The truck Sam rented was a big, roomy 2005 GMC Sierra. Sam wanted the Chevy Avalanche in the lot, but it had been reserved. The Sierra was big and roomy enough and had a lot of creature comforts. Mack had dug through his CD collection and the two had been rocking to Mack's heavy metal collection since Oklahoma. The kid had a wide selection from some of the early metal bands all the way up to the latest.
Mack was proving to be a more than competent driver, and Sam settled back to relax and take a snooze after changing seats with him a few hour's drive out of Oklahoma City. His mind drifted as the miles rolled by and the disc player pounded away. Right now AC/DC's 'Hell's Bells' from the Back in Black album was playing. Sam remembered that he and some of his biker buddies had gone to see them in concert after the album's release. Sam remembered it was August, 1980 in Amarillo. The music brought back good memories of getting drunk off his butt with really good friends before the concert and the party they had after. Hell, Mack was listening to music that was released two years before he was born. Sam was remembering the wild sex he had with his biker buddies that same year.
How time flies! Sam's mind drifted in pleasant nostalgia. Twenty five years ago another young man caught Sam's eye, the man who was working on his bike right now in Flagstaff was just a kid then. Sam remembered handing Mickey the ticket to the sold out concert. Mickey was a hard core AC/DC fan.
Mike wasn't 'Grizzly Mike' back in those days, he was Mickey; a kid who was friends with a son of one of Sam's biker bros. Mickey and his mom lived in a trailer park and he never knew his real dad. His mom got pregnant in her junior year in high school and the guy who did it had taken off for parts unknown. His mom had a string of boyfriends who occasionally abused him physically. One lowlife had abused him sexually when he was fourteen. Mickey's mom dumped him, but it wasn't because she knew of the abuse. As far as Sam knew, he was the only one Grizzly Mike had ever told about how Billy had raped him one night when his mom was passed out drunk. His mom dumped Billy because she caught him cheating on her. Then two weeks later she'd married George, a man she'd been seeing off and on since Mickey was ten; a man who had slapped Mickey around a few times when things weren't going right for him.
At fifteen Mickey made friends with Ronny, the son of one of the bikers Sam partied with. Big Ronny noticed the faded bruises on Mickey's back and legs. Mickey lied, of course, about how he'd got the bruises; but Big Ronny had seen enough to know that Mickey was lying to keep his step dad from beating him for telling. Big Ronny decided to give his step-dad a little lesson in proper parenting. He and some of the bros made it real clear to George that none of that shit was gonna happen anymore and used their fists and boots to punctuate their point.
From then on, Mickey hung out more at Ronny's place than he did at home and over the next five years Sam got to know the young man and a bond formed.
After the AC/DC concert, back at his buddy Bull's place with the party in full swing, he and Mickey went to an unoccupied bedroom. Sam hung his wallet from the chain on the outside of the door signifying that the room was occupied and by whom. It was a 'do not disturb' tradition and all the bikers respected it. That night Sam gently bonded on a much deeper level with the young man. Mickey became 'Grizzly Mike' the next day. Sam had christened him with the name that morning over breakfast with the other bros.
Mickey got quite an education in the following years; everything from rebuilding bikes from the ground up to the subtleties of giving a really good blow job. The kid was no longer a kid; at twenty-one his body was covered in dense blond fur and he had tattoos all over his arms, back and chest. In 1981, tattoos were still pretty much for men in the military, prisoners, sideshow freaks, leathermen, and bikers.
His thick long golden beard and the cigar he usually had in his mouth made him look ten years older than what he was. His tall, burly build and attitude reinforced that perception of being a full-grown man. He could pound back beers with his buddies all night and still get up in the morning and drag himself into the garage for work. The way he fucked his buddies, and took it too, gave the impression of a man who had been doing it for years; most thought he was a hard core biker who'd done time. He had done time, in a way. The abuse from his youth had toughened him, and the bonding with Sam and Bull and his buddies had given new depth to his personality.
Mickey was dead and 'Grizzly Mike' had risen from the ashes; a strong, serious, dependable man at work and a wild biker at gatherings; and now when he visited home to see his mom for some reason, George's fear of him was evident. Grizzly Mike enjoyed that fear.
Sam was proud of Grizzly Mike; he had worked hard and by twenty-five had his own shop, with some financial help from his 'suit and tie' partner Larry; an older bearish man Mike had met at Sturgis. A man who, though older, quickly became Mike's 'Cub'. Sam didn't think anything of the reversal of roles. It was not uncommon in his experience, especially given what Mike and Larry had become thanks to Sam's year long mating with Mike. Age was less relevant for what they were, personality meant more and Larry was much more 'Cubbish' than Mike.
Sam came back from his musings on the past half way through 'Givin' The Dog A Bone'. Mack was only a few years older than Mickey was when he'd met him. Both of them were so very young compared to Sam, even now. The young man sleeping quietly beside him had that same sort of maturity about him that his Uncle Russ had; that Mike had. Sam chuckled to himself. Sam knew Mack wanted sex with him and if he was willing, if he gave him reason, Sam would be happy to oblige.
The next day was spent at the Grand Canyon. Mack had never seen it, and Sam was pleased to play tour guide. He and Mack had gone on the deluxe four and a half-hour tour of the Grand Canyon. It was a small piece of the whole, of course, but the wonder in Mack's eyes at what he saw was worth going out of their way. Sam remembered the first time he'd seen the canyon, so long ago; and how he, too, marveled at its grandeur and beauty. Of course, back then, there weren't tours... in fact there weren't many white men in the area.
It was 10 pm by the digital clock on the dash. Sam was giving Mack a break and was back at the wheel again. He'd occasionally look over at Mack who was now sleeping in the reclined passenger seat. He'd done quite a bit of hiking around in the canyon in that four and a half-hour tour and had been tired out by the exertion. They'd stopped and had a large, leisurely meal; Mack was yawning all the way through dinner and as soon as he got comfortable he was out. He seemed to rest better now that it was just the two of them and they weren't on a bus where even when you were asleep, some part of you stayed alert enough to come out of it quickly should there be trouble. Sam knew all about that kind of sleep, he'd done it enough in his life and it was always when he was in an unpredictable or highly dangerous situation. Sam also knew his pheromones were having an effect on Mack. Mack was accepting him as his 'Papa', just as Grizzly Mike had done twenty-five years ago in Bull's house. Difference was, Mack hadn't been raped by a step-dad and wasn't as gun shy about sex with a man like Mickey had been.
Sam pointed the Sierra towards Valle, a small town not too far away and again drifted off into his memories. Sam knew the owner and manager of the Canyon View Motel in Valle. Jim Schultz had owned the motel for the last fifteen years and Sam had helped him out by co-signing the loan. Jim was a nice guy; a big burly black bearded bear whose grandfather came over from Germany just before WWII to escape Hitler's reign of terror. Jim's grandfather wasn't Jewish, but he wasn't a man who could stomach the fascist politics in his country and was vocal about it. That, and not joining the Party, had made him a marked man.
Sam had met Jim in a bear bar in Phoenix and over the next few months got to know him really well. He learned that Jim was looking to buy and renovate the Canyon View Motel. It was a quaint late '40s era motel that had become run down and Jim had visions of restoration and renovation, but he just couldn't do it without someone to cosign on the loan. Sam's generosity was paid back in full. The motel was a thriving business once restored to its former glory and its retro atmosphere charmed those looking for a place to stay overnight. It was even declared a historical landmark, insuring its presence for generations to come. Sam got two percent of the annual profits but only because Sam had talked Jim down from ten percent he wanted to give. Sam also had a standing invitation for any room that he wanted free of charge when he was in the area; but the room Sam liked best was Jim's.
With Jim, Sam practiced safe sex, but one day, perhaps Sam would give Jim his gift; perhaps.
Sam's Harley was waiting for him in Flagstaff at Mike's place, and Flagstaff wasn't that far away; but still, it would be nice to take a couple of days and sleep in a bed for a change and sexually bond with Mack. Sam knew the time was close and if not tonight, then almost definitely tomorrow night. Even now, glancing over at Mack's crotch, Sam could see the effect his bear scent was having on the young man by the outline of the bulge down Mack's right leg.
As Sam was pulling into the Canyon View's parking lot, Mack woke up.
"Where are we?" Mack asked groggily.
"We're at a motel. A buddy of mine runs the place. I need some sleep and you look like you'd appreciate a bed." Sam said.
"Yeah," Mack said yawning, "this seat is nice, but it can't beat a good bed."
"Ain't that the truth!" Sam said and chuckled as he got out of the truck.
The two made their way to the office and Mack noticed that the 'no vacancy' sign was lit. He pointed that out to Sam and Sam just grinned.
"I think we'll be OK, like I said, a buddy of mine runs this place." And Sam patted Mack on the back as they entered the office.
Behind the counter a stout man with a jet-black beard and gray eyes greeted the pair.
"Sam!" The man said with a huge grin as he came around the counter. The two embraced like long lost friends and parted. Mack noticed that the black bearded man was a good foot and a half shorter than Sam.
"So, what brings you out here?" The man asked, turning and looking over at Mack.
"Well Jim, this is Mack; he and I are headed out to his uncle's place in Bakersfield. I decided it would be fun to look at the Grand Canyon with someone who'd never seen it before." Sam said. "Mack O'Brien, this is Jim Schultz, he's a good friend and a real buddy."
Jim took Mack's hand in a firm grip and shook with enthusiasm. "Good to meet you." Jim said and smiled through his bushy black beard.
"Good to meet you too." Mack replied, as the handshake broke. Mack wondered if every bearish man in the entire southwest was a friend of Sam's as he looked over the portly bear who owned the motel.
"So Jim, you got my room or have you rented it out? I noticed you're full up from the sign outside." Sam said ending with a grin.
Jim's face took on a mock hurt expression, "Sam. How could you think I'd ever turn you away?" And then Jim broke into a smile, "You know I never rent out your room unless we're full and someone is truly desperate. Last time I rented it out was last month when a young couple and their two kids were broken down after visiting the Canyon. It was pouring down rain and the father looked like he was soaked to the skin from trying to fix their car."
"You ol' softy, I bet you gave it to them for half price, didn't ya?" Sam said.
"You know me too well." Jim laughed, "I usually don't rent that room out anyway so it doesn't hurt me to let them have it for half."
Sam smiled, Jim had a heart of gold and he was a good businessman. Perhaps that's what made him a good businessman; he didn't let profit destroy his humanity.
"So, why are you workin' the late shift?" Sam asked.
"Well, the guy who usually works this shift is celebrating his anniversary and asked for the night off and the guy who would usually cover for him is at home with the stomach flu that's been going around at his kid's school, so that leaves me. I don't mind, the owner always works hardest, I knew that getting into it. It's the first rule of business. It's pretty quite and I can catch up on my reading." Jim said.
"What ya readin'?" Sam asked.
"Foundation series, I'm on the next to last book." Jim said.
"I'll save you some time." Sam said with an impish look on his furry face, "The butler did it."
Jim smiled, "Yeah, that butler sure gets around, don't he?"
Mack yawned and Jim looked over at him.
"Oh, I'm sorry, I'm keeping you two from sleep." Jim said apologetically.
"Oh, no, I'm fine." Mack said to make the innkeeper feel at ease.
"Well just the same, let me get that key," Jim said and he hurried around the counter.
He opened up a shallow cabinet on the wall behind the counter and took out a card key. There was no room number on it, instead it simply read VIP Suite.
He handed the key card over to Sam.
Sam said, "Goodnight and come by tomorrow, 'bout 9, I think."
"I will, we've got some catching up to do," Jim said, "Sleep well and it was nice meeting you, Mack."
Mack said, "Nice meeting you, too," as he and Sam headed out the door.
Sam and Mack grabbed their things from the car, locked it and Sam headed off through the motel complex. The grounds around the motel were nicely xeriscaped with large boulders, dry stream beds and a variety of cacti, succulents and other drought tolerant plants. The lighting was dramatic, yet tasteful. The remodeled mid 20th century motel was a showpiece of restoration and attracted a much better clientele than it had in the last few decades before Jim had bought the place.
"Wow, Sam. Reserved VIP suite! Jim must like you a lot," Mack said.
"Well, I helped Jim out years ago and he's sorta grateful, I guess. He's also a very nice man. You'll get a chance to know him better tomorrow when he comes by, we haven't visited in awhile. He always brings breakfast and we sit and catch up while eating together," Sam said. "He's a really good cook too."
Sam opened the large Spanish style solid oak door, the lights came on automatically, but were soft like candlelight. Sam said in a slightly louder voice, "Gertrude?"
An electronic female voice asked, "Yes?"
"Lights brighter, please."
"Level please?" The voice asked.
Sam said, "Ten."
Gertrude said, "Please repeat."
Sam said with a very pronounced 'T', "Ten."
"Thank you." Gertrude said.
He rolled his eyes. "Nice system, but it still has a few voice recognition problems."
The light in the suite increased from dim to full brightness over the next five seconds.
Sam set down his small bag on a nice wrought iron and oak table and Mack put his things on the table next to them, all the while gaping at the room and the lighting.
The room was in rich browns and gold tones with hardwood floors and imitation Persian rugs.
"Jim loves his gadgets. He's installed a voice activated computer control. Watch this. Gertrude?"
"Yes." Came the response from the computer's speakers installed in the ceiling.
A large panel in the wall opposite of the large, luxurious looking, black silk clad bed opened and a flat screen TV was revealed.
"Your selection?" Gertrude asked.
"HBO" Sam said and the screen went from blue to 'The Sopranos'.
"Pretty cool, huh?" Sam said. "Give it a try, I've gotta use the can. Oh, she's going to ask you for your name a few times to set her voice recognition pattern. When you're ready, just call her name." Sam said and headed for what looked like a very large bathroom; which lit up to the same level as the bedroom as he entered.
Mack sat on the edge of the bed and said, "Gertrude?"
Gertrude asked, "Enter your name please."
"Mack." he said in the same clear way he'd heard Sam speak to the computer.
"Repeat." Gertrude said.
"Mack." he said again.
"Repeat." Gertrude said.
"Mack." he said slightly irritated and wondering how many times the computer needed to hear him say his name.
"Thank you." Gertrude said. "Your request?"
"TV" Mack said.
"The TV is on." Gertrude said.
"Yes, I want to change the channel." Mack said.
"I could not understand, please repeat." Gertrude said.
Mack said a bit louder, "I want to change the channel."
"I could not understand, please repeat." Gertrude said.
Frustrated, Mack was about to yell when he heard Sam holler through the closed bathroom door.
"She's not the computer on the Enterprise, Mack; use simple commands." Sam laughed. "Say 'channel' and then tell her which one you want."
"Gertrude." Mack said.
"Channel" Mack said in that same firm clear voice Sam had used. "Cartoon Network"
Immediately the flat screen switched from Tony Soprano to 'The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy'.
Mack kicked off his shoes and moved up on the bed and propped himself up on the pillows. Ten minutes later, when Sam came out Mack was sound asleep on the bed. Not wanting to wake Mack he walked over to the wall panel and pressed a button and spoke into the intercom style speaker and said in a normal voice. "Gertrude, lights off. TV, off."
Immediately the TV went off and the panel closed over the screen. The lights began dimming. Sam sat in a chair and took off his boots. He climbed into the large bed next to Mack. Mack stirred slightly and then went back to the rhythmic breathing of deep sleep. Sam lay next to him and drifted off.