All characters appearing in this story are mine of my own design.
This story is a work of fiction based upon nothing in particular.
Precious Cargo is copyright © The Silver Coyote
Boy, is this ever God's country. His field of view was filled with the
backbone of North America, the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. All around him
peaks of decomposing granite thrust themselves up into the crystal blue sky.
Some of the peaks attained elevations of over fourteen thousand feet. Up that
high, above the timberline past which trees disappeared and the grasses
wouldn't grow, the tallest peaks were merely jagged rock, seeming to scrape
the bottom of the stratosphere. Snow lay in abundance up there, but the major
snowstorms of the winter hadn't started yet, and the lower elevations were
still enjoying relatively moderate weather.
It was a cool morning in early October with some light, puffy clouds at
fifteen thousand feet or so scattered about, laying a patchwork of brightly
lit areas full of turning Aspen and evergreens amongst the dark areas where
the sunlight didn't fall. While he had seen this type of landscape many
times, he never tired of it. Vistas such as this were always fresh and new
and inspiring, each day that he was presented with one. He could, with a
little creative license, imagine this as still being a raw and undiscovered
wilderness. The view was almost like a scene from some "National Geographic"
nature program on HDTV.
Except for the noise and motion. The rumble of the engine in front of him,
the whine of the tires on the pavement, the air whistling around his truck as
it rolled along; the noise was subdued in the cab, but noticeable. It was
music to him. The gentle rolling motion he experienced as his truck took the
curves, crests, and low laying areas of the roadway was not unlike the
experience of being on a railroad train, and just as relaxing. The sunlight
warmed his body when it fell on him through the windows.
Headed southwest out of Denver on US highway 285, the truck had just crested
the ten thousand foot summit of Kenosha Pass. West of the pass and below him
lay a broad basin, beyond which more ranges and razor edged peaks seemed to
claw at the sky.
The driver readjusted his posture in the seat and then, using the toggle
switches on the six-way power seat, he raised the front of the seat pan
slightly. Next he slipped the transmission selector down to third,
anticipating the coming downgrade. It would be short, the next mountain pass
was only a few miles away and less than a thousand feet below. Flicking a
switch on the armrest of his door, he operated the controls to reposition his
mirrors to compensate for his new position in the seat. Glancing at the
speedometer, he tapped his brakes momentarily to reduce his speed to forty
five miles per hour. Satisfied that third gear would hold him on this grade,
he returned to sightseeing out the windows.
These mountains held such wonderful memories for him. Between Albuquerque and
Denver on the east, and the Colorado River on the west, this entire area had
been his playground and refuge for pretty much his entire life. His father
had started teaching him the art of back country four wheeling here some
thirty five years ago, and he came back to this, the Colorado Rockies, his
spiritual homeland, every chance he got. He always felt closest to his God
when he was on some high mountain pass or peak at thirteen or fourteen
thousand feet, enjoying an unobstructed view of His creation. Being away from
the confines of the over-populated urban centers, out in whatever elements
God chose to toss his way that particular day, working for half a day to
struggle, man and machine against a four mile trail, was for him the best
form of recreation and stress management.
His paws, gloved in leather, rested lightly on the wheel. He drove with
gloves on virtually all of the time now. In the old days he had worn stylish
leather "driving gloves", with vent holes and snaps. These usually lasted
about halfway through a summer before the cheap, thin leather disintegrated
from heat and wear. For some years now he had been using plain old leather
work gloves. They got dirty, but they took the abuse of cross country driving
in the real world, and stayed tough. Not pretty, but tough, able to perform
well. Somewhat like the fur that wore them, and paralleling his taste in
He raised his right paw up to tug briefly on the brim of his hat, knowing as
he did that the action was of no use. The sun was going to be in his eyes at
times as the truck wound around curves coming off the pass. The only thing he
could do about it was tuck his chin to bring the brim down low enough to
provide some relief as the sun poured through the windshield. Problem was,
when he did this, he had to watch the center stripe and the fog lines on the
road, because the route ahead would be obstructed by his hat brim. Time
for sunglasses, he thought, retrieving them from a compartment in the
overhead console and placing them on his face. The hat brim became "backup".
Before lowering his right paw to the center console, he adjusted the volume
of the stereo system down slightly, keeping the audio level low. Now that
they were running downhill the noise level inside the cab had dropped
considerably. Finally, he glanced at his two-way radios to make sure that
they were still in scan mode. He hadn't heard anything from either of them
since climbing out of the Denver area.
His tongue flicked the toothpick in his mouth from the left side to the
right. He had absolutely no reason to have this toothpick, his last meal had
been hours ago, but he just enjoyed the ride a little more when it was there.
Perhaps that had something to do with the fact that he had quit smoking years
ago, or maybe it was just a stupid habit. Whatever... He smiled,
remembering. What was that saying he had heard? "A pipe gives a wise fur
something to contemplate, and a fool something to stick in his mouth..." He'd
never been a pipe smoker, but had enjoyed an occasional cigar. But that was a
long time ago. Now, if he had something that needed contemplating, the
toothpick was the weapon of choice.
Joe was a big fur, a canid mix of German Shepherd and Southwestern Coyote. Six
foot, nearing fifty and on the wrong side of two hundred pounds, but not
horribly so. He appeared to be nothing more than a large, broad shouldered
coyote, except he had the dark muzzle and ears characteristic of a Shepherd. He
had his grandmother to thank for that, her Prussian genetics were apparently
dominant. He and his son, like his father before them, shared many physical
characteristics that they could see in old photographs of her. His fur was a
rangy brown color, with a dusting of dark gray and black on his back and
shoulders, and on the tip of his tail. His hair had been dark brown in his
youth, but was now quite mixed with a silvery gray color and worn relatively
short. He had clear blue eyes that turned sort of a steel gray color when you
needed to be out of his way. Not that he needed to be avoided very often, for
he "had the world by the tail", as he liked to tell folks. While he wasn't one
to wander about sporting an idiot grin, he had an easy smile which occasionally
revealed an even set of teeth and sharp fangs, especially when he heard a good
joke. He was, by and large, a happy and contented soul.
The mountain vistas continued to slide by outside the glass. Traffic was
light. Being in the middle of the week, that wasn't surprising. He could have
made much better time on Interstate 70 to the north, but why? This country
was meant to be enjoyed at a leisurely pace, not roared through as fast as
possible. There hadn't been a car gone by the other way for at least a
quarter of an hour now. He glanced down at the fuel gauges, confirming he had
plenty left to make Poncha Springs, where he'd be turning west on US highway
50 towards Gunnison. He wiggled a little in the seat, trying at the same time
to work out the kinks in his muscles and maintain his seated position. He'd
been on the road for about two and a half hours already.
The last time he'd come this way had been many years ago, back in '88
perhaps. He'd been visiting a friend in Albuquerque during the annual balloon
festival at about this same time of year. He had driven hard, non stop from
Los Angeles to Albuquerque except for fuel stops. He'd arrived shortly before
midnight to find that everyone had waited up for him. They had apparently
been partying a little bit before his arrival, for most of them were yawning
and weaving slightly as they stood there in Lynn's entry way greeting Joe and
talking about various things pertaining to the festival. Conversation ensued
as everyone moved to and found a seat in the family room.
All of the adults in the room were approximately the same age except for Joe,
who was a pawful of years younger. While they had all met before, Lynn and
her children were not as well acquainted with the crew from southern
California. Jim, Heather, and Joe all worked together, and had for some
years. Jim and Monica were still on the leading edge of a "relationship"
which was actually a second time around, for they had dated in high school
many years ago. Lynn's kids, Pat and Linda, were typical teenagers.
Within a few minutes of Joe's arrival Jim and Monica, yawning noticeably,
excused themselves and headed off for the guest bedroom.
"You can tell they haven't been together for that long," giggled Lynn after
they had disappeared from view. Nods of agreement and bits of sage wisdom
greeted this observation. With the exception of Lynn's kids, everyone in the
house had been through a divorce at least once.
"Don't worry, they'll get over it" said Joe dryly, earning him a poke in the
ribs from Lynn.
Lynn had met Joe not too long ago, having been introduced through a mutual
friend, John, another coworker of Heather and Joe's. John and Lynn had gone
out with Joe and Heather to a local club near the place where the southern
California crew worked. Lynn was a sweet, good looking tabby. Dark hair
accentuated by green eyes and a good figure, she stood about five and a half
feet tall in her bare feet.
Next to exit the scene were Lynn's kids. Having become bored with their mom's
friends they headed off to their respective rooms to do whatever it is teens
do in the middle of the night. Within a few minutes of the kid's departure
Joe was fighting the urge to fall asleep himself. He was seated on the floor,
boots off, back against a sofa, with Lynn and Heather seated on either side
of him on the sofa.
Heather was an interesting mix of vixen and siamese, a bit shorter than Lynn,
thinner of frame with highlighted light brown hair, and light brown eyes that
sparkled with hidden secrets. A fun loving lady fur, she was a bit of tease, at
least with Joe. The two of them had become somewhat close over the years
working together. While an intimate relationship did not exist between them,
it was certainly within the field of view to each of them. They camped as
part of a larger group of work friends, and went out occasionally. They also
shared notes on relationships gone bad, divorce, and bad spouses.
Of course each of the girls had questions about the trip, and he described it
with a few short sentences, concluding with "It was dark by the time I made
it past Holbrook, and out there after nightfall there isn't that much to
see." And what was happening back in southern California, Lynn wanted to
know. Who was doing what to who, who was dating who, who was getting married,
who was having babies, who was divorcing? Who was getting promoted, who was
being laid off, who got fired? On and on and on...
"How the Hell am I supposed to know all those things?" Joe finally asked with
a note of exasperation in his voice, a slight smile on his muzzle. "I
finished my shift...", glancing at his watch, "fourteen hours ago. Even if I
had the spare time to check out what everybody else was doing, you know, get
in major conversations, who could remember after all these miles?"
"You're tired out, huh?" asked Heather. "Poor baby, you need your beauty
sleep..." This statement garnered her a raised eyebrow from Joe and a giggle
"I know what this man needs," said Lynn, rising from her sofa.
Joe raised his head up and turned to watch her as she made her way to the
kitchen. Dressed casually, she nevertheless pleasantly filled her denims and
blouse, her tail swayed from side to side slowly as she walked. She reached
up to open an upper cabinet, withdrawing a large, square bottle with a black
label on it. A slight smile spread across Joe's muzzle, he knew exactly what
it was. While he was spying this and the data was processing in his slightly
fuzzed up brain, Heather began to rub his shoulders and the back of his neck,
murmuring "I bet I know what you need."
By the time Lynn returned with the Jack Daniels and some glasses, Joe's head
was leaning forward, his chin almost touching his chest, his eyes closed.
"That didn't take long." Lynn said, grinning at Heather. Heather looked up
and winked at her.
"I'm here, I'm awake, I'm just enjoying what she's doing." Joe mumbled,
slowly raising his head and opening his eyes. The first thing that registered
in his mind was a shot glass with a couple of fingers of Jack Daniels
hovering a few inches in front of his nose. "Thanks," he said, reaching up
for it while lifting his head higher to smile at Lynn.
"You're welcome," she replied, passing another shot glass to Heather and
raising the third to Heather in a silent toast. The lady furs smiled an unspoken
dialog to each other. Heather put her glass down after a sip and went back to
her masseuse duties. After placing the bottle on an end table and seating
herself, Lynn sipped a bit while watching Joe throw back the contents of his
glass in a single swallow.
"Something tells me I should leave this with you", Lynn said with a smile.
She turned and picked up the bottle, and then placed her arm over his
shoulder, holding the bottle where he could see and reach it.
"Thanks. I don't want to seem like a pig, though. Let me know when you want
more." After pouring and consuming another two fingers, Joe put the bottle
and his glass on the floor next to him and leaned back into Heather's paws,
mumbling "Now, where were we?"
The conversation gradually wound down in proportion to the amount of whiskey
left in the bottle. The fuzzy feeling in Joe's head died away as the casual
conversation continued. After perhaps twenty minutes or so it occurred to him
that he was doing most of the talking. He glanced towards Lynn, over his
right shoulder, and saw that her eyes were closed. He looked over his left
shoulder to Heather, who winked at him. "Think she's done for the night?" she
whispered to him.
"I heard that" Lynn mumbled. "But the fact is, I am. Time for this girl to go
to bed." While she had been looking forward to getting to know Joe better, it
was pretty obvious to her that Heather had plans. Time enough for Lynn's
turn, it was going to be a long weekend. With that she rose and bent to kiss
Joe on the top of his head. She smiled at Heather and said to them both "See
you in the morning. Sweet dreams..." and headed across her kitchen towards
the hallway and her bedroom.
"Night Lynn" was all Joe could manage to say before she disappeared from view
around a corner.
"You must be worn out after that drive." Heather said quietly when Lynn was
gone. "Where are you going to sleep? I've got the last bedroom..."
"Probably right here on the floor if I don't get myself on a sofa soon." Joe
replied, missing her implied invitation. As she continued to rub his
shoulders he rolled his head back against the sofa to look at her from his
place on the floor.
She gazed down into his eyes for a few silent seconds. "How are you doing?"
she finally asked in a more serious tone of voice. Seeing the generic "I'm
OK" in his eyes before his mouth actually started to form the words, she
continued quickly "No, I mean, you know, are you hanging in there OK?"
Without actually using the "D-word", she was referring to the nasty divorce
Joe had just concluded. He and Heather had become much closer friends and
confidants since Joe and his ex wife had split up about a year and a half ago.
Heather had been through a divorce of her own, and had recently been for Joe
a stabilizing force and mentor.
"Ah, I guess I'm gettin' by," he replied. "It's all over, the dust has
settled, and I'm just trying to move on and get my life put back together,
you know? Pay off all the debt and get some money in the bank, that sort of
She paused in her shoulder rub. "You've got all the legal fees and that stuff
He nodded slightly. "All paid up. My lawyer now owns a new Mercedes, I
"How's your head? Are you happy now that everything is over and done?" She
reached for and sipped from her glass on the coffee table in front of her.
A look of sadness mixed with regret touched his face briefly. "I'm sorry I
gave seven years of my life to that... dalmatian." He paused as the first
expression was slowly replaced by a slight smile. "But I'm glad I extricated
myself, glad I don't anymore feel like someone is always throwing
grenades into my day-to-day existence." He paused again, considering his
emotions and choosing his words. He sighed and said "I'm content, I guess. I
sleep well now, my conscience is clear. I have nothing, but I don't hurt any
more. I guess I'm just sort of numb."
He fell silent, staring at her briefly, and then lowered his head to stare at
the wall across the room for several minutes.
"I should let you get some sleep." She had noticed that his eyes had been
slightly bloodshot and half closed while he was looking at her. She put her
paw on the top of his head between his ears. Expressing her claws, she ever
so gently moved her claws slowly through the thick brown hair on the top
of his head, caressing his scalp.
He continued to stare at the wall for a time, not saying anything, eyes
slowly closing. Her ministrations were relaxing him, and his brain was
drifting off towards sleep. His ears, normally erect, began to relax, folding
in the middle. Without making the effort to, or even noticing it, something
resembling a low growl came from deep within his chest.
"Hey, you can purr!" Heather murmured to him. She found this adorable and
enticing, but didn't say anything else. Instead, she slowly slid off the sofa
cushion until she was sitting on the floor beside him, angled a little to
"I can?" he asked quietly. "I didn't mean to. I'm just totally relaxed by
what you're doing and wasn't paying any attention to what I was doing." He
turned his head towards her, eyes open again.
"It's sexy," she whispered, eyes locked on his. She stared at him, her arm
now resting behind him on the sofa cushion, her claws still in his hair.
"I should let you get some sleep" she said again.
"I heard that" he smiled at her.
Impulsively she leaned forward and quickly kissed him lightly on the mouth.
She leaned back a bit, looking once again into his eyes. He sat there looking
at her, the smile slowly turning up the corners of his muzzle.
He reached out to her, resting his paw on the back of her neck, and slowly
pulled her towards him. His lips met hers, and after a moment her lips
parted, her tongue playing gently with his lips. He responded in kind, and
the kiss escalated several levels of passion in a short period of time. Once
again that low growl came from within him, and she responded in kind with a
purr of her own.
Eventually they both came up for air. Another kiss, shorter this time, but
with an equal amount of fire, and then they were apart, smiling at each
"I guess that makes us a couple of alley cats." Joe said, smiling.
"You need to get to bed, cowboy." Heather laughed lightly, paw caressing his
face as she rose to stand before him. She hesitated but a moment, long enough
for him to make a reply, but not enough to create an embarrassing silence.
"I'll see you in the morning" she said, winking at him as she turned to leave
"I'll be here" Joe replied, looking up into her eyes and then following her
figure as she went off towards the hallway. As she disappeared from view he
reached for a blanket on the adjoining sofa.
To Chapter Two: Waking Up.
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