After an hour drive to the Asheville airport, I checked in then called home to confirm when I would be landing. Clarisa answered, of course. Father was in Raleigh -- no surprise there -- and Mother wasn't feeling up to driving -- still no surprise. "Don't worry, someone will meet you." If Clarisa said not to worry, I had nothing to worry about, but I did wonder who would be meeting me. After the plane landed, I'd have another three-quarters of an hour drive and I'd be home.
My flight went well and I went to baggage claim and was waiting for my duffel when someone grabbed me from behind, lifted me off the floor and spun me around. I was staring into those beautiful black eyes I saw so often in my dreams. "Welcome almost home, Marc, I have missed you." Justin was looking deep into my eyes and I could feel sparks flying -- at least I imagined I could.
"Justin, I missed you, very much," I laughed and added, "That's not all, it was 'Having an experience, wish you were here.'"
"Not 'Having a wonderful time. Wish you were here?'"
"Guess it sounds trite, but 'wonderful' just can't cut it," I replied. "So much has happened in the past four weeks, it will take a while for me to absorb it. That's for sure. I think, maybe, I did some growing up." We had both been watching the baggage conveyor, but I turned just as Justin did and once again my heart leaped as I looked into those eyes. I suddenly realized they were even more beautiful than in my dreams. "But I really, really missed you." My duffel came around and I grabbed it and said, "Let's go home."
When we reached my car, Justin grabbed my duffel, tossed it in the back and held open the passenger door for me, motioning me into the car. When I was seated, he ran around to the driver's side, hopped in and we were off.
As we were leaving the city, a mall appeared just off the expressway, and Justin took the exit and pulled into the parking lot of an Applebee's. We had a fairly new Applebee's at home and Clarisa allowed it was permissible as fast food. A bit more expensive than Mickey D's to be sure, but real food and not fried salt.
After the waiter had taken our order -- a real hot fellow... "Hmm," I thought to myself, "guess I am really out to myself." I don't think I would ever have allowed myself the thought before -- I asked, "What's up, Justin, my lad?"
"Until a few minutes ago, missing you... and John. Seeing too much of Adam," Justin smiled, "We've been working hard. Mr. Sanford has kept us busy. Adam and Bobbie were away for a week -- she in cheerleading camp and he at football camp as he's thinking about going out for the team this year -- and I was working to take up the slack. Mr. Sanford opened a new store on the edge of town, out by Wal-Mart. The furniture is less expensive, but decent quality. He's serving an entirely new customer base, but they know his reputation for a fair deal."
"Wow, sounds like lugging furniture's been all you were doing. Or maybe not. Sounds like you have been learning the business."
"Mr. Sanford likes to talk about the business and Adam's not interested. And, well, I am. Not sure I want to spend my life in retail -- or even in business -- but I'm learning a lot."
"Adam and Bobbie spend every free minute they have together, so I've seen little of them even when they were here. Think if I had a lover, I'd still want some time by myself. Yeah, and time together without immediately falling into the passion pit. Sometimes I think they are clinging together to avoid thinking about... I'm not sure what."
"Anyway, I have seen Susan a few times. She's lifeguarding at the Y and teaching little kids swimming. She's heard from John. He'll be back in a couple days. Susan says she thinks he has really changed."
"Mama has been sickly this summer and missed a lot of work, so the extra work for me has been welcome. In fact, she has been going downhill since last May, I just hadn't noticed it, so I've also been doing more at home. I still got to spend some time with Clarisa. That was great. You know she worships the ground you walk on, baby." He sounded exactly like Clarisa when he said "baby." I laughed.
"Glad you spent time with Clarisa. I have a Mother, but Clarisa is my mama. I would have been one serious little shit -- big shit, dickhead -- if it hadn't been for Clarisa, and I love her to death. So what's been wrong with your mama?"
"Not been wrong, is wrong," Justin replied. "Doc doesn't seem to know. Hard work, long hours for years are a part of it, I'm sure. But there's more and either she doesn't know or won't tell me." Justin sank into silence and I respected it. He finally was back with me and asked, "So, tell me all about camp."
"It's a long story, Justin, a very long story."
"Tell me anyway," he said. "I want to hear about every single minute."
I suddenly could see Andrew's white cock in my hand, shining in the moonlight and then there was my conversation with Martha. I was more than a little sure Justin didn't really want to hear about every single minute of camp and I knew at least a couple things he was likely never to hear about. Of course, that didn't keep me from talking a blue streak. I had about wound down when I noticed Justin has finished eating and I had barely started. "I better shut up and eat," I laughed. "After four weeks eating camp food cooked by campers, I am ready for this."
Justin looked at me, grinning from ear to ear, and said, "Food might have not have been gourmet, but it looks good on you. Think you've picked up some weight. Seemed that way in the airport when I lifted your ass -- you. You've definitely added muscle and toned up. Hard work beats the gym any day. You look great, Friend Boy."
"Same can be said about you, but you do look tired."
"Yeah, you're home and maybe I can take some time away from work for relaxing."
When we finished eating, I suggested we walk around the mall. "I have been sitting since early morning," I said. "Besides, how often do we get to a mall?"
We walked around, looking in shops, buying nothing, and then Justin grabbed my hand and started dragging me toward a costume store. The window display was for a kind of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table display, I guess. Anyway, he dragged me inside and we started looking around. Something -- a real hot guy -- caught my attention and I kinda inched my way to his side of the store. When he caught my eye, he swished his hips, licked his lips and crooked a finger at me. I guess I should have been flattered, but I wasn't.
Suddenly, I felt something on my head, turned and saw Justin standing in front of me, wearing a very ornate, much "bejeweled" costume crown. Behind him was a mirror and I saw he had put a similar crown on me. He grinned, took my hand and led me out into the mall. "You are a real sex magnet," he laughed. "While that flaming queen was hitting on you, a real hot chick was waiting to take his place, depending on which way you swung. I saved your virgin ass." Justin was laughing. "Two dudes with crowns, holding hands is a great way to stump both straight and gay."
"My virgin ass?" I asked.
"Sure it's a virgin ass," Justin laughed and patted me on the butt.
"Anytime you want to change that," I thought to myself, "it's yours."
We walked around the mall, wearing our crowns and holding hands, for half an hour. It probably goes without saying, but we caused all sorts of responses, not all bad. A really young kid, holding on to his mother's hand, pointed at us, a big smile on his face, and shouted, "Mommy, Mommy, it's the Burger Kings." An elderly woman and man, getting their exercise shuffling through the mall, her arm through his, looked at us, smiled and gave us the OK sign. A couple of young women, one very, very feminine, the other butch, held up their left hands with gold rings on their ring fingers, and smiled. As a crowd of teenagers were walking past, one called out, "Kewl, Dude" and exchanged a high five with the guy walking beside him.
Well, there were other reactions to be sure. There were, of course, stares. More than one guy made a point of not looking at us as he passed, then we'd see him reflected in shop windows, giving us a good looking over.
We were just enjoying life when the first insulting remark was made. A well-dressed matronly woman with perfect makeup destroyed the effect when her face filled with the hatred as she got in our faces and hissed, "God hates you. Damned queer faggots, you will burn in hell!"
I was so stunned by her hatred I just hung my head. I could hardly believe it when Justin looked at her, smiled and said, "Ma'am, I believe queer faggot is redundant." She wasn't the only one who called us names and it was getting to me, but Justin just laughed it off.
I finally said, "Justin, we need to get on home."
Homecoming was a mixed bag. Mother was in the library, lying on a sofa, pretty far gone. She was sober enough to sit up when I walked in and ask, "Marcus, haven't you been away? Have a good trip, dear? Tell me about it when you are rested." With those words, she lay down again.
My welcome from Clarisa was exactly what every young man wants from his mama, but might not admit. When I walked into the kitchen, she grabbed me and hugged me to herself.
"Baby, I was afraid they'd let you starve in the woods or one of the bears would have you for dinner, but you look beautiful." Clarisa hugged and hugged me.
"Clarisa, it is good to be home and see your smiling face," I said as she hugged me.
"Justin, you come here so I can hug you too. You've been too scarce lately," Clarisa said as she held out her arms toward Justin. After she had given him a big hug, she said, "Two kings. You're my two young kings."
I guess Justin and I had gotten used to the crowns and forgotten we were still wearing them.
"I know you're hungry, Kings," Clarisa said, but then asked, "You hungry?"
"Matter of fact, Justin and I stopped for lunch on the way home," I answered.
"None of that fast food junk, I hope."
"Better than that McDonald's garbage." She stepped back and looked at me and said, "Looks like they treated our baby all right, don't you think, Justin?"
"He looks good to me," Justin grinned.
Clarisa suddenly got a very serious look on her face and asked Justin, "How's yo'mama?" Clarisa seldom used an expression pretty much limited to African-Americans and I had never heard her refer to Mother as "yo'mama," but then she would never have thought of her the way "yo'mama" referred to a mother. I suspect Clarisa, as I, knew that "yo'mama" for me was her. I mean... you know what I mean.
"Not doing well at all, Clarisa. She finally had to give up and admit she is no longer able to work. She's filed for social security and, in the meantime, I'm getting enough hours and Mr. Sanford gave me a raise, so we are managing -- at least for the time being. If the social security doesn't come through before school starts, then that's another problem but, hey, we're celebrating. Baby is home!" Again, I don't think I would have known it wasn't Clarisa who had said 'baby.' Clarisa was whooping with laughter.
A little later, after Clarisa had insisted and we had an ice cream fix, I drove Justin home. Maybe he had watched his mother day by day and was used to her appearance. I wasn't. I gulped a couple times before I could even speak to her. "Pretty bad, huh?" she smiled a weak smile. I only nodded.
Ms. Smith had always been a high energy person with a kind of "in your face" attitude. The woman sitting in a recliner was very thin, pale, her hair -- which she had worn in a "beehive" since she was a teenager I think -- was all in disarray. I started to dismiss her remark, but finally said, "Not good. Have you seen anyone besides Old Doc Jakes?" Doc Jakes had taken care of the town for years and poor people still depended on him because he took their situation into account. The newer doctors in town, for the most part, didn't know that much about their patients' lives. And patients without health insurance -- a situation I was sure included Ms. Smith -- held too little interest for them.
"Doc Jakes lined me up with a clinic in Greenville. My appointment is for day after tomorrow."
"Justin, you're taking Mother's Buick land yacht."
"Justin's not going," Ms. Smith said, quickly, too quickly. "I'll find someone to take me. Justin is NOT going."
"Then I'll take you," I said, as firmly as I could. "When is the appointment?"
"Thank you very much, Marc. I appreciate your offer and accept. My appointment is at 10:30."
"Fine, We can leave at 9:00. That will give us time to go to Greenville, find the clinic and we'll have lunch after, since I guess you're not to eat before your appointment."
"Thanks, again, Marc," she said.
We chatted a few minutes longer, but I could see it was tiring Ms. Smith, so I said good-bye and walked outside. Justin followed me.
"Marc, thanks for offering to take Mama to Greenville. I was really kinda up a creek. Mr.Sanford said I could use his car, but she is adamant about my not taking her. 'Course she gave me no reason. I was planning on asking one of the Clan to do it but, well, it was a lot to ask and I kept putting it off."
"Justin, your mama has her reasons and that's enough. I'm happy that I can help out. After all, I'm at loose ends right now."
Justin was standing in front of me and he reached out and put his hands on my shoulders, looked deeply into my eyes, then drew me close in a bear hug. As I wrapped my arms around him, I hoped he wouldn't feel my reaction to his embrace but, strangely enough, I thought I might have felt his. But then, hardons for a red-blooded eighteen-year-old don't need a reason or excuse to happen. They just do, all the time.
Anyway, the hug was over entirely too soon. Well, if it had been longer, I think I would have kissed Justin, so maybe it wasn't too soon! When we broke the embrace, Justin looked in my eyes and said, "You really are a king, Marc."
"So are you, Justin," I replied softly.
When I got home, I told Mother I was taking Ms. Smith to Greenville to a clinic in two days and would be taking her car. She asked if she was ill or something -- go figure. Anyway, it was early and she had had only enough 'medicine' to hold off the DTs, so when she started trying to find her keys, she was just walking around in circles. Clarisa finally said she thought she knew where they were. I learned later, Clarisa had taken the keys and would not allow Mother to drive. After she told Clarisa to give me the keys when she found them, she went up to her room where, sooner rather than later, she'd pass out.
After the weeks with a camp shower, I was ready for a long, leisurely shower with really hot water. I stepped into the shower and washed my hair and, as I did, remembered the crown and wondered what that was all about. As I thought about Justin, my cock responded as always, and I took care of it. The first shot of jizz hit the opposite shower wall and I became so weak-kneed I slumped in the shower as I finished the love session with Marc Junior.
After my shower, I dried my hair and crawled into bed. After the long day, I expected to drop off to sleep at once but, instead, found myself replaying my stroll through the mall with Justin, with both of us wearing a crown. I had read about and heard about hatred of gays, but I had never seen it up close, first hand. Of course, there had been episodes at school that were not exactly pleasant and guys were forever calling each other faggot like some African-Americans call each other nigger, I would not have imagined how ugly hatred could really be. I just couldn't get the picture of that woman who doomed us to hell out of my mind. As I lay there, there was something more. I was frightened. People would actually hate me if they knew.... Justin would hate me. Or would he? What about his "welcome home, Marc?" All of it. I mean what was the bit with the crowns anyway? It took a while, but sleep finally came, and with it nightmares.
Special Thanks to SH and JM for editing. You guys sure make me look better! Sage of the Elizabethton Tarheels is maintained on the Sequoyah's Place website by Awesome Dude and on the SequoyahsPlace Yahoo group by JT.
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