As soon as we got to Northwest's boarding gate, I asked Brent to watch the carry-ons while I scouted out the new Starbuck's kiosk for a morning caffeine fix. Someone had told me that this coffee company was going to be larger than McDonald's some day. 'Yeah,' I thought, 'fat chance.' Walking down the concourse, I spotted our traveling companions. Because Mike and Dave were going to Chicago after the weekend, we had driven separately to the airport.
"Hey, guys. Top o' the mornin'," I said with a lilt in my voice.
"Doug, how does an Italian guy from L.A. come up with an Irish brogue...sounding like Paddy himself?" Mike asked.
I thought my BOQ roomie was looking pretty sharp in his jeans, boots and flannel shirt. We bumped knuckles, did a lame version of a 'high five', and said, "Like Bushmills and water too much, but maybe I should stick to Chianti."
"Chianti Classico is your style...definitely," Mike replied.
I smiled and turned my attention to Dave. "Brent and I are really looking forward to roughing it up North."
"I think Chapstick and KY are the only things you're going to need roughing it," Dave, quipped. We all laughed as he leaned into me for a brotherly hug.
'Christ, are these guys infectious,' I thought, 'great friends.'
They joined me in buying coffee. After everyone had a hot cup of Seattle's finest in our hands, we went to Gate 9. Boarding would start in 20 minutes.
Brent gladly accepted a cup of black Breakfast Blend and thought it was pleasingly different. "This is certainly better than what we usually drink," he said before cautiously sipping more.
"Okay, here's the itinerary. You better take notes because there will be a pop quiz at the end of this presentation," Mike said as he looked around and picked up on the group 'fuck you' look, as we all groaned.
"You are so full of it, Mr. Cole," Dave uttered.
"With your dip stick, you should know," Brent added, nudging Dave.
"At what point did this become 'X-rated'?" I knew this was going to be a fun, crazy weekend.
"Cross your legs, babe...there's an echo here," Dave replied. This went on for the next few minutes. The boys were frisky.
"Seriously, ladies, just listen up for a minute." Mike proceeded to give everyone the details of our trip.
Everyone mellowed out as our flight was called. The plane was only half filled, allowing us to spread out, and it was fortunate that no one was really hungry. 'Peanuts in the morning...for Christ's sake,' I thought with disappointment, 'where is our country going?'
We arrived on schedule in Minneapolis. After retrieving our luggage, I walked over to Avis to get our reserved rental car. There had been a mix-up in the paperwork and Avis had run out of economy-sized sedans. The only thing left was an Explorer - Eddie Bauer Edition, which the we try harder company rented to us at the same sedan price. An. 'How macho is that?' I thought, as I signed the contract. With a military discount, we had a great deal and much more comfort.
By noon we were an hour out of the Brainerd area. We spotted a Mickey D's and I drove in. I volunteered, "Guys, let's go light on the grams of fat here. There are some neat places for dinner in Gull Lake and we can cook at the cabin."
"Sez you, skinny ass," was one of the retorts as the guys made sure to 'super-size' it on the grub.
"When you can't get into your designer jeans, don't complain to me." I ordered Chicken McNuggets and a Diet Coke. I had already mentally planned tonight's cook-in menu from the food I'd ordered.
After lunch we drove up through Brainerd and found the highway to Gull Lake. I had called the rental management company from the McDonald's to make sure everything had been prepared. He had FedEx'd all the keys to me last week.
Mike was driving at this point. As we approached an intersection that indicated an arrow turn to Gull Lake, I was somewhat spaced out with my childhood vacation memories.
"Dave, is this the road?" Mike asked me.
The question took me a moment to process and I blinked quickly a few times in a reaction. Back in reality, I replied, "Yeah. Turn right and continue up the hill about a mile. On the left you'll see a stone post on either side of the entrance with our name on the mailbox."
'Our' didn't apply in the old sense anymore. 'Our' was now sitting next to me, and I smiled at the implications. The thick growth of trees and natural vegetation were unspoiled and beautiful this time of year. I rolled down the window a little, as we drove down the winding road, to breathe the unspoiled Minnesota lakes air. 'The leaves will be turning soon,' I thought as I recalled all of the happy family outings of the past. And now, I was here with my new family.
I heard comments like, "Holy fuck," and "Shit, this place is yours?" in the background as we slowed, turned and pulled into to the entrance to the driveway.
"Hey, are you okay?" Mike was squeezing my thigh and looking into my eyes with a mixture of compassion and concern.
"Yeah, I'm fine." I turned to our guests in the back and said, "Guys, welcome to Casa Swenson. This place has been in my family for decades. Let's enjoy it." We got out of the Explorer and gathered the bags. I led the group up the front porch stairs to the door. 'We're off to a good start,' I thought, 'cuz my keys work.'
"Whoa," I said, as we stood on the porch. "Cabin? In New York or Connecticut, this would be a million dollar hideaway." When we walked inside after Dave unlocked the door, I was completely blown away.
To say that this was rustic was a joke. 'Laid back elegance,' I thought, 'is more like it.' With the 'great room' and the fireplace as a centerpiece, the casual eclectic furnishings made this place click. On the walls were some beautiful oil paintings, mixing Native American and cowboy art with Northwood themes. Everything was just right. I was mesmerized.
"This is terrific. I had no idea that your cabin would be like this," I said. "Does this place have room service?"
"Sure, and I'm the waiter," Dave replied with a grin. "And the size of your tips will determine what kind of room service you get." Leaning into me with his arms wrapped around my waist, he became more serious, "This was mom's favorite house. My grandma's too. I know it's true for me as well." He squeezed me for emphasis.
I looked around. The leather over-stuffed couches and easy chairs were balanced by the granite coffee table. Can you consider a table six feet by eight in size a coffee table? The massive 'western' oil painting above the smoke-crusted fireplace was spectacular. 'Russell or Remington?' I wondered. Navajo carpets casually covered the highly polished wood floor.
"Dave, are there other surprises?"
"Naw. We've got indoor plumbing, electricity...everything us hearty souls need...and plenty of beer," he replied with a grin. "Toilets and showers. Just like reality." Addressing all the guys, Dave said, "Let's stow our gear in our bedrooms and re-group at 1600 to explore the territory." It's funny how military time was second nature.
It was now 1400. No one gave Dave any grief about getting together at 1600. I was proud of him. 'This is my house and these are my rules,' was his approach. How simple was that? What a great weekend escape we were going to have. As he led the way up the wide staircase, built from hard oak planks, Dave appeared very melancholy. I understood how many family memories were based here. I just wished I had the same attachment to my family.
"Okay, guys, you use this bedroom. There is a bathroom connecting with a great shower."
Looking inside, I could tell that this was the master bedroom. "Ah, Dave, don't you want to use this room?"
"That's okay. Mike and I will bunk down there," he said pointing to another door, "in my old room."
Nothing more was said. I sensed that it would still be too painful to be in the same bed that his folks had used.
"I'm more used to my old surroundings," he said with a quiet determination.
As Doug and I entered the rustic tranquility of the master bedroom, Mike and Dave walked, hand in hand, down the hallway to a room on the opposite side of the house.
Entering the smaller bedroom, I knew that this was where Dave had spent many happy childhood times. The king-sized bed was draped and covered in Ralph Lauren linens and pillows of every shape and pattern. But it all fit. Don't ask me how Chippendale worked in a guy's room. It just did.
"Babe, I'll hang up our clothes and store the other things in the chest of drawers," I offered.
"Fine. If you will do that, I'll go downstairs and make sure all the provisions are in the kitchen."
"Back in five?"
"Yeah." He smiled and gave me a casual sloppy kiss before leaving the room.
I arranged all our clothes and unpacked the toiletries. The bathroom also connected to the third bedroom. I understood completely why Dave did not want to use his parent's room...yet. Looking around, I spotted an FM tuner. I turned it on, and light jazz started playing from speakers mounted in the corners. I kicked off my boots and pulled off my socks.
When he returned, I asked if everything was in order.
"The management company was very thorough. We shouldn't run out of food or beer for a week," he replied with a chortle.
"I just don't want to run out of you." He walked to me slowly and reached his arms around my body to hold us in a close hug. I could feel our heartbeats pounding in unison.
"That's a given, Hon." Dave reached up with his hand and directed my head downward to meet his lips. "This bed is going to get action that I would have never imagined."
"I hope that I'm the actionee?"
"Count on it." He unbuttoned and removed my flannel shirt, and chucked it in a chair. Next, Dave unbuckled my belt and unzipped the fly of my jeans. Seconds later, the jeans and boxer shorts were down at my ankles. I stepped out of them with alacrity and was relieved I didn't trip in the process. 'Falling on my ass,' I thought, 'wouldn't be too romantic.'
"I'm at a disadvantage," Dave said. He kicked off his shoes and pulled up his polo. I helped him remove it. While he dropped his trousers, I followed by sliding the bright, white briefs down his muscled legs, and removed them...one leg at a time.
Messing with my hair, Dave uttered in a low husky voice, "Get me to the bed. The only thing I've ever done in this room was jerking off."
Despite our other profession, I never got tired of having sex with Brent. Absolutely the love of my life. That was it. Love. These thoughts floated through my head after he had just fucked the daylights out of me.
We had nodded off in a quick nap. I slowly opened my eyes to these new surroundings and eyed the clock. 1530. 'Whoops,' I remembered, 'we are expected up and alive in a half hour.' I leaned up from our spooning position and started nibbling on his ear.
"I'm awake," Brent growled, almost convincingly.
"Why don't we try the shower? This one looks large enough for the two of us."
Rolling over, he slyly smiled and kissed my nose. "Let's not keep the guys waiting. The last time I listened, I heard one of them yelling, 'fuck me hard', after some powerful groaning," he said as he chuckled.
"Well, you didn't complain about what we just did." I kissed Brent before leading him from the bed.
Once in the head, we smiled and briefly studied the walk-in shower with six showerheads at various heights and angles. The skylight above brought in the natural glow of late afternoon daylight. After adjusting the water temperature, we entered.
"Let me scrub your back. That area never gets enough attention," Brent said grabbing a hand-sized loofah and soap. Stopping just short of my butt crack, he handed the sponge to me for a reciprocal washing.
"My turn?" But I didn't stop at the waist...I cleaned Brent everywhere. Throwing the loofah aside, I started hand-washing his nether regions with one hand. My other soapy hand moved around to his front side and started a slow slippery massage of his balls and cock.
"You sure know how to make me horny," Brent uttered, turning around. Almost in a hypnotic trance, he lowered himself down to position his face at my crotch and slowly engulfed me. As Brent hummed a nondescript tune, the vibration from his mouth started to set me off. 'Where did he learn this humming business?' I wondered. I raised him up and kissed him. "Let's store some energy for later."
"What's the matter, old man? Can't take it?" Brent replied with a cunning grin.
"I can take you anytime." I tweaked his nipples. "However, I thought all young kids needed a nap time after nourishment?"
"Ok, Daddy. You got me."
"Daddy? I'm 24 and you're 22? How about an older brother that's into incest?"
"Doug, I'm whatever you want me to be, lover." At that point we lip-locked.
We dressed in cargo shorts and tees, returned to the main floor and surveyed the kitchen around 1545. Not knowing what everyone would like, I had ordered in steaks, chicken, potatoes for baking, vegetables and salad fixings as part of the provisioning list.
"This kitchen is a marvel. I mean, a Vulcan Range and a Sub-Zero?"
"This was mom's deal. She had this thing about design. An interior designer from Chicago worked with her on the layout here and in St. Paul." I started choking up. "Ah, shit. Why were they taken away from me?"
Mike silently pulled me into his warm, embracing arms and held me for a few minutes.
"Okay. I'm over it." I lightly kissed him. Just then, our traveling companions entered the kitchen.
"You guys just can't get enough face time," Doug tossed out, entering the kitchen.
"I'd say 'get a room' but you already have one," Brent added.
"From the sound of the bed springs, I'd say that you guys have been enjoying the relaxing atmosphere of 'mi casa'?" Dave snickered slyly.
"Primo. And that shower is awesome. This is the first time that Brent and I were able to fit into a shower comfortably. Whoops, too much information?" Doug replied with a snicker.
"Naw, I'm sure that's why Dad had it designed that way," I shot back and grinned.
"You know, guys, that shower would very easily fit four," Brent said with a raised eyebrow.
"After rooming with you this year in the barracks, I don't think there is a square inch of our bodies that each of us haven't checked out. But, as far as sampling the merchandise, my man Mike has an exclusive license," I answered with a grin.
"I know. I feel the same way about Doug. Just pulling your chain."
"Consider it duly pulled." To change the subject, I continued, "I've got a lot of Hamm's Beer that is going to go to waste if we don't drink it." I opened the refrigerator, motioned them to take a beverage and thought about the fantasy of all of us in the shower - soaping up together in all the strategic places. 'But I'm not going to jeopardize my relationship with Mike,' I considered as I felt a slight stirring in my crotch, 'just to get my rocks off.' Subject closed...no matter how tempting.
After everyone had a beer in hand, we walked through the screened dining deck and out the back door overlooking the lakeside. Everyone admired the well-groomed grounds before we started down the path to the lake. The dock looked lonesome.
"We have a great boat that's stored at the marina. Maybe we can get it tuned up and use it tomorrow?" I said as we walked out on the dock. While we were standing there, a 24-foot cabin cruiser slowly approached. As it neared, I noticed that there were two guys about our age on the upper deck. They waved and we all waved back.
Taking that as a welcome sign, the boat neared the dock. I gave them a 'thumbs up' as the boat navigated slowly. Its diesel engines rumbled deeply as they were slipped into neutral. One guy left the upper deck and from the bow tossed us a line. Brent caught it and instinctively guided this impressive lake cruiser towards the dock. The other guy reversed the engines and allowed the boat to glide in.
All of a sudden, I recognized the guys. As the boat approached, I said, "Hey, Robbie," to the guy on the bow.
"Hi, Dave. Long time, no see."
Straining my eyes, I also recognized the other man up on the second deck. "Roy...handsome boat, dude."
"Dave, is that really you?"
"You better believe it. Get your ass down here." I couldn't believe it. Roy and Robbie were seniors on the St. Paul High School swim team when I joined as a sophomore. As far as I knew, they both were at the University of Minnesota.
Robbie jumped ashore and helped secure the boat. As the engines were turned off, Roy came down and climbed on the dock. "Hi, guys." The three of us instinctively went into a group hug.
"This is terrific," I said. "I didn't think I'd see anyone up here I'd know. It's been a while."
"We're up here for one final weekend before we close the house for the season," Roy added.
"Okay, let's all meet and greet. Roy and Robbie are friends from St. Paul. We were on the swim team in high school. Guys, meet my best friends from Memphis." I slowly introduced everyone.
I found out that they were both at U of M. This was their last year in undergraduate school. Robbie was moving on to dental school while Roy would be studying law.
"Guys, if you don't have anything pressing, why not join us for a few brews?"
"That would be great," Roy replied, "we're not intruding?"
"Absolutely not. I've got plenty of provisions." With that, we all walked back up the hill. As we entered the kitchen, I offered everyone a beer and we continued into the 'great room', where I turned on the CD player. Everyone seemed to enjoy each other's company.
I paired with Roy for the moment and purposely led him away from the others to a couch where I sat down. He followed.
"I was sorry to hear about your folks. I know it's pretty late, but I do feel for you." With that, Roy grabbed me into a hug. I was not upset. It felt very warm to have someone from my past hold me.
"Thanks, Roy. It took a while but I'm doing just fine now. After the initial shock was over, I started on a new path." I told him about my current status in the Navy.
"Wow. I didn't realize that all you guys were in the Navy."
"Hey, someone has to defend the country." I smiled and playfully tapped his shoulder with my fist. "I was serious about you two staying for dinner. We're going to have steak and all the fixin's."
"Absolutely. I'm over at my folks' place and the only thing we have is frozen pizza."
"Great. However, there is one more thing that needs to be out in the open."
"Out in the open? What the fuck are you talking about, Dave?"
"See that tall guy, Mike...the one talking to Robbie?"
"He's also my partner." I looked at him for a reaction.
"Partner? As in gay?"
"Yep." I studied his expression.
"Then I should point out that Mike is talking to my partner."
"Yep," he replied. "Since we were college freshmen." I moved in for a warm, brotherly embrace.
Pulling away, I winked at him and announced, "Gentlemen. We'll be having dinner in about an hour. In the meantime, since we are all here with our significant others, I suggest that we have a 'gay' old evening." Everyone looked at each other, surprised, and then cheered.
For the rest of the night we really became a group of fast friends. I grilled steaks and Mike helped out with the rest of the dinner. By 2200, Robbie and Roy returned to their cruiser and motored back across the lake. We all traded numbers and promised to keep in touch.
Mike and I drove over to the marina the next morning and I picked up the Chris Craft. The rest of the weekend was a combination of group boating adventures, swimming, eating, hiking, and monogamous lovemaking - after which we did a thorough job of picking up after ourselves. The management company would detail it Tuesday for the next renters who would be coming in a few weeks. All perishable food would be donated to the local food bank. By very early Monday morning, when we left, all agreed that we had experienced a marvelous weekend.
I was rather introspective when we departed. Aside from revisiting this important lakeside venue of my past, we were now on the way to Chicago for new introductions: for Mike, his meeting with Russ, my best friend in the world from my younger years...for me, meeting Mike's mom and family.