Friendships Of Christmas
by Jack Scribe
From the living room, Dave exclaimed, "Merry Christmas, everyone." Like the rest of us, he was in long pants and a loose, untucked shirt over a tee. "I'm Dave Swenson, Mrs. Palmer. Welcome to our home. Justin, I hope this is just the first of many visits."
My lover's radiant smile could melt glaciers. After we walked in, Dave gave Eunice a hug and shook Justin's hand while grasping the young man's right shoulder. It was not hard to notice Justin physically and emotionally absorbing the touch of Dave.
"Hi, Sir," Justin replied with a friendly, tentative expression.
"It's Dave, man. Save the Sir stuff for old men like Mike," my partner said with a wink towards me.
"Ouch." I playfully stooped over and held my hands at my stomach.
"Okay, Dave," Justin replied with full-blown grin. "I'm really happy to be over here."
"Just like I told the other boys, I wish you would call me Eunice," Mrs. Palmer remarked.
"Eunice, it is," Dave said with a smile. "Everyone help yourself to a cup of coffee while I get back to the kitchen. Santa and his helper are assisting me to get breakfast ready." He nodded and pointed to the coffee table as he departed. Regular and decaf coffee, cups, spoons, cream, sugar, and holiday napkins were neatly arranged on the large granite table.
While my brother and Bob entertained Justin, I sat next to Eunice and explained some of Dave's background and the loss of his parents. Although she was too polite to comment about our home, other than to say it was beautiful, I felt it best to explain Dave's legacy of the art and antiques and clear up any misinterpretation. She was satisfied when I told her we were just two young guys intent on creating a home environment while pursuing our careers and education. 'Let her read between the lines,' I thought, 'if she wants to.'
Eunice gave me the rundown of her earlier life in Milwaukee and told me that she had moved to San Diego 25 years ago when her now-deceased husband accepted a job transfer and the opportunity to migrate to warmer weather. She was now 72 and Mr. Palmer had peacefully died in his sleep five years ago.
"This must have been a different city when you arrived here?" I asked. "I mean the crazy traffic and the freeways we live with today."
"Mike, most of these freeways have been around for a while. 25 years ago isn't, in my thinking, too long ago. However, I mostly used surface streets to get around. As you are aware, we live in a great location that's so close to many of San Diego's attractions and shopping, without having to get on the freeways."
"If you don't mind me asking, how did your son pass away?"
"A severe case of diabetes. It runs on my side of the family, although Justin doesn't seem to be afflicted...knock on wood. Charlie, my son and Justin's father, was able to work right up to the end, two years ago. If it weren't for the insurance money and provisions, I'm not quite sure how we'd have made it with Justin's schooling."
"The insurance is taking care of the private school and, later, college?"
"Yes. When Charlie knew he was not going to live much longer, and with no close relatives other than me, he took advantage of a payout clause. Justin's education is funded and it's a relief for me, as his guardian."
"Charlie must have been one helluva man," I said.
"Definitely...and a good father. You know, I just remembered that the last time I saw Charlie was at his dad's funeral. Justin was with him...the cutest 10-year-old guy you can imagine. Little did I know that I'd be raising him three years later."
"He seems like a fine young man, and a tribute to your son."
"But I'm not sure how much longer I can be his guardian. My diabetes is really slowing me down."
"You've found some new friends that don't live far from you. If Dave and I can be of any help, please call." I smiled and put my hands over her wrinkled, spotted ones.
"Thanks, I appreciate that. Now, if you don't mind, can a meddling old lady ask something?" I nodded and she continued. "Dave Swenson and you? Would I be correct in assuming that you two are more than best friends?" She looked me straight in the eyes and smiled.
"Your assumptions are correct, Eunice. We are committed to each other - probably more married than most couples. I hope this doesn't present a problem?"
"Ha, absolutely none. In fact, I'm rather relieved," she said. In a lower tone, she continued. "Justin and I haven't spoken about sexual matters, but I suspect that he is trying to figure out his sexual orientation. As you say today, my guess is that he's gay. From what I can observe, the men at this brunch are very positive gay role models."
"Sharp as a tack I see, although I'm not going to out anyone. Let's just say we're all good friends." I gave her a we-both-know-the-score smile.
"Mike, you don't live next to Hillcrest for 25 years and not pick up on the men's gayness. And there are several male couples that live in my neighborhood. I have no objection if you and Dave would be big brothers to Justin and be available if he has any questions about..." she said with a subtle plea.
"Tell you what we can do. Why don't I suggest that Justin join Dave and me for an early lunch somewhere the day after Christmas and just hang out with him? Maybe do some crazy day after shopping in that I don't have to be to work until late afternoon." I had already mentioned that I was in restaurant management.
"That would work. We're going to church tonight and do our gift exchanges tomorrow. I'm cooking our small Christmas dinner. Well, a pre-roasted chicken from Vons, to be specific."
"What would work, Grams?" Justin asked, moving over to our area of the room.
"Mike suggested that you join Dave and him for lunch and shopping the day after Christmas. Would you like to do that?" She smiled at Justin as he sat down on a chair next to her.
"Oh, wow, that would be rad," he said with the exuberance of a teenager. "Mike, I'd really enjoy getting to know you guys better."
"Consider it a date..."
"Ho, Ho, Ho," came a voice from the entryway. Coming into the living room was Brent, dressed in knakis, a red polo shirt, deck shoes and a red Santa hat with white trim. "Breakfast buffet is served." He walked over to the Palmers and said, "Eunice - I've been cautioned not to call you Mrs. Palmer - I'm Brent Williams. It's very nice to meet both you and your grandson, Justin. Merry Christmas."
Eunice beamed as Brent leaned down and kissed her lightly on the cheek.
"But, you're..." Justin blurted out.
"Brad? Only on TV and film...a job while I go to school. To you, I'm Brent. Now, give me five." Brent playfully gave an almost giddy Justin a high five as Doug entered the room.
"Now, the cast is complete," I said as Doug entered the room. "Santa's helper, making today's breakfast, is our fourth houseguest."
His form-fitting 501's, combined with a loose, red cotton sweater, projected the image of one, hot, masculine elf. Doug went around and introduced himself to the two new arrivals. While he was talking to Eunice, Brent sat down on the carpet and gave Justin his undivided attention. I appreciated that Brent wanted to diffuse the shroud of celebrity. Within minutes it was definitely Brent, the guy, making friends with a young man.
"Lady and gentlemen, if you would come out to the kitchen, we've set up a buffet of food," Doug announced a few moments later. "Take what you want and find a seat in the dining room." It was a little too early in the chilly, overcast morning to eat outside.
Over plates of scrambled eggs, blintzes, sausages, Canadian and strip bacon, hashed brown potatoes and melon slices, the party was the ideal moment to officially welcome in the day before the celebration of Christ's birth. With Justin wedged between Bob and Rick, and Eunice between Brent and Doug, natural conversation flowed around the table. True to a normal teen appetite, Justin inhaled two re-filled plates of food.
At 11:00 a.m. Rick announced that he and Bob needed to get their bags together. Brent had volunteered to take the guys to Lindbergh Field for their 1:00 p.m. flight to Phoenix. Brent and Doug would then go on to L.A. from the airport.
"Justin, why don't you help Dave and Mike straighten up the dining room and take the dirty dishes back to the kitchen?" Eunice said with quiet authority.
"That's not necessary," I replied.
"Dave, you don't argue with my Grams," Justin said with a laugh as he rose from the table and started collecting dishes.
"Okay, I hear you," Mike replied. "Eunice, why don't you come into the kitchen, make yourself comfortable and have another cup of coffee?"
"I never turn down a good cup. The answer is, yes." Eunice got up from the table and followed Justin to the kitchen. Mike and I collected more dishes and met the Palmers in the kitchen.
"Justin, Mike and I will finish clearing the dining room table," I said. "Would you go out into the living room and retrieve all the cups and stuff?"
He gave me a good-natured salute and left.
"I really appreciate this morning, boys - I haven't seen Justin this animated in a long time. In addition to your all being wonderful people, Justin has identified with you as adult men who are gay. He's at a desperate age that needs an older man, or men, to be in his life...I hope I'm not being too pushy?"
"Not at all. I don't know if I want to be called Dad, but I'd enjoy guiding Justin as an older advisor and friend," Mike said.
"Count me in," I added. "I hereby anoint us as brothers for Justin."
"I'm completely spent from the day's activities," Mike said with a yawn as we lay in bed. It was after midnight and he had just returned from the restaurant a half-hour earlier. Being off the past two days meant that he worked tonight and was scheduled for Christmas. However, in that he was still in training, he got approval to come in at 5:00 p.m. on the day after Christmas so he could take part in our new young friend's lunch and shopping date.
"But it was fun to see the guys and I really got to know Rick better. We decided that we're going to be close brothers-in-law." My arm was around his shoulders and Mike's closest hand was lightly rubbing my thigh.
"I feel the same way about Bob. When we first met I thought he was a little full of himself. I guess he needs to get away from Chicago and his TV world. They're both fired up about joining all of us at the lake next year."
"At this rate, we'll hafta invite guests in shifts," I answered with a laugh, "or add on a new wing." Mike started moving his hand closer to my crotch as I played with his earlobe.
"Would you mind if we just held each other? I'm really bushed." He grabbed 'Davey' and began a slow stroking motion.
'Davey' responded by growing in his hand and dribbling a few drops of natural lube.
"I think you should define 'holding'. What you're doing could get a little messy," I replied. My cock was now at full mast.
"Shhh, let me do this for you." His thumb dabbed at my moist slit and spread around my pre-cum.
"You lie there and let me get over you...I wanna trade favors...slow and easy." I got up on my knees and rotated around so I was kneeling on top of Mike, between his spread legs, with our two hard dicks touching. We grabbed each other's cock and started masturbating each other.
"I'm a pushover for ya, but I do love the feeling. Ohhh, yes."
"Call it after-work therapy." We both started moving our fists faster.
"Then you've got the wet towel duty, tonight," Mike replied.
We both laughed, knowing that the bottom man would get awfully messy...soon.
"Yes, Sir. I'll tidy us up." For the next few minutes our dialogue diminished to a series of groans until a final series of expletives announced a joint climax. True to my word, I cleaned up the DNA and joined Mike for a comfortable, spooning sleep.
Dave and I pulled up to the Palmer residence just before 11:00 a.m. for our day after Christmas brotherly expedition with Justin. The Mustang's 5.0 motor was appropriately rumbling, top down, as Justin waved goodbye and bounded to the street to join his new friends. I had to smile when I noticed that all of us were wearing a variation of caps, shades, tees, cargo shorts and Nikes.
"Hey, guy, how was Christmas?" Dave asked as Justin settled himself in the back seat.
"This has been the best ever. Starting with your breakfast, then church and the gifts. Grams really liked the sweater I gave her. Thanks, guys, for the gift certificate," Justin said, enthusiastically. We had all chipped in to give him a $150.00 Best Buy certificate.
"I'm sure that you'll be able to find a few things at Best Buy that'll come in handy," Dave suggested as he slipped the muscle car into gear and eased away from the curb.
"Absolutely. Maybe we could go over there a little later?" Justin replied with a beaming smile.
I turned to face Justin and said, "We thought lunch at Cheesecake Factory would be fun. At this early hour, the wait shouldn't be too long."
"Wow, I love that place. Their barbequed chicken pizza is awesome," Justin yelled. The wind of the moving convertible made conversation almost impossible.
We arrived at the Fashion Valley shopping center 15 minutes later. Dave dropped Justin and me off at the restaurant while he found parking at this busy mall, and we put in our name with the host. Fortunately, the wait for a table was fairly short...for the Cheesecake Factory. Justin ordered the pizza and we had Cobb salads.
After taking a sip of his tropical iced tea, our young friend said, "Can I ask you guys something?"
"Sure, buddy. What's up?" I was pretty sure where this conversation was going.
"Um, you and Dave...are you guys...together? I mean, like lovers?" Justin's face was almost crimson as he looked across at us.
"You don't beat around the bush, do you?" Dave replied with a laugh. "I guess the simple answer to that is, 'yes'. Mike and I have been committed partners - lovers - for about 2 years. Although I think it's safe to say we aren't planning on having any babies."
"We keep trying but I don't think it's going to happen, though," I replied with a laugh.
"And I'm pretty sure that it isn't going to." Justin grinned - his face still red - and rolled his eyes.
"But if you were to ask this question in ten years, I'm sure that the answer would still be 'yes'," I added. "If I can ask, why the question?"
"It's just that, until I met your brother and Bob, I'd never met any gay guys...older, or my age...that I know of. I s'pose that Rick told you that I think I'm gay?"
"Yeah, champ, he did mention it. In fact, it was his idea to have us all get together, including the L.A. guys."
"You mean that Brent and Doug are..."
"Justin, it is never wise to mention what someone else's sexual orientation is, without their permission. You know what outing someone is all about?" I asked.
"Naw. Not really." Justin's eyes were as wide as saucers.
"Basically, it's revealing someone's homosexuality to a third party without permission. Usually, it is best for each person to come out on his own terms," Dave interjected. "Let's just say that Brent and Doug are very close friends of ours from our Navy days."
"Is it okay to mention to my buddies at school that I met Brad Williams? Everyone thinks he's really ace on TV."
"And it'll probably be the same thing for him in movies, as well," I replied. "I think it'd be safe to say that you met Brent through us. And that we were all just friends from the Navy."
"Cool, I understand," Justin replied.
"Maybe you can talk to them, another time." I turned to Dave and winked.
"I have a cabin on Gull Lake by Brainerd," Dave replied. "What do you think about joining all of us for a few days next year at the lake after your school year finishes?" He smiled and looked directly into Justin's eyes.
"No shit...whoops, sorry...ah, you guys and the lakes...that would be great. You'd do that for me?"
"You're a good guy, Justin, and if you don't mind a couple of older guys in your life, Mike and I would like to be like brothers...and friends."
"We can also help you figure out your sexuality, if you'd like," Mike said. "We're only 8 and 10 years older than you, but there's a world of experience to share. If you are gay, we could clear up any questions you might have."
"Um, I don't think 'if' is part of the deal. I mean, there's never any feeling when I'm with a girl." Justin stared at his glass of iced tea.
"And with guys?" I asked.
"Shee, I get a boner all the time." Justin's face turned bright red, as he added, "It's kinda embarrassing in the lockers and showers after P.E."
"You're not the only one," Dave said, "I used to throw wood all the time when I was with the swim team. We all did once in a while. In fact, one of the guys used to hang his towel on it to get a few laughs."
We all chuckled at that vision. For Justin, this seemed to be defining the moment to really relax with us...to be one of the guys and let his hair down.
"Well, although I've got nothing to be ashamed of, I'm a little more modest," Justin said with a sly smile.
"Do you mind my asking if you've ever done anything with another guy?" I asked with a sincere, non-threatening expression.
"Nothing, other than what young guys do...ya know?"
"Trust me, we both know," Dave answered and motioned with his cupped hand up and down.
For the next half-hour we gave Justin abbreviated versions of our teen years and a sanitized chapter on how we met and fell in love. He hung on every word and I enjoyed listening to Dave's interpretation of our partnership...details that were a little different from his perspective. Justin's mouth stayed open when Dave described his planning and preparation for our big night at the Peabody.
"I think that both brother Rick and I regret that we didn't come out to our mom earlier," I concluded. "It's really important to be open with your family."
"In my case, it's just Grams. But I don't know how she'd accept me being qu...um...you know."
"Queer?" I replied, a little sternly. "As in 'worthless' or 'counterfeit'? Or 'odd'?"
His puzzled expression signaled that this young man had heard that word at school to describe homosexuals. "Na...no. I mean gay," Justin replied with hesitation.
I looked into his eyes and smiled to diffuse the tension. "Justin, bud, I'm just making a point. Around us, any word you use is fine. But 'queer', 'homo' and 'fag' are expressions that are usually not complimentary among heterosexuals. My advice is to stick to gay or homosexual. Okay?"
"Yeah, Mike, I see your point. How about 'fairy'?" he said with a laugh.
Dave and I joined him by laughing at his quick recovery and sense of humor.
"Touch. Just don't leave home without your pixie dust," I said as we touched knuckles. "Now, let's move back to your talking with Grams. I don't think I'd be betraying anything in saying that your grandma sought me out to discuss her suspicions about your sexuality."
Justin's eyebrows shot up and his eyes popped open. "You mean...ah...Grams talked to you about me?" he asked, a little indignantly.
"Relax, man. She loves you, but doesn't know how to broach the subject," Dave volunteered. "We feel honored that she trusts us to help...whenever, or if you want it."
"We're not forcing anything on you," I added. "She just felt that you'd be more comfortable talking about guy stuff with us. You okay with this? Because, if you're not, Dave and I will back away from the subject."
"We do want to be friends, though," Dave added.
Justin pondered this line of conversation briefly, and slowly a smile crept up on his face. "I'm the one who's being a doofus and Grams is right. I certainly couldn't have brought up the subject - no way could I ask her questions about...stuff. And believe, me, I've got lots of questions. You don't mind me bothering you?"
"We're here to help. Let me ask the first question. I assume that, between friends and school, you've got general sex knowledge?" I was curious about his level of understanding the basics.
"Yeah, not a problem. In that my school is private, we all went through a solid sex ed class a couple of years ago. But I've got a lot of questions about stuff they didn't cover...about what happens between two guys," He shrugged and added, "Like you joked earlier, it's not like I'm going to be making babies."
"Okay, here's my plan," I replied. "First, let's order some pumpkin cheesecake."
"Oh, wow," was all Justin said, as I had punched an imaginary teenage appetite button.
"Then, we'll do a little shopping in the mall and save Best Buy for a few days from now. It'll be a zoo today, anyway."
"Good suggestion, babe," Dave replied.
Justin smiled at Dave's use of 'babe'.
"Later we'll go home and trade all our telephone numbers and email addresses. Do you have email at the school?" I asked.
"Naw, but my roommate has a computer and AOL. I think he'll let me use it."
"Good. Between now and when you go back, if you want to talk...about anything...we're available for you. And if anything comes up at school, be sure and call or email us."
"Double cool. Could maybe we have a little time, later? I do have a few questions."
"Mike has to go to work tonight, but I've got all the time in the world and my school stuff is up to date."
"Believe, me, Justin, Dave is an expert when it comes to..."
"No editorials, please," Dave said, to interrupt the joke. We all broke out in laughter as the server came over to take dessert orders.
"If you like, we could watch a movie at home. I've got 'Star Wars VI, Return of the Jedi' that might be fun. I'd kinda like to know my little brother better," Dave said softly. Suddenly, the atmosphere at the table took a serious turn. I noticed a single tear easing from Justin's eye duct.
"Yeah, I'd like to know my big brothers better, too." Justin took my hand and squeezed it.