We were rudely shaken from a sound sleep at four in the morning by an enormous clap of thunder. It was followed by a seemingly endless rumble interspersed with earth-shaking thunderbolts. The rolling crashes of thunder drew us to the bedroom windows. When I drew the heavy draperies back, continuous lightening flashes revealed a torrential downpour being lashed by the wind, pelting the windows. "Some storm," Justin said. I nodded agreement. "I guess this means we will have an indoor day tomorrow." When I didn't respond, Justin asked, "Still asleep, babe?" I nodded. Laughing, he led me back to the bed and crawled in beside me. Wrapped in his arms, I was quickly back in dreamland, storm or no storm.
When we awoke again at 8:00, the day was sunny with a blue, blue sky, the air washed clean by the storm. "So it's sailing after all," Justin said as he looked out the bedroom window. "Looks like a nice, brisk breeze as well. Perfect sailing weather."
We did our morning ablutions and got dressed for the day, then realized we had not set a time for those who were going sailing to gather. "Think we need to check on the other sailors?" I asked. Justin suggested we get breakfast and if they had not showed up, check on them then. When we reached the sunroom, Derek and Wolf were already filling their plates at the buffet. Seeing us, Wolf turned, snapped us a salute and said, "Good morning, Captain Marc, First Mate Justin!"
"At ease, sailor," Justin laughed, "as though you were ever not at ease." We got our food from the buffet, sat down and Wolf poured our coffee. "Storm wake you two?"
"Sure did," Derek said. "Wolf jumped so high at the first huge thunderclap, he fell out of bed."
"Wouldn't take too much, I suspect. Well, I am assuming you two were sleeping together. Wolf's room has twin beds, right?"
Derek blushed and Wolf said, "Well, yeah, kinda."
"Well, the room has twin beds, but sailors know about knots."
"Yeah, you push the two beds together, right, then you tie the legs together with a couple of good knots. Voila, queen-size bed."
"You turn the mattresses across the two beds, which helps hold them together and throw on three or four blankets and the crack between the two disappears," Derek added.
"Sounds like you have experience," Justin said with a raised eyebrow.
"Yeah, Justin's being daddy," I thought.
"My dad taught me that. When we had family reunions, I have a cousin who got put in the room with my brother and me every year. We had twin beds. Three can sleep a lot easier in a queen-size than two in a single."
"I get the picture," Justin said as Michael and Sandy walked in. Well, Sandy kinda bounced in, cowboy style. Michael more or less just dragged in. "Sandy, you're going to kill your guy. You've got to let him get some rest!"
"He just needs his coffee," Sandy grinned as he poured a cup and took it to Michael. Once he gave Michael his coffee, he served two plates, sat one in front of Michael and sat down himself. "Some storm, eh? It was enough to get Michael half-awake."
"Well, all the sailors are here. In spite of the storm, I guess 'red sky at night, sailors' delight' proved true. I'm sure the women will sleep late to make sure every shop in Key West is open and ready for them. Maybe the bikers as well, but looks like we are ready to move out anytime after morning routines," Justin said.
"Sandy, you're as fair as I am," I said, "so bring long pants and a long-sleeved shirt for later. Maybe you others want to as well, to be on the safe side even if you tan. There will be little or no shade once we leave shore. Definitely sunscreen for all. Put some on before you come down. It's more effective if you use it thirty minutes or so before exposure. Apply again when you start exposure and every fifteen to thirty minutes after. I guess for Sandy and me, the every fifteen minutes is best. Also, the two of us need the heavy-duty ugly stuff on our nose and ears. The rest of you can go longer between applications and maybe do without the heavy-duty stuff."
"Wolf and Derek, guess you two are lucky you don't have to mess with all that," Sandy said.
"Guess you don't know that those of us who are of the darker persuasion can sunburn," Wolf laughed.
"You can? Damn, would never have thought it," Sandy said. "Guess you'll get to rub your hands all over Derek's great bod after all," he giggled.
Mavis walked into the room and asked if we needed anything more for breakfast and we thanked her and told her no, but asked when the lunches would be ready. "They will be ready at 10:00 unless you really need them before. We're packing a cooler of drinks and water and one with food and a basket of condiments and so on. You have a bit over an hour before they will be ready." Justin told her there was no rush and 10:00 would be fine. "You can pick them up in the kitchen anytime after 10:00."
"Thanks you, Mavis," I said. "OK, let's meet here at 10:20."
"Why 10:20?" Justin asked as we walked upstairs to our suite.
"Because we need five minutes to get our things together and ten minutes to get each other slathered with sunscreen, and anything less than an hour is a quickie," I grinned. "And I didn't want a quickie." He gave me one of those Justin smiles, kissed me and said, "Aye, aye, Captain." We raced up the stairs and as soon as the door to the suite closed, clothes started flying in every direction. By the time we were in the bedroom, we were sans clothing and seconds later, on the bed doing the tongue duel. We used the hour well, making wild and passionate, sweet and tender, beautiful love. Yes! We did need a quick shower before covering each other with sunscreen. We pulled on shorts and tees and I grabbed the gym bag with pants, shirt and sunscreen and dashed downstairs.
When we reached the sunroom there seemed to be a general afterglow present suggesting others had also used the hour well. Sandy got a wicked grin on his face and said, "I'd said this would not be a virgin voyage," and cracked up laughing. We joined him. Even Michael laughed, but with a red face. Yeah, Michael had a puppy on a loose leash.
In the kitchen there were two coolers and a picnic basket waiting for us. We grabbed them and headed for the boathouse. It was a bit of a walk, but very pleasant as the day was outstanding.
I had seen the catamaran when Michael and I gone sailing Monday, but hadn't paid much attention to it. Cats are not my thing. Even though both Justin and I had some experience sailing them, none were nearly as large as the one before us. We got the food and drinks stowed and Justin indicated I should take the boat out and he would navigate. As he was walking back to the stern he said, "Michael, sailing a cat is different from sailing Marc's boat or the one you sailed Monday. Marc and I have little enough experience and this is one big boat, so I hope you'll not be disappointed if you don't get to sail today."
"Would like to try it if things looks good, but I'll not be disappointed if it doesn't happen. Think my attention might be elsewhere most of the time," he grinned.
The cat was much larger than anything I had sailed before and there are definite differences in sailing 'Lookfar' and 'El Gato de La Casa'. Even maneuvering it out of the boathouse took a bit of skill, but with Justin navigating, I backed it out and got it turned around and headed for the open sea. Unlike 'Lookfar,' which had a small motor because little was demanded of it, 'El Gato de La Casa' sported two large ones and when they were opened up, got us to where we could unfurl the sails quickly.
I cut the motors and Justin dropped the anchor. "Sunscreen time," he said as he tugged his tee over his head. Even dark Justin had me cover his body with sunscreen again.
I directed the group as the sails were unfurled. Justin hoisted anchor and I turned into the winds. Suddenly the sails billowed, a beautiful sight, as we sailed over the blue-green water. I never expected Sandy to be anything except excited, but I was very surprised when Michael was almost as excited and hyper as his lover. Derek had worked with boats and Wolf had spent the better part of the week aboard one, but this was different. They, too, were shouting and pumping their fists into the air.
Justin and I took turns sailing and instructing our crew until we were a pretty good outfit. When the wind died down a bit, and with Justin beside him, Michael took over. He was a bit nervous, but very excited. We were sailing at a very sedate pace and were all pretty relaxed. Derek and Wolf were lying side-by-side on the forward deck, an arm over the other's back, talking quietly. Seemed a good time for us to relax as well. I told Justin and dropped the anchor. We joined the two on the foredeck.
"It's time for sunscreen renewal," Justin said, as he picked up the bottle, "I guess we're all friends and all gay so I see no reason why I can't work on my overall tan. Marc, you as well, at least for a few minutes." So saying, Justin pulled my shirt over my head, hooked his thumbs in my shorts and slid them down my legs. Then, without missing a beat, he started covering me with sunscreen, missing nothing. I noticed Sandy was grinning like a jackass eating briars as he dropped his shorts and pulled his shirt over his head. Michael, who was standing with his back to us, had not seen Justin removing my clothes. Sandy turned him around to see me sliding Justin's shorts off and starting to apply sunscreen.
He turned bright red and started stammering and finally grinned and said, "All right, nude sailing is OK, but I'm not engaging in any group sex!"
"You are damn right you're not," Sandy exclaimed, "but your butt will sure look nice tanned."
Derek and Wolf had stood and were undressing each other. Both were about half erect. I'd always heard African-American men had huge cocks, but from the half-hard one Derek sported, he looked average to me. On the other hand, Wolf was packing a half-hard major tool.
"Damn," Derek said, having a look at Michael and then Justin, "two uncut cocks." I guess I might have known Michael was uncut, but I don't remember seeing him naked before. Anyway, when I looked, I saw he was, like Justin, uncut. "How'd that happen?"
"I was delivered by a midwife," Michael said. "Mom and Dad had little money when I came along and a midwife cost a lot less than a doctor and hospital, so I was delivered at home. Dad decided circumcision was an unnecessary expense, so I was spared."
"For me!" Sandy said. "I love it!"
Maybe with a bit less exuberance than Sandy, I said, "Agreed! I love Justin as Justin is."
"How did you escape the knife Justin?" Derek asked.
"Maybe the same way Michael did," he said, "but Mom told me my father was uncut and that she didn't think I should be cut."
When we were all freshly sunscreened, Wolf passed around drinks and we lay on the deck as the boat rocked gently in the waves. "For heaven's sake, let's not all go to sleep or we'll cook,' I warned as I was getting drowsy. "I'd hate to have to stand all the way home."
"By the way, everyone get cleared to stay over? " Derek asked.
"We have until Monday," Justin said. "We don't have to be back for summer school until week after next, but I need to get back to the store. I need to get in all the time I can so I can take off some time later for a trip with Daniel, I guess the second half of August."
"Why with Daniel and to where? Marc going too?" Sandy asked.
We told them something about our talk with Daniel and Alex, but left out a great deal as well.
Sandy said his dad was delighted he could make up for some of the time he missed because of old Miss Stevens. Michael's parents wanted to know why he was staying since he had said he'd be back Sunday. "They first refused to allow me to stay because Brother Fitzsimmons is starting a revival at the church Sunday. Dad said, 'Son, I think you are in need of that. I think you're associating with those town folks too much. You're forgetting your raisin'. You need to get right with God and Brother Fitzsimmons is known for bringing the fallen and backsliders back to God. You need to be here Sunday night and every night this god-fearing man is among us.' I had to do some fast thinking because I knew I was just about to be told to come home.
"Dragging my feet to give me time to think, I asked, 'Dad, tell me about Brother Fitzsimmons. Isn't he from Florida? I thought I saw that on the poster about the revival.' Dad was silent for a minute then said, 'Oh, I see where you got the idea. He went to Homestead Bible College in Florida, not too many miles from where you are.' My guardian angel came through! 'Amazing coincidence, Dad. I just learned about Homestead and was thinking about going up there to investigate the bible college. I'll be graduating you know, and if I do joint enrollment with ESU, I can graduate in December and could start at Homestead spring semester, but I won't have a way up there until late in the week and only appointment I could get to talk to someone there, since it's between spring and summer semesters, is next Friday.' A good line of bullshit, don't you think?" Michael grinned.
"Yeah, and it worked," Sandy said as he pulled Michael to himself for a kiss.
"So you can stay over?" I asked.
"Yeah, but I think the gig is up. Dad said Brother Fitzsimmons will be in Elizabethton for another two weeks and I promised to meet with him for lunch Monday when I get back. After I agreed, Dad told me not only did he hold revivals, but also had a clinic which treated homosexuals. I had heard something about it. It is one of those 'with Jesus you can be straight' places. Dad said, 'He has a hundred percent success rate in turning perverts back to being God-fearing, women-loving men. Know you'd appreciate that.' So far as I'm concerned, those words same as said, 'I know you're queer' and sealed my fate. But, hey, I'm here, I'm gay, I'm proud, I have my love beside me and we have a week longer for our honeymoon." I was amazed that Michael seemed so upbeat and carefree and if it was an act, it was a good one.
A short while later, Justin stood said, "Some of our lighter brothers are going to have sore asses without the fun unless they get lotioned down and get some clothes on. Come on, Lord of my Heart," he said as he extended his hand and pulled me to my feet. He then covered my body with soothing lotion and I put on long pants and shirt. "Now let's see what kind of sailors you all are!"
As if waiting for that moment, a brisk breeze sprang up and Justin hoisted the anchor while the others set the sails which billowed as they filled with wind. Soon we were skimming across the water. All of us really got into the adventure and we sailed for another hour until we were ready for a break -- and food. Once again, we dropped anchor and spread the food -- fried chicken, biscuits, a green salad and macaroni and cheese, and brownies for dessert. "Don't think this mac and cheese came out of a box," Derek laughed as he helped himself to seconds -- and thirds.
When we had finished eating and cleaned up, Justin said, "Think it's nap time. There's a bunk below. Anyone interested?" When there were no takers, Justin grabbed my hand and we went below. The bunk was a bit larger than a twin bed, so we were able to climb in and Justin spooned himself into my back. It was indeed nap time as we were both sound asleep in minutes.
I guess we should have known that our situation was precarious, but in any case, we learned it the hard way when the boat suddenly tilted to the side, rolling me off the bunk. It took a few seconds for me to get oriented and when I did, I rushed topside. A squall had hit the boat and disappeared almost as quickly as it appeared, but left everyone pretty shaken. Derek was holding Wolf, who had hidden his head under Derek's arm. Sandy was sprawled on the deck with Michael's arms wrapped around him and his around Michael, his hands rubbing Michael's back as he make soothing noises for his lover.
"All hands OK?" I asked.
"I think so now," Sandy said. "Michael got a real fright as he started sliding across the deck when the squall hit, but he's OK now."
"I think Wolf's about recovered," Derek grinned. "OK now, babe?" he asked, placing his hand beneath Wolf's chin and lifting his head from under his arm.
"OK. Revived by that great Derek scent I was inhaling," Wolf smiled and pulled Derek's lips to his for one sizzling hot kiss which went on and on and on and on. The results for both were made obvious by the huge tent in Derek's shorts and a one-eyed monster crawling out the leg of Wolf's shorts.
No-one was ready to call it quits, even after the squall, so we got in another hour and a half sail before we headed in. A great day!
We reached the boathouse, took care of the boat and headed for the house. As soon as we reached the terrace, Mavis met us and said, "Mrs. Crandall needs all of you in the library now."
"We'll be there as soon as we freshen...," I started to say.
"Now!" Mavis said, her voice leaving no doubt as to what 'now' meant.
The six of us rushed to the library where John and Adam were sitting, sweaty and looking very nervous. As soon as we were seated, Mrs. Crandall said, "This is a war council. Michael, I just had a call from your father. I know all of you know someone named King James Stewart." We all nodded. "Michael, do you know someone called Brother Fitzsimmons?"
Michael nodded and said, "Yes, ma'am, he's the reason Dad wasn't going to let me stay next week. He's a revival preacher. He's running a revival at our church next week."
"He is running a revival at Mud Creek True Church of God this week. King James goes on trial next week, so he got religion this week at that revival. As a part of his testimony when he got saved, he lamented the homosexuals who were taking over and made a fervent request for the congregation to pray, 'right here tonight, for all those lost souls who were following the queer road to hell.' He led the prayer and named names." Michael turned white. "He named Marc and Justin, making sure everyone knew Marc is Senator Porcher's son who, according to King James, had been a good Christian boy before he was perverted by 'that Indian faggot, Justin Smith.' Wolf, he also named you and claimed you were corrupting the youth of the county with your radio show. Then he got around to you, Michael, 'a fine white football player, a faithful member of our sister church, Mud Creek True Faith. Brother Michael was turned queer by, I'm sorry to say, my demon-possessed queer cousin Sandy Jenkins. Not only must we pray for Brother Michael, but also we must see that he gets to receive the blessing of Brother Fitzsimmons' clinic where he may be rescued from his addiction to laying with a man as he would a woman.' Sorry, Michael, but you have been outed in Mud Creek...."
"And the whole county," Michael said. "And that's the news from Lake Woebegone."
"Would that it was," Mrs. Crandall said. "Unfortunately, there's more. King James announced that the cost of ninety days treatment at God's Conversion Clinic was six thousand dollars. He then talked about how hard it was for the Duncans to raise the money, but they had paid Brother Fitzsimmons half and he asked the two churches to raise the other three thousand, which they did. As a result, there is another bit which is why this is a council of war.
"Michael, your father has ordered me to get you to the Miami airport for a flight to Atlanta leaving at 11:45 pm. I reminded him you were eighteen and no longer under his authority, but he intends to make sure you are on that plane. No need to go into details, but there is a warrant for your arrest which, if issued, will charge you with sexual abuse of Sandy, crimes against nature and heaven knows what else. He's also seeking to have Marc and Justin arrested as well unless you are on that plane when it lands in Atlanta. Now the truth of the matter is, those charges are not really going anywhere, but he can and will make life miserable for you. You know he has the Chief of Police working for him so even if the charges get dropped, you may spend time in jail with all the horrors of that. He's also trying to have me charged under the so-called 'white slavery' law for transporting you and a minor, Sandy, across state lines for immoral purposes.
"Unless you want Sandy and your friends caught up in this mess, you'll be met in Atlanta by a representative of God's Conversion Clinic and transported to the clinic near Hooks Crossroads in Alabama. There you will be in residence for not less than ninety days to turn you, in your father's words, 'from a sick pervert who is an abomination in the sight of God to a straight Christian man.'" We all looked sick and Michael looked worse. Suddenly he jumped up and ran to the library toilet and we could hear him emptying his stomach. Mrs. Crandall followed and we could see her on her knees beside him wiping his face with a cool cloth.
When Michael had finally stopped heaving -- he had long since completely emptied his stomach -- Mrs. Crandall had him wash his mouth out and come back where she sat him on a sofa and handed him a coke. "Sip on this," she said. "It'll help settle your stomach." She then sat on one side of him and Sandy on the other.
"Do I have to do what my dad says?" Michael asked.
"No, you are eighteen. Since King James named Sandy as 'the pervert who turned Michael queer,' Mr. Thurmond is remaining in the background and Mr. Wilson is taking care of legal matters in North Carolina in that regard but, no, your dad can't force you to do anything legally. That does not mean all is well. On the one hand, there are the threats to your friends and on the other, threats to you. The charges against you will likely never amount to much, but they may require bonds or you'll stay in jail depending on the judge or judges involved. Let's be honest, we know Senator Porcher will make hay out of this mess and has great influence on some of the judges so you may be in jail without being allowed to get out on bond. A larger threat, it seems to me, is that Brother Fitzsimmons' 'clinic' has been known to get people certified as mentally ill and admitted as patients for treatment. Kidnapped if the truth be known. We simply can't risk that.
"We'll talk about what happens after this crisis later but, right now, I have a plan for the immediate future, and I need to make sure it's workable and flawless. We cannot have a slip-up or Michael will end up in Hell's Clinic in Hooks Crossroads, Alabama and possibly someone or someones in jail. First, we have to manage to get Michael 'lost' AFTER he boards the plane in Miami. Michael, you'll pack a gym bag with paper, anything, just get a gym bag to carry. I have called a limousine service I have never used to take you from La Casa to the airport where you have a ticket waiting for the commuter flight to Miami. Once you get there, you pick up the ticket, go through security and board the plane.
"Now it gets tricky. When you get to Miami, you'll pick up the ticket your father has waiting there. Once you have your ticket, a young man who looks very much like you will join you and the two of you will have coffee in the cafe, browse the magazines, get noticed as two friends traveling together. At some point, you will exchange boarding passes. The two of you will stand talking and when the boarding call is made, you will grab your pocket, tell your 'friend' to go ahead and you'll run back to the newsstand, speak to the cashier and return. Meanwhile, your 'friend' will have boarded the plane using your boarding pass. The boarding pass he will have given you is for a return flight back here."
"But..." John started to object.
"Yes, I know, he could be caught with the wrong boarding pass. Not likely as no-one is checking ID, just that the boarding pass is for the flight. If a question should arise, the 'friend' will call Michael, who does have a boarding pass to Atlanta for the 'friend,' tell him they must have exchanged boarding passes and all will be well. Maybe. It's highly illegal and we may be in deep doo-doo, but I think it will work.
"If you have to fly to Atlanta, when you arrive, instead of going to luggage claim, go to concourse E. You'll be met there by a man who will spirit you out of the airport and downtown for the night. In the morning, you will be taken to Peachtree Dekalb where a private plane will bring you back to Florida. Sandy and I will meet you to bring you back to La Casa. I'm afraid you can't stay at the big house, but there is a hunting cabin on the river several miles from here. I'm sure you can find plenty to keep you occupied while we work on what happens in the future."
"Damn," Adam said, "Ma'am, I' m glad you're on our side."
"Sounds pretty risky," John said, "but I can't think of anything better."
"It's not just risky, it also solves nothing since all the threats are still there. If we could prove God's Conversion Clinic is holding people against their will and falsely having them certified mentally ill, not only would Michael be free, but we'd be helping put a son of a bitch out of business. Think I might have an idea," I said.
"Spill it," Justin said, pinching my butt.
"Who was to be Michael's lookalike friend?" I asked.
"He's Sam, the son of a friend of mine -- David Rosenburg from Miami. Sam is a student at Emory and will be returning to do a summer program at the Carter Center."
"Does he know about your plan?"
"No, not yet."
"Keep it that way, please. Clan, time for a gathering."
"Guess some food and drinks would be appreciated," Mrs. Crandall said and went for Mavis.