Eight o'clock did come quickly and none of us were very bright-eyed or bushy-tailed when we finally gathered for breakfast. We were not a scruffy bunch, but were hardly decked out in Easter finery either. Well, Kenneth, Sandy and Michael were. Kenneth and Sandy were in suits and ties -- Michael had to tie Sandy's -- and Michael was in a very smart blazer and slacks outfit. The rest of us were serving so what we wore wasn't of any great concern. John, Justin and I had on chinos and golf shirts and Bobbie and Susan were also wearing golf shirts with chino skirts.
I had wondered about church and the two new lovers. John had asked Sandy where he wanted to celebrate Easter and he said he didn't know since he never had. "Since I guess I'm about half a Thurmond, I guess I'll do what the Thurmonds do." When he learned John went one place and his parents another, he said he'd go with John.
Seems Michael's parents belonged to one of the fundamentalist, rigid country churches with a preacher who spent a lot of time warning against the dangers of the secular humanists and especially the 'ho-mo-sex-u-als and other perverts.' "When I was sure I was at least one of those, I rebelled against church and my parents let me. Tell the truth," he grinned, "they let me do pretty much what I want to. Been kinda spoiled. 'Course, I'm not sure but what that may not change once they find out I'm after Sandy's body," he laughed.
When we arrived at St. Paul's, Kenneth took Michael and Sandy in hand since the rest of us were on duty. Of course, once they were inside, they also had Mom, Mrs. Crandall, Clarisa and Miss Amy Louise to make sure they didn't get hopelessly lost during the service.
The Easter sermon wasn't as exciting as Palm Sunday or, I guess, what you'd expect an Easter sermon to be, but maybe even more powerful. Maybe it was what an Easter sermon should be. Fr. DeBruhl preached about what he called "resurrection potential," the possibility of death and destruction being overcome by love and care, of resurrection leading to life and growth. "Some of this community have shown us the power of death -- of hatred and indifference -- and some are pointing out the dying who are crying for resurrection. We are being called to proclaim to them resurrection, not in words but in actions.
Of course, the sermon was ungrounded as usual since exactly what those actions might be were unnamed! Well, they were until folks started leaving. Clarisa and Miss Amy Louise, together with a number of other members were passing out leaflets listing places where action was needed and were pretty specific as to what that action needed to be. Even at a glance I could see fur flying in the future.
Mom planned for Easter dinner at the lodge. Parents and siblings of the Clan would join us. When the list was being made, Mom asked about inviting Adam and his family but, before I could say anything, Mrs. Crandall said, "Ann Carter, you don't want to do that."
I was sure Clarisa would like to invite her partner in crime, but also knew she'd never ask. As much as she was a member of the family, she still held on to some of the old servant mentality and nonsense. When I said, "Mom, you need to include Miss Amy Louise on the list for Easter dinner," she informed me Clarisa had taken care of that, thank you. So what did I know?
After the Eucharist, we all headed to Sunset Lodge where we changed into shorts and shirts. As soon as they had changed, Sandy, Michael, John and Susan went to the marina to bring John's boat around to the lodge. I guess Bobbie managed to get Kenneth "lost" since they didn't arrive until long after the rest of us. In fact, Mom, Mrs. Crandall, Miss Amy Louise and Clarisa showed up before they did.
Clarisa and Miss Amy Louise arrived, still dressed for Easter including church hats. Clarisa's was a magnificent creation in white trimmed in gold braid. It surrounded her head, then a wing soared skyward. Around the crown and the skyward-soaring wing were gardenias. A wonderful creation indeed but, after all, it was just a slightly more festive version of the church hats she wore every Sunday. What was an exception was the only slightly less flamboyant hat perched on Miss Amy Louise's white, not blue, hair. It was a dark blue creation, trimmed in silver and decorated with gardenias.
When we arrived, the caterers were busy setting up tables on the deck and preparing the food. Justin and I appointed ourselves barkeeps and set out the buckets of ice, champagne, juices and soft drinks. The caterers had brought plastic party glasses, but I knew Mom would have none of that and, sure enough, when they walked in, she and Clarisa were carrying boxes of glasses.
Bobbie and Kenneth arrived as I heard the boat pulling up to the dock. As the marine crew started up the boardwalk, I saw Mr. Thurmond and Lacy were with them, the three couples holding hands. I guess the young forget that love knows no age limit.
When the six reached the deck, Sandy and Michael were hanging back while the others greeted those of us waiting for them. Mom finally noticed Michael and asked, "Sandy, who are you hiding back there?"
"Mrs. Porcher, everyone, this is Michael Duncan," a huge grin on his not-quite-healed face.
When he finished, Mom said, "Sandy, I get the idea that Michael is more than a casual friend."
"Yes, Ma'am," Sandy replied, blushing bright red. "He's my boyfriend."
"Good to know. Michael, treat him well or you'll have to deal with me and Lacy," Mom said and smiled.
The Wilsons arrived -- as Justin said, the younger Wilsons like a bunch of puppies poured from a basket -- and both Michael and Sandy had to be introduced to the troop.
"Now that we are all here," I said, "Welcome on behalf of the Porchers and the Clan. We are ready to take drink orders, after which Mr. Wilson will have the first toast."
"Before Justin and Marc take your drink orders," Mom said, "no-one knows any better than I the dangers of alcohol. At the same time, I also see it as a great gift which is to be used and appreciated and never abused. Unfortunately, I cannot use it without abusing it, but Justin and Marc have my permission to have champagne to celebrate this very holy day. The rest of you older children may with the permission of your parents. Michael, I guess you will just have to make a decision based on what you think your parents would allow."
I opened the champagne and poured flutes for the Clan, including Sandy, and when I looked at Michael and winked, he grinned and said to me, "What's a little alcohol after I tell them I have a boyfriend?" While I passed around the champagne -- and a nice juice drink to Mom and Mrs. Crandall -- Justin had been busy fixing Shirley Temples. When he asked Woody if he wanted a Shirley Temple he responded, "That's for girls! I want a Virgin Mary!"
I don't remember Mr. Wilson's toast since I was all caught up in the moment. We had a great dinner with good food, good conversation and good friends. When we had finished, the "visitors" excused themselves and the Clan -- plus Michael and Kenneth -- sprawled out on the deck, enjoying the setting and the beautiful Easter day. I was glad everyone had been here for dinner, but I was ready for a little peace and quiet afterward. When I commented as such, Susan said, "You don't know how to enjoy peace and quiet until you have had Woody and the girls around for a time." She was right, they were a lively bunch.
After a half hour or so, John said, "Well, enough of this peace and quiet. Time for adventure! Who's for the water?"
"You know Bobbie and I are," Susan laughed, "so I guess that means you and Kenneth are. Michael, Sandy, up for water skiing or kite sailing?"
"Never tried either," Michael said.
"Me neither," Sandy said, "but if Michael's game to try, so am I."
"How about you and Justin?" John asked.
"Think you can take us to the marina?" I asked.
"Sure. Susan, to the ship!"
Fifteen minutes later, we were at the marina where Justin and I launched my boat and headed for open water under power. There was probably enough wind to eventually get us out of the sheltered area of the marina, but we wanted to get out where there was real wind. Long before we reached open water, John had pulled alongside, waved and was soon out of sight.
Justin and I caught a good breeze and reached the open water twenty minutes after John and crew were already kite sailing. John's boat was powerful enough to put two people in the air or pull two skiers. While Michael and Sandy both said they had never tried water skiing or kite sailing -- surprising since they lived on the coast, but I guess economics play a big part in what you do for recreation -- both took to kite sailing like they had been doing it for years. Michael also quickly got the hang of water skiing, but Sandy couldn't seem to figure it out.
After they had all the skiing and kite sailing they wanted, John pulled his boat alongside ours. "Michael and Sandy, care to enjoy some real sailing and get out of the exhaust fumes," I asked, and both joined us. There was a brisk breeze and sailing was great, but the wind was shifting enough to make just drifting impossible. Both Justin and I were kept busy, but the sailing was exciting. Michael and Sandy were both captivated by the whole process and were soon involved.
"It's always cool on Easter" did not apply this year and the day had been sunny and exceptionally warm -- actually, summer hot. Of course the ocean had not warmed up to where those skiing could spend hours in the water, but it was warm enough for them to enjoy the summer sport, that is until late afternoon.
Late afternoon, the wind started picking up and clouds rolled in. I hailed John and said we were heading in. We were making good progress until the wind picked up sharply. It was soon so brisk Justin and I were busy trimming sails and keeping the craft on course.
Of course there were always life preservers aboard, ready for use, but as the wind grew even stronger and the seas became quite rough, I opened a chest and put on my life vest and tossed vests to the others. The wind was strong enough to make handling the boat a full-time job. Justin had been sailing as long as I had and we were both good but, as the wind kept growing stronger, I decided we needed to furl the sails and continue under power just as he said, "Marc, let's get the sails in."
It wasn't an easy job and Sandy and Michael were a big help. The boat's motor wasn't designed for speed and, in fact, its intended purpose was just to get the boat out of the marina and, eventually, get us back if we were becalmed. It was struggling, but the wind had both shifted and increased until we were facing a strong headwind, so strong we were making little progress when the rain started falling in sheets. Not only was the rain cold, but there was a sharp temperature drop. The rain came so quickly, we didn't have time to break out the bad weather gear, so we were soon wet and miserable. Sandy had turned green and Michael was not far behind. They were so miserable they didn't realize Justin and I were pretty worried. I was hoping the wind would drop with the arrival of the rain, or shift so as to help us reach the sheltered marina. Neither happened.
I was so busy and worried I didn't hear John's boat over the wind when he sped past us or when he saw our distress and turned around to come to our aid. He hailed us, using the loudspeaker on his boat, and finally Justin heard him. He pulled alongside and, after several attempts, Michael managed to catch a line Kenneth tossed. He and Justin attached it to our bow and John opened up his boat and we headed to the marina.
John had a powerful boat, but the wind was against us and he was towing my boat, so even with it under power, movement was slow. Finally, we got into the sheltered area of the marina and were able to pick up speed. When we had finally docked and got the boats tied down, we were all soaked, cold and exhausted.
We stowed my boat and half an hour later we were all back at the lodge, in dry clothes, sitting before a roaring fire. "Fire looks more like 'Merry Christmas' than 'Happy Easter,'" Susan said as she cuddled up in a chair with John.
"Well, at least we're here and warm and not in the briny deep," I said. "I was definitely worried about the outcome of our cruise back to the marina. Michael, Sandy, I hope today won't keep you off the water," I added.
"No way," Sandy said. "It was fun and I was too ignorant to be afraid."
Michael grinned and said, "Well, I hope I get to try it all again, but I wasn't quite as ignorant or brave as Sandy. I was scared shitless, I kid you not."
"Let this be a warning to all of us. Before we go out, we need to check the weather. We were foolish not to have John's weather scanner on," Susan said. She was right of course.
The wind and rain continued unabated, but we were safe inside. The fire warmed us and after our late night, early rising and adventure -- and cuddling with the one we loved -- we were soon all asleep. We had been asleep an hour when Justin kissed me awake. I awoke to his smiling, beautiful black eyes looking into mine. He kissed me again and said, "Rise and shine, lover."
Sandy and Michael were in the kitchen, getting food ready for an early supper -- between kisses. Sandy had started the weekend as a rank amateur but, under Michael's coaching, he was definitely ready for the semi-pro kissing team!
Food was finally ready and we all sat down for a grand supper. Michael and Sandy had fixed supper from leftovers from Easter dinner, but you would have never known they had not prepared it from scratch. I don't know which one was so good in the kitchen -- maybe both -- but there was definitely talent between the two.
After supper we were, again, lounging around the fire when Justin said, "Marc and I seem to have fallen into the role of parents for this weekend and have heard from everyone except you and Kenneth, Bobbie," then added with a leer and raised eyebrow, "Young man, what're your intentions? Or how's prom week been for you two?"
Bobbie looked at Kenneth, who blushed! "Been great," Bobbie said. "John's got a nice cousin."
"And?" Justin wasn't about to take that as an answer.
"Well, it's like this," Kenneth said. "We have been surrounded by hormones running wild. You and Marc fell into the parents role because you are an old couple. The new has worn off by now, I guess...."
"Wrong, McGee!" I quickly said. "Dead wrong. But anyway...."
"Anyway, y'all know that Bobbie broke up with a long-standing boyfriend not long ago and I don't know whether or not John told you, but I had recently done the same. Cindy, the girl I had been paired with since I was six and who I had expected -- along with everyone else -- to marry in a few years, was interested in someone else, at least interested enough to bed him.
"To go back to the beginning, a while back Dad called me into his office one afternoon. As soon as he did, I knew I was in trouble -- I had been there before! -- but had no idea what the problem was. 'Son,' he began, 'I hope you will be honest with me and I'll stand by you to help you solve your problem.' Before I could ask, 'What problem?' he continued, 'What have you and Cindy been doing? Sexually, I mean.' I asked what he meant and he responded 'Seems like a pretty straightforward question, son, but to put it bluntly, how long have you been fucking Cindy? Is that clear enough?'
"It was and I told him we had been having sex for several months, actually almost a year. 'I suppose unprotected sex,' he added. I told him she was on the pill, but I had used a condom each time because she thought sex was too messy without one. He asked how many had broken and I told him none. Dad said, 'You must have had a condom break or slip off because you are about to be a father.' 'No way,' I said, 'No way!'
"'Some way,' he said. 'Her parents are ready to hang you.'
"I told Dad, again, Cindy said she was on the pill and I had used a condom every time and none had broken or slipped off. Dad said he didn't know how it happened, but apparently I had impregnated Cindy. I had a couple of rough weeks before her brother let the cat out of the bag.
"Her parents had gone to the Bahamas for a couple weeks, but before their vacation was over, her father got an urgent call about a business crisis and they came back three days early. When they got home -- all this came from her brother later -- and went upstairs to change, she was in their bed with a jock from her school. Their daughter and the jock were fucking away and didn't hear them arrive.
"The two attended one of the most exclusive and expensive of the Raleigh private schools, but the jock was a 'scholarship kid.' That means some rich dude or dudes covered his school expenses and slipped him 'a little something extra' so he could drive a nice car and dress well so as not to embarrass the school. In spite of that he was both the wrong social class and wrong color.
"Of course Cindy's parents exploded. They ordered Cindy to go to her room as if she was a six-year-old. Her dad then rounded on Issac, shouting about what they were going to do to him for sexually abusing their daughter. Issac may have been the wrong color and the wrong social class and a scholarship student, but dumb he was not. He pointed out Cindy was eighteen. 'Cindy invited me to join her at her place and in her parents' bed. If anything, maybe I should consider a sexual abuse suit. She's fucked me half to death!' he said and laughed. He actually laughed, according to Cindy's brother who heard it all and told his friends. I don't know what all else went on, but Cindy's dad offered Issac a pile of money if he would leave Raleigh for a school in New England. Issac knew a good thing when he saw it and took the money and headed north. He was in the boarding school in New England two days after Cindy's parents showed up while she was fucking him.
"The family managed to clamp down on the episode so effectively no-one knew about it for some time. I was, truly, in the dark for a couple months.
"Seems Cindy found out she was pregnant and told her brother, asking him to help her out. The plan was for her to take spring break to go to New Mexico for an abortion. Apparently when she got to Atlanta, she switched planes, flew to New England and spent a couple or three days in the jock's dorm room, then flew to New Mexico, had an abortion and flew back to Raleigh. I guess there were complications and Cindy told her brother he had to take her to the emergency room. Her brother got frightened when she was admitted to the hospital and called their parents and told them what was going on. Cindy denied all and I guess her parents landed on him for such an idea -- although they, of course, knew part of the story. Nevertheless, they landed on him like a ton of bricks, hoping to keep him quiet. To get even, he told several of his friends and soon the tale was all over their school.
"He was enjoying his moment of fame and wanted more, so he called me and told me all, starting with the two being caught in his parents' bed. When I confronted her she let me know I didn't have what she wanted and the jock did. My male ego was wounded and I guess I thought I had been in love with her because I was supposed to be, but I was also relieved.
"Anyway, Bobbie has become very special in a very short time, but we are also aware of the dangers of rebound. Guess that covers it."
"So Daddy and Daddy, you approve?" Bobbie laughed.
"Always approve of love," Justin said as he walked over and kissed Bobbie on the cheek.
"Ok, enough of this mushy stuff," John said. "Where are the games?"
We all went exploring and Bobbie found a closet with games and cards and immediately got a Monopoly game under way with Susan and John, as usual, in a cut-throat mode, taking on Kenneth and her. They all soon discovered cut-throat Monopoly was a game well-known in Raleigh as well as Elizabethton.
Sandy, shuffling a deck of cards like a Las Vegas dealer, suggested a game of strip poker. Michael grinned and said "Later, Baby."
Sandy grinned, leaned over, stuck a tongue in Michael's ear and said, "Later you won't have to play poker to win! Anyone for poker?"
Justin and I joined the two in playing poker, starting with five card stud, but then switching to more arcane versions, some new to me. Seems Elizabethton's new lovers were accomplished poker players and Justin and I were soon busted and the two continued for a couple hands until Sandy said, "Still like the idea of strip poker!" grinned, stood, grabbed Michael's hand and headed for their bedroom.
Justin looked at me, grinned and said, "Not a bad idea, but I noticed he left the cards as he headed toward the bedroom."
"You needn't bother with them either," I smiled, extended a hand and pulled him to his feet. "I hear the bed calling."
Laughing, Justin said, "You must be learning from our farmer friend, Sandy, wanting to go to bed with the chickens."
"Maybe he's going to bed like the chickens," I laughed, "but I bet he isn't planning on tucking his head under his wing and going to sleep. I certainly am not!" I kissed him quickly and led him toward the bedroom.