Since we got home so late, Granddad let us sleep in and did the morning chores himself. It was 1:00 in the afternoon when Jason kissed me awake. As soon as I was awake, he picked me up and took me to the shower.
Jason stood to my back, his arms around me, pulling my body to his. I leaned my head back for a kiss as he started rubbing his hardness up and down in my crack. Taking his arms from my shoulders, he reached around and started stroking me as the hot water pounded on the sensitive head of my cock. It didn't take long before I collapsed, weak-kneed, as my climax struck me. I would have fallen had Jason not held me as his strokes sent me over the edge and into paradise.
When I had recovered, I turned to face Jason and covered his mouth with mine as my arms encircled his hard body, pulling my lover to me. I broke our kiss, smiled into his dark eyes, reached down and took Mr. Talltree in my hand.
As I began to stroke him, Jason's mouth covered mine, our tongues battling. Jason's hand moved to the back of my head and pulled my lips to his, hard, just he dropped into my arms, weak from his orgasm. After several very hot kisses, which left us both more than half-hard, we finished our shower, dried ourselves and decided we'd shave since we'd have to get back to school tomorrow.
As we left the shower, Wesley came up the stairs. "I was just coming to get you," he said. "Grandmom has insisted on fixing breakfast and it is almost ready. She said it'd be breakfast for us and lunch for Granddad and her. Brad and Jeremy are also just getting up."
When we reached the kitchen, Grandmom was just taking a large pan of biscuits from the oven. Jason took the pan from her and kissed her on the cheek. While Jason put the biscuits on a plate, I put my arm around Grandmom's waist and kissed her on the cheek as well.
Jeremy and Brad were seated at the dining table, talking with Granddad. As we four seated ourselves, the three stopped talking and Granddad said grace, then laughed as he said, "Looks as if Grandmom thought she was feeding an army."
"Unless the three who live here have changed while we were away, an army would probably eat less," Grandmom responded. "And if I recall a few meals in Florida, the two newlyweds are not slim eaters." The way the five of us were filling our plates, Grandmom had certainly not cooked too much.
"What's on the docket for today?" Wesley asked, after we had staved off the most urgent hunger pangs.
"I don't know about you home folks," Jeremy said, "but Brad and I are probably already behind. Josh is coming by to let us know what he has decided about living arrangements. I sincerely hope he doesn't think I have deserted him," Brad said, "but I am not going to be separated from Jeremy any longer. We were foolish to go to separate colleges in the first place."
"Yeah, Brad said. "Unless you two go your separate ways, don't be fool enough to go to separate colleges."
"I sure agree, but, well, at the time it was a good decision, I guess," Jeremy responded. "Anyway, what we do today hardly depends on Josh's decision. We need to get to Asheville and pick up my truck. If Josh decides to move in with us, we'll need it to help him move his things to the house but, in any event, we need to go to Asheville and pick it up."
"Yeah, Jeremy is one of those city boys who insists on having a 4 x 4 pickup," Brad laughed. "He wants everyone to think he's a great off-road adventurer, but can't stand getting a scratch on his macho toy."
"I have never noticed you having a problem with the truck when you had to get more than a couple books from point A to point B," Jeremy grinned.
In answer, Brad leaned over and kissed his cheek.
"Ah, the wonders of love," Josh's voice called from the living room. "I guess newlyweds really do sleep--well I don't know about that, let's just say stay in bed--late."
Jeremy and Brad laughed and I hoped no-one saw me blush. True, Jason and I weren't newlyweds, but in a way I guess we were. Maybe living in sin with grandparents' approval? I don't know, beyond the fact that we were now open and honest with our grandparents about our relationship. It was also true that we hadn't done as much as we might have in bed, but I blushed anyway.
"Breakfast or lunch, Josh?" Grandmom laughed.
"No ma'am, thanks anyway," Josh replied. "Mom took advantage of my being home to make sure I am well-fed, but I will have a cup of coffee."
As Grandmom poured his coffee, she asked,"How's the boy?"
"Much, much better. Young folk heal fast. He was up before I was this morning, insisting he's going to school tomorrow. Dad told him that decision could and would wait until tomorrow."
"Don't mean to interrupt or push you Josh, but have you make a decision about your living arrangements?" Brad asked. "If you're moving, we need to be on our way. We need to get to Asheville and pick up Jeremy's truck pronto so we can get you moved.
"Yeah, that's the reason I came on down. Spent an hour on the phone with the housing office this morning. The housing guy was his usual cheerful self--NOT!--plus he was hung over, I'm sure. Finally got him to agree to refund my money if our suite gets rented. Understand you pulled a fast one on him, Brad," Josh laughed.
"Yeah, I told him I had gotten married and, according to regulations, I would be released from my part in the agreement. He wanted to see my marriage certificate and I showed him my Vermont certificate. He wanted to argue that gay marriages weren't recognized and that the Vermont registration did not constitute a marriage anyway. He quickly changed his tune when I said I guessed a court would have to decide that. The university will do anything to avoid any kind of involvement with the law."
"I didn't tell the housing office, but Kathy has been trying to move into a suite with a friend from high school since she was admitted, but there was not one available. Instead they were living in Sumner Hall." For our benefit, he added, "Sumner Hall has tiny rooms and was scheduled to be razed five years ago."
"Then we need to be moving. Thanks for making our honeymoon really, really special," Jeremy said as he hugged Grandmom and Granddad."
"Yeah, thanks for everything," Brad said, hugging both grandparents.
"Thanks for all you two have done for us and our boys," Granddad replied. "Do come back."
"Yes, do," Grandmom said.
"You can depend on it," Brad responded. The two fellows hugged the grandparents again, shook hands with all of us and left with Josh in tow.
The house quickly settled down to normal--whatever that was. Tom showed up in the late afternoon with Hank in tow. Hank said Jonathan really didn't feel like practicing, but was insisting on going to school the next day. When the four went upstairs to practice, I finally sat down at the piano and did some serious practicing myself.
The Coldsprings Boys broke up in time for us to do the evening chores. When we finished, we changed and the three of us went to the Dennisons' to check on Jonathan. Cody was just getting in the car with his mom when we arrived. He waved as the car started down the drive.
Jonathan said he wasn't hurting a whole lot and was ready for school, but from time to time there was a grimace on his face. He and Cody had been playing computer games most of the afternoon and I noticed Jonathan had put a cushion on the floor.
About the time Hank and Jonathan would have arrived at our place Wednesday morning, the phone rang. When I answered it, Hank said, "Young brother here insists on going to school today, but didn't think he's up to a bicycle trip. Pick us up, will you?"
When we reached the Dennisons', Hank and Jonathan came out to meet us, Jonathan carrying a pillow.
Jason hopped out, opened the door and got in the back seat with Hank and Wesley. Five in the Jeep was a bit more than it was made for, but we made do and would until the end of the school year.
After the usual greetings, Jason asked, "You sure this is a good idea, Jonathan?"
"No," Jonathan said, "but Dad said he or Mom would come get me if I needed to come home. "I sure don't want to lay around watching soap operas. That would be worse than school."
When we arrived, Cody came bounding across the school parking lot, grabbed Jonathan and hugged him. I thought for a minute he was going to kiss him and was relieved when he didn't.
Wesley went to the counselor's to tell Ms. Kennedy she could fax Myers Park for his transcript since his parents were no longer a threat. Jason and I went with him, leaving Hank with Beth and Cody with Jonathan.
The first day back from any break is always a bit chaotic and today was no exception. Ms. Kennedy had put Wesley and Tom in the same homeroom so as soon as we got there, Jason and I walked toward ours, but we were in no rush to go inside. Since Beth wasn't in our homeroom, Hank walked her to her room and then caught up with us just as the bell rang.
When we got inside, there were all sorts of questions tossed at us, but Ms. Cleon said, "Students, calm. Jason, Hank, Douglas we all saw you on TV and in the paper. Why don't you tell us about your adventure?" She made it sound as if we had been on a Boy Scout treasure hunt or something equally childish.
"We just rescued our brother who had been kidnapped by a bunch of religious sickies," Hank said.
Ellen Elizabeth, a very pious, sugary religious member of some fundamentalist sect, said, "I don't think any religious person should be called a sickie. Those people were just worshiping God."
"Yeah, well, were they worshiping God when they kidnapped Jonathan, took him to a cave and tied him to a bed? Were they worshiping God when grown men, members of their cult, had sex with young girls and boys and videotaped it for a their kiddy porn business? Were they worshiping God when they gave their kids poisoned wine? How about when they all committed suicide? Was that worshiping God? Ellen Elizabeth, one of these days you're going to wake up and see that what you call religion and worshiping God is just a sick repression of the joys of being human!"
Hank was really on a roll and I was afraid he had just announced that Jonathan had been used sexually while he was being held, but maybe not. I guess everyone was so shocked that Hank had finally said what we had all thought about Ellen Elizabeth--that she was a repressed, frustrated young women.
It was only a couple days later before we learned we were at least partially wrong. At least there was pretty well-founded rumor then that Ellen Elizabeth was all "goody goody in the sunlight, but liked to have moonshine on the bottom of her feet"--if you get my drift.
By the time Ms. Cleon had things smoothed over, homeroom was over and the old routine began.
At lunch, Sandra and Janie were waiting for us. With the addition of Wesley, Tom and Cody, our lunch crowd had grown to eight, so we slid two tables together. We still had to squeeze because Ken and Marie came over and Ken asked, "Mind if we join you? I need to keep an eye on hyperactive Cody." As if to confirm his cousin's diagnosis, Cody had first sat down on one side of Jonathan, but was in the process of moving himself and his lunch tray to the other side.
"Sure, squeeze in," Jason said.
Janie and Sandra had been quizzing us when Ken and Marie showed up. We were still friends with the two girls, but we hadn't done anything other than school since they had taken us to Asheville for dinner and a movie. Anyway, they were in the midst of quizzing us about the rescue when I noticed Jonathan had grown very quiet. I finally punched Jason in the side and nodded toward Jonathan. Between the two of us we got the topic of conversation changed and Jonathan seem more at ease.
When the bell rang ending lunch, Hank asked Jonathan how he was doing. He gave Hank a weak smile and said, "I think I can make it the rest of the day."
"I'll check before I leave school," Hank assured him.
As we were leaving the cafeteria, a kid from Rocky Creek sidled up to Jonathan and said, "Sore ass from being corn-holed? What you get from fucking around with boys."
After making the comment, he shot down the hall. Hank started after him, but Jonathan caught Hank by the collar and said, "He's not worth the trouble, Hank."
Cody put him arm around Jonathan's shoulder, took the cushion from him and said, "Not to worry, Jon, if he was ass fucked he'd be in major trouble for he's asshole all over!"
I guess the image that conjured up was funny because Jonathan giggled, got a tiny bit of a spring in his step and the two walked down the hall.
"Just how the hell do you think this taunting of Jonathan got started?" Hank asked, obviously very hot under the collar.
"Look," Wesley said, "Everyone knows about the kiddy porn business and that those animals were fucking young boys and videoing it. Not hard to put two and two together."
"Also remember, Hank, there were dozens of law enforcement people involved. The fact that Jonathan had been raped spread like wildfire. By the time he reached the hospital a hundred or more people knew about it. And you know the attitude of a lot of people in Haynes county--if you are raped, it's because you asked for it," Jason said.
"Well, if there is talk about Jonathan being gay, his walking down the hall with Cody's arm around him is going to add fuel to the fire," Wesley observed as he and Tom peeled off from the group to head to their next class.
It took a bit of doing, but Ms. Kennedy managed to get Jonathan's schedule shifted around so he had DE--Distributive Education--last period. Yeah, I know it's a dumb name, but that's what having a job for which you get school credit is called. Jonathan got a grade based on the report each month Jake filed on how well he was doing in his "work environment." It was very rare that freshmen were allowed to do DE, but Ms. Kennedy swung it for Jonathan.
Hank asked Jonathan how he was doing when he came to the Jeep after his last class. Jonathan said he was doing "just ok," but wanted to go on to the Y to work out and then to work. We all expected him to sit out the workout for a few days, but he actually did some exercises, though nothing strenuous.
After we had worked out, we showered and I took the crew to the Sharpe Building to begin cleaning. Jason said they would probably have finished before I got back to Clarksville and, if so, they'd be practicing at the music store. I dropped Tom off at the music store--he also managed to get a schedule which left him free last period--and headed for Asheville.
When I arrived, I was surprised to see Maestro Alexas in Professor Jamison's studio. As soon as I spoke to the two, Maestro Alexas said, "Douglas, I wanted to come by and shake your hand. I was cheering for you and your friends when I saw the TV report of what you had done and was also as anxious as all get out worrying about your hands. They are all right, aren't they?"
"They're fine," I answered. "But thanks for the concern. I must admit my hands were not my major concern. My biggest concern was for my whole body!" I laughed.
"I can see why, especially after the special Sunday when the TV station showed the route you actually followed. My heart went to my throat when I saw the camera go over the falls."
"There was something Sunday--something more?"
"You didn't see it?" Professor Jamison asked.
"Afraid not. After church I had dinner with the Dennisons--Jonathan's parents--and then my grandparents came home from a week in Key West. They brought a couple guys with them. The fellows had been on their honeymoon and..." I suddenly sputtered to a stop, realizing what I had said.
"Douglas, if you don't want to say more, don't. If you do, it's among us three," Professor Jamison said, and Maestro Alexas nodded agreement.
I really didn't know what to do. If I left things as they were, the two could imagine all sorts of things and if I said more I felt like it was not fair to Jason. I finally decided I'd go ahead and clear the air and then talk with Jason.
"Well, it's not exactly fair to my partner," I said, "so I really am going to trust you two." I told them about Jason and how we got together, about Wesley and how he had brought the question of being gay into the open and, finally, about Brad and Jeremy and how they had won Granddad over.
"So you see," I finally said, "Sunday was pretty much focused on things other than Jonathan's rescue.
Both musicians nodded, then assured me they would not break my trust. Actually, the first thing said after I finished was Professor Jamison's, "Your partner--he does like music?" I assured him he did and we finally got down to music.
Both had high praise for the progress I had made even with all the other excitement.
When I got back to Clarksville, I went by the music store to see if the fellows had finished with their cleaning. When I walked in, I didn't hear any music and when I got to the back of the store, all of them were sitting on the floor in a circle, their arms around each other's shoulders. Jonathan sat with Hank on one side and Jason on the other. He was crying softly as I joined the circle.
Everyone was quiet as each looked up and acknowledged my presence. Finally Hank squeezed Jonathan's shoulder and said, "Douglas, Jonathan has had a rough day at school. Seems some of his more ignorant schoolmates have been saying some very nasty and hurtful things to him. Some have just called him names like faggot and queer while others, even more hurtful, have suggested he asked for and enjoyed being raped."
Jonathan struggled and was finally able to say through his tears, "I am gay, a queer, a faggot, but I didn't asked to be raped. I wasn't even conscious when it happened, but what can I say?"
I had worried a great deal about being gay as I tried to decide--wrong word--sort out who and what I was, but I'm sure I never had the self-loathing many gays are said to suffer, but I suspected Jonathan was well on his way to that unhappy situation.
I was silent for several minutes, thinking, and finally I said, "Jonathan, names and words do hurt. They can cut deep as any knife. They may not draw blood, but they can hurt your soul. So first off, you are not a faggot, queer, pansy, queen or any other name which might suggest you are less than you are. Second, no-one asks to be raped and only a fool suggests otherwise. But my saying that doesn't take away the hurt and pain."
"Jonathan, there are always small, mean-spirited people around. They are so small they can only appear otherwise by trying to pull others down to a level beneath them. You have good friends who love you very much and who love and accept you as the amazing young man you are."
"Gay? Yes, no doubt in my mind, but first and foremost a brave, strong, loving young man. Somehow or other we all have to find ways to make sure you never forget that and never accept any name which suggests you are less."
I stopped talking--Jason said later it was preaching--and we were all silent for several minutes and then I said, "Sorry for the long speech, Jonathan, but I can't think of how I could have said what I needed to say in fewer words."
We were all silent again and finally Jonathan said, "Thanks, and keep telling me that." We all did, but it just wasn't enough.
Two weeks after we went back to school, the announcement was made for all going out for baseball to report to the gym last period. Ms. Kennedy had a major job scheduling classes for students who needed seven classes since she had to put them in PE last period. Of course, for all our gang it meant we'd skip workouts at the Y. Jonathan and Cody had become absolutely inseparable and so Cody showed up along with all the others interested in playing baseball.
The team wouldn't be selected right off, but conditioning started. The time we had spent in the exercise room at the Y really paid off. Former team members who had not maintained some exercise program were really groaning and moaning after a couple days of conditioning.
The taunting and name calling Jonathan suffered right after the Christmas break had abated somewhat, but his and Cody's relationship kept at least part of it alive. Cody had generally taken an "up your nose, asshole," attitude toward it and we all wished Jonathan would, but Jonathan had suffered in a way Cody had not and, to be honest, Jonathan felt guilty at times. Of course, it didn't make sense, but emotions that kick us around seldom make sense, right?
My work with Professor Jamison was going extremely well. It took a while, but Professor Jamison and I had agreed on two "pieces" for the Sampler. One was actually two, but Maestro Alexas listed them as "Two Scherzi by Litolff", Scherzo from Concerto Symphonique No. 2 in B minor, Op. 22 and Scherzo: Presto from Concerto Symphonique No. 4 in d minor, op. 102 which I would play in the first half of the program. I was last in the second half of the program and would play Rachmaninoff's Rhapsody on a Theme of
Paganini, Op. 43. I was also to be working on the Greig for the concert in which I would be the soloist. There would, of course, be other music added for that. In case it was indicated, Professor Jamison suggested I pick something for an encore. "You can do that solo, if you like," he added. I think he was surprised when I picked an arrangement of "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star,' an arrangement which played the simple tune "in the style of" Bach, Beethoven and a couple other composers.
When the time finally came came for practice with the orchestra, we were both pretty pleased with my progress. Then I actually had my first practice with them. WOW! What a feeling!
I was, of course, nervous the night of the concert, but excited as well.
The next day, the Asheville Citizen-Times had a review of the concert. It gave high praise to Maestro Alexas for the quality of the performance and also for the whole idea of the concert.
There was a whole paragraph about me. "Douglas McElrath, a senior at Coldsprings High School, showed remarkable talent and showmanship. When he walked on stage, Mr. McElrath was resplendent in a magnificently tailored formal. Poised, he played with the vigor and vitality of youth, tempered with the restraint of someone much older. His talent was wonderfully controlled by his technique and his music enlivened by his obvious love of the music and his instrument. Asheville can look forward to hearing more from this young, talented and gifted pianist."
The following Sunday the paper did a half-page article about me, carrying on about my part in the rescue of Jonathan, my baseball playing and my music. Centered in the article were three photos: in my formal wear, baseball uniform and a picture from the news conference.
A few days later, as we were walking off the field following thirty minutes of running around the track, Cody and Jonathan were walking ahead of the rest of us, holding hands. When I saw them I just shook my head and said to Tom, who was walking beside me, "You know, you would think those two would learn not to invite taunting and name calling."
"Or maybe things should change so two guys holding hands is ok. It was at East River." Tom then told me about two football players at his former school who walked holding hands and, because of them, it became acceptable, if not widespread.
"But that was Atlanta. This is Coldsprings, so far back in the boonies Saturday night doesn't get here until Wednesday," I responded.
Tom laughed and said, "Friends of mine used an expression similar to that. I sure miss them. You'll have to meet them one of these days when they get up. One's a policeman and the other works for the railroad. They have been lovers since high school and had a tough time, but are two very happy men now."
As he finished speaking, we caught up with Jonathan and Cody. "Tom, Douglas, can y'all hold up?" Cody asked.
"Sure," Tom said.
The three others of the Deep Cove gang walked on ahead. As soon as they were out of earshot, Cody said, "Jonathan and I have been talking and we have a problem we'd like to talk over."
Tom had told Jonathan he was gay shortly after we had gone back to school. Jonathan asked if he could tell Cody, and Tom had told him he could if he trusted Cody. After that, the three had seemed to develop a special bond. It was wonderful to observe, but impossible to explain.
"Ok, when and where?" Tom asked.
"You don't have a lesson today, do you?" Jonathan asked me.
"No, I just planned to go home and practice," I replied.
"Jason said if it was important, he'd take care of my part of the cleaning today and I asked Dad this morning and he said he'd give Tom time off with pay since I wanted to talk with him," Jonathan said.
"Sounds very responsible," I said. "I guess Jason can take the Jeep if Tom will allow us in his machine."
"Delighted," Tom said.
We all four hit the showers and afterward I told Jason what was up and he took my keys and he and the rest of his crew headed for Clarksville.
Cody was all carried away by Tom's car, and I suspected we'd never get anywhere trying to engage in a reasonable conversation because of his hyperactivity, but as soon as we were upstairs in our den, Cody became very quiet and very serious. "Tom and Douglas, Jonathan and I have a very serious problem that we just have to solve. If we can't, we'll not be friends any more."
'Are you serious?" Tom asked.
"We're serious," Jonathan replied.