Castle Roland

Chapter 8

Published: 28 Jul 16

Tales from Bentonville

By David Lee
Copyright © 2005, 2016

It was late in May and school was winding down for the year. Both Dane and Colton were looking forward to finals and to some time off. Both were pleased with how the school year had gone. Colt was again at least on speaking terms with Trent. He also had a boyfriend and was rid (as far as he could see) of his abusive step-father. He had done okay in wrestling. His grades were the best they had ever been and he was the happiest that he could ever remember being.

Dane's transition to a new school had been smoother than he had feared. He too had done well in his studies. Of course, he still worried about his Dad's safety in the war and about what his parents would do when they found out that their only son was gay, but for the most part, he was also the happiest he had ever been. For him it was to be the lull before the storm.

The boys were walking home from school on a pleasantly warm May afternoon when Dane spotted the military vehicle in his drive. His heart nearly stopped, but he ran toward the house to face whatever he had to. Colt was a mere step behind him.

Inside, they found a tearful Ellen and two officers. Ellen looked up as the boys burst through the door.

"It's not what you think. Dad is wounded, but he's alive. He is in the army facility in Germany. I will be flown there the day after tomorrow. He's hurt, but he's going to make it. These guys have promised me..."

At that point, Ellen couldn't continue talking. She was barely holding herself together as it was.

The two officers introduced themselves to the boys and spoke to them as equals. For that, Dane would be eternally grateful. He was also thankful that Colt's arm was around his shoulder squeezing him hard, almost painfully hard. It helped him to focus on what was being said.

The attack had come two days ago. DJ and some of his men were in the headquarters tent when someone threw a grenade in. PFC. Barry Wilson had thrown himself on the grenade to save his comrades.

Of course, the officers didn't know all of the details. They hadn't seen how DJ had cradled the dying man in his arms. Barry had smiled through his pain saying that he was going to be with Chase. DJ had had tears in his eyes that splashed on Barry's face as he kissed the cheek of his young trooper. Barry had saved the lives of the guys he had come to regard as his family. DJ felt an undying love for the man he held.

In the shock, DJ had not felt his own pain. He went on to give orders and see to his men. For some reason he couldn't get up. Then he looked down at his left leg and realized that part of it was missing. It was then that he passed out.

"He has lost part of one leg," the men were saying. "He will recover from his wounds. Fortunately, his knee is intact. That means he can lead a pretty normal life with a prosthetic device. Given his great physical condition, he should make a rapid recovery."

Dane was lost in thought. He had hoped to come out to his parents when his dad returned. Now he didn't think that he could. They could only bear so much bad news at once. Then he mentally chastised himself. Here his dad was lying wounded in a hospital halfway around the world and Dane was thinking of himself. He would have to be strong for his family. He couldn't think of anyone but his dad for the time-being.

The three of them sat around in a daze after the officers had left. Ellen had been called from work to come home, but Greta was still at school. They would have to go through the agony of breaking the news to her.

The moment that Greta arrived, she knew that something was terribly wrong. Dane was quick to assure her that his father was alive and would recover. Then among them, they filled in the rest of the story. Greta sat there stunned for several minutes. With a sense of purpose, she went to the kitchen and returned with four glasses, ice, and a bottle of whisky. She poured Ellen and herself a stiff drink. The other two glasses had some water as well as ice. She poured about a quarter of a shot in each of those.

"Okay, boys, I don't want you to get into the habit of turning to liquor to drown your troubles, but I think we all need this tonight."

The boys sipped their drinks cautiously so as not to choke. The taste was not that great, but the effect of the booze helped to numb the pain a bit.

No one felt like eating anything. They sat in silence for a long time. Finally, Greta spoke.

"Well, we all knew that we might lose him. It's not as bad as it could have been. He's alive. He will come back to us. We have to carry on and be brave for him. We have to support him until he can go back to being the man he was when he went away to this awful war."

The rest nodded in silence. Colt, of course, had not even met his uncle. However, he felt like the rest because he could feel Dane's pain as if it were his own. At that moment, he knew that this would always be his family - come what may.

They called Wade and talked for nearly an hour. Colt spent part of that time reassuring his biological father that he would look after the rest. There was no need for Wade to come yet, as much as everyone would like to see him. There really wasn't anything that anyone could do but wait and hope and pray.

Around 7:00, Greta sent out for pizza. No one ate much, but they knew that they had to keep up their strength. Morning would come; life would go on.

That night, neither boy had any desire for sex, but they needed the closeness of each other. That was especially true for Dane. They cuddled through the entire restless night. Neither guy slept very well. When the alarm went off in the morning, they felt like they had just fallen asleep.

Ellen offered to write excuses to let them stay home "sick" that day, but they chose to go to school. Greta agreed that it was best to keep up the normal routine. She hadn't slept much either, but once her makeup was on, she looked like she was ready to face the day. She was a professional.

Ellen stayed home to pack for her departure the following day. She knew that she couldn't concentrate on work with all she had to do.

Some of Dane's teachers and classmates noticed his tired look. They asked and he told them. By lunch time, many of the people at school knew what had happened. Of course, some of the stories were greatly exaggerated, but most were close to the truth.

Trent, Sara, Carrie, and Leah expressed their sympathy to Dane. Leah was even civil to Colt as they all sat together that noon. The support of friends did a lot to buoy Dane's spirits for the rest of the day. Despite his nagging headache, he managed to survive.

That night, everyone in the Johnson household went to bed shortly after a simple supper. Ellen had to be up early for her flight. The rest were dead-tired.

Colton wasn't satisfied until he had gotten Dane to take a couple of Tylenol PM tablets to deaden his headache and help him sleep.

As on the previous night, Colt held Dane in his arms until the latter fell asleep. Colt lay awake for a while listening to the gentle breathing of his boyfriend. He was thankful that he could give comfort to his guy. As he drifted off to sleep, he again realized how much they needed each other. Dane had been there for him after Robert's attack, now he could repay the debt in part.

When the alarm rang the following morning, the boys struggled to come to. They had slept much better than on the previous night, but still felt as if they had been drugged. It wasn't until they had shared a shower that they began to really awaken.

Only after they were brushing their teeth did they remember that they had run the shower only once. Oh well, if anyone was counting showers, so be it!

They needn't have worried. The note from their grandmother said that she was driving Ellen to the airport and heading on to school. There was lunch money on the counter since no one had had time to pack lunches. She reminded them to have some orange juice, eat some cereal, and take their vitamins.

Dane smiled over the note.

"I guess she thinks we're too dumb to take care of ourselves."

Colt also smiled as he nodded. He still appreciated the fact that his new-found grandmother was fussing over them even when she couldn't be present.

Ellen was embarking on a tiring journey. She had a short layover in Minneapolis. She used the time to call her brother-in-law at work. He was glad to hear from her.

Then, she boarded a big jet for Germany. It would be a long flight. She had brought a book to read, but found that she couldn't concentrate. Her eyes closed. The next thing she knew, the plane was landing on a floodlit runway. It was the middle of the night in Europe.

The time change threw her system off, but because she had slept on the plane she was in better shape than she might have been. A female army officer met her at the gate and helped her collect her luggage and go through customs. Since she didn't have a regular passport, she had been given special papers to allow her into the country.

In a little over an hour, Ellen was heading down the hall to the ward where DJ lay semi-conscious in his bed. She tiptoed into the room so as not to awaken him, but despite her quiet entry, his eyes popped open.

"Is this a dream, or are you really here?"

"I'm here, Honey."

She bent and kissed him on the lips. He held her as if she were a life raft in a stormy sea. And in a way, she was.

Even after he relaxed his grip, DJ couldn't let go of his wife. He had to convince himself that he wasn't hallucinating. He knew that he had done some of that. In his first couple of days, he had relived the horror of that fateful moment. Then he had seen Barry floating overhead in the arms of another young man that he didn't know, but assumed must be Chase. The two young men had reached down and wiped away his tears.

Later, Barry and Chase had been replaced by Dane and another boy that DJ didn't know either, but who looked vaguely like Wade except for the hair color. They had smiled at him and told him he would be okay. They had all seemed so real. Now he wasn't sure what was real and what wasn't. He couldn't let go of Ellen lest she float away.

After a while, a nurse came in to say that Ellen must go and come back in the morning. She was escorted to a military hotel-like facility where she quickly undressed and fell into a fitful sleep.

The sun was barely up when Ellen arose. She showered and dressed rapidly before going downstairs to see about breakfast. There was a spread of eggs, meat, and cheese to choose from. She ate hungrily. She hadn't realized how little she had eaten in the past few days. The fact of seeing her husband alive and looking pretty good, considering everything, had made her appetite return.

Back at the hospital, DJ was awake and eager to make sure that Ellen was really, truly there. They talked for a long time. His emotions were all over the place. He had always been self-assured and stoic in the past. He had be the consummate jock who had never given in to his feelings. Now he seemed like a little lost boy at times. Ellen slid onto the bed next to him and held him for a long, long time. He seemed to gain strength from her embrace.

When the nurse entered the curtained off area to give DJ a shot for pain, he didn't say anything about Ellen's being on the bed. He knew that rules didn't apply when breaking them was the best possible therapy in the world for his patient. As far as Sgt. Harms was concerned, most of his charges would probably get well more quickly if they could experience love. If wives, girlfriends, or boyfriends (for that matter) even made an attempt to make love, Harms would certainly turn a blind eye.

At the end of the following week, the doctors concluded that DJ was well enough to be transported to the States and would likely recover faster if he could be in a facility closer to his home. The veteran's hospital in Iowa City could care for him. Since the University Hospital was nearby, he would have access to any specialized treatment he might require.

On Monday, Ellen flew on a military jet with DJ and other soldiers. They would be transferred to a smaller plane in New York and fly to the airport near Cedar Rapids. From there, a van would take them to the VA facility. Both were relieved to be going home.

While Ellen was away, life in Bentonville had gone on. Greta had given the boys more responsibility in meal preparation because she had lots of duties with the ending of school. Also, she felt that having their minds occupied with mundane things helped to keep them from worrying and helped to give them a sense of having some control over their lives. She knew that Dane was trying to keep up a brave facade for her and she also knew that Colton was helping Dane to survive emotionally.

Their cooking skills left a bit to be desired at first, but they were learning. Both were smart enough to follow a recipe and were beginning to experiment with adjusting seasonings to taste. After a week and a half, they were doing pretty well.

The boys had become like a matched set - salt and pepper. They seemed to complete each other. Perhaps it was because of their blood tie, but Greta sensed that it was deeper. It was as if they knew each other's hearts and minds. She remembered when she was young and when she and Walter were like that. But of course she and Walter had been in love. Hmm, could two cousins who had recently met have that kind of inner communication like twins do?

Despite the fact that Dane's mind was with his father in Germany much of the time, he managed to do well enough on his finals. Colton did well too. He was nearly as distracted as Dane was, but his was mostly due to empathy.

On the day of the last test, the boys came tearing out of the school toward the bike-rack. Today, they would cycle to McDonald's for lunch and then home. Greta had bought them a family-pass to use at the swimming pool which was opening for the season that afternoon. It was another of her ways to keep them busy so they would have less time to brood over their family situations.

Robert's trial was coming up soon and that had to be affecting Colton. He had heard by email from his mother that she had changed addresses. She had not sent him her new one just in case Robert tried to force him to tell. Sharon was of two minds about that. What if Robert hurt him because he couldn't tell? Yet, she said that Colt could give out the old one in Sioux City and that would send Robert on a wild goose chase, if nothing else, and still not reveal her present location.

The boys chowed down, along with a number of classmates, on a not-to-healthy lunch. Then, they sprinted for home to get their trunks and towels. They decided to change at home instead of at the pool. Their swimwear would dry while they rode back later and they could shower together in their own place.

There was a message on the answering machine from Ellen saying that she and DJ would arrive in Iowa City after the weekend. The call made them think of DJ's injuries again, but it also gave them a sense of hope and progress since he would be back. Dane could hardly wait.

The boys splashed and swam with several of their school friends for a couple of hours before heading back home. They felt great. The sun and exercise had helped to put life into perspective. It was good to be young and alive.

Showering at home proved to be a lot more fun than showering at the pool. Sure, they might have seen some other naked boys, but they really had eyes only for each other. They spent a lot of time (and hot water) touching, soaping, caressing, and generally enjoying their bodies. They were beginning to hump against each other when the water started to cool off. Quickly, they jumped out and dried off. Then they ran naked to their bedroom.

Colt pushed Dane back onto the bed and climbed on top of him. He lined up their stiffies and began the thrusting motions again. The lack of suds made the sensation less appealing to the nerve endings of his cut phallus. So, he ran back to the bathroom for some hand lotion which he liberally applied to both of them. This proved to be the right balance between friction and slippage.

Dane clung to Colton's butt to keep them aligned. He also liked the idea of touching Colt there. Colt liked it too. When he felt one of Dane's fingers stray into his crack, the sensation put him over the edge. Feeling Colt's copious offering on his abs made Dane cum too.

At Colton's suggestion, the boys tried to clean each other with a tongue bath. However, neither liked the taste of the lotion, so they settled for a wet, cool washcloth.

After dressing, the guys went into the kitchen to decide on what to fix for dinner. They didn't have a plan that night and were still rummaging around for ingredients when Greta arrived home. She came to the rescue with a plan of her own. In view of the good news that DJ and Ellen were coming home on Monday, she proposed that they drive to Cosgrove to eat out at a little locally-owned Italian restaurant she had heard good things about. Neither guy objected!

The restaurant turned out to be as pleasant as its reputation. The help was friendly and the menu was filled with good, inexpensive fare. Everyone had to decide which of their favorites they would choose.

As they were getting ready to order, Colt's cousin, Marc came in accompanied by his boyfriend, Trevor and their buddies Zeke and Bryan. Colt was excited to see them.

Marc did a double-take when he noticed Colton. He stiffened waiting for the younger boy to lash out at him about being queer. He was surprised when his cousin hugged him instead. He hugged back, hesitatingly at first, and then with a rib-crushing embrace. After introductions were made, the restaurant staff found another table to move in so that all seven could sit together. Greta carried on a pleasant and animated conversation with Trevor. He had been one of her favorites when he was in elementary school. She liked Marc, too, but hadn't come to know him as well.

Bryan and Zeke were also easy to talk with. They were happy to have graduated and were excited about the prospect of all going to school together at the university in the fall.

"You guys are all sharing a mobile home?" Colt exclaimed. "Does that mean that you are all...?"

Then he blushed knowing that he shouldn't have opened his mouth.

"Yup," Zeke responded. "Bryan and I are just as gay as these two over here. We're out completely and we don't apologize for being who we are."

Dane choked on the Coke he was drinking. Colt had to slap him on the back a couple of times. Greta smiled at the scene. She thought that it was healthy for her grandsons to see some straight-looking gay guys who seemed to have their heads together. It might make it easier for Colt to accept the fact that his father was gay (though he didn't seem to have any problem with that as far as she could ascertain).

Suspecting that the boys might have other things they would like to ask of the young men from Cosgrove, Greta excused herself to make a lengthy run to the restroom. The minute she left, Colt continued the conversation.

"Uh, do you guys think that you'll stay together forever?"

"Yes!" was the answer that all four gave.

"Trevor and I pledged ourselves to each other at Christmas in private," Marc said.

"Zeke and I are having a ceremony very soon - on his birthday," Bryan chimed in. "Then we are going on a honeymoon cruise!"

"Uh, could we have your email addresses in case we wanted to ask any more questions?" Dane asked.

The four graduates quickly wrote down the information on a slip of paper.

"Do I take it that you may have some personal reasons for wanting to know about alternative life styles?" Marc asked in a whisper.

Both younger boys nodded bashfully; almost afraid to breathe.

"Congratulations, little cousin," Marc responded. "You certainly know how to pick 'em!"

Dane and Colt blushed while their older companions grinned broadly. Then the younger pair asked more questions about how it felt being together. Nothing sexually intimate was discussed, but the older guys freely talked about their love.

"Please don't tell Trent or anyone. We aren't ready to face what you guys did." Colton pleaded looking at Trevor and Marc.

"Don't worry," Marc responded. "We wouldn't wish that bad crap on you or anyone else!"

Seeing that the boys were in a serious discussion, Greta detoured by another table where some colleagues from Bentonville schools were also celebrating the end of the year. When she eventually got back to her own table, she sensed that the other six had shared something that she wasn't a part of. She was thankful that the older guys had made the younger ones feel comfortable.

On the way back to Bentonville, Greta had Dane drive half of the way and Colton the other half. She wanted them to have some supervised road experience before they took drivers' ed. Both boys felt great about their evening out.

Please let David know what you think of the story:

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