mail for the return trip but took the letter with him, deciding to wait until he got down to the creek to read it.  Wally had been his best boyhood buddy, two years older than himself, and therefor had usually taken the lead in everything, letting Gene just naturally fall into the role of the faithful sidekick.  Even though Wally had lived in town he had spent much time on this farm, and a good part of that at the creek where he and Gene swam, smoked, and discussed the wonderful things they were going to do with their lives.  Gene decided to not open the letter until he got down there; it would be almost like having his old friend present again.

As Gene and Wally had reached their late teens, it had become increasingly obvious that the two were heading in different directions.  Wally’s wildness increased while Gene’s unusual inner maturity threatened to make a hermit monk out of him.  So while Wally got more and more busy seeing how many girls he could nail while under the influence of how much booze, Gene got into studying the philosophies of the great thinkers, worrying about supernatural happenings and UFO reports, going to church fairly regularly, and actually studying in school.  He would certainly have been called a nerd if it hadn’t been for the fact that he didn’t at all look like one.  Wally had once told him that he looked like a cool stud but was really Grandma Moses in disguise.  This made a certain amount of sense because Gene had at that time added landscape painting to his other creative endeavors.

In spite of these differences, Gene and Wally continued to be close friends.  One of the things that held them together was their common interest in all things adventurous, melodramatic, and romantic.  Also, they both recognized in one another a kind of deep-seated decency–a true caring about the welfare of others.  Some saw this more in Gene than in Wally because Gene was soft-spoken and wasn’t afraid to let people know how he felt.  Wally, on the other hand, almost constantly put on a hedonistic, reckless front and seemingly would have killed himself before admitting that there was any goodness in his heart.

Ironically, Wally eventually buckled down to study–once he found what he really wanted to do for a living–and Gene gave a distinct impression of irresponsibility by dropping out of Grade Eleven and hitchhiking east.  To add to the irony, it had probably been Gene’s passion for painting pictures that had sparked Wally’s interest in his own training, for he became a comic-book illustrator.  He was very good at it and was soon doing both stories and artwork for several action comics.  The interest in derring-do that he shared with Gene had helped him to create some outstanding superheroes that were now quite popular among comic-book readers.

His work as a professional illustrator had started with a great job offer that took him to the city of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada, where a new comic-book company was making big ripples in the worlds of caped crusaders and over-muscled swordsmen.

Gene followed a grass-grown trail down the considerable creek banks that were covered with willow bushes and quaking aspens, the latter well into turning from emerald green to brilliant gold.  Near the water the ground leveled off and was mostly free from foliage, at least in the area of this familiar swimming spot.  There were also a few large, flat rock outcroppings which made nice places to sit and sun oneself before or after a swim.  The spot would have been quite picturesque if it hadn’t been for the junk that some mysterious litterbug of the past had dumped there.  There was an old tub, something that looked as though it might once have served as a trough for feeding pigs, the remains of an old-fashioned gas-powered washing machine, tin cans, and other junk.  The stuff had been there all through Gene’s and Wally’s boyhood years and they had come to accept it and even like it.  It was an integral part of the place.

Gene was about to sit down on the biggest of the flat rocks and read his letter when he remembered that this was Saturday, and Saturday was the day that Bill and Rose Kruger often came here to fish.  They were a childless middle-aged couple who lived on the adjoining farm to the west, and they had finished up their harvest about a week ago.  So there was a good chance they could show up at any moment.

It was common knowledge that Mrs. Kruger got the serious hots immediately upon encountering any masculine humanoid being, but Gene suspected that she particularly liked him.  Her husband was likely aware of all this but didn’t seem to mind at all; apparently he was proud of his wife’s promiscuous nature as well as of her basic overloaded libido.  He had once bragged that Rose got so horny her nipples glowed in the dark.

Gene didn’t want her around when he was taking a bath in the creek.  He was wearing trunks under his jeans but had planned to keep them on only for his swimming practice.  He couldn’t very well wear trunks and do a good job of soaping up where it counted the most.  Gene decided to get the bathing over with as quickly as possible, and then, if he was still alone, he would practice a bit of American Free Style and maybe do some target practice, shooting at the tin cans with the pellet handgun he had brought along.  And he also hoped to work on some physical combat moves–kicks, hand blows, and throws.

To young Gene Martin these activities were not just a fun pastime.  He was sure that having a grip on such skills would someday soon help him to save lives, including his own.  He didn’t know just how it would happen, but somehow he would one day be a hero type–a man of action who would come to the rescue of damsels in distress, etc.

But today the important thing was to get his ass in and out of the water before Mrs. Kruger got there, so he decided to hold off on reading Wally’s letter until after he was done with his bath.

When he had stripped down to his green boxer-style trunks and was about to struggle out of those as well, he changed his mind and decided on just a few seconds of underwater swimming.  After all, a hero never knows when he might have to stay below the surface for quite a long time in order to rescue someone or find his way into the hidden underground headquarters of a villain.  Gene kept his trunks on because messing around underwater naked was not a great idea.  There was junk down there as well as on the bank.  It was not a good place to dangle an anchor–not even a short one.

He walked into the creek, challenging himself to see if he could keep from gasping or grimacing as the cold water crept upward.  When it had reached his shoulders and he was satisfied that he had shown no more reaction to the discomfort than James Kirk would have shown while a Klingon was holding a late-model pain-producer to his guts, he took a deep breath and fell forward into complete submersion.  At the same time he stroked downward at a shallow slant through the somewhat murky water.

He felt a sharp pain at the front and top of his right thigh, and, in spite of his stroking, came to a sudden stop.  Gene quickly reached back and was rewarded with an equally sharp pain in his hand as he found the thing that had snagged him.  His eyes were open and even through the murk of the water he could now see that the leg of his trunks was caught on a curving length of barbed wire.  Its lower end disappeared among weeds and a batch of discarded five-gallon pails.  Gene had often seen the pails, but he hadn’t known that there was any barbed wire down here.  Apparently after many years of failure, the current had eventually been successful in loosening one end of this fishhook for humans.  Or maybe the fish had set it up to get revenge.

At first Gene wasn’t particularly worried.  He would simply detach himself and stroke for the surface.  Being more careful now not to gash his hands on the barbs, he calmly tried to get free.  But then he found that it was not only the barbed wire that was caught on his trunks.  A mysteriously shaped little piece of junk metal was fastened to the end of the wire, and it was this thing, sharp and bent over on itself, that had cut into his trunks and fastened itself there.

Even after struggling with it for a good ten seconds, he couldn’t loosen it from his trunks; and the swimwear material seemed to be made of titanium.

The young romantic mind can be a fascinating thing.  At least in this case is was; for Gene, instead of thinking mainly about the possibility of drowning, was saying to himself, Wow!  This is just like in the movies!  However, after five more seconds of unsuccessful struggle, that concept and the fear of drowning had about a fifty-fifty relationship.  Still, he thought, In the movies there’s always a way out of these situations….  That’s it–a way out!  The solution is to get out of my trunks!

The trunks, however, were a tight fit.  He had worn them since he was sixteen and they were now somewhat uncomfortably small for him; but he hadn’t wanted to steal from his travel savings to buy a new pair.  Gene calculated he had been underwater for at least twenty-five seconds and his lungs were beginning to feel uncomfortable.  That should not yet have started, but he knew why it had.  Staying underwater while in a calm state was one thing; doing that while struggling for your life was quite another.  It seemed that an excited body used up a whole lot more oxygen.

Gene got a grip on his feelings and on his trunks, carefully forced them back over his hips and buttocks.  It wasn’t at all like doing the same thing while standing on a solid surface; he was rolling about in the water like a helium balloon on the end of its tether.  By the time he had the trunks down close to his knees, every cell in his body was screaming for air and he felt that he would black out in a few seconds.  Nevertheless, he kept his cool and continued to go through the right motions that in the past had always been effective in the pants-removal category.  But now the thought flashed through his screaming mind that he had become a baby and was trying, for the first time and unsuccessfully, to get out of a shitty diaper.

He got one leg out, then was sure he would pass out before he could go through the same motions to free the other leg.  His fading consciousness cried out, Oh, God!–help me!  In this suffocating stage he was beyond reasoning and instinctively stroked for the surface.  He felt the trunks tug at his leg, slip over his knee, catch on his foot for just a moment, and then he was free.  But he was no longer clear on which was up and which was down.  Although his eyes were still open, he could see nothing–nothing, that is, except gaudy colors, like the inside of some MacDonald’s fast food places that catered to the tastes of children, featuring clashing hues of purples and reds.  He knew he should keep holding his breath but also knew that he wasn’t going to.

The reds and purples quickly changed to an eye-searing whitish yellow and he found himself sucking in air.  Then he could clearly see his surroundings again–the water’s surface, the creek banks, and the blue sky.

Gene treaded water for a moment while he continued to suck in life.  Then he slowly stroked for shore, which was only a few yards away.

When he let his feet down he was in waist-deep water.  He staggered to the grassy bank and flopped down in the well-established movie tradition of all near-drowned heroes.

He lay there long enough to become aware of being wet and cold in spite of the sunshine.  Shakily, Gene got to his feet and, without much stumbling, made it to his backpack.  Out of that he pulled a large, thick bath towel and took it with him to the flat rock.  Hoping he wouldn’t fall on his head from exhaustion, he stayed on his feet while drying himself.  Then he spread out the towel on the rock and lay down on it on his back.  Now the sun’s heat could get to his dried body and it felt good.

“Oh, God, thank you!” said Gene out loud and sincerely.  “Thank you for getting me out of there.”  He knew that any self-respecting atheist would have laughed at his prayer, pointing out to him that it was his own struggles that had freed him; but Gene knew better than that.  For one thing, he believed that the mental forces from which his struggle had originated were divinely designed; and, also, at the last moment Gene’s foot could easily have remained tangled in the trunks, but hadn’t.

As he lay there recuperating, the sun increasingly and pleasantly warming his naked body, he drifted off into a semi sleep and didn’t hear the barely audible approaching footsteps and the still distant cheerful conversation of Bill and Rose Kruger.

Just before he drifted off to sleep, and probably because of his close call that had threatened to bring his short life to a close, Gene thought about how he had almost missed out on his date with Janie, the cute dental receptionist.

*     *     *

In his dream the date was well in progress.  Janie was seated beside him in a movie theatre, and up on a mile-wide screen many bales of barbed wire, rolling along over a desert, were being chased by as many black and white spotted leopards.  Fairly quickly, however, the leopards became Holstein cows on their way to a creek to drink.  About the time they got there, however, he lost interest in them because there were several naked women bathing in the creek.  Wondering if the scene was embarrassing Janie, Gene turned to look at her.  She was smiling at him while at the same time pulling down her jeans and panties, all in one movement.  Some kind of big explosion on the screen made him turn back to see what was happening there.  Buildings were being blown up–barns and silos.  And over the farm flew a John Deer combine.  Were bombs dropping from that?  He was about to turn his eyes back to the horny disrobing girl when another explosion rocked the screen.

He began to wake up then, although he didn’t yet know that.  But his eyes were open and he saw the actual sky rather than the dream movie screen.  Against a mass of dark gray thunderheads, lightning forked brightly.

*     *     *

As he came more fully awake he realized that less than half the sky was bulging with storm clouds; the other half plus was still blue and he was still lying there in the sunshine.  And he also saw that he had a massive hard-on.  In his sleep-fogged mind it seemed to him that his penis was serving as a lightning rod for the rest of his body, and he fearfully assumed that a bolt might strike it at any moment.

Instead of lightning and a crash of thunder, however, there came an innocent sounding, little metallic click.  And then another … and another.

Gene turned his head in that direction and saw Rose Kruger only a few yards away, her camera to her eye, happily clicking away at him.

Shocked, he sat up straight and pulled some of the towel over his unruly crotch.

Rose lowered the camera, laughed, and said, “I’m so glad I took up photography.  But, after today, I’ll never take another picture of a flower or a picturesque fence post.  Those would be too much of a letdown.”

Gene was on his feet wrapping the towel around himself.

Bill stood nearby, grinning broadly.  “Don’t blame me,” he said.  “She’s the one with the camera.”

Gene was trying to retain some dignity and did manage that, for he looked like an Indian chief, standing tall and straight in a blanket, welcoming Columbus to the new world.  He told Bill, “But you’re the one who’s grinning from ear to ear.”

“I’m just smiling about all the fish I’m going to catch in your creek.  I’ll have lots of time to do that, now that Rose’ll be busy for the next few weeks masturbating with your pictures.”

“You got that right,” Rose told her husband.

Rose and Bill were both tall, bony, and large featured, in denim pants and work shirts.  They looked enough alike to have been siblings, and the amusing idea came to Gene that maybe this was the case and they were living in incest.  He boldly dropped his towel and, not having any underwear with him, picked up his jeans.

Rose was once more taking pictures.  Without slowing down her rate of clicking, she said, “You’re getting a bit limp now, but that’s all right.  I like ‘em in all states of size and angle, right down to ice-water shriveled.”

Gene stepped into one leg of his jeans.  “Rose, you’re outrageous.  If you don’t stop it, I’ll report this to the ladies of your sewing circle.”

“You know,” said Rose, “I actually did belong to a sewing circle once.  We had both men and women.  The ladies would lay down in a circle and get sewed by the men….  Would you hold it for a second?–and turn a little more to your left.”

Gene got his other leg into his jeans and pulled them up, but left the zipper open while he bent over to pick up his shirt.

“Put your shirt on slowly, please,” said Rose.  “You’ve got beautiful muscle tits, and I like the way they flex when you move your arms.”

The rising wall of cloud began to cover the sun and then lightning flashed again.  As Gene finished dressing, sitting down to pull on his western-style boots, a spattering of rain began.  Rose pulled out her shirt tails.  For a moment Gene thought she might take off her shirt and reveal whatever femininity she had there to offset her bony frame, but instead she simply used the tails to cover her camera while she hurriedly moved toward a pile of stuff which included fishing gear, raincoats, and a camera case.

“I’m heading for home,” said Gene as he readied his backpack.  “Sorry that you’re not getting good fishing weather.”

Bill said, “It’s fine fishing weather.  We brought our raincoats, but we might just go naked instead.  Right, Rose?  You ought to hang around, Gene.  We plan to do a little more than fishing.”  He laughed, revealing the gap where he had two front teeth missing.

“No, I’ll leave you two to your private orgy.”  He hoisted his backpack to his shoulders.

Rose was slipping into a raincoat.  “I’ll print out the pictures tonight–probably make them eight by ten.  You can have all the copies you want.  You want some?”

“Sure, why not?” said Gene.  “They’ll be great to show to my grandchildren some day.”

Bill said, “If you’re gonna have grandchildren, my boy, you better start doin’ more than playin’ with it.”

Gene ignored that and began climbing the creek bank.  But he was civil enough to say, without looking back, “Be seein’ you folks.  Enjoy your fishing and so on.”  He tried to shut off the hearing center in his brain by sheer willpower, but Rose’s husky voice poked after him.

“If you ever want to make it a threesome with us, that’d be great, you beautiful boy!”

How did I ever rate getting neighbors like this? thought Gene as he worked his way up the bank through willow bushes and increasing rain.  Oh, well, hopefully I’ll soon be far away from here.

He hurried on toward his farmyard, leaving Bill and Rose to their fishing and fucking in the rain.

*     *     *

Gene took a hot shower and put on clean clothes–jeans and a blue and white western shirt.  He turned the heat up to get rid of the rain chill and sat in an easy chair in the living room, a cup of coffee in one hand and the unopened letter from Wally in the other.  After a couple more sips of the brew he set down the cup and finally got around to carefully ripping off the end of the envelope and removing the hand-printed, artistically illuminated letter.  Besides doing artwork in the margins, Wally often replaced a word here and there with a picture.  The letter read:

Hygiene:

How r u?  Been getting any (a tiny sketch of a kitten) lately–or ever?  Or are you still practicing to prepare yourself for the priesthood?  If you come up here to visit me I’ll show you some (the little cat again) that you won’t be able to turn down.  All the women around here have a (a sketch of a cargo chest) like (a sketch of two round hay bales), and (a sketch of two donkeys) like (a sketch of a couple of old-style dirigibles), and (two young cats) like (a sketch of a flame followed by a basket holding some kind of round, yellow fruit).

Gene had to read this rebus-puzzle part three times before it was totally clear to him that Wally was saying: All the women around here have chests like hay bales, asses like dirigibles, and pussies like hot peaches.  The letter continued:

If you’re going to come and visit me, now would be a perfect time–or at least just as soon as you’ve finished harvesting your crops.  I think there might be something big going on here.  It might even be big enough so that I can base a brand new comic book series on it.

You see, there’s something funny going on in the house right across the street from where I now live.  (Yeah, did you notice the change of address?  As you can see I’ve moved from the city to this little until-now peaceful town called Royville.)  Well, actually, it’s still peaceful, if you don’t count the strange noises–at night!–in that place across the street.  I’m going to do whatever I can to find out what’s going on there.  I sure hope you’ll come and help me with it.  You know, it’s the sort of thing we always daydreamed about doing.  Adventure!  Mystery!  Danger and excitement!  Dum-dee-dee-dum-dum!  That last part was suspense music.

I won’t tell you any more until you get here, but give me a call at this new number (he gave the number) to let me know that you’re coming.  If you do I’ll try to hold off investigating this matter until you get here.

There was a little more about how well his work was going, and that he had moved to Royville because he wanted to get a dog and cat and in the city they were more restricted, but he didn’t have them yet; and there was a bit of reminiscing about boyhood days.  He ended up with:

Now get your ass over here, buddy.  Forget the farm for a couple of weeks or a month and get out here into the sort of thing you always wanted to do.  It won’t cost you a cent.  I’ll even pay for your gas or plane fare if you decide to fly.  It’s nothing to me because I have as much money as you have cow shit.  So give me that call and let me roll out the welcome mat for the best sidekick that the world’s greatest hero (that’s me) ever had.

Sincerely,

The Green Horny Toad (everyday identity: Wally Walters)

Gene laid the letter aside and had some more coffee.

He had never before seriously considered having Bill Kruger look after the farm while he was gone because Gene had planned to stay away at least a couple of months, and Bill had plenty of his own work to take care of, including beef-cattle and pigs.  But if it was only for a couple or three weeks….  Gene was sure both Bill and Rose would be totally willing to look after the farm for him for such a short length of time now that harvest was over, especially if he paid them something reasonable.  He’d have to give them the house key so they could keep an eye on the heating and water systems.

No doubt they’d have sex in every room of the house, but he could always air out the place when he got back.

 

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