Mountains of Memories
Copyright © 2016 by Parker Sheaffer
It was in mid-April of 1906 that the newspapers carried the terrible news of the earthquake in San Francisco. Lucas and Andrew were horrified to read of the devastation that rocked that beautiful city, their former beloved home. Each day brought new stories describing the extent of the destruction. Andrew's telegrams were not deliverable so there was no word from Clive as to his safety and that of his family. Because of the turmoil that unsettled everyone in that area, he and Lucas could not travel there to see for themselves. They were forced to wait on the east coast and worry until they were sick. Eventually they received the news that they dreaded to hear, Clive and his wife were dead. Four fifths of the city was destroyed by the quake or by the subsequent fires. Most of the homes burned, many of them days later as gas lines exploded all over the city. Clive's house was gone. Fortunately his children were away visiting Clive's sister and so were unharmed. Lucas and Andrew had avoided contact with Clive's family since they had moved to Oregon and they had no desire to meet them now, although they sent letters of remorse and condolence to his sister and his children.
Diana and the boys were deeply affected by Andrew's and Lucas' grief and a somber mood hung over their home for weeks. Eventually, months later, Lucas was contacted by his bankers and told that most of his San Francisco holding were wiped out. There were a few parcels of real estate, but those were now razed and vacant. It was recommended that he simply hold onto those few acres until such a time that they might become valuable once more. His shares in the northwest timber business was still producing dividends and the railroads continued to do a brisk and growing business, so because he had spread his investments around to many areas his family was in no danger of being destitute. On top of his wealth, Andrew and Diana were both employed in well-paying companies. Their income was more than sufficient to maintain the household.
During this time, Lucas was careful to limit his appearances in public so that people would not wonder about his youth, but he began to feel like a prisoner in his home. He grew bored with his books and his painting, and he needed more stimulation. Lucas celebrated his sixty-sixth birthday and he and Andrew chuckled when Edward asked him how old he was.
"Oh, Ed, I'm older than you think," Lucas, smiling.
"You're old, aren't you?" asked Fred.
"Yes, Fred, I'm old. I'm afraid that I am very old."
"I thought you must be," Fred replied. "You don't look any older than when I first saw you. I know that you and Andrew keep something secret so I figured that you don't get old very fast."
"Yes, Fred and I have talked about it. I think it's a good thing. I wish I could always be a boy. I don't want to ever grow up," said Ed, sincerely.
"I'm afraid that you two have stumbled onto our secret. Of course, you are both clever young rascals so it was only a matter of time before you asked about it. I'm surprised that you don't seem bothered by it all," Lucas said.
"We love you, Lucas. You take good care of us and we know that you are a good person. Andrew and Diana love you too, so you're not strange to us. You're just Lucas," Fred reassured him.
"Yeah, how old are you?" asked Ed.
"I'm not certain I should tell you. For now, let's just say that I am over thirty."
"Wowser, that's old," gasped Ed.
"I hope you both will help keep this a secret and not tell your friends. The world doesn't understand and things like this confuse and frighten people. It only makes trouble. Besides, who would believe you if you told them?"
"Don't worry. We won't tell anyone," they promised.
"It isn't always easy being a boy all of the time," Lucas told them. "There are a lot of things I can't do because people don't think that I'm an adult. That's why Andrew poses as my older brother, so he can handle our financial affairs and things like that. If everything continues like this, he may have to pretend to be my father someday."
Fred thought for a moment and said, "Lucas, if you still look like a boy when I grow up, I will take care of you too."
"Me too," said Ed.
"Thank you both so much. You are both dear to me."
It had been several years since Lucas had been with another man and a feeling of great loneliness began to cast a shadow over him. He needed romance, but barring that he at least needed a dose of intimate human contact. Boston in the early 1900's was not a place where Lucas' needs could be easily met. While he might meet many others like himself, he had no way of identifying them, unless they were particularly foppish and flamboyant. Lucas found those sorts to be unappealing to him, so he decided to go to the one place where he might make the acquaintance of a more manly sort… the waterfront. He remembered that the maritime life aboard a vessel with many men and no women was a career that drew a certain sort of man, men like him. Lucas had met a great number of homosexual men during his many years at sea, so now he began to wander some of the rougher areas of Boston's seaport.
He was not allowed into the taverns, but he loitered around outside trying to catch the eye of an interested party. He thought of it as fishing and he had some very attractive bait which brought him success quite quickly. A pair of young men in their early twenties came sauntering along and prepared to enter one of the seedy bars. Lucas flashed them a smile and they nodded to him in return. One of them stopped at the door and told his friend to go on ahead and he would join him in a few minutes.
Now alone, the young man turned to Lucas and said, "Hello. What's your name, lad?" He was a handsome fellow with brown hair and a gleaming white smile.
"I'm Victor," Lucas lied, feeling a bit cautious. After all, this sort of thing was against the law so one had to be careful.
"Hello Victor, I'm Stanley. What are you doing out here, all alone?"
Lucas said, "Oh, I just finished running some errands and I decided to go for a walk by the water. Are you a sailor on one of these ships?" He feigned a look of admiration, such as a boy might give a grown man.
"Sure am, Victor. We just got in a couple of days ago and I'm waiting for them to fill our hold so we can take off again. You ever think of trying a life at sea?"
"I don't know. It must be a mighty big adventure. You probably have a lot of stories to tell," said Lucas, placing his hand on the man's arm. "You look like you're really strong. I don't know if I would ever be strong enough to do what you do."
Stanley felt Lucas' arms, testing his muscles, and said, "You might need to build some more size, but that will come in time. If it's stories you like, well, I know some good ones. I've got a room at that Inn down the street if you want to come up and listen to some of them."
"I would like that, Stanley," Lucas said, beaming up at Stanley with a look that made it clear that he knew exactly what they were doing.
Stanley was a strong and energetic lover and Lucas was much more cheerful when he made his way home after their tryst. Stanley asked to meet him again and Lucas agreed, but they both knew that they would probably never meet again. Men like them had a difficult life, fraught with danger from society and the law. If one was not careful, one could end up in prison or murdered. All it took was to say the wrong thing to the wrong person. Still, Lucas was satisfied for a while.
Then one day he had a stroke of luck. One of Andrew's professors had invited them all to his home for a birthday celebration. It was quite a large gathering and Lucas was introduced to everyone as Andrew's brother. Professor Clark was just turning fifty and he still was a handsome man who kept fit by rowing on the Charles River each day. When Andrew introduced them, a strange sort of recognition seemed to occur between them. It was both an immediate attraction and the recognition that they were kindred spirits. The professor held his hand and looked in his eyes for a few seconds too long. His silent gaze said all that either needed to hear. Andrew smiled at Lucas, knowing that he had found a new friend and was happy for him, so he left them to talk.
For the rest of the evening they tried to spend as much time as they could with each other while not being too obvious about their mutual attraction. A few may have noticed, but no one mentioned anything. Lucas did notice Fred giving him strange looks later on. After the party was over, Lucas made arrangements to meet up with the professor the next day to go rowing with him.
Professor Clark taught literature and as he rowed his new friend leisurely along the river he talked about Walt Whitman and his appreciation for the friendship and kindred spirits with other men. Lucas was well familiar with his writings, as well as those of Proust, Gide and Verlaine. Professor Clark was amazed that a boy of his age could be so well read and intelligent.
"I feel as if I'm talking with a man of my own age, Lucas. You are an astonishing treasure, beautiful as an angel and brilliant as a university man. Where do you come from? I have to know everything about you," the man said with sincere admiration.
Lucas blushed and said, "There really isn't much to tell. I would much rather hear about you and how you came to such a lofty position. I rather admire you."
After their session in the boat they took off for the professor's apartments at the university. "I often entertain students here so there should be no untoward gossip about your presence. I seldom entertain anyone as delightful as you, I must say," the professor told Lucas as he placed a hand on his shoulder and then stroked his hair.
Lucas smiled and presented his mouth for a kiss. An hour later they rested in a rumpled bed from their passionate activity. It was the beginning of an affair that would last for three years.
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