by TA (Terry)
"I never knew that we had such nice plates and stuff." We never eat in the dining room. Actually, the only thing that we use the dining room for is doing our taxes.
David looked at me and smiled. "I bought 'em. I think Alex should grow up with good memories of the holidays and nice dinners are a part of that. Actually, Jamie got us a fantastic deal on this stuff in England and sent it over to us after I told him we needed them."
I walked behind David, wrapped him up in my arms and kissed the side of his neck. "I'm going to England right after Alex's birthday. Just for two days though."
David squirmed around until he could look at me. "England? Really? Ya know, Jamie really wants to meet you. Could you do that? I mean, will there be time?"
"Mmmm. Probably. I'm going with General Shetland, but I'll probably be meeting him there rather than flying with him." I had a feeling that there might be the tiniest ulterior motive behind this request.
"Well, it's just that Jamie has heard me talk about you and he's always wanted to meet you." David smiled at me. "And since he's straight, I couldn't see why not."
"Well sure. I'm sure we could get together for lunch or dinner. When I get my flight numbers and stuff you can email Jamie." I turned David back around so that his back was pressed to my chest. "Okay, now where were we?" I started kissing his neck again.
"Mark, you're giving me a hard…! Hi, sweetheart! You done watching TV?" Alex was looking up at us with Joe standing behind him.
"What's Mark giving you, Daddy?" Alex's eyes were scrunched up and he was trying to shove something in his back pocket, but having a hard time of it.
I whispered in David's ear. "Yeah, Daddy, what's Mark giving ya?" David was wiggling out of my arms.
He hunkered down next to Alex. "Need help, Alex?"
"I found a nickel and I don't wanna lose it." David helped him put it in his back pocket. "Dad, when is Doctor Mike and Ted coming?"
David put his hand on Alex's head for a second. "Not for a couple of hours, Alex."
"Is Mrs. Meurer bringing the turkey?"
"Yep." David said.
"Is it gonna be cooked, Dad?"
"We're gonna cook it here, Alex."
"How big is the turkey gonna be, Dad?"
"Really, really big, Alex."
"Bigger than Joe?" Joe cocked his head at the sound of his name.
"Nope, not bigger than Joe, but pretty big."
"Does Joe get turkey?"
David glanced quickly at me. "Sure, Alex, but Joe needs to eat mostly his regular food cause we don't want him to get sick, do we?"
"Could Joe really get sick, Dad?"
"Well, maybe if we let him eat too much. The thing is dogs are kinda like garbage disposals… they'll eat almost anything. So we just have to make sure Joe doesn't eat too much."
Alex was looking at Joe and shaking his finger at him as Joe moved his head up and down in time with it. "We're not lettin you eat too much Joe. Cause you'll get sick."
As I glanced out the window, I saw Mrs. Meurer's car pulling into our driveway. "David, foods here. I'll go help Mrs. Meurer."
Walking out onto the driveway Mrs. Meurer began talking to me even while I was fifty feet away. "Mr. Chauvet, Happy Thanksgiving!" She had a huge foil covered tray in one hand and was waving with the other.
I took the tray from her. "Hi, Mrs. Meurer. Let me help you with that."
Mrs. Meurer stopped what she was doing and turned to me. "Mr. Chauvet, can you imagine? When I stepped out of my house this morning and looked down at the ground next to my steps there was a tulip. A tulip pushing it's brave, but foolish head above the ground! Can you imagine… so brave, yet so foolish." She was shaking her head.
This was typical Mrs. Meurer and I never know what to say. So like a jerk, I just stood there, shook my head and said. "Wow." And then, "I'll take this tray in and come back for the rest."
Mrs. Meurer followed me into the house carrying two trays. "David! Happy Thanksgiving!" Then seeing Alex, she held out her arms. "Viens ici, mon coeur." Alex went running over to her and they spoke a mixture of French and German for a while and then Mrs. Meurer went out to get the turkey to finally satisfy Alex's curiosity.
"David, I'm going to put the turkey in the oven now at 350 degrees. This will allow you to eat at three o'clock precisely." She stood with one hand on her hip and the other emphasizing her words. "David, you must baste the turkey every," she tilted her hand back and forth, "twenty minutes or so. You won't forget? Now, everything else that has a black x on the foil should go in the oven for the last forty-five minutes; everything else should be refrigerated and eaten cold."
Then turning to the door. "Boys, my son and his family are waiting for me. You'll be okay?" She slowly shook her head. "You're both so skinny, you must eat! And I must go!"
Alex pumps out a round from an imaginary rifle and I grab my gut and slump to the floor. "Ohhhhhhhhhh! Ya got me!" Still holding my gut I roll onto my back in the sunlit living room. I close my eyes and throw my arms out in mock death. Joe lays down and watches me.
Alex lays down next to me. "You're not really dead, Dad."
"Oh, yeah, I am."
Alex giggles. "No, Dad! If you're dead you can't talk." He climbs onto my chest and pries my eye open. "See, you're still in there." The sun is making his pale blond hair incandescent. I reach up and touch it, it's almost other worldly, magic. Alex puts his ear to my chest. "I can hear your heart, Dad. You gotta be alive." I lift my head and kiss the top of his head.
"Okay, kiddo, I guess I'm gonna live." I close my eyes and bask in the sunlight and the presence of Alex. I think for a second how these moments will end all too soon; he'll grow up, start going to school, get married, and maybe even move away; sure as shit, he won't lay on my chest and let me kiss the top of his head. I wonder if he'll even remember. I wonder if he'll ever be sitting in a business meeting or a foxhole, or just be out for a walk and remember the Thanksgiving when we played soldier and he lay on my chest.
"Watcha guys doin?" David hunkers down next to us and I smile up at him.
"Just chillin." Joe gets up, walks over and stands next to David wagging his tail and looking up from time to time at David.
David rubs Alex's back and asks him. "Sweetheart, you think you might want to take a little nap before Mike and Ted get here?"
"Daaaadddd! Do I have to take a nap?" David and I both catch the lack of flat refusal and glance at each other.
"I think it'd be for the best, Alex. You know that you're not gonna wanna take one while Mike and Ted are here."
Alex giggles. "Can I just sleep here?"
"Sweetheart, I think that eventually you're gonna feel too heavy, even for Mark."
David came out of our bathroom naked, his skin pale in the early winter sunlight that was streaming into the room, his hair very black and falling over his forehead. Then when he lifted his head and looked at me, even from fifteen feet away those emerald green eyes hit mine and locked on them, drawing me to him.
"Ahhhh....when do ya think they'll be here?"
David turned slightly towards the door as if they'd be standing there. "Ah, maybe half hour, forty-five minutes. Why?"
I touched the side of his face with my fingertips and turned his face gently up to mine, sliding my hand around the back of his neck. David was looking at me with sudden recognition in his eyes of what I wanted to do, but doubted that we'd have enough time.
Alex beat me to the front door and was screaming his hellos at Mike and Ted. I was about fifteen feet behind him and still tucking in my shirt. Mike scooped Alex up, gave him a hug, and walked with him toward me, Alex's arms tightly around his neck.
Mike gave me an odd look and then shaking his head slowly, smiled broadly. "Hi, Mark. Happy Thanksgiving." Alex was
acrobatically leaning over Mike's arm giving Ted a hug.
I gave Mike a lopsided grin. "Alex was taking a nap." I laughed. "And David and I were just... ah, changing clothes." Mike handed Alex over to me.
"Sweetheart, ya gotta put some clothes on. Okay?" When Alex heard the doorbell he just took off for it wearing only his briefs.
"Seeee, my teeth are still really good!" Alex was turning Mike's head around with his hands as he leaned outta my arms. "I brush 'em all the time!" Mike smiled at Alex and ruffled his hair.
"You're doin a great job, Alex, but remember you have to keep it up."
David came around the corner and gave both Mike and Ted a hug. "Thanks for coming, guys. Alex has been goin bananas." David smiled. "And we like ya too." Then to Alex. "You know you do have to wear clothes." He turned to me. "Mark, would you help Alex get dressed? I'll work on the food."
I'd started walking toward Alex's bedroom when Mike stopped me. "Mark, can I come with you?"
David and Ted were in the rec room starting a fire in the fireplace while Mike and I took Alex to his room to get dressed.
I was sitting on Alex's bed and had him wrapped up in my arms. "I think we should let Mike pick out your clothes since he's the one who has to look at ya all afternoon. Whadya think?"
Alex wiggled out of my arms and took Mike by the hand. "I'll show ya how to do it. It's really easy cause my shirts are in one drawer and my pants are in this drawer." Alex pulled open the drawer next to him and took out a pair of pants.
"How about these? I like these pants."
Mike pulled out a shirt and hunkered down next to Alex. "Those are good, Alex, and how about this blue shirt. You'll look really sharp."
Alex held his arms straight up so that Mike could slide his shirt down on him. Then he leaned against Mike, so that he could step into the pants that I was holding for him.
"Okay, little guy, how bout some shoes?"
"Dad, you're supposed to put socks on first."
"I knew that. I was juuuussst testing ya."
Alex tilted his head back so that he could look up at Mike. "He didn't know that Mike."
Mike laughed. "I know, Alex, but I thought he covered it pretty well."
I sat back on the bed. "You guys gonna just pick on me or are we gonna get this show on the road?"
The day was cold but sunny, and sitting in the rec room with the fireplace blazing and leafs blowing against the glass patio doors we felt cocooned, warm, and protected. David set out platters of Mrs. Meurer's hors d'oeuvres, a variety of olives both green and black, salt and oil cured. There was smoked salmon and sturgeon and both chopped chicken livers and two other pates, mussels in a wine and butter sauce, four different cheeses, there was champagne and a variety of beer and soft drinks, not to mention pretzels, potato chips, and four types of crackers.
Mike was drinking beer. I was drinking red wine and both David and Ted were drinking white wine, and while none of us was drinking much we were getting relaxed. Alex had spread himself physically over both Mike and Ted and was soaking up the attention he was getting.
"Oh, Mark, Gordy came in for a cleaning the other day, remember Mr. Wandering Hands?" Mike chuckled. "Said he had a great time at the party."
Ted looked at Mike. "Gordy?"
Mike slid his hand down and entwined his fingers with Ted's. "Yeah, hun, you remember the guy that," He glanced down at Alex, "was paying so much attention to David."
"Oh that son-of... a gun." Ted looked at David. "He took a shot at me too."
David was smiling wryly. "Well, I'm just glad that I could contribute something to the party... and thankful that I didn't have to contribute more."
Ted said. "You know, that party was so weird. I felt like I had to be nice to everyone, no matter how much of a jerk they were cause I didn't want to loose you a patient."
Mike smiled and shook his head no. "Un uhhh! I told Mark he could throw Gordy off the balcony."
Alex traversed the length of the sectional by knee walking over people and then climbed onto my lap. "When are we gonna eat, Dad?"
I rubbed his back. "Boy, are you talking to the wrong guy, Alex. David is the supervising chef today.
David called over to Alex. "Baby, it's gonna be another two hours, so if you're just crazy with hunger, have some of this great stuff Mrs. Meurer brought."
"Will you fix it, Dad?"
David got up and walked over to the buffet. "Okay, Sweetheart, but I want you to try a little bit of everything." David made Alex a small plate of food and situated him at the cocktail table. He sat down next to me after he helped Alex and I quietly slipped my arm around his waist.
I'd already fucked David twice today and I still wanted him. I don't know why I was so horny, but just being near David was giving me a hardon. The feel of his back through his shirt, the smell of him, the slightly darker stubble that was already beginning to show on his face, and oh, God, those eyes. It wasn't only the color, which was striking, but something behind them, something that I couldn't put a word to, something that could draw me and made me want to protect him. God, how I wanted to kiss him!
"Mike, what are you guys doing about getting a place of your own? You still selling your condo?" Mike had been watching me out of the corner of his eye as I touched David. He had a slight smile of approval on his face. I looked at Mike and pointedly kicked my shoes off, he smiled and did the same.
Mike glanced quickly at Ted and smiled. "The holidays are messing us up a little here. However, we've got a couple of places to look at next week. We've seen some nice places, just nothing that really talked to us."
Alex was smiling with a mouth full of food. He choked down the food and said, "Houses can't talk, only people can talk."
Ted laughed and turned to Mike. "Being a doctor and all, you'd think you'd know that."
Mike laughed and slid his arm behind Ted and then touched his forehead affectionately to Ted's shoulder. Mike turned to David.
"David, you never talk about your new business. How's it goin?"
David kicked off his shoes and curled up on the sofa leaning against me. "It's really goin great, Mike. A few months ago we started managing money for individuals as well as companies and that's really growing like crazy." David reached over and fixed Alex's collar. "It's all going really well. It was a good move for me, and I've got some really great partners."
Alex got up and turned around to show us a cracker with some pate on it. "Do you guys know what this is?"
"That's goose liver pate, Alex." David said.
Alex shivered in an exaggerated way. "Eeeewwe, I don't know if I can eat that."
Everybody laughed. I said. "Com'ere Alex an' gimme a bite."
Alex was holding the cracker like it was nuclear waste. "Here, Dad, you really gonna eat it?" Joe was sitting two feet away and his nose was locked on to the movement of food.
Alex leaned against my knee. "I gotta see you eat this, Dad."
I popped it in my mouth. "It really is delicious, Alex, but it may be that it's something you come to like when you get older. It's okay if you don't want to eat it, but unless you're just totally grossed out by something, you ought to try it. You never know what's gonna be really great, and Mrs. Meurer wouldn't make anything bad."
Alex looked skeptical about all of this but said. "Okay, Dad, I'll try to eat everything. Dad, is there anything you don't like to eat?"
"Rhubarb, Alex. I hate it." I smiled at him. "You know, it seems the more ya hate something the more people are always trying to get ya to eat it."
David turned his head and looked at me. "You don't like rhubarb? Why didn't I know that?"
I smiled at him. "Cause you've never tried to feed me rhubarb pie."
At about seven o'clock that evening, as we were all about to fall asleep from a day of nonstop eating and no exercise whatever the doorbell rang. I knew that it had to be Frank and his gang, Alex and I went to answer the door. Alex can't stand not being there whenever the door is answered.
Frank was wearing a long black topcoat over slacks and a sweater and his wife Marcy was wearing slacks, a sweater and coat, all in varying shades of beige accented with gold jewelry. Close behind them and almost jumping up and down were Chris and Jason.
"Frank, Marcy, come on in! Chris, Jason, geez, it's good to see ya." I reached out and hugged the two boys. Somehow they seemed bigger. Maybe they were. Meanwhile, Alex had backed up against the wall and was holding a small toy tractor in his hands. When I looked up, David was taking everyones' coats and Frank was hunkering down next to Alex ruffling his hair.
"It's my tractor, Uncle Frank." Alex was holding out his toy to Frank.
"And a fine looking tractor it is too, lad." Frank lifted his bulk back up with a little effort.
I knew that Alex was feeling a bit shy, so I bent down and scooped him up, thinking he might feel better if he was being held. "Alex, you know Frank and Marcy," he was nodding vigorously, "and this is Frank's grandson Chris and his friend Jason."
Alex leaned his head against mine, but took Chris's hand when he held it out.
Chris's eyes were dancing and he seemed thrilled to meet Alex. "Alex, Jason and I have been looking forward to meeting you." Jason reached up and ruffled Alex's hair.
"Hi, Alex, you sure are a big boy." Jason's voice was amazingly deep.
"I'm gonna be four!" Alex held out four fingers and then looked at me like he wanted me to confirm it.
"You sure are." David said as he ushered us back into the family room, all the while performing introductions between Mike and Ted and the Connelly gang.
Once we were all seated again and drinks ranging from coffee to Frank's scotch had been passed around, Alex climbed into David's lap, preferring to participate from that relative safety. It had been a long day for him and he was probably getting a little tired too. For a millisecond it occurred to me that I'd like to bury my face in David's chest.
Mike, Ted, and Frank were discussing property values and the advantages of various communities while David and Marcy were talking about how easy it was becoming to shop for clothes from Europe on the Internet. Chris, Jason, and I were discussing the difference in the weather between Wisconsin and northern California.
Chris and Jason had lost the tentative quality they had when we first met them and it was obvious now that theirs was a settled relationship. They sat next to each other and touched a lot. Not in a sexual way, just in a comfortable way; a way that only comes from a lot of sexual contact.
Frank yelled over to me. "Marky, when you goin to England?"
"Mmm, I think it'll be the sixth, Frank, unless Shetland changes it again." Since David's lap was occupied by Alex, Joe came over to me and put his paws on my lap. I scratched his ears. "I'm gonna meet Jamie, I think he's gonna pick me up at the airport."
"Hold onto your wallet! That guy is as slick as they come."
David gave him a look. "Fraaaaannnk!"
Frank laughed. "He's a good guy, Mark. You'll like him. And now that he's married, it seems to have settled him a bit. But Mark, believe me, charming doesn't do him justice. The world is just lucky he's decided to do it legally." Frank looked around the room and then turned again to me. "When the hell are you guys gonna decorate? Ya know ya might need to do some business entertaining or some shit," he glanced at Marcy, "I mean, stuff like that."
David answered. "I've got a designer coming next month, Frank."
I looked at David. "You never said anything. What are they gonna do?"
"Mark, we need some new furniture. When we first moved in here we just kinda made do with inexpensive stuff and now we need to update things."
I was genuinely surprised. "You don't like this stuff?"
"No, Mark, I like it, it's just that it's getting kinda ratty looking and we can afford it, so I thought we'd kinda refresh the place."
Frank was looking very satisfied with himself for having stirred something up. "Marky, just let the designers do it and, for God's sake, don't look at the bill."
David gave Frank a dirty look and turned totally around to face me. "Mark, remember when we bought those suits when you first went to work for the old company?" David smiled sweetly at me. "Well, that worked out okay, so will ya just trust me on this? It's nothing to get all stirred up about."
I touched David shoulder lightly. "Course I trust you, David. I mean what can a sofa and a couple of chairs cost. A couple grand?"
Everyone in the room moaned except Alex, who just kept swiveling his head around.
Marcy spoke first. "Mark, honey, you can't get anything for that." She glanced quickly at David. "But, dear, just let the designers do it."
Frank folded his hands across his ample gut. "Kid, what planet are you living on? This is gonna cost thirty thousand at least. Damn, Marky, take the rubber band off of your wallet."
I don't know why I'm so cheap about stuff like this. Normally I don't give a damn and I trust David completely, but it just seems to me that you buy a sofa and it should last like twenty years.
Now everyone was talking at once, to each other and to the room in general. Chris and Jason were talking to each other about how they'd change the living room. Ted was talking to Marcy about paint colors and Marcy was telling Frank that he should never have brought the whole thing up. I got up and walked over to the buffet to get another cup of coffee. Mike joined me.
"Mike, you really think this needs to be redone?"
Mike looked at me and smiled. "Does it matter?" He turned his back on the room and so did I. "Look, David's got like the best judgement in the world, right?"
"Yeah, sure, no question."
"If he wants to do this, then, why fight it. You don't give a damn one way or the other, but he does. And it would be better if you decide to do more formal entertaining."
I looked at Mike and smiled. "I know, Mike, I'm just teasing him. And if you really look at the expression on his face, you'll see that he knows it. He knows that he can do anything that he wants to, anything at all. He also knows that I have no clue about stuff like this. If it was left to me we'd be living in a tent."
Alex came up to us and took my hand. "Dad, we getting new furniture?"
I put my coffee down and picked Alex up. "Would you like that, Alex?"
Alex screwed his face up. "I suppose it'd be okay." Alex had his legs wrapped around my waist and I was holding his back. Out of the corner of my eye I could see Chris watching us. I mouthed to Mike. "Be right back."
I walked over to Chris and Jason and then tilted Alex backwards until he was lying, squealing, on Chris's lap. "Chris, how would you like to have a little boy? This one doesn't seem to be doing anything." God, the boys seemed so grown up.
"We'd love to have a little boy, Mark, especially one as squirmy as this one." Alex was giggling as he climbed over Chris and ended up sitting between the boys.
"You can't get me now, Daddy!" Alex had linked his arms with Chris and Jason's.
"Nope, Alex, I guess you've got two strong bodyguards now." I hunkered down in front of Alex and held his stocking clad feet in my hands. "But you know that pretty soon now it's gonna be that time."
Alex looked pleadingly up at Chris and Jason. "They make me go to bed sooooo early."
We all laughed and then I leaned forward and shoved my hands behind Alex and touched my forehead to his. "Okay, how about this? If you go in and get into your pajamas, you can come back out and stay up for another half an hour."
Jason rubbed Alex's shoulder. "That's a pretty good deal, Alex. Besides, I bet you got some really cool pajamas."
I knew that Alex was exhausted, he had been going nonstop all day. He put his arms around my neck and pulled himself off of the sofa. "Okay, Dad, but I get to come back out, right?"
I kissed his forehead. "You bet kiddo." Alex went running to his bedroom with his arms held out from his body like the wings of an airplane.
Half an hour later the taillights of Frank's car pulled out of our driveway, followed by Mike's SUV. I leaned against the closed door and pulled David's head to my chest.
"God, people are a pain in the ass!"
David looked up at me surprised. "I thought you liked all those people?"
I pulled his head back to my chest. "I do, actually to one degree or another I love all of them." I ran my fingers through David's black hair feeling its silkiness. "It's just that every minute that I spend with them is a minute that I'm not spending with you. At least not in the way that I'd like to spend it."
We walked hand in hand into the family room were Alex was asleep on the sofa. David sat down and touched Alex's hair. "Guess we finally found out what it takes to wear him out."
I looked around the room. "We really have to clean this up tonight?"
"Mark, why don't you take Alex to his room and I'll just load all this stuff in the dishwasher, the rest we can get tomorrow."
I lifted Alex gently off of the sofa and carried him to his room. All the way there he was talking to me, but he wasn't really awake and he never opened his eyes. Joe, who had been trotting behind us, jumped up on Alex's bed as I tucked him in.
I walked into our bedroom and stripped off my clothes. David walked in just as I was sliding into bed. "Geez, David, I'm exhausted, I can only imagine how tired you must feel." He peeled off his clothes and climbed in next to me. I rolled over half on top of David wrapping my arms around him. His hair was very black against the white pillow and he already had dark stubble on his face, his eyes a deep emerald green. I kissed his chin, then his nose, and finally his mouth.
"Thanks for today, sweetheart, and happy Thanksgiving."
He pulled my head down for another kiss. "You sure you don't care about the decorating."
"Baby, you can do anything you wanna do, except fall out of love with me."
David kissed me again and then rolled onto his side, pulling me with him. His head was on my upper arm and my other arm around his chest, his breath and heartbeat strong, but slowing for sleep. "Love you, Mark."
"Me, too, you, babe."