Castle Roland

The Oberlin Five

by Sequoyah


Chapter 4

Published: 8 Apr 14

ASP--The Oberlin Five--Chapter Four--Paula

Since Kent was already in the fourth bedroom upstairs and was going to stay there, I didn't bother to move my things but did get the guys to exchange the downstairs twin beds with the queen-sized bed from the attic. I laughed when Matt suggested that if this kept up, the beds would learn to walk. But this would be the last time they were moved for a while. Matt had suggested we put the twins on the sun porch and get a couple day bed frames and cushions for them, which we did. There was plenty room and it looked as if we were approaching a full house.

Gads, surrounded by five men. Women would be envious because all five were good-looking, Kent not in the super-handsome, beautiful way Matt and Luke were. He was more in the Larry and Eugene school of handsome--kinda, well, just masculine handsome. Not that Matt and Luke weren't, but theirs was a more refined handsomeness, if you know what I mean. Of course, what all those jealous women wouldn't know--I hoped--was that four of them found me about as sexually attractive as they would their mothers. Kent, on the other hand, well--I can tell you, his dad may think it and he may worry a bit about it--that was not a gay guy, trust me!

But none of them occupied a place in my dreams. That place was firmly held by a redhead--maybe not as handsome as the five here, but I couldn't be objective. He was the most beautiful man in the world to this lonely woman. Strange, we had known each other for such a short time, and part of that was occupied by our just being friends and both working hard not to fall for the other. And when we lost that battle--and how glad I am we did!--we were soon separated and, after being reunited, separated again. We each wrote long love letters and sent them by e-mail. We had even tried a chat once, but that proved to be too frustrating. We phoned each other three or four times a week--he one time and me the next, but we tried to keep it short. I forced him to keep his short because he couldn't waste a penny. Bill's parents provided him food and shelter, and insisted he tell them when he needed anything and told him not to worry about the phone bill, but Jacob wanted to do all he could to pull his own weight.

The news he had from Concord was not much. Everyone was getting ready to go back to school. Bill and Linda were happy as larks. All of them had been working on plans for the school year and Michael had called a meeting of the Fellowship at the falls for Saturday, mostly picnicking and playing I think. As Jacob said that I had a vivid recollection of our first kiss atop the falls. Man, I missed my redhead! With him in my mind, I fell asleep and dreamed of him and when we would be together again.

Friday we worked around the house, mostly on the grounds which were really taking shape. Kent had given Luke the name of a man who had a tractor and would prepare the garden, and he showed up about noon. Matt, Luke and Larry spent the afternoon working there, coming in dirty and happy. Luke had suggested Kent might like to call Christine for a date and, while he was reluctant, he finally agreed. When Eugene suggested he take his car, Kent smiled and said Christine was more the pickup truck kind of girl. Luke said, "It's yours! And ask her about coming over for dinner soon," he added.

I went back to the same synagogue Jacob and I had attended. It was small and the people and rabbi were very friendly. They had welcomed us warmly and several asked about him when I showed up by myself.

We had agreed we'd sleep until we were ready to get up Saturday morning, but even at that I was surprised to wake up and find the sun streaming though my window. It was 10:00 already! I hopped out of bed, showered, got dressed and went to the kitchen. Kent was there, sitting at the table with a cup of coffee. When I came in, he got up, poured me a cup and asked, "Sugar and cream?".

"Black, one sugar," I replied and seated myself. "You the only one up?"

"Don't think so. I heard some stirring ten minutes or so before I got up, but both bedroom doors are closed, so I don't know if I am or not."

"Kent, I want to apologize a bit about Thursday night. I certainly don't want you to think that I thought you couldn't be trusted, but I had a really bad experience last year and just don't think I could handle someone coming on to me, especially since I have a wonderful man as a friend and boyfriend."

"No apology needed," he said, handing me my coffee.

"Thanks, but I think you deserve one. By the way, how was the date?"

"We actually had a great time. We ate pizza at a little Italian place Christine knew and then went to the movies. Afterward, I drove her home and we sat on her porch and talked until her dad came out and said, 'Kent, I think you're a nice guy, but Christine turns into an ugly witch at midnight and you only have 5 minutes,' laughed, and went back inside. I kissed her goodnight and came home. I came home, Paula. It sounds strange, but I like it. But you started to tell me about last year, I think."

"It's a bit of a long story, but maybe it will help you understand the kind of people you have fallen in with." We sat drinking coffee as I told him about the prom and what followed. "Sheldon's got himself in a real jam. I neither know how it came out nor do I care." I then told him about Jacob and me becoming friends and falling in love. "Think you'd like him, Kent. He's a great guy, a wonderful guy. Got a bit of a temper to match his red hair, but also the sense of humor--and passion--to go with it," I laughed.

"Sounds wonderful. I guess that kind of story explains all the comments about it being time to give back after having received so much," Kent commented.

"It's only one of many stories. Yes, we have been given much in the last year--actually since last March, although it seems much longer. I guess you'll grow tired of all the stories, but we all have been involved in a gigantic soap opera," I laughed. "There's a whole other story about how I managed to get to come here, how my mom has been able to go to school full time." I then gave Kent a condensed version of all that. I had just finished speaking when the four other guys came in from the sun porch, dripping wet. "At least shake like a dog before coming in," I said in my best stern mother voice.

"Toss us some towels," Matt said. "We forgot to replace those we used from the cupboard by the shower outside." I went to the linen closet and got four towels and tossed them to the four, who dried themselves and went upstairs to dress. They took their time but finally came down. Kent and I had set the kitchen table with juice, fruit, milk and cold cereal and he had started a new pot of coffee.

"Man, the beach is a great place to run," Luke said. "It's great running and really beautiful." The four sat down and we all ate breakfast. "Kent, Paula, who decided on cold cereal..."

"Kent's idea," I interrupted.

"Well, it's a good one when we decide to get up when we choose. That way no-one will have to get up before they are ready. I really slept in and throughly enjoyed the run," Luke concluded.

We discussed what we would do this last free Saturday, and Kent said he had called him mom and she suggested he have lunch with the family so he could talk with his dad. "Then I'll have to get my things moved."

"We'll be glad to help," Eugene offered.

"Thanks. I appreciate the offer but, to tell the truth, I don't know what dad's reaction will be--and if there is a scene, I just as soon you not be involved. Derrick and Mom will help. I guess I'll need to borrow the truck if you don't have plans.

"Kent, you need the truck so there's no borrowing involved. We are either in this together or we are not. And if I had plans then, hey, they'd have to be changed because you have a need; all I would have is a want, ok?"

Kent smiled and said, "Ok".

"And promise, Kent, if things get too out of hand or go smoothly, you'll let us know and we'll come help. We are going to do some driving around this afternoon looking for churches, but I have my cell phone," Matt said. "Paula, if you want to come with us, we'd be delighted to have you or you can take one of the vehicles and go off on your own."

"Think I'll just hang around here and finish the book I'm reading. May not have time to read trash when school starts."

ASP--The Oberlin Five--Kent

I woke up Saturday morning when I heard sounds in the hall, or maybe from the guys' rooms. I lay there thinking about what they might be up to. I'll admit that I wasn't too comfortable with the idea of two men having sex. I mean, it was their business, but I had heard too much carrying-on from Dad and I guess more of it had sunk in than I'd like to have admitted. When I realized the sounds were coming from the hall and not the bedrooms, I was kinda ashamed of myself, but knew that I could either learn to accept--and even love--the four guys or get out. It was my choice.

I did have to admit that the way they looked at each other, and how they behaved around each other, gave me mixed feelings. One side of me was uncomfortable and the other found their genuine and open affection attractive. I don't mean I felt it was something I could do with a man, but I hoped if I ever fell in love, I'd have the kind of feeling for my girlfriend the two couples had for each other.

Things became quiet again and I lay in bed thinking about the change in how my future looked since coming here to do a job. Whole new avenues had opened for me as if by magic. That, of course, reminded me that I had to talk to Dad in a few hours and explain why I was leaving home. I wondered what his reaction would be. On the surface, it would appear that he'd welcome getting rid of me--after all, all he did was criticize--but, at the same time, he used me a lot and I wouldn't be available. I just didn't know. Well, as he told Mom about an old car, he had to manage on his own and I would have to and, by chance, I had done well. "So lying here worrying won't change anything," I said to myself, crawled out of bed, showered, shaved and got dressed.

I went downstairs and found no-one around, so I made coffee and set out a breakfast of cold cereal. I had just sat down with a cup of coffee when Paula come in the kitchen. We drank coffee and talked. She told me why she had been so adamant about what would happen if I made a pass at her. I couldn't blame her and thought what a lucky guy her Jacob was. It was obvious she was madly in love with him and sure was missing him. I couldn't imagine what it would be like to be that in love with someone and be separated for a year.

She asked how my date went and I told her it was fine, and it was, but I definitely wasn't in love with Christine. She was just a good friend and I enjoyed being with her. I didn't tell Paula that when I had kissed her goodnight, the kiss was more than a peck on the cheek and, once again, the hardness in my briefs was a pretty good indication that my dad didn't know his son very well when he decided I was gay.

While we were talking, the four guys came in soaking wet. They had been for a run and had showered outside. As we all ate, we talked about my going to my place, talking with Dad and picking up my things. Luke insisted that the truck was mine to use as I needed. He said we were in this together or we weren't, something I recall hearing one or the other of the group say from time to time. It made me feel good. I was to call them if things went well with Dad so they could help get my things or if things really got out of hand. I'll admit I didn't have the slightest idea how it would go.

I pretty much knew that Dad wouldn't be at the house until lunch. Saturday mornings he worked around the place, usually having me and Derrick help, but he wouldn't have bothered to stay around waiting for me. I wanted to talk with Mom before he came to lunch, so I left for their place at 10:30. When I arrived, Mom was outside and looked up, puzzled, as I drove in. I realized at once that she didn't recognize the truck. I hopped out and said, "Hi Mom. How do you like the new wheels?"

"Kent, what do you mean? Where did you get the truck? What do you mean 'the new wheels'?"

"Easy, Mom," I laughed. "It's mine when I need it and sometimes when I want it. Got time to talk?"

"Sure, you know I do. Come on inside."

We went to the kitchen where I got a soda, and Mom and I sat at the kitchen table where I told her, probably in more detail than she wanted, what the Oberlin Five had offered me and what we had worked out. "So you see, Mom, I have transportation to Case, a place to live that is closer in, and a very determined and dedicated group of people for support. It's great."

"You mean they are willing to do all of that so long as you pay a sixth of the expenses."

"That's right. Not only that, but I'll have transportation for other things as well. Last night I had a real date with no problems. I had the truck and we ate pizza and went to a movie and it was great. I loved it."

"Well, I agree it sounds great, but there has to be a catch."

"Yea, I can't make a pass at Paula and, Mom, it is a good thing I was told that because she is one luscious woman.

"So there is one woman living with four--you make five--men. I don't like the looks of that. How could her parents let her do that?"

"Parent, she only has her mother. Her mom knows the four guys so there's no problem. And she knows that if they allow another guy to live with them, there better not be any problem with him either or the four would break his legs--well, that's all if he were lucky. There's not a doubt in my mind about that!"

"But how could any mother trust her daughter living with four guys? I don't care how well she knew them."

"Would it help explain it if I told you the four guys are two couples? In fact, two of them have had a ceremony kinda like a marriage. So far as they are concerned, they are married, just that no-one recognizes the marriage of two men. The other couple are just as committed to each other I'm sure. So Paula is just their sister.'

"They're GAY?"

"Sounds like it to me."

"And you want to live there? What if they want to turn you gay? I don't think I like this."

"Mom, we've had a long talk about that. Since Dad told his family I was gay, I wondered if I might be. But all four of the guys said it was not something you really worried about--I mean you may deny it to yourself, but when you finally take a hard look, you know you're gay or not and were born that way. It's like my heart. That was just the way I was born, not something I chose. Or it's like the color of my hair. I was just born that way. It sure made me stop worrying. I know I'm not gay, as surely as they know they are. So what do I have to worry about?"

"I don't know. I'm just uncomfortable with the whole idea."

"I was too. Well, I still am sometimes. I don't understand it and when I see them holding hands or kissing each other, I get uneasy--but I'm getting over it. Those four are so in love with their partners that I just thought to myself this morning, 'When I fall in love, I hope I am as in love and as affectionate as those guys are'. I'm getting used to it and I can tell you one thing: the world would be a lot better off if couples loved each other as they do and if people were as loving and caring for others as those five are. I mean they hardly knew me, but had a meeting Thursday night, after getting me out of the room, to talk about my situation--not having reliable transportation to college, not being trusted with the car and, yes, Dad constantly putting me down. They told me they were impressed with my work, my determination, and invited me to join them. Several times one or another mentioned that they had been helped so much over the last months that it was time they started giving back. Paula told me about how the Fellowship--that's what the group called itself before the five came here, leaving five still in high school--helped get her a dress and all for the prom, even got a boyfriend who had moved away to the prom, and how he got mad and left when she wouldn't have sex with him, and how she and her mom were helped with an insurance settlement. They are a great bunch."

"Kent, it sounds too good to be true and such things usually are. And I still am not comfortable with you living in a house with four gays. But, in any event, you can always come home if it doesn't work out, and I wouldn't mention the guys being gay to your dad."

"Mom, I think he will find out sooner or later."

"Well, make it later," she said as Dad came in the back door with Derrick right behind him. Derrick waved and went upstairs, having anticipated what would soon happen.

"Kent, how are you doing with that orchard? Sure was a mess. Hope you haven't made it worse," Dad said.

"What a greeting," I thought. "Actually, it's all finished. We took out the old, broken, diseased apple tree, but the other trees are in great shape. A friend of the group from downstate a bit--an Episcopal priest who came up to help one of the group, Matt, with getting an internship--also has an orchard. He's pretty old--actually I think he's officially retired, but still has a church--but he knew what he was doing and that got things moving well."

"Suspect he made you see the light," Dad said. "Being older, he did things the right way."

"Yea, he did things the right way. Don't know what being older had to do with it. He started taking courses about the same time I did, so we both used the same approach." I could see Dad didn't like that, and maybe I shouldn't have said it, but he asked for it! "Got the garden cleared of weeds and hired Mr. Hickson to prepare it. They have a garden tractor, so we prepared a strawberry bed and got the plants transplanted as you suggested, cleared the asparagus beds and berries. We got as much done as we could before school starts, but everyone is taking today off."

"Sounds impressive. I'm amazed they work so hard. They look like a bunch of spoiled rich kids to me."

"I guess I'd consider them well off, since they don't have to worry about money for college or the house, but hardly spoiled. Most of what they have, they have earned or it came from money put aside for college which they didn't need. All five have full scholarships--including books and fees. Luke, who is an artist, made a bundle from works he has sold. Eugene has money from a lawsuit he won. I'm not sure about the others except all are AP Scholars, some with honors and others with distinction, and that tells me they are not spoiled."

"Pretty impressive bunch you're running with," Dad said. "Good thing you don't have to keep up."

"Maybe I do, Dad. They have invited me to live with them."

"What do you mean, Kent? You live here."

"I mean exactly that. They have asked me to live with them. That way I'll be closer to Case and there will be no transportation problem. I won't have to depend on Christine to get me to and from school. Matt is going in Tuesdays and Thursdays to Holtkamp's organ studio where he'll be doing an internship. Luke is going to Case to take a class or two since he's doing both art and metallurgy and next year will be at the Art Institute as well. Larry is also doing a cooperative program with Case. We looked at all our schedules and worked out transportation."

"Just how are you going to afford such grand living? I mean they can't be poor with that house."

"All household expenses are charged on a credit card and divided at the end of month. I'd be expected to pay a sixth. And they don't waste money, that's clear. Case is paid for with my tennis scholarship. I have put aside all I can from working the last couple years. I don't think that will be a problem."

"Living here wouldn't cost you anything," he argued.

"And I wouldn't have reliable transportation."

"I managed."

"Yes, by taking advantage of opportunities. This is a real opportunity."

"Don't see that myself. What makes you so anxious to leave home?"

"Don't you know? Do you really need me to say it?"

"I don't know what you are talking about!"

I could see the red rising out of Dad's collar. I knew that sign well. He was ready to explode. I guess, had I been wise, I would have kept quiet--but I had been quiet too long. "Dad, you have rejected me from the day I was born. I was born imperfect and, try as hard as I could, I have always been imperfect--not the son you wanted. I have never done anything that pleased you. You are always on my back. I would just like to get out of a situation where I am not wanted, can never do anything right, never get a pat on the back."

"I don't know what you are talking about! How dare you accuse me of such!" He was furious and I knew it, but didn't stop.

"Yea? What did you say when I was runner-up in the state tennis competition? 'Good job, Kent'? No! You put me down because tennis wasn't a manly sport. What do you say when someone asks me to do landscaping design or work? 'Take him at your own risk, I won't recommend him.' And you know I have loyal clients and get praise for my work, but never from you. And when all else fails, you announce to that family of yours, who has always put me down because I wasn't a super-jock when I could barely walk, 'My son's gay'. Why? With what proof? Because I didn't date? How could I when you wouldn't let me have the car? Hell, I'm a virgin even if I were gay, which I am most emphatically not. Hell yes, I want out of here and you damn well know why!"

"How dare you, you reject, talk to me that way! I've spent tons of money on you trying to get you fixed and this is the reward I get?" Dad lunged across the table and grabbed me by the collar.

As he did, I heard Mom shout, "Carl, enough!". Dad paid no attention and started shaking me.

Suddenly I saw Derrick out of the corner of my eye. He raced down the last few stairs, across the kitchen, up behind Dad and said, through clinched teeth, "Dad, you heard Mom. Turn Kent loose". Dad continued shaking me and Derrick grabbed him by the collar and said, "Mom said, and I say, turn Kent loose NOW!".

Dad turned me loose and whirled and hit Derrick across the face with his fist. That did it. I practically jumped across the table, grabbed Dad and put him on the floor. I held him there as I said, "If your outburst doesn't prove my point, you are thicker-headed than I thought you were. But this settles it. I'm getting my things and leaving. If you want to see this son again, you know where to find me. I won't be back. Derrick, thanks. You too, Mom. I hope you'll come visit. We would love to have you. Derrick, protect Mom and see if you can get this hard-headed man to stop putting her down. She has no out. I do. I will get my things and go. Derrick, I'll need your help and I'm calling the others and have them come to help."

"You don't have any things here," Dad said getting up off the floor.

"Oh, yes I do. I have things I bought with money I earned. Anything else I'll leave if you want it."

"You will not," Mom said, and gave Dad a look I had never seen before. "Take everything you want or need. No-one's going to stop you. Carl, you can go to the barn and stay awhile."

"You leave this house and you'll never come back," Dad shouted.

"If that's the way you want it, so be it," I answered.

"Carl, I said go to the barn and unless you want to stay there, you better go now." I had never seen Mom openly defy Dad, must less order him around. Both Derrick and I were standing with our mouths open.

I called Matt, and the crew had been waiting for my call down the road about a quarter mile. "Thought we might need to be close," Matt said when I asked them to come.

Mom had all my clothes packed and many of my things. Derrick said he had packed my CDs, but I told him there was a good collection at the house, and a couple good stereo systems, so he could keep my stereo and CDs with the exception of two or three favorites which I hadn't seen at the place. We had a time getting my bed loaded, but finally got it on the truck and tied down. Using Eugene's car trunk, we got all the things I was taking. The rest I told Derrick to do with as he pleased.

When we were ready to go, I hugged Mom and Derrick and asked, "Mom, are you sure you will be all right?".

"She better be," Derrick said, and I knew he meant it.

Luke climbed into the truck beside me after saying I was driving. I was surprised. Luke said, "Your trip, Kent, I'm just along for the ride".

ASP--The Oberlin Five--Chapter Five--Matt

After Luke and Kent had gone, I said, "Mrs. Glaze, Derrick, anytime you want to come and visit, come. We'll definitely have you over for dinner as soon as we get settled in school. I'm sorry it worked out this way. Maybe Mr. Glaze will come around soon."

"It will take time," Mrs. Glaze said, "but he will. He's been forced to face what he has done to a son for over eighteen years. It's a hard pill to swallow. I should have stood up to him long ago, but it was easier just to hope things would change by themselves. I feel pretty guilty for what I have allowed to happen to Kent, but basically Carl's a good man--stubborn and full of false pride. But he will come around, I know he will. Thanks for what you are doing for Kent."

Derrick said, "Mom's right. In spite of how it may seem, Dad's a good man. I think he wanted a perfect son and got one who almost died, so he was afraid to become attached to him. Then when Kent was finally whole, he became jealous because Kent tried so hard to prove himself and please him. Frankly, he showed Dad he was tougher and better than Dad had been. Then, finally I think, Kent realized he had his own life to live and Dad was never going to say he was proud of him, so he quit trying. When he did, I think Dad thought he had gone so far he could never be a real dad to Kent, was angry at himself and took it out on Kent. I may be wrong, but I'm positive he'll come around. It won't be easy and Kent will have to be open to it. Don't know that I would be man enough, but Kent is. And, yea, thanks for what you are doing for my brother, and I expect to be around pretty often. Yea, thanks."

"Just paying back some of the good deeds done for us," Eugene said.

We all hugged Kent's Mom and Derrick--which surprised the two of them--and drove back home, to Kent's new home.

When we reached our place, Luke and Kent had already started unloading. His mom had packed his clothing carefully, so it was easy to get it upstairs and what was on hangers placed in the closets. "I'll put away the rest of my clothes later," Kent said. We brought up everything from Eugene's car and from the truck, except Kent's bed. Luke took his computer and its peripherals to the studio while the rest of us got his bed ready to carry upstairs. Paula held the door and we had no trouble with it until we started up the stairs with the mattress. We were about half-way up, when it kinda flopped and shoved Eugene against the wall . We all got the giggles and had trouble holding on. Finally, it got away from us and started sliding over Larry who was bringing up the rear. "Damn, get this thing off me," he shouted, but we were giggling so no-one could.

Larry was giggling just as hard as the rest of us when Luke and Paula came up the stairs. Paula said, "Ok, schoolgirls, stop your giggling and get busy." We finally got control of ourselves and got the mattress to Kent's room. We set to work getting his bed set up, which we could do without his help, while he put his things away.

The only furniture, aside from the bed, was a desk and lamp. He had said he thought it would need to go to the studio for the computer, but Luke reminded him there was a study table and chair there already, so he put it in his room. "Glad this can stay here," he said. "I've always done my studying at this desk. It's like an old friend."

By the time we had done all we could do in his room, he had a good start on getting his things put away. "When you've finished, come down for a snack," Paula said. We all went downstairs where Paula had drinks and snacks on the table. We sat and talked about what had happened. "Well, I certainly hope you're right and that his father will come around," Paula said. "Sure hate to see parents and kids separated."

"Well, I don't!" Eugene said most emphatically.

"You don't what?" Kent said, coming into the kitchen.

"I don't hate it that my parents and I are separated--I mean my biological parents," Eugene said. "Paula was just saying she hoped your dad came around and that she hated it when parents and kids are separated. I was disagreeing with her."

"Kinda emphatic about that, aren't you?" Kent asked.

"Damn right," Eugene said. "I'm glad my biological parents are gone to the devil knows where. Millie's my mom, the only parent I have or want. I hope I never see the Joyces again!"

"The Joyces? Who are the Joyces?"

"Kent, you're going to get sick and tired of the soap opera we have been in for the past months," Eugene said, "but I guess the more you know about us, the more you will feel at home. I know we often talk in riddles--not to hide anything from you, but we've all been through the good times and bad times together and don't need to tell each other anything about the past. Well, you may as well know about me." Eugene started telling his story but, before he had really started, Larry got in on the conversation after looking at Eugene who kinda shrugged.

"Well, you may as well know more than you want to know," Larry said. "Our story starts together--well, not really, I mean Eugene's story begins before mine. Sorry, Gene."

Eugene told the whole shitty story of his abuse by McBride and the outcome and, when he finished, Larry and Eugene together told their own personal story. "As I said, more than you wanted to know, I'm sure," Larry said, his head hanging down and tears in his eyes.

Eugene had moved to where he could put his arm around Larry and was holding him tight, his own eyes filled with tears. "Babe, we still have a long way to go, but we'll get there," Eugene said as he lifted Larry's chin and kissed him gently, tenderly, on the lips.

I didn't know what to expect from Kent and must admit I was surprised when I looked up and saw him sitting, looking at Larry and Eugene with tears in his eyes. He got up slowly, walked to the two, put his arms around them, hugged them tightly and said, "You two didn't have to do that--not that I am sorry that you did, it's just that telling your story is more than anyone, even a long-time friend could ask. I am honored that you trusted me enough to do so. Eugene, I want you to know that I admire you tremendously and your power to forgive. I couldn't. But Larry, if Eugene loves you that much, you have earned my respect."

"Thanks," the two said.

"Wish you hadn't gotten mixed up with this bunch?" Paula asked.

"No, not at all. I'll admit my head's spinning and I have never known people so up-front and honest. I thought southerners were reluctant to be so open," Kent replied.

"Two things: if southerners trust you, they trust you; and you can always bet they will never give a short answer when a story will do. They may even force the story a bit, but you're going to get a story," I laughed. Suddenly the mood lifted as I was sure it would. Poor Kent sure had a lot dumped on him in two days, including his own story. "But hey, guys, this is our last Saturday before school starts and we are sitting here telling stories. Kent, know of any falls around here?" I asked.

"Falls, like on a river?"


"Afraid not, why?"

"That's too long a story for now," I said. "How about just a river?"

"Well, a branch of the Black River is fairly close. Why?"

"Think we could find a place to picnic on it?"

"Haven't tried, but we could take a look," Kent said.

Fifteen minutes later, we put a packed picnic basket and blankets in Eugene's car and the six of us piled in. It was a tight fit, but the day was beautiful, the top was down and we were off. Some miles later, we passed a farmhouse and Kent said, "I know the old couple who live here. The river runs through their place, although I have never seen it. I came out here with Dad a couple years ago and come back two or three times a year to help them get things done they can't do themselves. They have two sons who live on the west coast and only come every year or so, stay a day or two at most and leave. They send money to their parents, but I think they are ashamed of them since they are both big in the entertainment business. They're a great old couple. Why don't we stop by and see if they can tell us of a nice spot?"

"Sounds like a grand idea to me," Eugene said, as he turned the car around and drove down the lane leading to the farmhouse.

When we pulled up out front, an elderly man came to the door and peered out as Kent walked toward it. When Kent reached the porch he said, "Good afternoon, Mr. van Hook. Kent Glaze."

"Kent, Kent, good to see you. I couldn't tell who you were at first, but I see you clearly now. You've become a grown man since I saw you last fall. Come in, come in. Ask your friends in."

We walked into an immaculate living room with photos and all the treasures an old couple collect. It was a very comfortable place, well lived-in and, I suspect, lived in well. Seated in a rocker was a tiny white-headed woman. "Mr. van Hook, Mrs. van Hook, these are my friends and housemates," Kent said, and introduced us. "We were out looking for a place on the river where we might have a picnic and, when we came to your place, I thought you might be of help to us."

"There is a place on the river where Mrs. van Hook and I used to take the kids. We haven't been in years--don't get around as well as we once did. There's still, I'm sure, a field road that takes you within a hundred feet or so of it. If you're careful, you can make it in the car. It's a lovely spot as I remember," he said, wistfully.

I saw Luke's and Eugene's faces light up as Kent smiled and turned to us with a question on his face. Eugene nodded.

"I'm not sure we could find it without help," Kent said, in what sounded like a kind of hopeless voice. "I don't suppose you and Mrs. van Hook would have time to show us would you?"

Mr. van Hook looked at his wife, who already had started getting out of her chair, and asked, "Ma, think we're up to it?".

"Well," she said, "I'd really hate to disappoint these young people. I guess we could try."

The two moved amazingly well as they got ready and came with us to the car. "Don't see how we can all fit in," Mr. van Hook said.

"We'll manage," Eugene said as he held the car door for the two. When they were seated, Paula and Larry got in and Eugene took the driver's seat. Luke, Kent and I sat on the top of the back seat, riding like heros in a parade as Mr. van Hook directed Eugene to a field road which began behind the barn.

Eugene drove slowly--he was, after all, driving a convertible where he should have had the Jeep, but the road wasn't all that bad. When we had driven about a mile, Mr. van Hook said, "Ma, isn't this the spot?".

She nodded and said, "I think I hear the river". Sure enough, the sounds of a river could be heard.

Luke and I hopped off the car, walked through the branches of the trees and looked out on a wide, grassy area under high trees. The area sloped gently down to a broad, slow-moving, beautiful river. We went back to the car and Luke said, "No falls, but it's perfect. A wonderful spot. Let's go."

"I guess one of you needs to take us back to the house," Mr. van Hook said.

"Don't think so," Kent said. "I think you have just been invited to a picnic."

"Oh, we wouldn't want to intrude on your picnic," Mrs. van Hook said.

"Nonsense," Larry said. "Without you, we wouldn't be having one. Let's go!" He opened the car door and helped the somewhat frail woman from the car. When he reached the trees, he held the branches aside with one hand and Mrs. van Hook's arm with the other as they walked toward the river. Kent assisted Mr. van Hook, and the rest of us got the things from the car.

We soon had the blankets spread where the old couple would be a bit more comfortable sitting on the ground. As soon as they were seated, Luke asked, "Is the river safe for swimming?".

"Don't think you'll find it deep enough for swimming, but our sons always played in it so I guess it's safe to play in," Mr. van Hook replied. The words were hardly out of his mouth before all six of us were in the river, wading and playing around. From time to time, one of us would leave the river and go sit with the van Hooks since, without discussing it, we knew they shouldn't be left out. Finally Luke went up to Mrs. van Hook and said, "Madame, I think you need to remove your shoes". Mrs. van Hook looked at him with a puzzled expression as Luke repeated, "Off with the shoes, woman," in a commanding voice. Mrs. van Hook looked at him as if he had lost him mind, and slowly started removing her shoes and hose. When she had them off, Luke reached down, lifted the tiny woman in his arms and carefully carried her to the river. When he reached the bank, he very, very carefully walked into the river and, about midstream, carefully stood her on her feet. As he did he said, "A beautiful woman like yourself shouldn't have to sit out the fun". Luke never took his eyes off her and his hand never left her arm as she waded about the shallow river, a girlish smile on her face.

Seeing what Luke was up to, Larry asked Mr. van Hook if he'd like to join his bride. The old man looked at first like he wouldn't, then he looked up at Larry and said, in an excited voice, "Damn right I would, Son!" as he stripped off shoes and socks and started rolling up his pants legs. Larry picked him up as if he weighed nothing, and carried him into the river as he shouted, "Ma, it's like old times!".

Fifteen minutes later, Luke and Larry brought the couple from the river and Paula handed them towels, as she did the rest of us. When we had dried ourselves, she and Luke got the picnic basket and we soon had a delicious picnic spread. All hungry, we were ready to dive in. The van Hooks started to protest again, but we would have none of it and they joined in our evening meal. As they did, they asked about us, beginning with, "Where are you kids from? I know it's not from around here," Mrs. van Hook laughed. "You sound southern."

"We are," I said. We told then about home and why we were here and why we had been looking for a river.

"They have bought the old Roth place on the lake," Kent said, "and you should see what they've done already. It's looking great."

"How'd you run across them, Kent?" Mrs. van Hook asked, and Kent told her how we met and that he was living with us. Before she could ask why, he told them it was closer to Case and, by living with us, he'd have transportation. "Well, I hope you know you got one fine young man here," she said as she reached over and patted Kent's hand. Kent blushed! It was good to know someone was as bad about that as I was!

We sat around talking and listening to the van Hooks telling us about their life together here on the farm, about their successful sons and how much they enjoyed coming to the river after many years. Finally it was time to go, so we packed up the things and, once again, drove down the farm road.

When we reached the house, both the van Hooks kept thanking us and stood on the porch, waving until we were out of sight.

It was just sunset when we got back to the house. We unloaded the car and then all went to the sun porch to watch the sunset. As the sun finally slipped out of sight, Kent said, "You know you made two lonely old people very happy today".

"And just think how much enjoyment they added to our Saturday afternoon," I said. "It was wonderful having them with us."

"I think it was the way to spend our last free Saturday," Eugene said. There were nods of agreement all around.

We sat around talking about nothing really, for several minutes, then Kent said, "This afternoon, you asked about falls. Why falls?"

"You are really asking for stories now," Paula laughed. "Sooner or later every story we have involves the falls. THE FALLS are on the Sequoyah River which runs through the Family's farms, and have played an important part in all our lives."

"Yea, as a matter of fact, they have been important almost from the beginning of the Family," Luke said, and then he and I told how the Family came to be. When we finished, I said, "As a matter of fact, the Concord Five are spending today, and probably tonight, at the falls. I wonder what's going on? Well, anyway, I think that's enough for tonight."

"I want to hear more another time," Kent said.

"No need to worry about that, I'm sure," Larry laughed.

When we got inside, Paula said "Goodnight," and went to her room.

"Matt, go on up. I'll be up in a few minutes," Luke said.

As we walked up the stairs, Eugene said, "Matt, if you and Luke are not using the shower right now, think Larry and I would like it."

"Time to play with your water toys?" I laughed.

"Time to play with my boy water toy," he replied and hugged Larry to himself.

"I just need to brush my teeth and take a leak," Kent said, after he had turned bright red. "I'll shower in the morning."

"That's what I planned to do as well," I said. "I'll grab our toothbrushes and use your bathroom when you're finished," I said to Kent. "Go at it, you two."

I went to the room and was waiting for Kent to finish when Luke came up. "Larry and Eugene are using the shower," I said. "Suspect they will be in no hurry, so I grabbed our toothbrushes."

"Just leave mine and I'll get it in a minute. You go ahead."

Luke sure was acting strangely and I was sure he was hiding something behind his back. Since I couldn't find out what it was, I went across the hall, did my business and was brushing my teeth when he came in. He took a piss, then came to the basin beside me and brushed his teeth. As I turned to leave, he grabbed my arm and held me until he finished.

When we walked back to the room, I saw what was up. Luke had put a candle on each of the night stands and one each on the chest and dresser. The bed was covered with two beach towels and a vacuum bottle was on a night stand. As he closed the door, he took me into his arms and kissed me as he started undressing me slowly, a game two could play. I undressed my Bright Angel and, again, we stood--holding hands at arms' length--each admiring the body we had promised to worship with our own. Luke pulled me to himself and kissed me again, tenderly at first, but his kiss grew into a deep, sensuous one as he lifted me into his arms and carried me to the bed.

Placing me gently on the bed, Luke slowly covered my body with his as he kissed me very gently and tenderly. He raised his head a bit, looked deep into my eyes and smiled as he said, "Matt, I wish I could tell you how much you mean to me and how much I love you. Yesterday, while you were asleep, I got out of bed and just sat looking at you. Matt, I was absolutely overwhelmed by my love for you, and even more when I realized how much you love me." Luke's lips covered mine and his tongue entered my mouth slowly, softly, bringing with it the taste of my beloved Yonghon Tongmu. I was surprised when Luke's kisses continued soft and gentle. Passionate? Well, maybe not passionate, but filled with love and powerful. Slowly, he reached out and took the vacuum bottle from the night stand and, as he rolled off of me he sat up, opened the bottle and poured a stream of warm oil over my chest and started to massage it slowly with his strong, but gentle, fingers. All the time he was half-sitting, half-lying beside me, his eyes looking into mine and a beautiful Luke smile on his face. Luke moved his hands slowly over my body and, strangely enough, I didn't get aroused--just relaxed and glowing in his warm smile. Luke continued to rub the oil over my body, carefully avoiding Chili Pepper. Even when Luke asked me to turn over and massaged my back in the same slow rhythm, I was not aroused. Rather, I felt his gentle fingers expressing his deep, deep love for me.

Eventually he stopped and I turned over, and his lips covered mine in the gentlest possible kiss. "Sarang Hanun Pomul," Luke said, "it's not about sex, is it?" At first I didn't know what he meant, but then I realized that before, when we had done the oil bit, it had always ended in fantastic hot sex but, as I said, I had not been aroused by Luke's gentle touch. Much more than being aroused, I felt that through his fingers our very souls had merged. When I looked at Little Luke, I saw that Luke was not aroused either.

I looked into Luke's blue eyes, smiled and said, "No, Yonghon Tongmu, it's much more than sex. It's about love uniting us, making us one." Luke smiled again, kissed me with an angel kiss and I melted. He lay, his head on my chest, listening to my heart. "Matt, my Dark Angel, your heart is calling me," he said.

"Always, my beloved Bright Angel." We lay quietly for a while, then I raised my head and lifted Luke's chin to look into his eyes. He knew what I wanted and lay back on the bed. I poured a stream of the still-warm oil on his body and, as he had done me, began to massage his hard body gently, lovingly. I noticed as I did that I still wasn't aroused. When I had finished his back and he turned over I, as he had done, lay with my head over his heart, listening for my name in its steady rhythm and, sure enough, that was what I heard.

We lay together, Luke's arms about me, my head on his chest, saying and doing nothing. After a long silence, Luke said, "Matt, this was a wonderful afternoon. As I watched the van Hooks, I saw their deep love for each other and thought, 'When Matt and I are old we, too, will still have each other to love and cherish,' and I felt good." I raised my head, looked into Luke's eyes and smiled, then kissed him softly. Wrapped in each other's arms, still covered with oil, we talked about all that had happened to us in the recent weeks, about having Kent live with us, and all sorts of things--things lovers talk about which seem unimportant to others.

Finally, Luke got up, took my hand and pulled me to my feet, and we walked to the bathroom and look a long, hot shower. But other than hugs and kisses--of which there were plenty--we didn't play around. After we had dried each other, we stripped the towels from the bed and lay in each other's arms until we drifted off to sleep. We had made love, don't doubt that, but we had not had, or seemed to need to have, sex.

ASP--The Oberlin Five--Chapter Four--Luke

Sometime in the night--I could see the stars over the lake--I woke up and didn't know why, then I heard a low chuckle. I turned toward it and saw Rich, Rich Smith, standing beside the bed. He was dressed in black leather and was playing with his cock. "What...?" I started to say when he laughed again.

"Didn't get any tonight, did you Luke? You might have known that would be the way it was. You're hot, man, and I'm hot. Had you gone along with me, you'd never have to go to sleep without fucking or being fucked. Instead, you chose Matt and look where that got you. You're a fool, Luke."

"What the hell are you doing here, Rich? How'd you get in? Who invited you to come?"

"Hey, one question at a time. What am I doing here? Isn't that obvious? I'm looking for the same thing you are: hot sex, down and dirty fucking. I've never been far away, Luke, just waiting for you to realize what a mistake you made choosing Matt and his 'making love' over good, hard fucking. How'd I get in? I supposed you left the door unlocked, suspecting I was around. Why else would you leave it unlocked? Who invited me? Why you did Luke. I could feel your frustration when Matt just went to sleep tonight without giving you any. Do you want to do it here? Might wake up pretty boy Matt. Come on, get up. The beach is nice and I'd love to have you fuck my brains out in the moonlight."

"Rich, I didn't want you, I've never really wanted you. Matt and I had a wonderful time tonight--without having sex. Sex is just a part of it, Rich, just a part of being in love and making love. You're the fool, not me."

"Still playing hard to get, Luke? You're not. You're a cock-hungry pushover. Come on, I'll prove it."

Rich's left hand continued to stroke his cock as he reached out with his right hand and grabbed me by the wrist. "Get your dirty hands off me!" I shouted.

Rich laughed again and leaned over the bed, grabbed the back of my head and forced my mouth toward his hard cock. "God damn you, you bastard," I shouted as I struggled to get away. "Get your filthy hands off me. Get your cock out of my face! Go to hell, Rich." I was shouting over and over again and suddenly started crying while still struggling and shouting.

Rich suddenly reached out with both hands, grabbed my shoulders and started shaking me, calling my name, "Luke, take my big cock. Come on Luke, take it, you know you want it," he said as he continued to shake me.

"Luke, Luke, Babe, wake up!" someone, Matt, cried.

Dimly, and far away, I knew Matt was calling me. Once again, Rich had me and I was going to lose Matt. That was not going to happen! I summoned all my strength and shoved and kicked Rich away. I heard him hit the floor and I jumped up, my fist drawn back to slam him a good one.

"Luke, Luke Babe, stop. It's me. It's Matt!" Matt was calling me from the floor. How did he get down there? I collapsed beside Matt and held him very, very close, crying my eyes out.

"Luke, what's wrong, Babe. Why did you shove me out of bed and start to hit me? What's wrong, Yonghon Tongmu?" Matt was holding me close, stroking my hair and speaking softly. He looked into my eyes and started kissing them. "Luke, Yonghon Tongmu, you were having a bad dream--a nightmare, I guess," he said.

We were still sitting on the floor when Eugene, Larry and Kent all burst into the room. "Are you all right?" Eugene asked.

"What happened?" Kent asked. "I heard Luke shouting. What's wrong?"

"Luke had a nightmare, right?" Larry asked.

Matt was holding me close, stroking my hair, and I heard him say softly, "Yea, apparently a really bad one, a doozie. He kicked me out of the bed and was standing over me, his fist drawn back, when I finally got him awake. Thanks for checking on us, but we're ok now."

"I had hoped all that was over," Eugene said.

"Me too," Matt answered. "But we're ok. Go on back to bed and, again, thanks."

Slowly I realized that was what had happened. I had had a nightmare, none of it was real. I was still clinging to Matt, crying, and shaking all over. It took a few more minutes for me to get control of myself.

Matt reached up and switched on the bedside lamp. Its warm glow made the dream even less real. Finally, when I had myself under control, Matt looked me, smiled and said, "Mind if we get up off the floor?".

I shook my head and we got up. I lay on the bed with Matt beside me and told him about my dream. "Matt, he was taunting me because we didn't have sex last night."

"Luke, were you disappointed that we didn't have sex? Did I keep us from having sex? Did you really want to have sex?"

"Strange, Matt, but I didn't feel any need to have sex. We made love, but without sex, and I was happy. Did you want to have sex?"

"Luke, you know me, hot-to-trot Matt, but no. I felt no need for sex tonight. I was happy and fulfilled without it. As I was falling asleep, I was thinking about our having made love, there was no question in my mind about that, without having sex, and I was happy."

"Well, I just hope the nightmares don't start again," I said, and kissed Matt softly. We lay in each other's arms, without speaking, for a long while. Finally, nestled together, we drifted off to sleep again, and for me it was sleep filled with good dreams and no more nightmares.

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