Oak '05: Way Down Texas Way

The old fashioned, un-defused strip light was giving Chris a headache. Just how long did it take to get this done? Some place to the east of them there was a thunderstorm; they could hear it, they could see it, but it refused to come close enough to relieve the heat and humidity. Chris was beginning to think a $25,000 recovery fee wasn't worth having to come down to the shit hole at the end of Texas in July to collect it.

A little way in front of him, Buck was lazing on the trunk of the car, watching the storm. Damn it was hot - God knew what the humidity was, it felt like the high 90s. According to his watch it had been over four hours since they had called the local cops and still no one came to the remote shack. The AC unit beside him was old, it rattled, and water dripped from it into an old tin bucket. Chris could take the light and the smell of mould from the AC unit, no longer. So despite the undeniable comfort of the swing seat on the porch he headed out to join Buck.


They had found Paul Collingwood relatively easily. He owned a company that made print dye, the kind that was used to make waterproof food labels. His company was on its knees, not that anyone knew that, not until after he'd raided the employees' pension fund and falsified a prestigious new contract in order to get a loan from the bank. Bail had been set at a quarter of a million. He couldn't put up his house as collateral; it was already mortgaged three times over, so he put up his summer home in the mountains, which just happened to be in his wife's name. When he'd skipped out she was none-too pleased, since he'd promised to take her with him.

It didn't take Ezra long to get the whole story. Collingwood had millions hidden away in off shore accounts, or so he told his wife, worth far more than the house. They'd skip out on the bail and head out of the country to a life of luxury. She signed over the house as collateral, and never saw him again.

"Where do you think he might have gone?" Ezra asked her.

"I don't know, he said 'off shore' so I was thinking Bahamas or someplace like that."

Ezra nodded; it made sense, but JD had already checked all outgoing flights. Collingwood hadn't flown out of Atlanta, nor had he left from Chattanooga, Columbus, Montgomery, Birmingham, or even Augusta and his Jeep Grand Cherokee was missing. The conclusion had to be that he'd driven someplace, but where? By now his name and passport details were in the system. If he tried to purchase an airline ticket, it would flag him up as a fugitive.

"Ma'am, does your husband have any close friends or family? Someone un-related to work? Possibly a friend you don't share?"

Mrs. Collingwood thought. "Shit!" She exclaimed. "Patrick, Patrick Quinn, damn why didn't I think of him before? He and Paul were best friends in high school, went to college together, same frat house, shared a room, the whole nine yards best buddy thing. They were going to join the army together, but Paul's dad died suddenly and he had to take over the firm."

"And Patrick joined the army?"

"Yes, apparently he found God or something. Anyway when he got out he moved down to Texas someplace."

"Do you know where?"

She shook her head. "No, Paul didn't talk about him. I think they may have e-mailed each other, but I have no idea where Patrick lives… he may not even still be in Texas."

"I have a colleague who is an expert with computers, would you let him take a look at your home computer? He may be able to locate Patrick."

"If it'll save my house, sure, when can he get here?"

It didn't take JD long to track down the e-mails from Paul - betaalphaboy1 - to Quinn - betaalphaboy2 - unfortunately when JD checked the second e-mail address out with the host server, it originated from an internet café in west Texas. The last messages sent made it clear that it was to Texas that Collingwood was headed, and there was only one reason a man on the run headed to Texas. Since all his credit cards had been maxed out weeks before he was arrested, there was no way to track his purchases, which were presumably in cash.

While JD was trying to track Collingwood across the country, Josiah had been researching Patrick Quinn. It turned out he owned a small ranch near a no horse town called Marathon just thirty miles from the internet café were the e-mail came from. That was enough for Buck and Chris to get a flight to Midland.


In between lecturing them on the dangers of west Texas in July - dehydration, sun stroke, sun burn, cactus spines, rattle snakes - Nathan had also been pouring over the maps of the area. On his advice they had rented an SUV, though even taking the three door model, it cost more than they usually liked to spend. At least the tinted windows and air conditioning came as standard. Following the detailed maps Nathan provided, they found their way to a bluff overlooking Quinn's ranch house. Not that you could call it a house as such; it was a small, square, flat roofed cabin with a carport to one side and a covered deck to the rear. The only access was via a single, rock- strewn dirt track off a remote ranch road. After some hours of observation they had only seen one person.

They had circled the property and determined that there was no means of escape other than the track, so if Collingwood was there, he wasn't going to be making a run for it. True there was a horse in a coral beside the cabin. But it was sheltering from the sun in the shade of rock outcrop and some dense scrub, some distance from the house. There was no way anyone could catch the horse and get a bridle, let alone a saddle on it before they got there, besides, none of their research indicated Paul Collingwood even knew how to ride. The most immediate problem was going to be Quinn's two dogs; if they proved unfriendly, there might be a problem.


The dogs proved to be all bark and no bite, while Quinn proved unhelpful. The same age as their quarry, his wore old jeans that were threadbare and badly in need of a wash, and his shirt wasn't much better. He had thick, sandy hair, beginning to turn grey and a thick full beard. He gave the impression he was a harmless eccentric, or even a hermit, but neither Buck or Chris missed the fact that his arm muscles were well defined, he was slim, his eyes were bright and missed nothing. Nor did they miss the revolver in a holster, hanging from his belt.

"Hello," Buck greeted brightly.

"What do you want?" he challenged.

"Lookin' for a fella, was wondering if you'd seen him at all."

"'case you haven't noticed this place is kinda off the beaten track. Ain't seen no one, which is the way I like it."

Buck turned to admire the property and its setting. "Sure is a pretty spot. Must be real peaceful."

"Like I say that's the way I like it."

Chris was standing back a little, watching and observing from behind his mirror shades.

"Looks like yer truck needs some work," he finally commented.

Quinn looked over his shoulder at the old truck under the carport. One tyre was flat and the exhaust pipe was hanging off. Behind the truck was another vehicle covered in a tarpaulin-- from what Chris could see it was long and low, definitely not a truck or SUV.

"So?" Quinn challenged.

"So it must be mighty inconvenient," Chris said, "way out here, no transportation."

"Got a horse, horses were good enough for the men that made this country, he's good enough for me."

"You know, I reckon you're right," Buck cut in. "Sorry to have troubled you."


Once they were back in the car and on their way back down the track, Chris tried to call Atlanta, only to find he had no signal.

"Thought this network covered the whole country?" he griped.

"Ninety odd per cent, guess this place is in the other ten."

"Figures. Head back to the highway, I'll see if it works there."

"Reckon that was Collingwood's car he had back there."

"Yup, and he's driving whatever Quinn normally drives."

They had to drive almost twenty miles back toward Marathon before they got a signal and could ring Atlanta. JD had called back, just as they reached the town.

"Quinn owns the truck you saw and a '95 Jeep Wrangler, but there's something else you need to know," he told Chris.


"He also owns a second parcel of land, right down on the border, some place near the Big Bend National Park."

"Where, exactly?"

"It's pretty remote. Is there some place you can hook the laptop into a phone, or a fax? I can send you a map."

"Stay by the phone, I'll call you when we find one."


With JD's map they located the land and the cabin on it. Paul Collingwood was inside, dead. It didn't look like there was any kind of struggle, there were no signs of violence, and the lights and the air conditioning were still on. The chances were he'd died of natural causes; Buck's money was on a heart attack, but he didn't rule out a stroke. Couldn't the dumb shit have had the common courtesy to die in Atlanta and save everyone a lot of hassle? Whatever happened to southern manners? But no - he had to upset his wife, who admittedly was no saint, but still - she didn't deserve to be treated like that, make them come all the way down to the back end of nowhere in crappy weather and then he dies on them - bastard! So now, all because of this inconsiderate ass hole, Buck was stuck here, resting on the hood of their SUV, on a sweltering night, watching a distant thunderstorm, waiting for the local law to turn up.

"Come to see the light show?" Buck asked, looking up as Chris came out to join him.

"Can't stand the smell any longer."

Buck didn't respond, he just let his head rest back on to the windshield.

"Your ass puts a dent in that hood, you're paying for it," Chris growled.

Buck lifted his head and gave Chris a come-on leer. "My ass isn't gonna be putting a dent in anything, more's the pity."


"I'm bored."


"Well, it's my favourite way to relieve boredom."

"I am aware of that."

Buck slid off the hood and stood next to his partner, lowered is head and began to nuzzle at Chris' neck.

"Stop that," Chris commanded half-heartedly.


"Because…I…mmm, that's nice."

Just as Chris was about to give in, Buck stopped.


"We got company."

A pair of headlights was approaching them. "About fucking time."


The car held the solitary deputy sheriff in a Jeep Cherokee. His name was Jorge Campos, and he was highly suspicious of the two bounty hunters from Georgia. He gave the body and the property a cursory look during which time he took some photographs. He squatted down by the body and pulled on some latex gloves.

"What are you planning to do?" Chris challenged.

"What I always do, check for rigor, take the core temp. We don't have no fancy CSIs around here, he's going into cold storage from here."

With that information gathered, he produced a body bag. "Well, you two gonna give me a hand?"

"Why should we?" Chris asked.

"Because I can't move him on my own, so either you help me, or we wait until the morning when the day shift comes on. There's two of them, and how long it will take them to get here I couldn't say. If we get him into town tonight then there is an outside chance the doc can do an autopsy tomorrow, otherwise you're looking at Monday, if you're lucky, 'cause the doc's got baby clinic on Mondays."

Needless to say they helped load Collingwood into the body bag and carry him to the deputy's SUV. Then they followed Campos on the eighty mile drive into town.


By the time they were back in town it was dawn, and Campos made it plain they were not to leave town before the autopsy results were known. Once they had something to eat there was little to do but wait.

Hugo Portman, MD, was a man already well past the age where most doctors had hung up the stethoscope and picked up the nine iron on a permanent basis. When he did retire, or die 'in harness', which the locals thought most likely, in all likelihood no one would replace him; there just wasn't enough work to make a practice pay, not by modern standards. He was a man of old fashioned values, little ambition and a high boredom threshold. Anything that relived the tedium was welcome.

Unfortunately he'd had to travel to the local community hospital with a patient on Thursday, only for the patient to be transferred on to Midland. By the time he returned to town, it was late Friday afternoon and he had patients waiting. Chris had a horrid sinking feeling that they were doomed to wait until Monday anyway, or even later. However, for once, just for once, luck was on their side.

Portman agreed to perform an autopsy that evening, as soon as he'd eaten and freshened up.

"It's not as if I did any driving, all I did was sit beside old Jess in the helicopter, then the local police drove me back here," he explained. "I don't think we'll see Jess back here this side of a pine box." He shook his head sadly, then looked up at Jorge, Chris and Buck. "Bring the stiff over at nine. We have to do these things in my basement, it's hot as hell down there in the daytime, at least it'll be cooler later." He turned away. "Never have got the AC to work right down there."

Once he as gone, Buck turned to the deputy. "Is he really going to do an autopsy in his basement?"

Jorge shrugged. "Sure, it's all equipped. Kinda old, but it works I guess, and he's still certified as a medical examiner.


Paul Collingwood had died from a massive heart attack, he was a heavy smoker and his arteries were totally clogged. There was no question of foul play. By the time the death certificate was issued it was almost eleven.

"You can't drive back now," Campos stated firmly.

"Why not?" Chris challenged.

"When was the last time you slept?"

"Day before yesterday," Buck admitted. "He's right Chris."

Chris squared his shoulders and worked his jaw, the way he always did when faced with a truth he didn't want to accept. "This place got a motel?"

"Nope, closest one is about thirty miles east of here. You're welcome to the cells, no one in at present, got a new AC only two years back. No charge." Now they were no longer suspects, Campos was happy to show them some real Texan hospitality.

Free accommodation was a welcome bonus, even if it was in a cell. The beds may have been narrow and hard, but fatigue made them very welcome. Come dawn the next day, Saturday, they set out back for Midland. With photographs of the body, fingerprints, a hair sample for DNA comparison and the death certificate, Mrs. Collingwood's house was safe and their fee all but in the bank. Now all that was left was a 300-mile drive back to the airport and a flight home to Atlanta.


There was nothing on the radio that either of them wanted to listen to and they'd listened to every CD they brought with them at least three times; thus they drove on in silence. Beside him, Buck gazed out of the window at the endless scenery that already shimmered in the morning sun.

Something came to rest on Chris' crotch and began to move. He glanced down to find Buck's large hand moving provocatively. Rubbing his dick through the soft, cotton of his lightweight cargo pants.

"What the hell are you doing?" he demanded.

"I'm bored," Buck stated matter-of-factly.

"Well, find something to do."

"That's what I'm doing."

"Something else."

"I like doing this." Buck shifted so he was as close to Chris as his seat belt would let him get.

"I'm driving, in case you hadn't noticed."

"We've got the road to ourselves."

Chris was about to protest, when he was distracted. "Oh, shit," he muttered as his growing erection pressed painfully against his pants. The car swerved into the other lane for a moment, before Chris got it back under control.

Encouraged, Buck increased the pressure. "Buck we can't do this here."

"Why not?" Nimble fingers began to undo Chris' fly. "It's been days."

"Oh to hell with it!" With that Chris pulled off the road and stopped the car, released the wheel and sat back. He didn't do al-fresco sex as a rule, and road sex almost never, but Buck was right, it had been days, and the chances of anyone else being on this isolated road, at seven on a Saturday morning, were remote at best. "Just don't take forever," he instructed.

Buck looked up. "Well, aren't we all dominant this morning," he commented with a grin. "You just sit there and let Buck take care of you."


Despite his words Buck worked fast to open up Chris' trousers and push his soft boxers out of the way. Chris' erection sprang to attention, already almost half way to full hardness.

"Hey, there buddy, did ya miss me?"

Chris looked down. "Are you talking to my dick?"

"Of course, you know full well they got minds of their own." With that and a wink, Buck licked his lips and took Chris into his mouth.

Chris rested his head back; Buck gave the best blow jobs, bar none - not that he had a lot of experience to base this assessment on, but he couldn't envisage how anyone could do it better.

Soft lips caressed his shaft in a warm, wet cocoon, then pulled back with a wonderful strong suction. Every time he went down Buck took more of him and Chris felt his lover's moustache brush his thigh as his cock was totally enveloped in Buck's wonderfully talented mouth. Strong, slightly callused fingers began to fondle his balls. One of the things that made Buck so good at giving head, was that he could make it last and last and last. Fingers were now trailing past his balls to brush his inner thighs. God but Buck knew how to turn him on.

"Wait," he commanded.

Buck looked up. "Wait?"

Without bothering to explain, Chris began to shimmy his trousers and boxers down past his ass. If he was going to let Buck do this he might as well go all the way, because part of the glory of being blown by Buck was having him play with your balls and ass and stroking that sweet spot between the two.

"Ah, **wait**," Buck commented, once he saw what Chris was doing. "Good plan."

Buck went back to his self appointed task, and with his clothing down to his knees, Chris could spread his legs more and give his lover more access.

"God, Buck, yes!" he exclaimed as one talented finger stoked over that sweet spot and teased at the outside of his ass hole. He was so close now, arching his hips off the seat, desperate not to lose any contact with that wonderfully talented and ever willing mouth.

"Fuck!" Chris suddenly exclaimed and slammed back down in his seat.

"Love to," Buck mumbled past the shaft in his mouth.

But at that moment, Chris' hands, that had been fondling his hair, suddenly grabbed it and yanked his head up.

"What the hell?" Buck began to protest. "Behind us!" Chris hissed.

Buck glanced behind them. "Shit!"

As the highway patrol officer closed his own car door and began to walk toward them, Chris pulled the sheet map off the dashboard and pulled it open, tearing it as he did, as he lay it over his exposed groin. There was no time to get his clothes back on, especially over his still rock hard erection. Buck wiped his hand across his mouth as he sat up, just before the cop tapped on the side window.

"Morning, is there a problem?" Chris asked, once the window was down.

"That was what I was going to ask you?" the young patrolman, asked, hand resting on his gun. "This isn't a good road to break down or run out of gas on."

"Well, we're fine," Chris assured.

The patrolman looked at the two of them suspiciously.

"Just taking a break, enjoying the scenery," Buck added with a smile.

"License and rental documents please," Clark, according to his name badge, asked.

Chris did his best to smile as he began to fumble under the map to get his wallet out. Buck retrieved the rental papers and leaned across Chris, as he handed them over. As he did this Chris could feel Buck's other hand on his thigh, fumbling in his trousers for the wallet that should be in his back pocket, the back pocket that was now somewhere near his knees, if only Buck could find it. Finally he pulled it free and pressed it into Chris' hand under the cover of the map.

"Here you go."

Clark studied all the documents. "That's all fine sir, you two gentlemen have a fun time."

With that he touched his cap and returned to his car. Chris stayed where he was, sitting quite still, eyes forward until the patrol car had passed them. "

You think he knew?"

"Sure he knew," Buck stated confidently.

"You sure?" "If he's observant enough to spot that this is a rental, he can spot that the map is upside-down, besides he said 'have a fun time'! A 'fun time', not 'have a nice day' or 'y'all drive carefully now' or 'have a good day' but have a 'fun time'. Trust me, he knew. Considering how things can go down in these parts, I'm wondering where good ol' Clark spends his off duty and with who?" Buck winked at Chris suggestively.

"Shit, you really do have a one-track mind."

"Well, don't say it like you only just worked that out!"

"I just knew this was a bad idea, let's get the hell out of here!" Chris pulled the map away from his lap.

"Um, Chris?"


"Reckon I should, you know... finish you off?"

Chris glared at him. "No, not now."

"Well you might wanna tell your dick that."

Chris glanced down. His conscious brain might not like the idea of road sex, but clearly his sex starved subconscious was all for it.

"I promise I'll be fast."

With that and without waiting for a response Buck returned to his task. And with renewed vigour and all his considerable skill, he brought Chris off quickly. For all his reservations about al-fresco sex, especially in a rented car in deepest Texas of all places, it was good, it was so damn good and he came with a shout, arching his back, his hips jerking up to thrust ever deeper as his lover swallowed hard.

"Oh, fuck," he finally gasped as Buck sat back.


"You know it was." Buck pulled out a bottle of water and took a long pull, before handing it to Chris. "Thanks."

"You're always welcome, anytime, anyplace. I was thinking you could return the favour on the plane. I've always liked the idea of joining the mile high club with you."

Chris all but sprayed the car with water. "I am not blowing you on a plane!"

"It was a thought." Buck shrugged and grinned at him. He knew full well Chris wasn't ever going to have sex on a plane, but it was always fun to bait him just a little. He had been frankly amazed that Chris hadn't put a stop to the road sex. Of course they were each going to earn close to $4000 from this job, that was bound to put Chris in a more expansive frame of mind. "Come on, get out so I can drive," he instructed.

"Why should you drive?"

"'Cause you just came like Niagara, which means you'll be asleep inside fifteen, so come on, out."

"I can stay awake after sex you know, if I want to."

"I know, but you don't have to, I'm here." They both exited the vehicle. "You can pay me back once we get home." Buck waggled his eyebrows suggestively, as they passed each other.

"Looking forward to it; home is a much better location, it has beds. Beds are good." Chris pulled his door closed.

"No spirit of adventure, that's your problem, Larabee." Buck clicked his seat belt in.

"When we get home, I'll show you adventure, don't you worry."

Buck's response was to floor the accelerator, sending them surging forward back onto the road in a cloud of dust.