Missing Jackson's Hole
Poor young Jackson isn’t thrilled about his new job, working the night shift in the town’s telegraph office. He’s not only terrified of being alone, but panic stricken about being alone in the dark. He misses his old job, where he took care of a ranch full of big strong cowboys, including setting up their baths each week and catering to all their needs. More
Jackson's hands were shaking when he reached toward the rear panel of the oak desk for his pen, planning to write a short letter of resignation, but there was a pile of half-sorted mail and so he resumed organizing it. "Why can't I just relax and enjoy the quiet?" he asked the telegraph machine. "Old Kyle Osgood, the guy who worked the night shift before me, did it for twenty years and all this darkness and silence didn't seem to trouble him in the least."
Earlier that week an old friend said, "I don't understand. You're afraid of the dark? Just sit back and relax, fool; learn how to enjoy the peace and quiet. You're now getting paid the best salary you've ever had in your life to do almost nothing at all."
This advice, which was all very well and good if you were a brainless alley cat, didn't sit well with Jackson. All his life he'd been terrified of two things: being alone and the darkness. And for the past month, since he'd taken over the job of running the telegraph machine from seven at night until seven in the morning, his heart hadn't stopped palpitating and his hands hadn't stopped shaking. He couldn't eat and hadn't slept more than three hours a day, and there didn't seem to be any reprieve. During the day he'd sit and agonize about having to go to work, which was almost as bad as the doomed job itself.
All this wouldn't have been such torture if there'd just been a hint of noise in the small Wyoming town at some stage in the night. But it seemed as though all life ceased the minute the sun went down. Town, as it was called, consisted of a bank, a mercantile and a few other buildings geared strictly for daily business. There was no romantic western "Saloon", where bawdy women danced on the bar and drunken cowboys turned tables and broke windows. You'd never hear the sound of loud piano music on a hot summer night coming from any building along that dusty strip. Families didn't settle there and spend long Sunday mornings at church. This was the sort of place where cowboys and ranchers worked until their skin turned to leather and their legs began to bow at the knees; the only reason for visiting "town" was to buy supplies or take care of business, and there wasn't a sign of human life from dusk until dawn.
Jackson was twenty-five years old by then, and knew in his heart he had to overcome his intense fears, but he missed his previous job and his old life desperately. He had worked as a ranch hand, on a great ranch about five miles outside of town, for seven years. The cowboys had treated him very well, indeed. The only reason he'd moved on was because he didn't see any potential on the ranch. He'd never been afraid to do anything they told him to do, but the men considered him too delicate to ride with the real leatherneck cowboys. Though he could look any cowboy in the eye if he stood on tip-toes, his long golden hair reminded them of fresh wheat, his smooth skin bronzed too quickly in the sun, and his slim waist made the sturdy cowboys think of their girlfriends. It didn't help matters that his hairless legs were so well shaped; or that he had a smooth bubble ass with a long, perfect crack that went all the way up to the small of his back, where it scooped in to form the perfect, dimpled arch. Jackson was just too pretty and too polite for the dirty work of a real cowboy. So they gave him effortless jobs, like sweeping the porch, light kitchen work, and drawing bath water for the bulky tin tub in the back of the barn.