A Special Place--Part Forty-three--Matt
While Luke and I had not made love all night--just enough--and actually had gone to sleep early, Sunday had been a long--wonderful, exciting, tremendous, but long--day so we didn't wake up. Dad came upstairs and knocked on our door well before dawn. We got up, took a quick shower, Luke shaved and we got dressed. Downstairs, Mom had coffee and juice ready as we would have breakfast after the blessing of the garden.
While we sat in the kitchen, Dad went into his room and dressed as a traditional Lakota--which he was, deep inside. While we were still at the table, the rest of the Family arrived--it is just understood that Jens and Gabrielle, David and now Margaret would not be at work the first day school was out. We all had coffee and then went to the garden. Dad began chanting a Lakota prayer as he waved smoking braids of sweet grass and sage over the garden, fanning the smoke about with a branch of cedar. The fragrance of the burning grass and sage floated on the morning air.
Jens then did a blessing of the garden, sprinkling holy water over the ground. He had been concerned that he could not get holy water from Immaculate Conception and mentioned it to Fr. Tom who had laughed and said, "Jens, if you think it will do, we use holy water at times too, you know." Jens said he didn't know and took the water Fr. Tom gave him.
When the two blessings were done, the three women began digging furrows. They had just started when Mary Kathryn took up a hoe and started making a fourth one. All of this, as usual, was done in silence. When the men started planting the seeds, Michael grabbed a handful and started planting the furrow Mary Kathryn had made. Luke looked at me with a puzzled look on his face and I said quietly, "Later".
Just as the last seed was placed in the furrows and the women had covered them, the sun rose above the horizon. We were all dressed to work in the garden, but that would be all that was done until after breakfast.
Breakfast on the day of the garden blessing was always a joyous affair and this one was no exception. While we were just sitting around drinking an after-breakfast coffee, I asked, "Mary Kathryn, when did you and Michael decide to participate in the planting?"
"About two seconds before I grabbed the hoe. At least that's when I did. I didn't decide, I just did it and don't know why."
"As soon as I saw Mary Kathryn I knew what to do. Like her, I didn't decide, I just did it. Strange."
"Maybe not," I mused. "Dad, there seems to be something kinda sexual in the whole ceremony of planting. I mean women open the ground and men plant. That struck me this morning."
"Matt, it is I'm sure. Take a look at any agricultural society and if you scratch the surface, you'll find the whole planting thing is related to sex, remember the fertility goddesses? All who had them were agricultural cultures you'll recall. I suspect you wouldn't have to look very far afield to find a culture where what Mary Kathryn and Michael did amounted to marriage or at least engagement."
"Don't you go getting any ideas, Michael Andrews!" Jens said in his best stern father voice.
I guess Dad saw a questioning look on my face because he said, "Matt, you and Luke are different from a majority of the people in the world. You know that. You will no doubt recall your mother's first reaction at learning you were in love with Luke. Her first reaction was that you would not have grandchildren for us. That's not why you two are in the world. Sometimes that will be--no doubt--painful, but you and Luke are here to make other contributions. Never, ever, forget that! It is not a mistake. You are different for a reason. You are not mistakes!"
"I guess," Luke said. "that explains a question a ninth grade girl asked me after Matt and I announced we were a gay couple. She asked, 'Which one of you is the woman?' I didn't really know what she meant, so I just told her, 'Neither. We are both very much men. Can't you see that?' and she said 'Oh,' and walked off in that swishy ninth grade girl walk. I guess the world thinks it has to be divided into men and women. But I'll admit, today was the first time I really--I mean really-- thought about our being men--I mean, you know--men in love and a couple."
"And a handsome one, I might add," Gabrielle said. While that ended the discussion, I was sure it was not the end of the question for Luke and me, especially when everyone expects you to be like everyone else.
"Well, while we are on this sex and planting bit--and I really did feel this morning was special--I guess I have an announcement to make," Margaret said. "It's still early so the results are very tentative, but it appears Michael was right. I had an ultrasound this week--I couldn't wait any longer--and it appears as nearly as anyone can tell that Michael will have two sisters by Thanksgiving at the latest," Margaret announced.
"Kathryn Elizabeth and Mary Margaret, don't you forget," Michael smiled.
"Don't you think that is really too much name for the poor girls to bear?" Yong Jin asked.
"Matthew Sarang Hanun Pomul Greywolf's mom would ask that question?" Michael sure had her on that one. "Anyway, they'll be called Elizabeth and Mary so there's no confusion between mother and daughter even though I'd really like them to be called Elizabeth and Margaret. But none of this short nicknamey stuff!"
"Nicknamey stuff?" David asked.
"Yea, Dad, you know: Liz and Maggie, that kind of nicknamey stuff."
"Well, Michael, I suspect we can keep names straight if you want to call one of the girls Margaret," Margaret said. "We seem to be able to avoid comnfusion when we talk about the family--I mean whether we mean all of us or just one of the families within the family. Seems reasonable we could keep two Margarets straight," she laughed, then added, "But if it turns out you're wrong, Michael, Margaret wouldn't fit a boy very well."
"I don't know why you keep questioning my ancient wisdom and powers," Michael said and hugged Margaret.
"May be more truth than fiction to that," Greywolf mused.
"I'd really like to have the girls to be called by the names of my two moms," Michael said and it was clear this was important to him and he was showing Margaret great respect.
"Ok, so it's Elizabeth and Margaret if that's ok with your dad," Margaret smiled and hugged Michael, obvioulsy pleased. "Is that ok with you, David?"
"Sure. Actually I like it if your comfortable with it," he smiled at his wife.
"Very comfortable," was her response.
A Special Place--Part Forty-three--Luke
Breakfast was a wonderful time together, but at 7:00 Dad said, "Well, I guess it's work time". We all went back to the garden. The parents were making furrows and planting while the Gang of Four tackled the weeding of earlier plantings. Margaret called to Michael once, warning him not to overdo the work. "You may think you're as good as new, but you still have healing to do."
Michael is one of those blonds the rest of us hate. He tans as if by magic so he had, of course, taken his shirt off. A look at his chest was a reminder of just how seriously he had been cut, but he wasn't overdoing the work. He was spending most of his time gazing at Mary Kathryn. "Michael, look at the weeds, not Mary Kathryn," I laughed.
"Man, if you knew how I felt about my wild woman you wouldn't say that," he answered.
"Think I might have some idea about being in love," I responded.
"Well, if I were you, I'd be jealous. Matt's paying no attention to you."
Of course, Matt never had to worry about the sun and it was hard to keep clothes on him when he was just a baby. I looked at my dark beauty, shirtless and in short shorts, his hard body gleaming with sweat in the morning sun. "Michael, did you say something?" he asked.
"Yea, I said you weren't with us. Why do you keep looking down the road? As if I didn't know!" Michael laughed. It was true. Matt was paying little attention to what he was doing. Instead he kept looking down the road.
"Matt, it won't be here before 9:00 at the earliest," I said. "Now let's get to work so you can be free when it does arrive."
Matt looked up with a sheepish grin and said, "Ok," and really did get to work. By 9:30 we were finished with the morning's work in the garden and Matt's other organ still had not arrived. He was quickly becoming a basket case when everyone went home to get cleaned up. They would all be back; we were having lunch at the Greywolf's. Of course, I stayed and Matt and I showered together, playing around a little bit, but he wouldn't stay still long enough for much.
As we were just finishing with our hair, Yong Jin yelled up from downstairs, "They're here."
The movers got the organ and speakers in the house and the Rodgers man started having them move the speakers around and testing one placement then another until he was finally satisfied. "Anyone here play?" he asked. I thought it kinda strange that he had just spent an hour getting speakers placed with no idea anyone could play until I noticed the grin on his face. Then I remembered seeing him at graduation. "Want to take her out for a spin?" he asked Matt. I knew that for the moment at least I was in second place as Matt practically leaped on the organ bench. He cut down on Millie's surprise--the Widor "Toccata". I was afraid we would all be blasted into the next county before he finished. "I guess that answers my question," the Rodgers rep laughed. "If you have any questions or problems, give me a call," he said as he handed Greywolf his card. Matt was in another world and didn't hear a word he said.
Lunch was on the late side as we all sat in the den listening to Matt play. My man sure knows how to handle an organ--ok, so I knew that already, but I was talking about the Rodgers! After lunch, Matt could hardly wait to get back to playing. He played for an hour without stopping. Finally, he started playing what we had all been waiting for and soon we were all singing "More". I guess some people would think we were all nuts, but there were five couples singing to each other as though they were the only two people in the world.
When we finished the song, no one said anything. We just all got up and the five couples--three sets of parents and two kid couples-- walked hand-in-hand to the falls carrying picnic baskets. This was the second part of the family tradition for the first day school was out.
The day at the falls was another happy-sad time, everyone realizing that this would be the last time we were together as we always had been. Late in the afternoon, the five couples were scattered about the beach, talking, laughing, expressing love for their partners. "Matt, what do you think Greywolf meant when he said we were here to make a different contribution to the world?"
"Luke, I have thought about us more than once when I see our parents together and even when I see Michael and Mary Kathryn together. Our parents have children--of course they all have made and will make other contributions--but they have had children. I am positive that Michael and Mary Kathryn will do the same. I mean, I don't know whether or not they will stay together until they get together for good, but I keep having that dream in which I see Michael and Mary Kathryn and she is holding a baby, his baby. But--Luke, you and I will never have children--at least not our own. So I guess what Dad was saying is that we are here to do something else as our contribution to life. Sure be easier just to have kids."
"I'm not sure Jens would agree," I laughed as I kissed Matt softly. "But if we make no other contribution, we can show the world what love is all about, I mean real love."
We all eventually ended up on Lookout Rock watching the sunset, then walked home in the twilight. Matt and I had decided we would split our nights between our homes, so we went to my place where we found we were very comfortable making love.
Since school was out, the Gang of Four had chores to do--after all we do live on farms. We talked with Jens, David and Greywolf about what needed doing and worked out a plan for the week. As always, the Gang of Four worked together and this year, three of us had to take up any slack that Michael couldn't handle--which proved to be very little.
Tuesday, after work, Matt and I took a long hot shower and then made mad passionate love. I know our first time will always be special, but I can tell you that, as with any art, practice improves technique! Matt had learned to take things slow and easy--sometimes too slow and too easy--but man, he was a real love machine. I was getting no complaints either! After making love for a good, long, wonderful time, we lay in each others arms, just snuggling together, enjoying being alive--bless Mr. Mitchell. We took another quick shower, got dressed and went downstairs. After supper, the rest of the family showed up and Matt played for us again. It was great--more memories stored up.
When the parents had gone, the Gang of Four sat on the front porch, talking and cuddling. "Luke, why don't we call Nelson and meet him in Lexington tomorrow afternoon? We can take that much time away from chores. We could meet him and then do some shopping. We need to pick up some things for the summer and we could do that in Concord, but I'd like to see Nelson."
"You two like to go with us?" I asked.
"Sure. I'd like to get away from here awhile," Michael answered.
A Special Place--Part Forty-three--Eugene
After all the to-do over graduation, Larry and I went to his place to spend time with his mom. I had mentioned to Larry that we had been so wrapped up in what was going on and with each other that she had seldom seen him. Larry agreed and we decided to spend some time at his place before he left for the summer. I knew his mom, after all I spent as much time at his place as I could before all hell broke loose, but we had never really had a kind of family time with her. She was very pleased when we told her we would be spending time at their place before Larry had to leave.
When we got back from the picnic, she was sitting in the living room, looking through a box of photographs. She started to put them away when we came in, but I asked her if I could see them. After all, I hadn't known Larry the way Matt and Luke knew each other. We spent two hours looking at pictures of Larry and his family while his mother told stories about when he was a young kid. I loved it and Larry got embarrassed several times. There were many pictures, but none of what I would call a happy family. Without thinking, I said that.
"You're right, Eugene. We never were really a family. Larry's dad was a big man on campus and all the girls were all over him. Of course, I had a crush on him and when he asked me out, I was in heaven. We dated a few times before he started telling me how much he loved me and that if I loved him, there was no reason we couldn't have sex. I was innocent and stupid and fell for his line. He assured me I wouldn't get pregnant--which was the only thing holding me back--and I finally gave in. I insisted he use protection, but he told me it didn't feel good and that we didn't need it. Well--Larry, I should have told you before, I guess--but you know what happened. When I told him I was pregnant, he started screaming and yelling, asking how I could allow it to happen."
"He insisted that I get an abortion but I had no money and, besides, I was young and in love--at least I thought I was-and I was carrying his child, so I refused. As soon as he knew I was pregnant, he wanted nothing to do with me. I thought about all sorts of things--including suicide--but did nothing. I felt so rotten--I mean morning sickness is no fun--all I wanted to do was die. My mom was pretty smart and figured out what was going on from my mornings in the bathroom. When she confronted me, I told her I was pregnant. She told my dad who wanted to kill Larry's father but, when he got calmed down, Mom and Dad decided to call the Watleys. The four of them got together and decided we should get married. Both Larry's father and I were seniors in high school and the baby wasn't due until late summer. 'You two can finish high school, but you're getting married now,' Mr. Watley said. He was a very forceful person and Larry's father was afraid of him, so we 'ran away' and got married over spring break."
"Well, to make a long story short, Larry's father was already having sex with another girl and that didn't stop when we got married. I put up with his playing around because I saw no way out. When Larry came out of the closet, it was an excuse for his father to leave, which he did. It was the best thing that had happened to me in years."
"It was the best thing for both of us," Larry said and hugged his mom.
"I'm sure glad you were broke when you got pregnant," I said and I meant it.
"So am I," she said, "but I can tell you there have been plenty of times I wished I hadn't been. I don't mean I haven't loved Larry. He has been the delight of my life and still is, but there have been times that, had I not had him, I would have gotten out of the mess I had made of my life by listening to a man's lies."
We talked for a long time about the hard life she had led and how much Larry had meant to her and how proud she was of him.
When we went to bed, Larry was hot as a fire cracker and ready to make love big time. I felt a bit uneasy about making love at Larry's since we had been used to making love at my place and, as Millie had pointed out, her bedroom was in another wing of the house. There was only a bathroom between Larry's mom's bedroom and his. Larry sensed my reluctance and finally asked, "What's wrong, Gene? Why don't you want to make love?"
"I do, Lar, believe me, I do, but...."
"But what? What's the problem?"
"Lar, I do. I am as ready as you are, but I feel uneasy making love in your house."
"Why? What's wrong with my house?"
"Well, it's not your house, Lar. It's you. When we make love you make all kinds of noise and you say things I just as soon your mom not hear. And, besides, you are a screamer."
"I'm a WHAT? A screamer? I don't believe you!"
"Well, you are. When you cum, you scream."
"I do not! And I promise I'll be real quiet."
"You'd better be!" I said and Larry started getting me ready to make love. He kissed me passionately and soon even I was ready to say things I wouldn't want his mom to hear! Finally I said, "Lar, I'm ready. I want you inside me now!" Soon his man's tool was inside and he was making love to me and I was loving it. He did manage to be reasonably quiet but, when he plunged all the way in, I knew he was about to explode inside me. He took a deep breath and I knew what was next. I quickly grabbed a pillow and shoved it in his face just in time to keep his scream from being heard halfway across town. When he collapsed atop me, I couldn't help but laugh. "Babe, if that wasn't a scream I silenced, I don't know what one is."
I could barely make out Larry's face the room was so dark, but I did see a sheepish grin on his face as he said, "Gene, you make a man feel so good, screaming is just natural!"
We lay in each others arms for awhile, kissing and talking of our love and then I made love to Larry. We both got the giggles when, just as my world exploded into a Fourth of July fireworks display, he hit me in the face with a pillow.
In the wonderful feeling of having made love we lay side by side, looking into each others eyes even though the room was dark and talked about what a wonderful life we had and how surprised we were that we did. "It's a wonderful life, Lar," I said, "because I have you and we have so many people who love and care for us. Who would have thought we would ever be so loved?"
"Yea, we've had hard times, Gene, but we are surely loved. And you are loved above all."
"So are you, Lover." We continued talking about the things lovers talk about until we fell asleep.
When morning came, we had breakfast with Larry's mom and told her we were going to work on a tape for Matt's and Luke's birthday. "Mr. Greentree has told me I can use the editing equipment at the station so we're driving over. It'll take two or three days, I suppose," Larry said.
"While you are there, see what you need to take over for the summer," she told us.
When we got home from Lexington, I had a certified letter calling me as a witness in the McBride case. I was to report at 9:00 Wednesday the 14th. It also said I would be assigned a room in the Lexington Hotel--not the finest, but adequate, Millie called it, and I was to expect to be involved in the trial for at least two weeks. At least two weeks? I guess my summer had just been planned for me. I got very angry--very, very angry. In fact I just lost it because, even from the jail, McBride was messing with my life. I was so out of control that Millie called the therapist and told her I needed to see her now. She said she would meet us at her office. Larry drove me over since I was incapable of driving myself.
Larry and I had been seeing her on a weekly basis recently and I thought everything was fine. But it was obvious it was not. After she had seen me, she wanted to put me in the hospital for a few days, but I finally convinced her I would be better off at home. She relented and gave me a prescription and told me I could go home after she talked to Larry--provided I saw her every day for a while. She made appointments each day until I was scheduled to go to Lexington for the trial.
When Larry came out of her office, I was still shaking and he hugged me to himself until I got control again. We went by the drugstore and got the prescription filled. When the druggist gave it to Larry, he said something about it but I didn't hear what he said. I asked Larry what the druggist and the therapist had said to him and he responded, "They told me to make sure I kept an eye on you. I told them I planned to do that for the rest of my life," he laughed, leaned over and kissed me.
A Special Place--Part Forty-three--Larry
Millie and I were both surprised and scared shitless when Gene read the letter about the trial. At first he just seemed resigned to the fact that much of his summer was going to be spent in the McBride shit, then he absolutely lost it. He started shaking, screaming and throwing things. I grabbed him and held him while Millie called the therapist. He was finally calm enough for me to drive him to see her even though it was long after office hours. Millie was afraid he would lose it again while I was driving, but finally consented to my taking him alone.
After the session with Gene, the therapist called me in to talk about the situation. She said she was not surprised at Gene's reaction and, in fact, had expected it before. "The letter was just a trigger to release all he has been holding inside. He has been so busy and so involved lately that he didn't allow himself to fall apart, but now the concert and school are behind him, he has time to come unglued--and he did, big time. Maybe if he hadn't been so involved, he would have worked through more stuff, but that's just guessing. I do know he is in a very bad place right now. I would like to have him in the hospital where he can be watched but, when I saw how agitated he was becoming, I decided I wouldn't force the issue. I am giving him some medication to help him keep better control, but not enough to prevent his getting rid of some of his anger and rage. I want you or someone to have him in your sight at all times. And I mean at all times. Can you do that?" I nodded. "I don't want to frighten you, but I do want you to know how serious I think this episode is. Eugene is perfectly capable of taking his life right now, of committing suicide. So don't be paralyzed, but don't get lax either."
When I got the prescription filled, the druggist asked me if I knew what it was for. When I told him I did, he said, "I don't want to alarm you, but you need to keep this under lock and key so he only gets the proper dosage. Too many and he could be a very sick young man. Just a warning. And absolutely no alcohol--not a drop. Also, I'd make sure anything else he might use to harm himself is safely put away." I thanked him and tried to put on a good face for Gene. Poor Babe, last night we had talked about what a wonderful life we had, then McBride reared his ugly head again. I honestly think if I could have gotten my hands on him I would have strangled him. No wonder Danny, Buddy and Jake were facing years of therapy.
While Millie was keeping an eye on Gene the next morning, I raced to my place and told Mom what was going on. She was very upset and wanted to know what she could do. I told her I couldn't think of anything, but sure would call on her if I needed her. "You will keep a close watch on Eugene, won't you, Son?"
"You better believe it!" I replied and then went back to Millie's. Eugene seemed his old self, but then he was taking his medicine and I am sure it had a lot to do with it. "Do you feel like going to Lexington?" I asked.
"Sure," he replied. "You'd think I was sick or something."
I thought to myself, "Or something and it's a mighty big 'or something'," but said nothing.
Mr. Greentree was out of town working on a project so we didn't get to see him, but everyone was very helpful at the studio and I got a lot of work done on the tapes. We also started burning CDs of the concert for the whole Fellowship. When we arrived, I had called Nelson--Matt had given me his number and wanted to know why I needed it. I told him Eugene and I were going to Lexington to check out my summer's internship--which was true, just not the whole truth. Nelson was in class finishing up some lab work and would be starting summer school next week, his mom told us. I left the studio's number and he called about 11:30. We agreed to meet for lunch.
Over lunch we talked about all that had been going on. I hadn't planned to mention Gene's recent episode, but he did. I noticed, as Eugene told Nelson about the letter concerning the trial, a quiet, but very real, outburst was triggered. "I would kill the son of a bitch if I could get my hands on him!" Gene said with uncharacteristic vehemence. With his quiet outburst, I was reminded that I was in charge of his medication and checked my watch. He was half an hour overdue for his mid-day capsule. I slipped it to him and he looked at me and then popped it into his mouth and washed it down with his Coke. "I didn't think I needed those," he smiled, "but I guess I do."
We talked about Saturday night and Nelson said he was planning a big surprise for us. "Any possibility Mr. Greywolf and his entourage could show up at the hotel for dinner? Probably would be nice to have a private room, but it would be great for the gang to be visible."
"I don't know," I said. "The prices there are pretty steep."
"Sure, compared with MickeyD's, but I think I can get you a discount and, after all, this is your after-graduation break loose night. Right?"
"Right. We'll manage. Make the reservations," Gene said.
"Great! This should be a howl!"
We went back to the studio and worked until 3:00, then drove home in time for Gene's appointment. We'd have to come back tomorrow to finish up.
Tuesday Mr. Greentree was back and offered some suggestions without telling me I was wrong or didn't know what I was doing, but it was obvious to me. I could see that working with him all summer was going to be a pleasure and that I was going to learn a whole hell of a lot. I was really excited about it. We had just about finished when Mr. Greentree suggested we call it a day and go by his place and meet his family.
He had a great family. His wife welcomed us as if she had known us all our lives and were family she hadn't seen in ages. He showed me the sunroom which was to be mine for the summer. "Won't this keep your family from having a place to relax?" I asked.
"We can do without it for the summer," he said and Mrs. Greentree agreed. She then suggested we have a Coke and we all four sat around her kitchen table. "Look," I finally said, "don't think I don't appreciate your offer, but I really feel bad about taking your sunroom when you would be using it. If it doesn't upset Jon (Jon was their son), I'd be more than happy to share his room and the sunporch would be available. In fact, so long as Eugene is here, I can stay with him. I'd like to stay with him." As soon as I said that, both Gene and I blushed big time. Damn that Matt Greywolf, I think he is a carrier for the blushing disease. I was afraid to look up, thinking I might have said too much.
"Laura (Laura was Mrs. Greentree's name; Mr. Greentree's name was Jonathan and he was called that so as not to be confused with Jon) knows about you two guys so you can stop blushing," Mr. Greentree laughed. "If Eugene is going to be in town, we would expect you to stay with him."
"Will you be here often?" Mrs. Greentree asked.
"I have to come the 14th and will be here for at least two weeks, probably more. I am a witness in the McBride trial."
Mrs. Greentree didn't ask any more questions and Mr. Greentree knew about McBride. "Look, you have a right to know what's going on," Eugene said. I felt myself grow tense as soon as he spoke, but I needn't have worried. He told the Greentrees the whole story and when he finished, Mrs. Greentree got up and wrapped her arms around him. "You know every parent fears something like that--that their children be abused. And I don't just mean sons abused by men. In fact, that is seldom the way it is. I am a school counselor and it's most often girls who are being abused by older brothers, by fathers and step-fathers and by other creeps. It's nothing to be ashamed of, Eugene. You wouldn't be ashamed if you had been robbed, you would blame the robber. Well, you have been robbed. You have been robbed of innocence and trust." Mrs. Greentree was holding Eugene, his head against her bosom as she stroked his hair. "You are a brave young man and I admire you for it. Larry, if you didn't spend all the time you could with Eugene while he is going through his ordeal, I would think less of you. And you can certainly share Jon's room. I am sure he would like the idea of having a big brother for the summer. And don't worry, I certainly won't worry about you being with him if that thought has crossed your mind."
Jon came in from a swimming lesson while we were still talking in the kitchen and when his mother told him I would be sharing his room--I wished she had asked, but she didn't--he started jumping up and down, then threw himself at me. "I'll have a big brother after all!"
We had to leave shortly after our conversation and, as we drove home, Gene said, "We really are richly blessed, Lar, we really are."
Eugene had his session with the therapist as soon as we got home. While I was waiting, I gave Matt a call and told him what was going on.
"No alcohol?" he asked.
"Not a drop. Why?"
"I'll need to talk with Uncle Michael because you know he will have wine for toasts."
"That's ok. Eugene can just have something else."
"No way, Jose." Matt replied. "We are not going to set him apart. Anything else we can do?
"Can't think of anything. We're going back to Lexington tomorrow to work on a project so we'll not be around. But if I think of anything--or if you do--we'll be in touch."
"Oh, Luke and I planned to be in Lexington tomorrow. We're meeting Nelson for lunch. Why don't you guys join us?"
"Sounds good. See you then."
A Special Place--Part Forty-three--Luke
We had called Nelson Tuesday and told him we were coming over Wednesday morning and wanted to get together. He suggested we do so before we went shopping since he was working Wednesday night.
We met Nelson at a real old-fashioned ice cream parlor which also served sandwiches and, as soon as we had sat down, Larry and Eugene joined us. "Good to see you two again," Nelson said. It was then we found out the two had seen Nelson earlier and he knew about Eugene. Larry told us about their visit with the Greentrees. We continued talking for a couple hours. Nelson told us he had made reservations at the hotel for our dinner and that he managed to get the cost down to about three or four times MickeyD's. "I hope Mr. Greywolf will come properly dressed," he laughed. "I think I might put the word out and see if we can't make a fool out of that teenage reporter jerk again.
After we left Nelson, Larry and Eugene were going back to Concord to make Eugene's appointment. "And Millie and I have one as well today," Larry had said. Luke and I went to the mall, something Concord was lacking. I'm not sure whether that is such a bad thing after watching teenagers, who had nothing to do but horse around, causing trouble and making a nuisance of themselves.
It didn't take us long to get what we needed and we got back home in time for supper. Matt had stopped by his place and Greywolf reminded him he was taking the Jeep in the next morning.
Thursday we got up for a run which we had been neglecting lately. Mary Kathryn joined us and I was surprised when Michael was waiting at his place. "Do you think you are up to running? I'm not sure about that," I said.
"Got checked yesterday and was told I could do what I felt like doing, but not to feel like overdoing it," he laughed. "Mom suggested I might want to just walk and Wild woman agreed we would just walk."
Matt and I took off in a run as Mary Kathryn took Michael's hand and the two started walking. When Matt and I returned, we met Michael and Mary Kathryn and slowed down to walk with them. "You guys ready to leave Sunday?" Michael asked.
"Not really," Matt answered. "I mean I have things organized, but not packed. I have everything ready to pack, if that's what you mean.'
"Not exactly," Michael said.
"I know what you mean, Michael. And, no, I'm not ready to be separated. But I would never be ready, so I guess I am as ready as I will ever be. I am really dreading getting on that plane." I had thought about that a lot. Matt and Michael had planned on driving, but it was a long drive for Michael so he was now flying as well. Matt had offered to take me to the plane, but we agreed that it would be better to say our goodbyes at home so Dad and Mom were taking me and Michael to Jackson to catch our planes.
"Yea, know what you mean," Michael said. "But I guess we all know what we are doing is for the good."
After a shower--a wonderful shower with my man--Matt and I ate breakfast, then tackled the chores for the day with Michael and Mary Kathryn. It was obvious that Michael had had a remarkable recovery and seldom showed any signs of not being up to par.
Matt and I had discussed the fact that he had been playing, but not really practicing, since the concert and I hadn't done any work since the exhibition. We decided we would spend the afternoon working on our arts.
Michael came out to the studio about 4:30 and suggested we go for a swim. "Swimming really helps get things in shape," he said. He called Mary Kathryn and he and I went to get Matt. Mary Kathryn met us at the falls. We swam and had a lazy time with a bit of hot making out but, since Michael and Mary Kathryn were with us, Matt and I kept it respectable. We didn't leave the falls until after 6:30.
A Special Place--Part Forty-three--Matt
Luke and I showered, dried our hair and got dressed for the evening. We had talked about dress for the occasion on skip day and decided, since Uncle Michael was starting the birthday celebration with dinner, dress would be the unofficial uniform for the guys and dresses for the women. When we got downstairs, Dad and Mom were dressed and ready to go. "Sorry I couldn't get the Jeep back," Dad said. "Michael and Mary Kathryn are picking you two up shortly. Yong Jin and I are going on ahead to see if we can help Uncle Michael and Mr. Stephenson."
Shortly after Mom and Dad left, Michael drove up. Luke and I were sitting on the porch waiting for them. "Ok, you two, ready to party?"
"To the party, Michael!" Luke responded.
"Hold it," I said. "I forgot again."
"Need to get your brains out of your crotch, Bro," Michael laughed.
I rushed upstairs and grabbed Luke's gift and we were off.
Everyone was at Uncle Michael's when we arrived shortly after 7:30--the family and the Fellowship along with Millie, Larry's and Paula's mothers. "Know you invited my parents," Jacob said, "but I told you they weren't interested in being with us". Bill and Linda said the same about their parents.
Uncle Michael and Mr. Stephenson served drinks--fruit juice--and we all stood around talking--catching up on what everyone had been doing since Sunday. At 8:00, Uncle Michael and Mr. Stephenson excused themselves and a few minutes later returned to say dinner was ready. And what a dinner it was! It started as usual with toasts. When Eugene took a sip from his glass he almost sprayed the table. "What is this stuff, Uncle Michael? I hate to be this way, but it tastes terrible."
"It's sparkling grape juice," Uncle Michael said, innocently.
"Look, I know you did this for me," Eugene said. "I appreciate it but, if you don't mind, I'll have some fruit juice and, Mr. Stephenson, see if you can get some good stuff for my friends."
Mr. Stephenson laughed, "It is a true friend that will save his colleagues from sparkling grape juice," he said. "Eugene, you are truly a man of honor!" None of us were surprised when Mr. Stephenson disappeared into the kitchen and returned with the real thing.
After toasts to me and Luke, we tackled the food. "I've discovered I am not the only decent cook in the house," Uncle Michael smiled. "John is every bit as good and I suspect all of you are the real winners in a bit of competition the two of us had in preparing for tonight." He was right!
After dinner, we went back into the living room for the opening of presents. "I'd like to show all of you something before the two guys open their presents," Uncle Michael said. "It's not a birthday present, but really a present for all of us." He walked to an easel I hadn't noticed before and unveiled the painting of me which had been slashed. "It's certainly not as good as new, but I think maybe more valuable because of the suffering that we, and especially Michael, have endured," he said. We all stood back looking at the painting. If ever I doubt Luke's love for me, that picture is proof that I am wrong.
Finally, Luke could stand it no longer and walked over to the picture and gave it a careful inspection. "Uncle Michael, if I didn't know where the painting was slashed, I don't believe I could find the spot," he said as he turned to look at Uncle Michael.
Michael walked close and, after looking at the painting for a few minutes, said, "I couldn't either. Uncle Michael, do you think the restorers would take me on?" and laughed. Luke got a pained look on his face which he tried to hide quickly, but little escapes Michael. Michael grabbed him and said, "Sorry, Luke. I was just kidding. I wear these scars proudly because they are just a sign of how much I care for you, Bro." Michael used his pet name for me, something he seldom did with Luke and I knew it meant a lot to both.
When we started opening presents it was clear that a lot of thought had gone into them. Larry and Eugene gave Luke a tape Larry had re-edited of the exhibition and me one of the concert. They also gave everyone a CD of the concert. Bill and Linda gave us both CDs of music they knew we loved and Jacob and Paula had made up a photo album--including many photos of time we had spent together at the falls. Gabrielle said, "Mary Kathryn! How many times have I told you to keep your clothes on?" Sure enough, there were some great skinny dipping photos.
Millie gave us--together--a great sound system which she said she expected us to share in Ohio. There were, finally, four small gifts left--mine and Luke's to each other and one for each of us from our mom and dad. "Matt, you're the oldest so you go first," Luke said. When I opened the box from Mom and Dad, there was a key inside. It was taped to a picture of a Jeep with a note which said, "Thought you might need to be enclosed in Ohio." I didn't know what it was all about then Luke started laughing. "So that's the reason the Jeep was unavailable today!" I finally realized Dad and Mom had given me a new Jeep, an enclosed one unlike my old one which just had curtains!
When Luke opened his, it also had a key and a picture--this time a pickup. The note said, "I suspect the Oberlin Five will be making frequent trips to the home improvement store and will need something to haul things in."
Luke and I gave our parents great hugs and then said, "Where's the wheels?" Dad told us they were right outside and when we opened the front door there was a shiny red Jeep and a shiny red pickup parked at the curb.
"Now get back in here and finish," Linda said.
"Luke's the youngest so he has to go first," I said. When we had been thinking of what to have Michael get for Mary Kathryn, I had a brainstorm and Mr. Swartz was able to pull it off for me. I had a bracelet made for Luke which combined our two symbols, corn and thunderbird. When Luke saw it he grabbed me and kissed me, then started laughing. I understood why when I opened his gift to me. It was identical to his.
"When we were talking to Michael, I got the idea," Luke said, "and when I asked Mr. Swartz about it he said he would take care of it."
"Same thing he told me! He gave me an empty box to give you with a card if the bracelets didn't get finished in time," I laughed. Luke said Mr. Swartz had done the same for him.
After the presents were open, Uncle Michael started some music and it was dance time. Luke, Michael, Larry and I danced with our moms first and Mary Kathryn and Linda danced with our dads. Eugene was dancing with Millie--well, with his mom too. Linda grabbed Uncle Michael and laughed, "Some really good looking men are going to waste!" Bill quickly went to Ms. Wright and started dancing. "I don't like being a wallflower," David said and bowed to Paula. "Neither do I," Uncle Michael said and grabbed Mr. Stephenson. The whole place broke up.
After the first dance, it was lovers dancing with lovers except Uncle Michael and Mr. Stephenson, always the great hosts, started dancing with Ms. Watley and Ms. Wright after Millie said, "One dance is enough for this old lady." It might have been, but before the night was over, she had danced at least half the dances.
About eleven, the parents decided it was time to go home. There were serious groans from the Fellowship until Uncle Michael said, "Hey, no one said you had to go. Just close the front door when you leave. John and I are going upstairs, but the downstairs is yours. There are drinks in the fridge and if you want anything else, look in the kitchen and see what you can find. And don't worry about the music. If it gets too loud, I'll just call the police."
After Uncle Michael and Mr. Stephen had gone upstairs, we danced another hour or so, but all of us had work to do Friday, so we left about 1:30. As Luke and I walked out the door, he said, "Damn! We have to drive by ourselves. Terrible being a two car family," but the look on his face said otherwise. When we reached the Jeep and truck, Luke asked, "What's on the list for tomorrow?"
"I don't think there is a whole lot other than getting packed to leave Sunday. Why?"
"I hate to be this way, but I think we best sleep at home tonight so I can get things together. I haven't really done anything because... because... because I don't want to even think about being separated from you. I just haven't been able to do anything toward getting ready. I think if I sleep alone tonight I might get things done tomorrow. Do you understand, Babe?" Luke was on the verge of tears.
Well, had I been honest with Luke I would have said, "Why not spend every minute together since we were going to be separated?" But I knew he had been honest about how he felt and that he needed to be alone tonight so I said, "Get done early, ok?" and kissed him goodnight.
When I crawled into my lonely bed, I thought about the day and gave thanks for all the wonderful friends I would soon be leaving behind as well as special thanks for those who would be with me. How any one guy could be so lucky I didn't know, but I did know I was one of the luckiest guys in the world.
I also thought about Eugene and the ordeal he faced. How lucky he was to have Larry and Millie standing behind him. And how lucky Larry was that Eugene allowed him into his life. If Eugene was in as bad shape as he was, what must life be like for Jake, Buddy and Danny? People who abuse others are just animals. And I realized that to many people all gays were like McBride, child abusers. How could anyone think that who knew people like Larry and Eugene or Luke. Well, Larry had shown a cruel streak when he sexually attacked Eugene but he didn't go out and hunt down someone and, God knows, he was paying dearly for his rash act. And Eugene loved him and I think Larry would die if he ever hurt Eugene again.
All these thoughts were racing around in my head, then I thought about being separated from my beloved Luke for six whole weeks and, before I realized it, I was in tears. Waiting until we were eighteen had been hell at times, but we were together. But now... now that we could love each other with our whole being, I didn't think I could stand being separated. I was still weeping softly when I slipped off to sleep.
Sometime later I was having the most vivid dream. I dreamed Luke had slipped into bed beside me and had pulled me to his hard, wonderful body then kissed me very softly. The dream was so real I felt I could feel his head as he rested it on my chest. I could even see his golden hair shining in the moonlight when I looked down my chest. "I couldn't stay away," he whispered. It was then I realized I was not dreaming.
"Luke, you're really here!" I said in an excited whisper. "I thought I was dreaming. Babe, you are a dream!" I said as I grasped his face in my hands and pulled his lips to mine. "You're really here!"
"I'm here, Sarang Hanun Pomul. I'm here. I couldn't go to sleep for thinking what a fool I had been for not spending every precious moment I can with you. The moon was so bright, I decided I'd make up for being a fool and come here."
Our love making was total, complete, wonderful. Sure, our technique had improved, but so had our understanding and appreciation of what the uniting of our bodies meant and the love it expressed. Gentle, tender, caring was our love making--and hot and passionate. Afterwards, as we lay in each others arms, Luke said, "Matt, I don't know how I can stand being separated. I knew it would be hard. I knew it would be painful, but, Babe, we are still together and already I hurt."
"Yea, I know. I know. And just think, we might have been separated forever."
"Matt, I can't even think about that. Or when I do, I know that it will not be that way, but six weeks is real. So hold me tight, Dark Angel. Hold me tight." I held Luke tight, his head resting on my chest, and stroked his hair until we both fell asleep, safe in each others arms.
In spite of having been out late and then waking up in the night for love making, we were both awake early for the morning run. Michael and Mary Kathryn joined us and Michael actually jogged rather than walked for awhile, but then slowed down to a brisk walking pace.
When we got back to my place, we showered and dressed and went to Luke's for breakfast. After breakfast, Gabrielle said, "Ok, you two, when I get home this afternoon, Luke, I expect you to be packed and ready to leave Sunday. That goes for you too, Mary Kathryn. We are not going to have time for anything Sunday. The minute church is over, we've got to hit the road for Jackson." Mary Kathryn would be going with Bill and Linda.
As soon as breakfast was over, I went home and looked over two checklists; I had made one and Mom had made one. Both of us checked what I had laid out, then she and I started packing. I planned to travel light, but still ended up with two huge bags.
We had not finished when Dad came in for lunch. I had expected Luke to come for lunch as he and the others of the Gang of Four often did during the summer, but none of them showed up.
A Special Place--Part Forty-three--Michael
Mom had told me she would help me pack, but I should get my things together. I had received a list of things to bring to the Abbey which helped and I started getting them together. As I laid things out, I remembered I had been told to bring a cassock and surplice which I meant to get from St. Mary's earlier, but had not. I called and Gertie told me to come on and that Fr. Tom would wait for me. It was nearly noon when I called.
When I reached St. Mary's, Fr. Tom asked me if I was up to lunch since he hadn't eaten. I realized I hadn't eaten since breakfast and readily agreed to lunch. We went to a part of town which I knew existed, but hadn't been. I mean, Concord is so small everyone knows it all, at least casually, but the part we were in I just passed through from time to time; I didn't know it. He took me to a small cafe and before we walked in said, "I know it doesn't look like much, but this is the only place in town where you can get good Greek food. I love it."
The man behind the counter greeted Fr. Tom with a hearty, "Good to see you, Father. You haven't been around here in awhile. And you, young man, you have to be Michael Andrews. Sorry you got cut. Some people are just nuts. Good to see you up and about. How are you doing?" I assured him I was doing great and shook hands with him. He told me his name was Demetri. "You were my guide when I went to the exhibition," he said. "That Luke Larsen is some artist. I loved every minute of my time with you and went back a couple times the following week. I especially loved his painting of you as a Greek warrior. Lunch today, Father, is on the house because you have brought Michael here. I'll pick the dishes."
When he brought the first dish, Fr. Tom asked him to join us. He agreed saying he had help now so he wouldn't be jumping up and down all the time. "So why are you hanging around with this so-called priest," he laughed. Fr. Tom explained that Demetri was Greek Orthodox and since there was not a Greek church in town, he came to early service at St. Mary's. "Yeah, when there's no Greek church, we Greeks are told Episcopal churches are ok for us to attend. We're very flexible--the Sacraments are valid for us, but the priests aren't kosher," he laughed again.
Fr. Tom told him I was going to spend a month in a monastery thinking about my vocation. "Got a girlfriend?" he asked. When I said I had he said, "Well, you can have a woman if you join up with this Episcopal crowd. Our priests can if they are married before they become priests. What does she think about this? I mean if you two are really serious? Of course you're still a kid." I told him she was having problems with my struggle and that we were serious, very serious. "You've got a real hard decision to make then."
The food was delicious--although half the time he had to tell me what I was eating--and we talked about the exhibition, about my summer and what I expected to be doing next year. He told me he had a grandson who would be coming to Concord at the end of the summer to live with him. "His father departed for parts unknown last year leaving him with my daughter and she has her hands full trying to make ends meet. He's become a bit wild and at the same time, suffers depression from what has happened to his family I suspect. He'll be a junior next year."
"So will I," I responded.
"Michael's president of the student body next year," Fr. Tom added.
"Maybe you can keep an eye on him," Demetri responded. "I know that his grandmother and I are a bit old to have a teenager in the house and especially one with problems, but it seems best."
I laughed, "I have decided that a teenager without problems is a dead teenager. Sure, I'll keep an eye out for him. When's he arriving?"
"I'm not sure. Some time this summer. Can I give you a call when he comes?"
"Sure, and I'll come over for another free lunch!" I laughed.
"Great. I'll call as soon as he gets here."
We finished lunch and we were driving back to the church when Fr. Tom asked, "Mary Kathryn still having problems with your decisions?"
I certainly didn't want to mislead Fr. Tom. I found I had to remind him just about every time the topic came up that I hadn't made a decision and still had a long time before I had to decide. "She's still having problems about a decision I may make. I haven't made one yet. And when I must made one, if it is a choice between becoming a priest and having Mary Kathryn, God doesn't stand a chance."
"Could be that God will win either way, but I hope you don't have to face that decision. I have known some pretty bitter men who decided they would take the woman and regretted it the rest of their lives. Doesn't make for a very happy marriage. I have also known some piss-poor bitter priests who made the wrong choice and blamed God because they didn't have the woman they loved. What's Mary Kathryn's real problem?"
"She says she just can't see being Mrs. Father," I said, only half-joking. "The idea of being Mrs. Goodie-goodie doesn't appeal to her. And, to be honest, it doesn't appeal to me either. I like my wild woman and never want to see her tamed. I certainly don't want her to feel she has to become someone other than who she is in order to be my wife."
"I hear you," Fr. Tom replied. "That wouldn't make for a very happy marriage either. But, on the other hand, you are only sixteen and a lot can happen before you have to give serious thought to marriage."
"You know, Father, I am getting pretty sick of being told my love for Mary Kathryn is puppy love. I guess I could be wrong--I have been once or twice in my sixteen years--but I think I know enough about love and commitment to know that what we have is not just lust--although there is plenty of that--and it's not some superficial warm feeling. I know our love will change and grow and when the time comes for marriage, our love will be different from what it is now, but--and I mean BUT--there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that our love is here to stay--at least until death do us part."
"You could be right, of course, and just in case you are, maybe Mary Kathryn needs to meet some clergy wives. I don't mean the Mrs. Father type or the Mrs. Rector types--God, I hate them. All seem to be trying to make up for what they perceive as their husband's shortcomings and the man always has plenty after being married to such a bitch--and I mean that... bitch--for a few years. She is going to camp next week?"
"Right, and the two weeks following."
"You might find her attitude changed when you get back. Mrs. Fathers do not go to summer camp but there will be clergy wives there--some are even counselors just as Mary Kathryn will be. They couldn't be roped into anything other than just being the midst of the action with their campers. Could make a difference."
"Well, it certainly won't hurt regardless of how she sees them. It will either change her mind or make her more stubborn."
When we got back to St. Mary's, I said goodbye to Fr. Tom, took the vestments and went home. When I got there, I laid everything out, checked my list and lay down for a few minutes. I was fine, but sometimes I did get tired and stress seemed to tire me quicker than actual physical activity. And I had been under a great deal of stress since Mary Kathryn and I talked about why I was going to the Abbey. When I told her at the falls skip day the only reason she didn't scream and run was because everyone was there, but I can tell you she was not a happy woman! Since then, it had been a very touchy subject. It was so touchy that it was pulling us apart until one day I said, "Look, Mary Kathryn, nothing has changed. We have the summer to work through this. I need time to work through it on my own and maybe our being separated will give you time to think things through. But right now, we don't need to keep hurting each other. I'll promise you one thing, and I am sure of this, I will never stop loving you and, regardless of what happens, you will always be first in my life. I will not choose between you and anything else because there is no choice."
At the time we were sitting on our front porch in the late evening, listening to the sound of night creatures. When I said what I did, Mary Kathryn became teary eyed, pulled my body to hers and started kissing me all out. She soon had my shirt off and started running her fingers along the scar. I slipped my hand under her shirt and cupped a breast as our kissing became more and more passionate. When she started kissing my chest and nipples, I got so hot I thought I would explode. I raised her shirt and started kissing and sucking her hard nipples. As I continued, she loosed my belt, unbuttoned my jeans and slipped her hand inside, cupping Mr. Andrews and my balls. (Luke and Matt had christened my cock Mr. Andrews years ago, long before I showed any signs of becoming a man. They had tried calling me Mikey and I hated it and told them so in no uncertain terms. Later, when we were taking a piss, Luke said, 'I know why you got upset at being called Mike 'cause I see Mr. Andrews, not Mikey,' and laughed. I had started calling him the Sword of Love, but when the two of them heard that, they started kiding me and kidded me so much, I went back to Mr. Andrews.) I unzipped Mary Kathryn's jeans and slipped my hand inside, feeling the soft hair surrounding her womanhood. As we continued our kissing--which grew more and more passionate--my finger hit a special spot and Mary Kathryn started breathing heavily and groaning, "Michael, Michael," then a shudder ran through her body. When it did, she gave big Mr. Andrews a hard squeeze and he exploded.
Our passion somewhat spent--somewhat--we held each other close and our kissing became gentle, soft, tender. Finally Mary Kathryn looked into my eyes and said, "Michael, we can work this out because we have to. Nothing can separate us or take our love from us." Suddenly she was crying big time. I know men talk about not knowing what to do when a woman starts crying and I had always thought it was kinda silly, but it wasn't funny. I didn't know what to do. We had just made love to the very limits we set for ourselves and she had said we couldn't let anything separate us or take our love from us, then she started crying! I didn't know what to do so I just held her to my chest, her head on my shoulder, as I stroked her hair.
Mary Kathryn gradually stopped crying and, when she did, she looked up at me and said, "Michael, when I said 'separated' I remembered we are going to be separated and then I saw your body lying in the hospital and remembered knowing that we were probably going to be separated forever. I have been pretty good at keeping my feelings inside, but tonight they got me before I knew it." I gave her a gentle kiss, which she returned, and we sat quiet for the longest time, just holding each other. God, I love my wild woman!