Always and Forever
Copyright © 2004, revised 2015
by David Lee
by David Lee
Opening the Door
Earlier that same day, Fr. Jerry had smiled at his sleeping lover, leaning over to softly kiss his cheek. He had met Dennis six months ago when he was visiting a neighboring parish. As Fr. Jerry Martin and Fr. Joel McDermott were in the study discussing the joint service planned for their congregations, they had heard an angelic tenor voice in the sanctuary. The old basilica form church had great acoustical qualities, but that could not be the whole reason for this sound. This man should be in opera. The fact was that he did perform several times a year, as well as teaching voice at the university.
When Fr. Joel introduced Fr. Jerry to Dennis Gallagher, it was love at first sight. They had decided to meet for lunch the next day. Both were certain that their "gaydar" had not let them down.
It had taken over five months of steady dating before Jerry had asked Dennis to sleep over. They had agreed that they wanted to take this very slowly and not let lust get in the way of actually knowing each other. Both had had brief, unhappy relationships in which that pitfall had not been avoided. After long walks, dinners, concerts, art openings, and theater performances, they had come to know each other like a book. To their great joy, they found that the story only got better with the rereading.
Neither man was an anal virgin; and both liked to receive as well as to give. But despite having tested negative, Dennis and Jerry had decided not to "go all the way." They wanted to save something special for their wedding night. Yes, Fr. Joel had agreed to bless their union, but only if they lived together in harmony for a year. Fr. Jerry got up and circled yesterday's date on the calendar.
Dennis stretched and rubbed the sleep from his eyes. He smiled as he remembered the night before; the long passionate kisses, the soft caresses, the powerful orgasms (yes plural). For both men the waiting had served to make the first night together extremely intense.
"Was I a bad boy last night, Father?"
"Yes, Son, you were a very naughty boy last night. And for that, I think I will reward you before breakfast!"
After that, the talking ceased and the moaning began.
Home from her date with Tony, Susan had let herself in the front door quietly. It was a bit late and she didn't want to awaken her son since tomorrow was a school day. The scene in the living room surprised her. There was Alan on the sofa asleep in Brad's arms. Raising her eyebrows quizzically, she knelt on the floor near the boys.
"What's going on?"
"He knows about his dad," Brad whispered.
"Oh, God, I've been trying to figure out how to break it gently. How did he find out?"
"The resemblance was so striking that he knew Mr. Naughton must be a relative. He called your mother and she told him the rest."
"All of it?"
"If you mean about Travis being gay and too young to support you guys and leaving his name off the birth certificate - then, yes, all of it."
"Does he hate me?"
"No, he was hurt at first. He felt that you should have told him, but his grandmother helped him see why you hadn't. She was very supportive and she wants to see Travis again and finish the healing process that you started when you called her."
"Thanks for being here with my son. Will you be in trouble with your folks?"
"No, I called them earlier and said you wanted me to stay over. I know it wasn't exactly true, but I thought you would want me to. I had to be here. I love him very much you know."
"Yes I would have, and do, want you here so it wasn't really a lie. I know what you guys mean to each other and I'm thankful for you, Brad. Do you think we can get my other son to bed, or should we leave him here?"
The next morning, Alan awakened feeling groggy. As he turned over, he realized there was another naked boy in his bed. Then he remembered all the upheaval he had felt last night when he gave in to the emotions that had built up during all the years of not having a father in his life. But things looked pretty good in the early morning light; especially as the light fell on the one he loved most of all. "Forever!" he thought.
His next thought was that he had to get moving because he was expected to be at school early to warm up for band. And he had to piss like a race horse!
That morning there was a special assembly in the school gym to recognize the graduating seniors. The band played "Pomp and Circumstance" while the class filed in.
Dr. Carlson made some opening remarks before turning the ceremony over to the student council president. In them he mentioned the absence of one of the class's best and brightest, namely, Courtney Forbes. He touched upon the fact that she had been assaulted and that the two young adults responsible were now in the county jail. He said that he hoped his announcement would put an end to the many rumors circulating around school. While he reminded students that he could not ask them to pray in a public institution, he could ask them to pause for a moment of silence to remember Courtney in her recovery. At the end of a couple of minutes, Sara Johnson, the student council president (who had no problem with praying) said: "AMEN" and the program proceeded.
As the kids passed to their classes after the assembly, one senior, Barry Hardic decided it was a good opportunity to show everyone what a tough, macho stud he was. He was bigger than Tom and as ill-tempered as Tom had been at his worst. Like Tom, he had taken a lot of teasing because of his name. His father was not a kind or loving person. And, although he had never been beaten by his dad, Barry had learned early that boys didn't cry and that no one pushed a Hardic around. Like some Old West gunslinger, Barry had to maintain his reputation and Tom was the one he had to take on.
So, Barry started with the teasing and name calling. When that didn't get the response he wanted, he went below the belt taunting about Tom's recent problems.
"You're a big pussy. You can't do anything right. You can't even kill yourself without fucking it up!"
Those were almost the exact words Tom had figured someone would use on him.
Amy Kearns, who was walking nearby, had had enough. She stood on her tip-toes and got in Barry's face.
"Shut up, you ignorant bully. You leave him alone!"
Shoving Amy roughly out of the way and sending her sprawling, Barry continued.
"Now you've even got a dumb bitch fighting your battles for you."
Barry's limp body hit the floor about the same moment Amy was picking herself up from it.
Maybe Tom didn't want to kill anyone anymore, but he surely wasn't going to take any shit off anyone either. Besides, the asshole had insulted Amy.
Amy put her hand on Tom's arm.
"You could get into serious trouble over this. Why couldn't you just let it go? Does the name calling really mean that much?"
"It does when it's aimed at someone as sweet as you," Tom replied, blushing as he realized that he had verbalized his feelings for her.
Vice-principal Keegan rounded the corner a few seconds later as Barry was dusting himself off. Both boys were breathing heavily from the influx of adrenaline.
"Barry, what is the problem here? Are you and Tom fighting?"
"Uh, I slipped on something. Tom was just walking by."
Barry didn't want to admit that he had been bested by the slightly smaller junior. Plus he knew there would be witnesses to the fact that he provoked the punch.
Bill Keegan had been at this game long enough to recognize a bald-faced lie when he heard one, but reasoned that perhaps the old adage about letting sleeping dogs lie (in the sense of lying down) applied in this case. School was nearly over for the year and neither boy could stand another discipline notice on his record. Since Barry would graduate in less than a week and seniors were not at school after today, there was a good chance that nothing would come of this. Besides, whatever Barry Hardic got, he probably richly deserved!
The seniors would graduate Thursday night and that meant, with Memorial Day, there would be only five days for the rest of the kids. "Wow, we're almost free for the summer," thought Brad as he pulled into his driveway. The stress of papers, books, exams, etc. would be traded for the part-time job and track practice with Alan. And, with luck, the guys might get in some camping and swimming – maybe even a canoe trip. The prospects put a smile on his face as he entered the back door.
Fran was in the kitchen removing the last sheet of cookies from the oven when she heard her son enter.
"Brad, grab some cookies and come out to the gazebo with me. I want to sit and talk awhile."
Wondering what this was about, Brad took a handful of cookies and a glass of milk as he went to join his mother.
Fran frowned slightly and pursed her lips. This was something she characteristically did when she was thinking hard. It always tipped her kids off to expect a serious subject.
"I don't know how to bring this up delicately, so I'm just going to plunge right in. You know that I love you very much. You are my first-born and you have a special place in my heart. I will always love you, no matter what you do or what you become. I . . ."
"Mom, is this about Alan and me?"
"Well, son, I know you're very close. I am wondering. . . "
Brad broke in again.
"Mom, I love Alan very much. I'm not interested in girls. I am gay. There, does that answer your question?"
At the end of his confession, Brad swallowed hard to get the lump out of his throat and keep the tears out of his eyes.
"Yes, I guess it does. I have suspected for a long time that you were not into girls, but I thought you might just be a late bloomer. Then when you brother started dating, I began to believe that maybe girls weren't your thing. And, of course, there was the thing with Courtney… I meant what I said about always loving you whatever happens. And I must say you have great taste in guys!"
"Well it's true, isn't it?"
"Yeah, he's the greatest. Mom, I can't believe we're having this conversation. I thought I could never tell you; that you would never understand. I feel like a huge weight has been lifted off my shoulders."
"Well, I'm not sure I exactly understand, but I love you and I will stand by you. I had a cousin who was gay and who died of AIDS a few years back. He was considered an outcast by the family so you've never heard his name spoken. I feel like a hypocrite for not having mentioned him either, but I vowed that if he were my son, I would NOT abandon him!" Fran showed her characteristic fire in the last statement.
"How do I tell Dad? Is he going to throw me out?"
"I think you should find a time when you can be alone with him for an hour or two. Maybe you could take him for a drive in your car on Saturday. You guys loved to go to Backbone State Park when you were little. Take him to your special place and talk it out. I think you'll find him more understanding than you imagine."
Later, Alan called about the math final next week and the boys talked for an hour. Brad had to let him know about the conversation with Fran.
"I didn't mean to out you, but I guess I did when I told her how much I love you."
"Hey, no prob. Sometimes I wish we felt strong enough to tell the world. And Brad, please take me with you when you talk to your dad. You were with me when my mom found out. It helped. I want to be there for you."
On the following Friday, after the last exam, Principal Carlson made the final announcements of the year. These included a date change for the girls' softball game against St. Mary's and the cancellation of the staff meeting that was to be held the next morning.
The latter was met by cheers from the entire faculty, except for Miss Primrose who felt that Carlson was caving in. The very idea of not having an end of year staff meeting; it was practically sacrilegious.
Roy Carlson, however, had rightly guessed that the teachers were stressed out and could put the time to better use finishing term grades and putting away their things for next fall. It had been one Hell of a spring. What with an attempted suicide and a rape and assault; talking in platitudes about the accomplishments of the past year would seem trivial at best. He just couldn't put them or himself through it. What they needed most was a good party with a keg or three.
The stream of kids fled like a raging river. It's a wonder no one's car suffered any damage and no one got run over. Screams and shouts accompanied by strains of: "School is out for summer!" wafted in the late spring air.
Brad and Alan strolled more leisurely to Alan's little red car. They were happy to be free for the summer, but they had one nagging worry hanging over their heads - when and how to talk to Brad's father. This would be tough. "How would he react?"
As Alan started the car, put the top down, and began to drive toward his house, he voiced his opinion.
"You know, Brad, your dad doesn't seem like he's prejudiced against anyone. I think it is a good sign that he gets along with people of different races and stuff. He's not mean. He doesn't have a bad temper. I've never even heard him raise his voice."
"Yeah, you're right. I'm just a big wuss when it comes to telling him. But, the worry is driving me crazy. How about the three of us go visit my secret cave at Backbone tomorrow? Mom said she'll pack us a lunch and we can hike back into the woods and spend all day. Somewhere in there I'll find the balls to come out."
"Sounds like a plan to me. We have to get this off our minds no matter how it turns out. If I'm wrong and things go bad, you can move in with Mom and me. And if you ever need help finding your balls, just call on me." Alan snickered as he laid his right hand on Brad's left thigh.
Alan's play on words helped lighten the mood and raise their spirits (among other things). When they stopped at Alan's house a few minutes later, he made good on the promise to aid in the search.
"Okay, Mom doesn't get home for a couple of hours. Let me start looking for those lost items," said Alan as he began to run his hand up under his boyfriend's shirt.
Brad was obviously aroused by the caressing touch. His shorts were bulging despite the tight briefs that he was wearing. Alan had once remarked that Brad was asking a lot of the fabric when it came to containing that beast between his legs.
After thoroughly examining and tonguing nearly every square inch of Brad's torso, Alan exclaimed, "Hmm, they don't seem to be here. Guess I'll have to keep exploring. Could they be trapped somewhere in your shorts? Let me check the pockets."
Alan used this opportunity to feel Brad up - close to, but not quite on, the target. Brad was getting hotter by the minute. He made Alan stop so that he could pull Alan's shirt and shorts off. It wasn't long before both guys were naked and hard as steel. Alan dropped to his knees and lovingly sucked on Brad's ball sac. He let the 'nads out of his mouth long enough to exclaim:
"Eureka, I have found them!"
Then he went back to tonguing and nibbling again while enjoying the feeling of Brad's precum making a sticky trail on his face.
Brad was nearly ready to explode. He pushed Alan back onto the bed and began to do for him what had been done to him. Brad began to giggle as he remembered how he had learned in Sunday school: "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." When he stopped a moment to share this with Alan, both boys agreed it would be their motto!
A few minutes later, they were in the 69 position gently, but surely, driving each other closer to the edge. Finally, they reached the point of no return. Alan began making the little high-pitched moaning sounds that were becoming his trademark. Brad was beginning to respond in kind. That "unnnnnnnnnnnh" sound was starting deep in his throat where Alan's favorite part was currently lodged. Sensing the imminent explosion, both young men pulled back enough to receive the full load of each other's offering.
Cuddling and kissing in the afterglow, they soon fell asleep.
Liz Thornton was looking forward to this Sunday more than she had to the past several. She had covered the difficult subject of forgiveness. She had dealt with the even harder topic of abuse. Now she would focus on the love of God in her summer series. She would make sure that her congregation understood that God loves all people, whatever their race, nationality, or sexual orientation.
The latter concept might raise a few hackles, but so be it. Along with the Lutheran pastor, Liz was planning several forums on what the bible says about gays and lesbians. The first would be this Sunday afternoon when Fr. Jerry and Dennis were here. She hadn't planned it that way. It just happened; or was it planned at some Higher Level?
Jerry and Dennis were also looking forward to the five days they would spend with Liz. Jerry had told Dennis how she had counseled him when he was on the verge of quitting seminary. They both realized that if he had left, they would never have met. Wow! God really did work in mysterious ways.
While the students were fleeing campus for the summer, Travis swept into Don's art room and pulled Don in a bear hug.
"Whoa, what brought this on?"
"I have a contract! I am going to be teaching language arts in this very school with my boyfriend next year!"
"Careful, Pastor Liz may be tolerant, but many in the community are not. I don't know how Carlson would react to that bit of news."
"I do. I told him that I was gay when I interviewed. He said that he didn't see that my personal life was anyone's business nor did he imagine that it would affect my ability to teach. He said that the gays he knew were caring, nurturing people."
"Uh, did you tell him we were in love?"
"No, I didn't out you, but if we end up living together, he won't have to be Sherlock Holmes to figure it out."
"This is an interesting turn of events. Remember when I wanted the world to know and you were hesitant? I can't believe you've changed so much."
"How could I forget? My desire to stay in the closet was one of the sore points in our relationship. It took me forever to accept myself. And then when I finally came out to my parents and they cut off all contact with me, I threw caution to the winds and told everybody in sight. I found that most of them didn't give a larger rodent's backside if I was gay on not. What happened with you? You were so out there!"
"Oh Travis, I'm sorry. After you left, I had no reason to be anything, gay or straight. I decided it would be easier to change locations and go back into the closet. The ideals I had, as one of the older guys in the gay coalition in college, seemed to fade and die. I wanted to do the same. I kept feeling that if I had been less high-profile, I wouldn't have lost you. Why couldn't you accept yourself? Why did we fight so much at the last? What was it really about? In being a very visible gay guy on campus, I acquired a reputation, but honestly I really wasn't unfaithful to you."
"Man, to think I believed John instead of you. It shows how immature and insecure I was despite my age. Do you forgive me?"
"Hey, you were ready to forgive me of infidelity. How could I not forgive you for not trusting me?"
The two men embraced and kissed gently. Then their kisses became more passionate and wanton. Travis pushed back panting.
"Whoa, any more of this and the whole school WILL know!"
"Trav, I don't care! The old me is rising again. I'll be proud to have the world know we belong to each other."
"Uh, Don, the old you certainly is rising," said Travis with a raised eyebrow and an exaggerated lisp as his hand brushed the mound in Don's fly.
Both cracked up at Travis's antics.
"Pastor Liz! Thanks so much for coming to visit me on your day off," exclaimed Mary Fischer. "The doctor says the tests were negative and I can go home in a couple of days. You really didn't have to come for me. But since you are here, could you visit my nephew, Derek? He was in a terrible auto crash and is not expected to live. He was here on business and doesn't have anyone to call on him. His parents are on their way, but they don't live nearby and it will take a couple more hours. I will see him as soon as they take out this IV. But the nurses won't do that until the doctor comes in this afternoon and gives the orders. Derek may not live that long."
"Of course I'll see him, Mary. Do you know what floor he's on?"
She had endured a very difficult internship as a chaplain in a hospital in a cardiac ward. Most of the cases were terminal. Death was no stranger to Liz.
She had somehow expected an older man since Mary was nearing 80. This guy must be about the same age as Liz though he looked boyish and vulnerable in his comatose state. She wanted to cry at the waste of a human being cut down in the prime of life. In her mind she found herself voicing what Don Hanson had at Tom's bedside, "Why did you let this happen, God?" She knew that freewill had something to do with it, but that didn't seem very comforting at the moment.
So, Liz took the pale hand in hers and began talking. She identified herself and wished him well. Then she recited the 23rd Psalm. She prayed for his healing and ended with the Lord's Prayer. She could have sworn that she felt him squeeze her hand as she said goodbye. Maybe she had brought some comfort to a dying man.
Saturday morning saw a somewhat nervous Brad pulling into his boyfriend's drive. This was the big day. He was going to do it. He had to tell his dad and have it out in the open. He wondered if Washington Street would be his new address tomorrow.
Alan was pretty cheerful that morning. He and Susan had had a good talk over breakfast and he knew that she truly accepted his relationship with Brad. He also knew that his father very much wanted to get to know him. That would be great! Brad would be there for him as he got acquainted with his father, just as he would stand by Brad today. They could face the world together. They were a couple, a pair, boyfriends, and lovers! Despite feeling a little jittery about the outcome of today's big announcement, Alan felt that it was going to be another in a series of good days.
The ride to Backbone State Park was a fairly quiet one. Brad was not as talkative as usual. Alan found himself trying to keep up a light conversation with the elder Jacobs.
When they parked the car, the boys got out the picnic basket and blanket and insisted on doing the carrying. Brad led the way followed by Alan and Jon. Sometimes the three had to stoop and almost crawl to get through the underbrush. Given the difficult access, it was doubtful that many people knew about the cave that was their ultimate destination. After a half hour, they stopped in a small clearing to catch their breath and apply more bug repellant.
"How much further do we have to go?" Jon was not as used to physical exertion as the younger men were.
"Not far, Dad. Would you like to stop here and eat lunch? It's almost noon."
The three spread the blanket in a shady spot and dived into the delicious spread that Fran had provided. It tasted especially good out in the fresh air after their hike. So, despite their apprehension, the boys ate pretty well. When they had finished packing up the utensils, the boys lay back on the blanket and Jon propped himself up against a fallen tree.
Far from civilization, the only sounds they heard were those of leaves rustling in the slight breeze and an occasional bird calling to its mate.
"I am enjoying this immensely, but I'm not sure why you invited your old man to come along. You'd probably have a lot more fun without me."
Sitting up, Brad said, "Dad, this is a peaceful place and I feel like I'm surrounded by God's creation here. I have something important to talk to you about."
Then, reaching out and taking his father's hand in one hand and Alan's in the other, and swallowing hard, he found his elusive balls and did it.
"Dad, I'm gay and I'm in love with this wonderful guy. I hope you won't hate me."
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