Hi friends and happy Monday! Good God, can you believe it’s the last Monday–the last DAY–of August? Summer has flown past, and so is this story! Are you ready for another chapter of my Story Orgy Creature Feature story with Demetrius and Cody?
So far this story is untitled, but we’ll see what comes up as I write it, shall we?
Today’s prompt is: Open the box!
Now, grab your caffeinated beverage of choice and settle in. Enjoy!
Story Orgy Creature Feature
Cody stepped back from the smoke and stench billowing out of the sink and coughed to clear his lungs. In an effort to save a little money, he’d bought frozen mini pizzas and stored them in a small fridge at the office. Of course, he’d had to first buy the small fridge from Costco. And the toaster oven in which he’d left the first two pizzas during his call to Demmy. So, in hindsight, he probably hadn’t saved much money when he compared it to eating out.
“No wonder Demmy’s worried about leaving you alone with the business,” Cody muttered.
He shut off the water he’d been running into the sink and surveyed the damage. The two mini pizzas were charcoal lumps and would have to be thrown out. The tray from the toaster oven would require a soaking, and then a severe scraping to remove the baked on pizza toppings. He sighed and put his hands on his hips as he shook his head. Maybe he shouldn’t be left on his own for too long. Maybe he should have accompanied Demmy to Florida and support him during this difficult time.
“Nice odor,” a man said from the kitchen doorway, “is that a new body spray?”
Cody jumped and managed to hold back a startled shout before he turned to find a tall, African American man standing in the doorway, his broad shoulders extending almost frame to frame. A soft halo of hair made him almost as tall as Cody, and he wore a big, bright smile on his handsome face.
“Jugs!” Cody stepped froward for a bro-hug, shaking Jugs’s massive hand and leaning in for a brief hug accompanied by a couple of hard pats on the back for each of them.
Darnell Perramon—known by the name Jugs because of the size of his pectoral muscles—had attended Harriettville High School, the nearest school to Parson’s Hollow and its biggest sports team rivals. While Cody played defense as a linebacker, Jugs had played as an offensive tackle, and the two had often gone head to head. Jugs was a few inches shorter than Cody’s six foot five height, but he had a massive chest and the name-claiming pecs to go with it. He was handsome and outgoing and probably three times as cocky as Cody, which amounted to around seven times more cocky than other men. They had always had an easy-going, casual friendship based on respect for each others’ athletic and dating prowess.
“What brings you by?” Cody asked.
Jugs shrugged his big shoulders and folded his muscular arms. “I was slumming around over here in Parson’s Hollow and thought I’d stop in and see how being a business owner was treating you.” Jugs slid a glance toward the ruins of the mini pizzas in the sink. “Pretty much the same as when you were in high school, huh?”
Cody waved him off and turned back to the sink to stuff the pizzas down the disposal. “Yeah, yeah. You think you’ve got it made over there in Harriettville with your fancy manager position at Furniture, Furniture, Furniture and your two bedroom apartment.”
“Well, I did have it made,” Jugs said with a sigh, “until they let me go.”
“What? What happened?”
“Business is dropping, so they had to make some cuts,” Jugs replied. “Guess they only needed fourteen people to manage Furniture, Furniture, Furniture.” He shrugged. “I’m trying to see it as a business decision, and nothing personal.”
“Well, that sucks,” Cody said. “I’m sorry to hear that. You have anything lined up yet?”
“Not yet. I’ve got a bit of money saved, so I’m taking my time.” He stepped back into the hallway and looked down the short hall to the office space. “I like what you and your friend have set up here. Demetrius Singleton, right? Your friend from high school?”
Cody felt a small twinge of nervousness, wondering what track the conversation was about to take. He had no idea where Jugs fell on the gay acceptance spectrum—they really hadn’t been that close of friends, more like friendly rivals—but Cody mentally prepared himself to defend Demmy’s honor. And, apparently, his own, with the thoughts he’d been having lately.
“That’s right,” Cody replied. “Demmy had the idea, and I’ve come along for the ride.”
Jugs nodded then stepped out of sight, disappearing toward the office setup. Cody followed him down the hall and into the not much wider space taken up by his and Demmy’s desks pushed together to face each other, a filing cabinet, and a couple of plastic visitor’s chairs, in case they ever had a visitor.
“This is a nice setup,” Jugs said. “Small, but professional.” He cocked an eyebrow as he looked Cody up and down, taking in his work boots, cargo shorts, and old, comfortable polo. “It’s almost like you’re an adult now, Bower. If you’d just learn to dress better.”
“Yeah, yeah,” Cody said, waving off Jugs’s comment. “Look who’s talking.”
Jugs gave a quiet laugh and his expression shifted for a moment to something so sad, so lost, Cody was surprised to find himself choked up. He knew just how Jugs felt, because he’d been feeling the same way before Demmy had come up with the idea for them to start Critter Catchers. Trapped in some dead end job, or losing some dead end job, and not knowing where to go or how to feel happy.
Before he could respond, however, the desk phones rang, and he circled the desks to sit in his chair and pick up the receiver. “Critter Catchers, this is Cody.”
A woman’s voice sounded as if she were edging toward hysterical panic. “Hi, yeah, um, you’re animal control, right?”
“That’s right, ma’am, we catch all sorts of critters. What kind of critter is giving you problems?”
Jugs pulled out Demmy’s chair and sat across from Cody, smirking as he listened to his end of the conversation.
“There is a deer that’s gotten trapped inside my yard,” the woman explained, her voice going up in pitch with her frustration, “and it’s battering my privacy fence with its antlers. It’s ruining my fence!” She took the phone away from her mouth and Cody could hear her shout, “Hear now, stop that! Stop that right now!” She came back to the phone, a little breathless. “It’s very agitated, and when I’ve tried to shoo it out the gate, it’s charged me instead. It’s just frantic and I have to get it out of my yard. Oh, my jonquils!”
“Okay, I can help you out,” Cody said. “Give me your name and address and I’ll be right over.”
The woman practically screamed the information to him and Cody wrote it all down, promised her he’d be right there, and hung up. He looked at Jugs and found him sitting with his elbows on the desk, chin propped in his hands, grinning at him.
“The master at work,” Jugs said. “You got her name and address before you even got her number. Very smooth.”
“Hey now, this is all professional,” Cody said and grabbed his keys and wallet from a desk drawer before he stood up.
The comment from Jugs made him a little uncomfortable, and he wasn’t really sure why. Well, he pretty much knew why—he had a long standing reputation for being the Parson’s Hollow Lothario, but he wanted—needed—to change his ways if he was serious about pursuing something more meaningful with Demmy. All of this deep thinking and fretting was new to him, and it wasn’t just the whole guy-on-guy aspect of it all. Cody had never really, truly been in love before, with a woman or a guy, and when he thought about it, when he really let himself think about what he was contemplating with Demetrius, Cody seemed to just get more and more confused. He thought he was ready to step outside of his comfort zone, but this was going to be a major change for him, and he needed to be certain he was ready for it, not just for his sake, but for Demmy’s as well.
“So, you’re off then, I guess, huh?” Jugs said and got to his feet.
“Yeah, this woman, Ann Eaton, has a deer trapped in her backyard trashing her privacy fence.” Cody started to turn for the door, then stopped and turned back. “Hey, you got anything going on right now?”
Jugs shook his head. “Nope.”
“Want to do a ride along? We could catch up and you could watch a master animal controller in action.”
“Master animal controller, huh? We meeting someone else there?” Jugs grinned, then shrugged his big shoulders.
“Sure, why not? I’ve got nowhere to be and all the time in the world to get there.”
“Okay, then, come on.”
The drive to Ann Eaton’s place took fifteen minutes, during which time they talked about games they’d played in high school, and Jugs brought up girls they’d both dated. Cody was not surprised to find out he and Jugs had been swimming in the same dating pool. Ever since high school, when they’d first learned of each other, the two had seemed to be trading off a long list of girls, each of them dating a girl either just before or just after the other. It got to be a kind of competition, really, and one Cody liked to think he’d won. However, some evenings, when he sat in his apartment alone, playing video games or watching shitty reality TV shows, he had his doubts. And from the sound of things on Jugs’s end, he was having his doubts as well.
Ann Eaton turned out to be an attractive woman in her fifties with shoulder length blonde hair and hips that would make Cody’s Grandma Felicia shout “now she’s a baby-maker!” Ann stood on her front porch, hands clutched together, eyes wide as she watched them pull up to the curb.
“Ms. Eaton?” Cody called as he walked up the driveway. A loud bang from the tall privacy fence near the back of the house brought him and Jugs up short. The driveway ended at a grassy strip in front of the fence, just beyond a side door into the house. Cody saw no garage roof above the top of the privacy fence, which explained why there was only a standard gate entry into the yard, and not a double swing gate entry to allow a car to pass through.
“As you can hear, I have a situation,” Ann Eaton said. “Come inside and you can look out the patio door.”
Cody introduced Jugs—having to stop himself from using the man’s nickname and refer to him as Darnell—and they followed her into a small, bright kitchen and up to a sliding glass door. A wrought iron patio chair had been situated on the small wooden deck outside the door, most likely to discourage the deer from smashing through the glass and into the house. Two dogs barked from a back bedroom, sounding like a smaller breed, maybe Pomeranians or some kind of terriers, the kinds of dogs Cody didn’t care for. Every small dog he’d met had been a biter.
When he peered through the sliding door, Cody saw a 12 point buck run full tilt at Ann Eaton’s privacy fence, hit the once treated and nicely painted wood fencing, and then stagger back. Dents and splinters were left in its wake, and the deer turned to charge another section of fence with the same result.
“That damn thing is costing thousands of dollars,” Ann said with a groan.
“You tried opening the gate?” Jugs asked.
Ann gave him a sour look. “Yes, I tried opening the gate. And the stupid thing avoided it and chased me back into the house. Then the school down the street let out and I didn’t want it charging into a group of kids, so I closed the gate again.”
“Kids are a lot of trouble, aren’t they?” Jugs asked, apparently trying to lighten the mood. Ann gave him a long, steady glare and he took a step back though he towered over her by at least a foot.
“Okay, we’ll see what we’ve got out in the truck,” Cody said. “You called the right company.”
“Just hurry, please.” Ann flinched as the deer rammed into another portion of the fence, then shouted through the patio door, “Damn you! Damn you to deer Hell!”
Jugs followed Cody out to the truck and when they were out of earshot, tried to stifle his laughter as he said, “Damn you to deer Hell?”
Cody chuckled as he pulled his coveralls out of a storage compartment in the bed of his truck and stepped into them. He handed Jugs a spare pair of coveralls, and as he pulled them on, Jugs asked, “What the hell are you going to do to get that deer out of there?”
“I don’t know yet,” Cody replied. “I’m thinking.”
“Got a tranquilizer gun?” Jugs asked.
“We’re not that sophisticated,” Cody said. “Or licensed. Plus those things cost money, and we just got Demmy’s truck out of the shop and got our credit card balances paid down, so we’re about at enjoying food again.”
Jugs furrowed his brow. “Damn, Bower. Sounds like you and Demetrius are married or something, the way you talk about him.”
Panic and frustration reared up within Cody as he turned his back to Jugs and sorted through the various implements in another storage compartment in the bed of his truck. He knew what he should say—he should say that it was none of Jugs’s business what kind of relationship he and Demetrius had—but he was quickly finding out that the knowing and the saying were two different things. While Cody had slowly allowed himself to think about having a sexual relationship with Demetrius, he had no idea if either of them were ready yet for that kind of change. And he hadn’t really, truly sat down and considered what it would mean to the people they knew, including those on the outer edges of their personal networks. So, instead of what he should say, Cody managed to cobble together something that sounded good and truthful as he assembled a net with a long handle and a long handled tool with a loop at the end he thought he might be able to slip over the deer’s head and antlers.
“Well, Jugs, when you go into business with someone, it kind of becomes a marriage,” Cody said, and handed Jugs the net. “Here, make yourself useful, unlike that homecoming game we played against each other in 2003.”
“Was that the same game you let our quarterback slip past you three times to score?” Jugs asked.
Cody shot him a dirty look. “No. That was a different game.”
Jugs grinned. “I see.”
“Yes, I hope you do.” Cody started up the driveway once again. “Come on.”
“So what’s your plan?” Jugs asked, and Cody liked that the guy sounded a little nervous, because Cody was pretty much ready to piss himself. While deer were pretty much harmless, any pissed off animal could be dangerous, especially one with bone hard weapons on its head and sharp hooves on its feet.
“I’m kind of playing things by ear,” Cody said.
“Sort of like how you played football, eh?”
Cody stopped at the fence with his hand on the handle as he turned to meet Jugs’s gaze. “Exactly. Which is why Parson’s Hollow High beat Harriettville High in the state standings three years in a row.”
“Too bad about your senior year,” Jugs shot back, then nodded at the gate. “Ready?”
“Jugs my friend, I’m always ready.”
Cody pushed open the gate and stepped into the yard. He felt Jugs crowd in behind him, then heard the gate click shut. He scanned the yard, letting his gaze pass over a shed in the back corner as he looked around for the deer. Before he could locate it, however, Jugs gave a shout and ran off to the left, sticking close to the fence. Cody looked right and saw the deer charging at him, head down and antlers ready for a goring. He dove out of the way and ended up flat on his stomach on the ground as the deer hit the fence and staggered back, shaking its head.
With the deer momentarily stunned, Cody scrambled to his feet and ran to the opposite corner of the yard. He’d dropped the long handled loop somewhere along the way, but Jugs was waiting in the corner and still held onto the net. Cody was glad to see that Jugs’s eyes were wide and his smart mouth shut tight.
“That deer is fucking pissed,” Jugs said.
“Probably just got back from a date with your Mama,” Cody said.
“Really?” Jugs asked. “You gotta go there now? We’re about to be skewered by some ragaholic deer.”
Cody looked around the yard as the deer shook its head and regained its bearings. A crazy idea flickered to life, and he mentally cursed himself for dropping the loop.
“Okay, I’m going to get its attention,” Cody said.
“Uh, what?” Jugs asked. “You want it to charge us?”
“Yep,” Cody replied. “And we’ll wait until the last second and then jump out of the way. When it hits the fence it’ll knock itself silly for a minute or two and that’s when we’ll get our hands on it.”
“You want to grab it?” Jugs asked, his tone perfectly relaying what he thought about Cody’s idea. “With our bare hands?”
“I’m going to get the loop and we’re going to push it over and I’ll hog tie its feet together. Then we’ll carry it to the truck and take it out to the woods.”
Cody nodded. “Yep, really.”
“Is this the kind of bullshit last minute stuff you and Demetrius do every day?” Jugs asked.
“Pretty much,” Cody replied, and stopped himself from adding, Only we usually have a monster or two thrown into the mix every so often. Instead, he met Jug’s gaze and asked, “Ready?”
Jugs took a deep breath and let it out. “Ready as I’ll ever be.”
“Here we go.” Cody waved his arms overhead and shouted. “Hey, stupid deer! You’ve got some real anger issues. Come on over here and try to get us again. Come on, stupid!”
The deer lowered its head and charged them. Cody grabbed hold of Jugs’s arm, keeping him in place until the last possible minute when he released his hold and they jumped to either side. The deer stampeded between them and hit the fence at full speed. Cody ran across the yard and grabbed the handle of the loop, then turned to see Jugs with the dazed deer in a headlock, trying to get the animal on the ground. The deer wasn’t about to go down easily, though, and tossed its head, antlers narrowly missing Jugs’s face.
Cody ran to assist and pulled the deer’s hind legs out from under it, sending both it and Jugs toppling to the ground. He fell to the grass on his knees and gathered the deer’s flailing feet together beneath one arm, doing his best to avoid being kicked by the animal’s sharp hooves. Once he had all four legs held in place between his side and his arm, Cody got the loop around the deer’s ankles and tightened it.
“Got it!” Cody shouted, and he and Jugs moved away from the deer. It lay on its side, twisting its head around and flopping on the ground like a fish as it tried to get its feet free, but the loop held tight.
“I can’t believe it worked,” Jugs said, and then let out a deep, rumbling laugh that got Cody going as well.
“Did you get it?” Ann called from the sliding patio door. “My dogs have to pee!”
Cody remembered the dogs and looked around, dismayed to find he’d gotten dog shit on his boots and coveralls. Well, at least he had a change of clothes in the back of the truck. Jugs appeared to have escaped the poop land mines as he sat catching his breath, a small cut on his cheek the only sign he had recently struggled with an enraged deer.
“Yeah, we got it,” Cody replied. “Just need to get it out of the yard. Do you have a wheelbarrow or a cart or something?”
Ann remained inside the house as she stuck an arm out of the patio door and gestured toward a shed in the back corner that stood surprisingly unscathed. “There’s a wheelbarrow in the shed. It’s unlocked. You didn’t kill it, did you?”
“No, it’s not dead,” Cody said as he got to his feet with a groan. “Just angry.”
It took them longer than he’d hoped to get the deer into the wheelbarrow, and it bucked and thrashed the whole way down the driveway to the truck. After several attempts to lift the writhing and kicking deer into the truck, Cody and Jugs finally managed to slide the animal into the truck’s bed and, as the deer lay staring at them with glazed eyes, they leaned on the sides of the truck to catch their breath.
“This is a fucked up way to make a buck,” Jugs said, then grinned. “Make a buck. Get it? We captured a deer, we’re making a buck.”
Cody groaned. “A regular comedian. I’m going to get paid, get in the back.”
“Wait, what?” Jugs looked at the deer then back at Cody. “Oh, hell no. I’ll drive wherever you tell me to go, but I’m not riding back there to get beat on by some deer. This is your job, not mine.”
“Fine. Give me a minute.” Cody walked back to the front door where Ann stood with a credit card in hand.
“My fence will need to be replaced,” she said, giving the deer an angry stare as Cody swiped her card through the small reader he attached to his phone.
“Insurance may cover it,” he offered.
“I got video of it on my phone,” she said. “That lazy ass insurance agent better cover it.”
Cody wished her a good day then trudged back to the truck and climbed into the bed, sitting with his back against the sidewall and his legs over the deer’s side.
“Where to?” Jugs asked through the small back window.
“Parson’s Pond,” Cody replied. “Lots of woods out there.”
“You’re the boss,” Jugs said, and slowly pulled away from the curb.
As the deer snorted, panted, and thumped against the truck bed beneath his legs, Cody wondered how Demmy was doing down in Florida, and hoped his Mom was improving. He wished he’d gone down with him, or at least taken him to the airport, rather than agreeing to let Amelia drive him. He’d been spending so much time with Demetrius lately, his absence was like a physical presence.
Jugs turned down the dirt road leading to Parson’s Pond and the truck bounced over the ruts. Cody winced and grunted along with the deer until Jugs pulled the truck off the road and onto the grassy berm. Cody got out of the truck and he and Jugs hauled the deer to the edge of the tailgate, and Cody loosened the loop. The deer kicked and they both ducked away from the hooves.
“Feisty little fucker, isn’t he?” Jugs said.
“Cuz of your Mama,” Cody said as they managed to get the deer off the tailgate and onto the ground, “I told you that.”
The deer swung its head back and forth, and then, with a buck of its hind quarters, it ran off into the trees. Cody watched the deer go and suddenly felt a kind of kinship with it. He felt like he wanted to buck and kick free of his old life and run into something new, something better, and deeper, with Demmy.
“All right man,” Jugs said and clapped him on the shoulder, startling him back into the moment. “I need to get back.”
“Yeah, sure,” Cody said. “Let me get out of these coveralls covered in dog shit first.”
“I was going to say your new body spray sucks,” Jugs came back with, “but I think I already told you that.”
Cody chuckled and stepped out the coveralls and kicked off his shoes, tossing it all into the bed of the truck. He got in the driver’s seat and drove them back to the small strip mall housing the Critter Catchers office. Jugs followed him inside and sat at Cody’s desk to wait as Cody washed up in the small bathroom.
When he stepped out of the bathroom drying his hands, Cody said, “You did good on the job with me today. I appreciate the help.”
Jugs nodded. “I gotta admit, it was kid of fun. Even with you covered in dog shit, which is about the sweetest thing I’ve seen in a while.”
Cody smirked and shook his head. “Always a class act, aren’t you?”
Jugs spread his arms wide. “I’m just a great big chocolate covered Christmas gift. Open the box, baby!”
Cody laughed and pulled his wallet out of his shorts. He fished out $50 and handed the cash to Jugs. “You earned this.”
“Hey, Bower, you don’t have to do this.”
“No, seriously, Jugs, I couldn’t have done it today without you. Thanks.”
Jugs got up and stuffed the money in his pocket. “Well, hell, Bower, if you need help like that again, just give me a call. I can definitely help control some critters for a little bit of scratch.”
“You’re on, Jugs,” Cody said and waved toward the door. ‘Now get out of here. I need to get home and get a shower, then go pay a visit to my grandma.”
“You’re just as all American as they come, aren’t you, Bower?”
Cody shrugged and thought about Demmy and how he’d like to make a life with him and wondered if that would be considered all American. Instead of bringing all that up, however, he said, “Just like apple pie, baseball, and Superman, my friend.”
Jugs gave him another bro-hug, and then stepped out into the July heat. Cody milled around in the office for a bit before he left and locked the door behind him. He wiped sweat off his brow before he got into the truck and headed for his apartment, thinking about Demmy and wondering if it would be too much to call and check in again, maybe tell him about the job with the deer and get him to laugh. But then again maybe it would be better to leave that for tomorrow. Later tonight he’d go see his grandma and maybe stop by Amelia’s house and check on her, too.
As he drove, Cody thought more about Demmy and caught himself whistling.
~ * ~
I hope you enjoyed this latest chapter of my Story Orgy Creature Feature. Leave a comment if you’d like (it’s always fun to get mail!), and then hop on over to the blogs of the other Story Orgy writers. Some of us may take a week or two off, but we’ll be around for the most part. Like our Story Orgy Facebook Page for details about all of our writing. Feel free to like my pages as well if you’re interested in becoming a true Hankie: Hank Edwards Facebook Page or the Venom Valley Series Page, or follow me on Twitter. Go ahead and give the other participating Story Orgy writers a read: Lee Brazil and Havan Fellows as well as Em Woods, who might drop in for a prompt or two. Have a very good week and I’ll see you next Monday!