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stood up tall on two legs, like a man does

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Eddie unbuttons his shirt to the bandit crest of his scar, whips his boring tie in a boleadoras attack at Richie’s head, and Richie’s legs actually give out. 

He slumps hobbled against the bullpen fence groaning helpless and salt-cracked. He’s glad the bar is bouncing between dark and rainbow beer-sign neon, and that the bullpen is hiding where he’s hot and stiffening. Eddie’s acting like an idiotic man twenty years his junior, leather-chaps gap between his thighs as he jumps around like a loon. That’s mirage-talk though, dangerous to reach for something Richie never saw and never will—as if Eddie at twenty was ever sleek and wild as this pitching bronco demon with a horseshoe hole in his chest. Richie’s mouth won’t close. His head is a mushroom cloud of Midwest alcohol, but even still. Jesus, his cock is filling out ripe with blood in public with his reclaimed posse of compadres, like he’s sixteen again in gym class or the quarry or the slimy woods, when the tendons carving desert-golden riverbeds down the backs of Eddie’s knees to brace his downy calves formed divots Richie ached to slide his tongue into.

He presses his hips against the fake-wood PVC fence, traps his hard dick there and wants, wants, bandsaws his tight jaw back and forth—hopes. Hopes like an adult hopes, that his fate might not rest in the hands of unknowable hormonal misfires but in the persuasive properties of his own rattlesnake tongue, in the dark corner of a bar in Hemingford Home, Nebraska. Eddie knows about his cowboy thing, he must be doing this on purpose. What other explanation for the way he’s tipping an invisible Stetson right at Richie with a high-noon grin, his whole stripling, rawhide body undulating from sensible boots to narrow shoulders like the whipping wave of a lasso, what the fuck. Where did Eddie “sits in his Chrysler then at a desk for eight hours then his Chrysler again then his couch watching HGTV all evening” Kaspbrak, Richie’s bureaucratic best friend, acquire core strength like that?

Firm ass curves, the bull rears thunderous, Eddie rides it like a cloud. Like it’s nothing. Like he does this all the time. Neon catches shadows in the creases of his slacks around his thighs, his groin. Does he—the way he keeps glancing back like he’s checking on his audience, would he work himself like that ‘til he comes naked on Richie’s secret raging hardon later tonight if Richie begged, no hands and cocky and swiping his pelvis forward and back like a slingshot? Tame me. Shoot me. Break me to ride. Shrike my body to your cactus spike. Wrench the metal bit back against my gums with unforgiving reins wrapped around your knuckles. Kick the spurs of your bony Maine ankles into my fleshy sides while I rage inside you, and draw my blood, please, please, please, I want your gold rush. The crushing prairie heat of the bar sucks sweat from his hairline. Breezy whines roll from Richie’s chest like tumbleweed. Bill pats his back in sympathy and something that feels like good luck pardner, nice knowing you.

The music plucks and twangs and coils and croons and strangers are screaming for Eddie Kaspbrak, reluctant risk analyst, enthusiastic monster-killer. Kid who giggled at Richie’s upside-down bunk-bed antics, but only Richie Tozier knows that. Richie’s shoulders go weak watching him arch his sunbleached canines in a grin above his ever-evil tongue, licking cornbread honeyglaze sweet from his lip, watching Richie back as he trips the bull’s spine like the rodeo ringmaster. Bev and Audra and Patty are whooping their heads off while Mike and Ben are busy slotting more coins in the thing to keep it bucking. But Eddie dismounts gracefully to worldwide consternation, swaggers forward all John Wayne by way of Amazon jaguar, like he really has been clenching his juicy little thighs around a mustang for the last six months on the high Sierra trail in his gray-wool slacks. Richie’s dully shocked he didn’t do a somersault, panting grateful he didn’t; saved the undertaker nailing up another wooden box.

Nebraskans are tossing one dollar notes into the ring for an encore, and Richie’s cock is hanging thick between his legs for a riding. Fake PVC wood creaks in his fists as Eddie grabs him by the bolo tie he wore special for the occasion, tugs him down into a greasy onion-batter kiss, their very first kiss, yippee-ki-yay, hi-ho silver, I’d give you my heart for a fistful of dollars, my soul for a few dollars more. Richie pushes Eddie’s sweating mouth open with his mouth and Eddie is scrambling over the fence with none of his previous grace, grabbing overflowing tousles into Richie’s dust-devil hair. Stanley is firing handfuls of beer nuts their way like it’s a shotgun wedding already, which it might as well be, given how Richie’s bending Eddie back into the bullpen fence and gasping thank you, Eds, oh thank god, fucking yeehaw, Eddie, holy shit, will you do me like you did that bull, I still love you, I’m sorry but I do, into this never-ending kiss and how Eddie’s licking the salt from Richie’s wounds and laughing I know, god, finally, I love your weird cowboy fetish, Rich, I love you, why the fuck else would I do that, and steel-guitar waltzes a slow romance with a fiddle as the bull slows and they all nine of them stumble out through the wafting bald-eagle wings of a saloon door and into the dark, hot, cold, together, alive, and star-spangled.