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Holiday Hootenanny

Author(s): Ari McKay

Clint Barker wants to take his relationship with boyfriend Joshua Cash to the next level, and that means meeting Josh’s family at Christmas. Clint is sure he can deal with anything, even though Josh has expressed reservations that his big, loud hillbilly family might be too overwhelming for an introvert like Clint to handle.
Josh loves his family, but the only other time he brought a boyfriend home to meet them, the guy didn’t last through dinner. Clint means everything to him, and though he knows his family means well, Josh is worried their nosiness and sheer overwhelming presence will drive Clint away.
Between having to fix an illegal still, getting treed by a wild hog, and barely avoiding a bar fight between rednecks and bikers, the holiday doesn’t get off to an auspicious start. Then at the traditional Christmas Eve Hootenanny, Josh and Clint argue, and Clint later turns up missing. Will this spell the end of their relationship, or will a newborn in a stable work a little Christmas miracle for them both?


Motioning for Clint to stay put, Josh moved slowly around the bulk of the still, careful to be as quiet as possible. When he rounded the end, he looked toward the source of the noise, barely refraining from yelling in frustration and fear at the sight of a huge boar snuffling and ripping at a half-empty sack of corn his father left just inside the shelter.
The boar was engrossed in its free meal, but Josh knew that would end if it decided he or Clint were a threat to it or if it thought they might try to fight it for the food. Moving slowly, he backed toward Clint, putting his lips close to Clint’s ear.
“Wild boar. We need to get out of here.”
Clint nodded vehemently, the alarm in his eyes escalating into panic, and he gestured for Josh to lead the way.
Josh took Clint’s hand, giving it a reassuring squeeze before starting to move slowly and quietly toward the other end of the overhang. The camouflage netting had been secured to the rough stone of the wall with nails pounded into the rock, but Josh lifted it away carefully, motioning for Clint to duck outside.
Clint slipped outside, then reached back to hold the netting up for Josh in return, darting anxious glances in the direction of the boar. Josh ducked his head as he stepped outside, but as he turned to tug the netting back in place, he pulled a bit too hard, and a huge section at the top of the overhang pulled away, sending the fabric and its weight of branches crashing back against the end of the still.
There was a loud squeal of alarm from the boar, and Josh knew that things had just gone from bad to worse. “Run for that tree!” he yelled at Clint, taking off for the closest of the pines. Even though he hadn’t climbed a tree in years, he hadn’t forgotten how, and he grasped the lower branches, hauling himself up before turning and reaching a hand down to Clint. “Come on!”
Clint didn’t bother grabbing Josh’s hand, latching onto the lower limbs and scrambling up. He made the mistake of looking back, and seeing the boar closing in made him slip, but he clamored up the tree and perched on the sturdiest limb he could find, clutching the trunk like a lifeline.
“What now?” He shot Josh a panicked look. “Will it get bored and go away on its own?”
The boar, which was mottled brown and black and had to weigh at least two hundred pounds, squealed furiously and charged at the tree. It impacted on the trunk, ripping at it with his tusks and gouging the bark.
“I sure hope so,” Josh replied, cautiously climbing up to a branch at the same level Clint occupied. “Being stuck up here is going to be a hell of a lot colder than what we were planning.”
“We left the gun down there.” Clint grimaced and tried to zip up his coat with one hand. When that didn’t work, he gingerly let go of the trunk and did the fastest zip-up Josh had ever seen before grabbing the trunk again. He stared down at the boar with growing concern. “Um. Can that thing knock this tree over?”
“No, don’t worry about that.” Josh smiled reassuringly, reaching out to pat one of Clint’s hands where he clutched the tree in a death grip. “We’re safe enough up here. I wish I’d thought to grab the gun, but Pa left it by the entrance, so I’d have had to go past our grumpy friend to get it.”
He sighed. So far this had been the worst trip home he could ever remember. He just hoped Clint wasn’t going to get frustrated and disgusted enough to leave.
Clint relinquished the tree with one arm and grabbed Josh’s hand, squeezing it tightly. “I guess this isn’t the best time to reveal I’m afraid of heights.”

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ISBN (Print):
ISBN (Electronic): 978-1-61040-621-5
Genre: GLBT
Date Published: 12/11/2013
Publisher: Torquere Press

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