Two-Tracks Town


Jay Brackton lashed the rope of his small fishing boat to the piling on the Lake James Creek dock at the back of his new house on Plantation Drive–the biggest house in Marion, North Carolina–handed the fishing rods to Ken Kemper, and, when he joined Ken on the lake bank, pulled his T-shirt back onto his muscular torso and took back the fishing rods while Ken pulled his own T-shirt on.

Handsome, with strong, buzz-cut features, Brackton was still magnificently fit, at forty-three, in keeping with having been a U.S. Marine between college and law school and being interested in being a formidable force in Marion politics ever since having returned home after Wake Forest law school and opening the town’s premier law office. A lawyer in the town for years, in November he was running for mayor of Marion, a town of 7,500 residents in the shadow of the Blue Ridge Mountains that hadn’t gone much of anywhere since the mid-1950s. Development of the town had ceased when Interstate 40, down from Statesville and up from Asheville, bypassed the town. Brackton had designs to get the economy going again by getting it out of the hands of the banks and back in those of local businesses.

He had ambitious plans to bring the town, where he’d been born, back into the limelight. If anyone could do it, he could. The decision the people of the town had to make was whether they wanted to be in the limelight and were willing to work and sacrifice to get there. His opponent was the manager of a bank in town and was quite pleased with the status quo, not unreasonably pointing out that him being black and a bank manager itself showed phenomenal progress for a Southern town.

Brackton’s choice for a fishing companion was a bit odd. nineteen-year-old Ken Kemper, of mixed parentage and having inherited the best-looking traits of both, was a bit of conundrum in the town. His single-parent black mother, who ran, singly, a barber and beauty shop on Marion’s main East Court Street under highly gossiped circumstances, let the young man just roam on his motorbike as he would. He was somewhat of a wild child, although he hadn’t been in trouble and no one could complain about the young man’s disposition or actions. He was liked by everyone and a ray of sunshine wherever he went. Thus, he could be thought more as a free spirit, always tooling around on his bike, seen here and there, doing this and that–not pinned own in what was otherwise a conservative, buttoned-down town–well, except for his thirty-four-year-old mother, Davonne Kemper, who quite obviously was much too friendly with certain men in town and didn’t give a fuck who knew it.

But who she fucked and who fucked her were the talk of the town.

And there was the obvious fact that, as beautiful and perfectly formed as the young man was, he was neither here nor there in heritage. His mother was clearly black, but he wasn’t wholly so. Marion was a Southern town. The mixing of races was still something to titter about. There was no father in evidence and never had been–and Davonne Kemper didn’t seem to care who turned up their nose about that. Davonne did very much protect any information on where her beautiful young son had come from, though–who she’d coupled with in the white community to create Ken. Davonne had never been out of Marion, so all of the white men of the town were under scrutiny for that one.

When the news went around the town grapevine recently that the young man would be going down to Asheville to start at the University of North Carolina-Asheville, a sigh of relief went around the town. They all liked Ken for himself, but he continually existed as a racial and economic dividing line in the town, which made everyone uncomfortable. He was neither here nor there and no one could blame him for that being the case.

The sigh came with a question, though. Who was paying for it–the college education? Surely Davonne’s business was barely profitable enough to put food on the table, even though she owned the building her shop occupied on East Court Street free and clear and they lived in the upstairs apartment there.

But better out of sight, out of mind, although there wasn’t anyone in town who would say that that young man wasn’t friendly and helpful. He just was… different… and somehow undefined. And, as far as the “old Marion” whites were concerned, he was much too good looking and free about town for having non-white blood in him. All of them with daughters watched them carefully when Ken was around–not because they were suspicious of Ken, but because they were mindful of their daughters’ infatuations. If they’d known everything there was to know about Ken, though, they wouldn’t have worried about their daughters.

It might be better if the young man wasn’t so friendly and helpful, some said, accompanying that with a meaningful look. If nothing else, he definitely was from the wrong side of the tracks, and, as Marion sat where two major rail line crossed, there were multiple ways of being from the wrong side the tracks here. There escort izmir was race and there was class. There also was a laziness about the town that kept its young people restless until they could break away and move away.

Most of those in town couldn’t quite get their minds around what was wrong with the young man being here. They just knew he didn’t fit and therefore his very existence posed a threat to… well, something. He was neither fish nor fowl. There was no clear placing him on this side of the tracks or the other.

Looking out of the kitchen window, Jay Brackton’s wife, Susan, saw the man and young man get out of the fishing boat and pull their shirts on. She dropped a teacup on the floor and gave out a “Shit.” When the family maid, Betty Bond, came into the kitchen to find out what had happened, Susan, normally a proper Southern lady in all circumstances, cursed the woman, and Betty beat a hasty retreat.

Brackton and Ken heard the crash and the curses as they walked up from the riverbank, but neither said anything.

“Sorry we didn’t catch anything we can bring home,” the man said.

“That’s OK. It was good to be able to get out on the river,” Ken answered. “Thanks for taking me. And thanks for covering the tuition at UNC-Ashland. I want to–“

“Don’t mention it,” Brackton quickly said. “You deserve a good education. It will help you get out into the world and out of Marion. It would be good not to say anything about it in town, though.”

“Of course,” Ken said. He wasn’t dumb. He knew there was an election coming up and it would be inconvenient for him to be in town during the campaigning for that–just as Brackton probably thought it best for Ken to be out of Marion forever.

“Are you going back to the beauty shop from here?” Brackton asked.

“Yeah. Mom has something for me to do.”

“I have some papers to give to the sheriff. I know the sheriff department’s way out of your way back to the beauty shop, but I can’t be seen delivering the papers and there aren’t many I can trust to do it for me. You think you could drop them off for me? They should be handed directly to Michael Bond. Campaign stuff.”

Everybody in town knew that Brackton was aligned with the sheriff in this election–that Bond, who was the brother of the Brackton’s maid, Betty, and was the first black man let on the force in Marion, let alone having risen to the position of sheriff, would keep his job if Brackton was elected and wouldn’t if the bank manager running against Brackton won. Ken was gratified that Brackton would trust him with this.

“Sure,” Ken said.

“If you wait in the drive by your motorbike, I’ll go get the papers,” Brackton said. Ken knew he wouldn’t be invited into the house, and he knew why.

“Sure, great,” he said. “And thanks again… for everything.”

“Don’t mention it,” Brackton called over his shoulder as he entered the house–and Ken knew that the man quite literally meant that.

* * * *

Riding his motorbike back, southeast, to downtown Marion from the Bracktons’ lakeside house, Ken had to cross two sets of railroad tracks–the Norfolk South line, running north and south, and the CSX, running east and west. The tracks crossed not more than two blocks from his mother’s barber and beauty shop, but he had to bike well past that to West Marion, where the McDowell County sheriff’s office was located on Spaulding Drive.

Ken had long taken Marion as being a two opposing-tracks town as symbolic of his own two-track existence, neither fully white nor black and “different” from others in his natural interests, even at nineteen, in a conservative small Southern town. He was neither here nor there, and with two sets of train tracks going in different directions laid down in the town, there were multiple ways of living on the wrong side of the tracks. This was a town where someone could be an outcast for living on the wrong side of the tracks in multiple ways. That certainly defined the attitude of the people of this town toward Ken. No matter how friendly and helpful he tried to be here, he was always on the wrong side to these folks.

It was a good thing he’d be off to college in Asheville in a couple of weeks. He’d just turned nineteen, having been held back a year in elementary school, so he was entering as a freshmen, but he could be gone from Marion for five years, intending to study for a landscape architecture degree–living in Asheville with just vacation visits back to Marion–as long as there was money to pay for it. If he had to, he might be able to pay for it himself. He made money here–good money for a nineteen-year-old. He did a lot for folks who wanted something for their money. He did wonder, though, if Jay Brackton would be stepping up to pay for the residential tuition at the university in Asheville if he weren’t running for mayor in November. There was every reason, of course, for it to be inconvenient for Ken to be in town then and in the short campaign that ran up to the vote.

Ken didn’t have any escort izmir trouble getting the sheriff, Billy Bond, to come out to the front desk at the sheriff’s department in person to receive the papers Ken was delivering for Brackton. The two men were cooperating closely on this election and had stuff going back and forth they wanted to keep a close hold on. There was another reason, though, that Ken knew that just passing his name and that he needed to see the sheriff personally would draw Bond out to the front. And he could see it in the man’s eyes as soon as he came forward. Ken was used to seeing that from men–and from some women in town too. Ken knew he was a real honey of a looker. And he knew that Bond liked to look–and just what Bond was looking for.

“Good to see you, Ken,” Bond said, when he came out. “I heard that you’re off to Asheville in a couple of weeks.” He reached across and touched Ken on the forearm, but not before looking around to see if anyone else was looking at them. They weren’t.

Ken left his arm there. He wasn’t afraid of men–not even big, black men, which Billy Bond most certainly was. He wasn’t interested in the sheriff–not in that way, not in the way that Bond was obviously interested in him and maybe showed it a bit too much for a lawman in a small Southern town. But Ken saw no reason not to be nice to the man. It certainly helped in Ken being able to move freely in the town, even with his family’s reputation, without being hassled a lot. There was no reason not to let the man have hopes. In a couple of weeks Ken would be gone and the possibilities there just would wither and die without the need for any unpleasantries.

“Yes, Mom thinks me going to Asheville to live for a while will be good for me.”

“A college education at a good university is a good thing to have,” the sheriff said. “So, I guess it’s a good idea to move to Asheville.”

His face didn’t indicate he thought it was all that great of an idea for Ken to leave town, though. And Ken hadn’t been straight about it being anything his mother wanted. Davonne had ranted and raved about him leaving her for a residential school, even as close as Asheville was. It was only forty miles away. But she’d come around to the idea. She’d looked around at what was happening in the town and had seen the wisdom in him going, and she was relieved she didn’t have to find the money to pay for it.

“It won’t be for two more weeks, though,” Ken said. “I’ll be sure to come around and say good-bye before that.”

The sheriff perked up at that. He’d spend a good part of the rest of the workday glowing that Ken would make a special trip to say good-bye to him–and it was only forty miles away and the kid would be coming home on vacations. There was time to develop something.

When Ken got home, biking back across town to his mother’s shop, she was downstairs in the shop, cutting a guy’s hair. Although she billed the place as both a beauty shop and a barber shop and had all the equipment she needed, working the shop alone, there were very few women who came in here for work on their hair. That wasn’t because Davonne wasn’t good with hair; she was. That was because it was a small town, and most of the women had a pact to squeeze Davonne out of her business, out of the town, and out of their lives, if they could. Davonne made most of her money from something other than hair and it revolved around the barber business. Everything was done by appointment, and appointments could take an hour or more each. But they paid very well.

Davonne had been left the building the shop was in by a devoted customer–some called him her sugar daddy–she’d once had been renting the shop and upstairs apartment from this sugar daddy at a cut rate. There were two shops on the ground floor, side by side, her hair salon and a consignment store. Upstairs, reached by a staircase walled off on one side of her shop, there was a two-bedroom apartment. Right at the top of the stairs there was a separate bedroom and full bath–separate from the apartment. She and Ken had bedrooms in the apartment. The separate bedroom and bath were for business.

When Ken came into the shop, Davonne turned and said, “You’re a bit late. You got a customer upstairs.”

“Sorry, I had to stop at the sheriff’s department,” Ken said, as he went over to the doorway to the staircase going upstairs.

“What cha have to go there for?” Davonne asked, her voice laced more with curiosity than suspicion. She knew that Billy Bond was mooning over her son, but she hadn’t decided whether that was a good idea or not. It always was good to have the local sheriff on your side was her main thought on that. Now she didn’t have to decide. Ken was being helped out of town. Although it ached her heart, she had to accept that that was a good idea.

“Just delivering some papers for someone.” He didn’t say who. That was a sore subject with Davonne.

When he got to the top of the stairs and opened the door to the separate bedroom, he wasn’t the least bit surprised at what he saw waiting for him.

* * * *

Thirty-two-year-old deputy sheriff George Guy had started without Ken. The muscular, but burly, blond, buzz-cut lawman, who was starting to lose the beer belly fight and was sneery about it, was sitting on a straight chair, khaki cop’s shirt on, but unbuttoned and flared, and trousers and briefs off. He had his cock in hand and was in erection. He still thought he was god’s gift to young submissives.

“You’re late. You made me wait.”

“The time was for just fifteen minutes ago,” Ken said, “and you usually get here later than that.” But then, seeing the “don’t sass me, young man” look on the deputy sheriff’s face, Ken added, “Sorry, I was sent on an errand that took longer than I thought it would.”

He didn’t say he had taken some papers from the lawyer, Jay Brackton, to the sheriff, Billy Bond, because he knew Guy would think there was some campaign strategizing going on between the two, which Ken thought was probably true, and Guy not only supported the other candidate in the mayor’s race, but he also anticipated that he’d wind up as sheriff if his guy won. He was running for Bond’s job in the same election. A vote against Brackton and Bond would, the deputy had every reason to believe, be a vote for him for sheriff.

“Well, you’re here now. Put on some music and do a strip dance for me.”

Ken did so. The request wasn’t a new one. He knew this would lead to doing a lap dance for Guy as well and then in riding the beefy man’s cock. Guy was one of the shop’s regulars. Davonne did most of the business in this room, but Ken did his share as well when that was what the man wanted. Guy didn’t pay in cash, but that Davonne was able to remain in business justified servicing his needs.

Ken put a bump and grind music CD on and did the slow, sensuous strip dance he knew the deputy found arousing while Guy continued to work himself up.

“All of it,” the man growled when the slim, gracefully moving cream-chocolate young man got down to his briefs but didn’t complete the strip fast enough for the deputy’s tastes. Ken complied.

“Lap dance,” Guy commanded, and Ken slowly danced over to the man and straddled his thighs, bumping and grinding on the deputy’s lap. That didn’t last for long. Guy grasped the young man’s narrow waist between his beefy hands, put the young man in position, pulled him down on the beer-can cock, and, as Ken groaned and surrendered to him, leaning back, arms dangling from his sides, Guy pulled the young man’s channel up and down, up and down, on the thick, sheathed shaft.

He didn’t finish Ken there. He rose and took Ken in a standing fuck for a couple of minutes, Ken’s knees hooked on the man’s hips and torso leaning back, arms dangling at his sides, while Guy raised and lowered the slender, young body on his cock. Guy then moved them over to the bed, came up on it on his knees, laying the young man on his back, gripping Ken’s ankles and raising and spreading the young man’s legs, and finished the fuck in the missionary position. Ken raised his arms over his head, grasped the brass headboard rails with his fists, arched his back, and, gritting his teeth, took it and took it.

He was contributing his share to the household expenses. When he’d seen Davonne’s disappointment that arrangements had been made for him to go to university in Asheville, he immediately wondered if her concern was for the clientele he serviced that she couldn’t satisfy herself. Maybe that’s why she secretly supported Jay Brackton for mayor and gave in to his plans for Ken–with the chance that the threat of George Guy over their lives would be removed. If the deputy lost his bid for the sheriff’s job, he’d be bounced out of the sheriff’s department. Of course, Ken knew there were other reasons his mother supported Brackton too.

Guy was finished before Ken was and, as usually was case, was enjoying himself sitting on the side of the bed, with Ken still stretched out, and stroking the young man’s cock–edging him and drawing out Ken’s release as long as possible.

“There’s something I want you to do for me,” he said.

More than I already do? Ken wondered, but he didn’t say it. He knew the man would tell him.

“Billy Bond has the hots for you. Everyone who knows to look for it knows that.”

“Maybe,” Ken said. “So?”

“So, I want you to give him what he wants. And I want to set it up so that I can get a video of it. You don’t have to spread the video around. I’ve got guys who will do that for me.”

Ken didn’t ask him why Guy wanted him to do that. He knew why. Guy wanted the sheriff’s job. He was banking on his guy becoming mayor and him getting the job anyway, but Guy wanted insurance and leverage outside of that. He was tired of waiting to push Bond aside.

What Guy didn’t know about his candidate, though, and that Ken did, would make the deputy choke. Ken wasn’t about to get into that, though. For now, he was just grateful that in two more weeks he’d be forty miles away in Asheville and well away from all of this small-town intrigue. He didn’t want to be in the center of this, but, through no fault of his own, he thought, he was.

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