www.amberquill.com/AmberAllure/WorkinOnRailroad.html or www.amberquill.com/AmberAllure/bio_ODare.html
FYI, this was part of a multi-author series of 'picture inspired' stories titled Working Stiffs--all about one or more blue collar guys and their sexy, sweaty lives. Of course as I explained in the background post, mine had to be about railroads so the cover does not quite fit but it is still tasty! Tight sweaty abs---ohhhhh! This excerpt illustrates the danger and unforgiving nature of the work and how some of the crew interacts.
Blurb: Roane Wellman only intends to work one summer on railroad maintenance to pay for his next semester of college after his party guy ways cause his grandfather to stop supporting his schooling. In a summer of hard work, adventure and danger, he matures and finds a new course for his life. Before the season ends, he knows he’s meant to be workin’ on the railroad as he fights to build a career and a partnership that just might last for the rest of his life.
Alden Prescott is a loner, content to operate his big crane and shrug off the added responsibilities of being a gang foreman. However, his current foreman is a drunkard and so close to worthless that Alden ends up doing a lot of the functions he has tried to avoid. Although he’s strongly drawn to the handsome new summer hire, memories of a past tragedy make him afraid to pursue the relationship. What will it take to convince him that Roane is not going to let him repeat past mistakes? And what will happen when the current foreman winds up busted for his illicit drug use? Workin’ on the railroad packs a lot of danger, challenge and some very hot times—days at work and nights at play.
Alden waited while the two Indians hooked up the panel, the next to last for the day, for the week. Things had been going pretty well. Wellman seemed to be working out, confirming Alden's first impression that the young man had the smarts to do a job and the will to learn and work. After a mistake or two, the kid had gotten the spotting function down to almost foolproof. Not that Alden had stopped keeping an eye on the newest worker, but that was more habit and a sense of responsibility than serious doubts about the younger man's capabilities.
It had been a fast-paced week. Fortunately, Flannery stayed out of the way most of the time. Oh, he'd come around and harangued the crew at the start of each day's work and maybe made an appearance around midday flanked by his two muchachos mariposas, the whole group reeking of liquor, pot or both, but the rest of the day they vanished.
Thank the gods for small favors. Alden rested one hand on the controls, his gaze on Willie Randall. From his angle, he didn't have as clear a view of Jack Dahosie. When Willie waved all clear from a perch on the edge of the gondola, Alden eased the levers into place to begin lifting the track panel clear of the car.
All at once he realized Roane was not in his spot near the end of the last panel Alden had placed. Then a flash of motion caught his eye as Roane popped up over the far end of the car, waving his hands in a frantic pantomime of "stop everything." That wasn't in the normal repertoire of signals, but clear nonetheless.
Alden slammed the controls into a stop mode, ready to give the new man a royal ass chewing. What the fuck does he think he's doing? Wellman's got no business up on that car. Making sure the levers were locked so the crane would not move another inch, he swung down from the cab and sprinted toward the car. He leaped up the ladder in a half-dozen fast steps until he could look over the side. Willie hung in his place, his face drawn into a mask of terrified shock.
Roane braced astraddle the edge of the car as he reached down to grab for Jack. The Navajo slumped against the side of the car, one leg mostly out of sight down between the ties on the panel Alden had started to lift.
"His foot's caught," Roane yelled. "A few more inches and he'd have been crushed. I realized you couldn't see and when I missed him on the back side of the car, I knew something was wrong."
Alden turned a fierce glare on Willie. "What were you fuckin' doing, signaling all clear when your partner wasn't safe?"
"I-I didn't see. Thought he was just fuckin' around and didn't realize his foot was caught. I'm sorry, I didn't mean... We wanted to get these last two panels down so we could quit for the day. Shit, it's been a long damn fuckin' week."
"Piss poor excuse to be careless," Alden said, his words closer to a snarl than speech. "Don't you ever signal clear until you fucking know everybody's out of the way. That means your partner, yourself and anyone else who happens to be around."
Then he turned to Roane. "Don't ever be so stupid again, Wellman. Heroes end up dead more often than they get thanked. You could've signaled and I'd have stopped but no, you had to play Superman. We'll discuss this later. Get back down to your place."
Only then did he turn his attention to Jack. "You okay, Dahosie? Can you get out now?"
The Navajo nodded. "I think so. Foot slipped. This damn creosote is sticky, but it's slick, too. It's a long jump to the top of the car and when I went to push off, my foot slipped. I got caught between the end of a tie on the bottom panel and the side of the car. I might have got my foot out, but there was no way I could jump clear in time. I'd have been dog meat if you'd lifted this panel on up."
Alden cringed at the picture he got. Those panels were heavy, awkward and full of sharp edges and unyielding surfaces. Yeah, a man could be crushed--easily. "Get on out and go sit down, Jack. Randall, you can hook up both ends on the last one. Stay clear while I get this one out."
Clearly shaken, Willie nodded. Roane had already climbed back down and taken his usual place. Alden managed to set the last two panels without further incidents. When he finally secured the machine for the weekend and climbed down about thirty minutes later, he still fought the sensation of a red hot iron fist clenched in his gut.
He could have lost one man, two, maybe even three today. Fuck it all, you can't ever afford to relax, not even for a minute. He was so mad, so relieved and so shaken it took all his will to climb up on the flatcar to ride back down to the campsite. He knew he'd have the camp car to himself for the weekend since Ragulsky was heading home. Maybe that was a good thing, but then again, too much solitary time to think and worry and what-if the whole incident might not be what he needed. A man could get too jumpy. That was as bad as being too lackadaisical.
He'd been hard on Wellman, he knew, but when he'd suddenly missed his spotter and sensed in a split second that something was wrong, he'd almost lost it. When had this new guy become so significant? He was just another temporary hire, a short-term summer worker. A good enough kid, but he sure didn't know him well enough to be that concerned about. Damn it, he'd felt like it was his brother, his son, someone really special when he realized he didn't know where Roane had gone. That wasn't good, not good at all.
I'm a loner, aloof and always a long reach apart from the rest of the crew. I've got plenty of professional acquaintances, but damn few friends. I like it that way. Always have. Shit, I can't let anything with this Wellman kid get out of hand. Damn it, I won't.