Castle Roland

A Special Place

by Sequoyah


Chapter 26

Published: 8 Apr 14

A Special Place--Part Twenty-six - Matt

Easter morning dawned a beautiful spring day: the sun was shining, fluffy white clouds dotted the sky here and there. The sunlight coming through the window woke me. I turned and looked into the face of my beloved Luke. With his mop of golden hair and his beautiful face, he might have been the angel who, having announced the resurrection, had completed his task and came to my bed for a nap. I was overwhelmed by the love I felt for this man and as I leaned over to kiss him good morning, Greywolf shouted, "Alleluia! Christ is risen!" loudly enough to wake anyone sleeping and maybe a few of the dead as well. "He is risen indeed! Alleluia!" Luke and I responded in one breath. "How did you know what you say?" I asked, looking at his smiling face.

"Same thing going on down the road at the Larsen place," he answered as he kissed me gently. "Sarang Hanun Pomul, this really is Easter for me. I have been in 'death's dark bonds' and now I am free to live and love. Today is very, very special for me."

"For me as well, Yonghon Tongmu. While you lay in death's dark bonds, a part of me died and when you came back to the land of the living, you brought me life as well."

"Damn, we're a strange pair," Luke laughed. "A couple of horny nearly-eighteen-year-olds, lying in bed together, naked as the day we were born, having made some pretty passionate love last night and we're being theological. Think anyone would really believe that?"

"Of course not. What do you think people think we are, freaks?"

Luke looked at me, his face aglow, his eyes sparkling, a huge smile on his face and said, "Don't care what they think. I know what you are. You are my beloved treasure," and covered my mouth with his for a deep, passionate kiss.

Luke and I showered, quickly. There was not time for a lengthy interlude in the shower, but we did make the best of the time we had. Then we tossed on T-shirts and shorts and joined Mom and Dad for breakfast.

When we had finished breakfast, Luke and I went back to my room and dressed for church. Luke had really started looking sharp. He was paying a lot more attention to what he wore than he had. "Luke, why have you suddenly become a fashion plate?"

Luke, again, gave me that special smile and said, "Could be I have a reason to dress to impress someone I'm in love with."

"Couldn't be me, I like you better the way you were when I woke up and saw you beside me!" and I pulled Luke to me for a kiss.

"You might, but I'm not sure St. Mary's blue-haired ladies would approve."

"They might not approve, but I bet they'd enjoy it!"

Ordinarily I wear to St. Mary's what I would wear to school, or maybe not even pay as much attention as I do to school clothes. After all, very few people see my clothes since I wear an organist's cassock and surplice. I even change shoes to play. Today, however, I dressed for Luke. He had picked a dark, rich blue silk shirt and a pair of deeper blue slacks. He was indeed a golden god clothed in the blue of royalty. I picked a pale yellow silk shirt and deep, deep green slacks. Seldom do I wear my hair loose. In fact, if I can keep Luke away from it, you can well know I got up too late to take care of it when I leave the house with it loose. Today, however, when I started to braid it, Luke took the brush from my hand and brushed my hair. I guess it was the magic of his touch, but my hair had a shine I hadn't noticed. "Leave it down for me," he pleaded. How could I resist?

When we arrived at St. Mary's, I was surprised to see Bill there. "Bill, what a surprise," I said, slapping him on the back.

"Yea, well, this Linda creature I seem to have taken up with made it very plain she'd be here this morning and she would like to have me show up. I just hope this lapsed Baptist doesn't make a fool of himself."

"Sit with the Gang of Four and rise and fall with them," I laughed.

While we were talking, Larry, Eugene and Millie walked up. "Matt, ready to raise the dead?" Millie laughed.

"You better believe it." We were standing in the hall of the parish house and I looked around and saw only people who knew all, so I kissed Luke and went to get vested.

The lights were off in the church and, even with the spring sun streaming through the stained glass windows, the church was darkened. The church bell, which had been silent since Good Friday, rang out and Fr. Tom appeared at the back of the church holding aloft the Paschal candle. "Alleluia! Christ is risen!" his voice boomed through the church. The people responded, "He is risen indeed! Alleluia!" In the middle of the nave, and at the chancel steps, the cry was repeated. The third time the proclamation was made was my signal to start. With a fanfare from the state trumpets, the lights came on and the processional started. Once again the choir and I had won the Easter debate. Fr. Tom always wanted to start with "The strife is o'er", but while it is a great hymn and will surely be a part of the Easter Mass, it just doesn't have the "wake up the dead" quality of "Jesus Christ is risen today!" with the organ going all out and Millie's trumpet announcing the resurrection.

As the joyous service continued, my mind kept returning to the fact that, for the first time, I knew what resurrection really meant. It wasn't about a dead man walking around, it was about being dead and being brought back to life. It was about my Yonghon Tongmu, floating face down in a river, drowning his despair and hopelessness and now sitting where I could see him, alive, really alive and loving me. And it was about me, hopeless, seeing nothing in life but emptiness, now alive and knowing the fullness of being loved and of loving. It was about Millie who, in spite of her money and her loving son, had a dead place inside where grandchildren should be, who now sat, proudly, beside a son who filled that emptiness. And it was about that son who had been resurrected from the death of a father's hatred by her love. It was about David who had died when Elizabeth died, who now lived. My thoughts ran on and on. I didn't hear a word of the sermon; I didn't need to. I didn't need to hear talk about resurrection because I was surrounded by resurrected ones.

After Mass, we all met in the parish house for coffee and goodies. I was the last one to arrive since I had to unvest. As I pulled the surplice over my head, Luke's arms surrounded me. "Unfair, I can't see; I can't move."

Luke lifted the surplice over my head, put his arms around me and covered my mouth with his for a hard, passionate, tongue-in-the-mouth kiss. "Sarang Hanun Pomul, I didn't hear a word of the sermon. I just kept looking at the people around me and realized what this resurrection thing is all about."

"You too? I almost forgot to start the anthem I was so involved with thinking the same thing. Millie, David, Margaret, Michael, Eugene, Larry ... and most of all you and me, Yonghon Tongmu." Hand in hand we walked into the parish hall where not only the Gang of Four, but all the Select Few except Paula were waiting for us. Millie came over to us and said, "Matt, good job as always. Even old Mr. Snider (who was at least 5 years Millie's junior) stayed awake without his wife punching him in the ribs. But you know, I didn't hear a word of the sermon..."

"You, too?" Luke asked. "You were thinking about the resurrections all around you? The living breathing resurrections?"

"Yes, but how did you know?"

"Matt and I had just said the same thing minutes ago."

Fr. Tom came over to where we were all standing and asked, "Well, how was my Easter sermon?"

We all cracked up. Millie, after her great Millie laugh, said, "We were just discussing that, Tom. Not a one of us, it seems, heard a word of what you said. We were too involved thinking about the resurrections all around us."

"I suppose I should pout, but to tell the truth, I forgot what I was saying at one point because, as I looked over the congregation, I was saying to myself, 'That's what it's about. That's a resurrected person,' and I was thunderstruck how I really, really saw that for the first time. And, by the way, those are stunning rings you kids are wearing. Glad you were able to solve that problem in such a delightful and beautiful way."

"Oh, Father..."

"Lord deliver me," Fr. Tom said, "that's Agnes Scott. If I weren't talking to a group of teens and the major patron of St. Mary's, I'd say, 'Hide me fast. That woman wants to get in my pants. Why do women take off after a collar, I'd like to know, especially hopeless cases?' But since I am here in front of you innocents, I'll just say, 'Excuse me.'"

"Matt, Bill and I are supposed to go home with you," Linda said. "We're invited for Easter dinner."

"Great, let's jet." When we reached the house, there was a strange car in the driveway. When we got inside, Paula was there with her mother and Larry's mom. "Sounds strange to me too," Paula said, "but happy Easter."

"Happy Passover to you, Paula, Ms. Wright," I responded.

Although her wedding was only a few hours away, Margaret was right in there with Yong Jin and Mom preparing dinner. Greywolf had set up tables on the back deck and patio and the food was on a long table just outside the kitchen door. Everyone gathered around and, after grace, Greywolf said, "Let us feast!" and we did! People kept moving from table to table, talking, laughing, enjoying being together. You would have thought Bill had been a part of the family all his life. He really fit right in.

When dinner was over, Greywolf said to Bill, "Bill, I assume you drive."

"Yes, I do," he replied.

"Can we press you into duty? The wedding guests are going to park at the Larsens' or here and be shuttled to the falls. Luke and Matt are involved in the wedding and Jens, Mr. Larsen, and I are driving our vans and if you would drive David's, Mr. Andrews', then they could also park at his place. It would be a great help."

"I would be delighted. I didn't know whether I was staying for the wedding or not."

"Linda," Greywolf called across the patio, "what kind of woman are you, allowing a man to escape a wedding?" Linda blushed big time. I think it was the first time I had ever seen her blush.

After dinner, the Select Few piled into my room and just did what a pile of teenagers do. When the couples started to make out just a bit, Michael said, "Ok, cool it. I know what we'd all like to do--even Bill seems to be making rapid progress with our empty-headed cheerleader type, but remember Paula's here. No rubbing it in!"

"One of these days," Paula said. "But thanks."

The first guests showed up at 4:00 and the three shuttles started running. Matt started the music at 4:30. The decision had been made to allow people to sit on blankets on the beach and the only chairs were provided for the few who needed them. I expected Millie to take one, but I had underestimated her again. At 4:50 I recalled a line from "My Fair Lady"--"Everyone was there who should be there". Dr. and Mrs. Walker, Gladys and Chelsea, and heaven only knows how many more of the hospital staff--from doctors to janitors, all the EMS staff--the EMS van was sitting just outside the falls and the staff on duty had their radios in case of an emergency. Gertie was sitting near Millie, the list could go on and on. For what was to be a small wedding, there must have been almost two hundred people there when Matt paused the music and Fr. Tom, Michael, and David took their places.

Matt started the Purcell "Trumpet Tune" and, while I couldn't see them from where I was standing, I realized he had been joined by Eugene and his trumpet. I took Margaret's arm and we walked toward the falls. I had always heard that all brides were beautiful and, while I can't speak for all of them, Margaret was stunning. Given the outdoor setting, she was very practical and wore flat shoes, but still came to my shoulders. She was dressed in a white dress and had a small veil which covered her face.

When we reached the men, I realized Margaret was shaking all over. I remembered Fr. Tom saying she and David wouldn't remember what to do on their wedding day. I smiled to myself and glanced at David and realized he was as nervous as she. Here were two people who remained cool every day in the face of countless emergencies but who, doing what they wanted more than anything in the world, were as nervous as two kids. Well, the wedding was perfect, of course, even though David couldn't get Margaret's ring on and Margaret dropped his and Michael had to find it in the sand of the beach.

As soon as the wedding was over, the males of the family quickly set up tables for the reception and the festivities were on. It was 6:30 before the new couple left. When Margaret tossed her bouquet, she aimed it directly at Matt. He had a choice, catch it or drop it. The whole crowd burst into laughter--some knew that it was no accident.

After the guests had gone, the Gang of Four--or I guess it's the Gang of Six now, because Larry and Eugene are definitely a part of the family--started cleaning up the falls area. Uncle Michael joined us as we gathered up the blankets--except a couple--folded the tables, picked up trash and Matt's keyboard and put them in the three vans. When we had finished, we all collapsed on the blankets, relaxing in this place which was, now even more, a special place.

Michael, Larry and I sat with our beloved between our legs, leaning against us. It was around 7:30, and twilight, when Michael reminded us that David and Margaret had reserved the falls for the night. "They were going out to dinner in Lexington and said they would be back by 9:30 and the falls better be clear!"

"Know what they mean," Luke said, "the night after Matt and I have our commitment ceremony, the falls are ours!"

"You're having a commitment ceremony?" Uncle Michael asked.

"Yes. We haven't decided when. We think we'll know when the time is right. But, yes, we have pledged to each other that we will."

A Special Place--Part Twenty-six--Uncle Michael's Story

"That's one of the big differences between today and thirty years ago. That would never have happened then. But some things remain the same, huh, Eugene? You all know what happened when my family found out about me. And if that wasn't enough, my beloved brother was hospitalized when I saw him once. I knew then I had to disappear from his life and it cut deeper than what my father did to me."

"Some families responded as mine when they discovered, or a son told them he was homosexual--gay was a word which came into use much later. Maybe most responded as mine. I don't know. There were some who just ignored reality and pretended a son was 'normal' or who at least never talked about it. In the fifties, homosexuality was still classified as a mental illness; it even had a psychological disorder diagnostic code. Those who were committed to mental institutions were almost always 'treated' with electro-convulsive therapy--that's electric shock. Not infrequently, electrodes were attached to the genitals."

Five males cringed. Uncle Michael laughed, "Yea, that was my reaction when I learned it was being done. I guess having the daylights beaten out of me was the easy treatment. Others hid by marrying, many then led a double life. Often after children, the marriage finally came apart with a lot of bitterness on the part of the wife and children. Life was not easy. I guess I was fortunate in that after having the crap beaten out of me, I escaped much of what other gay men suffered."

"I wandered around for a while, picking up odd jobs to stay alive until I ended up in Chicago. I worked on the docks there for a while and, one day, noticed the Chicago Art Institute was advertising for a janitor. The pay was less than I was making on the docks, but the work was easier and I was really interested in art so I leapt at the chance. I had been around for six months and knew I wanted more, but saw no way to advance until a course to train docents was offered."

"A docent? What in the world is a docent?" Michael asked his uncle.

Before he could answer, Luke spoke up. "It's a guide in a museum who leads people through an exhibition or through a part of the museum. You'll know soon enough because now you don't know what one is and in a few weeks you will be one for my exhibition!"

Uncle Michael laughed, "You should have seen the expression on the instructor's face when I showed up wearing my janitor's uniform. I was really determined to better myself, so I put all I had into the training session. I was first in the class from the beginning and, when it was over, I was immediately made a docent. I was in a dilemma because I needed to have decent clothes for the job and I had none. When I spoke of my dilemma to the man in charge, he told me I had done so well he would advance me the cost of a suit, shirt, shoes and tie. I paid that back out of my salary as quickly as possible by saving all I could on food. That was the only way I could save any money because I was living in a single room in the cheapest rooming house I could find."

"After six months as a docent, and receiving superior ratings from my supervisor and high praise from patrons, I was told that I could take classes at the Institute free--as an employee. I was in absolute heaven. Sure, my living conditions were terrible, I had no social life and had to work evenings to cover the time I spent in class, but I loved it. The Art Institute became my home. Of course, I wasn't taking anywhere close to a full load of classes and it would take me years to get a degree, but I was learning in an area where I wanted to be. After two semesters of classes, the professor of art history called me into her office. I was afraid of what she might say. My grades were excellent and I was still getting high praise for my work, but I guess I never trusted anyone."

"When I reached her office, she asked me to sit down and started asking questions: 'Where are you from? How did you get to Chicago? Why did you take a janitor's job? What prompted you to become a docent?' I'm not sure to this day why I did what I did, but I just poured out my whole story. No-one had ever asked me about myself--really--since I left Lexington, and I guess it was like water dammed up. It all just rushed out. When I finished, I was in tears and thought, 'Well, you can bid the Art Institute goodbye'. Miss Tredenic, that was her name, got up from her desk, handed me a tissue and said, 'Michael, to say I am impressed is an understatement. You are certainly a fine young man. In looking over your record, I was impressed, but had I known your personal history, I think I would have thought someone was pulling my leg. I'm glad you felt you could tell me about yourself. You took a great risk, you know that?' I could only nod because the tears were ready to start again. 'I called you into my office because a couple of your other professors asked that I do so after we had talked about your performance in class. I am prepared to offer you a full scholarship to the Institute so you can pursue your studies full-time.' I couldn't believe my ears and asked her to repeat what she had said. When I was sure she had offered me a scholarship, I realized that it was a dream come true--but, almost immediately, reality hit me. 'Miss Tredenic, I hope you won't think I don't appreciate your offer. It is a dream come true, it is beyond my wildest dreams, but I have a real problem. I can't go to school full-time and work full-time as well. I have absolutely no income or way of keeping myself alive.'"

"She said, 'Michael, I didn't know your situation until you told me. I think it would be tragic for you to pass up this opportunity. Give me a day or two--the next semester is three weeks away--and let me see what I can do. It is important to me and the Institute that your talents not be wasted.'"

"A week passed and I heard nothing from Miss Tredenic. I had tried and tried to think of ways I could earn enough money to live and do the work the Institute would require, and I was really down. Finally, I was called to Miss Tredenic's office again. She told me she had arranged for me to be a night guard. She told me the pay was about the same and I would have time to do assignments on the job. I was so ecstatic that I just grabbed her and gave her a huge hug."

"When classes started, I was very shy because most of the students' parents were paying major bucks for their education. Their dress, social life and conversation all smelled of money and I had to be careful about what I ate to keep within my income. I think, looking back, I tried to hide in a corner in classes. I always waited until the chattering students had gone and then left the classroom . One day, after my last class, I was waiting around as usual when one of the students walked over to me rather than leaving and said, 'I'm James Sanders,' extending his hand. I took his hand and, as I started to shake it, said, 'Hi, I'm...' 'Yea, I know, you're Michael Andrews. Buy you a cup of coffee?' 'Sure, I guess,' I answered, not sure what to say. We went to the Institute's coffee shop and sat there talking about classes, favorite artists and painting, about everything except ourselves until I realized I had to go to work. 'I've really enjoyed talking with you, James, but I've got to leave.' 'Why? I wanted to take you to dinner.' 'You don't know how much I would appreciate that, but... hell, you may as well know, I've got to go to work.' I then told him the whole story of how I came to be a student. 'Had Miss Tredenic not been able to get me a job as a night guard, I would have had to turn down the scholarship. I have to earn my living because I have no help other than, thank God, the scholarship.'"

"'Can I come along with you or do you have to throw everyone out?' he asked."

"'Well, everyone is supposed to be out before I go on duty, but aren't students allowed in the building? That's what I have been told. Of course, I'm not sure that means at the guard's station but, sure, come along.'"

"James went with me to the dressing room where I changed into my uniform. When I was dressed, he looked at me and said, 'I always did go for a man in uniform!' I didn't know what to say, so I said nothing. I left James at my station as I made the required circuit, checking doors, etc. and using the key to record the fact that I had passed a station. When I returned, James was hard at work on an art history assignment. We worked together on it and I was really enjoying not only the work, but being with someone."

"After that, James came with me every night. On Friday, he asked me if I had to work weekends. 'I work every other weekend. When I do, I have Monday and Tuesday nights off,' I told him."

"'How about this weekend?' he asked."

"'I'm off,' I said, 'I don't have to work again until Monday night.'"

"'Great, you're coming home with me.' I wasn't sure how to respond and hesitated. 'Some reason you don't want to?' he asked. I was thinking a mile a minute. I knew James had money and going home with him would mean what? 'You don't want to come?'"

"'Look, James, you obviously have money, I have none. You have decent clothes, I have one outfit and that's it--other than what I wear to school.'"


"'So, how can I be anything other than an embarrassment to you?'"

"James laughed, 'I know you very well, Mr. Andrews. We are the same size--at least what I have seen. If there is an occasion to get dressed, you'll be one of the best dressed guys in Chicago!'"

"Honestly, kids, I was so naive that I didn't hear what was to be one of the many clues James gave me about who he was. How could I turn him down? I didn't want to, so I finally agreed."

"When I said I needed to go by my place for a toothbrush, razor and that kind of stuff, James told me not to worry about that, he had all I'd need. It was April and the weather unusually warm for Chicago; the moon was full and there was a gentle breeze when we walked outside. James walked over to his car, a Triumph, and opened the door for me. I was puzzled at what was going on, but his smile reassured me. We drove north along the lake front, on into Evanston. Before I realized it, we were in an obviously old and very wealthy section. James finally turned into a long, tree shaded drive. A huge house came into view--'Home,' he said, 'but I have my own place'. He drove to the back of the house and stopped before what had obviously been a carriage house originally, but which was larger than the house in which I grew up. 'My place,' he said. 'I have lived here since high school. Come on in.' We entered a beautifully appointed living area. James continued into a studio. 'I'm not very good at studio art, but I do enjoy trying,' he said. He then showed me his kitchen and dining area. 'Hope you can cook,' he laughed. 'I'm not very good at it.'"

"'I'm afraid I might have forgotten how,' I responded, 'I haven't had enough money to do much real cooking, but I used to be good.'"

"We went upstairs, where James had a huge bedroom with a bath. 'There's another bedroom and bath across the hall if we need it,' he said and smiled. I began to wonder what was going on."

"'How'd you like to change into something comfortable?' he asked as he went to a large closet and took out two robes and two pairs of pajamas. He started undressing and all I could do was stare. He was beautiful! 'Well, are you going to change or not?' he laughed. 'I'll fix us a nightcap while you change.' When he went downstairs, I changed and followed shortly afterward. When I reached the living room, James handed me a drink. 'I guess you'd like to know who you've gotten mixed up with,' he said. 'My family is old Chicago. My father married my mother when he was fifty and she was thirty. They had been married five years before their first and only child was born. Needless to say, I was spoiled rotten. My father expected me to go into banking--his profession--and I showed absolutely no talent or desire to do so. I was interested in art. He had pretty much given up on my following in his footsteps when--I was sixteen--he had a heart attack and died suddenly.'"

"To this day I don't know why what happened next did. When he said sixteen, I suddenly remembered David. 'He would be sixteen now,' I thought, and I was overwhelmed with what my father had done to him and burst into great, sobbing cries. In the years which followed, I often asked James why he did what he did and he could never answer. As I was weeping bitterly, he came to me, took me in his arms and started stroking my hair and singing a lullaby. I was clinging to him desperately. He finally lifted my face and gave me a very, very gentle kiss and said, 'Michael, I am here'. He kept holding me, stroking my hair and singing softly until I became calm. 'Do you want to tell me about it?' he asked."

"Beginning from the beginning, I told him everything. When I finished, he was still holding me and I looked up into his face and said, 'Now you'll hate me too'."

"'Why?' he asked."

"'Because I'm queer.'"

"James started laughing madly. 'Michael, I have done everything I could think of to get you to tell me--well, I had dreamed you were. When I walked into class the very first day, the first thing I saw was a god-like creature sitting in the back of the room, hiding. You'll not believe this, but it took me less than thirty seconds to fall madly in love. I was totally, completely, hopelessly in love with you even before you looked up and I saw those beautiful blue eyes of yours. I knew that, more than anything in the world, I wanted you to be like me--queer. I hate the word, but... anyway I spent so much time trying to look at you and scheming how I was going to find out, and how I was going to let you know, that my grades have suffered. You were all I thought about night and day. Michael Andrews, I love you with my whole heart and that's that.'"

"James kissed me again and I pulled away. 'James, I can't say I love you. I enjoy being with you and you'll never know how much your care for me now means, but I can't say I love you. I barely know you.'"

"'I'm sorry, Michael. I don't want to chase you away. All I ask is that you let me be with you and love you any way you can accept. If you never love me, it will hurt, but know I do love you and I don't want you, ever, to feel pressured into saying something you don't mean or doing anything you don't want to do.'"

"Before the weekend was over, James asked me to move in, to live with him. 'Michael, the other bedroom is yours. I will consider it sacred territory. I will never enter unless you ask me to do so, but my bed is always waiting for you should you ever decide, for whatever reason, you want to share it.' I knew I trusted James and his pledge to me, so Sunday afternoon we went to my room and got the few things I had there--including a photo of your father, Michael--and I moved in."

"In the weeks that followed, James let me know in thousands of ways that he cared for me, and I certainly cared for him. I had never been so happy in my whole life; I enjoyed everything we did together. He came every night and we did our assignments while I was on duty. When I was free, he showed me the Chicago I had never dreamed existed. And, yes, it wasn't long before I started sharing his bed. One night I started to bed and caught a glimpse of David's photo, and he seemed so alive and I broke down again. James heard me crying, came to my room, picked me up and carried me to his bed where he held me and stroked my hair. After that, I never returned to my bed. James' bed became our bed."

"And, yes, he introduced me to sex. I loved being cuddled, touched and, yes, the sex. James was much more experienced than I, and I wondered what life would be like with him and what life might be like were I free to explore new experiences. James often told me he loved me and, every time he did, I was in a quandary. I wanted to say that I loved him, but I could not. After a couple weeks, when I said that I couldn't say I loved him, he asked, 'Is it because you don't or is there some other reason?' I finally said, 'James, I don't know why. I care for you deeply. When we are having wonderful sex, when you hold me I feel loved, comforted, cared for. I guess--well, I'll be honest with you. You have all kinds of experience; you have loved other men. I have had none of the kinds of experiences you have had. I don't know what I might miss if you were my lover. I guess--I know--what is missing is what you said you experienced when you first saw me. You were instantly in love, you described how, when you looked at me in class, your heart skipped a beat, you got goosebumps all over. In short, you described what, to me, being in love is like. It's the way I felt when I saw the boy I loved in high school. He never knew, but just seeing him made me weak all over. That's what I want it to be like when I say, 'I love you,' to someone. And as much as you mean to me, and you mean a great deal, I haven't had those kinds of fireworks inside. I'm afraid to say I love you because I'm not sure and I'm not sure what I would miss if I pledged myself to you. AND if I ever say I love you, that's what it will be, a pledge to love you and you only.'"

"James, took me in his arms, kissed me gently and said, 'Michael, I am willing to wait. I am willing to accept what you can give me and, if you can never say you love me, I will be happy just as we are. Sure, I long to hear those words come out of your mouth, but if all I can have is your arms around me, the touch of your body against mine when I wake up in the middle of the night, your smile when you look at me, then that's enough. As to experience, I hope you never have the kind of experience I have had. I have had two lovers, neither of which, by the way, made my heart skip a beat or set off sky rockets in my head, but I did love them. One proved to be nothing more than a gold digger. When I finally realized that, I felt cheap. I felt that I had been buying sex."

"The other, I think, maybe loved me; he thought and I thought we were in love but, in the end, it was just lust. We had fantastic sex, but that was all. He never just held me. He never wanted to talk about our future. One day he just wasn't here. As soon as he was gone, I was crushed. I went the alcohol route so when I came home to a cold, empty house, I was ready to pass out. I had no friends to whom I could turn and no-one, no-one to love. Gradually I came to realize we were not in love, we were just two horny men. But my life was still cold and lonely. There was a deep black pit inside and, try as I could, alcohol could not fill it up. I finally reached the point where I knew I was killing myself slowly and decided to speed up the process with a mixture of sleeping pills and alcohol. For some unknown reason, Mom decided to come out here to talk with me. She found me unconscious. After that episode, I spent time in a private mental institute where I was treated royally because they were trying to treat my depression. Thank God, they didn't know I was homosexual or I don't know what might have happened.'"

"'While I was in the hospital, my former lover came to see me once. He cared that much about me. He left, he told me, because he found someone who just wanted sex--no talk of love, no commitment. So if all you can give me is the tenderness and the care you do, I'll take that and be happy.' That was almost the last time we talked about my inability to say 'I love you'. I did enjoy being with James, having him touch me, hold me in his arms, stroke my hair--he was damn romantic. Then six months or so later, he went out of town with his mom--she, by the way, had said again and again how lucky James was to have found me. While he was away I decided I was short-changing him by staying around and not giving him the only thing he ever asked of me--three little words, 'I love you'. I decided the best thing for the both of us was for me to leave so he could find someone who could love him and say so. I took his car and drove aimlessly for hours. When morning came, I was in the middle of acres and acres of farmland and there wasn't a house in sight. I parked the car and got out and walked along a river. I even thought about ending it all. Life was good to me, but I was all torn up inside. I sat down under a tree and fell asleep. While I slept, I dreamed that James had come into our bedroom and said, 'Michael, I love you more than anything, but you don't love me. I think that, for both of us, we should separate. I am transferring to another art institute. I want you to stay here and finish your course. Remember, I love you,' and he vanished. In my dream, I came into what had been a happy place, our house, but now it was cold, empty and so was I. When I woke up, I was in a cold sweat. I was haunted by an emptiness James had left. Even though I knew it was just a dream, it seemed too real. And too frightening."

"I drove back to Chicago and when I got home and walked in, the place was empty and cold. James was gone--he had not returned. I climbed into bed and drew myself into a fetal position and cried myself to sleep. I was very confused about what was going on. Sometime in the night James returned. With the early morning sun just barely lighting the room, I woke up and saw James beside me. No fireworks, no goosebumps, no missing heartbeats, but I knew I loved this man. I loved him more than I could ever tell him. Instead of the kind of reaction James described he had when he looked at me, I just had a warm, comfortable feeling for this beautiful man beside me. I thought to myself, 'If this is not love, it's so damn close I can't tell the difference,' as I leaned over, kissed his sleeping lips and, as his eyes opened, said, 'James, I love you'. That was the first time I spoke those four words and I spent the next thirty years saying them. And you know what, I couldn't have loved him more, but there were never raging flames of love, just steady, glowing, embers of love for a man I spent the next thirty years loving in my way."

After Uncle Michael finished, we all sat silently, watching the river flow past.

I pulled Matt close, buried my face in his hair, and whispered, "Sarang Hanun Pomul, we have so much to be thankful for." Matt turned his face to mine and we exchanged a deep, deep, loving kiss. "So very much," he responded. As we broke our kiss, the other couples were following our example. I looked over at Uncle Michael expecting, I think, to see him crying. Instead, he had a smile on his face.

When he saw me, he smiled anew and said, "You all remind me again of the power of love. You are beautiful, all of you, and your love for each other makes me realize how much this world needs love--regardless of the form it takes. Thank you for listening to me and for sharing this afternoon with me. Bless you."

We had one more task to do and when we had completed it, we asked Uncle Michael if he would drive the van back to the Greywolfs', and the Gang of Six walked home as the Easter moon appeared on the horizon. Need it be said? Three very much in love young men walked backwards, holding hands with their reason for rejoicing on the Festival of the Resurrection as all six sang, "More than the greatest love the world has known..."

When we reached Matt's, Yong Jin told Larry that Bill had called and wanted him to return the call as soon as possible. Larry went into the kitchen to use the phone, and several minutes later came back into the living room where we were all sitting and talking. He had one of his goofy grins on his face and said, "I guess you two artists aren't the only ones with a secret project. Eugene, do you think you could get yo' mama to haul our butts to school early tomorrow?"

"How early is early?"

"Before 7:00--not later than 6:45."

"I guess, if she can get me out of bed in time."

"Oh, I think I can handle that if I'm in the bed with you."

"I KNOW you could get me awake, but out of bed I'm not so sure about," Eugene laughed. Larry just gave him a goofy grin.

"I'm glad I'm old folks," Uncle Michael laughed. "I don't think I was ever young enough to keep up with this bunch!"

"Well, Old Man," Michael said, "if you'll give me a few minutes outside with Wild Woman here, I'll take you home and tuck you in."

Michael and Mary Kathryn went outside and, after ten minutes, Matt said, "Luke, I think we better rescue our brother or he'll go home groaning again". When we stepped outside, Mary Kathryn had Michael against the wall and you could practically see the steam rising. "Matt, I think we're too late."

"Ah, to be young again," Uncle Michael laughed. "Michael, I think you better get this old man home before I pass out from the hormone overflow."

I wasn't sure whether the evidence on the front of Michael's pants indicated he had taken care of any groaning problem or had just made it worse. Matt and I took Larry and Eugene to Millie's and, when we returned, Matt glanced toward the falls and said, "Luke, babe, I bet I know one Andrews who won't be groaning tonight, at least not from starting something he doesn't finish!"

"One day, someone else will look toward the falls and say the same thing about you, Babe."

A Special Place--Part Twenty-six--David

I have seen all sorts and kinds of accidents, people in all kinds of conditions, emergencies of all kinds. Had you asked me, I would have told you that nothing could really shake me up. When I came to the door and saw Michael, I was shook, but not nervous. When Easter day dawned a perfect day, I was overjoyed and looking forward to my marriage to Margaret. The dinner at the Greywolfs was nothing different than it had been so many times before--except of course, Margaret was there by my side. When it came time to go to the falls, it was just another--special, of course--but just another trip to the falls until... until Matt paused and Michael, Fr. Tom and I walked out onto the beach, turned and faced the friends who honored Margaret and me by their presence. Suddenly I couldn't remember where I was supposed to be or what I was supposed to do. I grabbed Michael's hand. He looked at me, smiled and whispered, "Never mind, Dad, I'll get you through it," and of course he did. When Fr. Tom whispered, at the end of the ceremony, "You may kiss your wife, David," I lifted the veil from her face and saw tears in her eyes. I am sure she saw the tears in mine as well.

It was difficult getting away from the reception. So many of our friends were there and all wanted to congratulate us, but we were finally ready to go. When Margaret was ready to toss her bouquet, she turned her back, then cheated. She made sure she tossed it to Matt, who had to dodge or catch it. When we left, we went to Lexington for dinner to get away from the crowd, but we came back. Margaret had thought a week at the lake cabin Jens got for us was great, but she said, "David, you made love to me for the first time at the falls. I want my first time as your wife to be there as well."

When we got back, my van was still at Greywolfs' and I assumed, correctly, the two Michaels--brother and son--were there. Margaret and I changed--when she had undressed, I just stood there, holding my pants, overwhelmed by her beauty, my love for her and my joy at having her as my wife. "David, it's ok by me if you go to the falls nude, you'll be nude as soon as I can get your clothes off anyway, but it might be a bit chilly later on," Margaret laughed. I grabbed and started kissing her all over--her lips, her neck, her eyes, her nipples, her stomach. Needless to say, it took me about half a second to get hard as a rock. Margaret took my head between her hands, looked into my eyes, kissed me and said, "I meant it, David, at the falls. Get yourself under control so we can get there," and laughed a silvery laugh. I kissed her and got dressed.

The Easter moon was bright, very bright, and the spring night was warm and filled with delightful sounds and smells as we walked to the falls, holding hands like two kids. Margaret started singing softly, "More than the greatest love..." "I guess that's the family's theme song," I laughed and, in a singing voice which never won any contest, joined her.

After I had crossed the canes and we walked toward the falls, I realized just how much I had been out of it as we cleared the path and faced the falls. "Margaret, you're not going to believe how stupid I have been. I knew we would spend our first night as husband and wife here, but..."

"Don't tell me you didn't bring a blanket or anything. Not always-cool stud muffin, always-prepared David."

"Ok, I won't tell you, since you are about to find it out yourself." We both laughed. I took Margaret in my arms and kissed her deeply, passionately, and welcomed her tongue into my mouth. As we broke the kiss, I turned her so her face was in the moonlight so I could enjoy her beauty before trekking back to the house.

As I turned her, she said, "I think someone knew you weren't yourself today. Look..."

I turned to look where she was pointing and saw two candles in Japanese temple lanterns, one on each side of a bed made from a double sleeping bag, the top turned down to reveal two pillows. Hand in hand we walked to the bed. Lying on each pillow was a spray of lilies of the valley and on one a note. I sat down on the bed, pulled Margaret beside me and picked up the note. "From six who love deeply for two who are discovering new ways to express their love. Love deeply, love well. The Gang of Six." Once again, I saw tears in Margaret's eyes, shining in the moonlight as I am sure she saw in mine. "David Andrews, we are two very, very lucky people."

"Margaret Andrews, we are indeed." With those words I lay back on the bed and pulled her on top of me.

"David, I promised you would be nude as soon as I could get your clothes off and I have already been delayed." Margaret started laughing as she tried to undress me and I put up a fight--a pretty weak one, but a man has to defend his honor! Soon I was as naked as the day I was born and as hard as if I had been as young as Michael. I wasn't quite as fast getting Margaret undressed; I was enjoying every single moment it took. As soon as her blouse was off, I discovered she had saved me some time and trouble--she had on no bra. I covered her face, mouth and neck with kisses, then started kissing her wonderful breasts. Her nipples soon became hard and I couldn't resist kissing and then sucking each one. Still giving attention to her breasts, I slipped her skirt from her body and discovered she had saved me more time and trouble--she was pantyless!

Our kisses became more and more passionate and covered more and more of the other's body. In spite of being an "old man", I was streaming precum like a teenager! Margaret's wetness touched my thigh as she covered my mouth with hers. Our breathing became one as I felt her hand guide my manhood into the place it had known once before and longed to be again. Our love making crushed a spray of the lily of the valley and the perfume mingled with the perfume of a man and a woman.

After I climaxed--Margaret had at least three orgasms before I did, definitely an advantage a woman has over a man!--we lay in each other's arms, bathed in moonlight, and were silent for a long time. "In case it has escaped you, David Andrews, I'm in love with you. You have given me more happiness today than I have known in years."

"I hadn't noticed," I laughed softly. "I thought I was just so sexy you couldn't resist."

"That too," she laughed, rolled herself atop my body again and started kissing me all over. With all the excitement of the day and the fantastic sex we had only minutes before, I doubted very seriously that I was up to much except some heavy petting. WRONG. I was getting a bit aroused, but certainly not ready for any more real action, I told myself, but when Margaret kissed the head of my semi-hard man's tool, it sprang up ready for action. And action it got! Our second love making session was considerably less frantic than the first and I sure lasted longer, but I was finally hit by a climax which took my breath away. When I recovered enough to talk, I laughed, "Margaret, did you slip something in my drink at dinner? I'm acting and feeling as young as Michael".

"I don't think it is anything I slipped in anywhere. You seem to be the one slipping things in place!" Margaret responded, before kissing me passionately.

"Just doing my duty, Ma'am. You seemed to be having a problem and us EMS types are trained to deal with just about any kind of problem."

"I won't ask who gave you your training but, Stud Muffin, I bet you made an A in the course!"

We laughed and joked a while longer then Margaret settled herself in my arms and we slipped off to sleep. Sometime in the night, the song of a night bird waked me up and, when I opened my eyes, I was gazing into my wife's eyes. She was resting on an elbow, looking at me. "What's going on here?" I asked.

"A bird woke me up and I was just looking to make sure I hadn't dreamed the past day and tonight."

"It's a dream, Margaret, it's a dream come true." I pulled her face to mine, planted a kiss on her lips as she sucked my tongue into her mouth. I needn't go into what followed, but if you want to know how old you have to be before you can't have glorious, loving sex three times in a night, you'll have to find someone older than I!

The next time I awoke, the sun was high and warm. Margaret was asleep and this time it was I who leaned on an elbow, looking at this woman I loved so much after being convinced I was doomed to a life of loneliness. As I bent to kiss her, her eyes opened and a smile covered her face. Suddenly, Margaret sprang up, grabbed my hand and headed for the river basin. When she reached it, she dived in and I was right behind her. We swam and frolicked in the water, enjoying being together. When we flopped down on the bed, Margaret exclaimed, "Oh, my God, I think I used it all up!" as she pointed to my manhood which was seeking escape from the cool water. We both started laughing like teenagers and, sure enough, she was proven wrong and, if you're counting, that made four.

After we had sunned ourselves in the afterglow of our love making, it was time to go. We gathered everything up and took it to the house. Michael, my brother, had breakfast waiting for us and we enjoyed being with him for a while, then left for the lake. I was so happy. I had a long-lost brother return and had a new, beautiful, loving wife. For the first time in a long time, I was really alive.

A Special Place--PartTwenty-six--Eugene

When Larry and I got home, Millie was still up, sitting in the library, having a night cap. "Guys, do you want something to eat or drink?"

"I think I'll get a juice. Do you want one, Larry?"


When I returned to the library, Larry and Millie had been engaged in a conversation, but stopped as soon as I came in. "Eugene, I don't know what I'm going to have to do to teach you some manners. You don't serve juice in a can to an honored guest such as Mr. Watley. Get back in there and put it in a glass and put some ice in it. Goodness sakes, child."

"Yes, Mama," I hung my head and answered. "Sorry, Mr. Watley, how very thoughtless of me." Millie gave us one of her great belly laughs and, as soon as I left the room, she and Larry started talking again. When I returned, they were both silent.

"Ok, I think you two are keeping secrets from me," I said as I handed Larry his glass.

"You're right," Millie said. They wouldn't be secrets if we told."

"All right, I guess I'll just have to wait. Millie, Larry needs to be at school tomorrow at 6:45 at the latest. Can you take us?"

"Lord, Child, you know I don't get up before God and he told me he always sleeps in because people who get up early are so damn self-righteous they don't need him and he can't stand them anyway. Can't you drive? Don't you have a license?"

"Of course I can, I do, but I don't think a bicycle needs a licensed driver and Larry's butt is not much..."

"Noticed he was kinda short changed in that department, but I guess he makes up for it in other ways!" Yelp, Millie paid attention to asses. "Well, why don't you and Larry take a look in the garage and see if what the Easter bunny left here for you will do." Neither Larry nor I made a move and Millie said, "Well, go on. If the Easter bunny messed up, I guess I can drag these old bones out of bed and haul your butts to school before God's up."

It didn't take another prompt and Larry and I raced to the garage. Sitting beside Millie's land yacht was a fire engine red Chrysler LeBaron convertible. We both stopped dead in our tracks. Finally Larry said, "Must have been a damn big Easter bunny, Gene, Babe."

I looked at Larry and said, "Larry, do you realize you have never called me anything other than Eugene and, rarely, Babe? I think I like your calling me Gene more than a new car."

"Sure is a hell of a lot cheaper way to make you happy." He then took me in his arms, kissed me gently and said, "Gene, Babe, I'll call you anything you want me to call you so long as you love me."

"Larry, Babe, you can call me anything you like because what you call me will never change the fact that I love you with all I am." We shared another, not so gentle, full-of-passion kiss and went back to the library.

"Millie, the Easter bunny brought that car for me?"

"Sure did. It's yours. He did say that he expected you to deal with the car the way Larry's mom expects him to deal with everything--and I do as well--be responsible and be mature, that's all I ask of you."

I walked over to Millie, put my arms around her and said, "I don't think anyone has a better Easter bunny than I do. Millie, I certainly appreciate all you have done for me--it's much more than I ever dreamed possible and much more than I deserve."

"Bullshit! You're my son and you deserve a lot. You've already given me more happiness than I ever expected or deserved and it's just beginning. But no spoiled brat crapola or mom will take a switch to that bubble butt!"

"Oh, Mama, I'd like that," I said and twitched my ass.

Millie drew back her hand to swat me on the ass, then stopped in midair. I didn't move. "Sorry," she said.

"Didn't budge, Millie. Guess that proves I'm not afraid any more. At least, I know anything I get from you will be a love swat."

Millie hugged me to herself, "You are so right, Son." Millie, Larry and I sat and talked about the day and how exciting it had all been for us.

After a while, Millie said, "Guys, it's bedtime for old ladies," as she got up. Both Larry and I gave her a goodnight hug, I took our glasses to the kitchen and Larry and I went to my room.

As soon as we were inside, Larry started undressing me, stopping to kiss me passionately from time to time. When I was undressed, he held me at arm's length and said, "Gene, Babe, you are so beautiful I want to cry. How could I ever..."

"Larry, it's over; it's in the past. Drop it, Babe. You hurt me, ok? I have long since forgiven you. Man, I love you with my whole heart. You are my life, my world. I can't stand you're constantly beating yourself. That hurts me way deeper than what you did out of fear, ignorance and self-hatred. Allow yourself to know how wonderful you are, how much I adore you and how much you mean to me. Please, put your self-hatred behind you."

"I try, Eugene, God knows I try; the therapy is helping. I forget about it and can almost accept me as a worthwhile person, then I see you as you are now and I just feel so unworthy of you." Tears were forming in his eyes.

I wrapped my arms around Larry, holding him close and whispered in his ear, "Larry, Babe, no man I do not love with my whole being, no man unworthy of my love will ever touch me. Can you accept that? If you can trust me on that, then you have to know I love you with all I am and you are worthy of the love I give you." Larry took my head in his hands, looked into my eyes and then covered my mouth with his, giving me a hard, passion-filled, no-holds-barred kiss. When he released me, I was hard as a rock as he kissed my face, my neck, my nipples. As he still kissed me, I removed his shirt and unzipped his pants which slid down his wonderful legs. When he stepped out of them, I hooked my thumbs in his boxers and slid them down his legs as well. He, too, was fully aroused.

We embraced, our hardened man's tools pressed together. Without warning, I grabbed Larry, tossed him over my shoulder and took him into the bathroom and unceremoniously dumped him into the jacuzzi and climbed in behind him. The warm water felt good. My back was pretty much healed and Margaret had said I could shower. I'm not sure she would have approved of my soaking the jacuzzi, so once I was in, I kept my back out of the water. As soon as I was in, Larry grabbed one of the huge, fluffy towels by the edge of the jacuzzi and patted my back dry. We lazed around with Larry almost submerging himself and me more or less sitting on the edge."

Larry came over, smiled up at me, stood up and lifted me in his arms. Grabbing another towel, he dried me and I did him. He then took me into his arms and carried me to what had, indeed, become our bed. Our loving, once we were settled in bed, became hotter and hotter. Larry, for the very first time, seemed not to be holding back. He was all over my body--kissing, licking, touching, nipping at ear lobes and nipples. I was streaming precum and groaning, I was so hot. Larry started kissing my stomach, then stuck his tongue in my belly button, tickling like mad. He moved down my body, stopped, looked up at me and surprised me by kissing the head of my manhood. Still looking at me, he kissed it again and again, then started licking it. I was ready to explode as electric charge after electric charge coursed through my body. Suddenly, as he looked up at me and ran his tongue up my shaft, I saw him as a little boy licking a lollipop and started laughing in spite of being so hot I was ready to shoot! Larry got a stunned look on his face and tears started forming in his eyes. I reached down and pulled his body atop mine. "Light of my life," I said, holding him close, "I'm sorry. I love you so very, very very much and you are so beautiful. I have never been as hot as I was, but suddenly my mind took over and instead of seeing the love of my life giving me pleasure, I saw a little boy, innocent, licking a lollipop. Larry, please believe me, it was sheer joy seeing you--young, innocent, enjoying yourself. But it sure as hell did destroy a romantic moment, didn't it?"

Larry lifted his head, looked into my eyes and gave me a wicked grin. "Innocent little boy? I guess I'll have to prove I am, at least, not a little boy." His mouth covered mine, his tongue snaked its way into my mouth. Our love making once again became hot, passionate, unencumbered. His kissing moved down my body until he was again, kissing and licking my rock hard shaft. He looked up into my eyes as if to ask, "Am I a little boy now?" I was groaning and panting when, suddenly, he was no longer licking my shaft, but covered my blood-filled head with his hot, hot mouth. He moved up and down on my shaft, his tongue working magic on my sensitive, throbbing head. I knew that soon I would fall over the edge, but it happened so fast all I could do was scream, "Larry, I'm..." before I started pumping shot after shot after shot of man's seed into Larry's mouth. I was gasping for breath, seeing stars, and then lost consciousness for a moment. When I recovered, Larry lay atop my body, smiling. When he kissed me, his taste was the taste of Larry, but there was another new taste. I knew my love was sharing my gift of love with me. Entwined in each other's arms and legs, we kissed, then drifted off. Just before I slipped into sleep, I thought, "My love is healing." And uttered a silent thanksgiving for the wonderful, beautiful man who had just given me unlimited pleasure. My life, which had been hell only days ago, was unbelievably full, rich with love. The next thing I knew, Larry was kissing me good morning.

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