Thank you, Love Bytes, for your kindness in having me here today to present you with a snippet of “Shane Thorpe Knew Jesus and Rode Bulls,” my new release from Dreamspinner Press.
I finished this novella in response to the Dreamspinner Press call for submission of stories based on a particular state—the States of Love series. I chose Texas because I had already crafted a little story about two men from different backgrounds who meet up to ride the rodeo circuit together.
As with most of my work, I concentrated more on character development than anything else. People are fascinating to me—the fears, the joys, the struggles each of us in our own lives necessarily deal with.
Here’s a short excerpt that may give you some idea who Shane Thorpe is.
Shane held the door open for Joe. The Yellow Rose Saloon was busy even at this early evening hour. It was Friday, and the partying had begun. They sat in a booth at the edge of the dance floor and ordered beers.
On Monday, they’d come back from Palestine after looking at the outdoor arena, paying their entry fees, and putting their names in the hat for the draw of which bulls they’d ride on Saturday. On the way back to Tyler, they’d spoken about the bulls they’d ridden and the cowboys each of them had met in places where the word rodeo was both a noun and a verb.
Now, as they sat back in the booth, both excited for tomorrow’s event, Shane remembered another cowboy he’d met somewhere, probably in Oklahoma, who’d come as close to any of them in getting Shane to share a bed and his body. He wondered a minute if he should tell Joe about that and decided, yes, he’d do it if only to see Joe’s reaction.
“One time,” Shane said, “there was this cowboy who chased steers. He was a helluva roper from Oklahoma who wasn’t more ’an, oh… I guess he was about nineteen. Anyway, we got to know each other pretty good for the couple of days we rodeoed together. We was both on our own, and he had slept in his truck the night before and asked me if I wanted to go in with him on a motel room. Well, I already had a room, and I invited him to stay the night. We went drinkin’ before we went back to the room, and we was both a little drunk. So when we got back to the room, the first thing that cowboy does—his name was Sky, short for Skylar—is take all his clothes off, walk into the bathroom butt naked, take a piss, and he come outta the bathroom kinda playin’ with his dick. I was sittin’ on my bed, and he gets about this close to me—” Shane held his beer out about a foot from him “—and his dick is right there, Joe. Right in front of my face.”
Joe smiled. “What’d you do?”
“I said ‘Sky, you’re drunk.’ And he said, ‘Yes, I am.’ Oh, lookit there.” Shane nodded toward the dance floor. “There’s your girlfriend, Joe. You remember Wanda?”
Joe looked to the dance floor. “Yeah, I remember Wanda.”
“I took her home a couple times,” Shane said, looking at Wanda and thinking that lie right now was probably required against the image of Sky waving his dick in front of his face. “She’s okay. Got them big tits.”
“That all to your story?”
Shane turned back to Joe. “No, there’s more to it.” He sipped from his bottle and smiled at Joe. “Sky wanted me to get in bed with him. Told me since there weren’t any women around, we could pretend a little and…. Well, I got him settled down, and he fell asleep pretty quick. Don’t know if he was queer or not, but of course that went through my mind.” Shane watched Joe’s face for a reaction as he once again relived that night when he’d sat on his bed for an hour watching that naked cowboy sleep.
“You regret that?”
“Not getting into that bed with him?”
Shane was caught up in Joe’s eyes for a moment. He hadn’t expected that question and now felt exposed, vulnerable. “Oh, no. ’Course not.” He sat back and looked at the dance floor. “Would you look at the ass on that girl,” he said, hearing his own voice come out with a slight tremor. When Joe didn’t say anything, he looked back at him and saw that the expression on Joe’s face was not so much a smile as a quizzical look, as if a question had been asked that hadn’t been completely answered. He realized that if it were his intention to draw something out of Joe by telling that story, he’d failed. What he hadn’t failed in doing was keeping inviolate that wall between him and his sinful yearnings. He couldn’t help but smile. Hell, he’d fooled himself. Wondered if that was what he’d probably wanted to do all along.
Eighteen-year-old Joe Vasquez leaves Denver for Texas with Harley Bray, the cow kid who never fit in at their high school. In spite of discovering there’s another side to Harley’s nature—occasional “withdrawals” from roadside convenience stores, a nefarious skill he teaches Joe—Joe shares Harley’s dream of riding bulls and a life together on the Texas plains outside of Abilene. A life that will hopefully see the fulfillment of another of Joe’s dreams—to become a veterinarian.
When a rank bull kills Harley in a rodeo on Longview, Texas, Joe accepts an offer from another bull rider, Shane Thorpe, to partner up and ride the circuit together. The problem is that the blond-haired, blue-eyed Shane found Jesus a long time ago, and he’s torn between his faith and his attraction to Joe. As they make their way across Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Arizona to their final stop on the circuit at the National Western Rodeo in Denver, Joe bides his time for what he hopes will be a relationship with Shane as fulfilling as the one he’d had with Harley. His hopes for the future, however, are challenged along the way when he discovers that his “withdrawals” have captured the attention of a dedicated Texas Ranger.
George Seaton’s short stories, novellas, and novels capture contemporary life mostly set in the American west—Colorado and Wyoming in particular. He and his husband, David, along with their Alaskan malamute, Kuma, live in the Colorado foothills just southwest of Denver.