Castle Roland

Chapter 15

Published: 11 Aug 16

Tales from Bentonville

By David Lee
Copyright © 2005, 2016

Greta was wise enough not to ask her grandsons any details about their misunderstanding or the resolution of the conflict. Her intuition told her that they had probably made up in a very intimate way. That was information she didn't need.

"We need to talk about some things," she stated as they boys helped clean up after lunch."

"I know, Grandma, we need to get our Saturday chores done. We've kinda been preoccupied," Dane said softly.

"Yes, well, it's not about chores. Those can wait; the vacuuming and dusting don't need doing that badly. Your crazy grandmother has done something that she may be sorry for, but I hope that it was the right thing to do."

Her statement piqued the boys' interest. What was the big mystery?

"We are going for a ride. One of you can drive to our destination and the other back. Which one needs the most experience behind the wheel?"

The boys pointed at each other and laughed. Greta smiled too. It was good to have them teasing and smiling again. She flipped a coin which put Dane in the driver's seat first.

"See, God knows that I was right!" Colt giggled.

He had to dodge quickly to keep from getting swatted on the butt by his lover.

The drive to Lake Delhi wasn't a long one. The small recreational lake area was easily accessible from Bentonville and Cosgrove. Property there was highly desirable and becoming more expensive.

Following Greta's directions carefully, Dane pulled up to a driveway in a wooded area off of the main road. Greta produced a remote control from her purse which opened the security gate. Dane drove up the graveled lane toward a well-kept A-frame cottage.

The boys were impressed by the amount of land around the building and the evergreen shrubs that provided complete privacy from the nearby lake as well as from other properties. It was like being in one's own world.

Inside, the cottage proved to have more room than they had imagined. There were two bedrooms on the main floor as well as a nice sitting area which was open to the peak of the roof with windows occupying nearly every square inch of the front wall which faced the lake. A natural stone fireplace, rising from floor to roof was the focal point across from the window wall. It was a functional, wood-burning one with a lower firebox facing the living room and an upper one facing the loft.

Upstairs, the loft extended over all of the main-floor rooms (other than the living room). It was open except for a small bathroom and the fireplace. There were panels on tracks that could be pulled out to section it off for privacy if needed. The back wall of the loft, like the front of the cottage, was mainly glass with sliding doors that led to a deck.

Since the dwelling stood on a rise overlooking the lake, there was even a solid partial basement. The people who had built it were petrified of tornados.

"It's beautiful," Colt exclaimed. "Who owns it?"

"I do, or rather I should say, we do. That is what I was doing in Cosgrove this morning, signing the papers. Your fathers may think that I'm a spendthrift for buying it, but I couldn't pass up the chance. The old couple, Fred and Ora Hanover, who owned it for years were friends of ours. They don't feel well enough to live in the Midwest during our cold winters anymore and are moving to Arizona. Since they didn't want this property divided up into little lots by some developer, they offered it to me for about half of its market value. Their children are going to crap when they find out! They were waiting to inherit it so that they could make a killing on the sale. But the Hanover's didn't want that to happen and they know that I will preserve it as is. Your fathers both spent some good times here water-skiing and boating as kids. We will have to teach you guys to do that too. I bought the place lock, stock, and barrel. The boat goes with it."

"This is so awesome! Can we come out here for a sleepover with friends?" Dane asked.

"I see no reason why not. You can plan to do that yet this fall. The place is insulated and winterized since the Hanover's thought that they would retire here. We'll have to turn off the water and drain the pipes before it freezes hard if we don't keep heat on. I don't plan to waste the energy this winter with the price of heating fuel."

Greta went on to tell the boys that she could easily afford the place since she had always lived moderately and had received a good settlement in her divorce.

One thing she would have to say for Walter, he had not tried to cheat her when they parted. No one had heard from him in several years, but she wished him no harm. Their only major problem had been his attitude toward Wade.

The boys spent at least an hour checking out the boat, the boathouse, the grounds, and various nooks and crannies in the cottage. They were overwhelmed with the beauty of the place.

Some of the appliances and furnishings were a bit dated, but they were so well-kept that they looked like new. It was like being transported back into the 80's.

"All we need is some soft-rock elevator music," Dane quipped. "Then we could be transported back in time without a time machine like in 'Back to the Future'."

On the return trip with Colton at the wheel, Greta went on to explain to the boys that she was going to retire in the spring. She had worked long enough and hard enough. She wanted to be able to spend some quality time by the lake with a good novel in one hand and a cup of coffee in the other. The school district was offering a nice incentive package for those ready to retire and she was taking advantage of it.

"Besides," she said, "I want to have some good times with my children and grandchildren in that place. It has lots of pleasant memories even though the Hanover kids turned out to be spoiled brats."

When they reached the main road, Greta directed Colton to drive toward Cosgrove. She was going to treat the boys to the dinner that they had not had on Friday night. It would be a celebration of the new property (and, she thought, a celebration of two guys straightening out whatever they had been fighting over).

Later that evening, a tired, but happy Dane and Colt headed up for bed early. They had called both Wade and DJ to tell them about the cottage. Both of Greta's sons were thrilled and neither thought their mother was crazy for buying it.

The boys took a quick shower before turning in. They planned to kiss and cuddle before going to sleep, but not to have sex. Part of their plan worked; they kissed and cuddled. Their loving was gentle and unhurried. After bring miserable for a couple of days, they couldn't manage to keep from expressing their love physically again that night.

Both slept soundly and Colt didn't have any bad dreams.

Sunday morning found the two boys getting ready for church. They had been attending with Greta pretty regularly. DJ and Ellen were usually there too. The whole family felt thankful that DJ was still with them and was healing in mind and body. The boys were also thankful that they were back in a good relationship with each other.

The sermon was especially meaningful to the boys that day. Dan Fredrickson, the young minister, based his remarks on Psalm 139. He had heard a gay Roman Catholic priest being interviewed on NPR that week. The priest had told how the Psalm had touched him and made him realize that God had made him and loved him as he was. God knew his very thoughts and still loved him. That convinced him that he was no worse or no better than anyone else.

He went on to say that loving your neighbor as you do yourself implies that people need to accept and love themselves first.

Dan's message touched the boys. It made them more aware of the fact that there were people in the world who would not consider them outcasts because they were different. Perhaps God had a plan for them like He did the priest in the interview.

After church, Dane and Colt asked Pastor Dan about joining the youth group. The minister was more than happy to give them the details.

Greta treated her entire Bentonville family to lunch. Then, they all changed into jeans before going to the cottage to clean it of the dust that had accumulated while it was unoccupied the last couple of months. DJ had fond memories of it. It all seemed just like it had been. Ellen had never been there because DJ and the Hanover boys had drifted apart before their sophomore year in high school. She saw it with a different eye, but was equally excited. With five people working, the place was standing tall in a short time.

Once the chores were done, DJ and the boys got the boat running and all went for a ride around the lake. It was sunny, but chilly. Their windbreakers kept them from feeling the autumn cold. However, they knew there wouldn't be many more opportunities to do this before the next spring.

Back at school on Monday, the Johnson boys were in rare form. Trent smiled to see them so happy. They were full of news about the new vacation place that their grandmother had acquired, but Trent knew that their joy ran a lot deeper than that. The cottage was a good public reason for their upbeat attitudes, but that was a cover for the elation of being back together as a couple.

Joel, who had previously been trying to get closer to Colton, kept his distance. He was afraid that Dane might try to get even with him for hitting on Colt. Dane wasn't any taller than Joel and didn't outweigh him by that many pounds, but Joel wasn't taking any chances about getting his handsome face bruised. Dane had given him a death-glare across the cafeteria several times last week.

Joel knew that caution was sometimes the better part of valor. He felt that once his medications got completely regulated again, he might be able to get Dane to understand why he had done something so foolish. Damn, he wished he could take that day back. At least no one seemed to have heard about it. Evidently Dane and Colt hadn't told it around school. Joel's secret seemed to be safe for the moment at least.

The school week progressed with no one getting into any fights. Sure, there were a few disagreements, but nothing of major proportion. October was moving along well for most kids, but not for all. Some kids weren't able to fight back. Among them was a kid with an unfortunate name.

Jerry Sucksdorf was a miserable young man. His freshman year at Bentonville High School was off to a worse start than any year he had experienced in his young life. He was new to the community. He wasn't very big physically. And, there was the problem of his last name. Yes, his parents understood his plight, but they had refused to consider changing the family name. It was, as they pointed out, a proud German name that had been associated with minor royalty since the time of Otto I. Jerry was not impressed by the renown of his ancestors. He was tired of the taunts.

In the hallway by the gym on Thursday, the Tracewell brothers humiliated him. Dan Tracewell grabbed his own crotch and said:

"Hey Sucksdorf, how about sucking my dorf!"

Dan's older brother, John came up behind Jerry and forced him to his knees in front of Dan.

"Go ahead, you little fag, you know you want it." John had taunted.

Several passersby laughed at Jerry's discomfort. He felt terrible. He wasn't gay! He had no interest in guys. He couldn't understand why some people had to be so cruel. What had he ever done to them?

That night, Jerry cried himself to sleep. He was miserable. He considered his options. He could run away and change his name. But, he would never be able to make it on his own. He had heard about young guys who had run away and had ended up being boy prostitutes in order to survive. That was no solution.

The other possibility would be suicide. That idea had some appeal, but he thought about what his parents would feel. They really loved him even though they didn't understand about the name.

Back in Pennsylvania, Jerry had lived in a community that was largely settled by Germans. His name was rarely made fun of there. Other people had surnames that could be turned into nasty puns too if someone wanted to do it. At his former school, there was an unspoken rule that no one did that.

The next day at school, Jerry did his best to stay away from anyplace that the Tracewell brothers might be. When he saw them across the cafeteria, he quickly sat down at the nearest table with his back to them hoping that they wouldn't notice him.

That table happened to be occupied by Trent, Sara, Carrie, Dane, and Colton. They introduced themselves to the new kid to make him feel welcome. He was rather shy, but began to open up once he figured out that they were sincerely being friendly. He blushed every time he spoke to Carrie. It was cute. Dane nudged Colt and they gave each other knowing looks.

Jerry checked to see where Dan and John Tracewell were before getting up to take his tray to the counter. Seeing that the older boys were engaged in an animated conversation with some other jerks, he sensed that it was a good time to make his departure. He said his thanks to his tablemates who invited him to eat with them again. He felt better about school.

As soon as he was out of earshot, Colt began to tease Carrie about Jerry.

"He's cute and he has a big crush on you. I think you should ask him out. He's never going to get up the nerve to ask you!"

"Maybe we could get several people together and invite him to see a movie with us. That way, it wouldn't be like a date." Carrie countered.

The rest agreed that it might be a good plan.

Jerry's luck didn't hold. No sooner had he gotten to the hallway than the two Tracewell brothers appeared there, ready to antagonize him again.

"On your knees, Sucks-dick," Dan ordered.

"No," Jerry retorted.

"Do what my brother says, Shit-head!"

Jerry was trembling on the inside with fear and rage, but he vowed not to give in.

John had his hands on Jerry's shoulders when he felt a strong pair on his own.

"Leave him alone!" Alex Albers shouted.

Dan spun around to take a swing at the boy who was touching his brother, but was stopped by the other Albers twin.

"Don't even think it!" Allen said in a calm, cold voice.

Dan had met his match and then some.

"You two leave this kid alone or you'll answer to us." Alex continued. "If I hear that you have been harassing him, I will lay you out cold."

"Yeah? If you get into a fight, you'll be kicked off the football team."

"I'd consider it an honor if it means I get to take you on." Alex said with a hard smile on his handsome face. "Besides, Coach won't bust me for taking out a sack of trash."

"Th-thanks," Jerry stammered after his attackers had left. "I don't know what would have happened if you hadn't come along.

"It's okay, Dude," Alex answered. "I'm gonna be around. Those creeps had better leave you alone."

"I don't know why they want to go after me," Jerry sighed. "I've never done anything to them. I'm not gay and I never did anything to make them think that I was."

Alex had hoped in his heart that Jerry might be gay, but he was going to help the cute little freshman either way. Bullying wasn't to be tolerated! Alex couldn't stand seeing someone picked on.

"Don't worry, little Dude," Alex assured him. "We don't care if you're gay or not. We've got your back either way."

The twins walked Jerry to his next class and then proceeded to their own. On the way, Allen looked at his brother in a knowing way. He felt that Alex's actions were motivated by more than just not wanting to see a little guy get harassed. He decided to wait and watch. The boys were too close not to know something about what was going on in each other's mind.

Jerry felt better than he had in weeks. He had a friend - actually several. The kids at lunch had welcomed him and the two bigger guys had rescued him. Things were looking up.

In showers and locker room after practice, Allen watched his twin brother more closely than usual. He caught Alex checking out some of their teammates. Of course, there was the usual horseplay involving towel-snapping, etc., but Alex's eyes strayed more than most guy's would have. It wouldn't have been noticeable to anyone who wasn't anticipating it, but to Allen, it was obvious. He would have to confront his bro.

Driving home, Allen glanced briefly at Alex before saying what was on his mind.

"So, are you going to tell me about it, or do I have to bring it up?"

"What are you talking about," Alex inquired nervously.

"The fact that I like girls and you like boys," Allen said without turning his head.

Alex put his hands to his face and began to sob. Allen pulled the car over on the shoulder of the road and turned off the engine.

"It's okay, Bro. I love you either way. You know that we can't keep anything from each other. Sometimes I wish I felt the same way as you so you wouldn't be alone. I'm sorry; I really, really like girls."

Alex pulled his hands away from his face and looked at his twin with curiosity.

"Are you shitting me?" he said dubiously.

"No, man, you're my favorite turd!" Allen shot back with a smirk.

"Seriously, you would want to be queer for me?"

"Yeah, baby Bro. (Allen was five minutes older). You are like a part of me. I wish that we wanted the same things. I know that it hurt you when we stopped messing around."

Allen then embraced his twin and kissed him on the cheek.

"Like, I said, I love you - like a brother."

Alex felt relieved that he was out to Allen. He hated keeping secrets from his twin. Actually, he felt like he really couldn't. Evidently, he hadn't. There always had been a kind of mind-link between them.

"Well," said Allen as he restarted the car. "This means that we are gonna have to find you a boyfriend so we can double."

"Shit, Allen, if it gets around school, how long do you think I will be on the football team? No one will trust me in the showers. Guys will think I'm perving on them when we change. You can't out me!"

"Don't worry, I have no plans to mess up your life in this burg, but you'd better be careful not to check out too many crotches like you did today. Someone IS gonna notice! Besides, if you're worried about staying on the team, you'd better get your grade up in math. That could get you in trouble quicker than being outed."

The boys rode the rest of the short distance in silence. Alex felt drained. It wasn't from the exertion of practice although the coach had put them through it. It was because his emotions had been on a rollercoaster ride and that had triggered an adrenaline rush. He was exhausted, but he also felt freer. He was still sitting in the passenger seat after Allen had gotten out when they parked in the drive.

"Come on, Weenie," Allen grinned. "We've got homework to do before supper."

"Who are you calling, Weenie?" Alex shot back. "Better show some respect for your well-hung, little bro."

The boys butted chests like they had done since they were little kids and went laughing into the house.

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