A warm welcome to author B.G. Thomas joining us today to talk about his new (re)release “The Real Thing”.
A Simply Wonderful Ranch Weekend
Several years ago, Dreamspinner Press sent out a call for submissions for an anthology called Riding Double. It didn’t take me long to figure out it was about cowboys. They wanted both modern contemporary cowboys and historical tales as well. I love to dig in and research. I want to get everything right. But the thing is I found out about this anthology a couple weeks before the deadline. And I work a monstrous Evil Day Job with 12-hour shifts and I knew there was no way I had time to do what I needed to do to make my story right.
I did know a wonderful gay couple who owned a small ranch not far from me. I gave them a call and asked if I could come out for a few hours. “Hours?” they asked. “Why not come spend the night and the next day. We’ll show you everything.”
How generous. Who was I to say no?
See, I had a tale to tell. I had a hero, a young man who grew up idolizing cowboys, the same way some people look up to police officers, construction workers or military men (heck, throw in leathermen and Native Americans, and you pretty much have The Village People).
Young Bryan Mills wanted to be a cowboy from the time he was a little kid. In fact, when he was quite young, he had a cowboy-themed birthday party. He didn’t know it at the time, but the idea of a real man and masculinity was hardwiring into his mind in the form of cowboys way back then. Men’s men who rode horses and dressed in a way he’d one day come to find polarizingly sexy and the idea “men’s men” would come to mean something else entirely.
Of course, he couldn’t go back in time to when such people as Davy Crockett, Buffalo Bill, Jesse James, Butch Cassidy, Wild Bill Hickok or John Henry “Doc” Holliday walked the Earth. Instead, it didn’t take any time before his idolizing turned to the men who worked the ranches and rode the rodeo circuit today.
So Bryan Mills began a search for a cowboy to be his man. But it didn’t take long for his to realize that the cowboys he could find, at least in Kansas City, were pretty much, well, fakes. As his drag queen roommate declared, “Feather or leather, it’s all drag.” It was a pretty crashing disappointment.
Yet could he really complain, he thought? Because he certainly wasn’t the real thing, what with his cowboy boots found at a second-hand store and his jeans, sandpapered carefully to look as if he’d worn them riding horses all day. The only animal he’d ever ridden was the pony at his birthday party back t’when he weren’t nothin’ but a tyke.
So my idea was—thinking of my friends Kirk and Michael—what if he met a man in a bar that was, well, something like Kirk and Michael? And what if they hooked up? And what if they discovered they wanted more than a one night stand? And oh no! What if Bryan actually pulled one over on the guy—in this case Curtis Hansen—and he thought Bryan was the real thing? What if Curtis asked him to come see his ranch and he did and discovered he really liked Curtis and could think of spending his whole life with the man? But there was this little problem of … a lie? Or if not that, then certainly a sin of omission?
That is the story I wanted to write. But I had to get the ranch part right.
And so I went out and spent the greater part of a weekend on a working ranch. I helped out, and we got cattle that had gotten out of their fence back where they were supposed to go, and we fed ‘em, and found some that had wandered off and lots, lots more. I discovered that cows and cattle weren’t synonymous terms and it annoyed ranchers when people did so as much as it annoys people who own Shetland Sheepdogs when you call them miniature collies. There are cows and steers and cattle and heifers and calves and bull calves and more!
Soon I discovered that while my stories are almost always character driven, my time on Kirk and Michael’s ranch had to be a big part of the story. Showing my readers, in a fun way, all that I had learned.
And that is just what happened! I wrote that story and turned it in late and yet somehow, Dreamspinner Press—specifically Anne Regan—bought that story. She liked it a lot. And so did the readers. I got quite a few emails. Which made me “purt” happy I might add! The thing is that little story was never quite the story I really wanted to tell. It was for an anthology and right away that means my word count was limited. So, I did what I could and was still dern proud.
And then Riding Double went out of print! And then I wondered if Dreamspinner might want to keep it in print. And then they did! And then they asked if I might clean it up a bit and lengthen it by a couple thousand words.
Does a cowboy say, “Yee-haw?”
Did I ever!
And that is how the new edition of The Real Thing came to be! And I hope you will check it out. I think you’ll plum love it!
So long. Y’all come back, now!
B.G. “Ben” Thomas
Bryan Mills has fantasized about cowboys all his life. Real cowboys, that is. He even dresses in what his roommate calls “cowboy drag” when he visits his favorite bar, in the hope of attracting the attentions of a genuine cowboy. But all he usually finds are posers and guys his own age.
Then one night, to his surprise, Curtis Hansen buys him a beer, and Bryan has no doubt this is the real thing. Curtis is a rugged, gorgeous man who is every bit a cowboy. He even owns his own ranch. What follows is about the most amazing night of Bryan’s young life.
But can they move beyond a night of incredible sex when Bryan admits to Curtis that the only horse he’s ever ridden was a birthday party pony? And that he’s nothing but a poser himself? Maybe, just maybe, Curtis can find the real cowboy inside Bryan, and they can ride off into the sunset together!
First Edition published as The Real Thing in Riding Double by Dreamspinner Press, 2011.
And now a little taste of, The Real Thing:
HE WAS asleep when they got to Curtis’s house, and it was late. They’d met at The Watering Hole as planned and then decided to just spend time spending time.
Bryan had chosen less cowboy-like wear that night: a dark sweatshirt, his Wranglers, and, in his only nod to the bar and its patrons, his Stetson.
When Curtis saw his sneakers, he said, “Too bad. I like the way your boots make your ass look.”
Bryan’s blush only made Curtis laugh.
They had a good time.
They drank, and once again Curtis insisted on paying. When the bartender asked them whether they wanted a couple of Cocksucking Cowboys—a sweet, creamy drink loved by many of the customers—both chorused that they already had one, which caused much hilarity.
It was just a general fun evening of getting to know each other. Bryan told Curtis about his schooling and how he’d recently graduated and was trying to find a job—something besides working at Office Depot—and how a business degree used to be the path to a pot of gold, but now it turned out there were just too many people who’d had the same idea.
Curtis told him about life in the country, going to a small school, and realizing he was gay at a very young age. He’d never even tried women, had no interest, and what he didn’t tell his parents and neighbors, they didn’t ask about.
“There were only sixty kids in my graduating class,” he said as they sat in a corner of the bar. The music was loud—it was a Friday night, after all—but they could talk. “And when the boys got to talking about girls and titties and stuff, I just knew I wasn’t interested. Not at all.”
Bryan nodded. “Yeah. Me either. I tried it. A girl, you know? Had sex with my date for the prom. But God, I couldn’t believe that anybody could get so excited about it. Then I had sex with a guy and I was like—okay. Yup. I’m gay!” He didn’t tell Curtis about his adventures in anonymous bathroom sex, though. He found he just couldn’t. Not yet, at least.
So you want to wait? his inner voice asked. Like you did telling him you weren’t a cowboy? He ignored that inner voice. And hoped he wouldn’t regret it.
“But finding a boy to play with wasn’t easy,” Curtis said. “At least a boy who would admit he liked boys. Really liked them. So I don’t really, to this day, have all that much experience. I’ve never been more than about a five-hour drive from the ranch.”
“Gosh,” Bryan said. His father had been in the army, and he’d lived all over the country. He told Curtis that. “Five hundred in my graduating class, but I didn’t have any opportunity to mess around with guys. Not once. Although now I stumble on guys that I used to go to school with at bars.”
“Did you date that girl you went to the prom with?” Curtis asked.
“Not really. Once before prom, but that was to shop for what we were going to wear. I think maybe she knew about me. Just took my virginity so she could say she did.”
“I had this friend named Dawn,” Curtis went on to say. “We’d been friends since we were both toddlers, and I guess she assumed we’d get married one day. And to be honest I didn’t ever tell her otherwise. I just hoped she’d figure it out, you know? Because I never once tried to kiss her or feel her up?” He paused and looked off into the distance—an inner distance, as the bar wasn’t that big. “She must have figured it out. Came to me one day and told me she was getting married, and I wished her luck. I see her in town. She’s got two grown kids today.”
Curtis had had one serious lover and partner of nearly two years, but the man had left “for greener pastures” when he’d met someone at the gay rodeo.
“It just about killed me, Bryan. It really did. I loved that man with all my heart and soul. I wanted him to be my forever. But he was bored on my ranch. I think that was what killed me the most. I thought he liked the land as much as I did. But not so much. Now? Now I drive into KC once in a while, maybe hook up with my buddy Jack….”
“Is he the one that looks like Sam Elliott?” Bryan asked. The man he’d see Curtis with the very first time he’d seen the man at The Watering Hole.
Curtis blinked at him. “Well, he likes to think so. That’s why he grows his mustache like that.”
Bryan laughed. He didn’t want to ask whether “hooking up” meant that they’d had sex.
But as if reading Bryan’s mind, Curtis said, “We fucked a couple times way back, but the thing is… well, we both…. I like young guys.” Then he looked at Bryan and his eyes twinkled, and Bryan’s cock got hard.
By the time they left the bar and hit the road, Bryan was pretty drunk, but Curtis had switched to coffee at the end and was driving fine.
Curtis woke Bryan when they got to the house and led him inside. Groggy, Bryan climbed a steep flight of stairs, undressed, and dropped onto a large four-poster bed. Curtis climbed in with him, pulled him tight, and yanked the covers over them. No sex that night for either of them. But that was all right.
Especially when Curtis woke him the next morning by sucking his…
But wait! That would be telling! You think you’re going to get the good stuff here? Think again partners.
I hope I’ve whet your appetite enough to check it out…!
B.G. Thomas lives in Kansas City with his husband of more than a decade and their fabulous dogs Sarah Jane and Oliver. He is blessed to have a lovely daughter as well as many extraordinary friends. He has a great passion for life.
B.G. loves romance, comedies, fantasy, science fiction, and even horror—as far as he is concerned, as long as the stories are character driven and entertaining, it doesn’t matter the genre. He has gone to literature conventions his entire adult life where he’s been lucky enough to meet many of his favorite writers. He has made up stories since he was a child; it is where he finds his joy.
In the nineties, he wrote for gay adult magazines but stopped because the editors wanted all sex without plot. “The sex is never as important as the characters,” he says. “Who cares what they are doing if we don’t care about them?” Excited about the growing male/male romance market, he began writing again. He submitted a novella and was thrilled when it was accepted in four days. Since then the romantic tales have poured out of him. “It’s like I’m somehow making up for a lifetime’s worth of story-telling!”
“Leap, and the net will appear” is his personal philosophy and his message. “It is never too late,” he testifies. “Pursue your dreams. They will come true!”