A Special Place

By Sequoyah Pendor


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This is a work of fiction; any coincidence is just that, a coincidence.

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(Parts Twenty-one - Thirty)

Part Twenty-one


        I was sleeping in the guest room at David Andrews' when I was suddenly awakened by Dad. He had his belt in his hand and started beating me again. I had thought I was safe. David had promised me Dad couldn't beat me any more and now he was. My back was killing me. I could hardly keep from fainting from the pain. I started screaming and when I did, Dad beat me harder. I screamed louder and louder. Why didn't someone come to help? Where was David? Where was Michael? Why had they let Dad get to me? I screamed and screamed and screamed. Suddenly I wasn't in the dark any longer. When the lights came on, I realized I had been dreaming, but my back did hurt. I was in terrible pain. I should have taken a pain pill before I went to bed. But I had. I really was confused when Michael sat on the edge of the bed and pulled my head to his shoulder. I was crying like a baby.
        "It's ok, Eugene. It's ok," Michael said as he stroked my hair and held me close without touching my back. "You must have been having a nightmare."
        "I was. I was dreaming Dad had come here and was beating me again. But my back really does hurt. It hurts worse now than it did this afternoon."
        "It's ok. Dad will be here in a minute, I'm sure. Just relax all you can." Michael was still stroking my hair and holding me when David came in the room. "Dad, Eugene was having a nightmare and his back hurts terribly."
        "Margaret left a shot of pain killer just in case although she didn't think Eugene would need it. I'll get it."
        When David came back with the shot he told me it was more than I had in the afternoon and I would definitely be feeling no pain shortly and would sleep. He gave me the shot and then checked my back. "I don't think I need do anything more, but it's a lot worse than Margaret and I thought."
        "Eugene, would you like for me to sleep with you?" Michael asked.
        "You would do that even though I am...."
        "What's that got to do with anything?" Michael asked. "If you want me to sleep here, of course I will."
        "Well, if you don't mind."
        "Do you want me to put on boxers or something?" He asked. For the first time I noticed the Andrews men were as naked as the day they were born. "Only if it would make you more comfortable."
        "Definitely not," Michael said as his voice got further and further away. Michael lay beside me and I spooned into his back, feeling warm and safe and wonderful as I started floating. I was floating, floating, floating above a beautiful river. I was floating above the falls then I just drifted...."
        When I woke up, I was completely disoriented. I was groggy and didn't know where I was. For some reason, my back ached. When I got my eyes opened, I realized there was a strange man sleeping with me. Suddenly, I remembered where I was and why my back hurt. I tried not to awaken Michael, but as soon as I moved, he was wide awake.
        "I hope you slept well after that nightmare," he said.
        "I did. Now if I don't get to the bathroom, I'm going to...."
        "I'm right behind you!
        When we had finished our business, Michael said, "I'm going for my morning run. The Gang of Four runs every morning. I'll tell Dad you're awake since he'll want to check your back. I guess you'll just have to take a spit bath--you know, water in the basin and a wash cloth-- since I'm sure he won't want you getting your back wet. See you at breakfast."
        A few minutes after Michael had left the room, David came in. "How are you feeling this morning?" he asked.
        "I have felt better. My back's still painful, but not like it was last night."
        "Let me take a look at it." David had his bag with him and gently removed the bandages from my back. "I'd hoped I could leave the bandages off so your wounds could get some air. That's best, but I'm afraid some of the places are still oozing and your shirt might stick to them. Also, it would probably rub the places which are raw and that would be very uncomfortable. When you get back from whatever Millie has up her sleeve, you can take your shirt off and I'll check the bandages this evening. You'll have to take a tub bath I'm afraid and be very careful not to get your back wet. When you finish, I'll redress your wounds. Just give me a yell when you're ready."
        I was really glad I could get a real bath even though it was in a tub. When I finished, I found my razor, shaved, brushed my teeth and put on a pair of boxers, then called David. He came up and redressed my back and I finished dressing and went downstairs. Michael came in the front door soon after I got down. "Michael, I want you to know that I really appreciate what you did last night. I'm sure it was not easy for you...."
        "Why do you say that? You were a friend in trouble. I didn't do much, but I did want to do what I could. That's what friends are for. Look, I know you're gay and that makes no never mind. And even if I were gay, you certainly wouldn't hit on me. You have a boyfriend. If you were straight, I would expect Mary Kathryn to keep her hands off you if you were in bed with her. Same thing, right?"
        "I still want you to know that I appreciate what you did very much. Thanks."
        "Anything for a friend."
        David came down and we had breakfast. "I'm afraid Michael and I aren't the best cooks in the world. In fact, if it hadn't been for milk, cold cereal and fruit, we wouldn't have had breakfast for the past two or so years."
        "Better than I'm used to," I said.
        After breakfast, David left for the hospital and Michael was off to school with Matt and Luke after they came in to see how I was doing. I waited around, doing nothing, trying not to think until Millie came.
        She had said she would pick me up around 8:30 and she arrived promptly at 8:30. "Have you had breakfast?" she asked as soon as she was inside. I told her I had eaten with David and Michael. "Well, we need to talk and decide what we're going to do. Last night you said your father took back his name. What did you mean?"
        I told her the whole story again as I had heard it from David and the others who had gone to my house. "How do you feel about that? I mean really deep down inside."
        "I guess I may need to think some more about it--no, I don't--if he thinks I am a disgrace to the Joyce name I must be so far as he is concerned. I know that, to my mind, he is a disgrace to the human race. I have put up with his abuse as long as I can remember. I tried to do what he wanted me to do until one day I realized I could never be what he wanted. He once said I was a mistake and never should have happened. I guess yesterday he just made clear by his actions what he always thought and said; I was an unwanted mistake and kept being a mistake. He was ashamed of me, so why should I be proud to bear his name? He doesn't want that and I know, deep down inside, I agree with him--not that I am a mistake, but that I don't want to bear the same name he does."
        "You're real sure of that?"
        "Yea, I'm real sure."
        "Fortunately you're eighteen and don't have to have your parents' permission for anything unless you're living with them in which case I'd expect you to... I was going to say 'do as they said,' but there are limits and your mom and dad both went way past them. And, in any case, it doesn't matter now. They tossed you out so you're a free man. I want to say some things and then we'll talk.
        "Last night I started thinking about grandkids again. I swear, I never thought that would bother me, and I'd die before I let Jason know it, but I really miss having grandkids. I want you to know something about this Willingham family and especially about Jason.
        "You know, of course, I have money. I have piles of money, more than Frank left me and he left me a bundle. Hell, I've got money I have forgotten about. Frank and I both earned our money by hard work. He came from an old Concord family everyone thought was wealthy, but they weren't. They owned a lot of land, but when it came to money, they couldn't buy a pot to pee in. My family had nothing. Mom and Dad were hard workers and were determined their kids would have a better life than they. Both families scraped and skimped to find money to see that we got a good education, but that was it. After that we were on our own. We really worked hard. Frank found ways to make the Willingham's land pay off. Our accounting firm was making good money so we were, over the years, made wealthy. Our one sorrow was that we couldn't seem to have children."
        "When we discovered I was pregnant, we had just about given up hope of ever having a child. When Jason was born everyone kept telling us he would be spoiled rotten--an only son born late in life to a couple who had just about given up hope. What could you expect? Frank and I sat down the day Jason was baptized and talked a long time about his future. We were determined he would not end up like the spoiled, wealthy kids we had known at Oberlin. We entered into a pact with each other saying we would never allow Jason to become a rotten, wealthy snob if we could help it." Millie laughed, "I told Frank, 'He might be a rotten kid, but unless he gets money somewhere else, he'll never be a wealthy rotten kid!' And we agreed on that. You don't want to hear all this, do you?"
        "Sure I do. I'm certain it has a point or you wouldn't be telling me."
        "You don't think it's just a senile old lady rattling on?"
        "Not yet anyway."
        Millie laughed her full belly laugh and said, "Eugene, I can see we're going to get along fine. Well, anyway, Jason was and is a good kid. He's honest, cares about people, is very loving and just a great human being. And I'm not saying that because he's mine. During high school, he got into a few minor scrapes usually, I am proud to say, because he ended up fighting to protect someone. He did well in school and when it came time for him to go away to college, we told him we would provide for his education at any place he wanted to go. We would pay all his expenses within reason, but we were not paying him to party. He did well in college his first year and asked to move off campus. He didn't like the noise and horseplay in the dorm. Seemed reasonable and he got an apartment.... There is a point to all this, Eugene, trust me."
        "I will, for a while longer."
        "Why I ought to slap your face for talking to an old lady that way," Millie said and drew back her hand. I covered my face with my hands and started bawling like a baby. "Damn, how could I be such a fool," Millie said as she jumped out of her chair, ran to me and put her arms around me, avoiding my back. "Eugene, please forgive me. I have never struck a child in my life and never would. I intended to joke with you as I often did with Jason, but it was a damn poor joke. Can you forgive me?" she asked as she pulled me into her ample bosom and rocked me, stroking my hair. When I looked up, Millie had tears in her eyes.
        "I'm sorry. I should have known you wouldn't hurt me, but I have been hit so many times, I just react."
        "Eugene, if I can make it possible, you'll never be hit again. I am so very, very sorry."
        "It's ok now. Finish your story."
        "Are you sure you're ok?"
        "I'm sure."
        "Well, Jason had dated some in high school, but never anything as serious as even having a steady girlfriend. I guess we should have known something was different about him, but we never thought anything about it. Anyway, the year after his father died, he came home Christmas and brought one of the most beautiful men I had ever seen with him. When they walked in, Jason said, 'Mom, I'd like you to meet Anthony, the light of my life and my soulmate.' I suppose I was expected to be shocked or something, but I wasn't and before the holidays were over not only was I convinced Jason was a lucky devil, but also that Anthony was as good as they come. It seems that Jason, even in high school, knew he was different and by the end of his first year in college he admitted to himself he was gay, but told no one.  One night at Canterbury--that's a college group for Episcopal students--Anthony showed up and and Jason fell head over heels for him--love at first sight Jason called it. I called it lust at first sight. Jason laughed when I said that and said I was probably right, but only at first sight. 'Mom, I fell for Anthony like a ton of bricks the first time I laid eyes on him and it kept getting worse--better--whatever.' But, according to Jason, Anthony was so obviously straight that he never dared say anything to him, but managed to be around him a lot."
        "Anyway, one night there was a discussion group about sexuality at Canterbury and someone said something about gays bed hopping and that set Anthony off big time. He told the group they were a bunch of hypocrites because they accused gays of doing what most of them were doing. 'I'm gay and I haven't had sex with anyone since high school and I suspect few of you can say that. I don't have sex to get my nuts off'--I suspect the Episcopal chaplain wished he hadn't allowed that can of worms to be opened--'And I won't have sex again until I love someone and he loves me.' I guess after that bomb shell landed the meeting broke up quickly. Jason asked Anthony if he'd like to grab a beer. They sat in a pub until it closed, then Jason invited Anthony to his apartment and they talked until daylight. They started doing a lot of things together and were having great fun, but Jason was still reluctant to say anything for fear of driving Anthony away. He has my blood in him and he doesn't take rejection very well."
        "Finally, Jason decided he could be cautious the rest of his life and lose Anthony or he could risk everything and maybe win Anthony. Jason planned a trip over Thanksgiving break and asked Anthony to go with him. The next thing I know, he shows up Christmas and announces they are lovers. The first time I saw Anthony he was as neat as a pin, but everything he had on was obviously well worn.  Anthony's family had nothing but a determination their kids would have a better life than they. They helped all they could, but Anthony worked like a dog in high school to earn money for college and to earn scholarships. He had it hard, but he appreciated every bit of help he got. Now why did I tell you all that? To tell the truth, I'm not really sure except to say that Jason is a wonderful son who has a partner whom I love as much as Jason. In one sense, Jason lived an easy life compared to Anthony, yet both worked hard to make something of themselves. Both had the best their parents could give which for both was an excellent education."
        "When they graduated, I gave them money to put their education to use. Both are well off now so I feel free to spend money as I damn well please. The point of all this? I'd like to know if you are sure you are willing to give up being a Joyce?"
        Matt had commented about Millie's tendency to change horses in midstream and I was unprepared for her question. I couldn't see where she was headed. "I guess if the Joyces don't want me, I'm man enough to give them what they want. No, I would just as soon never be called a Joyce again."
        "Do you think you could handle being a Willingham, knowing what would be expected of you as well as what you can expect?"
        I know my mouth fell open and I couldn't say anything for a while.
        "Well, is that open mouth a yes or a no."
        "I don't know. What do you mean?"
        "I told you I really got into that grandmother thing yesterday and I liked it. Would you be willing for me to adopt you? Technically you'd be a son, but to me you'd be a grandson."
        "I'd be honored, Millie, to be your grandson."
        "Now I hope you don't think that means you'll have money to throw around. Jason worked hard for his education and I'll expect you to do the same, but I also expect you to have the time to put into getting a good education, having some fun and working on your music."
        "Millie, I didn't expect anything from my parents and that's about what I got. All I'll expect from you is to be treated like a grandson, if that's what you want and I sure know better than to expect to be treated as a spoiled grandson."
        "Couldn't have said it better myself. Well, let's get going. We've got a lot of paperwork to get done. How are you feeling, by the way?"
        "I feel fine... actually that's a lie. I hurt like hell, but I didn't want to take a pain pill unless I absolutely had to."
        "Hold off if you can otherwise someone might say you were on drugs when you signed the hundred pages with your John Hancock. Well, let's hit the road."
        When we reached her lawyer's office it was obvious Millie had some lawyers earning their money since yesterday. There were stacks and stacks of paper.
        "Mr. Joyce," a young lawyer--who obviously knew Millie because his well-tailored three-piece suit displayed his bubble butt to perfection--said, as he handed me a document, "here is a copy of the restraining order against your father. Frankly, it will not keep him away from you if he wants to harass you. However, should he do so, he'll spend time as a guest of the county."
        "Mrs. Willingham, here are the documents necessary to adopt Mr. Joyce. They, of course, provide for a name change from Joyce to Willingham. Are you sure you want to do this?
        "Mr. Fox, have I ever asked you to do something and then proved to be undecided?"
        "Well, no, but this is a pretty important step."
        "Don't think I have ever been more sure of anything since I said, 'I will,' on my wedding day."
        "Mr. Joyce, since you are eighteen, this is an adult decision you are making. The state doesn't require your parent's permission, but I want you to be very sure you know what you are doing. You are saying 'No' to your birth family--so far as the state is involved, they will no longer be your parents. Legally, you will be as much a son of Mrs. Willingham as her son Jason. I want you to be very sure that is what you want."
        "Mr. Fox, there is only one thing in this world I'm more sure of." Millie looked at me and smiled.
        "Well, I'll get witnesses in here so you and Mrs. Willingham can sign all these papers. As soon as that is done, we have an appointment with a judge to make everything final unless either of you want to write in a waiting period during which you can change your mind."
        "I think we know what we're doing," I said, and smiled at Millie.
        When we had finished signing everything, Mr. Fox asked that I wait in another room. "Mrs. Willingham is making some changes in her will," he explained.
        I had no idea that the justice system moved with a speed that would make a glacier look like a speed demon. It was after noon before Millie and I got to lunch and I was starved. In the excitement of the morning, I had forgotten about my back, but as soon as I sat down, it made its presence known. "From the look on your face you're having second thoughts or are hurting like hell," Millie said.
        "If I had any second thoughts, which I do not, my back right now would vote me down!"
        "Go ahead and take a pain pill now. The only thing we have left to do is go to school and get records changed, Mr. Eugene Willingham."
        "Yes ma'am, Ma."
        "Ok, there are limits Mr. Willingham," Millie said and laughed one of her great laughs.
        I hurt like hell, but I don't know when I had been happier--except when Larry told me he loved me. I smiled and said, "Millie, no one has ever made me as happy as you have...." Millie raised an eyebrow. "I mean except Larry."
        "If you hadn't said that I think I'd give you back to the Joyces. Well, take your pill. Our food's here." After we had almost finished eating, Millie looked at me with a very serious look on her face. "I've got one more question, Eugene. What about your sister?"
        "Millie, we have never been close. About the only thing we ever did together was try to protect each other from Mom and Dad--I mean...."
        "I know what you mean. Don't worry about it."
        "Anyway, we chose different ways of escaping. I buried myself in my music then after I got to know Larry, I spent as much time as possible with him. Really, I hardly know Janice. I do know she hates school and has skipped so much she's in real trouble there. She hangs out with a really rough crowd at school and, when she slips out at night, I suspect she and Wallace hang out with some rough kids. About the only time I have ever heard her say she was happy was when she spent summers with Dad's sister in Arizona. I guess that being far away was a part of it. Plus, there are three cousins--all girls--one older, one younger and one about Janice's age.  When she was there was the only time she got to do real girl things--lipstick, colored her hair, you know, girl things. I suspect if she had a choice she would go there to live."
        "Well, why don't we check that out as an option. You're sure she won't mind being separated from you?"
        "Quite sure. She just wants out of the hell hole we've lived in and, as I said, we were never close."
        "I think we need to drop by protective services on our way to school. Want dessert?
        "Millie, I don't think I could be force fed another thing!"
        "Then let's roll."
        When we got to protective services, the social worker who came out to the house yesterday was busy so Millie told the receptionist we would wait. We only had to wait for about ten minutes. When we got into the office, Millie told her why we came by. "Eugene has been taken care of. I adopted him because I knew him and the good stuff he has inside. He tells me he and his sister were never close and he thought she would like to live with an aunt in Arizona if that were possible. Where does she stand now?"
        "She stayed with Dr. Bailey last night and I have been working on placement when I had time today. We have to have her placed within five days after the court hearing and that was this morning. Neither of her parents showed up and that constitutes abandonment. But she can't stay with Dr. Bailey beyond the five days without Dr. Bailey being certified a foster parent. That probably could be done, but it takes time and I understand Dr. Bailey is going to be kinda busy for awhile."
        "That's right. She's being married Sunday. I had forgotten that. Would it be as complicated to get her to her aunt's?"
        "Not at all, since she's a relative. Janice is sixteen so some of the rules are more relaxed for kids her age."
        "I don't know my aunt's phone number or address, but she works for Office Depot in Phoenix."
        "That should be enough. If you have time, I'll call her right now."
        "It's almost 2:00 and we need to get to the school before it's out, but we have time. Let me call Ms. Jones and make sure she will be there when we get to school." The social worker--her desk plate said she was Ms. Anderson--pushed the phone across her desk. Millie dialed without having to look up the number. I suspected she kept a pretty close tab on school these days. "Ms. Jones, please," she said into the phone. In a minute she continued, "Constance, Millie. I'll be at school as soon as I can get some things cleared up here in town. Could you make sure Ms. Norman is also there? We have some important business to attend to.... No, I don't think it's more trouble," Millie smiled as she looked at me. I smiled back, probably kinda goofy because I was feeling no pain--literally and figuratively!
        When Millie finished, she pushed the phone back across the desk and Ms. Anderson dialed for directory assistance, wrote down a number and said, "Thank you." She then dialed another number. She looked up as she said, "We're at the 'if you wish, press' stage. Eugene, I forgot to ask, what is your aunt's name?"
        "Sandra Martinez."
        "'Yes, could I speak to Ms. Sandra Martinez, please. Well, yes, if Ms. Martinez is the manager.' They are paging her. 'Yes, Mrs. Martinez. This is Carletta Anderson. I am a social worker with protective services in Concor.... No, Ms. Martinez, no one has been seriously hurt--well, that's not quite true.... Yes, you're right. No, Eugene was severely beaten, but he is eighteen and I couldn't get involved in .... No, no. I'll let him tell you about his situation. He is here in the office with me right now. I'm calling about Janice.... No, she has not been physically hurt, at least not this time'." The call went on for awhile as Ms. Anderson explained the situation Janice was in. When she asked Aunt Sandra if she was willing to take Janice, it was obvious from her face the answer was "Yes."  She then explained since Janice would be moving out of state, the state would be unable to pay her for foster care. "We will try to get child support money from Mr. Joyce, but I wouldn't plan on it. Can you handle the financial burden of an extra child?... You have just been made manager? Congratulations. I'm sure the extra money could be used otherwise, but I am thankful that you accepted without hesitation. Janice needs a lot of loving and care and Eugene suggested the only place she was ever happy was with you.... She is staying with a woman doctor here now, but I think we can get the paper work done and have her on her way today, maybe tomorrow at the latest.... Yes, please do give me your home number as well and I will call you as soon as things are in order.... Of course we will allow Janice to decide whether or not she wants to come, but she will have to realize that the alternative is an unknown foster home.... I'm sure she will appreciate your eagerness to have her as soon as possible and I'll call you when I know something definite. Here's Eugene."
        I explained to Aunt Sandra what had happened and why Janice was taken out of the house. She was delighted that I had been taken under Millie's wing. When she asked if that was going to put a real burden on an elderly lady, I responded, "Aunt Sandra, I think she would have your head for calling her an elderly lady. She calls herself an old woman at times, but I don't think she'd cotton to having the title used by someone else." I laughed and winked at Millie. She got a good laugh out of that. "No, I think she can manage to find the money for my needs so I appreciate your offer to help out and I know she does, but it is not at all necessary.... Well, I'm feeling no pain right now. I took a pain pill a short time ago and I'm kinda floating, but I understand he did a crackerjack job on my back. Dr. Bailey, with whom Janice is staying, and David Andrews are taking care of it. He is an EMS nurse and I spentthe night at his place.... I know and I appreciate your concern, but I'm more than ok now that I am out of that hell hole of your brother and sister-in-law, and knowing that Janice will be loved and cared for completes things for me. Sure, I'll keep in touch. Bye."
        "It sounds as though Janice will be in a good home so you don't have to worry about her," Ms. Anderson said.
        "She will be and I won't."
        We got to school near the beginning of the last period when I would have been introducing the ensemble to the music we had worked on Saturday. When we reached the office, Millie briefed Ms. Jones on what had happened. "Now we need to get some records changed. As of today, this is Eugene Willingham standing before you," she said, placing her hand on my shoulder. "Welcome to Independence High School, Mr. Willingham. I'm sure you'll fit right in," Ms. Jones laughed. "Let's go to Ms. Norman's office and get the paperwork done.
        After the paperwork was finished, Ms. Norman stuck out her hand and said, "Welcome to Independence High School, Mr. Willingham. I'm sure you'll feel right at home here," and gave me a big smile.
        When we got back to Ms. Jones office, she had her secretary call Larry, Mary Kathryn ad Michael down. Luke and Matt had already left to keep their appointment with Dr. Bailey. When the kids came in, Larry ran straight to me, put his arms around my neck, avoiding my back, and gave me a passionate kiss which I was happy to return. The others just said, "Hi, Millie," and looked puzzled.
        "Gentlemen, and you are gentlemen are you not, I believe there are rules about that kind of behavior in school. I'll overlook it this time, but next time I'll have to report it to your parents," Ms. Jones laughed. "I called you down because I believe you were involved in the episode at the Joyce house yesterday and I wanted you to know the results of your care and concern. Eugene, perhaps you would like to let your friends know what is to happen with Janice."
        I told them what had happened and assured them that I doubted we would miss each other. "Since all of you are so close, I suspect the closest thing I can think of which might be like one of you moving half way across the country would be if it were Larry. But Janice and I hardly know each other. We were too busy avoiding beatings and harangues. I'm glad she will have a good home and I know she loves Aunt Sandra and her family and they love her. That's all that is important. It's not like I am even losing a good friend."
        "Mrs. Willingham, would you like to finish the story?"
        "It's very simple, all of you I claim as grandchildren. Eugene is special. It pays to have high paid lawyers who know the right people. Never let anyone tell you justice is blind. She can see power and money. So, as of today this young man is Eugene Willingham. I've adopted him. There is a restraining order against his father so that takes care of that. Guys, do you think you can do another move today? If you can't, Eugene can stay at David's until you can."
        I blushed because I was frightened and had something I needed to say, but felt embarrassed to say it. But as she said, Millie never missed a trick. "Ok, Son, what's the problem?"
        "Millie, last night I had a nightmare and when Michael finally got me awake, I was in such pain, David had to give me another shot. I think the pain pills will be all I need since I have been doing ok most of the day, but if it's all right with you, I'd like to spend one more night at David's to be sure I don't need him."
        "Of course it's all right! I wouldn't think of insisting you move until you are sure you can make it through the night without David's help. Well, Ms. Jones, I guess I'm ready to go. If it's ok with you, I'll just take this bunch of grandkids off your hands."
        "I certainly hate to see them go, but I suspect I will see them all tomorrow."
        We all piled in Millie's car and drove to David's. Larry came with me and then went back into town with Millie. When they had left, Michael and I talked for awhile. I thanked him again for holding me last night and we talked about friendship and caring for other people, about why he and his dad had stayed at the Temple of Praise--neither really knew why they had stayed. David and his family had started going when David got out of service because some of David's family had been members there before it became so radical. When Elizabeth was so sick, David just didn't have the energy to change until the constant harangue against gays finally got to him. Then we talked about all that happened today. I still couldn't believe someone had cared enough to actually make me her son. By the time we had talked for a long time, my back was making its presence felt so I took a pain pill. Michael said he was going to set up a gym, I thought, as I fell asleep. Michael must have picked me up and taken me to bed because when I waked up I was in the guest room bed.
        Luke and I left school and went straight to our appointment with Dr. Bailey. We were both kinda nervous, but didn't admit it to each other. We didn't have to. Not only was our personal mental communication system in excellent order, but we knew each other well enough to read our body language. When we reached her office, we had to wait a bit before she could see us.
        "Guys, some of our time together may be a bit embarrassing for you and some may, frankly, seem a bit gross, but there are some things I want you to know because they are very important and you are very important to me. I'd say the same thing if I were talking to Mary Kathryn and Michael. Of course, what I'd have to say to them would be different in some specifics, but not overall. And regardless of what else you may hear, remember or forget, do not forget this: in sex, as everything else, you are partners.  You are lovers and if you remember that and all that loving each other means, you'll be ok. You'll be more than ok. It's kinda like lover is always really plural.  If you always remember your beloved, sex, as every aspect of your life, will be enriched. Think of your partner, not just yourself. That's the reason sex without love never works in the long run. God, I hope I don't sound too preachy, but I know you two love each other and sex will be a glorious experience if it is always an expression of love for the other. But you do have to take care concerning certain things... some of which MAY not be of concern to a heterosexual couple.
        We talked for an hour and promised we'd read a book she gave us and write down any questions which arose.  We had no more we could think of then. "One final thing. Since you are virgins, you don't have to worry about STDs now or ever unless one of you decides to play around. Should one of you play around, when you go back to your partner, it will be the same as his having sex with every person that guy--or girl--has had sex with. I hope that will never be a problem for you and, if it is, I suspect worrying about STDs will be the lesser of the two very serious problems you have to deal with. Most STDs can be treated, some cured; I'm not as sure about smashed trust, betrayal and broken promises.
        "I don't even want to think that will ever be a problem," Luke said.
        "Neither do I. Nonetheless, should it be, your relationship will be put to the most severe test it could possibly face. Much will be demanded of both of you to handle the destroyed trust and broken promises. I sincerely hope you never face that but, should it happen, I hope and pray your love can handle it." Her last words to us were, "Matt, Luke, sex is a beautiful, wonderful and powerful part of being human. It can be nothing more than a way to get your rocks off--I guess that expression is still used--in which your partner is nothing more than a convenient warm, moist hole. Or it can be the deepest and most powerful way you have of expressing your love. So long as you are thinking of the other, you'll do ok. Men have found that to be true since time began. Be tender, be easy, be loving, be caring and you will discover a whole new world. It won't be love, you have that already, but it will be a way of expressing your love which will spin the very stars."
        We were ready to go when I remembered Eugene and Larry. "Margaret, we told Eugene and Larry we were coming to talk with you and asked if they wanted to. They said they would. They have some problems which I'll let them talk over with you, but could they see you?"
        "I'll keep time after school tomorrow for them." Margaret then got up and, I guess, ceased being Dr. Bailey since she embraced each of us and said, "I hope and pray you two have a long, joyful and loving life together." Then she said, "Oh, I almost forgot. The social worker from protective services just called. Janice is going to live with her aunt in Arizona. She used to go there in the summers and loved it. She's leaving tonight from Jackson. Ms. Anderson from protective services is taking her to the plane. Eugene also has some news, but I'll let him tell you about that. See you after work."
        It was still an hour and a half before Gabrielle would be off work so I called her and asked her to pick me up at St. Mary's so Luke could go on to work in his studio. When we reached St. Mary's, Luke came in with me and greeted Gertie. Fr. Tom was out making parish calls. Luke walked into the church with me, took me into his wonderful, powerful arms, pulled me to himself and placed his lips to mine. My lips had healed enough for him to give me a real kiss if he kept it gentle. Which he did, his tongue invading my mouth, carrying the taste of Luke to me. When he broke the kiss, I placed my head in the curve of his neck and whispered, "Luke Yonghon Tongmu Hans Larsen, I love you more than I can ever tell you."
        "And, Matthew Sarang Hanun Pomul Greywolf, I can't begin to tell you how much I love you, but I want to spend my life trying." Luke kissed me again and this time sucked my tongue into his mouth. "Babe, we are doing what we want to do, not what we need to do. I'll see you tonight unless one or the other of us gets too involved in our work." He gave me a final quick kiss and rushed out.
        I had copies of all the music I planned to play for my recital and the concert, and decided I would just start with the first and play through to see where I really needed to work. I had been at it for two hours without a break when I realized that nature was calling. When I finished, I gathered up my stuff and went to the office to wait for Gabrielle. Gertie looked up as I walked in and said, "I'd have thought Millie was long past having a child, but I understand she has a new son." Her laugh rivaled Millie's. "You do know she has adopted Eugene, don't you."
        "No, I didn't. Margaret told me and Luke that Eugene had some news for us, but didn't tell us what."
        "Sorry if I ruined his surprise. I thought you knew."
        "That's ok. I'll tell you one thing, Millie just got herself a great son. Eugene is a really grand person who certainly deserves some good time after what he has endured. I guess you know...."
        "That he's gay? Sure I do."
        "Well, that too, but what I was going to say was that he directed the ensemble here the other night and will be directing it again."
        "Matt, I don't know why you didn't give me a good ass kicking for that remark. There was no cause for me to think that was the most important part of who he was. I owe you and him an apology."
        "Accepted. Have you talked to Chelsea and Gladys recently?"
        "As a matter of fact I have. They have found a location for their hospice--it's a grand old house which will have to have a lot of work done to transform it, but it sits near the river and has great lawns and has had splendid gardens which can be resurrected. It will be a beautiful, calm place. Come to find out it belonged to Millie and she sold it to Gladys for a dollar so the money Gladys might have spent for property will go on the renovations. Dr. Walker has gotten interested and is working on getting equipment donated. Things are moving. You'll see them Sunday at the wedding. I think half the county is showing up. Once the word got out, people who have known David and Margaret just kinda invited themselves. Should be a real event.... Hi, Gabrielle. Come to take this wild Indian off my hands?"
        "I guess I need to. Seems some folks out in the country are kinda attached to him."
        "Matt, see you next time," Gertie said as the phone rang.
        As we left, I made a mental note to tell Luke what Gladys and Chelsea were up to and was lost in my thoughts about how Luke and I were finally brought together and the loving people who surrounded us. That reminded me of the very different situation Eugene had been in and his family didn't even know it all. I was startled when Gabrielle said, "Where are your thoughts, Matt? You seem to be lost in your own world."
        "I really was. I was thinking about Chelsea and Gladys and what they are doing to provide a loving place for people who are dying and how they loved and cared for me and Luke, about the suffering Eugene has been through and how lucky Luke and I are to be surrounded by so many loving people. How do you ever repay that kind of love?"
        "I guess in one way you don't because it is both priceless and given without thought of cost. But in another you can and that's the way Gladys and Chelsea are doing it. You repay love by being loving and giving love to others. Too bad many people, perhaps most, never learn that giving is what life's about, not receiving."
        "Makes me kinda wonder about Eugene. I can understand why the Gang of Four can love because we have all been loved all our lives, but Eugene hasn't."
        "If you can figure that one out, and why kids from really good, loving homes can turn out rotten sometimes, I guess you'd make Bill Gates look like a pauper," Gabrielle observed.
        "Yea." was all I could say, but what more needed to be said? "Margaret told me Janice was going to live with an aunt in Arizona and that Eugene had some great news for us. I wonder what that might be?" I wasn't about to admit that Gertie had spilled the beans.
        "Well, you'll soon know. We're at David's." I had been so lost in thought that we had gotten home before I realized it. "Do you want to stop here or go on home?"
        "I'll stop here and see how Eugene's doing. See you later."
        When I got inside, I yelled, "Anyone home?" and bounded upstairs. I saw Eugene was asleep in the guest room. I turned to go since I didn't want to wake him but, just as I started out the door, he said, "Matt, glad you're here. I have some real news for you and Luke, but I didn't want to bother him if he's really involved in his work."
        "I'll check. He's been at work for two hours and needs a break anyway. How's the back?
        "It's a real bitch, I'll have to admit. I took a pain pill when I got home and fell asleep, but it's better."
        "Where's Michael?"
        "He said something about getting the gym ready. Said you all were going to do it Saturday, but... and that's when I drifted off. I don't know what he was talking about." I explained that all three of us had worked out at school, but were having a time problem so we decided to combine our stuff and set up our own workout room in a shed at my place. "I need to get in on that as soon as this back gets better. Think Larry would like to as well."
        "Sounds like a winner to me. I'll see what Luke's up to."
        When I reached the studio, I knocked on the door and Luke came out, carefully closing the door behind him. "Can you take a break? Eugene has some news for us."
        "I'll be in in five minutes. I need to take care of a few things before I can leave for any time at all," he said as he leaned forward and kissed me.
        When Luke came in, Eugene told us all about the events of the day. "Hot damn," Luke exclaimed, "the son of a rich mama!"
        "Well, she made it pretty clear that she wasn't about to have a spoiled brat on her hands, but she did say that she'd do the same for me as she did for Jason: see that I had an excellent education. That is sure more than I could have expected otherwise."
        "Well, I suspect that if you weren't who and what you are, you could end up a spoiled brat anyway. No problem with your dad?"
        "Haven't heard a word and would like for it to stay that way."
        "Matt, I think this turn of events calls for a celebration. How 'bout I call Gabrielle and see what she can whip up?"
        "You think I'd ever turn down a Gabrielle meal?" Just as Luke reached for the phone, it rang.
        "Hello.... Hi, Mom, just getting ready to call you.... 7:30? Sounds great.... Oh, I was just going to suggest the same thing. Yea, I'll make sure I am at a stopping place in time. Bye."
        "Mom was calling to say we were having a celebration at our place at 7:30. Seems like we are either celebrating or in some hell hole these days. When will everything just be even?"
        "I suspect when we are feeding the worms six feet under," Eugene laughed. "This way we know we are alive and there are things to celebrate. Afraid my life was on a pretty even basis and I sure didn't like where the base was."
        "Eugene, slip off to slumber land again. I've got to get back to the studio if I want to be at a stopping place in time to celebrate your adoption. What are you up to, Matt?"
        "I'm about played out and I don't think I need to worry about working on the score until we can see how it works in practice so I think I'll go and see what Michael's up to."
        "Later," Luke said and kissed me, almost full force, but holding back a little. "Later Eugene."
        "Matt, I think I'd probably feel better with a little exercise. Mind if I tag along?"
        "Not at all. Do you want to walk or take the Jeep?"
        "Let's leave the Jeep for Luke and walk. I really love being out here and the day is sooo nice."
        "Eugene, it's completely overcast and looks as if it might pour any minute! This is a nice day?"
        "You better believe it! I can remember only one nicer."
        "But you're bound to be in pain even with the pill."
        "I was then too, if you remember," he smiled and for the first time I realized what a beautiful smile Eugene had and I knew its glow came from deep within. "I wish Larry were joining us tonight. It would make my celebration complete."
        "I won't be surprised if he isn't, among others."
        When we reached the shed, Michael had the place all swept out and was beginning to set up equipment. "How's it going, Michael?"
        "Great, now that you are here with your lazy butt. Eugene, feel better after the pill?"
        "Yea, I slept until Matt arrived. Thanks for taking me upstairs." Michael dismissed that with a wave of his hand. "I feel pretty good. Want to make it without a shot tonight and see if I can stop the pills tomorrow. I don't like the way they make me feel: all groggy and crazy."
        Eugene helped get things put together after Michael warned him not to overdo it. "You start sweating and you are going to regret getting carried away." We worked for maybe an hour and had everything set up. "Man, I think getting all this stuff together was a pretty good workout, but I guess we need to try it out."
        "I can spot one of you," Eugene offered.
        "Sounds good. Spot Michael and then you can spot me." We did a short--maybe thirty minute workout and then took a shower. The cold water probably wasn't the wisest thing we ever did, but it sure felt good.
        "Man, I sure miss having a shower. It's kinda hard to give yourself a bath," Eugene said.
        "Let's go home and I'll help you," Michael offered. "Won't be like a shower, but it'll be better than trying to do it yourself. Won't be as good as if Larry were doing it, but if you don't mind a poor substitute," Michael laughed.
        "See you two later," I said as Michael and Eugene headed toward David's and I headed to the house. Mom and Dad were home and Dad asked, "What's this about a celebration at Gabrielle's tonight? Saw Millie at school today and know she left with the crew before school was out. Do you know what's up?"
        "Sure do and I guess it's no secret." I told Mom and Dad all about Janice going to Arizona and Millie adopting Eugene."
        "I guess Eugene feels like he went from hell to heaven without passing 'Go' and collecting $200," Dad laughed.
        "I'm not sure what he feels. Of course, I think he has been kept a bit calm by the pain pills and I guess it really hasn't sunk in yet, but he's surely a much happier camper today than yesterday."

        After Eugene and I left Matt, we took a leisurely walk home. I was afraid he would work up a sweat because the day was quite warm and I knew if he did, his back would sting like mad. When we got back to the house, I said, "How about that bath?"
        "You sure you want to do that?"
        "Eugene, I may do a lot of things, but saying something I don't mean is not one of them. I know how I would feel if I didn't have a decent bath and it makes sense to me that I help you get one--at least the best one you can. To tell you the truth, I don't quite understand my feeling toward you. I don't mean the kind of feeling Larry has for you or Luke has for Matt, but I feel a kind of closeness, like you're a brother I never had maybe. It's even different from the way I feel toward Luke and Matt who are as much brothers as they could be. I really have been thinking about this since last night. There's a kind of protectiveness about it and a kind of bond that, I'll admit, I don't understand."
        "That's strange because I can't understand it either, but I think I know exactly what you mean. It's a feeling that I have as well. And, frankly, I'm surprised by it in myself and maybe more surprised to see it in you. It doesn't seem to fit who I thought you were. I'm not sure who I thought you were, but I guess I thought you had all the friends you needed and, hell, I don't know what I'm trying to say, except you're a great friend and on pretty short notice."
        "Well, I guess we don't have to understand it or work it out. Let's get you in the tub--ugh."
        Eugene got undressed while I ran water for his bath and when he was ready, I stripped to my briefs and helped him get a bath. I could wash his back where it was not bandaged and only once or twice did he flinch when I hit a tender spot. I almost got sick at my stomach as I looked at the welts and I couldn't see the worst, which was covered by the bandages.
        As I was washing his shoulders, he turned and looked at me and said, "Michael, I think I may know why we feel a kinship. We have both lost parents. You lost a mother who, I am positive, loved you very much and I lost both parents who hated me--maybe hate is too strong--no, it's not--and if they didn't, they would if they knew the whole truth.  But we have both suffered in ways that the others in the Select Few haven't. Don't recommend suffering for anyone, but I think we both have gained something from it."
        "You know, I think you may be right--and you now have a loving parent--and believe me I've been around Millie enough to know that she's a loving old gal beneath that crusty outside--and I'm getting another one Sunday. Does that make us newborns? Maybe that could count as being born again!"
        I think some of the pent-up emotions Eugene had burst loose, because he started laughing and couldn't stop. He had tears running down his face he was laughing so hard. Every time he began to get control, I would start to help him out of the tub, and he'd start laughing again and slip back in. "Hey, you're not being much help, Bro." That sent Eugene off again. I heard Dad come in downstairs and yelled down, "Dad, I need some help up here." I finally climbed in the tub behind Eugene, put my arms under his and started to lift him. I had almost got his ass off the bottom of the tub when he started laughing again. This time it set me off and I slipped, falling in the tub behind him. When Dad came bounding up the stairs we were both laughing our fool heads off.
        "What in the world is going on here," Dad said as he rushed into the bathroom. Neither Eugene nor I could stop laughing long enough to say anything. "Michael, if you can get your butt out of the tub, I'll see what I can do with Eugene." I finally managed to get out and Dad lifted Eugene out easily. Dad's strong as an ox and knows how to handle people. "Now, could I please find out what this is all about?"
        Eugene and I had finally gotten control of ourselves and Eugene told Dad what had happened. "I'm sorry, Mr. Andrews...."
        "I'm sorry, David. Michael was helping me get a bath and I got a bad case of the giggles and it just got worse and worse until Michael caught the disease and we were both helpless in the tub. I'm sorry."
        "For what? For having a good laugh? That's never reason for an apology unless it's at someone else's expense. I think you deserve a good laugh! Michael, if you'll bring my bag, I'll take a look at Eugene's back. It needs dressing anyway, since SOMEONE managed to get it wet. Tell Margaret to come up too. I want her to take a look."
        I went downstairs and got the bag and asked Margaret to come up. Both she and Dad said Eugene’s back was much worse than they had thought when they first saw it, but decided to leave the bandages off. "If it starts oozing again or if your shirt irritates it, we can put them back on," Margaret said. "Why don't you put on a plain white T-shirt that's not too loose so it won't flop around and rub your back."
        "I don't want to go to the Larsens' looking like I don't know how to dress for a party," Eugene said.
        "Well, I seriously doubt that would be a problem, but if you'll put on a T-shirt under what you want outside, that should be ok. I just don't want something to rub your wounds--and they are wounds--or to stick to them. I'll keep check on that tonight," Dad said.
        "Before I forget it," Margaret said, "I made an appointment for you and Larry to come in to see me after school tomorrow.  We'll have to figure a way for you to get there since Matt and Luke leave school before last period and Matt said he thought you would need to be there to get started with the ensemble."
        "He's right. We'll just have to come up with something."
        "Bro, bet yo' mama would get you and bring you to town."
        "His mother! Have you lost it Mikey?" Dad exclaimed.
        "Now, Dad, you know I hate being called Mikey or Mike. Why are you torturing me?"
        "Well, you seemed to have lost your senses suggesting his mom could bring him to Margaret's. I wasn't sure you were Michael," Dad responded.
        "Oh, I guess you haven't met Mr. Eugene Willingham. Mr. Willingham, Mr. David Andrews."
        "What's going on here?" Dad asked.
        Eugene had started laughing again, but was able to get control of himself. "David, as of today, I am officially Eugene Willingham. Millie has adopted me," Eugene said, and a huge smile spread across his face.
        "You deserve having a decent parent. I know Millie may be tough at times, but she has a real heart of gold. So that's why we're going to Jens' and Gabrielle's," Dad said. "I asked Margaret and she pretended she didn't know."
        "I thought Eugene should have the pleasure," Margaret said and gave Dad a kiss.
        "Man, we are on a fast count down to the end of slow and easy, I can see. The very idea kissing in front of us innocent children."
        Dad laughed and said, "Best I recall a certain young Michael Andrews came home not long ago groaning, muttering something about stone...."
        "Doesn't sound like there's a lot of innocent children around," Margaret said. And that sent me and Eugene off again and soon Dad was laughing as well.
        "If you three BOYS can get control of yourselves and get dressed, we'll be leaving for the Larsens' shortly," Margaret said in what sounded like a mama voice.
        As Eugene and I were getting dressed, I heard the Jeep pull out of the driveway and knew Luke was headed home to get cleaned up and dressed. Or more likely he was headed to Matt's.

Part Twenty-two


        I was so absorbed in what I was doing I let the time slip by and before I knew it, it was 7:00. I quickly got my projects where I could leave them, dashed out to Matt's Jeep and headed toward home. I slowed down when I got to Matt's, thinking I would go in, but then remembered I had told him at St. Mary's we were doing what we wanted to do, not what we needed to do. I knew I really needed to get home and shower since I was covered with clay and if I stopped, I would not be ready by 7:30 because I knew Matt and I would end up in the shower together and time would stand still.
        When I arrived, Mom and Yong Jin were in the kitchen, Mary Kathryn was setting the table--Mom had added another small table to the dining room--and Dad was putting out wine glasses and wine in the den. "Thought I was going to have to send someone to get you," Mom said.
        "You almost did. I just happened to look at my watch and was surprised at how late it was. I'm going to grab a quick shower to get the clay off and I'll be right down." As I showered I dreamed of Matt. We had spent more time together today than I was afraid we would get, but I also knew that the pace of both our work was going to pick up and we were not going to have the time we wanted together. As his face floated before my eyes, I found myself smiling, overjoyed that he loved me. It had been only a few short weeks since I had decided I couldn't live without him and couldn't live without endangering my beautiful Korean Indian. What a difference these few weeks had made! Ordinarily I didn't sing in the shower. I'm an artist, not a musician! But without thinking I realized I was singing at the top of my lungs, "More than the greatest love the world has known...." I guess the rest of the family had showered and Mom was using hot water in the kitchen so the water started turning cold. Before I could get out, the "potty flushing downstairs" syndrome struck and I went from a very cool shower to a very warm one in a flash. Sometimes you need a reminder I guess, so I jumped out of the shower, dried myself--I liked it a lot better when Matt dried me--and went to my room.
        Tonight was another very special celebration and I dressed accordingly. Matt really was turning me into something of a sharp dresser these days. I carefully chose shirt and pants to accent my coloring and made sure I was "showing some ass." For Millie, yes, but also for the one who would be showing some ass for me!
        When I went down, Mille and Larry had arrived with Paula and Linda. I guess all of the Select Few were going to be here. Great! "Paula, Linda, sure glad you could make it. Linda, I guess you missed out on the excitement by going on a field trip today."
        "Well, I may have missed out on some excitement, but the field trip had its own. Orie was along and tried to get fresh with Debbie Hamilton. She finally had enough and was forced to hit him upside the head with a soda can. Fortunately, she hadn't opened it so she got in a good lick. Ms. Whitfield was all upset--she's a part of the Concord social climbers' set--and started screaming at Debbie. SHE was SCREAMING at Debbie. Debbie had it so she told Ms. Whitfield, 'If you want Orie pinching a teat, bring yours back here!' Needless to say, Ms. Whitfield was furious and dragged Debbie to the office when we got back. I'm much afraid she regrets that because Allison Smithfield and I went with Debbie and Ms. Whitfield. We told Ms. Jones what Orie had been doing. He'll be spending a couple days at home this week and Ms. Whitfield was ordered to apologize to Debbie. It was like a little kid's apology. I'm sure her fingers were crossed behind her back. After she left, Ms. Jones said, 'Debbie, what you said to Ms. Whitfield was not a very lady-like thing to say, but I'm glad you didn't think Orie had the right to fondle you. Lot of girls would never have complained.' Debbie told her she was not one of them and I added, 'Neither am I! A guy just better be sure he has permission to touch me before he does. And if Orie touches me, my dad will have his butt thrown in jail.'  Ms. Jones laughed and told us to go to class because school was about out. 'Think you may have a party to attend tonight so get home on time,' she added as we walked out the door.  'Course when I got home, Mom just said Millie would be picking me up for a celebration and dinner at 7:30. Mom was all excited that Millie Willingham was picking up HER daughter. Only after Millie came did I get the news."
        "Glad you could come," I said and added under my breath, "Glad you ran down." Man, that woman can talk! But Orie really was pushing it. I kinda worried about where it might end.
        Just as Linda finished, the front door burst open and Eugene ran in, arms spread wide, and in a little baby voice cried, "Mommy" and ran toward Millie, enveloping her in a bear hug.
        "You know folks, that lawyer of mine suggested Eugene and I might want to write a "change my mind" clause in Eugene's adoption papers. I sometimes think it was a mistake not to do so. If this kid keeps it up, I'll be changing his diapers before the week is out!" and laughed a real Millie belly laugh as she embraced Eugene. "How's the back SON?"
        "Much better, I think. David wanted to leave the bandages off so the wounds could get air. I think I'll be ok. I took a pain pill when I got to David's and promptly fell asleep. When Matt waked me, I went with him to help Michael get their gym ready and the time with Michael and Matt sure helped. I think I'll be ok--out of real pain anyway--by tomorrow."
        and Eugene then looked over at Larry, a huge smile covered his face as Larry crossed the room. It was obvious that Larry had started to kiss Eugene, then stopped, looked up, blushed and cleared his throat.
        When he looked up, he couldn't help but see Michael was on the receiving end of a Mary Kathryn special. As soon as she broke the kiss, Mary Kathryn explained, "The rule at the Greywolfs' is we are free to show affection as Yong Jin and Greywolf do in the public areas of the house. Now that's an ok rule there. However, fool Michael and Luke agreed to a similar rule at our house. You guys may be able to live with a peck on the cheek, but I want to be kissed! Since I didn't agreed to the rule, I have appointed myself a role model for Mom and Dad. They're learning, but I sometimes have to remind them."
        Dad had walked out of the den when Eugene, David and Margaret arrived and was looking very amused at the whole situation. He very calmly walked over to Mom, swept her off her feet and planted a real kiss on her. When he finally put her down, she blushed and said, "Jens, your tongue!" The whole place broke up. Larry completed what he started, more sedately than my parents, I might add. What was the world coming to?
        "Gabrielle, I have been convinced for some time that someone kidnapped Jens and substituted his identical twin. I'm more convinced than ever now," Millie laughed.
        "Could be, but I can't say that I miss the old Jens a whole lot and the new one is something!" Mom said.
        "Pretty sorry fellow that can't learn a little from his kids," Jens laughed.
        Just as I started to ask about Matt and Greywolf, they came in the front door. Matt came straight to me and, for the first time in forever it seemed, gave me a real, no-holds-barred kiss. When we got ourselves untangled, his face was covered with a Matt special smile as he looked at Jens, laughed and said, "I think I'm allowed extra privileges since I have been kinda on a low-kiss diet."
        "Well, if you're following the house rules, you just missed out on the newest revision I think," Millie laughed.
        "Yea, Dad just taught Mary Kathryn a few tricks a minute ago," I said. "Man, I don't know what we're going to do with these parents. They are getting all out of control."
        "Luke, it's a good thing I remember being young and in love or I might have thought Matt had tossed you overboard. Weren't you supposed to run a little errand for Luke this afternoon, Matt?" Matt started shaking his head "no" and had a puzzled look on his face. Then his expression changed to one of alarm. "I...."
        Millie laughed and handed me a fat envelop. "I expect to see some results from my small investment in your art, Luke. Matt, who did you have your mind on instead of Luke?" Millie asked, looking at Matt sternly. Matt stuttered a few times before Millie slapped him on the back and said, "Gotta move your mind upward young man."
        The celebration had obviously started. "Linda, Paula, Eugene, Larry, our children have had wine at celebrations since they were toddlers almost. I think that was a wise decision on our part because they see it as something special and not a way to prove they are grown up. However, I know other parents feel differently and I certainly don't want to go against their wishes."
        "I know Eugene's parents would never have permitted it," David said, "but he's got a new Mom now."
        "He giveth wine to gladden the heart of man--old ladies, middle aged women and young folks--Eugene, that's the way your Mom feels about it."
        "Well, I am Jewish, so that certainly speaks for my parents," Paula said.
        "I guess it has never been a question at my house," Larry said. "My Mom told me all she would ever expect out of me was I be responsible and thoughtful."
        "All that sounds so good," Linda said. "All my Mom would want to know was whether or not it was accepted in the best circles."
        "That is bullshit," Millie said. "I've never been in the 'better circles' in Concord because my backbiting skills are kinda weak, but if she's concerned about that, I could have the 'better circles' doing my dishes, so on with the wine, Jens. I hope it's good stuff."
        "Well, as an Aussie friend I met in Germany used to say, 'It's a good drop.' It has a fruity main bouquet hinting of blackberry and apricot with a mid-taste of toast and oak with a smooth finish of old tennis shoes!" When we were all in the den, Jens poured the wine and did the first toast, "Here's to an old lady who is as crusty as they come on the outside and pure heart inside, and to the sons, old and new, whom she loves."
        As glasses were being raised, Eugene added, "And who love her!"
        It was a good drop.
        Millie had the second toast which was short and to the point, "Here's to resurrections and new beginnings!"
        I was a bit surprised when Paula did the third toast, "Here's to love and the many, many forms it takes."
        By this time we were all getting a bit misty eyed and I noticed that Eugene and Larry were standing on each side of Millie with an arm around her waist. "Well, for those of you new to the Larsen household, Mom is not the second best cook in the world, she's first and the food's waiting," I said after we had finished our wine. I was hungry. The meal, of course, was perfect. Linda and Paula sat at the table with Mom and Dad, Millie, Eugene and Larry, David and Margaret. They carried on an animated conversation, getting to know Paula and Linda. Matt and I, Michael and Mary Kathryn, Greywolf and Yong Jin sat at the small table.
        It was difficult to talk from one table to the other, so our conversations were pretty much separate until there was an outraged cry from Millie, "What in the world is going on? That is an outrage!"
        "Ok, who's in for hell this time, Millie," Dad asked.
        "Jens, did you know this beautiful child's father died months ago and the insurance company hasn't paid off a cent? Has your mom talked to a lawyer, Paula?"
        "She did several months ago and he told her since it was a big insurance company there would be a crew of lawyers and the only way he would take the case was for seventy-five percent of the settlement. She decided she'd just keep struggling on rather than give whatever she might get to a lawyer."
        "Paula, give me your mom's home and work number--and name--before we leave tonight. I think I have a couple of lawyers sitting around drinking coffee and drawing a salary who need to be at work." 'Don't get Millie riled' was the clear message being sent out.
        After dinner, we all sat around and talked about first this and then that until Millie said, "David, I'm gonna leave the boy with you tonight just in case. Paula, Linda, guess it's time for us to go."
        Eugene looked at Larry kinda puzzled and a huge grin spread across Larry's face.
        "Oh, I forgot, hope it's ok, but I'm leaving another of the grand kids with you tonight, David."
        "That's ok, Millie. He can sleep downstairs on the sofa," David said, as serious as he could be. I could see the grin fade from Larry's face just as David said, "That is unless he wants to share the invalid's bed." The grin returned.
        Larry and Eugene pitched in as the kids cleared the tables. When we finished, Mary Kathryn said, "Well, it looked like rain all day today, but it seems to have cleared off. Think we might make a moonlight stroll to the falls? The moon's pretty bright."
        "Sounds like a winner to me," I said. "I got so much work done today I think I can stand a little playtime."
        I went to my room for a blanket while Matt and Michael snagged the two out of the jeep and soon the six of us--Michael and Mary Kathryn, Larry and Eugene and Matt and I--were walking toward the falls. We had hardly left the yard when we started singing: "More than the greatest love the world has known...."
        The moon had only four or five days until it was full and the sky was perfectly clear so the night was bright. When we reached the falls, each couple found their own place and it was as if Matt and I were all alone. We lay on the blanket facing each other. "Matt, I have missed you so much today! Sometimes I don't see much of you during the day and it's almost ok, but today I really missed you even though we spent time together with Margaret. I guess after our talk with her, I wanted to talk to you and we were both busy. I needed more than anything to tell you I loved you and I never wanted to hurt you. I got frightened when Margaret talked about our playing around, about being unfaithful. On the one hand, that seems so silly and impossible. But on the other hand, I don't know what it is going to be like to be separated from you this summer."
        "I know, Luke, Babe. I was having some of the same thoughts. Dad once said that having sex was like taking olives out of a jar. The first one comes hard and after that, it's easy. I promise you one thing, Luke, if you are ever unfaithful, I will never stop loving you. I know that. From the very bottom of my heart, I know that. But what else would be true, I don't know. I don't want to think about even the possibility."
        "Sarang Hanun Pomul, I don't think I could live with myself if I were ever unfaithful. And I know there is nothing you can do to make me stop loving you. And, God, Matt, I love you. I can just think about you and I feel like I can't hold all the love I have for you. You are, truly, my very life." Matt and I continued looking into each other's eyes. He was so beautiful. His gaze never left my eyes as he slowly covered my body with his. He touched my lips with an angel kiss which gradually became more and more passionate. His tongue entered my mouth and I could taste his beauty, his love. As his kiss became more passionate, I felt his manhood harden and grow against my own which was becoming equally hard. Matt had braided his hair which made it more difficult to undo than when he just had it in bands, but my fingers now knew how to release that rain of blackness which fell, surrounding my face and creating a place which was truly our own world. Matt lifted his lips from mine and started kissing my face, my neck, my eyes as his fingers loosened the buttons of my shirt. Soon my chest was exposed to his lips and he kissed it, paying particular attention to my nipples. When he started sucking on one, I could feel the wetness in my boxers from the stream of precum his loving was causing.
        I took Matt's shirt off so his bare chest was against mine, making me even hotter.
        Matt was grinding his hips against mine, our hardness pressing together as he continued licking and sucking my nips, occasionally dragging his teeth across them. "Yonghon Tongmu, I want to make love to you--to your body, to all of you without limits," Matt said after he had lifted his head and gazed into my eyes. "I am so hot. I think lust has just about consumed me!"
        "I know, Love, I know. I feel the same way. But I don't think lust can ever drive out my love for you. Maybe it is lust, but I don't think so--well, not all of it!  It's just that I want to make love to you the way I love you, no limits, no restraints, just... just love you all the way." Matt's lips locked on mine, our tongues started dueling, which was a win-win situation if there ever was one. Matt's hips started grinding and humping mine more rapidly as I raised my butt off the blanket to press my manhood against his and his hard body. I knew where this would end and I eagerly awaited the release his love making would bring. Matt's breath was coming in quicker and quicker gasps and his grinding and humping became faster and faster. I knew he was rapidly pushing me to the edge. As I passed the point of no return, I bit Matt's lip and cried softly, "Sarang Hanun Pomul, I love yoooooou!" My climax shook my entire body. In response, Matt pressed his hips hard against mine and I could feel the spasms as he shot charge after charge of man's seed between us.
        Matt fell on my body, exhausted, breathing in short gasps. When he had recovered, he raised himself, looked into my eyes, smiled and placed the gentlest possible kiss on my lips. He rolled off of me and we lay by eah other's side, saying nothing, letting our eyes talk for us as we stroked each other's hair.
        "I know we would all like to stay here forever," Michael called, "but I suspect we better get back. Tomorrow's a school day and I need a shower before bed. Four male voices responded, "Me too."
        None of the five guys tried to conceal the wetness evident, even in the moonlight, on our fronts. "I guess we all took care of the problem of too much loving and not enough giving," Michael laughed. "No groans tonight!" We all laughed as we gathered up the blankets and walked toward the house. As we did, we started singing and almost at once, Michael, Larry, and Matt were walking backwards, holding hands with their respective lovers as we each sang to the center of our life.
        When we got back to the house, we said goodnight to the adults and went on the porch to say our more personal goodnights. "Matt, you know where I want to be tonight and every night of my life...."
        "Right where I want you to be, Luke," he responded. "But I know you need to be here and we need to get some sleep. I'm not sure we would if you were where you wanted to be and where I want you to be. I'll see you in my dreams, Luke Hans Yonghon Tongmu Larsen," Matt said and kissed me with a soft kiss.
        "I'll be waiting for you, Matthew Sarang Hanun Pomul Greywolf." I returned Matt's kiss with one of my own, turned and went inside. As I did, Mary Kathryn said, "Michael, love you, Hunk," and came inside with me.


        When we reached David's, Margaret came inside with us. David said, "Since you don't have to take care of any strays tonight and I have two, think you might stay over?" I almost laughed at the pleading little boy look on the grown man's face.
        "Yea, since I have agreed to share my bed with Larry, you can have the living room sofa," Eugene said.
        "Well, I guess I'm just left out," Michael said. "Larry's not only taken my bed partner, but I bet he also takes my bath partner. Mommy, would you give me a bath and sleep with me tonight?" he whined.
        "Well, I might have, but I just can't stand whining young'uns," Margaret laughed. "I guess I can stay."
        "Door open rule in effect!" Michael said.
        "What's this about bed and bath partners?" I asked. "Thought you'd get away with that didn't you?"
        "We'll discuss that upstairs," he replied. "Let's go."
        "No carrying on up there children," Margaret called as the three of us started upstairs.
        "Guys, I think it's obvious we all need a bath. I'll get a quick shower first since it will take awhile for you to get Eugene cleaned up, especially if he gets the giggles," Michael said as he started stripping at the top of the stairs.
        While Michael got his shower, Eugene told me about their adventure in the bathtub. I could just picture the two of them floundering around, trying to get out. I started laughing as Michael came out of the bathroom and said, "It's all yours, but, Eugene, I'm not sure Larry's in any shape to take on the job."
        Eugene found towels Michael had put out for him and tossed me one as we started getting undressed. Undressed, we stood facing each other and I drank in the beauty of my beloved Eugene. We walked across the hall, hand in hand. "It's important that I try to keep my back dry," Eugene said when we got to the bathroom. He turned and started running water for our bath and I saw his back, which I had not seen before. I looked at it in horror. His Dad had beaten him so badly his back looked as if someone had used a cat-o'-nine-tails on it. Where the skin was not broken, it was bruised and covered with huge red welts. Suddenly I could hear him screaming as his dad beat him then, in my mind, it became his screaming when I had essentially raped him. I immediately became sick and started throwing up and crying. I collapsed on the floor in my own vomit, crying and beating my head on the floor. His father had beaten his back raw, but I was worse. I loved him and caused him as much pain. When I looked up, Eugene looked bewildered and reached out to touch me. I crawled away from him, sliding in my vomit as I continued to empty my stomach, crying in great sobs and looking at him. I was afraid to let him touch me for fear I would hurt him.
        Eugene finally called out, "Michael! Michael, please help me!" I saw Michael rush into the bathroom as I cowered in a corner, filthy from my own sickness. Every time I looked at Eugene, I started throwing up and crying uncontrollably. I was shaking all over and thought I was going insane. Why not? Why did I deserve anything better?
        Michael took one horrified look at me cowering in the corner of the bathroom and ran downstairs. When he reappeared, Margaret and David were with him. David picked me up and held me--I couldn't stand; I couldn't stop shaking or crying. Margaret wet a wash cloth and started cleaning me up. "Michael, my bag is downstairs, please get it for me. Eugene, are you all right?" she asked. I could see Eugene nodding and saw the tears streaming down his care-marked face. That set me off crying even more and I started throwing up again. When Michael got back upstairs, Margaret opened her bag, took out a syringe and filled it from a bottle. David held me so she could clean a spot on my butt and she gave me a shot. Michael had taken over her task of cleaning me up and I was soon free of my own filth. David carried me back to the guest room and gently laid me on the bed. I was feeling more and more relaxed, but was still very much conscious of what was going on. "Eugene, do you have any idea what is wrong?" Margaret asked. Eugene nodded, but couldn't speak for the tears.
        "Is it ok for me to tell Margaret what the problem is?" Michael asked. Eugene and I both nodded.
        Michael told Margaret the whole story of how I had raped Eugene--he didn't call it rape, but I knew it was. Before Michael was finished, Eugene was nearly in as bad a shape as I was. I was becoming calmer--the shot I knew was taking effect, but Eugene was becoming more upset. Margaret looked at David and motioned toward her bag with her head. David brought it to her and she said, "Eugene, I'm going to give you a shot too. Not enough to put you out any more than what I gave Larry will put him out, but enough to help you regain control. We can't solve this problem tonight, but we can get a start on it." She gave Eugene the shot and in a few minutes we were both calm enough, maybe, to talk and listen.
        "I'll go, if you like," Michael said.
        "I, too," David said.
        I still wasn't sure of my voice, so I shook my head. Eugene said, "Please stay."
        "Then I think we need to go downstairs where we can all sit down," David said. He put his arms around me and Michael put his around Eugene and we went down. When we were all settled in the den, Margaret said, "I have heard Michael's version of what brought all this on, but I want to hear why tonight happened." Eugene told them how we were going to give him a bath and when we got to the bathroom and he started the water, I had started throwing up and crying.
        "When Eugene turned to start the bath water, I saw his back for the first time. I knew it was bad, but I couldn't believe what I saw. I could hear him screaming as his father beat him. Then, just as I started to become enraged at his father, his screams became those I heard when I forced myself on him. I immediately started throwing up. I felt that I was filled with filth. I was full of loathing for myself and what I had done to my beautiful lover. I wanted to die. And the more I threw up, the more I hated myself. Eugene started to touch me, but I couldn't stand the thought of his touching me because I was dirty, filthy--not just from the vomit, but also from the horrible person I am." In spite of the shot, I started trembling and crying again.
        Eugene got up and started toward me, but I drew away and he went back to his chair. Michael came over, put his arms around me and hugged me to himself. How could he stand to do that? I expected David or Margaret to do something or say something. They didn't. When Eugene started crying softly, Margaret went to him and held him close. "Larry, do you really, really love Eugene?" Michael asked.
        "Of course I do! I love him more than my own life."
        "Do you think Eugene is a good person?"
        "Of course! Do you think I hate the man I love and think he's no good?"
        "Well, do you think he would love a man who is no good?"
        I had to stop and think about that. I wondered how Eugene could ever love me after what I did, but he did. I knew he did. There was no question in my mind about that. He certainly deserved someone better than me, but he loved me. "I'm confused. How can he love me? I am a terrible person who hurt him as bad as his father, worse. I took something from him he can never get back."
        "I suspect you hurt him worse than his father because he loved you and you did indeed violate him. No question. But there's a real difference. Larry, how many times and in how many ways have you said, 'I'm sorry' to Eugene? How often and how many ways have you told and showed him you were sorry for what you did? How many ways have you shown and told him how much you love him; how much he means to you; how important it is and how you treasure his love for you? Yes, you did a really terrible thing--there's no question about that and no excuse for it--and the same is true of his father, but I haven't seen or heard of his father saying he was sorry or telling Eugene of his love for him or how important Eugene is to him. You are not the terrible person you think you are. Has Eugene forgiven you for what you did?" I nodded. "Do you doubt that he has?" I shook my head "no". "Then it seems to me you have a problem to work on here--forgiving yourself." Of course he made sense, but how could I forgive myself? I looked up at Michael and asked him, "How can I ever forgive myself? How can I?"
        There was silence in the room for what seemed like forever, but couldn't have been a minute. "I said we couldn't solve this problem tonight and we are not going to. But it has to be solved, Larry, or you are going to destroy two wonderful young men, you and Eugene," Margaret said. "I don't think you and Eugene are ready for the kind of talk I had with Matt and Luke because I suspect that having sex is out for you two right now." We both nodded. "I want you to start seeing a therapist tomorrow. I know the very one and if you are agreeable, I'll see if she can see you...."
        "She?" Eugene asked.
        "She--and if you find you can't relate to her, I'll find another. Agreed?"
        Both Eugene and I answered in a whispered, "Yes."
        "What about tonight? Larry, you definitely need a shower and Eugene can use a bath. Do you want to sleep together or had you rather not?" David asked.
        I looked at Eugene and he said, "Please."
        "It's ok. We sleep together often. And I need a bath because we got each other off without, you know...." I could feel my face turning red, saw Eugene blushing and Michael grining.
        "I'm afraid that was an ill-kept secret when you five guys got back from the falls," David said. "Larry, grab a shower and I will give Eugene his bath. I'm still pretty good at that. Old nurse's training kinda sticks with you."
        When we got up to leave, Margaret hugged all three of us and said, "Larry, Eugene, if either of you need me tonight, come get me."
        "Michael is sure lucky to be getting his new Mom," Eugene said.
        "You're pretty lucky with your new mom too, but I'm not really trying to replace Michael's mom. She was a wonderful lady and I am just lucky to be able to share what she had for too short a time, a wonderful man--two wonderful men."
        I went upstairs and remembered the mess I had left in the bathroom and when I went in to clean it up, Michael had already started. "I'll clean up my mess," I said.
        "Bro, I think you are going to have to learn that you sometimes need others to help you clean up your mess and they are ready to do it if you let them." I looked at him. What could I say? Nothing. He was right and I had been too proud and too self-hating and self-punishing to admit it. I guess I had started learning the language of this family for I felt the need to hug Michael and I did. It was a great feeling, especially when he hugged me back.
        When we had finished, I took a quick shower and went back to the bedroom. David picked up Eugene as if he weighed nothing and took him to the bathroom. When they came back, David said, "Eugene, I think I need to dress your back so you won't hurt it in your sleep." He went downstairs and brought his bag back up. "Larry, you can wait in Michael's room if you like." I shook my head and watched as David gently cared for Eugene's back. "Eugene, your back is doing fine, but it really is much worse than either Margaret or I thought when we first saw it. You'll have scars, I'm afraid."
        "I can live with scars on my back. What I'm worried about are the scars Larry has inside."
        "I think both of you have scars inside and maybe open wounds that need healing. The scars inside you can also live with if the wounds heal," David said.
        "Michael started the healing when he took us to the falls and he kept us moving tonight, now it's our time to work on healing each other--with help," I said.
        "Sure you are all right?" David asked. Both Eugene and I said we were and David left.
        As we got into bed, Eugene said, "Larry, what a day this has been," as he snuggled up to me and kissed me softly.
        "Yes, what a day this has been." I snuggled closer to him and returned his kiss. As he put his arms around me, I realized I was very sleepy and started to say something, but realized my beloved Eugene was asleep. I looked into his peaceful, strong, handsome face and thought to myself, "You stupid asshole, you almost lost him and what good would life have been then?" I kissed him lightly on the tip of his nose which I adored, tucked my face under his chin where I could inhale the scent of the reason I wanted to live forever. In the comfort only he could give me, I relaxed and drifted into slumberland.


        As Margaret and I lay in bed, I thought about what she had said about Elizabeth and her genuine concern for Larry and Eugene. "Aside from your body, which I like a lot," I said, "you know what I love about you?"
        Margaret laughed and said, "I thought it was just my young, lustful body."
        "Well, I ain't saying nothing against that! But I really love you because you are so matter of fact in your love and concern for the kids--and we seem to have a growing number of them!"
        "David, this bunch of kids is what I have always wanted and in recent years thought I would never have. They are like a fantastic Christmas present to me."
        "Looks like you could have found a bunch without problems."
        "Do teens come that way? I didn't? Did you?"
        I laughed and said, "Well, to be honest, I had my problems. They just seem pretty minor compared with these. I guess Michael and Mary Kathryn have had few problems--at this point--except of course the problems they have faced as a result of the serious ones Matt and Luke have faced.
        "You seem to be forgetting Michael had a serious problem before any of the others did. He lost his mom."
        "You're right but I guess that was not a problem because I think of problems as something which can be solved, fixed."
        "Well, hasn't it been? Of course his mom is still gone, but Michael had solved the problem of how he will deal with loss and I think, until recently, did a better job than his dad."
        "Yea," was all I could say. Then I continued the thought I had started with, "They are all good kids, Margaret. They have loving families who care about them--even Jens couldn't reject Luke when it counted and as rigid as he has always been, he even surprised me, but those two poor guys upstairs.... Even with Millie adopting Eugene, there are deep scars there and I am not talking about physical abuse. And Larry.... I really feel sorry for him. What's going to happen to those two?"
        "You never can tell, but I am very hopeful. Michael is an amazing kid, David. I think Elizabeth's death matured him far beyond his years. He has a genuine understanding of people and a compassion which is almost unheard of in a fifteen-year-old. Had I been dealing with Eugene and Larry tonight, I wouldn't have used the words he used--I don't trust pure logic as much as Michael does and would have dealt with feelings, but he just cut to the heart of the matter without stopping. I would have been scared to death to have pushed Larry the way Michael did, but it worked. I'm sure those two guys will be talking to Michael and maybe Luke and Matt more as time goes on. The therapist can do what she does, but she is going to have a lot of support she doesn't know about from the kids in this family. And I am so happy to be a part of it."
        Margaret kissed me and snuggled close and I inhaled deeply the scent of woman, a delight I had missed so much for too long. In the warmth of our love, we drifted off to sleep.


        I tumbled into bed, thinking how empty it seemed without Luke beside me. I knew that I wanted him beside me as long as I lived. I was really very sleepy for some reason, but I had to spend time giving thanks. I thought about all that had gone on during the past week and realized how many really caring and loving people there were surrounding me. I thought about Eugene and the trauma he had been through, no, the two traumas he had suffered. I wondered if I could ever have loved Luke had he forced himself on me. I thought about how, in a sense, I had almost done the same to him. Oh, I know I would not have had to force myself on him, but I wanted him so bad that I had almost made him do something he really didn't, in his heart of hearts, want to do. Well, of course he wanted to, but at the same time.... Then I realized what I would have felt like had he said "yes". Luke was a lot stronger than I was, I was sure of that. But as my thoughts continued, I realized what we had was so precious that I didn't want to change it at all. Well, I did, but I didn't. Finally I just turned my mind off and let my heart speak of my love for Luke and his for me. I thanked God for that and for all those who honored it. With thanksgiving in my heart, I was at peace and the angels carried me away to blissful sleep.
        When Luke arrived for our morning run, I was ready. After a not-so-quick good morning kiss, I said, "Luke, you'll never know how good a kiss feels until you have been put off kissing for awhile."
        "And just who do you think I was kissing while you were on your no-kiss diet?" he laughed, his eyes shining.
        We climbed down the trellis and jogged to Michael's where Michael and Mary Kathryn had been joined by Larry and Eugene. "Think you're up to running, Eugene?" Luke asked.
        "I doubt it and I don't think Larry's in good enough shape to run with you guys, but we thought we jog along. Maybe one day we'll get in shape."
        "Well, let's be off," Michael cried and off we were. Luke and I were back in good form when it came to running. It was the body building part of our former exercising that we had to work on to get back our definition and hardness. Michael, having never missed a workout, was in superb shape. He was a damn handsome kid. well, he was a damn handsome man, he sure wasn't a kid any more even though he was only turning sixteen. When it came to bodies, Mary Kathryn was no slouch either. Of course, hers was definitely not a female body builder's body. It was soft and curvey in all the right places. Had I been straight, I thought as I watched her run in front of me for awhile, I would have definitely given Michael a run for the money.
        Luke, Michael and I ran a mile after Mary Kathryn had dropped back to a jog and when we reached her on our return, she started running again until we caught up with Larry and Eugene. "I hope you didn't work up a sweat, Eugene," Michael said.
        "I'm afraid I did and I can feel it. There are still places on my back that are raw. I thought all of them had scabbed over, but I found out they haven't. But the exercise sure felt good."
        When we reached Michael's place, the three guys went inside after Michael took advantage of Mary Kathryn's kissing ability. I don't know how those two learned to kiss as they do since Mary Kathryn never had decent role models, but however they learned, they knew how to do it!
        Luke and Mary Kathryn jogged on to their place after Luke had also proven the Larsens knew how to kiss. I went upstairs, got ready and went down for breakfast. And, I didn't know it, but before long that would be the pattern of our lives with few exceptions--sleep alone, shower alone, run with Luke, drive to school with Luke and seldom see him otherwise. We were both soon to be extremely busy.
        Tuesday, we did see each other for a good time.  Michael, Larry, Luke and I had helped Eugene get his things together and move to Millie's. Man, he had a suite! His bedroom was as large as mine and it, too, had a king size bed. In addition he had his own bath complete with a jacuzza and a study/living room. Millie had seen that he had a top-of-the-line computer all set up and a neat desk for studying and comfortable seating for a least half a dozen people. His eyes really bugged out when he saw it. "Eugene, this was Jason's room. I told you I wanted you to have a good education. This is my part of making that happen for the short time you'll still be in high school. You can put your horn over there by the music stand. I also told you I wanted you to have time for your music. Do you play piano?"
        "Some. I mean I can, but I am no pianist."
        "Would an electronic piano be a help with your music?"
        "Sure. I mean I'm not going to give a recital, but a piano is a real help when I am working on orchestration."
        "We'll look into that tomorrow when you finish at St. Mary's if you have time; if not, as soon as possible."
        "The third thing I told you I wanted you to have was some time for fun--and friends--this is your place. I expect you to keep it reasonably clean, decorate any way you like, and have your friends over when you wish. My place is in the other wing and before you disturb me, the police will be here with complaints from the neighbors. I guess that covers it."
        "Well, there is one....I mean, Millie, it looks as if I have died and gone to heaven, but.... well, I mean heaven would be kinda not heaven if...." I could see Millie was about to bust her corset trying to hold back a belly laugh while Eugene stammered around, turning redder all the time. Luke, Michael and I were about to pop as well while Larry just stood there, looking at Eugene, a goofy grin on his face. "Millie, I mean...."
        "Eugene, I told you this had been Jason's place and that what I had given Jason, I would give you. Now I'll admit that Jason was in his second year of college before anyone--at least to my knowledge--shared that bed with him. But, so far as I am concerned, if you want to share a bed with Larry and it's ok with Larry, that's your business. Doesn't that complete your heaven? But I guess I need to ask, Larry does your mom know about you and Eugene?"
        "Yes, ma'am, she knows all about us, the bad and the ugly as well as the good. Millie, I think it is only right that you know the bad and ugly as well."
        "It's none of my business, but I am always--most of the time--ready to listen."
        "The other guys already know and, in fact, Michael has been a special help to me." We all sat down and Larry poured out his story once more. This time there were no tears and he held Eugene rather than Eugene holding him. "That's the reason Eugene needed you to pick us up after school today. Margaret arranged for us to get professional help and we started today, but what these guys, and especially Michael, have done for us is doing as much to help us--me--get over hating myself and not forgiving myself as the therapist is."
        "Larry, I said that was none of my business. I take that back. Anything which concerns my grand children--and I am claiming you too--is my business. Whatever you need to heal the wounds that I can provide, ask. That's what friends are for and especially what grandmothers are for. Sometimes it's hard to admit you need help and even harder to accept it."
        "Not if Michael's around!" Larry smiled. "He set me straight on that last night when I objected to his cleaning up my mess--my vomit--in the bathroom."
        "I'm having a hard time deciding whether Michael is going to end up a lawyer, a politician or a priest," Millie chuckled.
        "I'm pretty sure Mary Kathryn would vote against the priest option," Luke laughed.
        "Not our kind," Mille said. "A good woman often makes a man a good priest. And a good woman can make a good priest. Or I guess, Michael, should that be where you land, you would have to say a priest may be lucky enough to make.... well, let's let it go at that." Michael is sharp and Millie didn't miss watching his blush start at his toes and work its way up to a glorious climax on his face.
        "I forgot," Luke said, "Fr. Tom was married, wasn't he?"
        "Sure was and the death of his wife devastated him and because of the effect on him, it was also a real blow to those of us who are his parishioners. I don't think he has ever really gotten over it, at least not as David has. I guess some men just can't think about another partner when one is gone. Well, how'd the ensemble like the music?" Millie said as she switched horses.
        "Well, today we just worked on known pieces, that is, I haven't shown them any of Matt's two compositions yet, but they were all very excited and pleased. They knew they were being given an opportunity to really show their stuff, and they appreciated it. Tomorrow we'll be at St. Mary's and I think that will really blow their socks off."
        "Matt, how's the music for Sunday going? You know I put those trumpets in there so even St. Mary's can get a taste of resurrection. Some of the folks have been asleep since last Easter and I want you to raise them from the dead!"
        "Millie, if they forget to buckle their seat belts, you may have to peel them off the ceiling!" I laughed.
        "Larry, I didn't get in touch with you after all the excitement, but I have an engineer who wants to meet you tomorrow afternoon immediately after school. Can you arrange that?"
        "So long as Eugene and I can make our 4:30 appointment."
        "Shouldn't be a problem. Eugene will be at St. Mary's and I'll come out to the school with the engineer. I'll bring you back in time for your appointment. We can pick up Eugene after practice. When is it supposed to be over?"
        "The buses are scheduled to leave St. Mary's at 4:30, but I had planned to leave just before that to make the appointment."
        "Luke, how's your work going?"
        "Great, I think. I'll know more after tomorrow."
        "Do you think you could squeeze a bit of work in for me? I need a design for the posters and program and catalog. Think you might have time to design one? Keep it fairly simple, but definitely distinctive."
        "I'll try to have you something by the weekend."
        "Great. Well, looks like we're going to have some busy kids the next few weeks."
        "Sure does," Eugene acknowledged. "But it keeps us off the streets."
        "Anything else we need to talk about guys?"
        We all shook our heads and Luke said, "Guess not. Larry do you want us to drop you off?"
        "No. It's not a long walk home and I think Eugene and I need to have some time to talk about last night and today."
        "Later, guys, Millie," I said, and Michael and Luke echoed, "Later."
        "Michael a priest. Father Michael. Father Andrews. Sounds kinda natural, don't you think, Luke?"
        "Sure does, but I think maybe Brother Michael sounds better, you know, a member of a religious order--poverty, obedience and CHASTITY," Luke laughed.
        "Poverty I know about--you've seen Dad give me my allowance. Obedience I know about--Mary Kathryn is my woman. Chastity--you better believe it, otherwise Mary Kathryn would use a squirrel grip on me--grab the nuts and run. But when the church talks about chastity, it really means celibacy and, I'm telling you, that will never be a part of my working vocabulary!"
        "Father Michael--I think it really sounds right."
        "Luke, I don't mind us kidding around among ourselves. Hell, we've known enough on each other to be hauled off to jail, but please don't say anything like that at school. Even if I had even thought about the idea--and believe me I haven't--I would never want it known at school. The kids would make my life hell."
        "Gotcha, Michael, and you're right. But you want to know a secret? I bet you can't not think about it occasionally from now on."
        I guess that left us all thinking because the few remaining miles home were spent in silence. When we reached my place, I kissed Luke goodnight--man, I was glad I could kiss again because Luke is SO kissable!
        Sometime during the night I dreamed Luke and I were having our commitment ceremony and when I took my eyes off Luke and looked at the priest, it was Michael in full vestments. When I looked around, Mary Kathryn was breast feeding a baby who looked exactly like Michael. In my dream, I turned to Luke and said, "I will" and he smiled a Luke Hans Yonghon Tongmu Larsen smile and my world was complete.
Part Twenty-three


        Tuesday night after the celebration, I had worked very hard and late. It was 12:15 by the time I had everything I needed to take to Lexington packed in crates and ready to go.  I had mentioned earlier that the packages were going to be pretty heavy, but more than that, awkward to handle. David and Michael told me to call them when I was ready to load the Jeep, but I hesitated to do so since it was so late. Yet when I tried to get one of the crates in the Jeep and realized I was running a real risk of damaging the contents, I went inside.
        When I reached the den it was obvious that Michael and David were deeply involved in conversation and I turned to leave, not wanting to interrupt them. David saw me and called out, "Luke, come on in. While we were waiting, Michael and I got involved pretty deeply in a conversation, something we haven't done in awhile."
        "Well, I sure hate to disturb you."
        "It's ok. Maybe after we get the Jeep loaded, you'd like to join us for some milk and cookies before going to bed."
        We quickly loaded the three crates I had packed, and secured them in the Jeep. "It's not supposed to rain tonight, but don't you think you might better put the Jeep in the garage just in case? I know it has the sides and all, but rain may get to the crates if the wind gets up."
        "I don't think rain could damage the contents but you're right, better safe than sorry," I responded.
        "I'll move my van."
        When David pulled the van out, I moved the Jeep into the garage and, when everything was secure, went into the house with David and Michael. Michael and I seated ourselves around the dining room table and David brought a plate of cookies Margaret had made earlier, and glasses of cold milk for all three of us.  "Michael and I have been talking about a potential problem he faces; at least he assures me it is potential and not actual at this time."
        "Luke, if you so much as breathe a word of this to Mary Kathryn I'll be forced to kill you! Dad and I have been talking about Mary Kathryn and me becoming sexually active--Man, that sounds so clinical! You know, making love all the way. Anyway, what do you think?"
        "Michael, first of all, you're talking about having sex with my baby sister so I don't think I'm the most objective guy in the world on that score. Do you really expect me to be unbiased?"
        "Hell yes I do! I expect you to be as objective as if we were talking about Linda Randolph. If you can't be, I don't see how you can be of help to me and, therefore, Mary Kathryn."
        "You might expect that and it might be a good idea, but I'm not sure I can measure up to your expectations. What do you think about the situation?"
        "Well, I don't know. No, that's not true. I think two different things which don't seem to go together. That's why I asked Dad in the first place. On the one hand, I can't even imagine ever loving anyone other than Mary Kathryn. She's my very life right now and I don't believe I could live without her and her love. On the other hand, I'm realistic enough to know that I'm not even sixteen yet. I have two more years in high school and at least four years of college before I could expect to settle down. In that length of time I could fall in and out of love a dozen times, I guess. So one part of me says I am in love with the only woman I will ever love and therefore we should express our love for each other in every possible way. Now don't get me wrong, you and Matt have made it very clear to me that having sex is only one way of making love, but I certainly think it is an important one and think you and Matt would agree. Anyway, from that perspective, why not have sex?"
        "Yet what I feel for Mary Kathryn now goes way beyond lust and sex. She's my very best friend in the whole world. I think if I had to choose between having her for a friend forever and having her as a lover... well, I guess it sounds strange, but I think I'd be forced to choose having her as a friend. But if we start having sex and our relationship as lovers turns sour, that friendship will also be destroyed."
        "But even if we don't have sex and our relationship as lovers turns sour, could our friendship survive? I kinda doubt it."
        "I think, maybe, you can appreciate now why I jumped off the falls. It wasn't just that I was in love with Matt, but also because I feared that if I told him our friendship would be destroyed. Also, in our case--my case--I feared that even if I didn't tell him, someone would find out and take it out on Matt. But most of all I felt I knew we would never be lovers--a problem you and Wild Woman do not have--and our friendship would be destroyed. With you and Mary Kathryn it's different. Maybe your love for each other won't last; to tell the truth, the odds are against it. But, come to think of it, the odds are very much--more than with you and Mary Kathryn in fact--against Matt and I being together until death do us part, but I can't imagine our ever being separated because we no longer loved each other."
        "My feelings exactly. On the one hand there's the impossibility of Mary Kathryn and me not being in love and on the other the statistics. So what do we do?"
        "Luke, I have already told Michael that he and Mary Kathryn must talk to each other about their feelings, their fears, their hopes and dreams. That just has to be or they may as well chuck the whole thing now."
        "Another thing you must do is to continue to play together, to do friendship things. Matt and I are so busy right now that we get very little time to be friends and the time we have, we spend as lovers--I don't mean having sex, we're still keeping that promise we made to ourselves--but we have done very few friend things. I fear what will happen if we don't make time to do friend things. Beyond that, all I can say is that you can never go back to where you were before you confessed your love for each other. There is no road back and that is doubly true once you start having sex; not that I have any experience there, but I suspect your dad would agree with me."
        "You are so very right. Once you start having sex, there is no real stopping."
        "But you and Margaret did--at least she said you were," cut-to-the-chase Michael said.
        David blushed big time. Here was his son engaged in father-son talk about sex, and son was putting father on the hot spot. "Yea, David, as I recall the day Margaret announced she had proposed to you there was ample evidence that more than hand holding had taken place."
        "Ok, Guys, if you tell Margaret any of this part of the conversation, and I am able when she finishes with me, I'll break your necks. Yes, Margaret and I did make love--we had wonderful sex--that day at the falls. And to be honest, since we were getting married very soon, I didn't see any reason we shouldn't keep on but, for some reason, Margaret put me back on the slow and easy path. Well, I think I know why. I think she wants her wedding night to be a kind of first time for us, but of course it will not be. In that sense, there is no way back. Further, if we had to wait several years before we were married and had made love as we did that day, there's no way I could handle that. So that's something you have to think about. What if, for some reason, the Larsens have to move away or even if we have to move away? What about college? Do you know you will be going to the same one? What if Mary Kathryn becomes pregnant? There are lot of questions you and Mary Kathryn need to think about and talk about."
        "Michael, when Matt told his dad about Eugene and Larry, Greywolf told him he was very honored that we had decided to wait until we are eighteen, but he also said we should never become so lust-filled that we hurt one another. I guess that is another thing you need to consider. I don't think there are simple answers. All I would ask as the brother of your heart's desire is that you and she discuss your thoughts and feelings, respect each other and make a mature, responsible and mutual decision and accept the risks and consequences of your decision."
        "Well said, Luke," David said when I had finished.
        "Why did I know neither you nor Dad would have an answer for me?"
        "Because you're Michael and we're not and you know that. Because you may not be sixteen yet, but you're an adult and are ready to make adult decisions and are unwilling for someone else to make them for you--except maybe Mary Kathryn when she's in full battle mode!" I laughed.
        "Son, I am always here to listen, offer you guidance, but I'm afraid you have to make your own decisions because you would anyway," David said as he got up and walked over to Michael and gave him a hug. "Now I think we better get to bed."
        "Yea. Six o'clock will be here before I'm ready. It's been a hard day getting ready to get to Lexington, but everything is ready thanks to you two and I want to be out of here by 6:30."
        "Sorry I kept both of you up so late," Michael said.
        "Don't be, Son. I am very pleased and honored you felt you could talk with me."
        "Same here, Brother mine. I thought about going home, but I think I'll crash upstairs if it's all right."
        "Anytime," David said.
        When the alarm went off, I wanted to throw the clock across the room and silence the sound I hated most any morning, but managed to drag myself out of bed and staggered into the bathroom where I showered and shaved. As soon as I was dressed, I went downstairs, grabbed an apple for breakfast and walked outside. When I reached the garage, Matt was waiting for me. "What are you doing here Sarang Hanun Pomul?" I asked.
        "There was no way I was letting you go off on a quest, Sir Knight, without greeting the love of your life." Matt smiled as I wrapped him in my arms, his hair, loose, surrounding me with the scent of the man I loved more than life itself. Our kiss was deep, passionate, filled with love. Our tongues engaged in the duel that we both knew so well, filling our mouths with the taste of the other. Soon our very breathing became one. As our kiss went on, I opened my eyes and found myself looking into the black almond eyes which held the very secret of my life and happiness. I wanted to stay here with Matt in my arms forever.
        But Matt had other ideas, and as he broke our kiss he said, "Luke, do you realize how important today is? You are going to find out whether or not the project you dream of can be done and the chorus and ensemble will begin to show me how good or bad my compositions are. But Lexington calls. Luke, why don't I skip school and come with you?"
        "Because you have to be here to work with Paula and Eugene and the ensemble and chorus before I would be back. Plus, yo' mama would have yo' hide."
        "You're right, but wouldn't it be fun--just once--to skip school? I never have."
        "Neither have I," Mary Kathryn said as she and Michael walked up behind us, dressed for the morning run.
        "I haven't either," Luke said. Michael was silent because, when he was on his "bad boy" kick, he had cut several times.
        But he finally spoke, "Well, you guys know I cut lots for a while and, to tell the truth, it wasn't fun. It was hell because I was trying so hard to be a bad ass and hated myself for doing it. But now, with Mary Kathryn, I think it might just be great fun. Think we might need to try it before school's out. Well, let's run--down the road or to Lexington." And the three of them were off.
        "And I lectured Michael about making time to be friends," I thought as I watched Matt running away from me.
        The trip to Lexington was uneventful until I got to the outskirts. Lexington was a fairly small city, but it could muster up a pretty good traffic jam for rush hour. I was not used to that and found myself getting very tense as I tried to move through traffic. My destination, Lexington Foundry, was on the other side of the city from Concord, but I could take the bypass which would keep me from having to drive right through the middle of town. When I arrived, Mr. Washington, the owner of the company, was busy and his secretary said I could wait in the outer office if I wished or I could go to a glass-enclosed room above the floor and watch what was going on. I chose to do the latter since all of this was totally new to me. I was absolutely fascinated with all the activity below me. I was so absorbed in the work I was watching that I was startled when Mr. Washington walked up behind me without my hearing him and said, "Fascinating, isn't it?" When I jumped he said, "Sorry I startled you, Mr. Larsen."
        I turned, stuck out my hand and said, "Luke, please, Mr. Washington".
        "Then I'm Tom. I am really pleased to meet you. Lexington Foundry hasn't taken on a project like yours in years and, in fact, I was afraid we would have to turn you down and send you on to Jackson; but the day Mr. Stephenson called to ask about our doing your casting work, a beloved employee who retired ten years ago just happened to be in the office visiting. After Mr. Stephenson described what you had in mind, I told him I didn't think we could handle it, but I would call him back. When I hung up the phone, Herr Dietrich asked what it was we couldn't do and when I told him he said, 'Well, I could do that if I weren't retired'. I asked him why didn't he take on your work as a retirement project and he said, 'I will if it's worth it'. I have known Herr Dietrich since I was a kid and know he meant exactly what he said. So I guess we had better see if it's worth it. Do you have your sculptures ready?"
        "They're in the Jeep, but I will need some help getting them inside. They are pretty heavy and very awkward to handle."
        "I'll get some men to bring one of them into the office. We will only need one for Herr Dietrich to decide whether he will come out of retirement to do your project or not. We need to get it ready for his inspection before he arrives which will be in sixteen minutes. When Herr Dietrich says he will be somewhere at a certain time, you can set the sun by his arrival."
        I admit I was reluctant to let workmen carry the crate with one of the sculptures in it without my having my hands on it, but they were as careful as they would have been with a baby. Of course they were carrying one of my babies! When the crate was safely on a sturdy table in Mr. Washington's office, I carefully unpacked it. When Mr. Washington saw the whole piece ready for the final preparation and casting, he said, "I'm sure once he sees his, Herr Dietrich couldn't be beaten away from the casting. But put the cloth back over it so you can have an unveiling for him."
        When Herr Dietrich arrived, I was introduced to him, of course. He was short, stocky with a little round tummy and a shock of white hair and a great white beard.  He wore glasses perched on the end of his nose and, as soon as I saw him, I thought about St. Nick in "The Night Before Christmas". As soon as we had been introduced, he asked to see the sculpture and I unveiled it. I was more than a little anxious and tried to figure out what he was thinking, but neither his body language nor expression gave a clue. He was doing a very minute inspection of the clay sculpture when he saw my name inscribed in the base of the piece. "Luke Hans Larsen," he read.
        "Yes, Sir." I said.
        "Dutch, Danish, Norwegian?" he looked up and asked.
        "My father is a third or fourth generation Dane. My mother is German. My mom and dad met while he was stationed in Germany."
        "I left Germany when Hitler took over. Lucky to get away. Did my apprenticeship in Freiburg which ended up in East Germany until the Wall came down. Great metal town. Once had silver mines." All the time he was talking, Herr Dietrich was going over the sculpture inch by inch. He finally stood up, looked at me and asked, "Mr. Larsen...."
        "Please, Sir, call me Luke."
        "I'm a bit reluctant to do that, but I will. Luke, this is all your work and idea?"
        "Yes, Sir, it is."
        "And there are two other pieces?"
        "Yes, Sir."
        Herr Dietrich turned to Mr. Washington and said, "Thomas, have the other two pieces brought up". As Mr. Washington went to tell workers to bring the other two up, Herr Dietrich continued to examine the piece before him. Not once did I see any indication that he liked or disliked the sculpture.
        When the other two sculptures were placed on the table, the workers started to unpack them. "Thank you very much, guys (the four who had carried the sculptures were not much older than I), but I'll take care of the unpacking." I guess there was no real danger of damaging the pieces accidentally at this point, but I was taking no chances.
        When the two sculptures completing the set were unpacked, Herr Dietrich said, "Thomas, get me my glass". He had been retired for years and yet he still had some of his things at the foundry? Mr. Washington took a large magnifying glass from his own desk and handed it to Herr Dietrich who took as much time going over each of the two sculptures as he had going over the first. "Are these to be displayed individually or as a group?" he asked.
        "They are to be part of a bigger piece," I replied.
        "I don't suppose you have anything that would give me an idea of what the final presentation would be like, do you?" the old craftsman asked.
        "In fact I do, Sir. I have a whole group of sketches showing how the project evolved in my mind. I have several sketches of the views of the piece as I conceive it to be in its final form. I didn't bring them up because I wasn't sure anyone would be interested."
        "I need to see them," Herr Dietrich said. No wasted words from this man.
        I went down to the Jeep and brought the sketchbook up. Of course there were other sketches on everything from those in the bound sketch pad to several on napkins at the fast food place where the Gang of Four occasionally ate when Gabrielle wouldn't know about it. I even had one I had done on toilet tissue with a felt tip pen when I got inspired while sitting on the throne! But the sketchbook had a pretty full history of the evolution of the project.
        "I don't suppose you're interested in the earlier sketches, just my idea for the finished project," I said as I placed the sketchbook on the table where Herr Dietrich was still examining the sculptures.
        "Thomas, coffee for me and a coke--or do you want something else?--for Luke in the conference room, please."
        Mr. Washington sprang to the job at once. It was obvious he respected Herr Dietrich greatly and, in some way, looked upon him as a father. Herr Dietrich indicated the direction of the conference room and, when we arrived, sat at the head of the table and began looking at the sketches at the front of the book--the very beginning. When Mr. Washington came in with two coffees and a coke, he sat down on the other side of Herr Dietrich and said, "Luke, this man is the only reason Lexington Foundry is still here. I was in my last year of college when my father died very suddenly. I was ready to drop out to try to keep the foundry open, but I really didn't know a great deal about the business. Herr Dietrich said he would keep it going and Alexis, his wife, would handle the business end of it as she had done for my father. I finished college and came here as low man and learned the business from the ground up. It's doing well, but it's almost all commercial work now--memorial plaques, building plates, that sort of thing. We make money and keep our workers well paid, but we have had so few good projects that, when Herr Dietrich retired, I realized we could no longer do what you asked us to do."
        "We can do it," Herr Dietrich said, looking up from the final sketch in the book. "It will probably be my swan song, and a great one it will be. Mr. Larsen--and in my book, you're Mr. Larsen--I would be deeply honored if you would allow me to supervise the casting of these three pieces and their finishing."
        "Sir, you would honor me."
        "Thomas, do we have enough bronze--good bronze--to do these."
        "The good bronze you left when you retired is in storeroom. I saw no reason to use it for the kind of work we're doing now."
        "Very good. I'll work for free. The bronze was written off years ago. I guess the only cost to this fine young artist will be the cost of the helpers I need and the melting of the bronze," Herr Dietrich said, and for the first time, I saw some indication of how he felt about casting the bronzes. He had a definite twinkle in his eyes.
        "Herr Dietrich, if the casting of these three pieces gives you pleasure, it will be a small pay back for all the wisdom and pleasure you have given me over the years. Lexington Foundry will be happy to provide whatever you need gratis."
        I must have been sitting with my mouth open because Mr. Washington said, "You can pick your chin up off the floor, Luke. We both are honored that you entrust the casting of the bronzes to us."
        Herr Dietrich asked me some questions about the three bronzes, but mostly about the rest of the piece. I told him that a patron was helping me and since the casting was costing me nothing, I could carry out my dream concept if I could locate the tools and materials for the other major part of the piece. I needed a sheet of plate glass three by five feet by, I hoped, two inches thick. Herr Dietrich asked more questions about the final piece as did Mr. Washington. It was finally lunch time and Mr. Washington wanted to treat us to lunch and Herr Dietrich, Mr. Washington and I continued our conversation over lunch. I had a delightful time.
        After lunch, I had an appointment with a glass company where I learned they did not have the glass available and didn't seem very interested in helping me find what I needed. Mr. Washington had called a friend at another glass company before I left his place and, even though it was across town in another direction, I drove through Lexington and finally found it. While they did not have what I needed, the manager, Mr. Drake, made several calls until he located it, and got the price which he showed me while still on the phone. "Can you handle that price if the glass is delivered to your studio?" I nodded indicating I could, so he placed the order for it--it cost much more than I had expected, but then the castings cost nothing except my gratitude; I could afford the glass since Millie had given me a thousand dollars to spend.
        After I had thanked Mr. Drake, I made my last stop in Lexington at an art supply center. Again, what I wanted was not available, but I was promised it could be shipped and in my hands by the time the glass arrived. I had done better than I had expected, but I would never have been able to do the project without Millie's help, even if I had been able to locate used glass-working equipment, which I had not.  With deposits for the glass and tools, and what I would owe when they arrived, the thousand she gave me was almost gone and I might have to spend a couple hundred of my own money--which was all I would have had otherwise. So I was a very happy artist as I got into the Jeep in time to join the afternoon rush hour.
        After I left Lexington behind, it was smooth sailing back to Concord. When I arrived, I went straight to the studio and made a list of other things I would need to put the sculpture together. Some scrap steel and gears I could get from a junk yard for their cost as junk metal. I also needed an electric motor or maybe two, but those would set me back less than an additional hundred. As I finished, there was a knock on the door. The only other part of my work which was a secret was covered, so I just yelled, "Come on in". Matt burst in, as excited as a little kid.
        "Yonghon Tongmu, you are the most wonderful person in the whole world," Matt said as he grabbed me and pulled me from my chair, covering my mouth with his for a kiss--the likes of which I had not had for a long time. In fact, it was the best ever. "Yonghon Tongmu, I love you; I love you; I love you."
        "Matt, I know I am very desirable, irresistible even, but this seems to be more than your usual attraction to poor little me," I laughed, pulling his mouth to mine as my fingers went to work on his hair. As soon as it was free, I picked him up and took him to the sofa where I had slept several nights ago, laid him down and immediately went to work on his beautiful mouth. He was so excited I couldn't hold him down and soon he lay atop my body, kissing me in the wonderful space created by his cascading hair. He was all over me. Even when he had wanted, desperately, for us to go all the way, he was not as excited as he was today. He was really a wild man, kissing every bit of exposed skin he could find on my body. By the time he had completed that, he had my shirt unbuttoned and pulled it off of me, throwing it on the floor as he started working on my chest with his tongue, stopping from time to time to kiss a nip, to grab his teeth across one, or to suck first one and then the other.
        Ordinarily I think I would have been so aroused that I would be shooting off by now, but Matt was so excited that I got tickled and kept laughing rather than getting aroused. Lifting his head from my chest, I pressed my lips to his in a long, slow, passionate but gentle kiss. "Ok, Matthew, what provoked all this loving--not that I object."
        Matt sat up, turned and faced me and said, "Luke, we had practice at St. Mary's with all the ensemble, chorus and organ parts together for the first time. We did several pieces where about all that was needed was to make sure we were together since, for the most part, we all knew the music. Then we started on a part of one of my original compositions. I had played it alone and I could hear it in my head, but Luke it was magnificent. When we started I was thinking of you and I just got so carried away I could hardly stand it, but I had to hold it all in until I got here. When I saw you our whole life together since that day I found you floating in the river came flooding back and I realized I loved you more than I had ever thought possible," Matt said, as he once again covered my mouth with his, his tongue carrying the taste of Matt into my mouth from where it spread love and joy throughout my being. "But I am being selfish, Luke. Tell me about your day."
        I lay back on the sofa, pulled Matt on top of my body and his head against my chest. I told him all that had happened and how, with Millie's help and the gratis work and materials from Lexington Foundry and Herr Dietrich, I was going to be able to do all I dreamed of doing. "Matt, we are so lucky--no--we are so blessed by the people who surround us. You do know that, don't you?"
        "Yea. Sometimes I worry about it. It all just seems too good to be true. Oh, and Millie has a surprise for you, if you're willing." Matt then told me what Millie had proposed.  We continued talking about our work and the people who loved and supported us for some time, stopping for a kiss from time to time until I realized it was getting late and I needed to get home to have dinner with my family. "Matt, I need to dash inside and tell Michael and David about the day and then go home for dinner. I need to spend time at home tonight."
        "So long as you know that's not where I want you to be."
        "Tomorrow's Thursday and we are obliged to spend an hour enjoying being alive. Right?"
        "Right. Although I do need to spend some time practicing for Sunday. It's Easter you know and that means all kinds of special music."
        "Don't you have choir practice tomorrow night? What time?"
        "7:00 until 8:00, why?"
        "Why don't we have a date tomorrow night? We've never had one, you know. We'll go to the falls for our Mr. Mitchell time and then get anything we need to get done, done--like I need to paint some--and after practice we'll have dinner and do something datey."
        "Datey? Datey?"
        "Yea, you know, something people do on dates."
        "Don't get me wrong, Lover, but I don't think I--we--have time for that this week. I have choir practice tomorrow night--and it may well go over since we'll be finishing up for Easter. We have a wedding rehearsal Saturday afternoon and you're going to Lexington again Saturday morning, right?" I nodded. "Sunday I have Easter, followed by the wedding. I think we have our hands full this week."
        "Sounds to me like we have our hands empty," I said, and gave Matt an impish smile.
        "Luke, you're dimpling me," he protested.
        "'You're dimpling me?' Just what does that mean?"
        "You're giving me that smile which you know shows off your dimple and I just about lose it! You know that!" Matt was still on top of me and attacked my mouth again with passionate kisses. This time I was aroused and so was he. "Babe, I want you so baaaad!" he exclaimed as he continued to smother my mouth and body with kisses.
        "And I want you as well, Sarang Hanun Pomul," I responded. We kept up our kissing, our tongues bringing pleasure to the other. By this time, I had taken off his shirt. Our bare chests were together and his hair covered both our faces as we became more and more passionate. Our hips were pressed into each other, our hardness meeting. We continued rubbing against each other, obviously both getting hotter all the time. Finally I knew where this was going to end and I was ready. As Matt snaked his tongue into my mouth, he pressed his hips against mine as I raised to meet them. We both exploded at the same time and I could feel my hot man's seed filling my boxers. As I came, Matt sucked my tongue into his mouth and practically shouted, "Luke Hans Yonghon Tongmu Larsen, I love you," and bit my tongue not too gently, then collapsed on my body. I held him tight and stroked his hair as he lay his head on my chest.
        "No more than I love you, Matthew Sarang Hanun Pomul Greywolf!" We lay together, secure in the afterglow of our love making until I knew I had to get home. "Matt, Babe, you know I hate to break this up, but I've got to get home."
        Matt stood up and removed his pants and briefs as I did the same. We cleaned each other up, and redressed, leaving off our briefs and boxers. I pulled Matt to myself and once again kissed his wonderful mouth, this time gently. "I need to speak to David and Michael before I go. Come with me?"
        In answer, Matt took my hand and we walked, hand in hand, to the house. I told David and Michael about my trip and then Matt and I drove to his place. When we arrived he asked, "Will I see you later tonight?"
        "Maybe after dinner and I have had time to talk to the folks. Ok?"
        "Bye, Babe," I said as I gave Matt a kiss.
        When I got home, dinner was almost ready. I ran upstairs and changed into more comfortable clothes since I had dressed in better than school clothes for the trip to Lexington--and I did need abit more cleaning up than I had done at the studio. When I got back downstairs, Mom had just put the last dish on the table and called Dad and Mary Kathryn to dinner.
        "How was the trip, Luke?" Dad asked.
        "Wonderful. Couldn't have gone better." I told the family all about what had happened and all of them were pleased for me.
        "And just what is it you are doing anyway?" Dad asked.
        "It's a surprise. Only Millie will see any of it before it is unveiled at the exhibition and she will only see a photograph for the catalog. Matt is trying to keep his two original compositions secret until the concert and I am keeping two works secret until the exhibition. Anything happen at school today, Mary Kathryn?"
        "I think the start of something happened today. Michael checked on his running for president of the student body and there is no reason he can't. He and Larry were getting the announcement ready for tomorrow. You promised a campaign poster for him so I guess you'll need to set aside some time for that. A couple jocks heard he was running and told him he couldn't because he'd just be a junior next year and besides he wasn't a part of the 'real' Independence High School. You know how that went over."
        "I did a campaign poster the other day, but forgot about it in the excitement. All it needs is a picture of Michael--I think in his track uniform, jumping hurdles or something very active as a kind of answer to the jocks. If I had the picture, we could get it ready tonight and run into town and get copies printed."
        "I just happen to have a few pictures of this Michael track star jock you're talking about. I'll get them and you can pick the best one." Mary Kathryn said. "I'll do it right after dinner."
        The family continued to talk about what was going on at school, my work and what Mary Kathryn was up to. When dinner was finished, Mom and Dad went to the den to watch TV. Mary Kathryn and I looked through the pictures she had of Michael. There were some great ones and I chose one of him clearing the hurdles which I was able to use to make a great sketch for the poster. It also fit a slogan I wanted to use: "No hurdle too high for Independence with Michael running!" Dad said Mary Kathryn and I could use his car so we picked up Michael, drove into town to a quick print place and got fifty large posters and a hundred small ones printed. We also had a thousand business card-sized ones printed with the alma mater on the back.
        By the time we had gotten that taken care of and Michael back home, it was time for bed. It had been a great day and I was tired and I knew Matt was, but we just hadn't had enough time together, so as Mom and Dad got up to go to bed I said, "Mom, Dad, if you don't mind I think I will spend the night with Matt."
        "I'm sure we don't mind," Dad said, "but why doesn't Matt spend the night with you any more?"
        "Actually, Dad, we have talked about that. While we are not having sex--at least not what we would call real sex--we both know how uncomfortable you are with our relationship. Out of respect for you and your willingness to accept us even if you can't accept our love for each other, we decided we wouldn't sleep together in our house. One day--or night--that might change, but right now I don't think you would be very comfortable with it and neither would we."
        "I hate to say it Luke, I really do, but I think you are right and I really appreciate the fact that you and Matt thought about that. I'm working on it, but at this point, you are right. See you in the morning for breakfast?"
        "Sure thing, Dad. And I'll ask Matt to come with me."
        "Please do," Mom said.
        The moon was rapidly approaching full and there were just a few fluffy clouds here and there in the sky. It was truly a beautiful night as I walked to the Greywolfs'. As I approached the house, I noticed all the lights were off. Rather than disturb anyone, I climbed the trellis and suddenly started smiling to myself remembering Romeo and Juliet. When I reached Matt's window, it was wide open and I saw Matt, lying on his back, spread-eagle on the bed. The sheet just covered his hips, leaving the rest of his dark, strong, hard, wonderful body almost glowing in the pale moonlight.
        I climbed through the window and stood beside his bed, drinking in the beauty of the man I loved so very, very much. I slowly and silently undressed and walked to the bed. As I approached--as silent as the night--I could see his dark lashes resting on his cheeks. A cloud had briefly cast a shadow on Matt's face as it crossed the moon's face. As it moved away from the moon, the scar on Matt's cheek from the barbed wire was illuminated. I felt a catch in my throat as all he had been through for me raced through my mind. Realizing how he had suffered for me, I couldn't hold back the silent tears which escaped my eyes and slowly flowed down my cheeks. I stood over him weeping, both because of the pain I had caused this wonderful man and for the joy his love gave me.


        It had been a long, hard day. School, for the most part, had been pretty dull, but I stayed the whole day since Luke had the Jeep. The last period I had gone to the band room where Eugene and the ensemble were practicing. It was really going well. When Eugene found I was going to be with him, he had gotten the school's keyboard to use and, while it certainly was not St. Mary's organ, it did help to give the ensemble some idea of what working with the organ was like.
        As soon as the final bell rang, Paula came out and checked on members of the chorus getting on the buses and Eugene checked the ensemble. I rode the bus Dad was driving and was as excited as the kids on the bus who had started singing and playing their instruments as we crossed town from school to St. Mary's.
        I thought it would be a good idea to let the students who had never been to St. Mary's get a feel of the organ and played a couple short Bach pieces and really tore into Clarke's "Trumpet Tune", with full blasts of Millie's state trumpets. When I got through, I spoke to the whole group and told them it was very important to me and I would really appreciate it if they would keep my two compositions a secret. "I really want them to be completely unknown until we play them for an audience." There seemed to be general agreement that was a delightful idea and I was pleased.
        When we were all just about completely exhausted, Millie came by. "Kids, I've been thinking...."
        "Man, we are in trouble now," I laughed.
        "Yea, we are in deep doo doo," Eugene laughed as he gave Millie a hug.
        "If you two don't behave yourselves, you are exactly right," she said, and treated the assembled chorus and ensemble to a Millie belly laugh. "Look, I am really getting geared up to promote this concert and exhibition. Now it really doesn't matter how many show up for the exhibition, we can keep it open all night if it's necessary, but the concert is different. St. Mary's is not the largest place in town, so I am going to require people to get tickets so we can seat everyone. But just the parents of the chorus and ensemble could be close to a hundred people and then there are grand parents and favorite aunts and uncles, teachers. I am really anxious to have the townspeople who do not have children in school here so they can appreciate our school and her students.  Sooo, what I would like for you to think about is having two concerts. On Saturday evening, have one for close family and friends. Afterwards, if Luke is willing, his exhibition can also be opened and I would have a reception for all you artists and your family and friends. I thought it would be nice to have a dinner, but with the art exhibition, we are pretty much out of space, but I had planned a reception for Sunday afternoon and I see no reason there couldn't be one Saturday night. Give it some thought."
        "I don't see what there is to think about, Mrs. Willingham," Jackson Simpson said. "You have just offered us an honor and an opportunity to show our parents and friends how special they are to us AND we'll get to perform again. Sounds like a no brainer to me." He was quickly seconded by everyone present.
        "Since the next day is Sunday, would 7:00 be too late? How long is the performance going to be?"
        "I think a good two hours with an intermission," Matt said. Paula and Eugene nodded in agreement. "But 7:00 is about as early as people could get here and it wouldn't be too late when the concert and reception were over. Sounds good to me." Heads nodded in agreement.
        "Fine, but let's keep it under our hats for the time being. I need to check with Luke about opening his exhibition that night. Fr. Tom has already given his ok. What I'd like from each of you is a list of names and addresses of those you would like invited so I can send invitations to them. And you might divide the list into those you just have to have come and those you would like to come if room is available. Well, I'm off." And Millie was gone.
        We had worked very hard--the kids were disciplined artists and that impressed me. There were some rough spots that needed work by Paula, Eugene and me, but we really made progress. I was very pleased, but very tired.
        Nonetheless, when I got home--I rode the bus back to school and came home with Dad who was very interested in how the practice had gone--I went out to the shed where we had our exercise equipment. Michael was there and had worked up a real sweat already. I spotted for him while he lifted weights and he did the same for me. I was tired when I got home, but the workout made me tired in a very different way from school and practice. I took a quick shower and, as I walked toward the house, noticed the Jeep was at Michael's so I started walking toward the studio. As I walked I became more and more excited about what had happened with the practice, Millie's offer and my composition "Yonghon Tongmu".  By the time I reached the studio, I was as excited as a kid at Christmas and practically attacked Luke. We spent some time together--including some really hot time--and then went to our homes. I hoped I would see Luke later, but it was not definite.
        After dinner, Mom and Dad had papers to grade and I took the notes I had made at today's practice and worked on the revisions for an hour. I had a bit of homework to do and when I completed that, I decided Luke wasn't coming, so I showered and went to bed.
        As I lay in bed, I thought back over the day and how very much I had to be thankful for--my music, Paula, Eugene, the chorus and ensemble, the family, Millie. The list was long, but ended with my soulmate Luke. I drifted off to sleep thinking about how my life had changed since Luke and I admitted we were in love with each other. In my dreamless sleep, I suddenly knew Luke was approaching and finally that he was beside me. When I opened my eyes, Luke, his nude body illuminated by the bright moonlight pouring through the open window, stood over me.  As I reached up to wrap my arms around him, the moonlight caught the tears running down his face. "Luke, you're crying," I said as my heart skipped a beat. What could be wrong? "What's wrong, Yonghon Tongmu?"
        As I sat up in bed, Luke leaned over me and kissed me hard and rough, then sat beside me. "Nothing is wrong, Sarang Hanun Pomul, nothing. It's just that when I came in the window, the moonlight made my dark beauty's body glow. I was so full of joy because you loved me that I was practically in tears. Then a cloud covered the moon briefly and when it moved on, the moonlight illuminated the scar on your cheek and I realized how much you had suffered because of me and the tears just started--tears of pain and tears of joy."
        "Luke, you give me so much joy that the pain seems unimportant. And I am so glad you came back." I lay back on the bed and Luke lay beside me. Our legs and arms were wrapped around each other. We lay, as we did frequently when we were in bed together, speaking to each other with our eyes. Finally, after a few tender and gentle kisses, we drifted off to sleep, our bodies intertwined.
        Luke and I got up, dressed in our sweats and went for our morning run. When we got back to my place, Luke gave me a goodbye kiss and ran on home while I showered and dressed. He had asked me to come to breakfast with the Larsens and I had told Mom I was going when we came in from the run.
        When I got to Luke's, breakfast was ready and we all sat down. "Luke tells me your music is going well," Jens said. "I'm very pleased since the concert should show more what Independence is about than the emphasis on football and basketball, although I guess that's where the emphasis is in most schools these days."
        "I'm afraid you're right and it may cause a bit of a problem since we have convinced Michael to run for student body president. That's always been a contest among the senior football and basketball players and, while Michael is an excellent athlete, he's not a football or basketball jock."
        "Well, they will just have to deal with it!" Mary Kathryn said emphatically. "They think they are what the whole school is about and the students pretty much let them get by with it. Even if I weren't in love with that hunk, I'd still be in favor of his being student body president. He stands for something, something good, while those super jocks are only concerned about themselves and their conquests."
        "Well, I guess we know where you stand, sister mine," Luke laughed. "But I agree with you 100 percent. Matt, don't you think we need to get to school a bit early so we can get posters up? We got them printed last night. Michael knows we have everything ready and I told him we would pick him up as soon as we could. Larry has his first spot ready for homeroom. He got a tape of the TV broadcast of the service for Gregory and was going to use part of it."
        "Do you think that is wise, Luke? There are bound to be students who resented it and who may not agree with what the boys did to Gregory, but who are homophobic."
        "Dad, I know that is true. There may be students who simply believe as you do or did, that being gay is something someone chooses and is evil, wicked and sinful, but that's not who Michael is and if that causes him to be defeated, students at Independence aren't as basically good as I think they are."
        "Luke, that hurts, but not because you are wrong. It just reminds me of how far I still have to go."
        "Dad, I had no intention of hurting you, but that is just the way it is and, believe me, I appreciate your struggle and how far you have come." Luke got up, walked behind his dad and put his arms around him. "You don't really know just how much I appreciate you and how you are accepting something which I know is very painful for you."
        "That goes for me as well, Jens," I said.
        As soon as we had finished breakfast and cleared the table, Luke, Mary Kathryn and I put the posters in the Jeep and picked up Michael. When we got to school, other students were putting up posters, none of which had the professional look of Michael's although most had spent big money getting color copies of photos to paste on theirs. Several of the jock types made some pretty dirty remarks about "snot-nosed sophomores" who were "too big for their britches." Michael simply ignored them.
        The video announcements by the candidates were pretty typical--"Hi, I'm John Doe. I play (fill in position) on the (football or basket ball team). I am running for student body president because I think I can do the job." Michael's was last and, man, it was polished. Larry had used clips from the service for Gregory including the opening when Michael's face was superimposed over the Declaration of Independence and then over Independence High School. The voice-over was done by Larry who said, "Isn't it time Independence had a student body president worthy of the student body? Michael Andrews has proven he is equal to the task." The closing shot was Michael's campaign poster. Luke leaned over to me and whispered, "Damn, with an artist like me and a audio video guy like Larry, why isn't he running for governor or president?" and laughed. I had to admit I had never seen anything at Independence which came close, and this was only the beginning.
        After Luke and I finished our last period at school, we left and went straight to the falls. The weather was downright hot and I expected a spring thunderstorm as a result, but we had our hour which we actually spent being kids again. We crossed the canes and before we reached the river were both naked. We raced to the top of the falls, laughing our heads off. When we got to the top, we joined hands and dived into the water together. The day was hot, but the water was not. I think if I had tried to get in a bit at a time, I would never have made it, but suddenly I plunged beneath the crystal-clear cold water. Before I broke the surface, I turned and saw Luke's body in the dappled light. He looked like a golden god of the river. When we broke the surface, we were facing each other, laughing. I think Mr. Mitchell would have given us an "A" for enjoying being alive. We played in the water, frequently getting out to race to the top of the falls and dive in. Finally we were pretty well played out and swam to the middle of the basin, embraced, and exchanged a warm, loving kiss.
        We swam to the shore and lay on the blanket we had brought from the Jeep--Luke lying on his back, I on my stomach, and we talked, really talked, about our future. We had completed the applications for Oberlin as had Paula, Eugene and Larry, but we didn't know what would come of that since we knew the deadline for applications was long past. "I know Millie packs a lot of weight around here," Luke said, "but I'm not sure how much influence she has at a college. And if Oberlin doesn't pan out what are we going to do, Sarang Hanun Pomul?"
        "I really don't know, Yonghon Tongmu. All I know is that I'm not planning to be separated from you for a whole school year. I'm not planning on being separated from you a minute more than I have to until the day I die!"
        "Same here, Matt. I guess we'll just have to wait and see what develops. I think if worse comes to worse, we can go to State in Jackson as special students. That way we can take courses we want or need and not have to get involved with all the Mickey Mouse of being regular students." With those words our discussion came to a close and we enjoyed the feel of each other's body and some soft, gentle, loving kisses. Lust was turned pretty low and we were just two mellow lovers enjoying life. After we got dressed--unlike most classes, the Mr. Mitchell enjoy-being-alive class was extended half an hour without protest from the students--Luke went to his studio and I went to St. Mary's to work on music for Sunday and to try out the changes made from yesterday's practice.  When I finished, I drove by the hospital to see if Gladys or Chelsea was on duty. Gladys was, and I spent some time talking with her. She was very interested in what was happening to me and Luke and I wanted to know how the hospice was coming. Before I left, I told her I heard she and Chelsea would be at the wedding Sunday. Wouldn't miss it, Matt. Think you and Luke deserve a lot of credit for making that happen."
        "Michael took the bull by the horns as well. I guess the whole Gang of Four was pretty determined that was going to happen. See you Sunday," I said as I gave Gladys a hug and then left.
        I got back home just in time for supper. Dad told me there had been some grumbling about Michael's running for student body president. "I guess he has some of the others who are running worried. I can see why after this morning's video and the campaign posters. Several seniors--cheerleaders and ball players--apparently went to Ms. Jones and complained about a sophomore running. I heard by the grapevine one of them said, 'He's just a sophomore. Sophomores can't run because the president has to be a senior.' Ms. Jones said and, again, I am reporting second hand. 'Why not? The only rules I have found are the student must have been a student at Independence for a semester, have an academic average of 3.0 and a conduct grade of A. He certainly meets those requirements as, I'm sure you are aware, some who planned to run did not.' Another student said, 'Well, he's just a sophomore and will just be a junior next year. He's not old enough for the job. How could he be student body president?' To which Ms. Jones, I am told, responded, 'I guess if he's too young and immature, you don't have to worry since he will, obviously, be easy to defeat, then, won't he?' And according to 'a high ranking administration figure', that ended the conversation. But, Matt, I'm afraid it's not the end of the matter. I have overheard enough to believe it can get nasty."
        "I hope not. It would sure be a black mark on Independence if it did, but Michael can handle it, especially with the backing he has. He's got some really great people pulling for him. Hate to eat and run, but choir practice could get long tonight. See you later."
        Choir practice did run long. One of the problems with being a teenaged organist is getting people old enough to be your grandparents to listen to you. I learned long ago that I had to depend on the choir director--who was old enough to be my grandfather--to deal with the difficult members of the choir who believed they were good enough for Washington Cathedral. The music was finally in good shape--at least as good as it was going to be--and I got home about 9:00, an hour later than usual. When I pulled in the drive, I noticed the lights were still on in the studio and knew Luke was working late. I didn't expect him to come crawling into bed with me and he didn't.         
Part Twenty-four

        When we reached school the next day, Larry met us at the entrance, obviously upset. "Michael, I am really pissed and if you want me to drop out of your campaign, I will."
        "Why? What's wrong?"
        Larry had been carrying a poster under his arm and when he unrolled it, it was one of Michael's campaign posters. Someone had used dayglo purple and green to spray paint "Faggot Lover" on it. "I think all of the large posters have been spray painted. Some have the same words as this one, others have 'The Queer Party Candidate', or 'Faggot for President' on them. The custodian said he had taken down the worse ones which had 'Assfucker's Support Michael', 'Cocksuckers United Candidate' and 'Fudgepacker for President'. Ms. Jones told him to leave all of them up except those with 'cocksucker', 'assfucker' or 'Fudgepacker' on them. I'm positive someone saw me kiss Eugene and that's what's behind this."
        "Oh, I think it's just some of those who were upset by the service for Gregory who see this as a way of getting even for being told their attitude is shitty and sucks. I think that's what's behind it, not something you and Eugene did. And even if someone did see you kissing Eugene and did all this, do you think I would let that make a difference? Man, shit like this is why I agreed to get involved in this race to start with. Hell, fucking no, you're not dropping out. We need to have a little conference here before school as to what we do in response."
        While Michael and Larry were talking, Paula, Eugene and Linda walked up. "'Sup? Somebody die?" Eugene asked. Larry simply held up the poster.
        As soon has he held it up, Linda said, "That Jock asshole! If Orie didn't do that he was involved."
        "But he isn't even running, Linda," Paula said.
        "Well, it doesn't matter, his jock friends are and he has been hanging out with some of the jokers who were involved in the Gregory thing. He would be running except he couldn't meet the requirements. Man, I sure hate [knowing] I got involved with that jerk. Besides, he's mad because I am in the Select Few and he told me Matt and Luke were faggots because he saw them holding hands and, Eugene, you and Larry are a couple of buttfuckers because another jock asshole saw you two kissing. So Michael is, at least to him, a faggot-lover, and probably a cocksucker himself."
        There were seven mouths hanging wide open. "You mean to tell me Orie told you all that and you said nothing about it?" Michael said incredulously.
        "What was there to say? I just told him I didn't have anything to say to him, didn't care to hear anything he had to say and he was still a jock asshole. I didn't say anything to any of you. I thought he wouldn't lie about Eugene or Larry--he wouldn't have thought they were worth mentioning. He wanted to get in my good graces and thought a little gossip about my friends would help, I guess. Same with Matt and Luke. If you're couples--and I have neither seen any reason to think you are nor any reason to doubt you are for that matter--what Orie said makes no never mind to me--except I really did have my eye on you, Matt. But if I'm going to lose out, it's not to some dumb bitch and, Luke, somebody else is just going to have to do without the number two hunk in this group. Personally, I think you're two good looking couples and since I know why Paula and I and my two cousins were snapped up for the prom, I intend to really enjoy myself while those two Lexington babes fall all over themselves trying to get Larry and Eugene hot," Linda laughed.
        "Linda, I really need to apologize to you. I have always liked you and enjoyed your company, but I must confess I thought you...."
        "Yea, Matt, you just thought I was another dumb blond. Well, we'll go into all that at lunch... no, I'll be busy at lunch, but we don't have time right now. We need to decide how to respond to this jock asshole shit."
        "Yea, right. Important things first. What are we going to do about the posters?" Michael asked.
        "Suggestion. Leave them alone and, Michael, cut into your spot this morning and apologize for leaving them up and ask if someone low enough to appeal to bigotry and sink so low as to damage campaign posters is who Independence High wants as a leader and as its representative," Linda suggested. "Meanwhile, I'll put on the dumb blond cheerleader routine and butter up Orie and find out who is responsible. He'll definitely know and I wouldn't be surprised if he wasn't involved."
        "Gal, I double my apology!"
        "Accepted, Matt."
        "Linda, you are a blond genius!" Michael exclaimed.
        "Political dynamite!" Larry agreed.
        "But Linda, you're putting youself in danger because you know what Orie's new buddies can do."
        "I think I can handle that," Linda said. "At least I am going to try."
        Michael did as Linda had suggested. Ms. Jones came on after the political spots and talked about how upset she was about the prejudice and bigotry shown in the damaging of Michael Andrews' posters. She agreed, she said, with leaving them up so students could see them and decide if the people who were responsible were the kind of people the students of Independence High school wanted to be held up as their leaders and representatives. "But they will only stay up today. Independence has been embarrassed enough already. Others, which had even more offensive language, have been removed by Mr. Vincent, the custodian. I hope many of you will apologize to Michael for what one or more of your schoolmates have done. And, on a very practical level, Michael spent money for nice posters and someone or someones who bought a couple cans of cheap spray paint ruined them."
        Lunch was interesting, to say the least. It started soon after Orie got his lunch and sat down. Linda said, in a whisper, "Look pissed off when I start". Suddenly she said, very loudly so practically everyone in the cafeteria heard her, "Well, if that's the way it is, I'm through with you," took her lunch and stormed away, headed for the table where Orie was sitting. When she got there, she glared at a jock sitting by Orie until he made room for her to sit down. We ate, trying not to laugh out loud as Linda gave new meaning to "a woman's wiles" and the "dumb blond cheerleader" routine. Meanwhile, a number of students walked by the table and said how upset and sorry they were that Michael's posters were defaced. Several dropped coins or a bill on the table. The first one said, "I want to help pay for new posters and get you to sign it for me when the campaign is over". She was followed by a long line saying, "Same for me". Michael barely got to eat because he was busy passing out the business card size posters, each of which he signed with a "To" message. He knew most of the students' names, but occasionally needed help or apologized for having to ask.
        The last person who came by was a junior, the best and most popular basketball player, Bill Lance, who was running for student body president. He asked if he could sit down and we all pointed to Linda's now vacant chair. As soon as he was seated he said, "Michael, I decided to run for president because I think I have something to offer as student leader". We all nodded in agreement. He was absolutely right. "However, in light of what has happened, I think I have more to offer by setting an example. Tomorrow my video spot will be an announcement of my dropping out of the race in support of you."
        "Bill, I appreciate the gesture," Michael said, "but that's not necessary and it will take a good candidate out of the race."
        "Well, I would have suggested you drop out and support me," he smiled, "but that would make it appear the assholes who spray painted your posters had forced you out. There's no way that would not be the claim and I'll do everything I can to see that doesn't happen."
        "Bill, you're right. Larry, would you do the video spot after school?"
        As soon as we finished our school day, Luke and I drove to his studio, picked up the original of the campaign poster, took it in to town, got a hundred printed and drove back to school. We got there just as school was out and soon the Select Few, except Linda, were gathered in the parking lot. Bill Lance was with them. Orie drove past in a car full of jocks and as they passed one of them--I couldn't tell which--yelled, "Look at the Faggots and Fag Hags!"
        "Ok, Select Few, we have a job to do. Bill, looks as if you're one of us. Welcome to the Select Few."
        Bill bowed and said, "I am honored, Oh Select Ones". We all laughed.
        As soon as we walked inside, Linda joined us. "I stayed out of sight until Orie and his crew left so they wouldn't know they are about to be sandbagged. I know the whole rotten mess. But what's up right now? Hi, Bill. What are you doing here?"
        "While you were doing your dumb blond cheerleader bit, Bill came by the table at lunch and decided to join the campaign," Michael said and told Linda what had happened.
        "Welcome, Sir William," Linda said. Maybe the Select Few will still be here next year. Good feeling."
        "Ok, guys, Matt and I went to town last period and got a rush job on a hundred new posters. We are on our way to see Ms. Jones to let her know we're taking down the defaced ones and putting these up so they will be here first thing Monday morning." When we reached Ms. Jones' office, her door was open and we told her what we were doing.
        "I was going to let Mr. Vincent take down the defaced ones. He offered to work over because he felt, somehow or other, he was to blame."
        "Well, he's not," Michael said, "and we have the time and manpower...."
        "And womanpower," Mary Kathryn promptly added.
        "Yea, and womanpower to get the job done quickly."
        "Michael, I can see you have your hands full at school and at home. It must be nice to have the little woman helping out," Ms. Jones laughed. Michael blushed and Mary Kathryn laughed at him and kissed him on the cheek.
        "You better agree, Michael," she said, taking his head in her hands and nodding it up and down.
        "Ms. Jones, Bill has made a decision about the campaign that you need to know about," Michael said.
        When Bill finished telling Ms. Jones what he had decided to do, she said, "Bill, I know you would have been a good student body president. No doubt in my mind about that, but I also think you will be remembered more for the leadership and the position you are taking than you would as former student body president. I admire your courage and the true leadership evident in your decision."
        "Thanks. It is just the right thing to do," Bill said.
        "Oh, Ms. Jones, I need to call my mom and tell her where I am," Paula said.
        Ms. Jones pointed to her phone and asked, "Anyone else need to call home?" Only Bill did. "When you kids get finished with the posters, come back by--you too Bill. We need to talk." Her tone was serious and I suspected what was up.
        With all of us working, it took less than thirty minutes to take down the defaced posters and put up the new ones. While the rest of us were doing the posters, Larry and Bill did the video spot for tomorrow when Bill would announce his decision. When we finished, we went back to Ms. Jones's office. She closed the door and asked, "Are all of you in this together? I mean, are you really--what? solid--with each other? What I'm trying to say...."
        "All except Bill," Matt said, "and he definitely needs to know what he is getting into. Bill, when you learn the facts, there's not a person in this room who wouldn't support you changing your mind. So you don't get blindsided, Luke and I, Larry and Eugene are couples. We are gay. Luke and I are not...."
        "Right now Luke and Matt are virgins, Bill, as if that makes any difference. And in a real sense, that is true of Larry and Eugene. But they are gay and will definitely not be virgins forever!" Cut-to-the-Chase Michael said. Ms. Jones, Larry and Eugene, Luke and I all blushed big time.
        "Glad those aren't requirements for participating in this campaign," Bill laughed. "I'd strike out on both counts, but what has that got to do with anything?"
        "Ms. Jones, of course we all know about Matt and Luke and Eugene and Larry. Linda was the last to find out--well maybe not, she just didn't say anything," Michael said.
        "Ok, I'm going to be straightforward and blunt. We have a real problem here. I have been on the phone with Millie and told her what happened to the posters. Needless to say she was, I believe her exact words were 'royally pissed', does that sound right?"
        "Sounds pretty calm and cool to me. I guess it hadn't had time to sink in or she'd have been here ripping things apart," Eugene laughed.
        "To tell you the truth, I expected her to do exactly that but, Eugene, your mother is a smart lady. She said if she came out here it would look as if she thought I couldn't handle the situation. She's right, of course, so it's in my hands. Anything you might know about the situation that I might not know?"
        Linda said, "It depends on how much you know. I think I know it all. There are actually two things going on at the same time. Orie Greenley is still really pis... ticked off that I gave him a kick in the family jewels when he tried to force me to have sex with him and he was really put out when I told him our date for the prom was off. So he is out to get Matt, who is my date."
        Ms. Jones looked surprised for a moment and Paula said, "Yes, and I am dating Luke. See the two guys each met someone they fell madly in love with at a special kind of swim meet, but they can't date them for the prom because there's an age problem and a race problem." Ms. Jones looked as if she was caught up in a crazy dream and kept shaking her head.
        Bill said, "The attempt at drowning yourself--it all makes sense now, Luke".
        Paula laughed, "Luke's younger than Matt--by twenty minutes--and Matt is of mixed race".
        "Well, I was wondering if I had lost it there for a moment," Ms. Jones laughed.
        "And just so you'll know the score, my two cousins from Lexington are coming over as Eugene and Larry's dates. I just can't wait to see them try out their man-killing ways on those two guys! It is going to be a real treat!" Linda laughed. "Anyway, the other part of this mess is that Orie and two of his jock buddies have been befriended by three of the jerks who abused Gregory. All are still really angry because of the protest against Mr. Gray since he was slipping them all sorts of help--money, tests before they were given, changing grades--so they could play ball. And they hate Michael because he 'made us real Independence people' look bad. They were all out drinking last night and when they were pretty drunk, Jake Hilliard, the ring leader of the motley crew, suggested they 'get even with them fags,' Orie told me. They called someone, Orie wasn't sure who it was, and made arrangements to get in the school through the gym. They stopped at K-Mart, bought the spray paint and you know the rest."
        "But whatever gave them the idea? I can see why they might deface the posters, but why with the words they did?"
        "I'm afraid Eugene and I are mostly responsible for that," Larry said.
        "You've got to include Matt and me," Luke added.
        "Several days ago--a week or so, so much has happened since I can't really remember, Eugene was really down because his dad had landed on him with both feet and he had to sit through another 'faggots will roast in hell' session at church, so I spent as much time as I could with him. To tell the truth, I was afraid he'd do away with himself he was so depressed. I walked him to music class and when we got there, I looked around and was sure no one was around, so I kissed him. Well, Paula did see us and asked Michael to speak to us, which he did, but Paula believed she was the only one who observed the kiss. Well, apparently she wasn't."
        "Marshall Tucker, one of Orie's hangers-on saw them and used that to get into the Jake Hilliard club with Orie. Then there was Matt and Luke," Linda said.
        "The day Matt and I came to see you, we were walking down the hall holding hands, not thinking anything about it. When we realized we were, we both looked around and saw no-one. That didn't mean no-one saw us. Michael had taken the wrong book from his locker and was in the hall getting the right one and saw us. Like Paula, he thought he was the only one, but apparently Orie saw us."
        "Needless to say, I had hoped that this would not happen, but was afraid it would. I am at a bit of a loss as to where we go from here. I just don't know. What I do know is that someone who has a key to the school let those students into the building. There are very few people who have those keys. I can eliminate three at once, myself, Mr. Allan and Mr. Vincent. Mr. vincent might have been a suspect had I not seen his reaction to the defaced posters. He may be uneducated and not too bright, but he works hard and has a heart of gold. When he saw those posters he kept saying over and over again, 'Look what they done did to my boy Michael's stuff.' I don't know what you have done for him, but he worships all of you. So he's out. Well, that's my problem, not yours. What do you want done about the whole mess?"
        "I think the best thing to do is leave the situation in the hands of the authorities. I have no proof of what I told you, but Orie was ready to tell me anything I wanted to know after a few rubs of my knee against his thigh. He had seen me leave the table angry at the Select Few, so he was anxious to let me know he was taking care of them. I even got him to tell me what they did with the paint cans and Mr. Vincent retrieved them for me. They are carefully wrapped in tissue in my locker. A little quiet investigation is bound to turn up more evidence. The paint cans surely will have finger prints and at least the three involved in the Gregory mess have been fingerprinted. As to the name-calling, I say ignore it as well until you have witnesses and drop the Millie rule on them," Linda said.
        "Linda, where have you had your brain hidden all this year?" Matt asked.
        "I told you we would discuss that when we had time, right now we're dealing with the jocko crap."
        "Linda, I think your suggestions are great, but I wonder about the four guys who are going to be, if not officially, effectively outted. Of course the rest of you will suffer as well for being associated with them. You can see that from what has already happened to Michael. Bill, you really need to think about that because you will be a special target as a basketball player."
        "Ms. Jones, Luke and Matt have been my brothers since I was born. Now Larry and Eugene have become my adopted brothers--especially Eugene... doesn't mean I like you less, Larry, but Eugene and I have a kind of special bond. I am willing to fight for the rights of anyone to love anyone they please and I am more than willing to take whatever kind of shi... manure... those jock-jerks or anyone else wants to try to dish out. I told Larry this morning that's why I agreed to get into this political mess anyway."
        "Don't worry about me, I'm a pretty tough woman," Paula said. "I have suffered worse than the childish pranks of some jerks."
        "Don't think I need to even ask you, Miss Mary Kathryn," Ms. Jones said.
        "And Linda, you have already proven your mettle."
        "Well, I admit this wasn't what I had in mind when I stopped by the Select Few's table at lunch, but I did have in mind setting an example and especially for those who want to represent this school on one of the teams. I'm still in. And Ms. Jones, I have no proof so I won't state it here, but if you want to know who opened the gym, I can give you a 99.9 percent accurate guess."
        "Thanks, Bill. I suspect we would agree on who, but I don't want you involved in that. Right now I have a call in to the police. Linda, if you'll get me the paint cans, I'll turn them over to the police. Meanwhile, Matt, Luke, Larry, Eugene, what about you four? You're bound to catch a lot of flack."
        "It was bound to happen sooner or later. I wish it hadn't, but it has. Luke and I agreed that whatever came our way we'd handle together and we will, one way or another."
        "Larry and I haven't talked about it in more than general terms. We were more concerned about my family finding out and, since I no longer have that family, we'll handle it. In fact, I feel kinda relieved that we no longer have to hide who we are." Larry nodded in agreement.
        "That's spoken out of your love for your soulmate, I'm sure, and out of a lot of teenage romanticism. I only hope you're able to remember it when the going gets tough, and it will," Ms. Jones said and gave each of us a warm, motherly hug. "Bill, you just become a part of a group that knows no end of caring for each other. And you have earned that spot," Ms. Jones said as she hugged Bill, who towered over her.
        After that, we all piled into the Jeep and Bill's car and went to Mickey D's for drinks. As we settled in, I said to Linda, "Ok, crisis over for the moment. Where have you had your brain hidden, Linda?"
        Linda blushed and said, "It's kinda embarrassing, but at the beginning of school, I saw Matt sitting with all of you and, of course Sheldon then, and I noticed no-one seemed to have their claws into Matt so I decided I wanted that bod for my own. While I was scheming on how to get into the Select Few, Mary Kathryn and I were walking to the cafeteria together and she invited me to join the bunch for lunch. That was, I thought, my lucky day. When I saw how Mary Kathryn and Paula were, I decided I needed to take a different approach. I figured Matt hadn't shown any interest in Mary Kathryn--Michael wasn't in the picture then--so I did what I do so well; I became the dumb blond cheerleader of the bunch. By the time I realized you were fun loving, but pretty serious kids, I didn't see any easy way to drop the role. When Orie came along, it was the perfect role to get him. When I gave him the kick in the balls and rejoined the group, there was never any reason to be different until today. I really did want your bod, Matt and I'm still jealous of you, Luke. If you were a woman, I'd fight you tooth and nail for that adorable hunk who's obviously in love with you."
        "And all the talk, talk, talk was an act?" I laughed.
        "Well, some things are just naturally me!" Linda declared.
        "If I win this election, you're definitely in my cabinet," Michael said, "and I'll try to pick a few hunks. You can take your pick!"
        "Hey, I'm available!" Bill said.
        "Looks like you just lost a prom date, Matt," Paula said.
        "I wish," Bill said, "but my mom has arranged a date with my cousin from Lexington".
        We laughed and Linda said, "Bill, after the prom. We definitely have one thing in common--scheming mammas." We talked and had a great time, forgetting what had happened. Just before we were ready to leave, Luke asked, "Just for the record, Linda, what's your GPA?"
        "You know, that was something I had to work hard to keep Mary Kathryn from finding out or she would have blown my cover. I didn't have such a good year last year since I was trying to be a part of THE in-crowd and making grades wasn't tops on their list so it is still pulling my GPA down. I have a 3.6."
        We took Eugene to Millie's--to his home--first since it was closest. "I'll walk home after Eugene and I have some time to talk," Larry said as we pulled into Millie's drive.
        Millie was waiting for us. Nothing would do but that we go inside. When we introduced Bill, Millie, in her usual tactful manner, asked, "I've seen you play ball, young man. Is that all you can do or do you have a brain as well?"
        "He has a 3.7 and takes honors courses with me and Mary Kathryn," Michael said, "but I'm not sure he has a brain". Michael then told Millie what Bill had decided and that he didn't change his mind after he was told about the two couples.
        "Young man, you got balls. Glad to have you aboard," Millie said and shook hands with Bill again. "Ok, tell me all we know about this crap at Independence."
        We told her all that Linda had found out--and how--and Millie said, "Matt, you're probably lucky you escaped. Beauty and brains is a combination no man can handle. Right Michael?"
        "Hey, I'm trapped. You need to be warning Bill who is about to get caught in Linda's web."
        "And you'll love every minute of it won't you? Well, anyway Bill, you have an idea who opened the gym? It was one of the coaches," Millie said. "They are the only ones who have keys to the gym doors other than Mr. Vincent, Ms. Jones and Mr Allan. Heads will roll over this--either through the school system or the police or both. Kids, and I include you, maybe especially you, Bill, be careful. Three of those involved have already shown what they are capable of doing and you know how those who suck up to someone will go along with something they would never have the guts to do otherwise. Be careful."
        Bill took Linda and Paula home. "I pass both houses on my way home," he said.
        When we reached the Larsens', Mary Kathryn got out. "I planned to get some work done today, but I suspect I had better tell Mom and Dad what has happened," Luke said. After a kiss, he said, "Sarang Hanun Pomul, it wasn't supposed to be this way."
        "But we'll handle it as it comes, Yonghon Tongmu," I replied, kissed him again and said, "Later, Luke".
        I took Michael home and he said, "Later, Bro," as he got out.
        When I got inside, Mom and Dad were waiting for me. We talked for a while about what had happened. When Dad asked what we planned to do I said, "I know what I'd really like to do and that is get in front of the whole student body and say, "I'm madly, insanely in love with Luke Larsen and he is in love with me. If you don't like that, that's your problem because I don't give a rat's ass what you like or don't like. But I know that's not going to happen. But I am very tired of pretending I am not who I am and that Luke is someone who is nothing more to me than a good friend."
        "And just how do you think Luke would react to your doing that?" Mom asked.
        "I honestly don't know. I think he might actually be less afraid of doing it than I am."
        "And what about Larry and Eugene? They have additional problems of their own and if you and Luke out yourselves, what will they do or think they are expected to do?" Dad asked.
        "I don't know. We haven't talked about it. What I'd really like to do is have a family meeting. Tonight. With Larry and his mom and Eugene and Millie included."
        "That comes as no surprise to me," Mom said. "I have already called the clan--and Larry's mom and Millie--and suggested that if that's what you four guys wanted, we would like to have them come here after dinner and all sit down and work out what we are all going to do. Millie and Larry's mom were going to suggest their boys get together and decide if they'd like to do that. I suggest you and Luke do the same. When you have decided, let us know and whatever you decide, we'll support."
        I knew what I wanted Luke to say, but I couldn't make the decision for him and I didn't want to influence him one way or the other. I loved him too much to even seem as if I was pressuring him. I drove to the Larsens and walked to the door slowly because I might not want to hear what Luke had to say.
        Gabrielle called as I walked in, "Luke's in his room. I'm sorry about this mess," she said as I started up the stairs.
        When I walked in, Luke was lying on his bed, staring at the ceiling. "Luke, Mom and Dad were waiting for me and we had a talk about how you and I--Larry and Eugene as well--are going to handle the school situation."
        "You know what I'd like to do? I'd like to have a video in which I said, "I'm Luke Larsen. I'm gay. I'm in love--absolutely teetotally in love with Matthew Sarang Hanun Pomul Greywolf."
        I grabbed Luke and gave him the most passionate kiss I could possibly manage. "Luke Hans Yonghon Tongmu Larsen, I love you beyond all bounds! That's almost exactly what I told Mom and Dad I wanted to do. I'm tired of pretending I'm someone I'm not and I'm tired of worrying that someone will discover the most important thing on this earth to me--that you love me and I love you."
        "So what are we actually going to do?"
        "The whole family--and Larry and Eugene, Millie and Ms. Watley have been put on alert. Millie and Ms. Watley are going to have Eugene and Larry talk about the situation and, if they want to, to join in a family meeting tonight. That is if you want one."
        "Of course I want one. Dad hasn't come home yet. It's a big step for Dad to have to sit down and face the fact that his son is not only gay, but is known to be gay. I just don't know what to expect."
        "I guess I'll go back home then so you can talk with Gabrielle and Jens when he gets home. See you later, Yonghon Tongmu."
        Luke kissed me softly, looked into my eyes and said, "We'll live through this too, Matt, Babe."
        "You better believe it, Light of my Life."
        When I got back home, Mom was on the phone. When she finished her conversation, she said, "Millie told me Eugene had gone to Larry's and they were going to talk and then talk to Larry's mom. She is pretty sure Eugene was ready to broadcast his relationship with Larry, but he wasn't sure how Larry would feel about it. Seems to me those two guys have problems enough without this."
        "I guess we all do," I responded, "but it had to happen sooner or later. I'm just worried about how Jens will take all this."
        "You're not the only one," Dad said.
        Supper was a pretty silent affair as I am sure all three of us were engaged in our own thoughts. I know I was. I remembered what Ms. Jones had said about teenage romanticism and I guess I was realizing that she was very right. I had dreamed--literally--of announcing to the world that I was in love with Luke and in my dreams, everyone listening cheered. But this was no dream and I had seem [seen] how some people viewed our love--faggot, cocksucker, buttfucker, fudgepacker. Don't tell me sticks and stones might break my bones, but words would never hurt me. Words cut deep and hurt a lot more than a broken bone or two. And while I would never use the terms buttfucker or cocksucker, I guess they were just crude ways of talking about making love as Michael was crude when he talked about fucking--and I was, damn it, innocent!
        As soon as supper was over, I went to my room and lay on my bed, staring at the ceiling. I felt as though my whole world could come crashing down on me any minute. I was so absorbed in my thoughts that I almost missed feeling Luke's approaching presence. He climbed through the window just as I realized he was nearby.
        Luke came and lay beside me, saying nothing. As soon as I turned to look at him, he faced me and said, "Matt, Dad is really upset. He really wasn't ready for me to be out to everyone and I expected he would give me hell about that, but he didn't. He just said, 'I suppose it had to happen sooner or later. I wish it had been later. Somehow or other I expected it to happen after you were out of high school and didn't have to put up with a lot of shit every day. I'm sorry, Son, I'm really sorry that your last few weeks in high school are going to be hell.' He hugged me and I saw big tears in his eyes. He looked me squarely in the eyes and asked, 'Is it really worth it, Luke? Is it really worth the hell you know you're going to go through?' Matt, I was shocked at his question. I had almost killed myself--hell, I would have except I screwed up and failed--and he wanted to know if loving you was worth enduring what some jock assholes would say--or do. I looked at him like he was nuts. 'Dad, if it was worth dying for, it's sure as hell worth living for,' I said. He hugged me again and said, 'Then, by God, love him and to hell with those who don't know love when they see it'. I almost fainted."
        We hugged each other tightly. "God, Luke, I was so worried, so very worried at what Jens' reaction might be. I knew Mom, Dad and Gabrielle would take it in stride, but Jens...."
        "Yea, I know. Me too. But I never expected it to be what it was. Never."
        "As if I didn't know, what are you going to do?"
        "The same as you, Matt, I'm going on with my life and I am going to love you. I expect to go about my business at school the same as I have except if I want to hold hands with you I will and if I want to kiss you, I will--so long as I don't get caught by a teacher--just as I would if you were the homecoming queen."
        "You better not be caught kissing any homecoming queen or you'll get the same treatment Michael would get if your charming sister caught him kissing the homecoming queen!"
        We both had a good laugh at the mental picture that conjured up. I kissed Luke and said, "Well, I guess we may as well go down and see what transpires at yet another family meeting about two sons of the family being in love with each other."
        "Actually, from what I heard Mom say on the phone, I think this will involve four sons in love. Millie and Eugene, Larry and Ms. Watley are coming. Dad said he told Margaret and David they could skip with their big day coming up, but both said they would be here."
        As Luke and I walked down the stairs I said, "Luke, who do you think will be in charge of this meeting since Millie will be here?"
        "I'm betting on Greywolf."
        "Even money?"
        "Even money. What's the bet?"
        "Winner gets to pick where he sleeps tonight!"
        "Make it Saturday night and it's a bet! Think I'll be pretty busy tonight."
        When we got downstairs everyone was there. The two couples were sitting on the floor, one sitting between the other's legs. Luke and I joined them with me sitting between his legs. "Before we get into what needs to happen, everyone needs to know just what has and what has not happened," Greywolf said.
        Luke leaned over and whispered in my ear, "In your bed tomorrow night, Loser". Man, I like losing bets like that!
        Among us, we told the whole story of what had gone on, including our meeting with Ms. Jones and Bill's decision. "He knows about you four?" Greywolf asked.
        "He does," Mary Kathryn said.
        "I suppose Yong Jin and Greywolf know things we don't," Millie said, "and there are a few aspects of the situation I can address. Others I cannot".
        Yong Jin said, "I really know more now than I did before. I guess all I can add is that students seem pretty equally divided between those who were outraged and those who seemed to think it was a funny prank. I heard very little talk I would consider homophobic, but I wouldn't expect to, not only because I am a teacher, but also because I am Matt's mom."
        "Well, the paint cans are in the hands of the police and I know the sheriff is hot to get the ones who were involved with Gregory. He saw Gregory after he was raped and was more than a little upset when they got off so light. On the one hand, it's unfortunate that all five have had a birthday since their trial in juvenile court, so their records are sealed and can't be used against them. On the other hand, it's good because this time they are facing hard time," Millie said.
        "According to Linda, three of the five who raped Gregory were involved in this--Jake Hilliard, Danny Elrod and Buddy Johnson. Along with them were Orie Greenley and two of his hangers-on, Marshall Tucker and Mickey Hansen. The six messed up the posters after someone left the gym door unlocked," Mary Kathryn said. "She said Orie didn't know who, but Jake called someone to get the door unlocked."
        "Well, all the teachers know who has keys--Ms. Jones, Mr. Allan, Mr. Vincent and the coaches. You can forget about Ms. Jones, Mr. Vincent and Mr. Allan. It had to be one of the coaches," Greywolf said. "But which one?"
        "That's the big question," Millie said. "We can't just accuse them all. I suspect one--maybe all--resented Mr. Allan's stand at the protest and may well be jealous of his new position. Plenty of motive for wanting to start something, especially if it would make Ms. Jones and Mr. Allan look bad. That's why I have kept a low profile. I don't want to even suggest they can't handle this because I know they can and will," Millie said, then laughed, "Spoken like a real president of the school board. But I think we need to play this down as much as possible because I think, given enough rope, the whole bunch will hang themselves."
        "My thoughts exactly," Jens said. "If it can be handled as a non-issue, I am willing to bet the six can't resist something else."
        "Jens, I think you are forgetting something. I'm all for catching the rats, but I'm not sure I want these four, or really all five, young men to be the bait. We're dealing with at least three nut cases who have already abused and raped a young man. And I wouldn't be surprised if Orie and his hoods wouldn't go along with whatever the other three decide to do, especially since they apparently have the support of a teacher," Gabrielle said.
        "Point well taken," David said. "I was just going to say we need to remember that spray painting posters might have been a prank had it not been for the words and who did it. Those three are capable of just about anything."
        "Matt and I were talking about being relieved that we didn't have to hide any more. Man, I guess Ms. Jones was right about teenage romanticism. I know that I was thinking we'd just walk in and say, 'We're in love!' and everybody would think it was great. Shit!"
        "Just about the same thing Eugene and I were thinking. Damn, even his dad beat him to a pulp and we thought school would be all rosy. We're four dumb-shits, aren't we?"
        "No, you're just teenagers in love. That's all. You live in a dream world a lot of the time--it's normal--but right now, it's also dangerous," Margaret said.
        That brought six teenagers back to earth in record time as evidenced by the sudden quiet in the room and the fact that all three sitting behind their beloved had put their arms around them and pulled them close. "I never thought about there being any danger beyond words," Mary Kathryn said. There were five nods of agreement.
        "I want you six to realize just how much danger there might be--and you really need to talk with Linda because I believe she thinks she knows what Orie may decide to do if she keeps leading him on, but it's worse than that. Sheriff Putnam is so worried about what the six are capable of doing, and might do, that he is putting four people in the school undercover. He borrowed them from the hate crimes force in Lexington. Two are "new students" who look the part. It just happens one plays on one of the police league's basketball teams. The other is obvious football material and will surely be approached soon by one of the football coaches. The others are older and are new custodians. They will do their best to keep an eye on you six," Millie told us.
        "What is Mr. Vincent going to think about that?" I asked. "Won't he think his job is being questioned? I sure don't want that to happen to him." Again five heads nodded agreement.
        "He knows all about it by this time. Ms. Jones called him in and told him how much she appreciated what he was doing in regard to this crapola," Millie said. "He will help keep the two placed where they are most valuable. Now you six listen to me and listen very carefully. You are to appear as normal as possible, but avoid any place where you might be trapped. Guys, you're just going to have to hold it until two or more of you can go. Michael, that's going to be most difficult for you because you are in classes without any of the others--sorry, I forgot the new member of the gang, Bill. Anyway, hold it until you see a custodian around and he--or she if necessary--will make sure the toilets are safe. Eugene, watch going to music. The band room is almost by itself down that long hall. How well do you trust Mr. Smith?"
        "All the way. To tell the truth, I suspect he is gay, but I know being gay makes no never mind to him."
        "I'll see what we can work out with him about keeping a lookout. Kids, we're doing everything we can to accomplish two things: first and foremost, keeping you safe; and second, catching those jokers who are responsible. I guess that's all I can say right now."
        "Guys, how have you decided to handle the situation?" Greywolf asked.
        "I know what we would like to do, but it wouldn't be wise even in ordinary circumstances--we would all like to be as open as Mary Kathryn and Michael. But even before Millie pointed out just what we were up against, I think we pretty much decided we would just carry on as if nothing had been said. We'll still be careful about showing our true relationship and if people ask, well, I think we'll just ignore that too," Luke answered for the four of us and we all nodded.
        In the end, I felt good about the support we had, and especially from Jens. When the family meeting broke up, everyone went home expect the Gang of Four. I turned out the porch light as the four of us went outside to say our goodnights. Before our final kiss, Luke whispered in my ear, "I'll be collecting my bet tomorrow night, so be ready. Now I guess I better get moving since I've got to get to Lexington as early as I can so I can get back for the rehearsal." Our last kiss was long and passionate, but tender and filled with love. Why did people resent that? Why did people hate us for loving? I just didn't understand how anyone could see anything wrong or evil with the unquestioned love I had for Luke and he for me.
        When I got up the next morning and looked, the Jeep was no longer at the Larsens'. I dressed and went down for breakfast. After breakfast, Mom took me in to town and we picked up Eugene and Paula. The three of us worked at St. Mary's until lunch. Once again we got more accomplished than I dreamed we would. When Mom came to pick us up, I asked that she take Paula and Eugene home and come back by for me. I wanted to just walk around a while by myself. She came back and picked me up and when we got back home, lunch was ready. Just after we sat down for lunch, the doorbell rang. "I'll get it," I said as I got up and went to the door. When I opened the door I couldn't believe my eyes. I just stood there with my mouth open until I was finally able to ask, "Michael, what on earth has happened to you?"
Part Twenty-five


        When I opened the door I couldn't believe my eyes. I just stood there with my mouth open until I was finally able to ask, "Michael, what on earth has happened to you?" Standing before me was, obviously, Michael--but something drastic must have happened to him. He looked a lot older that David. "It is you? You are Michael Andrews aren't you?"
        "As a matter of fact I am, young man, but I think you have an advantage over me. I don't know you. I was directed here, at least I thought it was to here, by a man at a convenience store in town. I'm looking for my brother, David Andrews," the older version of Michael said.
        "Please excuse my behavior," I said. "I am Matt Greywolf. Do come in Mr. Andrews. Mom, Dad, David's brother is here." I shouted. Mom and Dad came rushing out of the kitchen, both still clutching their napkins. "Mr. Andrews had been directed to our house rather than David's and when I opened the door I almost fainted. I thought something had happened to Michael." I was so excited I was talking a mile a minute.
        "Welcome, Mr. Andrews," Dad said. "I am Greywolf and this is my wife Yong Jin. We are having lunch. Won't you join us while we fill you in on what's going on with your brother? This is really going to be a big day for him. David's house is the one just down the road. But, please, have some lunch and we'll tell you what's going on today. David will be so high he may never come down."
        "Well, I guess it would be a good idea to know what I might be walking into and I would like something to drink." While Yong Jin is not quite as adamant as Gabrielle, no-one, even a long-lost brother, gets by with just something to drink. As soon as he was seated, Mom started getting lunch for Mr. Andrews.
        "I know David will be so excited he won't know what to do when he sees you. For a number of years he has tried to locate you, but never found a trace. Matt must have thought he saw a ghost from the future when he opened the door. David has a son, Michael, who will be sixteen shortly. I didn't know David named him for you, but he has always said his son reminded him of you. Aside from the fact that you're a bit over sixteen, you really do look as if you were Michael--some years from now," Dad said. He then told Mr. Andrews about David's wedding tomorrow and the rehearsal shortly.
        As soon has he finished the lunch Yong Jin had prepared, Mr. Andrews said he should be going to David's place. I offered to go along with him--I wanted to see the look on David's and Michael's faces when he walked up.
        When we reached David's, Mr. Andrews knocked on the door. When Michael opened the door, he was even more opened-mouthed than I had been. He yelled, "Dad, Dad, Michael's here." David ran out of the kitchen, stopped--thunderstruck--then ran and embraced his brother, tears flowing.
        "I didn't think I could be any happier than I was,' David said, "but this is the most wonderful surprise." He was still clinging to his brother. Realizing he was still standing in the door, he said, "Michael, come in, come in. I can't believe it's you." Then both brothers started trying to talk at once.
        "I'll see all of you later," I said. Neither brother seemed to notice I had said anything and Michael just looked at me and grinned.

        Dad asked Uncle Michael if he had lunch and he said he had. "Yong Jin insisted on feeding me when I came to their door by mistake. Seems your families are very close."
        "Actually there are three families and we look upon ourselves as one. Just past the Greywolfs' is the Larsens'. But tell me about yourself. I have tried and tried to find you, but could never find a trace."
        "That's because I have used a different name and managed to hide for years after what that man did to you. I was afraid you would find me and he would do something worse the next time. Six months ago my companion of thirty years died after a long fight against cancer and, when he did, I realized that my biological parents must be dead also and that I wanted more than anything to find you. It took me a while to realize that I was just bumbling around so I contacted a lost persons firm and they found you last week. I finished up what I needed to do and set out. I didn't want to call you for fear it wasn't really my brother they had found. Foolish, I know, but I wanted to see you in person, not talk to you on the phone."
        "Since it has been so long, you couldn't have picked a better time," Dad said. He then told Uncle Michael about Mom's death and how he had not gotten over it for a long time. "Suddenly one day I noticed a woman I had known for at least a couple years, actually more, and kinda fell in love at first sight--I guess you'd call it that." He then told Uncle Michael how he had held back because of the age difference and having a son, until the kids in the family kept at it until the two of them got together.
        "You have other children?"
        "I said the three families think and act as one so there are other kids, but Michael is my only biological child."
        I sat, fascinated, as the two brothers covered their personal history of more years than twice my age. "I met James while we were students at the Chicago Art Institute. After we graduated, we got jobs in small galleries in Chicago. We worked hard and learned the art business very, very well. I discovered I was a pretty good businessman, and James was an expert at design and helping people choose pieces they really like. Although he was from Chicago, one winter's day we can home and the furnace had stopped and the house was cold. James said, 'Damn, I hate Chicago winters and I'm not overly fond of Chicago summers. One day of spring and one day of autumn is not living, Michael!' I couldn't have agreed more with his appraisal of Chicago's weather and said so. James' mother had died two years before and he had their huge old Evanston mansion on his hands--we had continued to live in his carriage house apartment where we first started living together. The mansion was leased to a prominant Chicago lawyer. James asked if he'd like to buy the place, knowing full well he would since he had asked about it every few months. The deal was made and we took off, looking for a place we liked. We ended up in Charleston where we opened a very successful gallery. We had a great life together. His mom more or less adopted me and, as a sign of my appreciation for her and as a pledge of my love to James, I took his last name. To those who did not know we were a couple, we were brothers."
        "Two years ago he was diagnosed with cancer. He went through surgery, chemo and radiation, all to no avail because it kept recurring. When it came back the last time, he chose not to suffer treatment. He stayed at home as long as he could under the care of hospice nurses and workers. Finally, he entered the hospice and died six months ago. Of course, it was very hard, but the love and care we both found in hospice made it much easier. When James became ill, we hired a young man to help out in the gallery and, after James died, I decided I wanted to spend my remaining years around family if I could locate you and you'd have me around. Roger is perfectly capable of running the gallery, so I gave him James' share to run it. I had money of my own and James was the last member of his family and left me his estate. I have enough to live very well without income from the gallery, but I know Roger will do well with it. After all, it's his livelihood! When all of that was squared away, I decided I would look for you. And here I am!"
        Dad was beside himself. He kept saying, "I really can't believe you're here!"
        "Tell me about your life, David. I have thought about you so often, wondering what had happened to you."
        Dad told him the story that I knew so well, the story of how he came to be where he was today and concluded with, "Now that you are here and I'm getting married tomorrow, I can't imagine being happier!"
        "How about you, Michael? How's life treating you? Girlfriends? Boyfriends? School?"
        "Well, I'm kinda alone in the family since I am the only one without a boyfriend if you mean what I think you mean," I laughed. I told him about Mary Kathryn and all about Luke and Matt. About Larry and Eugene. About what was going on at school. "Luke was here earlier. He left this morning about six-thirty for Lexington. He has a major art exhibition coming up and is doing something in Lexington which is a big secret. You met Matt. He's also involved in a major project. He's a musician and is preparing for a recital--actually it's now more of a concert since the brass and percussion ensemble and the chorus are a part of it."
        "Sounds as if I arrived at a good time to see a little activity," Uncle Michael said. "I'm glad."


        After lunch, I went to my room expecting to become a zombie until time for the rehearsal. I had just flopped on my bed when I felt Luke's presence. I looked at the window, expecting him to climb in any minute. As I gazed out of it, his presence got stronger and stronger until I turned to see him standing beside my bed, a wonderful Luke smile on his face.
        "Hi, Matt, Babe," he said as he leaned over and kissed me lightly.
        "Hi, Luke, Babe," I said as I wrapped my arms around him and pulled him on top of me, returning his kiss with passion. "How'd it go in Lexington?"
        "Perfectly. Absolutely perfectly. There are a few more steps to be completed, but I can pick up... I'll go back and get the ... anyway, it was perfect. And your work?"
        "The same. Oh, I forgot. I had the most amazing thing happen this morning." I told Luke about opening the door and seeing a sixty-year-old Michael. "I mean, Luke, he looks exactly like I think Michael will when we are all old men."
        "And when we are an old couple," Luke said, laughing as he kissed me again.
        "Luke, I want you to promise me something. I'm going to ask you something and will you promise me--absolutely sacred honor, cross your heart promise--that you'll tell me the truth?"
        "This sounds serious, Sarang Hanun Pomul."
        "It is very, very serious, Yonghon Tongmu. Promise?"
        "Promise," Luke said and crossed his heart.
        "Luke, a few days ago, after I had finished at St. Mary's, I needed to take a walk to clear my head. I walked around for a while, just sorta not thinking, when I saw something I just had to have. Today I picked it up. In fact, I picked up two." I then reached into the drawer of the night stand and took out two small boxes. "Luke, you asked me to marry you once, remember?"
        "Sure I remember. Of course I remember. In case you forgot, Matthew Sarang Hanun Pomul Greywolf, will you marry me?"
        "Yes. Till death us do part." Our kiss was full of love and hope and promise, no lust this time. I opened a box and took out a silver Hopi overlay ring. The overlay was a thunderbird design. "Yonghon Tongmu, will you wear this as a sign of our promise?"
        "Forever, Sarang Hanun Pomul, forever. But why all the 'tell the truth' questions? Did you doubt for a moment that I would wear it?"
        "No, that's not the question. The question involves this." I opened the other box which held a second ring. "I was going to get two alike, but then I saw this one. Yours has a thunderbird--a symbol of power--this one had corn, the symbol of life for the Hopi. That's what you mean to me. My question is--and Luke, for God's sake, be honest--should I wear it since the school is in an uproar already? If you think I shouldn't, I won't. I don't know. I really don't know."
        Luke took the ring from the box looked at it, kissed it and slipped it on my finger. He looked into my eyes as he said, "Till death do us part," as he kissed my eyes, then my lips. "Till death do us part."
        It was time for us to go to the falls for the rehearsal which went well... I mean, what can go wrong at a wedding rehearsal? Well, a lot of things can when there is a mother of the bride present. Do I ever know that from the weddings I have played for at St. Mary's! But when you are dealing with just the couple, as Fr. Tom said, "We'll walk through all of this, but you'll not be in any shape to remember it tomorrow, I'm sure. Even people who have been around a long time forget what to do on their wedding day, so we'll walk through it and tomorrow I, and everyone else, will keep you two on track. Everything will be perfect or that's what we will all remember." As soon as we had walked though the ceremony, it was time for the rehearsal dinner--a family picnic. Greywolf and Jens were not slouches at fixing a picnic and soon we were all stuffed. For a half hour we just kinda relaxed on the beach and then Michael said, "Ok, swim time." We had all brought swim suits and Greywolf had even thought to provide one for Fr. Tom. I wondered if he was game enough to turn his back, strip and put it on. He was the first one in the water. Soon the whole bunch were swimming, diving and having a great time. Uncle Michael had joined the rehearsal party and was having just as much fun as the rest of us.
        Mary Kathryn was the first to notice Luke and I were wearing new rings and commented on them. "They are our engagement rings," Luke said when she took his hand and looked closely at his.
        Michael joined her and soon everyone was admiring the rings. Then Jens raised the question I had raised with Luke. "Matt, Luke, I don't want you to take this wrong, but given the situation at school and your decision to keep things as they have been--in as much as that is possible--do you think wearing them at school is a wise idea?"
        "Jens, I worried about that myself and asked Luke if he thought I should wear mine. He can wear his and no questions would be asked--well, not questions we don't want raised, but he wanted me to wear mine. I guess we'll just have to handle whatever flack that may cause."
        They are beautiful rings," Uncle Michael said. "I am very partial to Hopi silver work and those are especially good. Since you two know what they mean, would you be offended or upset if the other members of the family--the kids I mean--had Hopi rings? Then they could just be passed off as friendship rings and no-one would be the wiser."
        "If I had one to give to Mary Kathryn, it would be a great deal more than a friendship ring and the whole school would know that," Michael said. "Unlike Matt and Luke, the whole damn school knows where I stand with Mary Kathryn." Michael then told Uncle Michael about Mary Kathryn kissing him in front of the whole student body.
        "Well, it SEEMED like a good idea and I was willing to spring for one for you and Mary Kathryn. I had forgotten that the two of you were also an item. You all are really keeping it all in the family, aren't you?"
        "Luke, Matt, I know how special the rings are to you and I don't want to take anything away from that, but I also see the danger involved in your wearing them. I also suspect, if I remember young love and I think I do, you put them on with some kind of promise, implied at least, that they would never be off," Fr. Tom said. Luke and I nodded. "I remember well the first time I took off the ring my wife had placed on my finger. But it was special because she put it there, not because others didn't have rings--some exactly like mine. Larry and Eugene could wear rings--Millie would see to that or Eugene probably has an allowance large enough to take care of both, but that would only add fuel to the fire."
        "The Select Few--that's the answer if you guys are willing--the Select Few. That way no-one other than the Select Few would have to know that the rings were more than friendship rings," Mary Kathryn said.
        "How would you feel about that?" Yong Jin asked. "I want you and Luke to be sure before you answer," she said.
        I took Luke's hand and we walked way from the crowd and I looked deeply into his eyes and said, "Luke, what do you think?"
        "Sarang Hanun Pomul, thousands of people wear rings. Only one person gave this ring and only one person wears it. What others have or wear makes no never mind. This is the ring that says you have pledged yourself to me and yours says I have pledged [myself] yourself to you. Nothing will ever change that."
        "Yonghon Tongmu, you are so right, nothing will change that!" I said as I pulled Luke's lips to mine for a passionate kiss. We had an audience? I didn't care. Besides some might even learn something about kissing! "So we are agreed that the Select Few show up Monday with rings?"
        "Agreed, if we can round up the rings. What about sizes? And the store will be closed by the time we could get there even if we knew the sizes."
        "You're right. So let's tell the family what we have decided and the problem as we see it."
        When Luke and I returned to the group, we explained why we thought it would be ok if all the Select Few had rings. "And it will allow us to wear ours without raising new questions, but there are a couple problems," Luke said.
        After he had explained about the need to get sizes and the shop being closed soon, once again, those who loved us and cared for us all came through. "Elizabeth Allison is senior sponsor this year and I know she had all kinds of measurements on her computer," Yong Jin said, "including ring sizes from last year when senior rings were ordered. That leaves only three--Linda, Mary Kathryn and Michael--as unknowns. Two of those will prove to be no problem since they are right here."
        "There is another member, Bill Lance, but he's a rising senior and his size should be available," Michael said.
        "You think Linda doesn't know her ring size?" Mary Kathryn asked. "That girl knows everything about herself. She may not be just a cheerleader type, but she knows how to put on the act well. She'll know."
        "Ok, I'll call Elizabeth and get the sizes she has. Mary Kathryn, call Linda and get hers," Yong Jin said.
        "We still have two problems. Uncle Michael--you are Uncle Michael to all of us aren't you?" Luke asked and Uncle Michael nodded. "Uncle Michael says he will spring for Mary Kathryn's and Michael's. Matt, call Eugene and see if he can afford two rings. That still leaves Linda, Paula and Bill. And the shop will be closing in a few minutes."
        "I think I can handle that," Fr. Tom said. "Mr. Swartz is an old and dear friend. I'm sure he would be more than happy to open the shop if I asked. Besides, he enjoys kids who have fine taste. When could you all get to his place to choose rings?"
        Mary Kathryn got on my cell phone and called Linda and Fr. Tom got on his and called the shop. Sure enough, Linda knew her ring size and when Mary Kathryn told us that, Fr. Tom reminded us that we really didn't need to know ring sizes since we could meet Mr. Swartz at his shop at 8:00.
        I called Eugene and he didn't have the money. He and Millie hadn't talked about an allowance so he said, "Well, I guess now is when I find out just how spoiled I am. Call you back."
        "When I told Linda what was up, she asked if Millie was buying a ring for Eugene and when I told her of course, she said, then Mom would probably buy me two if it's something Mrs. Willingham, THE Mrs. Willingham, is involved in. That leaves only Bill Lance and Paula," Mary Kathryn said.
        "I think we four should pay for Bill's since he has made enough sacrifice for our cause," Michael said.
        "Agreed," Luke and I said at the same time. "But you know Paula has no money," I added.
        "I think St. Mary's owes that girl a lot for her performance at the service for Gregory and for what she is doing for the concert. After all, with her and the chorus, many people will see the inside of St. Mary's who would not otherwise. My discretionary fund will take care of hers," Fr. Tom offered.
        We called all the Select Few and made arrangements for all of us to be at the shop at 8:00. By the time all that was done, it was almost 5:30 so we gathered things together and started walking home. "I see the gate is in," Jens commented as we walked away from the river.
        "Yes. I think your idea of having people park at your place and the Greywolfs', and using the two vans to shuttle them to the river is a good one and the gate will make that easy," David said. "If we had a driver for mine it would be even better." He and Margaret, Dad and Mom, Jens and Gabrielle and the Gang of Four were walking arm in arm across the pasture. Fr. Tom and Uncle Michael were bringing up the rear, carrying on an animated conversation, when Dad took Mom's hands, stepped in front of her and, walking backwards, started singing, "More than the greatest love..." Almost immediately five lovers were holding hands, facing their beloved as they walked backwards and joined in... "the world has known...."
        At 8:00pm all of the Select Few were at Mr. Swartz' shop. He brought out several trays of Hopi rings. "You're in luck," he said. "I have the largest collection of Hopi overlay rings in the southeast. I sell very few, but I love them so much I just keep buying them when I see one which strikes my fancy--and most do! I know I may never sell many, but they are so lovely I can't resist."
        The whole crew kept finding a ring that was more to their liking than one they had chosen earlier. Of course, there were times when the ring someone liked wouldn't fit, but finally everyone had a ring they loved. "Ok," Luke said, "you all know about everyone else. Matt gave me mine and got his for me as signs of our promise to marry each other--of course that's not exactly right since we cannot actually be married, but as a promise that we will have a commitment ceremony when we are ready. You all have a right to know that."
        Immediately Larry fell on his knees and said, "Eugene, will you marry me?"
        In answer, Eugene pulled Larry to his feet, kissed him passionately and said, "Yes."
        Michael looked at Mary Kathryn and said, "I'm not sure I want to go that far right now but, Mary Kathryn, I pledge my love to you".
        "And I mine to you," Mary Kathryn replied.
        I suddenly remembered Mr. Swartz was present and turned to look at him. He was misty eyed. "Young love is so wonderful, children, and only becomes more wonderful as it becomes old love. Bless you all! But if I may ask, just exactly why the interest in Hopi rings and why are some... well, what? Engagement rings while others are..."
        I explained how I had been walking by his shop a few days ago and saw the ring that I wanted as a symbol of my promise to Luke and had then had purchased the two, one for each of us. There have been problems at school involving some gay bashing and, since the two of us wearing our rings might stir up more trouble, the Gang of Four--That's us," I said indicating Luke, Michael, Mary Kathryn and myself--"are like brothers and sisters. We decided we would all get rings, but the whole school knows Michael and Mary Kathryn are an item, so that wasn't too good a cover, so we decided we would get rings for our close school group--we call ourselves the Select Few--as a sign of our friendship. What else they symbolize is up to individuals."
        "Beautiful, beautiful," Mr. Swartz said. "I am happy to be a part of your getting the rings. By the way, Matt, is it?" I nodded. "I take it you are wearing a medallion.'
        I felt myself blush as I replied, "Indeed I am, Sir," and pulled it from my shirt. "It's, of course, special because I received it from Luke, but it's also special because of your beautiful work."
        "Thank you, I enjoyed doing it."
        We left the store and were all standing together when Paula said, "The rings were a tremendous idea, especially since we are really going to have to stick together the next few weeks. I'm afraid we haven't heard the last from the jerks at school."
        "Linda, what about you? You are pretending to not be a part of the group now. Won't there be questions about that?" Bill asked.
        "I hadn't thought about that," Matt said. "I had forgotten Linda was undercover these days."
        "Not for long. I think I have found out about all I can from Orie so I suspect I'll be joining you again for lunch Monday or Tuesday at the latest. I'll let Bill keep my ring until then. Orie can't keep his hands off me and the next time he touches me in the wrong place after I'm sure I have learned all I can, bam, and I'm out of there."
        "Bill, are you sure you want to get involved with that woman?" Michael laughed.
        "I guess I'll have to learn how to deal with her," he replied. "I haven't had much experience with women who want anything other than to get in my pants."
        "Well, Mr. Bill, you better learn because you try to get in mine--at least before you're invited--and you'll be on the sidelines next year," Linda said.
        "You better remember that, Bill," I said. "Otherwise you'll suffer and we'll suffer because we'll have to listen to a second-by-second, blow-by-blow account of the whole thing!" Obviously we were all in a good mood as we broke to go home. Luke and I took Paula home; Uncle Michael took Mary Kathryn and Michael, and Bill took Linda. They seemed to be off to a good start. Larry and Eugene decided to walk to Eugene's. "Sure you don't want us to drop you off Larry?"
        "I'm kinda not going home tonight," he replied with his goofy grin.
        When we got to my place, Luke said, "Loser, I'm collecting on my bet tonight."
        "I wouldn't mind losing every day if it gets you in my bed," I laughed as I kissed him. As Luke started to get out of the Jeep, he reached into the back seat and picked up a package. "A surprise for me?" I asked, as I kissed him again. Luke gave me the smile he knew turned me to water. "You're dimpling me again."
        "Yea," he smiled. "I'm making sure you can't resist me."
        "And just how often have I been able to resist you?" Luke merely gave me that smile again.
        When we got inside, Mom and Dad asked us about trip to the shop and how our work earlier had gone. We talked with them a while, then we said goodnight and went upstairs. When we got to my room, Luke placed the package he had taken from the Jeep on the night stand and looked at me briefly before pulling me into his arms. As he did, he covered my mouth with his and his tongue slid into my mouth. My whole being was flooded with the taste of Luke. My arms wrapped around him, pulling him close. Luke's arms were around my neck and his fingers loosened my hair. Our kiss became more and more passionate; our tongues entered into that battle we both loved and in which we were both winners. Luke broke our kiss, looked into my eyes and smiled. We were standing by my bed so Luke could easily reach behind himself and picked up the package he had brought up. He handed it to me. As I opened the package, Luke stood smiling, his arms again around my neck. When the box was open, I saw massage oil, shampoo and soap, the same as Margaret had given us. "Tonight you're mine," Luke said and kissed me again.
        Soon the bed was uncovered. Remembering the mess we had made before, I went across the hall and brought back a huge beach towel. When I returned, Luke had undressed and stood; his hard, defined body was so beautiful I stood, wondering at his beauty. As I stood gazing on my beloved, he walked to me, took the towel from my hands and spread it on the bed. Turning, he began undressing me. As he slipped off my shirt, he bent and kissed my nipples and then started licking them, driving me crazy. With an arm around my neck, he unbuttoned my pants, unzipped them and let them fall to the floor. As I stepped out of them, Luke swept me into his arms and, as he carried me toward the bed, he lifted my head and bent to kiss me again.
        When he had laid me on the bed, he knelt between my legs, bent forward and kissed my manhood which was straining against my briefs. "Luke, Yonghon Tongmu, you are getting close to the line." He looked up, smiled, slid my briefs down and off. My manhood was standing proudly. Once again, Luke bent down and kissed my manhood. An electric change went through my whole body, a feeling unlike any I had ever experienced before.
        "Sarang Hanun Pomul, as difficult as it is to stop, I will; but that's a promise for the future." Luke lay on top of me, kissing my eyes, nose, neck. As he rolled off of me, he reached for the oil and said, "On your stomach, Lover!" I turned over, resting my head on my folded arms. Luke poured a small stream of oil down my back and spread it over my back, necks, and legs. Then he started massaging me, kneading the muscles of my shoulders and neck.
        "Luke, Babe, that feels so gooood. I spent so much time at the organ today and I guess I was more tense than I realized. It feels soooo good!" Luke continued to knead the muscles of my neck and shoulders, then spread his hands and rubbed up and down my back. After he had massaged my back, he took the bottle again and poured a small stream over my butt. After kneading my butt cheeks, he moved his fingers into my crack and lightly brushed my rosebud. Until he did that, I had be enjoying the massage and the feel of his strong hands on my body. However, when his fingers touched me in that special place I, once again, felt an electric shock run through my body. I was hard as nails and wanted Luke so bad I was groaning. After another feather-light touch on my rosebud, Luke slid his hands down and started massaging my legs. He took one foot and then the other into his hands, massaging each toe, and when he finished a foot he kissed it on the bottom. "Babe," I groaned, "you're tickling me!" I turned my head, so I could see Luke's face, and saw his evil grin as he kissed my foot again.
        When he had finished with my back, I turned over and Luke started working on my front. When he had stopped running his fingers down my crack, the heat was turned down a bit--although I was still so hard my manhood was pulsating with each heartbeat. As Luke massaged my chest, he rubbed my nipples with his open hand, then pinched first one, then the other. He continued his massaging, stopping occasionally to kiss a nipple or run his teeth over it. When he started on my stomach, he bent forward and stuck his tongue in my belly button. It tickled like crazy, but also made me hot. Luke skipped my private parts to move down and massage the front of my legs. Again he took each foot, massaged it well and kissed the bottom.
        When he finished, he again looked at me with his special Luke evil smile, which made his dimple appear and sent me skyward. Reaching for the oil again, he held it high above my erect manhood and poured a generous stream of oil on it. "Yonghon Tongmu, you are torturing me," I groaned as Luke replaced the bottle of oil on the night stand. Carefully not touching my erect manhood, Luke rubbed the oil on the inside of my thighs and on my balls then, lifting my ball sack, he again ran his fingers along my crack, touching my rosebud. "Babe, I am so hot I'm aching!"
        Luke leaned forward, pressed him lips against mine, his tongue snaking into my mouth. Holding the kiss, his hand moved down my chest until it reached its goal and his fingers encircled my aching tool. He pushed the foreskin back, removed his lips from mine and moved down my body until his face was at my hips. He moved his hand slowly up and down my steel rod, all the time looking at it intently. "Sarang Hanun Pomul, do you know you have a beautiful cock?" he asked. "It's so dark, darker than the rest of my dark beauty. I love the foreskin and how it slides back to reveal such a beautiful, delightful pink arrow. You are well armed, my Lakota warrior!"
        Luke continued to slowly, oh so slowly, move his hand up and down my Lakota arrow while I groaned, wanting more, so much more--not just to receive more, but also to give to Luke, to surrender totally to him. As Luke continued to move his hand up and down my shaft, charge after charge of electricity shot through me. I was so aroused I thought I could hold out no longer. "Yonghon Tongmu, I am going to explode into a thousand pieces. I can't stand this any longer!" I said through clinched teeth. Luke looked up into my eyes, smiled, and started moving his hand faster. I was panting for breath--on the verge of passing out, my feelings were so intense. "Luke, Yonghon Tongmu, I love you," I shouted as my climax hit me more powerfully than I had experienced before. Shot after shot, load after load of man's seed exploded out of my body, striking Luke in the face, shooting onto my neck and chest. Wave after wave of electricity shot through my body until, momentarily, I passed out from sheer pleasure as a thousand bursts of light made the inside of my head like a Fourth of July celebration.
        When I caught my breath and the lights stopped flashing in my head, I looked down to see Luke's golden head lying on my stomach, his depthless blue eyes looking into mine, a sweet smile on his face. "I told you tonight you were mine," he whispered. He raised a hand to his lips and licked my man's seed from it. "I now know how you taste, Sarang Hanun Pomul. I longed to know and now I know. You taste wonderful, my Dark Angel." Luke then drew himself up beside me and placed his mouth against mine and this time his tongue had not only the taste of Luke but also of me--mingled together.
        After our kiss, I lay back on the bed, exhausted. Luke lay beside me, his head on my chest. "Luke, Babe, I would never have believed you could have given me that much pleasure without, you know...."
        "Having sex? Somehow or other, Babe, I think love making has gotten short-changed if it only means sex by penetration--Man, that sounds so damn clinical: sex by penetration. Shit, Man, we just made love big time."
        "I know something--rather someone--else that has been short changed."
        "Me? You think I have been short-changed?" I nodded. "That's what you think. Giving you pleasure made me the happiest guy in the world," my Luke said. "Never, ever think that love making is 'I do you, now you do me,' Matt. That's not the way it is."
        "I'm not sure Little Luke agrees with you," I laughed as it was obvious that Little Luke was as hot and hard as Chili Pepper was soft and calm. Luke laughed. "Babe, tonight you were mine, tonight was your night. But I wouldn't mind at all joining you in the shower--for a shower and a bit of play time."
        "You've got it, Lover," I said as I sprang out of bed, scooped Luke into my arms and headed for the shower. Luke snagged the soap and shampoo he had brought as we passed the night stand. Of course, I made love to Luke in the shower! His climax was not as intense as mine, I'm sure, but when Little Luke exploded, Luke collapsed against me and I held him close. And, yes, I did taste Luke and it was no less wonderful than the taste of Luke I have known when his tongue invaded my mouth.
        After we had washed and dried each other, Luke carried me back to my room, stripped the oily towel from the bed and gently laid me down. Our bodies entwined, we gave each other a goodnight kiss and, gazing into our lover's eyes, drifted off to sleep. And while our guardian angels watched over us, we slept; happy, content and loved--in each other's arms.

Part Twenty-six


        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."
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."


        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.
Part Twenty-seven


        Luke had suggested we get to school early to find out what Larry and Bill's big secret was. A new, fire engine red convertible pulled into the school parking lot just ahead of us. I parked beside it and, when I looked around, saw Larry, grinning from ear to ear, getting out of the car. "Gene's present from the Easter bunny," he said as I got out of the Jeep.
        "Must have been a hell of a big rabbit," Luke joked.
        "Millie hates to get up before God who, it seems, always sleeps in, so she got me a car so I wouldn't bother her getting to school. I guess it's more than my father would have given me," Eugene laughed.
        As we stood admiring Eugene's new car, Bill pulled into the parking lot. Linda and a couple of first string basketball players were with him. A third car pulled into the parking lot with two more of the first string players. "Hi, guys," we all said and they greeted us in return.
        "See you guys later," Larry said, as he waved the basketball players and Michael toward the front door.
        "Linda, I've been thinking..."
        "Dangerous, Matt, but what have you been thinking?"
        "Ok, we had real plans to get you and your cousins home by your curfew so we could have a private party after the prom. We have a real surprise in store for someone. However, now that you are apparently hooked up with Bill, the two of you should join us--that is, unless you get put off by guys making out with each other. Shouldn't be any problem for Bill to get away; after all, his date is one his mom arranged. How about you? You have those two cousins around your neck."
        "Don't think I haven't been thinking about fun time after the prom myself. I mentioned it to Bill and he said, 'You name the time and place'. If I could just convince Mom there was an important private party after the prom that was restricted to Independence students, she'd find a way."
        "Eugene--by the way, what's with this 'Gene' bit? I've never heard you called Gene before."
        "Not for public use. Larry sorta called me that last night. We've never had pet names for each other and I told him I liked hearing him say it, so it's been "Gene, Gene, Gene' last night and this morning."
        "Well, I guess that's for private use, Eugene, but what I started to say was, of course we're going to end up at the falls, but what if Millie called Linda's mom and invited Linda to a private party?"
        "No doubt in my mind she'd do it. Hate to say this, Linda, but Millie hates the social climbers and takes great delight in putting one over on them."
        "Problem solved then," Linda said, then immediately added, "Holy shit, hide me fast". Luke shoved her into the Jeep and pushed her down into the seat just as Orie and his new "friends" and hangers-on roared into the parking lot. I wondered when his uncle got to drive his convertible because Orie seemed to be driving it to school every day now.
        As they roared past, one of them shouted, "Other end of the parking lot, Orie, this end's for fag parking". Orie parked as far from us as possible and we crowded around Linda to keep her from being seen and walked into the school. As soon as we were inside she said, "See you at lunch--I promise!" as she walked toward her locker and away from us.
        The bell rang for homeroom and students started leaving the commons area. As soon as the roll had been checked and a few announcements made, the political videos started. The two football players reminded the students how they and their team--who was supporting them--made Independence High School what it was. Luke leaned over and whispered, "How can the team support two people running against each other?".
        "Because they probably can't count to two," I joked.
        The next video was a second string, but very popular, basketball player who had something silly to say and ended with, "I'm cute, so vote for me".
        The screen went blank, then the TV station's picture of Independence superimposed on the Declaration of Independence gradually faded in. When it filled the screen, a hole started in the center and widened until there was a head and shoulders shot of Bill with his four first string team mates standing behind him. The music faded and Bill said in a strong voice, "Fellow Independence students, I am not here to ask for your vote. I am here to state loudly and clearly that I will fight bigotry and intolerance any way I can. I was mortified when I walked into our school last Friday and saw what had been done to Michael Andrews' posters. After giving it some thought and talking with Ms. Jones, I made a decision. Over the weekend, I talked with my team mates and four of the first stringers agreed with my decision and stand with me. Michael Andrews has shown, by actions and words, that his enemy is bigotry and intolerance. I am happy to announce that my team mates and I am joining in his fight. I am hereby announcing my withdrawal from the race for student body president in favor of Michael. My team mates and I are warriors in Michael's campaign against hate and I ask that all of you join us." He then held up his hand so his ring was clearly visible and said, "Talk with anyone in the Fellowship of the Rings--they are all wearing a Hopi ring similar to mine and they will be happy to tell you what we stand for!". I think you could have heard a pin drop in the whole school for a short time, then there were cheers and boos resounding throughout the building. I don't think anyone heard a word Michael said in his video which followed.
        "Good friend," Luke whispered to me. "He has made an issue of the rings which will eliminate any questions we don't want asked".
        Lunch started off as usual, but our table was the focus of a lot of attention. People came over to shake Bill's hand or slap Michael on the back. When things had settled down a little, I glanced over toward where Orie and his crowd were sitting, and could see Linda sitting with Orie and Jake Hilliard. She had both of them in the palm of her hand and Jake was leaning over, whispering something in her ear. Suddenly Bill cried, "That fucking son of a bitch!" He was staring at the table where Linda was sitting--in fact, his eyes had hardly left it even when students came by to speak to him. I had to turn to see Linda and when I did, I saw Orie's hand moving up her thigh and Linda pulling her leg away. "Shit! That Orie bastard had his hand up..."
        "Orie, I warned you," Linda shouted as every student turned to see what was going on. Bill was half-way out of his seat as Linda slapped Orie so hard the "splat!" was heard throughout the cafeteria. As she tried to stand, Orie pulled her back down, saying something not loudly enough to be heard in our corner.
        Bill shot across the room, shoved Orie aside and gently pulled Linda away. "Orie, the lady asked you to stop," Bill said in a deadly tone of voice. He pushed Linda behind him, placing himself between her and the jocks.
        "Yea, take her back to the faggot's table, basketball faggot," Marshall Tucker sneered. "Orie, we don't want the fag hag around. Let her go with this queer basketball player."
        Bill turned to Linda and said calmly, "Linda, you go back to the table while I tend to business here". Linda walked quickly toward our table and Luke, Michael, Eugene, Larry and I stood, ready to rush to Bill's aid. He didn't need it. Marshall kept up his bigoted slurs which the other five guys at the table seemed to be ignoring. "We're making a trip to the office," Bill said as soon as he was sure Linda would be safe.
        "Says who, basketball cocksucker?"
        "I think I did," Bill said, reached over, took Marshall by the arm, twisted it behind him and started out of the cafeteria.
        "You're hurting me, you son of a bitch!" Marshall yelled, looking toward his "friends" who made no move to come to his defense. "HEY, guys, this bastard is hurting me. Aren't you going to do something?" As if in answer, the five remaining jocks turned their attention to eating.
        "If you'll just walk briskly, I won't have to twist," Bill said. As he passed our table, he said, "Need a couple of you as witnesses to Marshall's use of pejorative words". Linda and I went to the office with Bill. Marshall walked on his tiptoes most of the way because every time Bill loosened his grip, he tried to break away and Bill twisted his arm again.
        After Bill told Ms. Jones what had happened, she called Marshall's father and told him Marshall had violated board policy on prejudice and discrimination. She offered Mr. Tucker the option of picking up Marshall and enrolling him in the workshop, or suspension until he enrolled himself. "I understand," she said as she hung up the phone. "Marshall, your dad said he was through with you. It seems since you have taken up with what he calls the wrong crowd, you have come home drunk, or not at all, been abusive to your mother, and your grades have gone out the bottom. He said I could do whatever I could, he was giving up. Marshall, if you are willing to enroll yourself in the prejudice workshop, then you can return to school. Until you do that, you are suspended. Not only does that mean you cannot be at school during school hours, but also that you may not be present or participate in any school-sponsored events. Do you understand that?"
        "Who gives a fuck, you old bat? I won't attend anything which tries to tell me faggots and faggot lovers have a right to anything except to be beat into shape. You can go to hell as all faggots and faggot lovers will."
        It was obvious to me that Bill was ready to give Marshall what for and it was all Ms. Jones could do to hold her temper. "I'm sorry you feel that way," Ms. Jones said. "You have exactly twenty minutes to be off this campus and if you are not, the police will be called and you will be arrested for criminal trespass. Do I make my self clear?"
        "Fuck you, bitch," Marshall yelled as he picked up a glass paper weight from Ms. Jones' desk and threw it in across the room, turned and left. Bill started to pick up the paper weight when Ms. Jones yelled, "Don't!" Bill looked stunned. Ms. Jones took a tissue from a box on her desk and carefully picked up the paper weight. "I suspect we now have the third set of fingerprints there."
        As we left the office and headed to our next class, I saw Orie in his uncle's convertible roaring out of the parking lot. Marshall Tucker and someone else were with him. "Think we ought to inform Ms. Jones?" Linda asked.
        "I will," Bill said, and turned and went back to the office for a minute or two.
        "When the next class started, Ms. Jones came on the intercom and announced that teachers were to take roll and send a list of absences to the office at once. If there were none, they were also to report that. Dad looked puzzled, but did as she asked.
        When the next to last class of the day was over, the Fellowship of the Rings--had a nice sound to it, especially since all of us, including Linda, had read Tolkein--met me and Luke as we got ready to leave. "I got all of you together," Bill said, "to witness something". He looked at Linda and said, "Linda, this is not a proposal of marriage, but will you be my steady?" When Linda nodded, Bill took her ring from his pocket and slipped it on Linda's finger and kissed her. It was obvious he wasn't an amateur!
        Luke and I went home to work. At this point, I was working on my playing more than anything else. Paula and Eugene were as much a part of putting things together as I. That was the pattern for Tuesday and Wednesday. School moved along. The gay basher's table lacked Marshall. Having left school without permission, I was surprised to see Orie there. I thought he would have been given a vacation for a few days.
        Tuesday at lunch Linda asked Bill what he was wearing to the prom, and when he told her his mom had picked out a baby-blue tux, she made all kinds of faces. "Hey, I didn't say she or I had any taste," he laughed. "Guess I should have asked one of the three fashion experts first," he continued.
        "Meet us at the car after school and we'll take care of that," Eugene said. "I know the tux guy will be happy to make a change. You'll be very classy and he has more demand for Easter eggs than real tux."
        "Thanks, guys. I may become a classy guy yet!"
        "Bill, you are a classy guy right now. You are as fine as they come!" Michael said, and we all agreed.
        Thursday, something was up. Two sheriff's deputies were at school, along with the sheriff. Teachers were told to report to Ms. Jones' secretary for an appointment with Ms. Jones or Mr. Allan during their planning period. No-one seemed to know what was going on.
        Luke and I were really ready for our "Mr. Mitchell" class. We opened the new gate and drove to the falls, took the blanket and crossed the canes behind us as we entered that special place. As soon as we reached the shore, we started shedding clothes since the day was really warm and the water was truly inviting. Holding hands, we walked to the top of the falls, stopping occasionally for a hot kiss. By the time we reached the top, we were both hard as rocks. When we stood on the lip of the falls, Luke grabbed my hard manhood and started to dive. I was horrified until he laughed, turned loose and dived in. I was right behind him. True, the day was warm and the water warmer than it had been, but it was not yet warm. Actually, it was never really warm. Nonetheless, we swam for about half an hour and, by that time, Luke's lips were turning blue. I swam over to him, kissed his cold lips and said, laughing, "Think we best get out before I have to start calling you Blue Angel". Luke nodded and, when we were out of the water, he had goosebumps all over and was shivering. "Guess you white men just aren't as tough as us 'breeds'," I laughed as we flopped down on the blanket. "And look, you've taken away my toy." I pointed to his cock which looked as if it belonged to a five-year-old.
        "Seems to me you've taken away mine too," he laughed, pointing.
        We lay on the blanket, my head on Luke's chest, being warmed by the sun. As I listened to Luke's heartbeat, it seemed to be sounding out a rhythm of life and love. "Yonghon Tongmu, your heartbeat is the greatest sound in the world, especially in this place where it was almost stopped." We both were silent for a long time, each thinking, I am sure, about how close our life together had almost ended in this place where we were now so alive and happy. I looked up into Luke's eyes and saw a tear. Moving up his chest, I kissed his eyes, then his lips. "Bright Angel, I love you beyond the telling and you have made me happier than I ever dreamed was possible." I then started kissing his face, his neck, his nipples. I was getting hotter and hotter. Any damage done by the cold water was more than repaired. I moved down Luke's body, kissing and licking it as I went. When I reached his manhood, I kissed it and wanted to take it into my mouth so bad, I looked up at Luke as if asking permission.
        "Sarang Hanun Pomul, you know I want you to take me into your mouth as much as you want to do it, but..."
        "But, but, but! Damn, Luke, I know what we promised. We were fools. Why should we wait? Are we going to be any different after some magic date? Why, Luke, why?"
        "Matt, you know the answer to that as well as I do. Are we really fools, Matt?"
        "Of course not, Luke. God, when I think of what the whole family has and is doing for us, and all that has been asked of us is to wait until we're eighteen. Luke, I understand that, but damn, Luke, Babe, it is so hard, so very, very hard."
        Leave it to Luke: when the pressure is really on, he finds a way to let me escape without being smug. "I couldn't help but notice that!" he laughed, pulled my body on top of his and gave me a passion-filled, lustful kiss. Lying across his body, I continued to kiss him as my hand moved down his hard stomach, past his hard man's tool until it found his pucker. I rubbed my fingers over it lightly as he had done the night he declared I was his. His cock was pulsating with every heartbeat and every breath. "Please, Sarang Hanun Pomul," he groaned, moving his head from side to side. I took his wonderful manhood in my hand and began, slowly, to stroke it up and down.
        Luke was kissing my shoulders and neck like mad as I continued giving him pleasure. He managed to stick his tongue in my ear, which was so erotic I couldn't help but stroke his tool harder and faster. He had my ear lobe in his mouth and was biting it gently. My hand continued to keep up a pace which I wish had been that of my mouth as Luke started kissing and then sucking a spot on my neck below my ear. His sucking became more and more intense and I knew he was nearing the point of no return when his breath began to be a gulping of air. Suddenly he bit my neck as his climax hit him and between clinched teeth he groaned, "Sarang Hanun Pomul, I love youuuuuuu," and started shooting his man's seed into the air and over my pounding fist. He shot charge after charge as if he would never stop, then suddenly relaxed all over, his eyes closed, his breath coming in short, shallow gasps. I stopped stroking his beautiful cock and lay across his body, my ear pressed to his pounding heart.
        When he slowly opened his eyes, I brought my hand to my mouth and, as he had done, licked the taste of Luke from it. Luke looked at me, smiled, and said, "Matt, Babe, you give me more pleasure than I ever dreamed possible," and brought my mouth to his, his tongue sharing his gift to me.
        As he broke the kiss, he reached for my Lakota arrow, but I pushed his hand away, crawled atop his body and pressed my lips to his, hard. Then, looking into his eyes, I said, "Today was yours. I now know that giving you pleasure does not short-change me." Luke wrapped his arms around me and we lay together, the sun warming our bodies and making us drowsy. Before I knew it, I had fallen asleep. Perhaps half an hour later, I waked up to see Luke lying beside me, his day-brightening smile covering his face, his eyes shining. "Why did you let me sleep?" I asked.
        "Because I could just lie here and drink in the beauty of my Lakota warrior, feel his heartbeat and sense his love for me. Now, it's time for me to use that warrior's arrow." With those words, Luke started kissing me, running his hands over my body and within seconds, the Lakota arrow was hard, straight and true--ready for action! It got it from Luke, my Yonghon Tongmu.
        After resting in each other's arms and enjoying the afterglow of having made love, Luke picked me up, ran to the falls basin and tossed me in, diving in right behind me. Once again, we swam and enjoyed being, period. Mr. Mitchell would have been proud of his students.
        "We need to go into town, Matt, and pick up our tux," Luke said as we walked to the Jeep. We did that and Luke asked me to go by an electrical shop where he picked up two motors. He then asked me to take him by a scrap yard where there were some gears and metal pieces waiting for him. When I looked puzzled, he gave me the dimple treatment and said, "Don't ask".
        I dropped Luke off at his studio and drove home. Before I left he said, "Just leave my tux at your place". I went into the house, hung the tux in my closet and looked over the music for Sunday. It would be Low Sunday and the music was the easier pieces from last Sunday, so I worked on some rough spots in the concert pieces which Paula, Eugene and I had discussed after practice yesterday. The music was actually coming along better than I had dared dream.
        When I heard Mom and Dad come in, I went downstairs and asked, "What was going on at school today? Why did Ms. Jones call teachers in? Why was the sheriff at school?"
        "It seems," Dad said, "that when Marshall Tucker was ordered off the campus, he left with two other students, Orie and Jake. Both were supposed to be in Coach Dallas Mason's class, and when the undercover custodians told Ms. Jones the three had left, she suspected they would not be reported absent. The absentee list each teacher turned in was checked against that teacher's roll book and, sure enough, Coach Mason hadn't marked the two absent on either. Ms. Jones has told Coach Mason to be in her office at 8:00 in the morning for a conference. I suspect she knows more and that he is about to get in real trouble. He let those guys in the gym and everyone knows it."
        "But why were the police there?"
        "All this is from a high administration official, you understand, and is not to be repeated; well, I know the--what is it now, the Fellowship of the Rings?--will have to know, but don't let it out where you heard the news, although it will probably be all over school before the first period bell. With Mr. Tucker's fit today, the three who had not been fingerprinted have all donated their fingerprints--his was the last. The police were there to pick up the paperweight and a couple other things."
        I laughed, "If Orie hadn't been stopped, Linda would have had to submit her private parts to be checked for Orie's".
        "Matt!" Mom exclaimed, then smiled. "By the way, I liked not only how Bill took care of any problem with the rings, but also the fact that it indicated the boy reads. Oh, I almost forgot, Millie came by school after you and Luke had left with envelopes for a group of students. Mary Kathryn has Luke's."
        I opened the envelope and found an invitation inside which read, "Mrs. Millicent Willingham and Mr. Eugene Willingham request the honor of your presence at an after-prom supper and dance. Invited Independence High School students only. Regrets to Mr. Willingham."
        "Leave it to Millie to take care of her kids," I laughed. "There is an after-Millie's party at the falls," I said. "Ok?"
        "Sounds like a grand idea to me," Mom said. "You can all change here."
        "I suspect we'll change at Eugene's, if not then here."
        We soon had supper and then it was off to choir practice for me. When I got home, I went upstairs, undressed and tumbled into bed. "So much to be thankful for," I thought as I drifted off to sleep.
        When the Fellowship of the Rings arrived at school Friday, I told them what I had learned from Mom and Dad. No-one was surprised. When Orie roared into the parking lot, his gang was with him, including Marshall. They got out of the car and swaggered around the parking lot before disappearing into the gym. "Well, how do you like that?" Bill asked. "Marshall is supposed to be out of school and arrested if he comes back on campus. I wonder what's going on?"
        "They're up to no good and you can bet the farm on that!" Linda exclaimed, just as the first bell rang.
        In homeroom, everyone was chattering about what had happened yesterday, and no-one seemed to know what was going on today since several students saw Marshall go into the gym. Today was the final announcements by those running for student body president and, as usual, Michael's video was slick and impressive. Voting took place immediately after the videos, with the results to be announced at lunch. When the bell rang for classes, those going toward the front of the building were surprised to see Marshall, in handcuffs, being put in a sheriff's car.
        At lunch, the whole school was abuzz about Marshall, and a few students commented on the fact that Coach Mason had not shown up for his classes. As Luke and I passed through the commons area, the remaining five of the jock gang were being escorted to sheriff's cars. "I guess the fingerprints clinched the case," Luke commented. During lunch, there was tension in the air, waiting for the announcement of the election results.
        Before the bell ending lunch, Ms. Jones came on the intercom and finally the student chatter in the cafeteria calmed down for her announcement. "Students, I am happy to announce the results of today's election. A total of 618 votes were cast. The results are as follows: Michael Andrews, 407 votes." The cafeteria went wild. The count for the other candidates didn't matter. Michael had won with over two-thirds of the vote cast. For the first time I could remember, there would not even be a runoff. When the shouting and cheering died down, Ms. Jones said, "From what I hear on my end of the intercom, you didn't hear the count for the other candidates. Phillip Harris, 56; Junior Johnson, 35..."
        "So much for the football jocks," Bill laughed.
        "... and Jacob McAllister, 120."
        "Given the landslide victory of Mr. Andrews, the basketball jocks didn't do so badly," Bill grinned.
        "I'm sure there would not have been a landslide without your support," Michael said, as he reached across the table and shook hands with Bill. "Welcome aboard to the new student government, Mr. Secretary of State. How do you think we can work with Jacob since he will be Vice-President?"
        "He's a really nice guy, immature, but next year? I think we can make a real man out of him." As Bill was talking, Jacob walked up, extended his hand to Michael and said, "Hate to say this, but it's true, the best man won. Congratulations."
        "Thank you, Mr. Vice-President. Shake hands with our Secretary of State." Bill extended his hand, the two shook hands, embraced and patted each other on the back. "Why don't you join us for the few minutes of lunch left?"
        "Thanks, I will." We had only a few minutes left before the bell, but I was impressed by Jacob. Sure, he was immature, but I could see an ongoing "Select Few" or possibly "Fellowship of the Rings". Maybe Mr. Swartz would sell more Hopi rings than he thought!
        When Luke and I left, a sheriff's car pulled up with Coach Mason in the back seat. An officer got out, went inside and came back quickly with an envelope under his arm, got in the car and left. "Well, I guess we know why Coach Mason didn't show up for class today," Luke said.
        As we drove through town, the local rag was being prepared for delivery and I saw a headline which had "Coach" in it. I pulled to the curb and Larry bought one from the man getting ready to distribute them. He read the article under the headline as we headed for the country. "Coach Dallas Mason, Independence High School's head football coach, was arrested today as an accomplice to six students who have been charged with vandalism," he read. "One of the six has an additional charge of criminal trespass lodged against him. The Sheriff refused to comment further except to say other charges might be brought later." The rest of the article stated that the six had allegedly been admitted to the school after hours by Coach Mason where they had spray painted derogatory slogans on the campaign posters of Michael Andrews, a candidate for student body president. "Guess that takes care of that," Luke remarked.
        Well, apparently the case was solved. The local TV evening news from Lexington carried a story about the arrest and used footage from the memorial service to pinpoint who Michael was. The end of the story caused Mom and Dad some concern since it stated that the six students and the coach had been released from jail almost immediately on bond. "I don't think there is anything to worry about," I said. "Surely they have enough sense to realize they are in deep doo-doo."
        "I don't know," Dad said. "You would have thought the three who were involved in abusing Gregory would have learned their lesson, but apparently they did not."
        I didn't have time to worry about that since the Fellowship of the Rings was going back to the school at 7:00 to help decorate for the prom. We didn't finish until well after midnight--of course we could have, but we were having too much fun. Since tomorrow night was the big event, we all went home and, I guess, tumbled into bed and were asleep shortly thereafter. We had all agreed we would sleep late.
        The guys were picking up the girls and bringing them to my place where the limo would pick us up for dinner, then take us all to the prom. Bill, of course, had been invited to join us and getting reservations for two more at dinner was no problem. Paula was coming to my place early to get dressed. What Mom and Mary Kathryn had cooked up for her to wear was still a big secret.
        Luke borrowed the Jeep at 5:00 to go get her and, when he got back, we got our things and went to his house to dress. Our reservations for dinner were for 7:00 so we didn't have a lot of time to play around. Well, we did take longer than was absolutely necessary to shower, but I mean we didn't do more than wash each other and shampoo each other's hair. Ok, so we did stop now and then for a kiss but, I mean, we're horny almost-eighteen-year-olds in love with each other! After the shower we dried each other's hair. Luke still had not cut his hair and it was now a frame of soft, pale gold curls around his heart-stoppingly handsome face. I had more hair, obviously, but it was straight, straight. His curls took longer for me to dry than my hair did him. When my hair was dry, Luke brushed it until it shone. "Up or down, Luke, Babe?"
        "Loose bands. I'll have it loose later," he asked, giving me the full dimple treatment.
        When we had gotten dressed and went downstairs, Gabrielle had to take a couple dozen pictures it seemed, "just in case" she didn't get some later with our dates. Just before the last one, Luke pulled me into his arms and gave me a tongue-in-the-mouth kiss. Gabrielle made sure she got that.
        I dropped Luke off at my place, then went to pick up Linda. Eugene and Larry were already there, looking classy in real tux. Linda was right; her cousins were real lookers. One was dressed in a deep red gown which showed off her blond, blond hair and the other, in a deep rich blue, was equally stunning. But neither could compare with Linda. She was absolutely radiant. Had I been as straight as Bill, I think she might have had my bod! She was wearing a rich forest green shimmering gown which made her eyes look green and they were sparkling. Of course her mom had to take a dozen or so pictures before we could leave. "Enjoy yourselves, children," she said as we were leaving.
        "We will,"one of the twins said.
        "Remember, your curfew is 1:00. I promised your mother."
        "They'll be home on time, on my word of honor," Larry responded.
        "I'll see you sometime tomorrow, Mom," Linda said.
        "She'll be at church," I joked. "If I have to go, she has to go and I couldn't find a substitute organist."
        When we reached my place, parents were milling around with cameras and camcorders. Everyone was present except Paula and Mary Kathryn. "Where's Paula and Mary Kathryn?" I asked.
        "Don't know. Michael and I were told just to be patient," Luke answered.
        Just then Mary Kathryn came out of Mom's room, earning a whole bunch of wolf whistles. She was dressed in a form-fitting black dress which had silver threads all through it, and had a silver and black band around her head. Her body had sure changed since she had gone skinny dipping with us a few years ago! I could see Michael's eyes pop out and his mouth drop open. "Michael, if you don't shut your mouth you'll drool on your tux," Luke laughed.
        "Ok, studs, you've got a good collection of beautiful women here, but I'm telling you, Luke wins the prize. Matt, you have competition," Mary Kathryn laughed. Everyone joined her, except the twins who looked a bit puzzled. No wonder. "Ok, Paula, we're ready. Mom walked down the hall from her room, hiding Paula until she reached the door of the living room where she stepped aside. The doorway framed a beautiful woman. I wondered why I hadn't thought what was up as soon as I saw her. She was dressed in a red and gold hanbok, the Korean national dress Mom had worn as a young, unmarried woman. It, of course, accented her dark beauty. Mom had done her hair in the traditional Korean style of young, unmarried women. She had a long gold pin through the back of her hair with red and gold ribbons over the ends and hanging beside her face. "Folks, you just can't beat a few thousand years for real style," Mary Kathryn announced. I don't think anyone would have disagreed. More and more pictures. Then Dad came in and said, "The limo's here. Is he bringing you back from the prom?"
        "Darn! I forgot about that. He's just taking us to the dinner and then the prom," Linda wailed.
        "No problem," Greywolf responded. "David, Jens and I will take the Jeep, Eugene's and Bill's cars over to the school, and Yong Jin can pick us up. The prom's over at midnight?"
        "Supposed to be, but you know it always goes over until 12:30," Michael said.
        "Ok, we'll have the cars there by midnight."
        We all piled in the limo, gave the driver a couple of CDs and off we went.
        We caused quite a sensation when we walked into the restaurant: six guys in absolutely classical tux with six beautifully dressed, stunning women on our arms. Dinner was a blast. Sure enough, Linda's cousins had started working on Eugene and Larry early. Every time they did something to get the guys warmed up, Linda almost burst out laughing. We had to have a toast--sparkling grape juice, sad to say--to Michael's victory, and one to Bill for his leadership and principles and his appointment as Secretary of State. In spite of the fact we were dressed as real adults, our teenage appetites were evident as we ate like pigs.
        We had planned to arrive a little late at school. I mean, if you're going to make a grand entrance, you can't be early or even on time. When the limo pulled up, students who had not gone inside gawked and, when we walked in, everyone stopped what they were doing and watched us as we walked to our table.
        We had a blast at the ball, dancing every dance and, since Michael and Mary Kathryn were the only couple among the couples, we kept switching partners. It mattered not who was dancing with Paula, they never got to finish. Someone always cut in. At eleven, Ms. Jones went to the bandstand, took the microphone and announced, "The junior and senior advisors have tallied the votes you cast after the first dance for prom king and queen. If you will clear the floor for the king's and queen's dance." The students all moved to the edge of the dance floor. "Mr. Luke Larsen, prom king, the floor is yours for your dance with your queen, Ms. Paula Wright!" Luke bowed to Paula, extended his arm and walked her to the center of the room. The band started playing a slow dance tune and Luke and Paula started dancing. After a few minutes they separated, and Paula came to me and Luke went to Mary Kathryn. In good Independence fashion, as each new dancer was added to the floor, they soon broke and picked two new partners. Of course, the cousins--Linda's and Bill's--were included very early on, and as soon as they had had their spin, Michael and Luke started picking some of the least popular girls, ignoring the IN-crowd. Took me, Eugene, Larry and Bill a minute to catch on, but soon the in-crowd--male and female--learned what it felt like to be chosen last.
        At midnight, Ms. Jones again took the mike and commented on what a grand prom this had been. Then she said, "I was really surprised at the request, but both your prom king and student body president-elect asked for the same song to end the night. I think I was even more surprised when the band knew it. Last dance." As I guided Linda to the dance floor, she said, "You'll just have to close your eyes and pretend I'm Luke and I'll pretend you're Bill.
        I looked at her and smiled, "I'm afraid your job will be easier. You're soft and have bumps in front! Luke doesn't!" She laughed, tiptoed and kissed me on the mouth. "Well, that'll help," I laughed. We were about half-way across the dance floor when the band started. They were playing "More"! As I started dancing with Linda, I looked across the floor at Luke and saw a huge grin on his face. When I looked at Michael, I couldn't see his face. His lips were planted firmly on Mary Kathryn's as they danced.
        As soon as the last dance was over, we went outside where the cars were waiting. Greywolf came over with David and asked how we were going to divide up. "Luke can take the Jeep since he and Paula are together. Michael and Mary Kathryn can go with him. Linda and I can go with Bill and his date and Eugene and Larry can take their dates."
        "Ok, but Matt, be sure Luke has your cell phone. Here is mine for you. Eugene, do you have a phone?"
        "Yes sir."
        "Good. I want you to keep then handy. Those six hoodlums are free; they have just missed the prom because of you--at least in their minds you are to blame--and there is no telling what they might do."
        "Dad, I don't think they are that stupid."
        "Well, I do. Just keep the phones handy. And I want both cars to stay together. You can drop off Linda's cousins at her place then drive out into the country with Bill. Promise."
        "Sure, if it will make you feel better, but I don't think we need to worry."
        "I'm a parent and worrying is what parents are supposed to do." Dad smiled, but he didn't laugh. "David, Yong Jin and I will follow Luke to Millie's. When you leave there, I want all three cars together."
        "Ok, Dad, see you in the morning."
        We drove to Linda's place where Larry and Eugene were thanked for the evening with a goodnight kiss. The twin with Larry was giving him a full body press and an all-out goodnight kiss. Linda and I broke up laughing. We drove to Bill's house, left his cousin and started back into town. A couple miles from Bill's place, a car came speeding down the road headed directly for us; Bill was in front and swerved to the side and Eugene did the same, both almost losing control of their cars. Eugene regained control first and drove back onto the road with Bill now behind. As we started back toward town, the same car, which had turned around, came racing up behind us and started bumping Bill. I grabbed the phone and dialed 911 just as the car dropped back a bit, pulled beside us and raced ahead. I told the operator where we were and that a car had tried twice to run us off the road.
She asked for a description and I handed the phone to Linda who knew Orie's car well. She even gave the operator the license number.


At the edge of town, Orie and his gang came racing toward us again. This time they slowed down and started shouting, "Faggots and fag hags" as they started throwing bottles. One cracked Eugene's windshield, luckily it did not hit him or Larry, but Eugene was rattled enough to slow down. Bill did likewise as I started to roll up the window. Before I had time to close the window, a bottle came whistling in, tipped the edge of the window and hit me in the head before it bounced into Linda's lap. I was dazed, so Linda grabbed the phone and dialed

911 again.


"We are fucking under attack by Orie Greenley and his jock jerks.  Damn it, get the cops out here!" She had barely finished the call when Orie turned around again and was racing up behind us, bumping Bill's car.


"I'll never tell Dad not to worry again," I said. "Frankly, I'm scared shitless."  Orie dropped back once more then started full speed toward us again.  


"Hold on," Bill said. "Here they come!" Just before Orie's car reached Bill's, Bill jammed on the brakes. The impact was hard, but this time Orie's crew, none in seat belts, got tossed around. As soon as that happened, Orie stopped, jammed his car in reverse, pulling back away from us and stopped.

Soon it was clear he had done so only to get a running go at us. Bill laid down on his horn to warn Eugene and headed for the shoulder of the road. Eugene did some quick thinking

and did the same. Instead of hitting us, Orie raced into nothing. He floored the car, threw it into a spin and headed back toward us. It looked as if he would hit Eugene head on because Eugene was having a hard time regaining control of his car. He just missed being hit, but Bill had enough time to dodge Orie who went roaring past. A few yards past us, Orie threw his car into another spin to come back when the blue lights appeared. Two sheriff's cars raced down the road. One turned sideways between us and Orie and the other drove past, turned and blocked the road on the other side. Four officers, two from each car, got out with guns drawn and walked over to Orie's car. Within seconds, six guys were standing, legs spread, leaning against their car. All six were cuffed and marched into the two patrol cars. One officer drove Orie's car onto the shoulder, off the road. An officer came to Bill's car and another went to Eugene's.


"Everyone ok in here?" the officer asked.


"I think so," I said.


"You better check him out, Officer. One of the bottles those jerks threw hit him in the head," Linda said.


"Let's get you out and have a look," he said. He shined his flashlight on my head. "No skin broken and you seem to be doing ok, but you sure have a nice bump there, a real goose egg. Put some ice on it as soon as you can. Hate to ask you this since it's pretty clear what happened, but would you object to a breathalyzer test? You don't have to and I have no reason to believe you've been drinking, but there's a beer bottle in the car, the one that clobbered you, and this way no-one can claim you were drunk."


"No problem, Officer," Bill said. "I hope those six agree as well."


"In their case, they can agree or disagree. If they disagree, it will be an admission of guilt in court. There's empty bottles in their car, a couple more six packs unopened, and several bottles with some beer in them and two open bottles of vodka. No, I'm afraid they won't have a real choice. But let's get yours over with so you can get on with your night. You're sure dressed for something.  Good looking bunch," he said as he smiled.


The breathalyzer tests took only seconds and, of course, we all blew a zero. When that was over, the six were hauled out for theirs. A couple times the officers whistled when they read the results. "Who was driving?" Fingers were pointing in all directions.


"Orion Greenley was driving," Linda said. We all nodded.


"Which one of you is Orion Greenley?" None of them answered. "Doesn't matter. If your parents will claim you, maybe they will know."


"Officer, all six were arrested today and are out on bond," Linda said. Not dumb and sure not one to get pissed off.  "Makes our job easier," the officer smiled at Linda. "Now let's check these cars and see if they are safe to drive."


Bill's car was damaged where it had been rammed, but that didn't keep it from being safe. Eugene's was another matter.  The shattered windshield was definitely a safety hazard. "Son, your car really isn't safe to drive. Where are you headed?"


"Home. My mom and I are having an after-prom supper and dance for friends."


"And who's mom?"


"Millie Willingham."


"Holy shit! Excuse me miss, I heard Millie had adopted a son, but I expected... I don't know what I expected, and you have a smashed windshield on Millie Willingham's brand new car."


Eugene laughed. "Well, it's actually mine. The Easter bunny brought it."


"Must have been one helluva big ass rabbit," he joked, then blushed when he remembered Linda was there. "I know you want to get home and don't want to leave your car. Why don't you follow us into town if you can see enough to drive."  "The break is on the passenger's side, so I can see. I just don't want the rest of it to come flying back in my face."


"It won't and we'll drive slowly. And I think you kids have had enough to deal with tonight and you've got a supper dance yet to go. It's 1:30 already.  Come down to the sheriff's office sometime tomorrow and we'll take care of the paperwork. No rush; those six young men have nowhere to go and when they get there, it'll not be a party." We drove into town slowly and it was almost 2:00 when we got to Millie's.


When we drove up, Millie rushed out of the house, grabbed Eugene, then all of us and hugged us. She was crying! "I was so afraid my babies were hurt," she said. "The sheriff called and told me what had happened and that you were all right, but I was afraid he wasn't telling me the whole story. Come on in. We're waiting for you!"


When we got inside, Luke grabbed me, hugging me close and crying. "I'm ok, Yonghon Tongmu, I just took a beer bottle to the head."  


He looked at my goose egg, kissed it, then gave me a gentle, soft, tender kiss. "Sarang Hanun Pomul, I was worried sick," he said and kissed me again.


"I wasn't. I was scared shitless!" I laughed and the gang joined in, releasing our tension.


"Well, Matt and I have a surprise if the rest of you are up to it," Luke said as he walked across the room and opened a door. All eyes were on the door as Sheldon walked through, dressed as all the men, in a classic tux. He smiled a funny smile as he was attacked by Paula.


While there had been munchies at the prom, we had all spent our time dancing, so teenage food consumption was at its usual level as we attacked a delicious supper at Millie's some time around 2:30. She had obviously set the table again and it gleamed with silver, crystal and elegant china. There was wine, of course, and therefore real toasts to the newly-elected student body president. Michael toasted his Secretary of State. Bill toasted the prom king and queen and Millie toasted young love. Everyone had a second glass of wine with dinner and I

was not happy when I noticed Sheldon had a third, fourth and fifth. Paula didn't seem to notice. She had eyes only for Sheldon, not his drinking.


After dinner, we went to the living room which had been prepared for dancing. Larry had taped the music which began, need you ask?, with "More".  We danced until 4:30 and I was ready for my Luke and the falls, but not before Millie had another surprise or two. "Before the crew goes running off to the falls to make out..."


"Mama! How could you think such of these pure, innocent, lovely grandchildren," Eugene said in mock horror.


"Because, Son, I can remember, even in my aged condition and senility, being young. Besides, I know that there have been two head prints on a certain young man's pillows! Anyway, got a surprise or two. First of all, Matt, I know you looked for a sub for tomorrow and didn't find one. Well, its been ages since I have played in public, but I still play some, so you can sleep in, when you finally go to bed and go to sleep." Luke grabbed me, his eyes sparkling, and gave me a long, tongue-in-the-mouth, passionate kiss.


"Well, if we can get on with the program. I have a poster for you to see." She reached behind a wall table and pulled out a poster announcing the concert and exhibition.


"Luke, this should definitely be included in your AP art portfolio," she said as she held up the poster. Luke had done sketches of Eugene, Paula, himself and me in a kind of fantasy,

ethereal manner in a slightly darker blue than the pale blue poster background.  The lettering was in a type face most people could associate with fantasy, but was clear, sharp and very readable. It was done in a still darker blue.


"Great job, Luke," Michael said. "Bet you four will have autograph hounds all over you, clutching posters.  "Here are the invitations. I thought maybe we'd have a hundred for the

Saturday night concert, but if all invited come, St. Mary's will be packed."


The invitations had a reproduction of the poster on the front with the invitation inside.

"Tickets for the Saturday night concert are enclosed in the invitation with a note that they may be given to someone else if the invited person cannot attend. The regular tickets will be mailed out when people call in for them."

"I forgot to add Uncle Michael to be invited," Luke groaned.


"Not to worry, Luke. As soon as you get over the prom, he has offered to help you get the catalog together and arrange the exhibition. Some very expensive talent you are getting for free, let me tell you. It costs money to breathe the air as you walk by Sanders and Sanders Gallery in Charleston! Ok, what next? The Saturday before the night concert, Luke, Eugene, Larry, Paula and Matt, you are having an early dinner here with the Oberlin admissions

committee and the heads of the organ, music, art and mass communications departments. Dress accordingly, blazers and ties guys. Larry has talked with the audio and video engineers of the public radio and TV stations. The TV station will do a documentary on the art exhibition to be broadcast if they consider it good enough. It will be. The radio station will do the same with the concert. They are working on a nationwide broadcast on the PBS "Performance Today" program.  The admissions committee will hold individual interviews with you at school

Monday after the concert. Don't know whether that kills your evening or not, but I just got word today and wanted you to know what you have ahead of you. Right now, I suggest you change and get out of here. Oh, David and Margaret got back late today and you are all having lunch at Michael's tomorrow afternoon. I think that covers it." We all gave Millie a hug and went to Eugene's suite and changed into shorts and shirts.


When we started down the path to the falls, Luke said, "Matt, we forgot blankets, towels, all that stuff." Before he finished, we emerged from the path.  The moon had been waning for a week so it was not bright, but surrounding the beach area of the basin were torches, casting shadows about. In a neat stack on the beach were blankets, towels and a basket of munchies and drinks.


"Sure hope there's some beer in there," Sheldon said as he spied the tub of ice and drinks.  


"Bet you are out of luck on that one," Mary Kathryn said. She was right of course.


Within five minutes, five couples had taken blankets and found their own place for some serious making out. Well, to tell the truth, I guess others were into serious making out. Luke and I just held each other, our eyes smiling at our love and exchanging soft, tender kisses occasionally.

"Matt, you know what I wanted more than anything tonight? I wanted to dance the night away with you. I wanted to walk to the center of the dance floor and take you in my arms and dance. I wanted to have you on my arm instead of Paula when the king and queen were announced."


Luke was being very serious as he talked softly, but his last statement sent me into gales of laughter. "Hey, everyone, Luke just called me a queen!" I shouted as soon as I could stop laughing loudly enough.


"I did not," Luke shouted and started tickling me. Soon we were wrestling around on the blanket, tickling each other and trying to not laugh as we kissed each other. It was fun! We finally calmed down and Luke held me tightly and kissed me. As our tongues did battle, our breathing became one and, I'm sure, our hearts beat together. As our kisses became more passionate, I felt Luke's hardness against my thigh as I'm sure he felt mine.


Just as things were getting really hot, Michael yelled, "Ok, everyone, in the water!" I looked up and saw he was naked as a jaybird and Mary Kathryn standing beside him getting naked.


"Hell, why not?" Luke laughed. "Babe, I want to see your naked body."


He pulled me upright and started undressing me. I did the same and soon we, along with Michael and Mary Kathryn were standing in the dim moonlight, wearing what we had worn the day we were born. Larry and Eugene were soon as naked as we while Paula and Sheldon, Bill and Linda looked up in amazement from where they were lying.


Linda said to Bill, "Ok, I haven't tried to get into your pants yet and I can't if you don't have any on!" She stood up, grabbed Bill's hand and yanked him to his feet. As soon as she was standing, Linda started shedding clothes, Bill right behind her. Michael and Mary Kathryn raced to the top of the falls and dived in.  Luke and I dived in as soon as the way was clear.


By the time we had surfaced, Linda and Bill were standing at the top of the falls. "Are you sure this is safe?" Linda asked.


"Of course," Michael answered. "Just be sure you come out to the edge of the rock where you are standing and dive. You can swim can't you?"


As if in answer, Linda dived with Bill right behind her. Paula and Sheldon still had not joined us, but when we yelled to them, Paula got up and started undressing. She walked to the top of the falls alone and dived in. A few minutes later, Sheldon finally got up, undressed slowly and dived in from the beach. He just didn't seem with it.  


We swam for, I guess, for an hour and even I had blue lips, I suspect, when Luke said, "Enough already!" and climbed out of the water, grabbed a towel and started drying himself. I climbed out and finished that job and then he dried me, stopping for a couple of kisses. Soon everyone was out.


Mary Kathryn


When Michael whispered in my ear, "Mary Kathryn, I feel like skinnydipping," I looked into his face and asked, "What's stopping you, Mr. Presidentelect?" "You. I want you to go with me."


I kissed him, God I loved this man, hard, strong, handsome, caring, and said, as we had as kids, "Last one in�s, a rotten egg." Before the words were out of my mouth, he was standing and stripping off his clothes. "Man," I thought to myself, "all that personality and a bod to die for!" as I joined him in getting undressed.


Before I was completely nude, Michael shouted, "Ok, everyone, in the water!" Matt and Luke couldn't get undressed quickly enough and Bill and Linda were not far behind. Sheldon seemed reluctant to join the party, but Paula finally dived in and Sheldon kinda slunk in. There was something going on here and I didn't like it.


After we had been in the water at least an hour, we were all half frozen.  We all crawled out of the water, dried ourselves, or dried each other. As Michael dried me, he got that wicked grin on his face, kissed first one nipple, then the other and said, "Remember the first time we were nude together, I mean after we were grown?"


"Was that you? I couldn't remember who it was. I seem to remember something a bit larger," I said, pointing to his joy stick which was hiding from the cold water.


"Sorry, I meant to tell you. It got hit by a shrinking ray," he joked, as he pulled me to his hard, naked body for a special Michael kiss.  


"Bet I could hit it with an unshrinking ray big time," I laughed, kissing him back. We lay on the blanket and, even though it was warm for a predawn April morning, it wasn't warm enough after the cold water. Five guys got up and grabbed another blanket and five couples covered up their bare bodies.


As Michael and I lay side by side, he looked at me with a very serious expression on

his face and said, "Mary Kathryn, we'll be sixteen soon, sweet sixteen, getting our driver's licenses and just know we are all grown up. But deep down inside, we both are smart enough to know we're not. We've got a long way to go before we're really grown." I looked into the face of the man I loved and nodded. "We're young and what the future holds, well, we don't know. But I want you to promise me you will remember that you were loved as fully and deeply as a nearlysixteen-year-old can love. I know that if there is never anyone else, our love will grow, it will change, but tonight with every fiber of my being, I love you my wild woman."


"Michael, I'll promise to remember if you promise you will also remember that on this night you were loved as fully and as deeply as this woman can love a man, my shining knight." We sealed our promises with a long, passionate kiss, then I lay my head on Michael's chest, listening to his heartbeat, warm and comfortable in his arms. And I slept.


I awoke slowly and when I opened my eyes, I was staring into Michael's smiling face. "You are so beautiful when you sleep, Wild Woman. I have been awake just watching you sleeping and wondering how I could ever love you more." With those words, he bent his face to mine, placed his arms around me and kissed me softly, gently, lovingly. His tongue entered my mouth and brought me a warm feeling of being loved and I returned his love in my kiss.

As he leaned over me, I felt his hard manhood against my leg.


Breaking our kiss, I smiled and said, "It seems a night's rest has overcome the effects of

the shrinking ray."


"Actually," he laughed, "I think it was cured by my aching need to pee!" He jumped up and went to the edge of the river below the falls and let loose a golden stream into the clear water.


As if on cue, he was joined by the other males in the crowd. The women were a little more modest and went behind a clump of cane.  When we came back, we were all, males and females, shivering in the predawn air, so we got dressed. When we were dressed, I noticed the first faint glimmer heralding the sunrise. Without a word, I pointed to the eastern sky and picked up a blanket, put my arm around Michael's waist and he mine. We started walking to

the top of the falls and were soon followed by the others couples, all arm in arm except for Paula and Sheldon who were walking side by side, but not too closely.


Just above the lip of the falls there was a huge boulder with a flat top.  Many times members of the family had sat there, in silence, facing east watching the sunrise or facing west to watch it set. Four couples sat, one between the legs of their beloved, leaning heads against manly chests. Paula and Sheldon sat side by side. Clearly something was going on. As the sun crested the horizon, I leaned back with my head on Michael's shoulder and he leaned forward to kiss me good morning.


In spite of the fact that we had done nothing we had not done before except sleep side by side, I sensed that the sun as dawning on a new relationship for me and Michael and not just on a new day. From the time we had started the walk to Lookout Rock, not a word had been spoken. As soon as the sun was fully up and no longer colored the sky, we all got up and walked back down to the fall's basin. With few words being spoken, we folded the blankets,

picked up the towels and food and drinks. We left the torches in place.


After everything was loaded into the cars, we drove to Matt's place. When we arrived, Matt suggested we make as little noise as possible since his parents were still asleep. Before we entered, Sheldon said, "Matt, could you run me into town to the bus station in a few minutes?"

"Sure," Matt responded, "but I thought your bus left at 2:00."


"I changed my plans. It leaves at 8:00. Give me fifteen minutes with Paula and come on down."




When the Fellowship of the Rings got upstairs, I grabbed sleeping bags out of the hall closet and tossed them on the floor of my room. We may have been awake for the sunrise, but we hadn't slept more than an hour or two and Linda and Bill, Michael and Mary Kathryn immediately flopped down on the sleeping bags and were asleep in seconds. I had told Larry and Eugene to use the bed in the guest room. Luke and I sat in the middle of my bed, Indian style, or maybe it was Korean style, our knees together, holding hands and worshiping

each other with our eyes.


After a few minutes, Luke said very softly, "Matt, something's going on with Sheldon and Paula."  


"Yea. I know he had until 2:00 when we planned to get him here so why the change in plans? And he has been acting strange ever since he got here."


"Did you notice how much he drank at Millie's and expected beer at the falls?"


"Sure did. Well, I've got to go take him to the bus."


"As sleepy as we all are, I'm going along to make sure you don't fall asleep coming back." Luke and I left the room quietly and walked downstairs.

Part Twenty-eight


        When Matt and I walked outside, Paula and Sheldon were standing on the front porch; Paula was leaning against a porch column while Sheldon faced her. It was obvious Paula had been crying and Sheldon looked mostly indifferent. "I'm ready to go," he said, "Paula, you want to go with us?" Paula started shaking her head then said, "No".
        "Well, bye then," Sheldon said, as he turned and walked off the porch.
        The ride to town was done in complete silence. Sheldon sat in the back seat, not speaking. When we arrived at the bus station, Sheldon got out and said, "Thanks for the weekend, guys. See ya," turned, walked into the bus station and didn't look back.
        Matt turned the car around and we started back home. "I don't know what in the hell is going on, Matt, but Sheldon is a son of a bitch. He was a complete asshole the whole time he was here. Sure wish we hadn't spent the money to get his shitty ass here, get him dressed up for the prom queen and give him every opportunity to have a spectacular weekend."
        "I don't know what is going on, Luke, but I can tell you one thing: we've got a hurting woman on our hands."
        "That's for damn sure. Why did that jerk have to mess up a whole weekend?"
        "Maybe for Paula, Luke, Babe, but my weekend wasn't messed up in the least." Matt turned to smile at me and I grabbed a quick kiss. "Hey, I'm driving," Matt said in mock horror.
        "I know. You're driving me nuts. God, I love you, Matthew Sarang Hanun Pomul Greywolf."
        "About half as much as I love you, Luke Hans Yonghon Tongmu Larsen!"
        "Don't think so. Infinity doesn't have a half. You know that!" I looked at the light of my days and laughed. "You know, this damn Jeep was not made for lovers," I said as I tried to reach over to kiss Matt again.
        "Doesn't matter, we're home and my bed is."
        At the foot of the stairs, Matt suddenly swept me off my feet and into his arms. I put my arms around his neck and kissed him again and again as he carried me to his room. When we got there, Paula was lying in the middle of the huge bed, curled in a fetal position, crying. Matt stopped, put me down, and we walked to the bed. Everyone else was sound asleep as Matt asked in a soft, tender voice, "Want to talk about it, Paula?"
        "No, not now. Later. Right now I would like for you guys to lie down with me. I hurt."
        Matt walked to the far side of the bed, lay down beside Paula and put his arms around her. I lay on the other side and Paula put her arms around me and said, "Thanks guys." I started stroking her hair and saw her gradually relax. In only a few minutes she was asleep.
        Matt raised his head slightly, looked into my eyes and mouthed, "I love you."
        I smiled and mouthed "I love you too."
        The next thing I knew, Greywolf was at the door taking pictures. The flash eventually got everyone awake--not without a lot of groaning, I might add. Greywolf said, "I thought we really needed some after pictures to go with last night's before ones. That was last night wasn't it? It's 3:00 in the afternoon and David and Margaret will have lunch ready at 4:00. The downstairs bathroom is free."
        "Paula, after everyone has had a chance to pee, you, Eugene and Larry take the downstairs. Luke and I and Mary Kathryn and Michael will take the upstairs since my stuff is up here. Linda and Bill, you can split or if not, use the upstairs," Matt said.
        "What do you mean, split?" Bill asked.
        "Yea," Linda said.
        "It's the slow and easy menu," Michael said. "Where is it, Matt?"
        "In the drawer of the night stand," Matt answered, grabbed my hand and said, "Michael, give it to Bill."
        When Luke and I finished with the ritualistic morning bladder emptying and returned to the room, Bill was looking at the menu. "Finish it later," Michael said, headed across the hall, "unless you can hold it." Bill put the menu on the bed and rushed across the hall behind Michael. By the time they had finished, Linda and Mary Kathryn were back from doing their ritual downstairs.
        "Dibs on the bathroom," Michael said, grabbed Mary Kathryn by the hand and rushed across the hall.
        "Remember there are other people waiting!" Matt said.
        "And only so much hot water, sister mine," I added.
        "We'll heat it up for you, brother mine," Mary Kathryn responded.
        "You mean to tell me Mary Kathryn and Michael shower together and are still virgins?" Bill asked with a puzzled look on his face. "And you and Matt do this stuff and are too?"
        "Unless something happened at the falls last night with Michael and Mary Kathryn--and I suspect it didn't or we would have heard about it from both of them by now--the answer to your questions is 'yes'."
        "Man, I find that hard to believe. Well, maybe I don't. To tell you the truth, since I became THE basketball player, I have had so many girls throw themselves at me and I was so horny that I could get a fuck just about every night I wanted one. Quickies in the back seat of the car, in the bushes. Just wham, bam, thank you ma'am. And you know something, I usually felt shitty afterward because I know I was just using a warm, moist hole for my cock. Just fucking. I got my rocks off and I won't say I didn't like that but, to tell the truth, it was just that--getting my rocks off. It just wasn't fun. Some of this stuff sounds like fun!"
        Matt laughed, "You want to get Michael going? When he comes back, ask him if he fucks, but be prepared to run."
        "Because the first night we all used the Slow and Easy Menu, Michael said he'd like to go down the hall and fuck Mary Kathryn. Matt and I had been told by Greywolf that lovemaking was what it was about and that covered a lot of things--expressing love--but that fucking was what you just described."
        "So we both got on Michael's case big time, but he got even. I said something about his not wanting to sleep with a faggot and he almost busted me one," Matt laughed. "We are very careful about two things around here. One, using the word fuck to describe something you do with someone you love and two, using lovemaking to mean ONLY intercourse--thus the Slow and Easy Menu."
        "Where did you get this?"
        "Dr. Bailey--Margaret Andrews now, I guess--gave it to Matt and me along with some shampoo, soap and massage oil. See, when we told the family we were in love, Greywolf asked that we put off having intercourse until we are eighteen. He didn't tell us or beg us not to. He just asked us if we would. Given all the family--that's the big family--was doing for us, we agreed. One day I saw this medallion in Mr. Swartz' shop and got one for each of us as a reminder of our promise--not really to the family so much as to each other. Mr. Swartz did all the beautiful engraving on them. They have long chains which means..."
        "Don't they get in the way when you're... ah... playing around?"
        "Making love? That was the idea and the answer is 'Yes!'."
        "Man, you're going to think I'm a fool, but I think I have missed out on something."
        "Interesting thought coming from a non-virgin," I said as Michael came out of the shower, whistling.
        "Man, I love kissing perky nipples," he said as he went to the closet for a shirt and to the chest for boxers and shorts.
        "Nothing like it," Matt laughed as Mary Kathryn came in, a towel wrapped around herself.
        "Would you guys mind giving me some time to talk to Linda?" Bill asked, still holding the menu.
        "Not at all. I'll roust Larry and Eugene out of the guest room and send them downstairs. You and Linda can talk in there while Matt and I have our shower playtime and Paula and Mary Kathryn can get dressed. Michael, I guess you'll just have to wait downstairs.
        "Be there in a minute," man of mine," Mary Kathryn said, grabbing a bag she had left yesterday.
        Bill went to the guest room, knocked and, when he was told to come in, asked Larry and Eugene if they would go downstairs for their shower so he could talk to Linda in the guest room. Soon two sleepy eyed studs came out, grabbed towels and went downstairs. Bill and Linda went to the guest room and Matt and I went to the shower.
        There really was going to be a problem with hot water unless we were careful, so we wet ourselves down good and soaped each other well, kissing and rubbing against each other all the time. We rinsed off, dried each other and left the shower. "Would have liked a bit more playtime," Matt said, holding me tightly and giving me a real good morning kiss.
        "Do you think I don't agree?" I asked as I returned his kiss.
        When we got back to my room, Paula and Mary Kathryn were gone, I assume downstairs. Larry and Eugene hadn't started getting dressed and were making out big time. "Ok, studs, break it up and get dressed, food's waiting."
        "Who needs food," Eugene laughed, "when I have Larry to eat on."
        "Don't go there, Lover," Larry replied, giving Eugene the evil eye.
        The four of us were getting dressed when we heard Linda giggling and saw her and Bill walking toward the bathroom, holding hands. "More perky nipples are going to get kissed, I bet," Matt laughed.
        "Bill better be careful or he'll get the Orie treatment," Luke laughed. "I think Linda meant it when she said she'd sideline him if he got out of line."
        Finally all four of us were dressed. I brushed Matt's hair and he braided it, then he worked on mine. When we were finished, Bill and Linda came out of the bathroom, each wrapped in a towel. "No-one told me to bring clothes for today," Bill said, "so I guess I'll just have to wear what I wore last night."
        "I bet you could wear Michael's clothes."
        "Not a big help since I'm not at Michael's."
        "Michael and Luke both have clothes here. In fact, we all three have clothes at all three places. Look in the closet and find a shirt. Michael's shorts, socks and boxers are in the second drawer of the chest."
        "Boxers? I feel like I'm hanging out."
        "Look in the first drawer. Maybe you can wear my size. I have both," Matt said.
        "Silk bikini briefs?" Bill exclaimed as he held up a pair of bright red ones.
        "Looks like something for the cheerleaders' stud to me," I laughed.
        "Ok, I know I can't go back, but can I have a new start?" Bill asked, very seriously.
        "Sure you can. I'm sorry. That was a poor joke. No offense intended."
        Bill put on the red briefs which were a bit small, but sure gave him a super stud front, walked over to me and, awkwardly, hugged me and said, "I know that, but I really do want to turn over a new leaf. Man, Michael is right, playtime is fun time and I have missed out by just fucking. And I think I have missed out by being standoffish about hugging. Being a shithead macho-man sure carries a big price tag, I'm thinking."
        Bill finished dressing and when he had finished, Linda came out of the guest room dressed to kill and had a smile on her face I hadn't seen before. She walked up to Bill, stood on tiptoes and gave him a light kiss. Bill blushed!!!
        When the Fellowship of the Rings arrived at Michael's, everyone greeted the newlyweds. Lunch at 4:00 in the afternoon revealed again the amazing capacity for food of teenagers, except for Paula who didn't eat enough to keep a bird alive. She tried hard not to be a wet blanket and would have done a good job except she had eight people who were sharing her pain without saying so. When lunch was over, Bill offered to take Paula home, but Matt said we would so he could have time with Linda. "You two may want to talk some more," he said. Michael was walking Mary Kathryn home and Larry and Eugene were going to home or homes in the newly christened Bunnymobile. I had called the sheriff's department and made arrangements for us to meet there at 8:00. When I asked if that was too late, the officer said there was no rush because the alleged perpetrators weren't going anywhere. I wondered what would have been necessary for him just to say criminals.
        As Matt and I walked with Paula to the Jeep, Matt asked, "Paula, do you want to talk about it?"
        "I think I need to," she replied.
        "With me or Matt or me and Matt?"
        "I'd like to talk to you both. On the drive home?"
        "If you like, you know where we all go, but maybe that's not the place for you."
        "I think it is. I really do."
        "Ride or walk?"
        "Do you mind walking?"
        "Not at all," I said. "Until last week, we always walked. The gate was put in for David's and Margaret's wedding." Matt snagged a blanket out of the Jeep as we walked past, and he and I took Paula's hands and walked with her to the falls in silence.
        When we reached there, Matt spread the blanket on the ground and the three of us sat down; still no-one spoke. Paula sighed several times and said, "First of all, I want to thank you two for bringing Sheldon here. I was so surprised and happy when he walked out. You two are so kind and loving and thoughtful and I thank you from the bottom of my heart for the love you showed me by getting him here on prom night. And while I'm at it, Luke, you gave me a prom I'll always remember. I was so proud to be on your arm when the king and queen were announced. And in spite of the fact that I knew well I was not who you wanted there, you still treated me like a queen. You are a beautiful man with a beautiful spirit. And so are you, Matt."
        "Well, I believe I was promised a good night kiss, which I didn't get," I said. Paula reached over and kissed me lightly on the lips and smiled, but it was a sad smile. "I really want you two to remember that I really appreciate what you did in spite of how it turned out."
        "Ok, it was obvious Sheldon wasn't with the program from the time he walked out of the room at Millie's. I know his ticket was for 2:00 because Luke and I purchased it and sent it to him. He had to exchange it for an 8:00 one," Matt said.
        "Ok, the whole story. You are right. When I kissed Sheldon at Millie's he didn't pull away, but he wasn't very interested either. When I kissed him, I knew he had been drinking..."
        "Thank goodness he didn't go with us to take the girls home," Matt commented. "We took a breathalizer test as evidence that none of us had been drinking when Orie and his crew tried to... well, I was going to say kill us and I thought they were."
        "You saw how he drank at Millie's and she certainly did. I was embarrassed. When we came to the falls and there was no beer, he pouted about that. Then he started complaining because we were with a bunch of fags. I was ready to strangle him at that point and told him so, but he started pouting more. The final straw was when he insisted on having sex. When I told him no, he said, 'Look, Paula, I don't know what your problem is. I came all this way to be with you tonight because I thought it would be fun. Then I find out there's no beer, you're with a bunch of fags and you won't fuck. What the shit is going on?' I was so angry I didn't know what to do. Then when everyone decided to go skinny dipping, I thought he'd come around. Instead he said, 'You expect me to get naked among a bunch of faggots or you to get naked and us not fuck? What kind of goody-two-shoes are you?' I told him I'm the kind that doesn't fuck and doesn't plan on fucking. With the right person with whom I am in love, I expect to make love big time, but just fucking is out. 'Well, shit,' he said, 'I could have saved myself a trip and been screwing Saturday night as I usually do. I have no trouble getting a piece of ass when I want it from a girl who enjoys my big cock in her pussy.' I was sick to my stomach, but decided I wasn't going to ruin a beautiful night for people who knew what love meant so I joined in the swim. I guess Sheldon decided he may as well pretend he was a part of the party so he finally crawled into the water like the snake he is. When we finished swimming, he started the 'I wanta fuck' bit again and I told him if he didn't forget that, he wouldn't have anything to fuck with when I finished. 'You can bet on one thing,' he said, 'I'll be out of this shit hole as soon as I can. There's a bus at 8:00 and I'll be on it.' I told him I hoped so and that he'd never show his face in Concord again. 'You can bet on that, goody-two-shoes,' he said. This morning he told me he had a high school crush on me, but he was seeing and fucking--he got right in my face to say that--an older woman--the assistant manager of the store where he works--'and she's not interested in all that silly love talk and hand holding, she just likes for me to fuck the hell out of her and I like it!' So that's the story."
        Matt and I were silent as Paula fell silent. Finally she said, "Guys, I was in love with Sheldon. You knew him. He was kind, loving, gentle. We had fun together and talked about our future together. I don't know who this creature is that showed up in Sheldon's skin. I don't feel like we have broken up--I've been through that a couple times-- instead I feel like someone I loved has died. That's it. I feel as though Sheldon is dead. I feel as much that way as I did when my dad died. But he wasn't around after he died. Sheldon's body was still there after I realized the Sheldon I knew was dead."
        Paula started weeping softly and Matt pulled her to himself and said, "Cry it out, Lady. Cry it out." When Matt said that, the dam broke and Paula was crying her eyes out. I moved closer to her and Matt and I both had her wrapped in our arms. I started stroking her hair and Matt was singing some tune softly, and Paula cried great cries and Matt and I were both weeping softly with her.
        It was minutes before Paula's tears stopped, and Matt and I still held her as we watched the river in silence. She finally said, "I'm ok now. I know I have some grieving to do. I've been there, but Sheldon is dead, dead, dead. And I'll tell you one thing: if the choice is between friends and fuck partners, friends win hands down," she smiled.
        "Even if they're faggots?" I smiled back.
        "Even if they are men and lovers. We've about had enough with the 'f' word this week," she said, slapping me gently on the cheek, then kissed me again, then Matt. "I think it's time we got downtown to deal with another bunch of jerks," she said and added, "Thanks guys, you are true friends."
        "We try to be," Matt said. When we stood up, I grabbed the blanket and Matt and I put our arms around Paula's waist and we walked to Matt's place. When we got there, Paula said she was ready to go home and asked both me and Matt to go with her. When we reached her place, she walked in, grabbed her mother and started crying again. Ms. Wright motioned Matt and me to chairs while she held her daughter close, looked at Matt and me and raised an eyebrow.
        "I'm afraid Matt and I are to blame," I said. "As you know, we got Sheldon here for the after the prom party and that was a mistake."
        Paula looked up and said, "No, it was not a mistake. Had you not done so, I might have gone on thinking there was a Sheldon I loved. Mom, he is a complete jerk asshole." Matt and I looked at each other; we had never heard Paula use such language. "He is no more the man I knew before he moved than is the man in the moon. I told Matt and Luke it was as if the Sheldon I knew was dead--he is dead--and I'll have to get over his death. I don't know, and don't want to know, the Sheldon who was here this weekend."
        We talked with Paula and Ms. Wright about what had happened to Sheldon for a few minutes and then she asked about the prom. Even Paula's face lit up when she started talking about the prom. "Mom, Luke and I were the prom king and queen!" We talked about supper at Millie's and what we faced in a few weeks with Oberlin and about the night at the falls. I was afraid Paula would be upset again, but she wasn't.
        When she mentioned our swimming, Ms. Wright said, "where did you get something to wear in the middle of the night?"
        "We were born wearing it," Paula laughed, a real Paula, charming laugh.
        "And I'll do it again if I have the chance. It was wonderful." Her mom was obviously pleased that the whole weekend had not been ruined for Paula.
        "Luke, I've got to go. I have to be at the sheriff's office shortly," Matt said. "See you Monday--ugh, tomorrow," he said to Paula. Ms. Wright had a strange look on her face and Matt said, "We're clear. Paula can tell you all about it."
        Even though I wasn't involved in the Saturday night mess, I was with Matt so I went to the sheriff's office with him.

        When we arrived at the sheriff's office, we were met by four deputies who took Linda and Bill, Larry and Eugene to separate rooms. Luke and I sat waiting for a few minutes when the sheriff came in. "Sorry I'm late, we've got something else going on," he said. "Were both of you involved in Saturday night's adventure? I thought there were only five."
        "You're right, Sir. I'm Matt Greywolf. My friend is Luke Larsen," I motioned to Luke.
        "Nice to met you, Son," the sheriff said, extending a huge hand to Luke. "You must be Jens and Gabrielle Larsen's son."
        "Yes, Sir," Luke answered, shaking hands with the big man.
        "And there can be little doubt you're Greywolf's and Yong Jin's son," he smiled, again extending a hand.
        "Yes, sir," I answered. "I think I'd have a hard time denying that," I laughed as I shook his hand. "I'm Matt, Matthew Greywolf."
        "One of the bad things about my job is that I seldom get to meet decent kids. If I'm not careful, I begin to think all are like that bunch locked up upstairs. Again, I'm sorry I'm late, but we have had a crew of lawyers here all day trying to get those six out of jail and then something else broke. Not free to talk about it, but it would be worth your while to see the eleven o'clock news. Well, Matthew..."
        "Matt, if you would, Sir."
        "Ok, Matt, if you'll come into my office. The four rooms we usually use for getting information are in use." When we got inside, the sheriff asked if I wanted a lawyer and if I objected to having the conversation recorded. I told him no to both questions and he asked me to identify myself with my full name and then to tell him what happened. From time to time he stopped me and asked a question, so it was half an hour before he was satisfied. "Thanks for coming in," he said. "I am extremely pleased no-one was hurt. Few people realize that when a bottle is thrown out of a car, it is traveling at the speed of the car plus any extra speed the thrower gives it. It could have done major damage as is evidenced by the windshield of Mr. Willingham's car. You're lucky--since this happened--that it hit the edge of the window first. By the way, do you mean to tell me Millie Willingham gave that new son of hers that car?"
        "I'm not sure, Sir. She says the Easter bunny brought it."
        "Damn! I sure would hate to run into that rabbit in the dark. Must be one helluva rabbit," he laughed.
        "'Bout Millie's size," I grinned, and the sheriff let loose a huge belly laugh.
        "Then I know I wouldn't want to meet him in the dark if he's like Millie! Sure wish there were some way I could spend more time with good kids. I'm sure missing a lot. Thanks again for coming in and I don't think you will have to worry about those six for a while." He rose, extended his hand and, after we shook hands, he led me out of his office.
        The others had finished as well and were standing waiting for me when two officers came in with Rev. Jonathan McBride of the Temple of Praise. The Reverend was in handcuffs and shouting, "I demand a lawyer."
        "Take him in the back, fingerprint him and put him in a cell after he has called his lawyer," the sheriff said. "Remember, Matt, watch the eleven o'clock news. Bye, kids, and thanks again," the sheriff said, holding the door for us.
        As we passed David's, I noticed his van was not outside or in the garage. When we got to our place, the whole family was there. "What's going on? Luke asked as we walked in the door.
        "I'm not sure," David answered. "A former member of the Temple of Praise who left before I did, called and said I should watch the eleven o'clock news. Also, we all wanted to hear a report from your visit to the sheriff's office, so we just sorta met half way--at the Greywolf's. How did it go?"
        "Fine, I guess, all we did was give statements. By the way, the sheriff also said to be sure to watch the eleven o'clock news and while we were leaving, the Rev. Jonathan McBride was brought in--in handcuffs, screaming for a lawyer." Mom, Margaret and Gabrielle brought sandwiches and drinks into the den and we all settled down to eat and wait for the news.
        "I told David and Michael I was glad to arrive when there was some activity going on," Uncle Michael laughed, "but I had no idea just how much was going on. Who is this Jonathan McBride?" David explained who he was and that he had stayed in the Temple of Praise until he couldn't stand the blasts against gays any longer. By the time Uncle Michael had been filled in on the situation, it was time for the eleven o'clock news.
        The anchor opened by saying, "Good evening. We have late-breaking news from Concord. As we reported last Friday, six Independence High School students and the head football coach were arrested on charges related to a break-in at the school and vandalism. The six students, who were out on bond, were re-arrested Saturday night on charges related to an attempt to drive two cars, driven by Independence students, off the road and to attacking the five students in the cars by throwing beer bottles at them. Three of the six had been given a suspended sentence by the juvenile court earlier in regard to the rape and abuse of Gregory Burnette. Gregory has since committed suicide and WLEX broadcast a penitential service for Independence High School students combined with a memorial service for him. Michael Andrews, who initiated service, was running for student body president when the break-in occurred and his campaign posters defaced with derogatory words. Matthew Greywolf, organist for that service was injured slightly on Saturday night by one of the thrown beer bottles."
        "This afternoon, a judge revoked the bond of the six students and started the process to revoke the suspension of the three's sentences. All are now eighteen and subject to regular courts. Standing by at the Concord sheriff's office is LaTasha Jackson, WLEX reporter, with the latest developments in this case... LaTasha."
        "Stu, this case becomes more bizarre by the moment. After the judge had revoked the bonds of the six students, parents and lawyers filled the sheriff's department demanding their release. When Judge Harriett Snow announced she would be attempting to revoke the suspension of the earlier sentences of three of the students, she was asked what that would mean. Here's her response."
        "It's very simple, if the suspension is revoked, the three will serve their sentence. Originally it would have been served in a juvenile facility, but they are now eighteen and will serve it with the big boys, as they will any other sentence which might come as a result of these latest charges."
        "Stu, shortly after Judge Snow made her statement, it is this reporter's understanding that the three who had been involved in the rape of Gregory asked to see the sheriff and a lawyer. At this time what connection that might have with the events of Saturday night is not known. Shortly after eight this evening, sheriff's deputies arrived here with the Rev. Jonathan McBride, pastor of Concord's Temple of Praise, in handcuffs. Other deputies were carting boxes of what appeared to be video tapes, two computers, several video cameras and stacks of computer backup tapes. The sheriff has promised a news conference in a few minutes which we will carry live. Meanwhile, after the arrest of Rev. McBride, I was able to interview the senior elder of the Temple of Praise, Elder Eugene Joyce, who had been waiting outside the sheriff's office. Here is my interview with him."
        "Elder Joyce, WLEX has learned that the Rev. Jonathan McBride was arrested this evening. Can you tell us anything about that?"
        "I most certainly can. Rev. McBride was charged with possession and distribution of homosexual child pornography. Nothing could be more absurd! Rev. McBride has preached and worked against the spreading disease of homosexuality among the young men in this town. He has encouraged parents to be on guard against their young males being seduced into choosing that devil-serving perversion. I am sure, when this is all cleared up, Rev. McBride will be shown to be a shining Christian knight fighting this creeping evil and that his arrest is the result of a conspiracy by homosexual perverts and faggots."
        "Stu, the sheriff has just stepped outside and is standing there for a news conference. Here's the sheriff."
        "Ladies and Gentlemen, I have a statement which I will read. Afterwards there will be no questions. And I would remind you that, while arrests have been made, all persons arrested are innocent until proven guilty. Here's my statement."
        "Saturday night, six teenagers were arrested on a number of charges growing out of an attack on two cars carrying Independence High School students from the school's prom. The six, who had been suspended from school as a result of a break-in and vandalizing at the school earlier were, of course, not allowed at the prom and, in fact, were only out of jail because they had posted bond. This afternoon, when Judge Harriet Snow announced she was seeking to revoke the suspended sentences three of the six had received earlier in juvenile court the for rape and abuse of Gregory Burnette, the three asked to see a lawyer and me. While I cannot and will not go into the details of our conversation, the three implicated the Rev. Jonathan McBride of the Temple of Praise in pedophilia and child pornography. Accordingly, Judge Snow granted a search warrant and deputies searched the reverend's house and removed from it several hundred video tapes, video cameras, computers and many computer backup tapes. At this point all I have to say concerning this is that the reverend is in jail under $150,000 bond and the FBI has been called in." Reporters started shouting questions and poking their microphones in the sheriff's face, but it was soon clear his only addition statements would be "I won't comment on that."
        "Holy shit!," Michael exclaimed. "Sorry ladies--but Dad we listened to that son of a bitch--sorry ladies--for years while he ranted and raved against homo-sex-uals going to hell, seducing young boys, corrupting the youth of the land and all the time he was running a porno business, kiddie porn business for God's sake. Hanging's too good for him. And just what do you think those three in jail had to do with it? What about them?"
        "I worry about that", Margaret said. "It certainly seems they were involved in some way and they could be in trouble in more than one way."
        "Yes. If they became involved when they were younger... well, I must confess that if they have been involved for some time, I feel sorry for them," Greywolf said, very quietly.
        There was a stunned silence in the room then David said, "I'm sorry, Greywolf, it never occurred to me you would see another side to this. Not very sensitive of us."
        "Didn't expect you to make a connection. Didn't myself at first, then I had another flashback."
        "Flashback? What are you talking about, Greywolf, I don't understand," Gabrielle looked puzzled as did Jens.
        "When Matt told us he was in love with Luke, I reacted very badly, not because I felt there was anything wrong with their love..." Matt had walked over to his dad, sat on the arm of his chair and placed his arm around Greywolf's shoulders. I did the same. "I had a flashback to my youth, something which hadn't occurred in a long time. Everyone here knows the story except you and Jens since you had been sent off to the lake," Dad smiled weakly, then told Jens and Gabrielle what had happened to him as a youth.
        "That sure puts a new perspective on this situation, Greywolf." Dad said.
        Needless to say, school Monday was abuzz, not with the prom, but with the events of Saturday and Sunday. Well, that wasn't quite true; Luke got a lot of attention from the girls. Paula was not lacking in attention either. Guys who I dare say never knew she existed, were trying to get her attention. Obviously she was not on the top of the world, but definitely not crushed for having lost Sheldon with his new personality. Of course, she was grieving for the old Sheldon who, she said, was dead. Because of Paula and Luke, our table at lunch was a focus for students, but there was also speculating about what was going on in Concord. Aside from all the gossip and speculation, school settled down to a routine.
        Monday through Wednesday, Luke took the Jeep and went to his studio. I stayed, to work with the brass and percussion ensemble. About the only real change to be noticed was that Bill and Linda were definitely becoming a couple. Linda had dropped the dumb bond cheerleader act, but that didn't mean she had stopped talking. She, obviously, was right: some things were just natural for her and talking was definitely one of them.
        Not only was Luke leaving school to work in his studio, but also he was working late every night--often, I'm sure, well into the morning. About the only time I saw him was the morning run and our trip to school. After all the excitement, and some pretty exciting times together, our lovemaking was a few kisses in the morning. Not that there was anything wrong with those kisses, it was just that they were too few, and there was nothing else to go along with them.
        While school may have settled in a routine, things had not settled down in Concord. Everyday lunch involved a discussion of the news from the night before. Monday night covered a protest by members of the Temple of Praise led by Mr. Joyce. They, of course, maintained that the Rev. Jonathan McBride was innocent and the victim of a plot by faggots, homosexuals and their supporters. Mr. Joyce was extremely vocal in condemning the police, the school board, administrators of Independence High School and devil-worshiping so-called Christians. There were two or three hundred protesters demanding the release of Rev. McBride and the resignation of the sheriff. The protesters were carrying signs, singing hymns, kneeling in the streets praying and trying to prevent anyone going into the sheriff's office. Finally, the sheriff had to call in help from Lexington to control the mob.
        Needless to say, Eugene was livid. "How can that man carry on like that," he asked. "He has to have seen the boxes of tapes, the cameras and all the other stuff."
        "You know as well as I do," Larry replied, "he sees and hears only what he wants to see and hear. Look what he did to you," Larry continued, "not because you were gay, he didn't know that, but because... well, because."
        Tuesday's lunch discussion revolved around the report that Jake and the other two who had raped Gregory had been sent to the psychiatric wing of the hospital in Lexington for observation and protection. In a news conference, the sheriff said Jake, Danny and Buddy has tried to hang themselves in their cell and, had Orie and the others not called out, they would been successful.
        "I guess that's what Greywolf and Margaret were talking about," Luke said.
        "What?" Linda asked.
        I then told the Fellowship of the Rings about my dad being sexually abused as a child and how difficult it had been for him to overcome it. "I guess most people never really recover fully. In fact, Dad had a flashback when I told him about my love for Luke and I thought he was going to... well, I don't know what I thought he was going to do, but I was scared."
        "It's terrible, being sexually abused. And it's also terrible being the abuser." Larry said as huge tears started running down his face.
        I could see Eugene extend his hand under the table and take Larry's. "It's over, Larry," he said softly, quietly, tenderly.
        Bill and Linda were looking very, very confused. "I sometimes wonder if it will ever be over. I was trying to cover up something as I'm sure those three guys were. I know what it's like to think suicide is a grand solution," Larry said in a whisper.
        Bill said, "Look, this may not be any of my business and if so, say so, but I don't know what's going on." Linda nodded agreement.
        "I'm sorry," Eugene said, "but I guess it's not something to talk about. Sorry."
        "Yes it is," said Larry. "Linda and Bill are a part of us and they need to know the whole rotten, shitty story," and very quietly told Linda and Bill what was wrong. "Eugene and I have been getting professional help and the Gang of Four, especially Michael and his dad, have been a tremendous help but, at times, I still just can't handle it."
        Man, I didn't know how Linda or Bill would handle this latest revelation. They sure as hell had been bombarded with one thing after another in the past week. Well, I guess I should have known what Linda would do now that I know who she really is. She reached over and pulled Larry's head to her shoulder and said, "Larry, I know you hurt; you hurt because you love. You just have to let the love you give and the love you receive wash off the shit."
        Bill reached across the table and took Larry's hand and said, "Larry, I'm here for you. I'll do anything I can to help you overcome this. I know it can't compare to how you feel because you really hurt someone you love but, man, I must confess I have really been feeling like dog shit since I realized that even though the girls asked for it, I was an asshole when I just fucked 'wham, bam, thank you ma'am'. When I see one of them in the hall and they give me that smile, I want to say, 'Lady, don't you have any love for yourself? Larry, in spite of what you did, you are still loved and I know--I know--lovemaking for you and Eugene means more than sex. But I want to ask you the same question: don't you have any love for yourself? How can you really love Eugene if you don't love the man he loves enough to die for? You need to think about that."
        I thought to myself, "YES!" The Fellowship of the Rings would be in good hands next year!
        Not at all surprisingly, Wednesday night's news carried more of the saga. Orie, Marshall and Mickey had been indicted on a whole string of charges--both minor and major. Orie really got it socked to him because he was driving. His lawyer was screaming and carrying on in a video clip because Orie had been charged with assault with a deadly weapon, an automobile, with the intent to kill. Judge Snow was ready to throw the man out of court, and after she looked at some papers she said, "That's four counts for each time he threatened those in the other cars. I'll make that eight if you like since there were two cars he attacked--according to these statements." Orie had additional charges of driving under the influence, possession of open container in a moving vehicle--the list went on. The other five were charged with assault with a deadly weapon--beer bottles. Apparently all five had left nice, clear fingerprints on the bottles. Another video clip showed Mr. McBrayer, lawyer for all three of Orie's gang, asking that the three be released on bond so they could attend school. Judge Snow looked like a patient mom who had just had her last nerve stepped on. "Mr. McBrayer, I am a firm believer in education. I certainly am." McBrayer's face lit up. "In fact I spent many years in high school, college and law school. Now in spite of that, I may look like a fool, but I have degrees, if you wish to see them, which suggest otherwise. The last time these three were released on bond, they allegedly committed enough crimes to spend the rest of their natural born lives watching the sun rise over razor wire. I may be a fool, but I'm not a damn fool. Bond denied. However, I have just about wrapped up this term of court and I have time for their trial next week beginning... " She stopped, looked at a book on her desk, and said, "Beginning Tuesday morning at nine."
        "Your honor, that hardly gives me time to prepare the defense."
        "Suit yourself. I could use a few days off and I was only making an offer. If you can't be prepared by Tuesday, you will have plenty of time to prepare because the next session of this court will be in September."
        "I think I can be prepared Tuesday, your honor."
        "For your clients' sake, I hope so. Next case."
        Next day at lunch we were talking about the nightly news and Linda said, "Man, that Judge Snow... I like that's woman's style!" and Mary Kathryn gave her a high five.
        "Michael, don't you think we might give association with these two women some more thought," Bill laughed.
        "Don't think I haven't," Michael grinned, looked around checking for teachers, and kissed Mary Kathryn on the cheek. Bill started to do likewise to Linda, just as Miss Glaze walked into the cafeteria, saw him, and her "dental drill in the ear" voice shouted, "Young man!". Rather than a kiss on the cheek, Bill laid one on Linda's lips, grinned and said, "I'm a basketball hero. Everyone knows Glazie has the hots for anyone who can handle more than two balls." Sure enough, she just turned and pretended she had not seen him.
        Thursday, after the morning run, Luke and I showered together and he had breakfast with my family. When we came down, Greywolf looked at Luke and said, "Son, you look like death warmed over. You have black circles around your eyes which would meet in the middle except your nose is in the way. What's wrong?" I had commented on how Luke looked earlier and he dismissed it, but he wasn't going to dismiss Dad and, if he did, he'd still have to deal with Mom.
        "Nothing's wrong. I'm fine."
        "And I'm the Queen of England," Dad said. "What's going on?"
        "Everything's just fine. Well, actually, everything is great. Things are going so well that I forget to go to bed. I know I look like... I look pretty bad. I noticed that when I was shaving, but I just can't seem to find a stopping place. I am almost finished with my exhibition and a major piece involves techniques I have never tried before and I have finally got the knack and I just can't stop."
        Luke had pushed Yong Jin's mama button hard! "Luke, you have recovered from what some of us thought was... well, we didn't think you would make it. I'm sure, since you are young, you think you are invincible. You're not. You are allowing yourself to get so run down, you could easily end up sick--very sick. Just exactly how much do you have to do?"
        "I know I can finish tonight and tomorrow night."
        "Well, that's not going to happen. You are obligated, I believe, to an hour of playtime this afternoon?" Yong Jin was not above hitting below the belt.
        "I was hoping I might skip that today," Luke said, looking at me for support.
        "No way, Jose. You owe that to Mr. Mitchell and I have been starving for your bod, Luke, my man," I replied.
        "The old guilt trip," Luke said.
        "Whatever it takes," Mom and I said together.
        Luke actually looked relieved. "Well, I'll take that and take tonight off, but Uncle Michael and I were planning on starting the photographs for the AP portfolio and the catalog Saturday and there's no way I'll be ready. Maybe I can...."
        "Luke, could I be of help?" Greywolf asked.
        "Well, since I am not including photography in my portfolio, I guess you could help Uncle Michael, and I could work Saturday morning, but isn't this a physics makeup Saturday?"
        "Would be if it was needed, but it's not. Uncle Michael and I will handle the photography."
        "Well, I'll have to set us a screen of some sort because I'm working on one of my secret projects. But I can do that. So today will be free. Luke looked at me and gave me his evil grin with full dimples.
        Thursday afternoon, when Luke and I came out of school for Mr. Mitchell class, it was raining. "Well I guess that rules out the falls," Luke said.
        "Sure looks like it, I guess we just have to spend the time in my room," I said as I looked at Luke and smiled.
        When we reached the house we both went upstairs to my room. "I have to use the bathroom, Luke," I said and went across the hall when Luke went to my room. When I finished and walked back across the hall to my room, Luke had undressed and was lying, spreadeagle on his back, sound asleep. I wanted to lie down beside him, but knew if I went to sleep I would not make it to rehearsal at St. Mary's which Paula, Eugene and I decided we needed. I moved my desk chair over to the bed and sat watching Luke sleep. He looked so peaceful, relaxed and beautiful. I thought to myself, "I am enjoying being alive and so is Luke. The difference is he doesn't know it. God knows, he sure looks like he needs the rest. When the time came for me to go to St. Mary's, I bent over Luke and kissed him on the forehead ever so lightly so as not to wake him.
        I knew it would take the buses a while to get to St. Mary's, so I sat watching Luke for several minutes after the end of school. When I went downstairs, Mom was coming in the door. "Mom, when we got home I went to the bathroom and when I got back to my room Luke was already sound asleep. He is still asleep; should I just leave him sleeping?"
        "Of course. He said he would take the night off. I'll call Gabrielle and tell her he's here. If he wakes up for supper, fine; if not, we will just let him sleep. That's what he needs."
        I got to St. Mary's just as Paula and Eugene were warming up their groups. "Sorry I'm late," I said.
        "We just started warming up," Eugene said, "and need a few more minutes." Paula's group was doing vocal exercises and Eugene's were practicing scales. Over all the noise, Paula shouted, "Matt, if you want to do some exercises, go ahead." I went to the organ, changed my shoes and started playing a Bach piece. Pandemonium reigned! After a couple more minutes, Paula shouted, "Enough already!!!" In a minute silence descended. "Ok, Matt, what do we need to do?"
        "Paula, Eugene, I see no reason for everyone to be here for the parts which are all organ. Also, I think we need to look at the parts which are all organ and ensemble or organ and chorus and divide practice accordingly. AP exams are coming up shortly, and I know we all have a lot of work at the end of school. If we divide practice, there are times when I can practice alone, other times, chorus and organ, sometimes organ and ensemble. That way we can get maximum practice, with minimal time for everyone except me. And after all, this is a class for me, so I should spend more time here. How about if we have chorus and organ on Monday, ensemble and organ on Tuesday and everyone on Wednesday?"
        "Sounds good to me," said Eugene.
        "Excellent idea, I think," Paula agreed.
        "How does that sound to all of you?" I asked the groups. Heads were nodding everywhere. "I guess it's agreed then," I said. "I'll see Paula and chorus Monday, Eugene in the ensemble on Tuesday, everybody on Wednesday and no more Thursdays unless we really need them." I think that was a wise decision, because everyone worked harder than they had before. It put no less work on me, but I was off a period a day, every day, to work on the organ. The chorus and ensemble were doing this out of their love of music.
        We all worked very hard--very, very hard. Greywolf and Mr. Allen came in to remind us that the time for practice was over--fifteen minutes ago. I was very, very tired and wondered if Luke was still asleep as I drove home. When I walked in, Yong Jin said, "I haven't heard a peep out of Luke. I'm sure he's still sound asleep. I talked to Gabrielle and she said Luke needed sleep more than food and if he was asleep at supper, let him sleep. You might want to go up and check, but I suspect you'll find him asleep." I walked up the stairs very quietly, looked into my room and saw Luke, now on his stomach, still spreadeagle, sleeping soundly. My handsome, beautiful man had utterly exhausted himself with his art. I really wondered what his secret project was which was taking so much time and energy. I guess I would just have to wait for the unveiling. Luke not only had agreed with Millie, but also was delighted with the idea that his exhibition would be shown twice: at the Saturday night for parents and friends and at the open exhibition on Sunday. I stood at the door and watched him for several minutes, then turned and went downstairs quietly. After supper, I went to my room, sat at my desk and did the little bit of homework I had, looked over the notes Paula, Eugene and I had made today and found I was very tired and very sleepy. It wasn't really late but I undressed as quietly as possible and lay down beside Luke. I was afraid I would wake him, but I didn't. Without waking, he put his arm around me and smiled in his sleep. Drinking in his beauty, feeling his love, I went to sleep, happy.
Part Twenty-nine


        The sun shining in the window waked me and when I opened my eyes, I was looking into Luke's face. The sun had turned his hair into a golden halo and his blue, blue eyes were smiling into mine. Truly he was my beloved Luke. As I smiled he brought his lips to mine and gave me a tender, loving, gentle kiss as he said, "Good morning, Dark Angel."
        "Good morning Bright Angel," I replied as he broke our kiss. "You want to run or play around?"
        "Foolish question. You know I want to play around."
        "How about running and then playing?"
        "Sounds good, but first, I gotta piss." Luke hopped out of bed and dashed across the hall with me right behind. When we had finished that task, we brushed our teeth and Luke took me into his arms and gave me a real Luke, tongue in the mouth kiss. "That's a much nicer good morning kiss now that we have gotten rid of morning dragon mouth," he laughed.
        "Sure you want to run?" I asked as I returned his kiss.
        "Well, I guess so. There's something sexy about your sweaty body that really turns me on."
        He was still holding me close and I couldn't help but observe, "Seems to me you are already pretty turned on or is that something else hard against my leg?"
        Luke laughed and said, "Yea, but let's run." We threw on shorts--it was no longer cold enough to need sweats--and a T-shirt and went down the trellis.
        As we got to the front, Michael and Mary Kathryn came running up. "Don't tell me you slept at my place last night," Luke said to Michael.
        "Don't I wish! No, when I was ready, I decided to go meet Wild Woman. We're ready to run. How about you two?"
        "Matt's been trying to seduce me and make me stay and play around, but I have resisted."
        "He just wants to get you sweaty and hot," Mary Kathryn laughed and, damn, I blushed. I thought I had gotten over that.
        When we had finished our run, Michael turned into his place after kissing Mary Kathryn and we slowed down to a fast walk. "Luke, you sure look a lot better today than you did yesterday," Mary Kathryn observed. "I guess Matt didn't keep you up too late playing around."
        "Actually, sister mine, I fell asleep in Matt's bed while he was in the bathroom yesterday and I didn't wake up until just before we came out for the run."
        "Likely story," Mary Kathryn laughed as she started running toward home.
        "Tell Mom I'm having breakfast with Matt," Luke yelled after her.
        "Tell her you're having Matt for breakfast?" she tossed over her shoulder.
        "Yea, I'm having Matt for breakfast," he yelled. When he turned around he said, "Matt, I thought you had given up blushing," which, of course, brought on a new and improved blush.
        "I owe you one, Luke Hans Yonghon Tongmu Larsen!" I said as I punched him on the arm.
        He immediately went into the "I'm a wounded bird with a broken wing" routine. "I'm so wounded, I can't climb," he pouted, and went into the house through the front door. When he saw Mom in the kitchen, he whined, "Mom Greywolf, your beloved treasure has wounded me!"
        Mom said, "If you two don't behave, I'll wound both of you!" and laughed. "I think we've been through this whole routine a million times." Mom was right. Luke and I had been playing as we did when we were just kids. "Breakfast will be in fifteen minutes."
        Luke and I went upstairs, stripped off our sweat-soaked shirt and shorts, and I scooped Luke into my arms and carried him to the shower. As I bent to turn on the shower and adjust the temperature, Luke was kissing my back, sticking his tongue in my ear and reaching around me to pinch my nipples. I turned to Luke, grabbed his head and crushed my lips against his. We both pushed our hips forward, pressing our hard man's tools together.
        "Babe, we barely have time for even a quick quickie," Luke said. "Wanna wait?"
        "You know I don't want to wait, but I hate quickies. Let's wait," I said, as I kissed my man. We really didn't have much play time in the shower, but even less time for serious love making. We quickly washed the other's hair then soaped each other's body. We were both still hard and I yelled when Luke reached down and turned the hot water off. The sudden shower of icy water almost did the trick. We got out of the shower, dried each other, and I dressed while Luke shaved. He then dressed quickly and we went down to breakfast--late.
        "What was the yelling about cold water I heard," Dad asked.
        "Matt had a little problem--actually it was a pretty big problem--I had to help him take care of," Luke said in mock seriousness. I blushed while Mom and Dad laughed.
        "He certainly did," I laughed, pulling Luke to myself for a kiss. And, damn, I blushed again! "I don't know what's gone wrong with me," I said. "I had just about quit blushing and now I've started over again."
        "Could it be you have something to blush about?" Yong Jin said with a laugh.
        "Mom!" I exclaimed, and blushed again. Luke, Greywolf and Yong Jin all were about to split laughing.
        "Luke, you sure look a lot better this morning than you did yesterday," Greywolf said. "I'm glad Matt didn't keep you awake all night."
        " You know, yesterday I had two feelings when I got here. On the one hand, I felt I definitely should go to the studio, but on the other, I realized I was exhausted and that I did owe Mr. Mitchell his hour for me to enjoy being alive. I walked up the stairs with Matt and, when he went to the bathroom, I went to his room, undressed and lay down. Actually, I barely remember collapsing on his bed. And I had the strangest... well, I guess it was a dream. I don't know what else to call it. I didn't know where I was because suddenly there was a gray fog all around me. I was frightened. I felt I had been there before and I didn't like it. I started to cry out for Matt when, suddenly, the fog began to lift and I was in a very pleasant place with sunshine and blue skies. I couldn't see Matt, but I knew he was near. No longer frightened, I relaxed and soon felt myself drifting high above a beautiful landscape. I felt as light as a cloud, just drifting and experiencing a great feeling of peace and comfort flow through me. I wasn't sure why I could drift in the sky, but it felt wonderful. There was a delightful scent in the air which I recognized as the fragrance of Sarang Hanun Pomul. As I continued to drift, I felt closer and closer to Matt, then I knew he touched my forehead with his lips as he had done when I was in a coma. I could feel him moving away from me, but he had given me his strength. As I felt him leave, I slowly drifted to the ground. I was under a huge tree and I lay down on a bed of soft moss under it. As soon as I lay down, I fell into a deep, peaceful, refreshing sleep. Then it all started fading away and I opened my eyes and saw the sun streaming through the window and my Sarang Hanun Pomul lying beside me. You know, Mom Greywolf, I think you were right. I was close to getting sick or something. I think it was the same place I was when I had those awful nightmares in the hospital only, this time, I wasn't near death, just near being exhausted."
        "Sounds very reasonable to me," Mom said. "You need to remember that and keep it as a warning."
        "I also had that sense of Matt's presence as I did in the hospital. I feel him near sometimes now, but I had forgotten just how powerful his presence can be." There were several minutes of silence and the mood had become very serious compared to our conversation before Luke talked about his dream. I'm sure we were all thinking about how near we had come to not having Luke. I know I was, and felt a single tear run down my cheek. Luke leaned over and kissed it away and said, "There, now it's all better," with exactly the intonation Mom had used as long as I could remember when she kissed a bruise or boo-boo one of the kids had gotten. I smiled and Luke and I ate breakfast.
        When we got to school, Bill pulled into the parking lot right behind us, with Paula and Linda with him. Linda bounced out of the car and said, excitedly, "Paula has good news!"
        "Well, is she going to get to tell us or is Linda the mouth going to?" Luke laughed. Linda put on her pout face which Bill quickly kissed away.
        Paula said, "When I got home yesterday, Mom was home. Generally I don't see her until later because she works until time to go to school and doesn't get out of school until 9:30. I asked her what was wrong and she said, 'Nothing's wrong, things are ok. One of Millie's lawyers, a Mr. Henshaw, asked me to come to his office as soon as possible and I left work immediately. When I got to the office, he had a man from the insurance company there. The long and the short of the story is Mr. Henshaw told Mom that the insurance company had essentially stalled, believing that she would take a lower settlement, until he had contacted the state insurance commission. He told Mom now the company was willing to settle for a little over twice what she would have received had they paid off immediately. Mom could take $500,000 and settle or he would be happy to sue for more. The insurance representative was looking very nervous when Mom said she would have to think about it and asked to talk with Mr. Henshaw alone. Essentially she was told if the case went to court, she might get more or just the original amount after it had been in court for years. 'Millie had me look over your financial situation. With $500,000, you can be debt free. The farm, which is prime property, could be leased. The income from that and the interest on the settlement--even after you pay everything you owe--will get you a very nice house in town and take care of your living expenses.' Mom told him she would take the settlement. She came home, called and resigned her job, called the college to switch to day classes and enrolled as a full-time student beginning in the summer. The farm is up for lease and Mom is looking for a house. So..."
        There were high fives all over the place.
        The rest of the school day was an ordinary school day for a change--at least the school day itself was.


        Lunch was normal, if the way it used to be was normal. We were all talking about Paula's mom's settlement and how if there was one thing people better remember it was don't piss off Millie. "I knew Millie packed a lot of clout around here," Bill said, "but, man, she sent her lawyers to the state and got action." Just before the end of lunch, I told Matt I would be around after school. "Uncle Michael and I are meeting with Mr. Stephenson last period so I'll be here to drive you to St. Mary's--that is, if you can stand spending a few minutes with me this afternoon."
        "I've told you I want to spend every minute with you! But I'm not sure I can take just a few minutes. Besides, it's Friday. I'm not going to St. Mary's." Matt had that look in his eye and his smile made the scar on his face stand out. Margaret had been right; it was damn sexy and was a constant reminder of his love for me.
        "Well, that's all you get!"
        "Then I guess I better get more now," Matt's smile took on a mischievous look as he started rising from his chair and leaning across the table. I couldn't believe it! Matt was sure as hell about to kiss me in the middle of the cafeteria. Holy shit! "Matt! Cool it stud!" I said in a whisper. The whole table cracked up as Matt, laughing, settled back into his chair just as the bell rang.
        At the beginning of last period, I went to the commons area to meet Uncle Michael, who was waiting for me. We walked down the hall toward the band and art rooms at the back of the school. As we neared the band room, we could hear the ensemble practicing. "Luke, the ensemble sure sounds good. I'm surprised that such a small high school--any high school for that matter--has such an excellent group. And this is all their idea?"
        "Yes. I guess they are good because Eugene is excellent and they are doing it out of their love of music. Besides, it is a real challenge, not just a "please the parents" little concert."
        When we reached the art room, Mr. Stephenson was in his office talking to a student. While we waited, Uncle Michael wandered around, looking at the art on display and watching students work. He spied a pot, picked it up and walked toward the window to see it in natural light. When he turned it up, he looked at me and asked, "This is yours, right?"
        "Yes, I took a ceramics class last year. I must have thrown a ton of clay before I produced that. It was about the only decent thing I produced, but I like it very much."
        "It's very good. Are you including it in the portfolio?"
        "I hadn't planned to. Ceramics is not a medium I feel comfortable with."
        "I think you should include it. It's a good piece and it would be another demonstration of your versatility. That's important for the portfolio even if you don't want to include it as a part of the exhibition." He turned again to the window and continued to look at the pot closely.
        He was still facing the window as Mr. Stephenson walked up beside me and spoke. When Uncle Michael turned from the window, Mr. Stephenson practically shouted, "Michael Sanders! I'll be damned!" Realizing what he said, he turned to the class and said, "Excuse me, class, but this is a real surprise! I have known Mr. Sanders for years. Michael, it never occurred to me that 'Uncle Michael' was Michael Sanders and not Michael Andrews. Michael Andrews is a student here and I assumed you were Michael Andrews and he was named for you."
        "Actually, you are right on both counts," Uncle Michael laughed. "It's kinda a long story."
        "Come on in the office where we can talk. Luke, will you excuse us for a few minutes?"
        "There's really no need to exclude Luke unless you particularly want to. He knows the whole story, don't you Luke?" I nodded and Mr. Stephenson still seemed unsure, but Uncle Michael took me by the arm and the three of us went into the office. Since it had a glass wall and Mr. Stephenson could keep an eye on the class, he closed the door and motioned to two chairs for me and Uncle Michael. "I haven't seen you for--what--two years now?" Uncle Michael said.
        "Two years ago spring break was the last time I was in Charleston. That, too, is a long story. But what's this Sanders/Andrews confusion?" Uncle Michael told Mr. Stephenson a short version of the story he had told us at the falls.
        "Of course I knew you and James were a couple and I always wondered why you had the same last name, but never asked. Sorry about James, he was a delightful and really talented man. You have my sympathy. Luke, how did you take the news that Michael was gay?"
        "I knew part of the story, that is I knew David had a brother who had left years ago. I learned the whole of David's part of the story when Matt and I..." Damn! I had just let something slip and immediately looked at Mr. Stephenson and felt myself turn snow white as hot tears started running down my cheeks.
        Uncle Michael reached out, took my hand and said, "It's ok, Luke, what you said or will say is safe with John. Trust me."
        "Luke, I didn't know. But you are two beautiful men inside and outside and if you love each other, I am happy for you. I only hope you will have the kind of relationship Michael and James had.
        "Well, I don't know how it will play out in the long run, but I can tell you, they have no trouble expressing their love for each other and can make out big time," Uncle Michael laughed.
        Suddenly Mr. Stephenson got very quiet. He looked up and I saw his eyes were moist. "That's why you tried to kill yourself." Not a question, but a statement. I nodded. "Why not tell him everything?" I asked myself, took a deep breath and did. When I finished, Mr. Stephenson was weeping silently.
        "Know kinda how you felt, Luke, except in my case..." I looked up quickly and he nodded, "Yes, I tried that way out once. That's why you haven't seen me in Charleston, Michael. Luke, you and Michael have been lucky in love. I think I can say that although you and Matt have been together for only a couple of months. I know you very, very well and I know Matt--not as well as you, but well enough to know that both of you are honest and devoted to everything you do and I have no doubt you will be devoted to each other. I met Michael when my lover and I--yes, I'm gay--went to Charleston on what I guess was our honeymoon. We both loved the place, and on that first trip I met Michael while I was in Sanders and Sanders, admiring stuff I couldn't afford..." Mr. Stephenson looked at Uncle Michael and smiled and Uncle Michael shrugged." Bruce and I talked about moving to Charleston, but I couldn't find a teaching job and, had I done so, the pay would have been really rotten. Bruce was a contractor who designed and installed very expensive kitchens. I realize now we could have lived well on his salary, but he didn't suggest it. So we became part-time lovers. I spent holidays and summers in Charleston and he occasionally came to Lexington and we spent a weekend together. Now it wouldn't have mattered if he came here, but had he done so several years ago, I would have been fired for sure. So we spent precious months, hours, days together. For five years we were lovers. Then, spring break two years ago, I went down and he had a sixteen year-old living with him. I didn't think anything about it when I arrived, but when it came time for bed, he came into the bedroom with us and Bruce said, 'It's three way time! John, you're going to love what a young cock can do for you!' I couldn't believe what I had just heard. I told Bruce there was no way I was going to get involved with someone who could land me in jail and we had agreed we were a monogamous couple. He asked me how I expected him to go without sex while I was here and that Chase, that was the boy's name, was no more illegal than what we would have done by ourselves. 'Besides, you'll like what he can do.' I felt as though my whole world had just disappeared. I just turned, walked out without looking back and walked the streets of Charleston all night, crying until I had no more tears. At sunrise, I was somewhere on a waterfront and as the sun came up, I thought, 'It's a new day for someone, but it's the end of the day for me' and jumped off the dock into the water."
        "When I woke up, I was in a hospital. I was told that an old black fisherman had seen me 'fall' into the water and pulled me out. I had stopped breathing and he got the water out of my lungs and me to breathing again, but I was still unconscious. He literally carried me to a phone at the end of the dock and called the police who sent an ambulance. He didn't tell the police his name, just that he had seen me trip and fall into the water. I guess they believed him because I was released from the hospital two days later and came back to school. I grieved for a long time and finally realized I wasn't making any progress so, when the summer break came, I knew I had to get over Bruce and decided I needed time alone and a change of scenery. I spent the summer hiking the Appalachian trail, taking pictures and coming to grips with myself. In language I sometimes hear around here, 'I got my shit together.' I still missed Bruce--the Bruce I thought I had known and knew I loved--but I realized I had a life to live and, there among the mountains, I decided it was worth living." When Mr. Stephenson stopped talking, there was a long silence as he sat with his head down. He finally looked up and said, "Michael, as painful as James death had to be for you, be thankful because he loved you to the end. 'Till death do us part,' that's what I had said to Bruce, but... Luke, you are a very lucky man if Matt Greywolf loves you as you deserve to be loved.... Now, we have an exhibition to talk about."
        He and Uncle Michael spent so much time catching up, there was very little time left--so Mr. Stephenson suggested he come out to the studio tomorrow and work with Uncle Michael and Greywolf. "Do you need me to bring my large format camera?" he asked. Before Uncle Michael could answer, the bell ending school sounded and students rushed out of the room, headed for the weekend.
        When they had gone, Uncle Michael said, "That would be great." About that time, Matt walked into the office. When Mr. Stephenson saw him he said, "Hi, Matt, I hope you know you are a very lucky man. Michael, Luke, I'll see you two in the morning around nine. Right now I've got to rush. I have a dental appointment."
        Uncle Michael, Matt and I walked out of the building together and when we reached the parking lot, Uncle Michael said, "Matt, I can take Luke to the studio and you can keep your Jeep."
        Matt didn't seem right and I was sure I knew what was gnawing him. "Matt doesn't go to St. Mary's today," I said. "I'll go with him." And to myself I said, "I damn well better go with Matt; we've got a problem."
        "See you later," Uncle Michael said and walked to his car.
        "You need to get to your studio," Matt answered. "You have to get ready for the photographs tomorrow." His voice was calm, cool--no, cold.
        "Matt, I need to be with you and if I'm not ready tomorrow, too bad. We're more important than any damn exhibition!"
        "Ok," was all he said. I don't mean just then, I mean all the way home. When we reached his place I said, "Just stop here." He pulled into the drive, I got out of the Jeep, grabbed the blanket and said, "Let's go." Matt made no response, but followed me as we walked toward the falls. For the first time in two months, we walked side-by-side without holding hands. I crossed the canes across the path, spread the blanket and we sat down. Silence. Just when I had decided I was going to have to break the silence, Matt--his head hanging down--said, "You told Mr. Stephenson about us, didn't you? Why, Luke, why?" He looked up at me with tears in his eyes.
        My first impulse was to say, "Look, Matt, you told half the damn hospital without my knowledge," and caught myself. I remember how I had reacted then and knew that I was about to do something we had promised each other we would never do. I was about to intentionally hurt Matt. I bit my lip and said, "Matt, it just slipped out. Please, let me tell you what happened and then we will talk about it, please." His head still hanging down, Matt nodded--thank God--and I told him the whole story.
        When I finished, he said nothing for what seemed hours, but couldn't be more than a couple minutes. Then he looked up at me, started to say something, but stopped, put his arms around me and gave me a long, brutal kiss. "Luke, I am so sorry! While you were talking, I remembered what happened in the hospital when you found out I had told people and I remembered our promises that we would never hurt each other intentionally. Yonghon Tongmu, I am so very, very sorry. Please forgive me."
        "If you forgive me." His answer was another passion-filled kiss as he started undressing me, almost ripping my shirt off. As he undressed me, he started kissing my body all over as I undressed him. As soon as we were both naked, he climbed atop my body and went wild, kissing me, licking my chest, and giving me deep french kisses. He was a Korean Lakota wild man. Damn, I was enjoying my Matt but, when he went for my manhood, I knew that promises were about to broken and underneath his fun-loving, seemingly seldom-serious exterior, Matt was a super-sensitive person and would hate himself so I reached down and pulled him up my body and brought my lips to his. Matt kissed me passionately, almost brutally, his tongue exploring all of my mouth. He kept his lips to mine until I realized we were breathing together. His body was moving all over mine, his arrow rubbing against my stomach, as mine was his. He grabbed a handful of hair on either side of my head and pulled my lips to his even harder. I released his hair and it covered us. I rolled over until I was on top of him, his hair like a black cloud surrounding his head on the blanket. Both of us were streaming precum. I started kissing his neck and ears, his chest. Matt was groaning, tossing his head from side to side. I began sliding up and down on his now sweaty and precum-slick body. My man's tool was becoming very sensitive. Suddenly I knew I was beyond the point of no return and, just as my manhood pulsed for the first time, Matt started shooting like crazy. He screamed, "Yonghon Tongmu, Yonghon Tongmu" loudly. As I climaxed, I bit Matt's neck just below his ear where I had been sucking, hard. Spasm after spasm shook my body with the intensity of my eruption. It was so intense that my head was filled with shooting stars and I finally collapsed, completely drained, on Matt's body. I lay still, not moving, my eyes closed.
        I felt Matt's fingers in my hair and then he began to stroke it slowly. When I opened my eyes, he was staring into them, a sweet, gentle smile on his face. "Yonghon Tongmu," he asked, "how can you be both so controlled and yet passionate in utter abandon?"
        I smiled at my Dark Angel and said, "I think the answer to your question is that I am hopelessly in love with Sarang Hanun Pomul and, more than anything in the world, I want to make him happy."
        "Then you need to know you do a perfect job of that!" Matt said, his eyes smiling as he pulled me in for a long, gentle kiss. "Yonghon Tongmu, day after day you make me the happiest man in the world--even when I make it hard for you..."
        "No, you don't make it hard for me. You make it hard for you," I responded with a smile. We just lay, holding each other, looking into the windows of our souls for a long time. Finally I said, "Sarang Hanun Pomul, I need to get to the studio and if we don't do a little cleaning up, we'll both have to go, stuck together!"
        Matt laughed, stood up, swung his black mane around, grabbed my hand and started running toward the top of the falls. When we reached the top, he took me into his arms, kissed me deeply, held my hand and we dived. After such hot lovemaking the cool water was refreshing, so we swam for a short time, got out and used our shirts for towels. This time we did walk across the meadow hand-in-hand. We were about half-way to his house when he turned and said, "Luke, I really am sorry for what I did to you this afternoon. It must have made me seem ashamed of our love. I'm not. I guess..."
        "Matt, I know you are not ashamed of our love and even I can understand, given what we have been through recently, how telling anyone is frightening. I know that, had you been there, you would not have been frightened at all, but you weren't. You're sorry for your reaction, I'm sorry for causing it. It's just one of those bumps in our road together. Let's hope there are none bigger." I took Matt into my arms and drew his naked chest to mine. I placed my lips against his in a kiss I hoped would convey the depth of my love for him, and Matt returned it with equal passion. As we broke our kiss, I realized that there had been some marks from our lovemaking before, but this time Matt was going to have a lot of explaining to do. "Babe, no-one is going to believe we had even the smallest bump in our road when they see your neck!"
        "You don't think I could claim a bug bite?"
        "Not unless you say it's a flea from Eugene's Easter bunny!" When we reached Matt's place, he drove me to the studio. "Babe, I won't see you again until late tomorrow afternoon. I have got to work as long as I can. Dream of me," I said as I kissed him goodbye.
        When I got to studio, the first thing I did was throw up a temporary screen so I could work on my project. I looked at the one which was completed and was really pleased with it. I would let the men photograph it tomorrow. I was not sure when the other--much more complex and difficult--would be completed, but I was sure of one thing: no project was important enough to take me back to that place where I had been fighting exhaustion, as I had been the night before, or to drive a wedge between me and Matt. Sure he had over-reacted, but that didn't matter. Regardless of the reason, when a wedge came between us it had to be removed. That was for damn sure.
        All the parts for the big piece were complete and I started assembling it. The work went quickly, much faster than I expected. Then came a moment of truth. I had a 3 by 5 foot sheet of glass which was about two inches thick. It had to be lifted and mounted in framework prepared for it. I struggled with it, trying first one thing and then another, but there was no way I was going to get the piece in place. I could manage to wrestle it around, but even if I could get the piece up, I'd need two more hands to mount it. Damn, why hadn't I seen this was going to be a problem? Because I was pig-headed and was all-sufficient. Well, there was only one thing to do. Tomorrow when Greywolf, Uncle Michael and Mr. Stephenson came over, I would swallow my foolish pride and ask for help. After all, Mr. Washington and Herr Dietrich had helped. But of course, they were outside the family and the piece was a surprise for the family. "You fool!" I thought to myself, "You can't do it alone. You are going to have to accept help. You can stay here all night, frustrated, or you can accept that you are human, one human being, and you can't do everything!" Suddenly I realized I was smiling. I mean I was smiling before I realized it. There was nothing more I could do--or needed to do for that matter.
        I closed the studio, looked at my watch and saw it was just past one. When I looked up, Matt's room was dark. My smile got larger. I walked down the road in the dark of the moon. It had taken my eyes a while to adjust, but there was enough starlight for me to manage after I had stood outside the studio for a few minutes, thinking about how things had changed in the past two months.
        I walked slowly toward Matt's place, climbed the trellis and went to Matt's room. Because the moon was dark, I could barely make out the body of my dark beauty lying on the white sheet, but I didn't have to see clearly to again realize how handsome he was, his long braid lying across his chest. I undressed and climbed in bed beside him without waking him. He turned in his sleep and spooned himself against me, his arm reaching over me.


        Luke was working in his studio and I decided I would finish Monday's homework Friday night to be free should he have time for us to spend together. Having finished my homework, I looked over the notes I had made for myself concerning organ parts of the recital/concert. There were some pieces that needed work--not that I wasn't doing them well, I just knew I could improve. I wasn't devoting a great deal of time to practice for Sunday, but I knew St. Mary's wasn't being short-changed. I had been playing so long that hymns were familiar and the other music was music I had known for years. I had finished with music by 9:30, and I suppose the emotional drain of the afternoon was taking a toll on me. I was pretty tired, but decided I would read awhile before going to bed. After Bill had created the Fellowship of the Rings, I decided to re-read Tolkein. I had read the trilogy when I was in junior high and found, as I read the books again, I was reading a very different story. No wonder Mom's students got excited when she assigned the Brothers Grimm to senior high school students. Since I read and re-read those stories, I guess I wasn't conscious of how what I know and understand, how my feelings and emotions determine much of what I see when I read. It was an amazing revelation to me. After reading for about an hour, I undressed, went to bed and almost immediately I was dreaming of Luke.
        Sometime during the night, I sensed Luke's presence coming closer and closer. Without waking up, I realized he was beside me and I was happy. I had mentioned to Mom that Luke and I could feel the other approaching--sometimes the feeling was much stronger or clearer than others--and that I found this very strange. She said, "Well, I am a modern Korean--at least a modern half-Korean--and a college graduate, so I found the whole idea of shaman old-fashioned and superstitious, but when I said so to my grandmother just after I had finished high school, she said, 'You don't know what you are talking about. Our family has always had members who were shaman and, unlike most, they have all been males. Not only that, through the many, many years of our family history, some have passed the shamanistic power to someone to whom they were close. You'll be convinced one of these days.' I guess, Matt, I am convinced!" She laughed, but I knew there was a seriousness beneath her laugh. Me, a shaman? It was certainly a weird idea.
        When Saturday morning came, the sun woke me and I saw Luke's golden hair before my face. I raised up on one elbow slowly and looked at my sleeping beauty. How could anyone--even an angel--be more handsome than Luke Hans Yonghon Tongmu Larsen? The answer was pure and simple--it was not possible! Even seeing only his back, I had been sure of that and now that I was looking down on his profile, my heart skipped a beat at his beauty and, without thinking I said, "YES!" pulling my fist through the air. "And he's MINE! YES!" As Luke stirred, turned on his back and smiled up at me, I attacked, planting the day's first kiss passionately, hard on his lips.
        "Dark Angel, what's going on here? Not that I don't like it!" He pulled me atop his body and placed his lips against mine, gently.
        "Bright Angel, I felt you come to me last night even though I didn't wake up, and when I woke up this morning and saw you... Babe, I was just celebrating the fact that you are the most handsome man in the world and you're MINE!"
        "I think I disagree with the first part of that, but you are absolutely, positively correct about the second. I am yours and you are MINE!" Luke kissed me quickly and said, "But that doesn't change the fact that morning wood is related more to the need to piss than to make love!" We both jumped out of bed and ran across the hall. That ritual finished, we did the "prevent cavities" routine. "Shower?" Luke asked, a wicked grin on his face as he turned on the water.
        "I don't feel like I need one. You just go ahead," I said, trying to sound serious. The words were hardly out before I felt myself being lifted into the air and placed squarely in the shower.
        "Luke, the water's cold!" I yelled.
        "Not if you help me heat it up," he said, then adjusted the temperature. Unlike our recent shower sessions, we played like two little boys, grabbing and tickling each other, wrestling in the shower and squirting body wash on each other until the shower was filling up with suds. We finally got calmed down enough to exchange a few really great kisses, washed each other's hair and rinsed the suds off. "I've got to get out of here and to the studio soon," Luke said.
        "You know you'll not escape without breakfast."
        "Then I guess I need this," he said as he reached out and turned all the hot water off--again!
        "Luke!!! Look what you have done." The water was COLD and it had done what cold showers are supposed to do. "You killed Chili Pepper."
        "Yea, looks like Little Luke is almost hiding or something." We both hopped out of the shower and dried each other.
        "We keep doing this and I guess I'll have to get my hair cut. It keeps getting wet."
        "You dare! You just dare! I'll shave my head if you cut the tiniest bit off. That hair is MINE because it's on MY MAN. I think we made that clear awhile ago."
        "Then you're going to have to dry it for me."
        "Terrible job. It could take me all day," Luke laughed.
        "I thought you were in a great rush to get to your studio."
        "That was before you aroused my hair fetish," Luke said, as he picked up the drier and my brush. It does take a long time to get my hair completely dry, but I never do that. When Luke finished, I dried his. It really takes as long to do Luke's because, while it doesn't look long, it is. His curls hold it close to his head--well, they used to do that, now there was so much it was obviously long. When I had finished, he went back to the bathroom and shaved. Every time I see him do that I give thanks for my hairless genes! We finally got dressed and went downstairs where Greywolf was fixing breakfast--his Saturday chore.
        "Sounded like rough-housing going on upstairs," he said in a mock stern voice.
        "Luke tried to freeze me--again," I pouted.
        "I guess he has finally found a way to get you under control so he can get to work at a reasonable time," Dad laughed.        

Uncle Michael    
        I saw Luke walking out to his studio and went out to join him. He told me the problem he was having with his piece and showed me the unassembled work. It was going to be something special and that was certain! "I think you, John and I can handle the assembly," I said. After all, John and I aren't a part of this." Luke laughed and pointed to two spots on the glass. "Damn, Luke, you have flat covered everything," I laughed. "Well, we'll just have to wait until Greywolf and John get here," I said.
        "I guess you were really surprised to see Mr. Stephenson yesterday?" Luke asked. "He said you two had met in Charleston some years ago."
        "'Really surprised' doesn't begin to cover it. As John had said, I met him when he came into the gallery one day and just wandered around looking at pieces. I don't mean to sound snooty, but it was obvious he was not the kind who were patrons of Sanders and Sanders. It was equally obvious, as he walked around the gallery, he knew good art and had excellent taste. Nonetheless, it was clear he lacked one thing that all Sanders and Sanders patrons had--money, lots of money. I walked over to where he was looking at a small Japanese porcelain bowl--exquisite in every way. 'Beautiful, isn't it?'"
        "'Absolutely beautiful. In fact, I have seen little here I wouldn't consider beautiful. Well, that's not quite true. I have seen nothing that isn't excellent, but not all to my taste and I guess beauty truly is in the eye of the beholder.'"
        "'Would you like that piece?' I had asked him and he laughed."
        "'I'm John Stephenson, a public school art teacher. Does that answer your question? Yes, I would like it. Could you sell it to me? No--since it would cost a couple month's salary--at least.' I took an immediate liking to John. He was open, friendly, cheerful, and had a grand sense of humor."
        "'I'm Michael Sanders,' I said, extending my hand. 'Do you have time for coffee? Tea?' I asked as he continued turning the bowl over in his hands."
        "'Sure. I'm here on spring break and my friend is out looking into jobs. We would like to move here, but it looks as though I'm pretty much stuck where I am and so I'm alone while he looks around.' We went into a sitting room where we often relaxed with many of our customers. John and I were talking about art, about my studying at Chicago and all sorts of things. While we were having coffee, James came in and I guess didn't see John in the high back chair so he walked in, came over and gave me a kiss. When I said,'James, meet John Stephenson,' James actually turned red. It was one of the few times I saw something get away with him. 'John, since all art dealers are supposed to be gay, James and I put on a good act,' I said to see James' response."
        "He was still a light pink, but was not about to let me get away with that. 'The problem is, he keeps up the act twenty-four hours a day. John Stephenson, I'm James Sanders and Michael here is my partner for life. That is a beautiful bowl you have chosen. I know you will enjoy it.'"
        "'Maybe for a few more minutes, but I have told Mr.Sanders...'"
        "'Michael--I am a public school art teacher and this would cost a couple month's salary. But it is a wonderful, beautiful piece.'"
        "We sat and talked for a couple hours. He felt safe, I guess, in telling us about his relationship with Bruce and how they wanted to move to Charleston, but he couldn't find a teaching job and that, even if he could, the salaries were really poor. All the time we were talking, he was holding and stroking the Japanese bowl. When it was time for him to go, James said, 'John, the bowl obviously belongs to you. It is a gift to you with only one condition. Should you ever wish to part with it, Sanders and Sanders gets first chance at bidding on it.' Only yesterday did I realize what James meant by what he said next. When John said, 'I guess I can consider it a kind of honeymoon gift,' James said, 'No, it is Michael's and my gift to you in appreciation of the sacrifice you are making on behalf of your students and of your appreciation of the piece. It is yours.' Yesterday I thought of that. There was nothing Bruce bound up in the gift so it is not a reminder of a failed relationship, but of a long friendship which is still ongoing." Just as I finished, Greywolf and John drove up. Luke had pulled the screen across and hidden the piece to be assembled.
        "Greywolf, if you'll wait outside, Luke, John and I need to try something before you come in," I said. Greywolf nodded and the three of us went inside. With the three, positioning the glass in its frame was going to be, not easy, but possible. "Do you want to finish the assembly now or wait?" I asked Luke.
        "Let's leave it for last," he said. "There's still a bit of work I can do on it."
        John, Greywolf and I set up the camera and lights and started photographing the pieces. John's art was photography and generally he knew far better than I how to show a piece to its best advantage. However there were times, knowing the printing process as I do, I had suggestions to make so the picture in the catalog would show best. With two people to move lights and set up pieces, the process was going very rapidly. Just after midmorning, Luke came from behind the screen and started helping as well. About noon, all was finished except for the two pieces Luke was keeping secret.
        "Thanks a mint, Greywolf," Luke said, "that's it except for the two pieces I'm keeping secret. Mr. Stephenson and Uncle Michael will help with those. Tell Matt I'll see him about 1:30 or 2:00 if he's free. And, again, thanks."
        "Glad to help. See you for lunch?"
        "No, I think I better let Mom and Dad see me so they will recognize me the next time they see me," Luke laughed.
        Luke had the major piece all assembled except for mounting the glass sheet. It was very heavy but, by using a hoist and with me and John to guide it, Luke was able to swing it into place. It slipped once and I thought I would have a heart attack and Luke looked as if he had. We all three sat down and tried to relax. When we had regained some composure, the glass was hoisted again and Luke guided it into its mounts and it slipped right in. He then attached hold-down brackets and the piece was complete. He had created a beautiful piece of work and, just as I started to tell him that, he flipped a switch. I had not noticed the piece was plugged into the wall. Ordinarily, pieces which require power to move do not move me, but this one did. As I looked at it, I felt a lump in my throat and a tear ran down my cheek. It was magnificent! John was staring at the finished piece, obviously awe-struck at what his student had accomplished.
        "Luke, it is incredible," John said and I agreed.
        "Well, let's see the other one," John said.
        Luke had moved the screen back and there was a rather large canvas on an easel covered with a white cloth. When Luke, dramatically, unveiled the painting on the easel, both John and I gasped in awe. Neither of us spoke for several minutes until Luke, who was standing frozen, still grasping the cloth which had covered the painting, said, "Well?"
        "Luke, I never expected to see something this good from a student, ever. It literally took my breath away and I can see why you wanted to keep it secret."
        "Luke, I don't think I even need to ask but, should that piece ever be for sale, Sanders and... No, Michael Andrews--this one--gets first crack at it." Luke's face was quickly covered with a grin from ear to ear. "John, I think this calls for a major celebration. How about I take Luke and his favorite art teacher to Lexington for dinner and maybe a movie or something?"
        "I would be delighted, but I suspect Luke would not be too happy with two old men. Maybe if we could find him a date..."
        I was watching Luke's face. I would have placed money on his not being able to broaden his smile, but I would have lost. "Luke, see if you can find a date. I'll make reservations for dinner at 8:00 and we'll think about what to do after. John, do you know any places good enough for a fine young artist and his teacher?"
        "Yea, a couple. Luke, tell your date as well, dress will be not as casual as school clothes, but not as formal as ties."
        "John, come in and we'll take care of reservations. Luke, see you about 6:30?"
        Luke said, "Yea. Laters," and went running toward Greywolf's.

        I must admit that I had a pretty lazy Saturday morning after Luke left. For the first time in weeks, I did my Saturday chores including mowing the grass. When I finished I took a shower--this time by myself so it didn't take long--threw on fresh shorts and shirt and went downstairs. Dad had lunch ready--Mom had a ton of papers to grade and, since I did my chores and Dad got back from Luke's place before she or I were finished, Dad did lunch. We sat down and started talking about all that had happened the last week or so. I could hardly believe all that had gone on. "And that doesn't count Yong Jin's baby getting a hickey the size of a silver dollar," Dad said. I blushed.
        "I first thought it might have been a mere bug bite, but then I saw it was a common hickey, although I believe poetically they are often called love bites," Mom said in her best classroom voice. I was blushing like mad and Mom and Dad were laughing at me and the more they laughed, the more I blushed and it went on and on.
        I heard Luke yell, "Anybody home," as he came in the front door.
        "Luke, come rescue me," I yelled in response.
        When Luke reached the kitchen, he took one look at me and said, in pouty baby talk, "Is your mean old mommy and mean old daddy making poor little Matt blush? Naughty mommy. Naughty daddy."
        I was ready to strangle him! I got up and made a dive for him, and he caught me and laughed as he pressed his lips to mine. When he broke the kiss, he still held me as he said, "Mr. and Mrs. Greywolf, I would like permission to date your baby boy tonight. We need to do something datey. We never have."
        "I don't know, Mr. Larsen," Mom said. "He was out somewhere with someone and came back all hickeyed."
        "Yes, we're not sure whether he will be safe or not. Besides, you never know what can happen to a young innocent--but hot to trot--young man," Dad said.
        "Ok, so he's not innocent," Dad said.
        Luke looked at me, kissed me and said to Mom and Dad, "I'm glad he's blushing again. I was afraid he was becoming so corrupt that nothing would make him blush."
        "Ok, what's with this datey stuff?" I asked.
        "Mom, Dad Greywolf, I wanted Matt and me to have a date like a normal couple would but, when I suggested it, he pointed out that we had too much to do. I don't know about Matt, but I'm ready for my exhibition. Of course, it will have to be set up, but that has to wait until the week before it opens. I'll need to review for AP exams and when the pictures are developed, I'll have to get the catalog ready for Millie's printer, but now there's a kind of slack period and Uncle Michael wanted to take me and my art teacher to Lexington for dinner at a fancy place and maybe a movie or something afterward. Mr. Stephenson pointed out that I probably wouldn't be happy with just two old men and suggested I might want to see if I could find a date."
        "He knows..."
        "Yes, he does, Mom. I was a jerk when I found out Luke had told him," I said right away.
        "Drop it," Luke said, "Just drop it! So if it's all right with his mom and dad, I'd like a date with Matthew Sarang Hanun Pomul Greywolf tonight. I promise to have him home before his carriage turns to a pumpkin."
        "Just bring him back relatively unsoiled," Dad said in his "stern father" voice.
        "Matt, not as casual as school, not as formal as a tie. Uncle Michael and Mr. Stephenson will pick us up at 6:30-6:45. Now I'm going home and eat lunch and see if my family still recognizes me. See you about 6:15" and with that, Luke kissed me goodbye and went rushing out the door.
Part Thirty

        I left Matt's place and walked home slowly, thinking about all that had happened since that day I had dived off the falls, only half conscious because of the sleeping pills. So very much had been packed into a little over two months and there was so much to be crammed in the coming months. When I got home, Mom, Dad and Mary Kathryn were about half-finished with lunch. Mom quickly prepared a place for me and all three bombarded me with questions as I tried to eat. I finally was able to tell them all my pieces for the exhibition were complete and the photography done. "Mr. Stephenson is developing the negatives and making the prints himself so they will be exactly right. I still have to complete writing the catalog and getting Yong Jin to check it. Millie wants it as soon as possible since it will be in full color, on special paper and custom bound. I thought I might work on it tonight, but Uncle Michael is taking Mr.  Stephenson, Matt and me to Lexington for dinner tonight and a movie or something afterward.  That is ok, isn't it?"
        "Not only is it ok, but I'm glad you are doing it," Mom said. "I have been worried about you lately because I know you are not getting enough rest or eating right."
        "I agree with your mom," Dad said. "But I do wish we saw more of you. I know you have been working late a lot, but we seldom see you."
        "I'm not going to be so busy the next couple weeks. Of course, there is only a week before AP exams and they take a good part of two weeks. When they are over, I'll have to set right to work getting the exhibition set up. Uncle Michael is going to help with that and any other willing hands will be welcome. I just don't have a lot of time these days and when I do..." I started to say I spend it with Matt, but decided not to.
        "You spend it with Matt," Dad finished for me.
        "Yes, I do."
        "Luke, I have really been giving a lot of thought to your relationship with Matt."
        "Uh oh," I thought, "I have barely seen my family in a couple weeks and now I'm going to get the lecture."
        "I still don't understand it. I know the Church's position and that still doesn't make sense to me, but I do know Matt Greywolf and Luke Larsen. I know that if they say they love each other, they do. If it was just a fad or phase, there has been enough happen to made a half-wit rethink such a choice, if it were a choice. I have come to the point where I wish it wasn't the way it is and, as I said, I don't understand it but, to tell the truth, I don't understand my relationship with your mother either. I mean I can't explain it and would be a fool to try. I guess... Hell, Luke, what I am trying to say is that I'd like to see you around more and I know that if Matt were your mom, I'd be in his bed every night--well, that's not what I mean..."
        Dad was clearly struggling to say something and was having a hard time. I wanted to say, "Spit it out, Dad," but just waited.
        "Damn it, Luke, if you love Matt Greywolf and he loves you, you are both welcome in this house."
        "I know that, Dad." It began to dawn on me where Dad was headed, but I wanted to hear him say the words.
        "Well, that's not what I mean. You and Matt still not...?" Dad stammered to a stop and blushed as big as Matt would have.
        "Having sex?" I finally said after it was obvious Dad wasn't going to get it out. Dad nodded.  "I guess I'd have to know what you mean by having sex. We are not having intercourse, if that's what you mean. Other than that, do you want details?" I glanced at Mary Kathryn who was about to pop laughing and when I looked at Mom, she was certainly enjoying Dad's discomfort.
        "No! No, no details. You told me what I wanted to know. And you're holding to your eighteenth birthday promise?"
        "With great difficulty. It is very hard." I gave a sideways glance at Dad to see his reaction.
        Dad burst out laughing and said, "I certainly imagine it is! Both of them!"
        "Dad, what do you think we are?"
        "Two horny almost-eighteen-year-old males. I have been there. Ok, Luke, what I have been trying to say is that Matt is welcome in this house and so long as it is ok with you, he is welcome to share your bed. Damn, that was hard to get out."
        I grabbed Dad and hugged him tightly and said, "Dad, sex aside--as much as a horny almost-eighteen-year-old can put sex aside, thanks for accepting what I know is hard for you. I know that you wish things were different, but thanks for accepting me and my love and the man I love more than anything else in this world."
        "Does the same rule apply to me and Mich..."
        "Only if you want him hanged, drawn and quartered, young lady," Dad said and I knew he was only half-joking!
        With the question of my sleeping with Matt in my house out of the way, the four of us sat around the lunch table for another hour talking about all that had gone on and what was ahead of us. "I guess next week's big news will be the trial of Orie and his gang," Mary Kathryn said.
        "I understand that the other three are unlikely to go to trial for a while. They are in the state hospital for ninety days observation and evaluation, and will probably be sent to a treatment center rather than prison. Rumors around town are that the real bombshell will hit when the facts come out about Rev. McBride," Mom said.
        We talked a while longer, then I helped Mary Kathryn clear the table and put the dishes in the dishwasher. That done, I joined Dad and we did a few odd jobs around the farm--something I hadn't done for awhile. As we worked, we talked and joked around, more than we had ever done before he had found out I was gay. But the matter of my sleeping with Matt and my relationship with Matt had been settled--for him and, I thought, for me--the "books balanced and closed" and was, therefore, not mentioned. I had always known Dad loved me, but now he made efforts to show it and I appreciated it and let him know that. While the jobs we were doing weren't hard work, the day was pretty warm and the jobs messy so, about 5:00, Dad said, "Luke, if you are going to be presentable for a dinner date, you had better knock off and take a shower. I'm sure you stink!"
        I went to the house, showered, shaved again--the whole nine yards--and then came the problem of what to wear. Two months ago the answer would have been easy: the first shirt and pants I found, but now... less casual than school, more casual than a tie. I looked in my closet and found a green--Mom called it teal--silk shirt which did strange things to my eyes--they looked a very different color blue--and a pair of slacks the same color, but much darker. When I put them on and looked in the mirror, I was pleased. I also loved my hair. I was surprised Dad hadn't said something about its length--it was no longer fashionable to have long hair and he was happy "long hair is finally out," but I liked it. It looked almost like a 60s Afro except it was pale, pale blond. As I was buttoning my shirt, my medallion fell out and I thought, "Tonight I don't have to hide anything!" and left it out. It went well with the color of my shirt. I looked in the mirror again and thought, "Damn, man, Matt has a hunk on his hands!  YES!"
        When I got downstairs, Dad had come in and Mom, Dad and Mary Kathryn all gave me a once over.  Dad said, "Son, you are a handsome young man. I am proud of you."
        Mom gave me a kiss and said, "Luke, you are just plain beautiful".
        Mary Kathryn stuck a finger to my butt, made a sizzling noise and said, "Damn, what a hot stud! My how the women will weep."
        I guess I had been hanging around Matt too long. Old cool and collected Luke blushed big time! I gave all three a kiss on the cheek and said, "Don't wait up for me."
        "Remember, you and Matt are welcome here," Dad said and Mom nodded agreement.
        I kissed both again and said, "Thanks from the bottom of my heart for me and Matt. Laters."
        I walked down the road to Matt's and found myself whistling "More." I was one happy camper!
        After Luke left, Dad and I did work around the house that had been neglected since we had both been busy. As we worked, I told him the story of Mr. Stephenson and Uncle Michael. We also talked about the upcoming trial of Orie and his crew, speculated about what would happen to Jake and the two others who were still undergoing observation and evaluation at the state mental hospital. "I suspect there is going to be a real rotten mess revealed when Rev. McBride comes to trial," Dad observed. "Wonder how Joyce will handle that?"
        We also talked about the upcoming AP exams. I told Dad I felt I was pretty well prepared, but knew it was going to be a hard two weeks. "You do recall you are excused from school after you finish a day's exam? I urge you to take full advantage of that. Just relax and enjoy yourself or, at least, don't start trying to cram for the next exam. That just defeats your purpose."
        We had finished several small tasks and tackled the big one--cleaning a stable. When we finished Dad said, "Matt, it's five. I think you better get ready for your big date." I hugged Dad and when I did he said, "And be sure to shower twice! You're sweaty as a mule and smell worse!"
        I had a leisurely shower, enjoying the warm water on muscles which had not been used for some time until today. I went to my room wishing Luke was there to brush and dry my hair, but I had to manage. Then I had to decide what to wear. I started looking at shirts, trying to find a turtleneck to cover the mark left by one Mr. Luke Larsen, but wasn't satisfied with any. As I bent over, looking in a chest drawer, my hair kept falling in my face and that gave me an inspiration! I opened a small box which Mom had brought from Korea, in which I kept very special things, and found what I was looking for. I put them on the bed, then got dressed--off-white, actually light buckskin-colored, slacks and a very special shirt I had worn very few times. When I looked in the mirror, I liked what I saw and when I noticed my medallion--the shirt didn't button, but slipped over my head and had a pretty low cut neckline--I pulled it outside. Tonight I was not going to hide.
        When Luke arrived, I met him downstairs. He was absolutely gorgeous! I wanted to climb his bod right there in the living room, but satisfied myself with just drinking in his beauty and kissing him passionately. As I finished the kiss, Mom and Dad came in to greet Luke, and both stopped and looked at me. "Thank you," Dad said.
        "You are a beautiful Lakota Korean, my man child," Mom said. "And Luke, he had to go all out to come close to being as handsome--and beautiful--as you are."
        "You certainly are a handsome young man, Luke. And, I would add, just as handsome on the inside," Dad said.
        When I arrived at Matt's, I was thunderstruck. Matt was dressed in buckskin-colored slacks and was wearing a ribbon shirt. His dad had bought it for him when they had gone to a pow wow last year. Cherokee, the shirt was a pull-over with a low cut front opening which gave an inviting glimpse of Matt's hard upper chest. The sleeves, collar and back and front shoulders were decorated with bands of ribbon. Streamers of ribbon hung from the tops of the sleeves and the front and back shoulder yokes. In spite of Matt being dark, Greywolf had chosen a black shirt with blood red ribbons. He told Matt red and black were the colors of a warrior and said, "Matt, I expect you to wear it with honor and remember, whether you are wearing it or not, you are to be a true warrior--one who fights against injustice and for the right regardless where you are or what you are wearing." Matt had a beadwork head band of red and black holding his hair in place. The hickey I had given him was covered by a wide choker of white bone, red and black beads on black leather thongs, with a wolf's head carved from bone at the front. It, also, was a gift from his dad. The medicine man who had prepared Greywolf for his vision quest had given it to him and Greywolf gave it to Matt on his sixteenth birthday. Standing before me was a noble Lakota warrior as I had imagined him to be--well, except for the Cherokee shirt.
        "Do you think this is not as casual as school..."
        "There's certainly no question about that, Dark Angel," I said, still in awe of my Matt.  "Maybe less casual than a tie, but that choker--I don't know. Damn you are beautiful and handsome and powerful and awesome and I love you madly, Matthew Sarang Hanun Pomul Greywolf."  Matt just gave me a wide grin, grabbed me and gave me a full, open mouth, tongue-sucking kiss. Before things could get completely out of hand, the doorbell rang.
        Greywolf opened the door and Uncle Michael and Mr. Stephenson came in. Greywolf said, "I don't know whether you dare be seen with these two tonight or not," as they came into the living room. When Uncle Michael and Mr. Stephenson saw Matt and me, both whistled. Then Mr.  Stephenson said, "Matt, I can see how you ins... might inspire someone dressed as you are. Sorry you never come to school showing your--What, Greywolf?--heritage."
        "Lakota on my side. But he's wearing a Cherokee shirt. I guess that's ok," Greywolf laughed.  "And he'll have to be Korean next time or Yong Jin will have both our heads!"
        "You both are wearing exquisite medallions. They look identical," Uncle Michael said.
        "Thanks. They are slightly different and have a story behind them," I said. "I'll tell you about them on the way to Lexington."
        We said goodbye to the Greywolfs and left for Lexington. Uncle Michael drove a Lexus which was loaded. As soon as we were on our way, I told the story of the medallions. "And you promised to wait until you're eighteen before you--we used to call it--go all the way?"
        "It's really a promise to ourselves. No-one else has asked us to promise. Greywolf just said he wished we would. "Damn, Matt, in all the excitement of being attacked by a Lakota warrior, I forgot a very important bit of news. Dad told me this afternoon that you were welcome in our house..."
        "Aside from one night, when was that not true?"
        "Let me finish. And in my bed." Matt once again became an attacking Lakota warrior, kissing me like mad. "But, well, it was hard for him to get it out. But he did say it."
        "You mean it's ok for you two to sleep together? What about this no sex promise?" Mr.  Stephenson asked.
        "Both are true, not that it's easy, in fact it's very hard..."
        "I bet!" he laughed.
        We chatted a while longer then Uncle Michael said, "Michael gave me a tape and said I should play it on the way over to get you two in the mood for a great evening." He slipped a cassette into his tape player and--you know--"More than the greatest love the world has known..." poured from a fantastic sound system.
        When we arrived in Lexington, Mr. Stephenson directed Uncle Michael to THE hotel in town where the valet parking attendants just about broke their necks trying to be the one to park the Lexus. Once inside, Mr. Stephenson directed us to one of the several restaurants there.  When he gave his name, we were immediately shown to a great table. When Nelson, our waiter, came for orders, Uncle Michael ordered two Bloody Marys and two Virgin Marys. "Will bring you back for a serious drink in a little over three years," he smiled. When Nelson came with the drinks he said, "I hope you won't think I am being too forward, but aren't you two guys from Independence High School in Concord?"
        "Yes, we are. I'm Luke Larsen and this warrior is Matthew Greywolf. Mr. Stephenson is my art teacher and this is Michael Sanders, our uncle."
        "I am pleased to you meet all of you. I'm obviously Nelson, Nelson Barber. I'm a student at the community college here. I thought I recognized you two guys from the TV broadcast of the service. Matthew, I hope you don't mind, but you are going to be mobbed when you leave. There's a girl's sorority having a banquet upstairs and the word is out that a movie star is having dinner here and they are all atwitter."
        "I guess it's just the price you have to pay for being sexy, Matt," I laughed.
        "I guess I need to take your order if you are ready," Nelson said.
        "I'll do the ordering," Uncle Michael said and started giving the order to Nelson. He ordered a five-course dinner and I hoped I would like it because most of what he said was in French.  "I'm sure some of the food will be new to you, but I believe people should explore food the way they explore other things."
        Much of the food was new, but all was delicious. I'm sure I might not have eaten some of it had I known what it was, but it was food and it was good! When Nelson came back with coffee and dessert, Uncle Michael asked him for a suggestion for the rest of the evening. He hesitated for a moment, then suggested a couple of movies. "Of course, there are clubs, but I'm not sure two of you would enjoy what the other two would enjoy... I mean, I'm sure the music Matthew and Luke would enjoy would be noise to you, Mr. Stephenson and Mr. Sanders."
        "Isn't there some place where these two old men could be sure these two young men enjoy their first real date?" Uncle Michael smiled. Matt, of course, blushed big time and I'll admit I did a pretty good job blushing myself. When I looked at Nelson, I noticed he was also blushing!
        "What is this? A blushing contest?" Uncle Michael laughed.
        "Actually, I was going to suggest a place, but wasn't sure I should. After the service was broadcast, several of us at the college investigated the events which brought it about and decided we didn't want anything like that to happen here so we organized a group against intolerance--gay and straight, young and old--and started a place for young couples--as young as 14 with permission or accompanied by an adult--to 20. Actually, that's the age group the club serves. It welcomes older people who are interested in seeing that kids have a safe place to enjoy themselves so long as they are accompanied by kids. No unescorted adults hanging around. Police patrol the club and adults make sure there is no chicken hawking going on. What has surprised me is the number of straight couples who show up. It's a fun, safe place. In fact, I'm meeting my girl there after work. I helped get it started because my gay brother was harassed in high school, and so badly beaten by some classmates in his senior year that he had to spend time in the hospital."
        "Then you're not gay?" Matt asked.
        "No, afraid not, but if I were, Luke would have a run for his money!"
        "Does this sound like some place you'd like to go?" Uncle Michael asked.
        "Yes. It would be great to be with Matt without worrying about what people will think or do.  But what about you and Mr. Stephenson?"
        "I'm sure we'll enjoy watching kids have fun and we have a lot of catching up to do," Uncle Michael answered. "Can you give us directions?" he asked Nelson. Nelson drew a map for Uncle Michael, picked up the credit card slip Uncle Michael signed, thanked us and walked away. I saw him look at the credit card slip and whistle. I guess Uncle Michael had been very generous.
        When we reached the lobby of the hotel, Matt was attacked by screaming girls--it seemed like hundreds. All were trying to shove something in his face for his autograph. Matt looked bewildered. "Mr. Greywolf will sign autographs if you will get control of yourselves, ladies," I said, turned to Matt and said, "Mr. Greywolf, you are willing to sign some autographs aren't you?" Matt nodded, still somewhat bewildered. "Ladies, if you will just form a queue--a line--so Mr. Greywolf can get to as many of you as he can. Otherwise I'm afraid we'll have to go. And stop the screaming. Mr. Greywolf finds it unladylike." I was having a blast. The girls got relatively quiet and I took what they offered and Matt signed "Always, Greywolf" on each.  Soon he was having a blast as well. Mr. Stephenson and Uncle Michael had just given up, found a seat to the side and were laughing up a storm.
        After Matt had given at least fifty autographs, Uncle Michael walked over and said, " Mr.  Greywolf, I have just been informed the car is waiting."
        "Thank you, Michael," Matt said very seriously. "I am very sorry ladies, but I have a car waiting for me so I have to run. It was good seeing all of you." The girls started rushing forward and Mr. Stephenson, Uncle Michael and I formed a shield around Matt until the hotel security finally was able to give us a clear path to the car. Once we were inside the car, all four of us started laughing so hard we were crying.
        With Mr. Stephenson navigating and Uncle Michael driving, we had no difficulty finding the strip shopping center which had, obviously, seen better days but which was now a place for youth. A skating rink was at one end and a dance floor at the other. A snack bar, bistro and game room occupied the space between the two. A single entrance led to a hall running the length of the connected buildings. There was no way in except through the single entrance where two security guards were posted. While they waved me and Matt through, they stopped Mr.  Stephenson and Uncle Michael until Matt and I vouched for them. The guards were very polite, but made it very clear that "unescorted adults" were not allowed. When we got inside, Matt said, "Luke, I want to dance and dance and dance with you. I want to make up for the prom." We walked to the dance floor and Uncle Michael and Mr. Stephenson found seats at a table overlooking it and Matt and I started dancing. The music was wild and we danced with abandon.  After a couple of wild dances, a slow dance came up and I took Matt in my arms, held him close and looked into his wonderful dark eyes as we slow danced together in a public place for the first time.
        About 10:30 the jukebox was turned off and a young guy took over as DJ. He opened by saying, "If you can dance to it, I have it. If I don't, free burger, fries and drink for you and your date!"
        Matt got a huge smile on his face and asked, "Which would you like better, the song or the burger?"
        "I'll take the song." Matt walked over to the DJ and said something to him. Then I saw him put a bill in the tip jar. He came back, put his arms around me and kissed me--in public!!--and no-one seemed to notice or care.
        "For the Lakota warrior and his date--here's 'More!' and I'm asked to say, 'Luke, this is the way the king should have danced'!" The song started and we danced, holding each other tight, lips pressed together. I could feel Matt's hard body against mine, the muscles in his back moving under my hands and his hands on my butt as we danced. When the song ended, we went over to the table where Uncle Michael and Mr. Stephenson were seated. "You are a beautiful couple," Mr. Stephenson said, "and you dance well together."
        Just as we started to sit down, I heard someone say, "Well, if it isn't the teen idol, Greywolf!" I looked over and saw Nelson walking in with a gorgeous young woman. They came over to us and he introduced us to his girlfriend, Holly. He told her how Matt had been mobbed and then how we had played it off in all seriousness. We were all laughing. "Care to join us?" Uncle Michael asked. Nelson nodded and soon all six were enjoying ourselves just talking and joking around.
        Suddenly there was a squeal and a flock of girls descended upon our table followed by a guy with a mike and a TV cameraman. Matt actually looked terrified--I mean I can't blame him, he was under attack by fifteen or twenty screaming teenaged girls. Uncle Michael, Mr. Stephenson and I stood up, placing ourselves between Matt and the girls. "Ladies, ladies," Uncle Michael shouted over the noise. "Mr. Greywolf is here for a pleasant evening. You are being very unladylike and Mr. Greywolf does not like aggressive women! Now please calm down."
        One of the guards walked up and said, "Young ladies, unless you can calm yourselves and stop annoying these people, I will have to ask you to leave. And you, young man with the camera, are to leave at once. We do not permit cameras of any kind here." The cameraman turned on the camera's lights and the guard placed his hand over the lens and said, "I TOLD you that was not permitted," as he took the cameraman by the arm. "If you insist, I will arrest you. Believe me, I have that authority. Now leave!" The TV people left and the guard said, "I'm sorry, Mr.  Greywolf. I apologize. I don't know how the TV people got in, but I will call the chief and see that no pictures of you will be broadcast. That would severely damage what we are trying to do here."
        "Thank you very much. It would not be good for either your place or my group were pictures broadcast. Now if you could get the young ladies under control, I'll be happy to sign autographs," Matt said, sounding very serious. Nelson, Holly and the Concord bunch were having a hard time not laughing. I got up and, again, started taking whatever the girls handed me and passing them to Matt. He signed away and generally managed to keep a straight face, but when I handed him a bra and then a pair of panties, he just about lost it, turning aside to get control of a laugh.
        When Matt finished, he turned to me and said, "Last dance?" I felt a grin spread across my face. This was bound to cause an uproar among Greywolf's fan club. When we walked out on the floor, the DJ looked over, gave us a big wink and a wicked smile. As we reached the middle of the floor, people who had been around all evening saw what was coming and moved to the sides of the floor. "More" started and Matt wrapped his arms around me and as we started dancing, as he raised his lips to mine, he had to stop until he could control his laughter. When he had regained control, he gave me an all out, no holds barred, open mouth, tongue-sucking kiss. And held it as we danced. I cannot imagine a more erotic dance--hard bodies pressed close together, lips locked, tongues awhirl and sloooow dancing. It was hot! When "More" ended, I looked into Matt's eyes and said, "Matt, that's the way it should have been at the prom. My arms were absolutely aching to hold you close to me, to feel your hard body next to mine, to kiss you while we danced. Matt, I wanted to be dancing with my king, not the prom queen. I love you, man, and..."
        The DJ started another slow song and I looked at Matt. He smiled, pulled me to himself and said, "This is way it should have been, but wasn't. But then was then and now is now. He kissed me again as our bodies moved together. It was erotic as hell and Matt's hard chest rubbing against mine was making me super hot. "Sarang Hanun Pomul, I love you more than anything in this world," I whispered in his ear. His chest was not the only hardness I felt pressed against mine! Matt looked into my eyes again and smiled just as Holly cut in.
        When I turned to walk off the floor, Nelson grabbed me and we started dancing. He was dying laughing and when he swung me around, I could see why. Holly was kissing Matt! "Now watch what happens," he laughed. I was soon aware of what was up. Girls lined up and were taking turns dancing with Matt. He was handling it well, except he had a hard time not getting kissed on the mouth.
        Finally, Nelson said, "You need to rescue your boyfriend. Think he is up to one more dance?"  I nodded and walked over and cut in just as "More" started for the third time.
        Matt wrapped himself around me and again, kissed me, but this time it was an easy, soft, tender, loving Matt kiss. When we broke our kiss, Matt looked over my shoulder and said, "This is definitely the last dance, Yonghon Tongmu, it's after midnight. I'm afraid I have to be at St. Mary's in the morning."
        I looked into his eyes, smiled and said, "And tonight you sleep in my bed, Sarang Hanun Pomul!" The song ended and we walked off the floor. All the way home we all four kept laughing about Matt being a teen idol. "I just hope that TV guy didn't get any tape. I would never live down the 'teen idol' bit."
        When we reached our place, Matt and I got out. It was almost 2 in the morning as we climbed the stairs to my room. We undressed, Matt carefully putting his head band and choker in the drawer of my chest which was his. We brushed our teeth, took a piss and climbed into bed.  "Luke, the door is closed," Matt said.
        "I believe we agreed the same rules here as at my place."
        " Guess you're right," I said, reluctantly.
        "You know I'm right," Matt said, and smiled at me, "but we didn't say how wide open." I opened the door a crack and climbed back into bed. I wrapped my arms around Matt and he his around me and we started kissing each other deeply, but something was wrong. It just didn't feel right. I didn't feel right. Before I could say anything, Matt said, "Luke, I know Jens said it was all right for me to sleep with you. At least my head knows that, but I don't think it has told the rest of me. I don't feel right. I feel like I'm doing something I shouldn't be doing, something wrong. Luke," Matt stopped and I could feel hot tears falling from his face, "Luke, I feel like what we are doing is dirty". By this time he was crying in great sobs. I held Matt tightly and started rocking him in my arms as he buried his head in the crook of my neck.
        "Matt, I don't feel right either. I guess we just assumed that Dad could say, 'It's now ok, boys,' and we could be as much at ease here as in your bed, but it's not working that way.  You're right; my mind knows that Dad has said it's ok and means it, but my emotions are stronger and I keep seeing him hit you. I know he has been forgiven by both of us. I know he has changed, but my emotions haven't caught up with my thoughts."
        "Yea. So you do understand?"
        "Perfectly, Sarang Hanun Pomul, we'll just hold each other as we have for years and know that our emotions have gotten the better of us tonight--but it was a wonderful, wonderful, wonderful night even if we had gone to separate beds!" Matt kissed me gently and we held each other, legs entwined, and were soon asleep.
        "Ok, Mr. Teen Idol, get your butt out of bed. We have two hundred screaming girls in the front yard wanting your bod," Mary Kathryn announced at the top of her lungs as she pushed open the door.
        "What the hell? What's that all about, sister mine?"
        "You don't recall having a night on the town in Lexington with the latest teen idol Greywolf?  Boy, you guys must have really gotten it on last night."
        "Actually, we didn't. To be honest, Mary Kathryn we did the same thing in this bed we have done for years--well, except for a couple of very innocent kisses and we certainly got home early." Matt said.
        Mary Kathryn started laughing then I guess she saw the look on our faces and stopped and said, "Yea, well it was early--early in the morning. But tell me about this teen idol bit."
        "We don't know what you are talking about," I said.
        "You know that Curtis jerk who does the 'Teen Beat' thing on the Sunday morning news? Well, this morning he had this great story which was uncovered by 'this reporter' about a visit to Lexington by the latest teen idol Greywolf and his entourage. 'This idol was seen at an expensive restaurant with a huge entourage and later, I have learned, was seen dancing with a Lexington beauty queen, who it is rumored will co-star in his next picture.' Mary Kathryn then continued in a Curtis the Jerk self-important voice, 'This reporter was prevented from getting tape of Greywolf, but is here to report that Lexington was probably successful in its drive to have Greywolf's next smash movie made here.'" Then she asked, "Just what went on last night?"
        Matt and I were both laughing so hard tears were running down our faces and something else was going to be running if we didn't get out of bed in a hurry. Since Mary Kathryn made no move to leave, we just rushed past her to the bathroom. "After we brush our teeth, we'll come down and tell the whole story," I called from the bathroom.
        When we got downstairs, Mom had breakfast ready and we sat down and, before we could eat, had to tell the tale of last night. Before we finished, Mom, Dad and Mary Kathryn were all laughing so hard they were crying. "Now if you would be so kind," I said in my Greywolf entourage voice, "Mr. Greywolf would like breakfast".
        When we finished breakfast, Matt said, "I guess I better get home before Mom and Dad start wondering about this teen idol bit. Why don't you come with me, Luke, since I've got to get a rush on or I'll be late for choir warmup."
        "Is it that late?" I asked, then realized what Matt was up to. "Man, I guess it is. Want to get your things and we'll run?"
        We went upstairs and Matt got what he had worn last night--we had just tossed on shorts and T-shirts when we got up--and we said goodbye to Mom and Dad and left.

        Sure enough, when we reached my place, Dad called from the kitchen, "Is that the newest teen idol I see coming in our house, Yong Jin?" Luke and I sat down in the kitchen and told the story over again. "You know every single student at Independence will know about this tomorrow morning, don't you?" Dad laughed.
        "Yes and I think I'll start taking names of those who want to be in Mr. Greywolf's next smash hit," Luke laughed.
        "People, it's not funny," I said.
        "May as well find it funny," Mom said, "there will be no escaping it".
        "Well, right now we need to get a shower and get dressed," I said.
        "Getting a real early start aren't you?" Mom asked.
        "Kinda," I looked at Luke and said, "Dad, I think maybe Luke and I need to talk with you".
        "Let's go to the library," Dad said, being very serious. I was afraid he might not be and I was really needing to talk with him.
        "Ok, Luke?" I looked at my love and saw pain in his eyes as I knew there was in mine. He nodded.
        When we got to the library, Luke and I both spilled out what had happened last night when we started to make love--no, NOT have sex, make love. When we had finished Dad asked, "What do you think was going on?" Luke answered as he had last night about our emotions not having gotten the word from our brain. "Well put, Luke. Don't think anyone could explain it better. I'm sure there was some hesitation when you first started expressing your love here..." We both nodded.  "And here there was little question you and your love were accepted and you were expected to express it." Again we nodded. "Luke, I need not remind you that was not true at your place. It has taken this long for the two of you to even feel free to share Luke's bed, so there is a great deal of emotional baggage to overcome."
        "There is nothing wrong with you; there is nothing to be ashamed or afraid of. As a matter of fact, I can identify with your situation completely. After Yong Jin and I were married we were never able to have sex at her Mom's. There was such a prejudice against Americans, and especially American soldiers, that it was made very clear that I better not touch Yong Jin before we were married. And after we were married, when we were there, that was still very much present in my mind and I simply couldn't--well, maybe you know, maybe you don't, but a limp noodle is not an effective tool," Dad said and blushed.
        "Dad blushed! It's catching!"
        "Well, Matt, I know you think you are special, and you are, but you got here just like the rest of us mortals. Sons, I'd worry very much about you thinking what you were doing was wrong and especially dirty, it's not. In fact, I think you have maintained a level of purity which, frankly, I would have never thought possible. But since you are very clear on why you had those feelings, you can work on them together. And maybe you'll never be able to do more in showing your love in bed at Luke's place than you did last night, but you needn't worry about that. I'm sure you'll find other places--you have found other places--as Yong Jin and I did, obviously--since you're here, Matthew Sarang Hanun Pomul Greywolf! You'll just have to take it..."
        "I know, slow and easy," Luke and I said together, then laughed. "Thanks, Dad," we both said.  We then went upstairs, had a great time in the shower, got dressed and left for St. Mary's--not early. I said we had a great time in the shower!
        After church, Sunday dinner was at David's and Margaret's. Uncle Michael had invited Mr.  Stephenson and when Michael started to pull the teen idol bit, the two of them took over and told the story. I'll admit, it was a howl hearing the two of them talk about the screaming females and how Luke had pulled off "Mr. Greywolf's personal manager" role. Michael said at one point, "Matt, you autographed a bra?"
        "Yea, and a pair of panties and both were still hot when I handed them to him," Luke laughed.
        After dinner, Uncle Michael, Mr. Stephenson and Luke were to meet with Millie and work on the exhibition catalog. Eugene, Paula and I had planned to get together at Eugene's to make final decisions about the program and program notes for the concert so Luke rode with me.
        The three of us worked for about three hours and finally Paula said, "That's it. Let's get it typed. Who's fastest?" Eugene reluctantly took on the task since he knew he was by far the fastest on the keyboard. As each page was printed, first Paula and then I gave it a careful reading. Eugene made any corrections and it was ready for Millie. "Think we should have Yong Jin check it before Millie sees it?" Paula asked.
        "How about if we give copies to Millie and Mom then Mom can give Millie a call with any corrections? I know Millie wants to get it in the works. It's supposed to be super special."
        "Sounds good. Have you seen the posters all over town?" Eugene asked.
        "Haven't noticed," I said.
        "I haven't been in until you came for me and we were so busy talking I guess I missed them," Paula said.
        "Millie and I took them around yesterday and plenty places displayed them immediately. People have already started calling for tickets. Millie has an automatic phone thingie handling that.  Well, if we're through, I think I might head over to Larry's. By the way, Matt, how are you going to handle this concert and do another smash movie, teen idol?" Eugene laughed. Paula looked puzzled so I had to tell the story again.
        "By the way," I said when I had finished, and Eugene and Paula were again in control, "the club they have for kids--actually 14- to 20-year-olds--is great. Maybe we can all go some Friday or Saturday night when all this is over."
        "Maybe we can go before it is over. We're going to need a break, Matt," Paula said.
        "That's more like it," Eugene agreed.
        Luke and the rest were still in deep discussion when I came down and Uncle Michael said, "Matt, I'll bring Luke home when we finish. It may be a while." I walked over to Luke and, when he looked up, kissed him and said, "How does it feel to be kissed by the latest teen idol?" Mr.  Stephenson and Uncle Michael started laughing and Millie looked puzzled. "Laters," I said and left as I knew the story would be told again, becoming more elaborate with each telling.
        When I got home, I was very pleased that Monday's school work was done because my late Saturday night caught up with me and I undressed and piled into my bed and was asleep in no time.
        Mom was right, everyone at school had heard the "Teen Beat" junk or been told about it. About half the girls seemed to believe it and I spent a lot of time signing autographs. But fame gets old quickly and, by afternoon, it was forgotten and everyone was talking about the upcoming trial. Ms. Jones had announced that Tuesday's social studies classes were expected to watch the trial during class and other teachers had permission to turn it on if they wished. When school was out, I drove to St. Mary's because Luke was meeting with Millie, Mr. Stephenson and Uncle Michael again so we rode together.
        As soon as we were out of the parking lot and unlikely to be seen, Luke leaned over and kissed me. "Matt, I think it's time you got a different car before I kill myself trying to kiss you in this damn Jeep."
        "Hey, watch your mouth. This damn Jeep has served us both well. Just that it's not made for kissing."
        "Guess I'll have to think of something new," Luke said, as he got an evil grin on his face and placed his hand on my thigh, gradually rubbing it and moving his hand higher. He finally grabbed what had been a limp tool, but was now a Lakota arrow.
        "Luke, I'm driving!"
        "So am I," Luke laughed, "I'm driving the love of my life wild!"
        "You are. Luke, I can't drive and..." I knew if Luke didn't stop I was going to have a mess in my pants and a lot of explaining to do. "Luke..."
        Luke laughed, moved his hand away and risked his own family jewels to lean over and kiss me.  "Later, and that's a promise, Babe."
        When I got to Millie's, Luke said he would be finished about five if I wanted to pick him up.  "I'll think about it. Ok, I have thought about it. I'll be there." He leaned into the Jeep and gave me a really soft, gentle kiss. "I promise," I said and he smiled. It was all I could do to go on to St. Mary's.
        Paula and I thought the practice went extremely well, but Eugene was not happy with the ensemble. After practice, I suggested we meet in the parish library to discuss the problem.  Eugene had some complaints which, I knew, were legitimate, but would be worked out long before the concert. "Eugene, I suspect it is not the practice that is the problem," Paula said.
        "Well, I wasn't happy with the practice, that's for sure, because I know the group can and has done better, but you're also right. I've got something on my mind and I know I let it color how I looked at the practice. I'll do better tomorrow."
        "Any way we can help?" I asked.
        "No, not right now. Thanks anyway." We both gave Eugene a hug and he left to take Paula home.  I still had almost half an hour before I was due at Millie's and I decided to go into the church. I sat in the dim light coming through the stained glass windows, my eyes focused on the altar cross which was reflecting the light from the sanctuary candle. I didn't know why I went into the church. I seldom did that, I mean just to sit. I wasn't praying, at least I didn't think I was. I wasn't even thinking, I just sat. At least that's what I believed I was doing.  After I had sat quietly for several minutes, I felt very ashamed and very sad. I started weeping hot tears. I still wasn't sure why. I sat a while longer then wiped my eyes and drove to Millie's. The group had finished their work and Luke was ready to go home. Uncle Michael asked Millie and Mr. Stephenson to show him around town since he didn't have to take Luke home.
        As soon as we got in the Jeep Luke said, "I started something after school that I bet you want me to finish," and gave me an evil leer. I just looked at him and smiled, weakly. When we reached the gate to the falls, Luke hopped out and opened it.
        At the falls, Luke spread the blanket and we sat down. I had been silent the whole trip from town. Luke obviously sensed something was wrong and had been silent as well. After we had been sitting without speaking for several minutes, Luke looked at me with questions in his eyes. All I could do was wrap my arms around him and start crying my eyes out. Luke held me tightly and I know he was completely bewildered. Well, so was I--well, actually I wasn't. When I was finally able to stop crying, I lifted Luke's face to mine and kissed him ever so softly. I took a deep breath and said, "Luke, Yonghon Tongmu, when Eugene and Paula left St. Mary's today for some reason I went into the church and just sat. I wasn't praying or even thinking, at least I wasn't conscious of doing either, but something has been bothering me since last night and I didn't know what it was."
        Luke started to say something, but I put my finger to his lips. "No, don't say anything until I finish. When I left, I had some idea what was troubling me and as soon as I saw you it became very clear. Luke, you know I love you with every fiber of my being. You are my very life and I haven't been treating you right." Once again Luke started to speak and again I put my finger to his lips. "Love of my life, I have taken and taken from you without giving much thought to the price you were paying for giving to me. You have had to be the strong one. Time and again I was ready to just forget everything in order to make love to you completely. But that's not all. I realized today that in a very real way you have given up your family for me. Sure you have been working all hours on your project, but every minute you have free, you have spent with me. And I selfishly not only accepted it, but expected it. I have my family. I spend time at home with them and you, well, you haven't because of me. Luke, I have been very selfish of your love and your presence and your care. I'm sorry Luke. I am very sorry."
        When I finished, we were both silent again. Luke finally said, "Matt, Sarang Hanun Pomul, I haven't given you a moment I regret. I know my family misses me. Dad even said so. That's why he decided we could share my bed. I haven't regretted it in the least. Yes, I have had to call a halt sometimes, not because I wanted to or even because I was afraid I would regret it. I did it because I knew you would hate yourself and I was afraid you would hate me. We're put together differently Matt. You are spontaneous, living fully in the present. I love that about you. Sometimes I wish I was that way, but I am not. I tend to think too much at times. I want to know the future. But have I sacrificed too much for you? Never. Matthew Sarang Hanun Pomul Greywolf, I would cheerfully give my life for you. Selfish? I don't think so. Foolish? At times I think you are, but I love it. Your foolishness is also the reason you are playful and, if I remember correctly, being playful was something we were going to work on."
        "Last night was hard on both of us. You said that what we would have done in my bed felt dirty to you. Well, it didn't feel dirty to me, it felt... Matt, it felt as though I was a stranger to myself and to you. I was frightened. I was frightened that you would see it as somehow or other a rejection of you. Don't get me wrong, I can understand what you are saying and why you feel that way. I could say you shouldn't, but feelings don't come in shoulds and should nots. They just are. Last night made it very clear to me that we are not independent of the rest of the world. You know what I feel when your hair covers us? I feel that you have created a world of our own and I love it, but it's temporary. We very much live in a very large world in which my dad's feelings have a direct effect on how we express our love. We very much live in a world where there are people who would hurt us because we love each other. I guess I have been made more conscious of that world than you have until, for whatever reason, you realized it with a bang today. I hope it doesn't take away your playfulness and your spontaneity, but..."
        "But, Luke, help me to realize that I don't own you and that others love you and have a right to be with you and love you."
        Again we were silent then Luke said, "Another bump in the road behind us?" I answered with a tender kiss. "But since we are here and no-one's expecting us..." Luke started undressing me, making love to my body with his amazing lips. When I was undressed, I undressed my love and, as I lay on his body, he undid my hair and we did have our private world, even if it was temporary.
        It took a dive from the top of the falls and a longish swim to wash away the evidence of our having left another bump in our road behind. 1