Castle Roland

A Special Place

by Sequoyah


Chapter 44

Posted: N/A

A Special Place--Part Forty-four--Matt

Friday had been packing day for the Gang of Four. While Mom and I were packing, she said, "You know tonight is the last dinner we will have together. Would you like the family to get together for it?"

"Need you ask? Of course, I would. And Mom, can we all stay here tonight?"

"Need you ask? Of course you can. I'll call Gabrielle and Margaret while you finish packing. And remember, you are to take your vestments. I have washed and ironed them. You'll have to get some at St. Mary's in the morning--or maybe you need to go over and get some that fit today." Mom went downstairs and I looked around to make sure I hadn't forgotten anything. She had put my vestments in a garment bag and I put it with my other things. I checked the two lists we had made--again--and I was done. I had managed to get packed without thinking too much about being separated from Luke, but there were times when I found it difficult to hold back the tears. Some people say gay men cry more than straight men, but I wonder how many straight men would anticipate being separated from someone they loved as much as I loved Luke without shedding tears? I know old straight-as-they-come Michael have done his share of crying over being separated from Mary Kathryn--and I couldn't blame him one bit. In fact, I would have been disappointed had he not cried. So much for another stereotype!

Well, I had everything ready to go . I wanted to go see Luke, but he was busy packing and even if he weren't, I knew we'd just bawl if I went. Instead of going to the Larsen's, I went to St. Mary's and found a cassock and surplice. I'd have to throw the sleeves back since they were not split as was an organist's, but I had done that before so it should be no problem.

As I drove home--man, the new Jeep was nice although Luke would still have to be careful or he would impale himself on the stick or the four wheel drive knob--I thought about Luke and how he was doing. I knew Gabrielle was with him and I hoped she could help him keep his chin up the way Mom had helped me. When I got home, having nothing else to do, I chose my usual escape from too much reality--I lay down on my bed and went to sleep. It was about 4:30 when I sacked out.

I had been sleeping for about an hour when the phone woke me, but Mom got it and I just lay on my bed, wishing I didn't have to leave my Luke. There were some delicious smells coming up the stairs from the kitchen. I was really glad Mom had suggested dinner. It would be four long weeks before I had dinner here again and six horribly long weeks before I had dinner again with Luke. As I lay thinking about that I suddenly felt Luke's presence. But he wasn't here; he was home packing. As the feeling grew stronger, I remembered I hadn't "felt" Luke's presence for a long time. I wondered.

As I lay wondering about the feeling, it grew so strong I looked at my door and there stood Luke! I jumped out of bed and grabbed him, holding him close. "I felt you coming, Yonghon Tongmu! I couldn't believe it! You're here!" I fairly attacked Luke, kissing him passionately.

Luke started laughing, "Man, how can I live without a wild Korean Lakota around?" He ran his hands under my hair and pulled my face to his for an open mouth, tongues and all kiss. "Michael called and wanted Mary Kathryn to go to the falls with him. He also told her we were invited to come long if we could behave ourselves."

"Are you sure the price is not too high," I laughed and started kissing him again.

"Maybe so. What do you think?"

"If it is, we can always head for the bushes," I laughed, full of joy now that Luke was here. We went downstairs and before we headed to the falls, asked Mom if we could help out.

"I think you'd be pretty worthless right now," she answered with a smile. "Go on to the falls."

When we reached the falls, Michael and Mary Kathryn were already skinny dipping. Sure enough, Michael was well on his way to a great summer tan had started getting a summer tan. I don't know how he would explain the great tan to a bunch of monks when there was an almost complete absence of a tan line. Maybe they'd never see him as we saw him.

After swimming hard for an hour, it was obvious that Michael had much of his strength back, but he still had a ways to go before he was as strong as he had been. Without a word, we got out of the water and lay on a blanket Mary Kathryn had thought to bring. We lay on our backs staring at the sky, saying nothing. After we had been silent for several minutes, Mary Kathryn asked a very serious question, "What do we expect to get out of this summer? I mean, of course, Luke and Matt, you expect to learn more about your art, but I mean beyond that?"

We had been silent for awhile and when Michael spoke. "I know I have a long time before I have to really make a decision, but I hope I can get some things straight in my head. This priest thing is really bugging me and especially since Mary Kathryn is so opposed to it. Maybe I can get it out of my mind. I don't know."

Luke and I had discussed the fact that Mary Kathryn seemed to be rather cold to the idea of having a priest husband, but hadn't expected it just to be plopped right out like that. "What's your problem with the idea, Mary Kathryn?" Luke asked.

"It's hard to put into words," Mary Kathryn said very thoughtfully. "I mean when he first mentioned the possibility, I was still thinking in terms of Roman Catholic priests and my immediate thought was he just wanted to dump me. I was hurt and angry."

Michael laughed, "I was the one hurt! She slapped my face and asked why I didn't have the guts just to tell her I didn't want her any more. Of course I soon took care of that thought!"

"Anyway, even after I remembered that Michael could be a priest and married, I didn't like the idea and I still don't. I look at Fr. Tom and see an old man who has been married, but I can't really see him as married. I... ok, I can't imagine him getting all carried away and making mad, passionate love. I mean you know, digging sex. I love Michael to death, but I also lust after his body--what's left of it these days," she laughed and kissed the scar on Michael's chest. "And it's not just that, the whole idea of being Mrs. Father or Mrs. Rector really turns me off. You've seen those British films with the stuffy vicars. I couldn't stand that. I couldn't stand having all the little old ladies watching my every move and treating Michael like their pet poodle. I am too full of life and hot-blooded to be a priest's wife."

I was trying hard to control myself. I understood why Mary Kathryn objected to being the wife of a priest--her idea of a priest--but I didn't want to upset her and I didn't try to change her mind. But I also remembered Fr. Tom's wife and she certainly didn't fit the description Mary Kathryn had painted. I guess there were times he wished she had, but I was a bit young and didn't notice such things so I didn't remember a great deal about Fr. Tom and her relationship. But I did remember her bright red convertible, her dyed red hair and the way she dressed--kinda chic hippie. I also recall Mom and Dad laughing about one episode or another when she had said, "I married Tom, not Fr. Tom." She had all the little old blue haired ladies buzzing as long as she lived and she just didn't give a damn. And, I suspect, Fr. Tom loved it.

"So what do you want out of the summer, Mary Kathryn?" Luke asked his sister.

"Well, I hope I get some things settled in my head as well. God, I have said I would never be a teacher, but I love kids--little kids mostly, but I have also been thinking about what middle school girls are going through--and I have thought some about being a teacher. But mostly I have thought about maybe being a school counselor. I have also thought about being a pediatric nurse. When Fr. Tom asked about my being a counselor at camp, I thought it would be a good chance to see how working with both groups would be--I mean I'll do the young kids camp and the middle school camp as a counselor. I hope I can get some feel for what being a teacher or counselor would be like. Fr. Tom also told me there would be clergy wives acting as counselors and I sure as hell want to keep an eye on them. Maybe I'll change my mind about Michael being a priest if he decides to do so--but I doubt it. And if I don't and he does...." Suddenly Mary Kathryn was not wild woman, but a hurting one. Big tears formed in her eyes.

Michael pulled her to himself for a very tender and loving kiss as he said, "Mary Kathryn, I have told you and I meant it, I will not give you up for anything. I mean that." His eyes also began to fill with tears. Hard decisions faced my brother and sister and what they decided would definitely effect their relationship and maybe even their love.

"I guess I have only one thing I expect beyond what I do in terms of music," I said. "It sounds so harsh and cold, but I know that given our fields, Luke and I will be among many more gay men--openly gay--than we have here. We will be lonely--and horny--and unless I miss my guess, some gay guys we meet will be as lonely horny as we are. And let's face it, we are two damn good looking and very naive guys. I suspect the temptation to fuck--and I mean fuck 'cause there is no question that I will never lose my love for Luke--will be great. I expect to learn about temptation--real temptation--the way I have never known it. And most important--life determining importance--how to deal with temptation and remain faithful. I mean, I have been tempted by Luke to the point where I didn't see how I could stop while we were waiting, but that was different. Had we given in to temptation, it would have been disappointing I suspect, but we would not have been unfaithful. If I can't handle the temptation this summer, I will end up being unfaithful to Luke and I know I would die if that happened.... But I am human."

"And hot to trot!" Michael added.

"He's hot all right and I love it," Luke said. "But I am with Matt on what I expect out of the summer. I know he thinks I have better control than he does...."

"You do," I said quickly.

"But I expect what Matt has said about his situation will be the same of mine."

"Kinda sorry I asked," Mary Kathryn said. "This is pretty heavy stuff we are all going to be dealing with. What makes it really frightening is that all of us are going to be dealing with things which could really hurt the ones we love. Damn!"

"You're right," Michael agreed, "but it's real. And what really makes it frightening is for the first time we won't have each other to lean on. We'll be separated and alone for the first time."

"Look, I know we can't spend a fortune on phone calls, but we've got to keep in touch with each other," Luke said.

"I'm going to be pretty restricted in my contact with anyone. That has worried me from the beginning. I mean I can write and will--at least Mary Kathryn--but you know how slow snail mail is," Michael observed.

"E-mail?" I asked. "I know I will have access to computers in the computer lab. That was in the material I was sent."

"So will I," Luke said.

"Mine will be very limited," Michael said, "Mom got a laptop for me to use this summer and I got permission for very restricted use. Mostly I'm expected to keep a journal on it. I can send copies of the journal with some personal messages, but not everyday."

"I can arrange to send e-mail from camp, I think," Mary Kathryn said, "if not, it will be snail mail, but better slow than none."

"So much for a carefree summer!" Michael said as we got ready to go to the house. "But I also expect to have some fun. Don't know exactly what given where I will be."

Dinner was another happy-sad event. We all knew that Sunday we would be scattered and the summer was an important one for all of us, but we also felt the love and support of the family--the whole family. There wasn't much talk of the summer, but enough for us to know the parents knew we were facing great unknowns which would easily determine our future and that they were both confident that we would handle things well, but anxious as well.

After dinner, the Gang of Four went to my room and had a ball talking about how we were dressing for our break loose night in Lexington. Nelson had said the manager and the maitre d' didn't get along and suggested we be even wilder in our dress than we had been before to give "that maitre d' asshole" a hard time. Luke had talked to the other guys and learned Eugene and Larry had picked up outfits--"You'll flip when you see them," Eugene had said--for themselves and for Jacob and Bill. Earlier, when we had talked about "Mr. Greywolf and his entourage's" break loose evening, I talked to Dad and Mom about what Luke and I would wear. They had a good laugh and then suggested dress for the women which was equally as outstanding.

We the Gang of Four were staying at my place for the night and when we got ready for bed, Michael said, "I'm going down the hall to spend some time with my wild woman and since we're still resisting temptation, I don't plan to spend the night, so you guys need to plan accordingly."

As soon as he left, I got Luke undressed in record time and he didn't take all night to get me out of my clothes. Naked, we stood, hands on each others shoulders, admiring the beauty before us. As we embraced for a passionate kiss, Michael burst into the room and said, "Ok, just a minute. Wild Woman says I can sleep with her if I observe the limits. Man, talk about temptation! But I am man enough to do it...."

"You better be man enough NOT to do it," Luke said in his big brother voice and laughed.

"Hey, you don't have to go all the way to make love or have you forgotten?" Michael challenged his lover's brother. "Man, I am going to snuggle up to my soft, wonderful woman and I will resist temptation for the privilege."

"You're a good man, Michael," Luke said. "I'm honored that you want to be my brother-in-law as well as my brother. Enjoy snuggling against Mary Kathryn's beautiful soft body as I will snuggling against Matt's beautiful hard one. But I make no promises about resisting anything."

Michael gave Luke a high five and dashed down the hall. Luke and my love making was very tender and gentle, dreamlike. We were so in love it was hard to realize it wasn't all a dream. I was afraid it was too good to be real, but then, as Luke made love to me, I knew it was real, really, really real!

The next morning, we four got up for a run and Luke asked Michael "Can you say, honestly, my baby sister is still a virgin?" with a mean look on his face.

"At least technically," Michael laughed as Mary Kathryn gave him a wild woman kiss. "I kept my promise, but I sure don't know about next time!"

"I do," Mary Kathryn said, kissing him again.

"And just what does that mean?" Luke asked.

"Just what I said," Mary Kathryn answered with a wicked grin.

After the run, Luke and I, then Michael and Mary Kathryn showered. As they showered, Michael started singing at the top of his lungs, "More than the greatest love...." When we were dressed we went down for breakfast. During breakfast, we all decided we would spend Saturday with our families since we would be gone for several weeks and when we returned, Luke and I would soon be going away to college.

The Fellowship all came to my place about 4:00 Saturday afternoon to get ready for our night on the town. We were leaving about 6:00 or 6:30. After they heard about our dressing up for the big event, all the parents decided to show up for pictures before we left.

When the members of the Fellowship arrived, Mom sent the guys to my room and the women to the guest room with Mary Kathryn to get dressed.

Nelson had asked for Mr. Greywolf and his entourage to show up and stir up some excitement and we decided to do it up right. I dressed in light buckskins--leggings and open vest--decorated with black and red bead work which Dad and I had purchased at a pow wow last year. I wore the red and black beadwork headband I had worn before and added matching arm bands. Dad had loaned--and believe me I mean loaned--me his bear claw choker. Instead of a single braid, I did my hair in two braids and wrapped the ends in buckskin thongs with more black and red beads. I wore moccasins, of course, also richly decorated in red and black bead work.

Luke and Michael were "Mr. Greywolf's" assistants and dressed as I except their bead work and chokers were yellow and green. Their vests and leggings were darker buckskin, also decorated with beadwork. Of course Luke needed a head band and, to tell the truth, Michael's hair had grown pretty long since he stopped having it cut some time ago so he, too, wore a headband.

Bill, Jacob, Larry and Eugene were dressed in black jeans with matching black vests and black high laced boots of soft buckskin. I don't know where Eugene found them, but all four wore black belts with silver and turquoise decorations. They wore only arm bands and chokers of turquoise and silver beads. I didn't know Dad had so much beadwork! Since their hair was short they didn't wear headbands.

We had decided Paula would be "Mr. Greywolf's" date for the evening and Mom had outfitted her in an almost white buckskin dress decorated with silver and turquoise beads as were her high buckskin boots. Man, she was something to behold! The others were dressed in black skirts and turquoise blouses. They all had on headbands of the same color bead work as Paula's and also wore silver and turquoise belts.

When we went downstairs, Dad asked if we would be allowed into the hotel without shirts. "I know those bare chests will drive the women crazy, but I'm not sure the hotel management will be happy to see you--but you are a handsome bunch."

"Hey, Nelson asked for Mr. Greywolf's entourage and here we are," Larry laughed.

"It also helps that he cleared it with the manager," Eugene said. "But I want to see the look on the maitre 'd's face since he hasn't been told!"

All the parents had shown up--even Jacob's, Linda's and Bill's--for pictures and it took forever to satisfy them, but we were finally ready to leave.

In Lexington, we parked the cars except Eugene's and Paula and I got in the back seat and Michael and Luke got in the front to drive us to the front of the hotel. Linda and Mary Kathryn were sitting on the back of the seat behind Paula and myself while the four guys walked along side the car like secret service guards. The parking valets was duly impressed when we arrived and everyone hopped to to help "Mr. Greywolf and his entourage".

When we reached the lobby, the Junior League ladies were just going to their banquet room and were all atwitter at the sight. I could understand the high school girls getting all carried away when Luke and I had come with Uncle Michael and Mr. Stephenson, but these were grown women! As we approached the dining room, the maitre d' could hardly control himself he was so upset at all the shirtless guys. Luke and Michael walked up to him and said, "Mr. Greywolf and his party are here. I believe you have reservations?"

"Yes, but we have dress requirements. You are not welcome without proper dress. You will have to leave at once! We do not allow people here improperly dressed! I can see bare skin. Bare skin on your chests!" He was shaking he was so outraged at, as he put it, "your indecent exposure!"

I caught sight of Nelson, who was trying not to laugh, a few feet away. "You, Sir," Luke said, "are insulting Mr. Greywolf's heritage. I wouldn't do that if I were you."

"This is an outrage, an outrage. We do not allow savages in our dining room!"

Michael then stepped up, drew himself to his full six feet two inches--at least five inches taller than the sputtering little man with the waxed mustache--and said, "You don't seem to understand, my good man. See this scar? I got this defending Mr. Greywolf and I don't like to be messed with. And when you call me a savage, I may not break your arm, but when you call Mr. Greywolf a savage--well, to tell the truth, you are endangering your life."

Paula leaned over and whispered, "Notice Michael he didn't "defending a painting of Mr. Greywolf."

When I looked at Nelson I could see he was on the house phone and laughing so hard he was about to pee his pants. So far the Fellowship was doing an amazing job controlling pent-up laughter. "Now, my good man," Michael continued, "if you will just send Nelson over, I believe Mr. Greywolf is ready to be seated with his party."

"I told you," the maitre d' was shouting now, "you cannot come in until you are properly dressed! I am in total charge here and you have to get out. I'm totally in charge!" People in the dining room were, for the most part, having a good laugh at the little man who obviously wasn't in control of himself, much less anything else.

Just as he finished shouting, the manager walked up behind us and said, "Oh, Mr. Greywolf! I am delighted that you decided to visit us again. Why haven't you been shown to your table? Has something held you up? And my, my, how handsome you all look. So glad you decided to come dressed as befits your heritage. It adds class to our establishment." He then turned to the maitre d' and said, "James, I know you are dying to show Mr. Greywolf and his party to their table, but I'm pulling rank. Mr. Greywolf, ladies and gentlemen, this way please."

When we reached the table and had all been seated he laughed and said, "I have wanted to put that pompous windbag in his place for years. Thank you for helping! I'm giving Nelson a break tonight. He's all yours and I am hanging around for the excitement when the Junior League dinner breaks up. And by the way, I'm taking care of Nelson and your evening is on the house. Nelson asked about a discount and I agreed, but after seeing James almost die of apoplexy, it's on the house. In exchange, you have to head for the lobby just when the Junior League ladies get there. Deal?"

"Deal!" we all said.

The dinner was great! We asked Nelson to join us, but he refused saying he had to "make the show look good." And he did! You would have thought we were the President of the United States' party the way he kowtowed to us! Everyone in the dining room was looking at us and, I suspect, trying to figure out just who we were to be receiving so much attention. It was a good thing we were obviously enjoying ourselves because otherwise there would have been questions about our laughter. Sometimes one or the other of us just couldn't hold it all in and burst out laughing. We had finished eating and were toying with our dessert when Nelson brought us the check--which showed a balance of zero--which was our signal to get ready to go to the lobby. I gave him Dad's charge card and signed the check when Nelson brought it back--including a generous tip for Nelson even though he was "being taken care of." After all, we had gotten everything for free, so why not?

My "bodyguards and assistants" surrounded me and we walked to the lobby. The Junior League ladies were all in the lobby when Nelson walked out with us and said--loudly--"Mr.Greywolf, I do hope you will come again while you are filming." That did it. There was a rush of Junior League ladies trying to get past my "body guards" and "assistants" for autographs. Luke and Michael finally stepped outside the circle Bill, Jacob, Eugene and Larry had formed and asked, "Ladies, who are you?"

A young woman stepped forward and said, "We are the Junior League of Lexington."

"Are you the president?" Michael asked. The woman was suddenly tongue tied and could only nod her head.

"I'm sure Mr. Greywolf would be happy to sign autographs if you would be patient. Wouldn't you,"Mr. Greywolf?" Cool Luke could handle this, but I only nodded knowing if I opened my mouth I would start laughing. Really, these were the cream of Lexington's young up and coming women--or wives of husbands who were--and they were acting just like teenyboppers! I was signing an autograph for a woman who said, "My son is Curtis Jelks and does the 'Teen Beat' show on Saturday and I am sure he would love to interview you. Would you have time?"

Luke answered for me, "I doubt it. We are here for only a short time and Mr. Greywolf would like to visit a teen club he visited the last time we were here checking out Lexington."

"Checking it out for a film?" she asked.

"I think it is safe to say that the next picture Mr. Greywolf makes will be made here," Michael said with an absolutely straight face. Old Michael--never lying, but allowing people to think one thing when he had meant another. But only Michael and cool Luke really had straight faces: "assistants" and the women in the entourage were all about to fall out laughing. As soon as she had the autograph, the woman took a cell phone from her pocket. Her poor son was about to fall for the fake movie star bit--again.

The hotel manager reappeared and motioned for Bill and whispered something to him. When Bill came back, he asked for the parking tickets. I continued signing autographs when Luke leaned over and whispered, "The hotel manager has a limo waiting outside for us. Nelson, his girl and some other hotel people are driving the cars over and will come back in the limo." By this time, others were asking for autographs and after several minutes, Luke announced that we had an appointment at the teen club. "We want to check it out,' he said. He didn't say for what, but everyone standing around assumed it had to do with a film to be made in Lexington.

When we got in the limo, we could finally laugh and we all did until tears were streaming down our faces.

"Do you think we gave "Curtis, this teen reporter" time to get to the club?" Jacob asked.

"I'm sure he was there five minutes after his mom called," Linda laughed. Sure enough, there were TV cameras and lights waiting for us outside the club. The teen reporter came rushing up and said how glad he was to see us again. "Are you planning on making the film here, Mr. Greywolf?" he asked. "I assure you," Michael said again with a straight face, "the very next film Mr. Greywolf makes will be made in Lexington." There were other questions and Michael and Luke answered everyone without telling a lie. Could they help it if assumptions were made? As we posed for the cameras and Michael told the kid our Indian dress was from the Greywolf family, reflecting 'Mr. Greywolf's heritage." He spoke very solemnly. Luke added equally as solemn, "Mr. Greywolf is Lakota. You probably would call him a Sioux, but he's Lakota."

Later when I told him he was stretching the truth kinda far with that statement, he said, "I'm not. You may not be all Lakota, but so far as we know MR. Greywolf is." The whole Fellowship absolutely cracked up over that.

When we got inside the club, "this reporter" left the crew outside, but came in himself. We decided it was best not to spoil his show, so I danced with Paula. Michael and Luke started dancing with Mary Kathryn and Linda while the four "body guards" stationed themselves around the dance floor as if they were protecting "Mr. Greywolf." Of course the DJ and many of the people in the club knew immediately what was going on and were having a blast. I felt a little sorry for "Curtis, this teen reporter," but not a lot because he was so arrogant and had constantly put down the many small towns served by the Lexington station. "This is for those poor teens in xxx" was a common line when he introduced a new song "since they are so isolated from the exciting teen life in Lexington." Strange because he didn't know squat about the teen club where we were and which was probably the best things the teens of Lexington had going for them. Maybe he'd wake up after being fooled the second time.

As soon as the second dance started, I motioned for the body guards and Jacob came for Paula, Bill for Linda and Michael continued dancing with Mary Kathryn. The other two couples were sitting the dance out when Larry said, "This will never do. I know we'll get it on with our loves as soon as "this teen reporter" leaves, but there are women just standing around. Let's dance!" The four of us invited girls who were just standing around to dance. Soon we were all dancing fools, having a grand time.

After the third dance, Curtis was still present. Michael said he was sitting the next couple of dances out because he was tired and Larry, Eugene and I joined him. Luke started dancing with wild woman--and she was!

We had been at the club for about an hour when Curtis finally left as Nelson and his girl arrived. Nelson went immediately to the DJ and said something to him, but refused to tell us what he said when he came back. He just got his girl and hit the dance floor. When the dance ended, they came back to the table and asked Michael if he was ready to dance again. Michael said ''I'm ready!" Nelson caught the eye of the DJ, who nodded, and then announced, "This is a special for Mr. Greywolf and his entourage." The DJ put on a new CD and said, "Greywolf, this is for you and the Fellowship from Nelson."

As the CD started I realized it as the variations on "More" from the last movement of "Yonghon Tongmu." I hadn't realized it when I wrote it, but it was actually great for dancing. Of course, the dance style changed several times--everything from a waltz to wild--but that was fun too. This time there was no holding back. Eugene and I grabbed our lovers and hit the floor with the rest of the Fellowship. Eugene, Paula and I were ready for the quick switches in the music since we knew it by heart. The others were just about as good. We were singing and dancing our hearts out as the music played. When the music became very romantic and lyrical, Luke looked into my eyes, smiled, and kissed me big time. His example was followed by the other Fellowship couples while the other people in the club shouted and cheered.

We continued dancing or sitting at the table talking and enjoying ourselves until time for the club to close. After announcing the last dance, the DJ lowered the lights and played a very romantic, slow dance version of "More." As I held Luke close I realized this was our last dance for a long time. I tried to hide my feeling, but when I looked up at Luke, I saw tears in his eyes and just lost it, sobbing on his shoulder as we danced.

After the last dance, we went with Nelson and his girl to the ice cream parlor for malteds--one of the few places I suspect you could get real malteds these days with all the fast food places selling those horrible so-called milkshakes--and sat and talked until it closed at 1:30. After saying goodbye to Nelson, we all stood in the parking lot talking about what we were going to do. Eugene suggested we all go to his place for the night. It sounded like a good idea until Michael reminded us all that the only couples together tomorrow night would be Bill and Linda and Eugene and Larry. That settled it quickly. We wanted the night for ourselves.

Of course by the time we got home, it was very late. Michael and Mary Kathryn discussed his staying at the Larsens, but decided against it, so after some passionate kisses, they finally went their separate ways. Luke and I decided we'd stay at his place for the night. As soon we crawled into bed, we decided we were not really up to any any heavy love making. And while we agreed on that, both said we didn't know why since it was our last night together for some time. We ended up as we would have done before our birthday: kissing, cuddling, loving each other gently for awhile and then slipping into dreamland.

Sometime before daybreak, Luke kissed me and when I was awake said, "Sarang Hanun Pomul, I want to make love to you, but not here. By the river." We quickly got out of bed, slipped into sweats and, hand in hand, headed for the river. We went to the spot where we had made love before, undressed each other, and lay on the soft mossy bank. The sound of the river and night creatures filled the air and the moonlight through the willows made a shifting pattern on us as we lay together. We were in no rush, knowing we would soon be separated for six weeks. Our love making was as tender, loving and gentle as the sounds around us, filling us with the deep sense of being united in heart, mind, body and soul. Finally, satisfied, we just lay in each others arms, looking into the eyes of the one who made our world and life worth living. Luke kissed me softly and asked, "Storing up memories, Sarang Hanun Pomul?" I smiled at the face of my beautiful love and said, "Memories which have to last at least six weeks, Yonghon Tongmu." Soon we fall asleep in the warmth of our love.

I was awakened by the predawn songs of countless birds calling on the sun to rise. Luke was sleeping beside me. I felt a knife go through my heart as I realized in a few short hours we would be separated--not for hours or days, but for weeks. I leaned over and pressed my lips to his. Immediately no longer sleeping, he ran his hands beneath my hair and pulled our lips together for a passionate kiss. In the predawn light, we made love again, Luke exploding inside me as the first rays of the sun penetrated the willow canopy above us.

After too short a time, we pulled on our sweats and walked toward the falls, only a short distance up the river. As we came out of the willows just below the falls, I saw Michael and Mary Kathryn, both asleep on a blanket on the beach. Both were naked, two beautiful bodies lying snuggled together. "Morning, lovers," Luke shouted, causing them both to bolt upright.

"Couldn't you have sung a sweet song or something?" Michael grouched as he looked toward us. He reached beside the blanket where there were two pairs of sweats and pulled them on as Mary Kathryn did the same.

"I guess great lovers have the same great ideas," I said, greeting the second couple in the family. "Looks to me as if temptation won."

"You're wrong, Oh sex on the mind one. But it was a hard fight."

"Not sure about the fight," Mary Kathryn laughed as she kissed Michael, "but it was hard. But I took care of that, but not the way you're thinking!"

Luke and I joined our brother and sister on the blanket and we again talked about what lay ahead. "I've always heard that things and people were scattered to the four winds," Michael said, "but I just realized its not a metaphor--you know about metaphors don't you, Luke?" he laughed as we all recalled Luke's struggle with metaphor before the AP exam--"it's not a metaphor for us. I'm going north, Luke south, Mary Kathryn east and Matt west. When and where shall we four meet again?"

"Here in this place as soon as possible," Luke answered then added, "Well, I guess we better head home. Don't think it would be a good idea for you to come with us, Michael," Luke said. "Don't think Dad will be fooled about Mary Kathryn being home all night, but if you don't show up, I suspect you might escape hanging!" Luke laughed as Michael kissed Mary Kathryn then started walking down the river. Obviously he was going to walk to the road and then home rather than crossing the meadow. I guess he remembered the outcome of one of the walks Luke and I had taken in the open meadow.

The family was gathering at the Andrews for breakfast since there would be no family Sunday dinner. Luke and I showered and he shaved after Mary Kathryn had showered. We got dressed and went to Margaret's and David's for breakfast. It was not the usual jolly family gathering. While we were eating I noticed Jens kept looking at Michael and Mary Kathryn. They must have noticed too because Michael was getting very nervous. We all knew about Jens' temper, especially when his kids were involved. Wild woman finally had had it and said, "Yes, Dad, Michael and I went to the falls after we got home last night. And yes, we didn't keep our clothes on. And yes, the love making was hot, passionate, fantastic."

I thought to myself, "Mary Kathryn, why get Jens going since we will all be splitting soon?"

"And no, Michael is not gay. I can assure you of that, not that it should matter to you, but it sure as hell would matter to me! Dad, anything else you want to know?" I saw Mary Kathryn wicked grin which she was hiding from Jens and also the fire in her eyes--which he definitely saw as soon as she had the grin under control." Jens was trying very hard to keep control and I knew it. Damn, was there to be a family fight? Just what we all needed to remember when we were separated! "Oh, I forgot, we're both still virgins if it takes going all the way to lose your virginity," Mary Kathryn added with a wicked laugh. There was a communal sigh of relief--not, I suspect because Michael and Mary Kathryn had resisted temptation, but because there was nothing for Jens to be upset about.

But Jens did not like being the butt of a joke so I wasn't sure how he would take the whole thing until he burst out laughing. "You women sure know how to pull a man's chain," he laughed, "especially you, my baby girl."

"May be your baby girl," Michael said, taking a risk, "but definitely my wild woman and I love it." He leaned over and kissed Mary Kathryn who was sitting beside him. The rest of the breakfast was a joyous time with a lot of joking and "remember when" game playing.

During church, Fr. Tom called Bill, Linda and Mary Kathryn to the front for a commissioning ceremony, commissioning them as campers and the camp counselors. During the Prayers for the People, there were prayers for travelers--we were all mentioned by name--and for God's blessing on our summer endeavors.

As soon as the service ended, we all went to the parking lot since Michael and Luke were leaving for the airport immediately. Ms. Wright had asked about Paula going with them so she and Jacob were waiting for us. After hugs all around, Michael and Mary Kathryn, Jacob and Paula, Luke and I embraced for a last passionate kiss and then our loves were gone. We did manage to keep the tears to a minimum, but our pain was not. Even Jacob was teary eyed. Man, when he caught the bug, he caught it big time. I didn't blame him. Paula is some fantastic woman.

The three leaving for camp were to leave very shortly, so all of the family joined us for a quick lunch and then the campers took off in Bill's car. I had offered to drive Jacob to Lexington, but since it was really out of my way, he had declined. Eugene and Larry insisted he go with them. Larry was to start his internship Monday so they would drive over very early Monday morning.

Suddenly I felt very alone. I guess I could have hung around awhile, but I had a very long drive ahead of me and Dad and Mom insisted I get started. Dad had made reservations at a motel just over half way to Sewanee. I had to check in at Sewanee by noon Monday and if I hit the road, I'd get some sleep tonight.

We all knew I would be home in four weeks which was usual for my summer programs since I was in high school so there were never any tears or prolonged goodbyes--until today. I guess we all realized this was just a practice for my leaving in September and we all were a bit misty eyed as I got the Jeep and started the long trip. When I got on the road, I put in a CD and tried to enjoy the drive as I got deeper into the mountains.

It was twilight when I reached the motel and checked in. I was tired from driving and, I suspect, the tension of the day. I tried to watch TV, but it was all so silly I finally just turned it off, crawled into bed and turned out the lights.

I don't know why, but as soon as the lights were out, my mind started racing, thinking about all that had happened since that day I saw Luke lying face down in the river. I found it hard to believe it was only four months ago this week. What an emotional roller coaster ride those four months had been! But with all the pain in those four months, it had been a glorious time and I was overcome by a feeling of deep thanksgiving! I thought about all the Fellowship, scattered, but still very much with me. I offered up a prayer, in my way, for Larry and Eugene and what they faced, for Michael and Mary Kathryn and the hard decisions confronting them, for Jacob and Paula and their new-found love, for Linda and Bill and their deepening relationship. I gave thanksgiving for the family, those six wonderful, loving, caring people who had nurtured all of us. And I gave a special prayer and thanksgiving for my Luke. I missed him so much already it was painful and I had seen him less than twelve hours ago. What would doing without his arms about me for six weeks be like? I didn't want to think about it. Finally I was able to escape into dreamland where I dreamed of our last night together, making love in the moonlight under the willows with all the night sounds around us

A Special Place--Part Forty-four--Luke

When we reached the airport, all three of us checked in. Paula and Michael were to be together on the first leg of their trip. Their plane was leaving after mine, so when my flight was called, I hugged Mom and Dad, Michael and Paula and raced to the plane without looking back. I knew I was only leaving for six weeks, but I knew I would be in tears if I hung around.

I found my seat and sat down, staring out the window. Soon a young, very attractive woman sat beside me. I smiled at her and she smiled back and introduced herself. "I'm Janet," she said, extending her hand.

"I'm Luke," I replied as I took her hand.

"Where are you headed?" she asked. When I told her, she laughed and said she was also on her way to Sarasota and the Ringling School of Art.

We talked about what we expected and finally acknowledged we didn't know what to expect. As we talked, she asked me if I had seen the public broadcasting system's special on an art exhibition in Concord. When she did I laughed, then did a Matt Greywolf blush. When she saw me blush she suddenly laughed and said, "I thought your name sounded familiar! It was your exhibition! I'm honored to be with you this summer. That was some exhibition and you are some artist!" She started asking me questions about it and soon I was talking a mile a minute. I sure didn't feel shy about my work!

"Can I ask you a very personal question?" she asked. When I nodded, she asked, "The painting of the young man dressed as an Indian in the room by itself, why was it so special? That's not what I mean. I mean I could see that it was magnificent and was special in that way, but it seemed to be special in some other way." She laughed and then said, "I'm not sure what I mean."

"Maybe I can help," I said. "Yes, it is special, very,very special. It is a painting of my brother--well, not a blood brother, but my brother nonetheless." I then started telling her the story of the family and while she looked interested, after talking for five minutes I said, "Look, I'm probably boring you to death."

"Not at all! I am absolutely fascinated. I am an only child and my parents are divorced so I am always fascinated by families and you seem to have a super family--wow--three brothers and a sister and three fathers and three mothers. I remember the series of paintings now, but there was one of--what's his name?"

"You want all of it?" I laughed. "It's a mouthful. His full name is Matthew Sarang Hanun Pomul Greywolf."

"You said it. That is a mouthful. Why all that name?"

That, of course, called for another story and she was completely absorbed in my telling it. As I finished, she said, "Well, it's a good mixture. He is a good looking hunk."

"I couldn't agree more. And he is as good and kind and loving as he is good looking."

"Which brings us back to my question. The painting seems to have something special beyond the fact that he is your brother--I remember another good looking hunk--I started to say dressed, but I guess it's undressed--as a Greek warrior and I didn't feel that specialness about him."

I thought for a moment before I decided to answer her question then said, "Well, he's special to someone. He is the light of my sister's life, her soulmate. Matt is mine."

It took her a minute before she realized what I meant and then asked, "You mean you and Matt are...."

"We are lovers and, damn, I miss him already. Six weeks without Matt are going to be pure hell." I knew it. I just knew it. My eyes started filling with tears.

Janet put her arm around my shoulders and pulled my head to her chest and stroked my hair. "You are lucky you have someone to love and who loves you," she said. Soon I was able to gain control and sat up and smiled at her. "I guess since you grew up together, you have been lovers for some time."

"Well, yes and no," I replied. "We found we had been in love with each other for years, but we have only known it for four months this week."

"That sounds like a great story," she said. "Tell me about it." Before I knew it I was telling Janet about my attempted suicide and all that followed. From time to time I stopped and told her if I was boring her to tell me. Each time she urged me on. "You must have felt like you were living on a rollercoaster these past four months." I agreed.

When I told her about the painting and Michael getting cut, she was outraged. "I hope Michael is ok," she said. Again, I started telling her about Michael's escaping death and that the painting had been restored.

By the time the pilot announced we would be landing in fifteen minutes, Janet had heard the soap opera which had been my life the past four months. I realized I had done all the talking and apologized and said she'd have to tell me her story soon. "Pretty dull stuff, I suspect," she said, "to someone who has lived your life. But, yes, we'll have to get together and I want to hear the CD of the concert. You do have one, don't you?"

"If the truth be known," I replied, "I have several!"

When we landed there was a car waiting to take us to the school. As we approached the school, I was struck by the people walking around. I knew that piercing and wild colored hair in spikes was the rage in places, but I felt like I had just been dumped into another world. "Guess Concord is a bit more conservative than Jackson, but even Jackson would find some of these folks weird," she laughed. We agreed to meet for dinner and I went to my room and started unpacking, trying not to think about Matt. Thank goodness, Janet had kept me busy talking and while I talked a lot about Matt, I wasn't missing him. Now in my room alone, I missed him like hell. When I placed a photograph of the painting beside my bed, the tears poured.

A Special Place--Part Forty-four--Michael

I was glad I had Paula with me because it kept me from thinking too much about leaving Mary Kathryn behind. After we got on the plane I asked her how things were going with Jacob and that did it. She started talking about him a mile a minute.

"I thought I was in love with that rat Sheldon and was really broken up when he had to move, but prom night cured that! I was hurt deeply by his demanding sex and then leaving when I wouldn't, as he said, 'put out'. I thought I knew him, but I didn't and how can you love someone you don't know? After that night I knew one thing. I knew I'd never allow a man to hurt me that way again. When I realized I was developing some very strong feelings for Jacob, I kept giving myself a real talking to and thought it was working, but that day at the falls, I realized I had only been fooling myself. But I still held back--I guess it didn't look that way, but I did."

"Bless his heart, that redheaded hunk took it all in stride. He was patient and so very caring and loving. I don't know that I would have been as patient as he was. I know you all see him as a happy-go-lucky, carefree guy without a serious bone in his body--and in a sense that's right. I have never known anyone so in love with life. But there's another side to him, a very serious side. I sometimes think he is like a puppy because he is so full of life and so much fun. But he's also a loyal, loving person. He loves as he does 'most every thing--unconditionally. He just wants to love and be loved, but is never pushy or demanding."

"Once when we were doing some heavy making out, I got very uptight and he knew it at once. He took my face in his hands and looked me straight in the eye and said, 'Paula, I love you. I have never loved anyone as I love you, not even close, but that doesn't mean I want you to do anything you are not ready and willing to do. Don't get me wrong, I'd like to make mad, passionate love to you right here.' We were sitting in the den for heaven's sake! 'But I can love you without having sex. When we are both ready, then I promise you we'll have sex we will both remember in the nursing home, but that will only happen when we are both sure the time and place are right.' That's the kind of guy he is, Michael. God knows, I am so thankful we both realized that there was something special between us because I love that man so much it hurts sometimes. And just when we discovered we were in love, we got separated." Paula's eyes became misty and I held her close, knowing well how she felt.

When we reached the hub airport, we only had a few minutes before our next flight so we hugged each other and as we started to part, she grabbed me and kissed me hard. "Pretend I am Mary Kathryn," she smiled.

I kissed her back equally as hard and said, "That's from Jacob."

The final leg of my flight was a short one and when I got off the plane, two monks were waiting for me. Suddenly I thought, "Just what have I gotten myself into?" They introduced themselves as Brother Gregory and Brother Anselm. We picked up my luggage and drove to the monastery, arriving near midnight. As they showed me to my cell, Brother Gregory said, "Michael, the Abbot has said after your trip, you were to sleep in until Mass at 6:00. Someone will call you in time to get dressed. You have a cassock I assume?" I assured him I did and he told I was expected to wear it to Mass. Following Mass and breakfast, I would meet the Abbot to discuss my stay with the monks. I undressed and slipped into bed--it was hard, the bed that is--and just before I fell asleep I wondered what my wild woman was doing. I wasn't much into praying, I guess, but I had started doing what Matt had said he did, thinking back over the day and giving thanks that God had given me a mom to love and who loved me, but above all for giving me the love of the most wonderful woman in all the world, Mary Kathryn, my wild woman.

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