by TA (Terry)
"Lemmeee gooo, Daaaaad!" Alex had stretched my arm out to its maximum length. I was hunkered down near the floor trying to distract him and hang onto him at the same time while David was giving the salesman a check for a home theatre setup that we had picked out the previous night.
The reason I was keeping a tight grip on Alex was because he had gotten into trouble with some really expensive stereo equipment the night before. Finally, I pulled a struggling Alex in, then picked him up and carried him writhing and kicking outside to the car.
I put him down next to the car, hunkered down, and held him by the waist with both hands. "Alex! Alex! Why are you doing this?"
"Daaaad, I wanna see the stuff!" He furiously rubbed his eyes. "I wanna go back inside!"
"You know, you're being a pretty bad boy." I held the side of his face with one hand and looked into his eyes. "You feel okay?"
He tried to make a break for the front door of the store, but when I pulled him back to me, he just seemed to collapse against me, burying his face in my chest. I put my hand on his forehead. "You feelin sick, buddy? Hmmm, are you?"
A muffled, "No! I just wanna go back inside!"
David appeared at my right shoulder. "Alex, why are you being bad again tonight?"
"I think he's sick, David, or about to be."
Alex twisted around. "I'm not sick!"
David felt his forehead. "Yeah, that explains a lot. Let's get him home."
I scooped Alex up with very little protest and strapped him into the back seat.
Twenty minutes later we were peeling his clothes off of him and getting him into his pajamas. David took his temperature with a gizmo he'd bought that let him do it by sticking it in his ear. Alex was lying in bed watching us and absorbing the attention he was getting, all too well aware that his mild fever was bailing him out of any trouble he might have been in from the way he acted at the store.
I sat on his bed and felt his forehead, more for my sake than his since we'd already taken his temperature. "How ya feelin, buddy?"
"I'm sick, Dad." There was a little roughness to his voice.
I looked up at David. "Think we should call the doctor?"
"Nah, his temperature is barely a hundred. I gave him aspirin. Let's see what happens. Where's Joe?"
Joe's head popped up at the end of the bed, then he jumped up on the bed and plopped down, his tail beating the blanket steadily.
Alex kinda sat up and looked down the bed at Joe. "I'm sick, Joe!" Joe's tail beat even faster and his pink tongue darted in and out of his mouth. He looked for all the world like he wanted us to leave so he could take care of Alex.
Back in our own room, David and I were getting into bed and David had left his boxers on. He looked at me, "Just in case I need to go into Alex's room."
I pulled the covers up to my waist and propped my head on my hand. "You think this'll be serious?"
David slid under the covers and backed himself up against me while pulling my arm around his chest. "Beats me. But that preschool is like a major germ factory. They worry about stuff coming from China, preschool is where they should be looking."
Now there was no way David and I would have sex while we were worried about Alex, but feeling David squirming in my arms as he was getting settled gave me a hardon.
David reached over, turned off the light, then twisted around toward me.
"If he's okay tomorrow I'll be happy to give you a hand with that thing that's poking me."
I buried my face in his neck and nibbled on it a little. "That's a date."
Later that night, I gradually became aware of my hand being licked. I opened my eyes and slowly realized that it was Joe lying where David normally sleeps and licking the back of my hand in long steady dog licks. I patted Joe on the head and scratched behind his ears. Then I swung out of bed and felt my way along the wall to Alex's room. The light in his bathroom was on and David was wrapped in his bathrobe sleeping next to him. I knelt by the bed and felt Alex's forehead. It seemed normal to me, or very near to it, so I got up, kissed both Alex and David on the head and walked back to our bedroom.
When I awoke again in the morning, David was still wrapped in his bathrobe, but sleeping next to me. His bathrobe is white terrycloth and his black hair was in stark contrast to it. I moved my head closer to his and smelled his hair. It was intensely David. I reached over and ever so gently rested my hand on the side of his face, I could feel the blood pumping in his carotid artery, the warmth of his skin, and the electric life that is David.
In a minute or so he raised his hand, covered mine with it, then opened his eyes and looked at me, squinting against the light. "I think he's okay, maybe a cold coming on, but I don't think it's super serious."
"I saw you in bed with him. He didn't feel really hot or anything."
"When did you come in?"
"Don't know, three maybe… something like that."
David scooted over closer to me and buried his head against me. "I didn't hear you." He put his left hand on my side and pulled me a bit closer.
"Mark, how tied are you and Frank to this whole armaments thing?"
I tell myself for the millionth time that I'm totally clueless as to what David is thinking about at any given moment.
"See, the thing is the Europeans have had the shit scared outta them by us. You know, the government? But the undercurrent that I'm hearing is the whole military thing of 'we'll blow the crap outta anybody that doesn't agree with us' may have peaked. Not that there won't always be a market for that stuff, but maybe the easy money has already been made.
"Having said that, the Europeans are still looking for a way to ensure that they don't get frozen out ever again. This Iraq thing took 'em by surprise, in a way. They were certain that we'd go along with the UN and delay an attack and they're appalled by the backlash."
He buried his face further into my chest and said nothing for a moment. Then, "God I love the way you smell."
The lights above the door that indicated when Alex was on the move suddenly started to light up.
David looked at me and whispered, "Battle stations!" He jumped up and put his bathrobe back on, and I got under the covers just as the door to our room swung open and Alex trooped in dragging a blanket, followed by Joe.
David reached down and felt Alex's forehead, then turned and asked me, "Bacon and eggs?"
Alex climbed into bed with me, pulling his blanket in after him. Joe hopped up and lay at the foot of the bed.
"How ya feelin, sweetheart?" I put my hand on his forehead and found it to be slightly warm.
"I dunno." His voice sounded a little nasal and he rolled over and buried his face in the pillow, then rolled slightly back. Lying on his stomach he was hiding his face behind his hand, just one bright blue eye looking out, but he was unsettled and not quite able to get comfortable. I reached out and lightly put my hand on his hair, he blinked and I could tell that he was smiling behind his hand.
David came into the room carrying a tray with a mug of coffee, a glass of water, and aspirin. He sat next to me on the edge of the bed.
I took the coffee and smiled at him.
He looked at Alex and said. "Hey, blue eyes, I've got your aspirin here and you're staying home today." Joe had gotten up and was now licking at the back of David's head. David turned his head slightly in Joe's direction. "Yeah, I've got your food ready in the kitchen." Joe bent his head down, made a "huuummmph" sound, then jumped off of the bed and sat by the door waiting for David. David looked around the room. "Boy, you guys are sure a lot of work."
Then David got up and said. "Okay, everybody less than five feet tall come with me." He looked at me. "You take a shower and then come and eat. Everybody got that?" Alex nodded and giggled, Joe seemed to nod too.
David was standing there in his white bathrobe, his hair an unbelievable tangle, a days worth of black stubble on his face and an empty tray under his arm. God, I wanted to fuck him soooooo bad, to have my cock buried in that gorgeous butt with his legs wrapped around my waist and to be kissing him - especially kissing him.
Alex scampered off of the bed and yelled hoarsely to Joe. "Joe, I get to stay home today!"
I grabbed my bathrobe… yeah, I do own one. "David, I'll come and help you." I didn't actually say what I wanted to say, "Then we'll shower together."
"So, Marky, how's David?" My God, talk about transparent.
"Why don't you just ask him, Frank?" Frank was standing there without his suit coat on, holding his unlit cigar. "He'll tell you as much as he'll tell me. Fact is, I don't think he's gotten an idea that he's satisfied with yet. But I think it might have something to do with either the Swiss or the Germans, but that's just a guess."
Frank plopped down on the chair in front of my desk. "I promised him I wouldn't bug him."
"Yeah, Frank, like that's ever stopped you!"
"What makes you think that it's the Germans, or the Swiss for that matter."
I stared out the window for a moment. "David has always had good connections in Germany and he's got a strong partner there. Froedert, I think his name is. I think he's in Germany, maybe Switzerland."
I looked over at Frank. "So how do you feel about this?"
Frank shrugged. "Depends on the deal. I tend to agree with David's take on this, and the reason I want him working on this is that he always ends up making everyone happy. I don't want Monty upset or Shetland, but on the other hand, I want us to end up with a viable company. It's something that's going to require delicacy and imagination." Frank shifted in his seat. "I suppose I could put the deal together myself… but… as long as we've got David and his organization, I suppose we should use them."
I thought, 'Oh brother!' But I didn't say it, instead I said, "How's the diet going, Frank?"
"Another two pounds, Marky! Fuck, I'll be wearing Speedos before you know it."
I smiled at Frank. "Please tell me that those are rhetorical Speedos, Frank."
"Relax, Marky. The last day that I could have worn a Speedo, or even wanted to, was at least thirty years ago. Now, I just thank God every day for the invention of sweat pants." Frank eased himself out of the chair. "But Marcy's happy and I feel better… blood pressures down." He stared out the window for a second. "Now if David comes up with something… that would be good."
For a moment Frank seemed to be speaking to himself. "I'm tired of war, Marky. I forgot how it is… how tiring. Maybe it's just for younger people or more ambitious ones. Machine tools! We can make the tools for the other guys."
Frank was headed for his office and waved his cigar. "David'll know. I'm sure he understands."
It was a warmish early June evening and David and I were sitting on the patio having an after dinner cup of coffee. He reached over and took my hand.
"How would you feel about a trip to Europe?"
"Hmmmm," I said, "work or pleasure?"
"Weeeellllll, both. I would get to meet my guys face to face, which needs to be done, then I thought I might like to talk to the Zander Gruppe management. Remember them?"
"Sure, that German company that we have the stock in. Do we still have that stock?"
"Yep… I've even added a little. We could take Alex, make it a real family trip. We could also feel out Zander on any interest they may have in the armaments business."
David's tulips at the edge of the patio were in full bloom and a riot of variegated color in the slowly fading evening sun.
I lifted his hand and kissed it. "Be fine with me. I'd like seeing Jamie again and I'd get a kick out of watching Alex's reaction to things. What countries would we be going to?"
"Oh, I'm thinking… well England of course, Germany, France, and probably Switzerland. Oh, and maybe Italy… I'm waiting to hear something."
"Whatcha waiting to hear?"
"Jamie put me in touch with an Italian who has really helped us in selecting Italian stocks for our International portfolio. Anyway, he emailed me the other day and said that he might have a piece of land we might be interested in, you and I that is, not the company." David grinned at me. "Wanna own a hunk of Italy?"
"Can we afford a hunk of Italy?"
"Yeah, sure. It's not like we really ever spend any. We go out to dinner with Mike and Ted or occasionally Frank and Marcy, but that's about it… we're homebodies."
I pulled David over onto my lap with his back to my chest and my arms around his waist. "You make us sound… domesticated."
David pulled my arms tighter around him. "I love being domesticated. Being domesticated means Alex and Joe and taking care of the house." He laid his head back against my shoulder. "It also means waking up next to you, feeling your arms around me, and kissing you when you come home at night and… well… this, just sitting here on your lap. That too sappy?"
"Oh, babe… no… it's not." I pressed my head to his. "It's exactly the way I want our life to be, you, me, and Alex… and well, Joe too.
"So we get a villa with the land?" I was kidding.
David laughed. "Well, not a villa, but a small house and like a zillion olive trees. He said the guy on the next farm buys the olives and watches the land. Anyway, we can look at it and see what we think."
"So you think that Zander might be interested in the armaments biz?"
"I'm thinking yes, cause when I mentioned to them that you and I might be making a trip to Europe they offered to send their corporate plane. We've put a lot of investors onto their stock, so it's hard to know if they're responding to that or something else. Emi will know, he's already talking to them."
"Emi? He's the German guy, right?"
"Right. His mom was Spanish and his dad German. Emi is short for Emanuelle. Did I ever show you his picture?"
"He's fucking gorgeous! Something about blending those two nationalities… he's not really handsome… more like beautiful, but like a guy not a woman. I've always thought that's why he's so effective in negotiations. He like stuns people. It's funny too, cause his wife is kinda plain, but he worships her. Oh well, as long as it works for 'em."
David was rocking back and forth contentedly on my lap and as usual the sound of his voice was like an elixir to me, every word a balm that nurtured and healed. These were perfect moments and I stored them like jewels in the back of my mind to be carefully taken out and relived when I was away from him.
Alex came running out onto the patio in his pajamas. "There's a guy on the television that's picking up snakes! Big ones and then a little one that bit him, but it didn't hurt. Well, it maybe hurt a little." He climbed up on us and straddled David's lap, then turned his head to look at the lawn. "I'm glad we don't have snakes! We don't, do we?"
"It's gorgeous! So how ya gonna decorate it?" My hands were shoved into my pockets and I was standing with Mike and Ted in the great room of their new house.
"Leather… I guess." Mike glanced at Ted, who looked a little frustrated.
"Some leather, but let's try and stop short of the bunkhouse look." Ted was running his hand over the stone of the fireplace. He held up his hands. "I know, I know, not like the condo." Ted looked at me and said, "This house is gonna kill us."
Mike walked over, wrapped Ted in his arms and rocked him back and forth. "Hang in there, baby, we're almost there." He looked down into Ted's eyes. "I just want it to be comfortable, decorated for us, not the rest of the world."
I said. "Actually, this place is probably big enough to fit the rest of the world into it."
Ted turned to me, still in Mike's arms. "It's weird, but it sure didn't look this big on paper and I never realized how far apart things would be."
"Yeah," Mike said, "when you're in the bedroom you really would have to think twice about a trip to the kitchen for a snack, but I suppose we'll get used to it."
My mind was wandering. "Alex has a cold."
Mike laughed. "Where'd that come from? I mean I'm sorry he's got a cold, but you didn't say anything earlier."
I laughed too. "Guess I'm vegin out… this is his first cold." I shoved my hands deeper into my pockets and stared out the window. "He'll get a million of 'em… but this is his first one and I keep thinking about it." Mike got a soft look in his eyes, walked over to me, put his arms on my shoulders and turned me around.
"Go home to your son, Mark." His voice was quiet, almost intimate. "Take care of Alex. Ted and I are big boys, we can take care of ourselves."
I suddenly had an idea. "Mike, call Marcy, Frank's wife. She's got fantastic taste and she totally loves to decorate. You've seen Frank's house, it's unbelievable."
He walked me to the door, his arms still on my shoulders. "That's actually not a bad idea. I love her taste. He's coming in for a cleaning next week. I'll ask him if he'd mind."
"He won't care, but it gives Marcy a chance to say no delicately if she doesn't want to."
I turned and looked at Mike. "You don't…?" He must have read my mind.
"If he gets a cold in his teeth, I'm your guy. If you and David really get concerned, call his pediatrician."
I wrapped my arm around Mike's neck and pulled him in closer. "You know, you hide it well, but you're actually not a bad guy." I let go of Mike and looked at him and Ted. "I'm goin home. You guys take good care of each other."