“I’d offer you something while we wait for breakfast to be delivered,” I told Max and Gideon, our new neighbors, “but Henry and I need to do some shopping —”
“For clothes, obviously,” Max interrupted.
“Hey, I wasn’t the one who was spying on their neighbors,” I observed. I’d gotten up that morning and decided to do some stretching exercises out on the terrace in my bikini briefs, not realizing that Max and Gideon could see us through the shrubs that separated the two halves of the terrace.
“And I had no way of knowing we had guests when I came down here in the nude,” Henry chimed in. “Now, can you recommend a decent grocery near here?”
“The Westside Market’s just a couple of blocks down Seventh Avenue,” Gideon replied, “but it’s on the expensive side. It’s your best bet around here, though. Groceries in Manhattan tend to be crappy and expensive or gourmet and very expensive. Applazon Organic Market is actually one of the better options. There are two of them nearby, one on Seventh Avenue at 24th Street and one on 14th Street at Union Square. If you have Applazon Plus, they’ll deliver for free if you spend $35 or more. Do you guys have Applazon Plus?”
Henry broke into gales of laughter, leaving Gideon thoroughly confused as to what he said that was so funny. Finally, Max explained, “J.J. works for Applazon, Honey. He’s the head of A.I. at the New York corporate headquarters.”
“I guess that means you have Applazon Plus,” Gideon responded.
“And an employee discount, too,” Henry added.
“I know Applazon executives are paid fairly well,” Gideon asked, “but not enough to buy multi-million-dollar condos. It goes without saying that you’re both very young. Please don’t take this the wrong way, but you two look like you’re still in your teens.”
“We are,” I replied. “I’m nineteen and Henry’s just shy of sixteen. I understand you guys were quite young when you got together, too. But in answer to how we got here, the short version is that I ran away from home when I was fifteen when my father discovered I’m gay. He tried to kill me, so I didn’t exactly have a choice. I ended up in Omaha and was fortunate to have been given a home by the Gonzalez family. That’s how I came to meet Enrique Gonzalez, a.k.a. Henry.
“Along the way, I got my GED and went on to get a Ph.D. in computer science and was hired by Applazon as a data-center technician. While working for Applazon, I figured out how to build a better data server, one that’s significantly more reliable and that uses far less power.”
“Not only did it become the basis of Applazon’s next two generations of data servers,” Henry chimed in, “but it’s so easy to administer that Applazon is selling them all over the world.”
I went on. “When the pandemic hit, the need for data servers exploded, and I ended up spending two years traveling all over the globe installing servers. I was well paid for it but was totally unaware that each server I installed earned me thousands of dollars in Applazon stock due to the royalties earned from having designed them. The Feds have bought hundreds of them, too.”
“And Henry’s starting his Ph.D. in mathematics at NYU,” Max added. “They’re like us.”
Alesia announced, “Food delivery at front door.”
“Alesia, announce to front door, ‘Thanks’,” Henry called out, and I heard another voice say, “You’re welcome,” from wherever Alesia’s smart speaker was.
Because Max and Gideon were wearing clothes, they retrieved the food from outside the front door and set it on the counter. Everything smelled wonderful. I felt life beginning to return as I sipped the strong espresso. Yeah, I liked my coffee strong and undiluted, a consequence of having traveled the world.
The fried Oreos came with mint ice cream, which I stuck in the freezer until we were ready for dessert. The pancakes, eggs and bacon were outstanding. The fries were great, too. Finally, the fried Oreos were unlike anything I’d ever tasted. The meal was pricey, but worth every penny.
“So, what did you mean by we’re just like you guys?” Henry asked.
“We both attended Bronx Science,” Max explained. “It’s one of New York City’s specialized, elite high schools, and it has the distinction of graduating more Nobel laureates than any other secondary school in the world. I totally aced my achievement test in fifth grade, so they put me in the eighth grade the following year, which was awful. I was bullied all the time and nearly killed myself because of what I was going through. We lived in Ozone Park, which is a working-class part of Queens out near Kennedy Airport, and smart kids tended to get picked on as it was. Being a ten-year-old in with thirteen-year-olds was not a good mix. My birthday wasn’t ’til December, so I was already smaller than other kids in my grade level, but it was ridiculous after they made me skip two grades.”
“I can relate to everything you said,” I interrupted. “My fifth-grade teacher gave me the eighth-grade achievement test instead of the one I was supposed to take. He wondered why the quiet kid who never spoke up in class was getting straight A’s. I did think it was strange the test covered things we hadn’t studied in school before, but who was I to question it? When I aced the test, they had me skip middle school entirely. I, too, started high school at the age of eleven, but it wasn’t some fancy elite high school. No, it was a county high school in Southern Indiana serving a largely rural community of kids. You can imagine how well that went.”
“I don’t need to imagine it,” Max continued. “I was particularly good at math and was doing advanced algebra and geometry when everyone else was working on fractions. Being a total geek in Ozone Park was awful. The only thing worse was to be a fag, and when I realized I was gay, it just about sent me over the edge. Even at ten, I liked looking at boys, and when I realized what that meant, I thought seriously about suicide. The one saving grace was the entrance exam for the specialty high schools. It was my ticket out. I’d hoped to get into Stuyvesant. Commuting to Stuyvesant would’ve been easy, but I got into Bronx Science, which meant taking the subway into Manhattan and then out to the Bronx. It was nearly a two-hour trip each way every day, but it got me away from the bullying. No one at Bronx Science gave a fuck that an eleven-year-old was taking classes with fourteen-year-olds.
“Growing up in Ozone Park, I didn’t know any black kids. Ozone Park’s half white and half Hispanic. My mom was Puerto Rican and my dad was Irish, which made me half-and-half of neither, a kid who didn’t fit in. However, at Bronx Science, more than half the kids were Asian. Hispanics and blacks were small minorities, so we definitely stood out. There was one kid in particular: a black kid. I found myself looking at him all the time, but I never saw him outside of pre-calculus. I turned twelve over the Christmas break, and then classes started up after New Year’s. I aced the end-of-semester finals, and he failed the final exam in pre-calc. The teacher cornered both of us after class and asked me if I’d be willing to help tutor this kid, Gideon, who was failing the class. Trouble was, he lived in Harlem and I lived in Ozone Park. We tried staying after school, but it wasn’t safe to walk alone to the subway afterwards in the dark, so we got our parents to agree to let me sleep over at his house during the week. Hell, his commute was only fifteen minutes, so the time I saved in commuting was more than enough to make up for the time spent tutoring him in math.”
“I was devastated when I got a failing grade in pre-calc,” Gideon took over. “I wanted to be an electrical engineer, and you can’t do that without being a math whiz. I was desperate – desperate enough to let the teacher pair me up with a twelve-year-old freshman for tutoring. He was cute, though. It was just my mom and me in a small, two-bedroom apartment, so the only place for Max to sleep was in bed with me. On his first night sleeping over, I awoke to a rhythmic motion and realized Max was jerking off.”
“Well, I couldn’t help it,” Max interjected. “I was horny all the time, and being in bed with Gideon was too much, and I had to do something about it.”
“I already thought he was cute as anything, and I liked his personality. When I realized he was jerking off and I was spooned up behind him, well, I got hard,” Gideon explained. “I was insanely aroused, and there was no way Max couldn’t have noticed it.”
“Oh, I noticed it all right,” Max added. “I started wiggling my butt around to stimulate him while I jerked off.”
“And then I took matters into my own hand, so to speak, when I pushed his hand away and grabbed him and started jerking him while I humped him,” Gideon interjected. “It didn’t take long. Over the next few weeks, we went from humping and jerking each other off, to trading blowjobs, to 69s and then fucking each other silly. The main thing is that I fell head over heels for him. We spent a lot of time talking, and we both knew we were gay, but by the time I finished the semester with a solid A in pre-calc, we knew we were going to get married someday.”
“J.J. and I feel the same way,” Henry added.
“To make a long story short, after I graduated, Max still had two years to go, so I applied to Columbia and got in,” Gideon continued. “Max continued to live with us during the week. He’d come out to his parents when they wanted to know why he spent so much time with me over the summer, and my mom had me figured out when I was fourteen, so it was no surprise to her. In fact, she adores Max as much as I do. In the meantime, while taking classes at Columbia, I had an idea for a three-dimensional arrangement of NAND gates in non-volatile memory that could make an array of them small enough to fit in the space of a conventional hard drive.”
“You invented the modern SSD?” I asked. “Shit, you’re Gideon Reynolds.”
“And you’re J.J. Jeffries,” Gideon replied. “I’ve read your papers.”
“And I’ve read yours,” I responded. “Your concepts were critical to the design of my superconducting quantum computers.”
“You solved the problem of thermal stress near absolute zero?” Gideon asked.
“I solved the problem of room-temperature superconductivity,” I explained. “We just got word our paper was accepted for publication in Nature. I used computational mathematics to model quantum states in the known high-temperature, superconducting ceramics and discovered that electrons tunnel through the crystal lattice. I used that discovery to tweak the crystal structure, utilizing a cyanosilicate, hexagonal structure.”
“That’s amazing,” Gideon responded. “It’ll revolutionize the whole computer industry and maybe earn you a Nobel prize.”
“For now, the cost of manufacturing will limit its use,” I cautioned. “Each server chip costs about $25k, and a 16k server data rack runs a quarter-billion dollars.”
“In that case, we’ll take two of them,” Max responded in an apparent attempt at humor, and then he asked, “By the way, are you guys doing anything tonight?”
“We’re invited out to dinner at a friend’s place,” I responded.
“We are?” Henry asked.
“Yeah, it’s kind of a surprise for both you and the kid whose family we’re visiting,” I answered. “He’s someone you met online but have never seen in person, and I happened to meet him and his family while visiting St. Louis.”
“Wow, now you’ve got me curious,” Henry responded.
“The surprise will be revealed soon enough,” I said.
“How about tomorrow evening?” Max asked.
“We have tickets to Brilliant Indigo,” I replied.
“Oh man, how’d you get tickets? They’re supposedly sold out forever,” Gideon said.
“Applazon has blocks of tickets for all the Broadway shows,” I replied. “They use them for entertaining clients. It gives them clout. Employees can request them if they aren’t being used for official purposes. I have to admit, I was surprised to be able to get them for this year’s Tony Award winner, though.”
“How about before the show,” Max asked. “Would you be interested in having dinner with us in our place?”
“I think we’ll have to take a raincheck on that,” I replied. “We’re only here through the end of the week, and there’s a lot to do while we’re in town. We’ve made arrangements to have new home-theater gear installed since Henry’s a big-time audiophile, and it’s pretty obvious we need to switch our Internet provider and redo the security system to better meet our needs. We also have to figure out what to keep and what to replace of the furniture, and we have to figure out what we want to do in terms of artwork. It’s pretty obvious this place was furnished by people who are never here.”
“I never could understand the mentality of anyone who bought a place in this building, only to live someplace else. That’s okay in one of those new, sterile supertall towers, but this place has character. You shouldn’t buy here unless you plan to live here.”
“We couldn’t agree more,” I replied. “One look at this place and we made an offer. We knew the moment we saw it that this was where we wanted to live. We could’ve bought anything in Manhattan, but this place was perfect for us.
“However, now the real work begins, the work of making it our place. The last owners wouldn’t sell it except furnished, and although I wouldn’t have chosen this furniture per se if I were starting from scratch, it looks good in here, and I doubt we could improve on it. The artwork’s another story. It’s nonexistent, and what there is, is dreadful. Trouble is, we’re kids, and although I’ve been to museums around the world, we’re not in the league of buying, say, a Picasso, and I’m not even sure Henry knows what he likes.”
“You never asked,” Henry countered. “If we wanted to go with period art appropriate to the Art Deco movement and the opening of this building in 1929, we should consider Expressionism, Futurism or Surrealism. I’ve never been a fan of expressionism, and although I like abstract expressionism a lot, it came later. René Magritte is one of my favorite artists, but surrealism has been overdone to the point of being more appropriate for an office building. Futurism could be cool, but maybe not with this furniture, which tends more toward mid-century modern. However, that opens up the possibility of abstract expressionism or pop art. However, if we focus more in stylistic elements than period art, we might do better with contemporary or postmodern art. I’m particularly fond of Stuckism, which is largely a 21st century art form that originated in the U.K.”
“When did you become an expert on art, Babe?” I asked my boyfriend.
Shrugging his shoulders, he responded, “I’ve always been interested in art. I’ve just never been able to see it in its original form. I’m really looking forward to visiting the Met and the MOMA – and, of course, the Guggenheim, among others.”
“We can help you,” Gideon replied. “Max and I are major contributors to the Rubin Museum, which is a small museum over on Fifteenth Street, just east of Seventh Ave. We know some of the best contemporary artists of today, and even if their work isn’t to your taste, they can set you up with artists who’ll create custom artwork for your home. We’ll find artists to fit your budget, too, whether it’s four figures or eight.”
Laughing, I responded, “Four figures is what is there now. I’m sure they spent in the high five figures; they paid way too much for it. The main issue is finding the right artists. So, anything you can do to help with that would be appreciated. I wouldn’t want to spend so much that we need a professional alarm system, but we don’t have a budget per se. We’re buying art because we love it and not because the artist is featured at the Met.”
“You’re our kind of people, guys,” Max replied. “We have pieces we bought for a hundred bucks that would now sell for a hundred-thousand bucks. Some might think we’re showing off, but it just shows we have exceptional taste.”
“If you do say so yourselves,” Henry chimed it. “I like your attitude.”
Before we knew it, it was afternoon, and there wasn’t much time left to shower, dress and get to Applazon headquarters for a planned 1:00 meeting with Larry Cohen, the deputy director of the A.I. division. Beyond a doubt, we’d lucked out with respect to neighbors. Max and Gideon had already become best friends and probably would be for life.
<> <> <>
Henry spent the afternoon cleaning out every cabinet and drawer in the apartment, choosing items that might be worth keeping and to ask me about later. He boxed up everything else to donate. Meanwhile, I’d made arrangements to check out my new workplace. I figured it might be a good idea to make an appearance while I was in town, to take a look at Applazon’s new offices in the former department-store building and to meet with my colleagues. For one thing, it was always a good idea to remind people I was still involved with the company. More importantly, I’d been promised up to 5,000 square feet of office space and a budget for the purchase of workstations and other equipment. I needed to get going with the selection of both, so that our offices would be ready by the time I arrived later in the summer.
The building had been bought from the failed efforts of an office-sharing company that was struggling to survive. Applazon bought the building for the ‘bargain’ price of just over a billion dollars, which included assuming $750 million of the previous owner’s debt, giving them a new lease on life. The plan had been to rent space back to them at a reduced rate, but unfortunately, that wasn’t enough to compensate for poor management. The global pandemic pretty much finished them off, forcing them to exit the New York market entirely, leaving us with a lot of lavishly renovated space. Unfortunately, most of the prime office locations had already been claimed, so there wasn’t much left from which to choose. I’d been in touch with Grace Ingram, the director of the Department of Computational Research, who was my immediate boss. I’d also made arrangements to meet with Larry Cohen, the deputy director of the A.I. division, primarily to look at options for claiming our 5,000 square feet of space.
Larry and I had initially gotten off to a poor start when I was interviewed; he saw me as a corporate plant. Nothing could have been further from the truth. As I saw it, my appointment was Corporate’s attempt to put me at arm’s length. I might have been an invaluable resource, but I was still a very naïve, troublesome kid and a bit of a maverick in many people’s eyes. In any case, once I assured Larry that I would defer to him regarding hiring the other members of the division, his initial dislike of me turned, I thought, to grudging acceptance. Larry was working out of temporary office space that was ill-suited to our needs, and he was as anxious as I was to find a permanent home for our division within the historic building. Larry had been scouting out available locations in advance of Henry’s and my visit to New York with the plan that we would then look at them together. Whereas hiring and firing were to be his purview, the selection and design of office space would ultimately fall to me.
Corporate requested that everyone make use of the existing renovations as much as possible as we’d already paid for them when we assumed the previous owner’s debt. That meant that we could add movable partitions, but any changes involving removing, moving or adding steel studs and drywall had to be justified. Any space I claimed would have to be usable ‘as is’, hence I could only select space that was already suitable for the installation of energy-hungry workstations. Although there were plenty of suitable locations in the interior of the building, I’d really had my heart set on something with windows, just as I was sure every other department and division chief did.
I had my reasons, not the least of which was the company policy introduced in the wake of the pandemic that allowed employees to work entirely from home. That was an effective strategy for many, if not most, areas of research, but A.I. was largely an idea-driven field in which thoughts needed to be nurtured, which was very hard to do in isolation from home. I wanted our office space to be a bright, modern, attractive, fun place to work. I wanted our computer scientists to wake up every morning excited at the prospect of working in a state-of-the-art facility with colleagues who were the best in their field and who would become genuine friends. That might be hard to accomplish in the depressing environment of a windowless office. I could always resort to the use of lighting to give the illusion of sunlight and greenery to simulate the outdoors, but those would be a poor substitute for having a view.
Larry had looked at the dregs of what was left of windowed office space, most of which was barely above street level and horribly configured. He’d also looked at a variety of interior spots and had warned me that we might have to settle for the least worst of those. He’d looked at what some of the other divisions were doing to spruce up interior space and planned to show me the best of them. I spent that afternoon with Larry, looking at the various options and didn’t really like any of them. It was as I was looking at blueprints of the entire building that I noticed large areas that lacked any details at all. I asked Grace about them, and she wasn’t sure why there weren’t any labels or markings, either, so she looked into the matter while Larry and I continued our search. She contacted me on my phone to tell me that the unmarked spots were sections of the building that hadn’t been renovated. Although Corporate preferred we stick to space that had already been finished, the unmarked areas were available for those willing to wait for asbestos removal and city building permits. It was to be a game changer.
As I continued to look at the unmarked areas in the blueprints, nearly all of which were in the interior, I realized that there were no drawings for the eighth floor. There were ten floors above the street level, with an eleventh floor that had been added on the roof, set back to where it wasn’t visible from the street. The eleventh floor included a restaurant and lounge with an outdoor courtyard and would continue to function as such. The tenth and eleventh floors contained all of the former, department-store corporate offices, and they would continue to serve the same purpose for Applazon’s corporate administrative offices in New York, scheduled to open officially in early 2023. The ninth floor included a cafeteria and a couple of restaurants, and those would also be retained but upgraded and modernized to better suit the Applazon culture, which included free, healthy meals for all employees, much to the dismay of the area restaurants. Applazon wanted its employees to eat with each other and to throw ideas around over lunch. New Yorkers might be used to going out for lunch and doing their shopping then, but that wasn’t part of the Seattle-based Applazon culture.
Most of the space on the first seven floors had already been allocated or claimed by other divisions, but the eighth floor was entirely missing from the architectural drawings. Rather than spend the rest of the day playing telephone tag with Grace and anyone else involved, Larry and I decided to take matters into our own hands and to make a trip to the eighth floor. We couldn’t even select the eighth floor until Larry inserted his elevator key; then the moment of truth arrived, and the elevator opened into an eerie, department-store ghost town of jumbled clothes racks, empty shelves, nude manikins and empty displays, all dimly lit by the meager emergency lighting.
“Wow, this place hasn’t been touched since the department store closed!” Larry exclaimed.
“Yeah, it looks like they stripped it bare of anything of value and then left the rest,” I commented. “All of this stuff is going to have to be carted out of here, and then the whole floor will have to be gutted. There’s probably asbestos all over the place behind these walls and in the ceiling, and lead paint, too. But man, imagine what we could do with a blank slate.”
“Yeah, but where are the windows?” Larry asked.
“Let’s find out,” I suggested as I headed for what I thought was an outer wall. Spotting a nondescript outline of a door behind one of the clothing racks against the wall, I pulled outward on it, hoping it wasn’t locked. It wasn’t, and it swung right open to reveal bright sunlight that nearly blinded us.
“What is this place?” Larry asked.
“It’s a storeroom, and there are some offices, too,” I pointed out. “Can you believe the size of these windows? They’re motherfucking huge!”
“The windows all are in this building.” Larry responded with a laugh. “I measured them and they’re nearly all sixteen feet wide by 22 feet tall and spaced 22 feet apart.”
“Shit, the ceiling height must be about 25 feet!” I reacted in surprise. “The windows look so small from the ground. What an optical illusion!”
“You wanted windows,” Larry responded. “We just have to convince Corporate to let us start building out this floor and to gut the floor now rather than later. Don’t hold your breath, and if you get the space, be prepared to live in temporary space for quite a while. The Buildings Department isn’t known for their speedy approvals. Not only that, but this is a landmark building. We have to get approval to do anything that alters the original, historic appearance of the building from 1914.”
“I can live with that,” I replied. “I wonder why the previous owner never renovated this floor.”
“My guess is they had grandiose ideas of expansion and planned to save this floor for additional corporate offices since it’s just two floors below the ones that are already there.” Larry suggested.
“That’s probably true, and it’s a big part of why they failed,” I responded. “Most corporate administrative structures are top heavy, and as they grow, the administration to support the growth expands proportionately. They accumulate a lot of middle-management positions, too, which can be an even bigger problem. The salaries aren’t as high as in top management, but there are so many of them. No matter what you think of Jeff Barlow, he knows how to run a business. His corporate structure is lean, and it expands at a much slower pace than expansion of the business. Doubling a business doesn’t mean doubling the size of the administration; in fact, it should hardly expand at all. That’s why corporate mergers are so popular; you can get rid of nearly half the administrative staff.”
“Sad, but true,” Larry agreed.
“So, if we gut this place, I was promised five thousand square feet of space,” I began. “That’s a lot more than we’ll need for now. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I figure we’ll start out with maybe a half-dozen computer scientists and expand that only as we develop the capacity for additional projects.”
“That’s exactly what I had in mind,” Larry chimed in, “including ourselves.”
“Agreed. And we’ll need six high-end workstations, each with its own peripherals,” I continued. “We should probably keep a small library. All our journals are online, but we all have books, and guests expect to see such relics. We can pool all of our books in the library, so as to avoid clutter at our desks. We’ll need a kitchen area, gender-neutral restrooms, a conference area with facilities for presentations, lots of white boards or, better still, giant touch screens.”
“You can get touch screens large enough to cover entire walls,” Larry pointed out.
“Yeah, but maybe not 25 feet high, though,” I responded, and we both laughed. “I’ve never met a computer scientist who doesn’t type their own papers, so we don’t need space for secretarial staff. Just an administrative assistant to do all the work so I can take the credit.”
Laughing again, Larry said, “J.J., I really like the way you think. We’re gonna do great things together.”
“I’m counting on it,” I responded. “I’d like to build out one large area,” I went on, “perhaps a hundred feet along Fifth Avenue, including the corner, and fifty feet deep.”
“Shit, we’ll never fill that,” Larry responded, “and Corporate would reverse that, giving us only fifty feet on Fifth Avenue or on either side street and a hundred feet in the interior.”
“Probably true,” I agreed, “but we got here first, and we get dibs on the corner. I’ll accept having most of it on the side street, but we’ve got to have the corner. However, if we don’t ask for the maximum amount of space right now, we’ll never get it later when we need it. Trust me, there’s always a way to fill space. We can have a lounge with a sofa and comfortable chairs – and a TV. We can have some recreational stuff like a pool table. Oh, we should plan on a graduate-student office with one or two additional workstations.”
“You know, a lot of the office space is being built out on two floors within the existing space,” Larry mentioned. “They might only give us a 2,500 square foot footprint and expect us to subdivide the space into two floors.”
“Is that acceptable in a landmark building?” I asked.
“Apparently it is if you don’t modify the existing structure,” Larry explained, “and as long as you’re ADA-compliant.”
“Which means having an interior lift,” I chimed in.
“You’ve definitely spent a lot of time overseas if you refer to an elevator as a lift,” Larry quipped.
“Guilty as charged,” I admitted. “I’d insist on an interior two-story atrium if we did something like that. If I’m not mistaken, taking into account the angled corner window, I think we could have 3,200 square of floor space on the main floor, with two windows on Fifth Avenue and two windows on the side street. We could then build out 2,500 square feet on the second floor, which would leave a common area of 700 square feet for the atrium, the lift and a stairway.”
Laughing, Larry countered, “You’re going to need three- to four-hundred square feet on two floors for the stairway alone, and nearly as much for the elevator. It’s not like the floor space in the atrium will be off limits, so maybe build out only 2,000 square feet on the second floor, all of it along the exterior walls, with the stairs on one side of the entry door and the elevator on the other side, and an open thousand-square-foot atrium in the center.”
“That sounds perfect,” I agreed. “Let’s go see if we can find the corner of the building overlooking the intersection of Fifth Avenue and the side street. That’s where I’m going to put my office, on the upper floor.”
“As long as we can put mine directly below it,” Larry countered.
“Deal,” I agreed.
Disclaimer: This story is purely fictional and any resemblance of characters to real individuals is unintentional. Although it takes place in actual locations, in no way are any official policies, opinions or events inferred. Some characters may be underage and at times engage in homosexual acts. Anyone uncomfortable with this should not be reading the story, and the reader assumes responsibility for the legality of reading this type of material where they live. The author retains full copyright and permission must be obtained prior to duplication in any form.