By Mickey S
If you are under age, or live in an area where reading stories that include sex between males is illegal, or if you're not into this type of story, please leave. This is a fictional story and all characters and events are a figment of the author's imagination. My thanks to Tim and Drew for all of their help. The author retains all rights. No reproductions are allowed without the author's consent. Comments are appreciated at NJMcMick@yahoo.com.
The first thing I had to take care of was sending Teddy home. Originally I'd been thinking of that as a way to keep his mouth shut, to keep my job as an escort secret. I had no such hope now. If he hadn't already told Dad he would certainly tell his mother. There was nothing I could do to protect my reputation and I didn't care. My only concern was Dad's health. Whatever Teddy had told him had upset him enough to cause a heart attack, so it was important to keep him away from Dad. And I had to figure out a way to keep Barbara from upsetting him, too. All she seemed to care about was defending her son. She hadn't seen how close Dad had come to dying, how close he still might be. If a disagreement with Teddy had done so much damage when Dad was feeling good, how would he be able to withstand an argument on the phone in his current condition?
I called the airline and booked Teddy on a flight the next afternoon. I was pretty sure he wouldn't be home until late but I would stay up and tell him then. I'd also call Barbara later and let her know.
I wasn't sure what to do about work. Based on the last attack Dad would probably be in the hospital a week which left me free to take dates. But after that I wouldn't be able to work at all. With Teddy gone I'd have to be home all the time, at least until I'd made other arrangements. That was fine with me because the job had been getting to me lately and I really wasn't in the mood for dealing with clients. When I called Karen to explain the situation I hadn't made up my mind between asking to work every day to make as much money as I could before Dad came home or starting my involuntary vacation a week early.
As usual I went with the flow and let circumstances decide. Karen had tentative dates up for me for Thursday, Friday and Sunday evenings. Thursday was a return engagement for Steve McQueen. Friday night a rich activist needed a date for a gay political fundraising gala at the Waldorf and on Sunday Mario wanted to shave me again. They were all pretty unobjectionable so I agreed to do them. At least they would provide me with one last good paycheck.
When I went back to the hospital after a late lunch Dad's appearance had improved quite a bit. He'd regained some color and while he didn't look as good as he had before the attack he looked a whole lot better than he had stretched out on the porch that morning. He still had on the oxygen mask but when he lifted it to talk he wasn't as out of breath as he had been in the emergency room.
"I want you to send Teddy home. I don't want that kid in my house."
"Already taken care of, Dad. He'll be on a plane this time tomorrow."
"I don't know what to do about your sister. She's called twice and I've ended up hanging up on her both times."
"She doesn't want you blaming Teddy, which is a natural reaction on her part, I guess. I told her not to call if she was going to upset you but she wouldn't listen. If talking to her bothers you just hang up as soon as you hear her voice. She'll get the message eventually. Your health should be your only concern right now. Let me take care of everything else."
I meant every word of that but I couldn't help feeling I was being a bit self-serving. If Dad didn't talk to Barbara she wouldn't have a chance to pass along anything about my job that Teddy might tell her. But while that was to my benefit it was also to Dad's. This wasn't the time for him to be confronted with the fact that his son was a prostitute.
I was waiting for Teddy in the living room when he got home a little after midnight. He attempted to go right upstairs without a word but I went after him and stopped him in the upstairs hall.
"It was touch and go with Dad but he's resting comfortably in the hospital. Thanks for asking. And tomorrow at three you'll be on a flight to Portland."
"Tomorrow! That doesn't even give me a chance to say goodbye to my friends."
"If you'd returned either of my calls you would have been able to say goodbye today. As it is you can ask them to come by in the morning if you want to see them. Or you can just call, text, email, IM, twitter or Facebook them if that's more your style."
"This stinks. You're the slutty whore and I'm the one who gets punished."
"You're the one who's upsetting your grandfather and that's the only thing that's important right now. I'm sure once you get past your personal feelings you'll realize it's the best thing for him."
He went into his room and slammed the door.
The trip to the airport the next day was as quiet as the one when I'd picked him up four weeks earlier. Then I'd resented his iPod because it prevented conversation. Now I was grateful for it. I'd planned on parking and going into the terminal with him but he insisted he'd be okay if I just dropped him off. That worked for me. The less time I had to spend with him the better. As he unloaded his suitcase and backpack I offered him an olive branch.
"I know this hasn't been your idea of a fun summer and we haven't gotten along very well, but I do appreciate the help you've given to me and Dad. I wish things had gone better."
"Whatever," he shrugged.
He ignored my outstretched hand, kicked the door shut and headed into the building.
As I drove west on I-78 I called Barbara. When I'd called her back with Teddy's flight information the day before I'd deliberately called the house phone, knowing she'd be at work and I could just leave a message. I still didn't want to actually talk to her but I wanted to make sure she knew he was on his way so I called her cell.
"What?" She answered angrily. Isn't caller ID wonderful?
"I just wanted to let you know Teddy's at Newark Airport. You can pick him up on your end at 6:20."
"You disgust me, Silas. Teddy told me all about your job. Here you've been acting so sanctimonious, playing the part of the good son, when you've been lying to us all these years. You're just an immoral, promiscuous whore."
"I'm not about to try to defend my job right now but we're all guilty of some type of behavior that others would consider immoral. At least I held onto my virginity a lot longer than you."
"I can't believe you'd try to equate what I did in high school with my boyfriend, now my husband, with being a prostitute."
"Actually, I was thinking about the two guys before Ted. And at least I use protection. Remember your little pregnancy scare in eleventh grade?"
"So I've slept with three guys. And you've been with what, three thousand?"
"Not that I keep count but it's nowhere near that much. I'm good at what I do so I have a lot of repeat business." She was annoying me so I thought I'd annoy her. I sure wasn't going to change her mind about anything so why try? "But I seem to remember a time when you weren't so prudish about promiscuity. Like five years ago when you were out here and came to visit me in the city. I took you to the Monster, that club in the Village, and you found all of the cruising to be fun. You said you thought I was probably hooking up with a different guy every night of the week and not only didn't you have a problem with that, you seemed a bit envious."
"Like hell I was, but even if I didn't object to you doing that, getting paid for it is a whole other thing."
"Maybe someday when we're both a lot calmer we can have a nice long discussion of our concepts of morality but right now I think we're both a bit too emotional about it."
"Don't think you're fooling Dad any with your good son act. Teddy told him all about the escort service so he knows about you. You're the one who's responsible for the heart attack, not Teddy. You can't blame the messenger for the bad news."
Shit! Although I'd been hoping he hadn't, I was afraid Teddy had told him about my job. I didn't think a few nude photos alone would have upset Dad that much.
"If I were looking to blame someone I certainly could blame him. It wasn't like he was telling Dad because he thought he ought to know. Teddy was trying to blackmail me with the information, trying to get out of doing the work he'd agreed to."
"Well, if you didn't have such an ugly secret no one would be able to blackmail you. It's all your fault."
"It's not about fault right now, Babs. It's about doing what's right for Dad."
"You mean doing what's right for Silas. I'm sure you were hoping to weasel yourself into Dad's will by acting like the kind, loving son but now it's all about damage control for you."
"I haven't given his will any thought at all, other than the assumption that I'm not in it. I don't care about that. Besides, we're not talking about a huge estate. He hasn't got anything except the farm."
"We both know better than that, but there's no way he's leaving anything to a whore who's disappointed him your whole life."
"We're not getting anywhere with this. I only have one thing left to say to you. Two, actually. First, whatever you think of me, don't do or say anything to upset Dad. He can't take any more stress. And second, fuck off!"
Thursday morning Dr. Patel was with Dad when I got to the hospital. He ran through the results of all of the tests that had been done during the week. The news wasn't terrible but it wasn't very good either.
"You were very lucky this time, having someone on the scene who knew CPR. To be honest I didn't think your heart could withstand another attack such as this. More damage has been done to the muscle but considering that you almost died the new damage isn't severe. Even so, you'll be more disabled than before."
"But I can go home, right?"
"Yes, with a few more restrictions than before. I've adjusted the dosage of your heart medicine and added an anti-anxiety drug."
"You mean a tranquilizer? You're gonna keep me sedated?"
"Not sedated. It's just something to take the edge off, to keep you from stressing out over little things. You probably won't even notice the difference but your heart will."
"Yes, you'll have to be on oxygen all the time. I've ordered an oxygen generator for your house. When installed in a central location with enough tubing you can go anywhere in the house and still be hooked up."
"Like being on a leash, right?"
"Pretty much." The doctor actually smiled, something he didn't do often. "But it's a good leash and will help your heart. If you leave the house you can take a portable tank but I think you'll find even with that your walking range will be severely limited."
"What if I get one of those electric scooters they advertise on TV?"
"You shouldn't need one in the house but if you're interested in going outside much that would be a good thing. With your condition I'm sure Medicare would approve it."
"Even if they don't, I want one. I'll pay for it. I won't be cooped up in the house for the rest of my life."
Dr. Patel ran through the rest of his instructions, most of them the same as the last time. When he left the room I went after him, stopping him in the hall.
"What's his long-term prognosis, Doctor?"
"You mean, how long will he live? It's impossible to even make a good guess. If you'd asked me last week I would have estimated three to five years, but he almost didn't make it a week. His prognosis is worse now. It could be a few months, but with proper care he might live a year or two."
"Well, I'll do my best to see that he gets the proper care. He's got a pretty strong will to live so he's not going to give up easily."
Friday morning when I went to the hospital I ran into Declan just leaving Dad's room. I hadn't seen him or talked to him all week although Dad said he'd been in to visit every day. He seemed a bit flustered when he first saw me but recovered quickly.
"Hey Silas, your Dad's looking good. I think they'll be sending him home soon."
"Not soon enough as far as he's concerned. He feels like he's in jail here."
"A pretty posh jail with good room service."
"Say, do you know any handymen in the area? Dad wants to get an electric scooter and we'll have to have a ramp built off the back porch for it."
He thought for a moment.
"Tom Aber from our class does all kinds of carpentry. I don't have his number on me but I'll ask him to call you."
"Thanks, I'm pretty good at some manual labor but carpentry isn't one of my skills."
"Same here. Look, I've got to be going. I'm in between patients."
"Okay, see you soon. And thanks for visiting Dad. I know it means a lot to him."
When I went into Dad's room Henry Beatty was standing by his bed, dressed for the office, complete with his briefcase. A nurse was fiddling with Dad's IV.
"What brings you out of the office in the middle of the morning, Henry?"
"I had an appointment with a client and thought I'd see how the old grouch was doing."
"He's making another miraculous recovery as you can see."
"The only miracle was you saving my life Monday, Silas."
"I just reacted instinctively, Dad. The miracle was that it worked."
The lawyer and nurse left and I was able to have a private visit with Dad. He hadn't mentioned his confrontation with Teddy and I hadn't asked him. Sooner or later we'd probably talk about it but I wasn't going to be the one who brought it up.
By the time I brought Dad home on Monday I was pretty exhausted. Besides visiting him in the hospital twice a day, doing the farm chores and having three dates in the city in four days I'd also managed to finish painting the shed. I didn't know how much attention Dad was going to need so I wanted to be free to spend as much time in the house with him as possible.
Tom Aber came over and built the ramp on Tuesday. He also installed hand rails and a seat in the shower in Dad's bathroom. Tom had only been a name and a face to me in high school. I was probably less than that to him but he enjoyed talking to me about Declan. Tom had apparently married young and got a vicarious thrill thinking about Declan's sexual exploits. Even assuming that a lot of what Tom talked about was his imagination, Declan had quite a reputation.
Declan continued to be Dad's nurse, coming by three times a week, but he seemed more distant than before. It felt like our budding friendship was slipping away. He was friendly and polite when we spoke but nowhere near as engaging. And there was no opportunity for us to do anything socially since I had to be home with Dad all the time.
But maybe it was me. I was pretty distracted over the next couple of weeks. Working around the farm, milking the cows and working in the garden was somewhat therapeutic but I was worried about how my life was going. I'd been dissatisfied with my job for quite a while but didn't know what else to do. At least it paid the bills and enabled me to live comfortably with some left over for savings. In the two months I'd been on the farm I hadn't worked quite enough to cover costs so I'd dipped into those savings. Now that I wasn't working at all my savings account was dropping fast. I'd figured that I could go five months without working before I'd drained the account completely.
My biggest expense by far was my apartment and I wasn't using that at all. The smart thing would be to give it up but I balked at the idea. It had been my home for nearly ten years and represented my independence. I knew a lot of the other escorts brought dates to their places but I'd never done that. It was my home, my refuge. But to pay all that money for a place I wasn't using didn't make sense when I had no income.
One rainy afternoon about a week after Dad had come home I was sitting at the kitchen table having a cup of tea, lost in thought when Dad walked in, his oxygen tube trailing behind him. He talked as he fixed himself a cup of tea and then sat down opposite me.
"Something's been eating at you ever since I came home from the hospital, son. What is it? Are you feeling trapped here?"
Dad had seemed a lot less critical and complaining since his latest attack. Maybe it was the anxiety medication that was taking the edge off his personality as well as his stress. If that was the case I wished he'd started taking it thirty years before. Or maybe he was finally coming to terms with his mortality and so wasn't sweating the little things.
"Maybe a little, but that doesn't really bother me. I love being back on the farm again after all this time. I guess I do miss my life in the city a bit though."
"That's only natural. I wish you didn't have to give it up for me. I had no right to ask you to do that."
"You didn't ask, I offered, so there's nothing for you to feel sorry about. What I was just thinking about was giving up my apartment in the city. It's a waste to keep pouring rent money down the drain when I'm living here, but I hate the idea of giving up my home."
"You've put your whole life on hold for me, your job and now your home. I'm not sure I deserve that, but I want you to know I appreciate it."
"It's not just for you, Dad. It's for the farm, too. All those years in the city I'd forgotten how much I love this place. Being back here has meant a lot to me. No offense, but if you were living in some retirement community in Florida I think I'd have a much harder time walking away from my life to take care of you."
"No offense taken, son. It's pleased me to watch you around the place the last couple of months. You're not just doing what has to be done. It's a labor of love with you, just as it is with me. I've had to re-think some of my earlier opinions of you."
"I understand what you mean about a labor of love. As much as I've become a city boy in recent years, this place will always be in my heart. But I'm not sure I know what you mean about your early opinions of me."
Dad sipped his tea and was silent for a few minutes.
"I'm not sure I'm gonna put this right. Although I talk a lot I'm not very good with words. But as long as I can remember, you always tried to please everyone. You were the perfect son, always doing everything your mother or I wanted you to do. And that frustrated the hell out of me. I used to get so mad at you."
"No kidding, Dad. I was very aware of that. The harder I tried to please you the more you were on my back."
"It's just that I wanted you to please yourself, not others. As you got older it seemed to me that you had no idea what you really wanted in life and I knew you wouldn't figure it out doing what other people wanted you to do. So I kept pushing you, hoping you'd fight back and learn something about yourself. Looking back it was a lousy strategy. Not only didn't it help you find your goals, it drove a wedge between us."
I wasn't 100% sure I now understood him but it was nice to finally have an idea what was behind Dad's constant dissatisfaction with me. I had to agree his approach had been a complete failure though.
"You mean you wanted me to be a rebellious, out-of-control kid?"
"Not exactly. How can I explain this?" He thought for a minute. "Take Declan, for instance."
"Declan? He hasn't ever been a rebel."
"No, he hasn't, but he's always known himself and done what he wanted. When he was a kid and showed athletic ability his father wanted him to go out for football, but he liked soccer so that's what he pursued. And he turned out to be a star player. Then when he was interested in medicine his parents pushed him to go to medical school, but he wanted a more personal approach to caring for people so he became a nurse. It isn't so much that he rebelled, he just always followed his dream."
"You seem to know him pretty well."
"I've spent a lot of time in the Blarney Stone over the years and have talked to both him and his uncle there quite a bit. And don't forget all the time I've spent with him the last several weeks."
"So you were afraid that maybe I didn't have a dream to follow?"
"Yeah, you were so busy trying to make other people's dreams come true that you weren't working on your own."
All of a sudden the conversation sounded more like we were talking about my escort career than my childhood. Teddy had told Dad that I was an escort but Dad couldn't possibly know the idea that Dream Dates was based on, so it had to be my paranoia popping up.
"I guess that's because I don't seem to have any dreams of my own. The closest I get is helping someone else with theirs."
"But there must be something you really get a kick out of. I got the impression when you talked about your job you weren't very thrilled with it." He cleared his throat a couple of times, took another sip of tea and seemed ill at ease. When he spoke again he was looking at the table, not at me. "I suppose you know Teddy told me what your job really is."
"Yeah, Barbara told me. He and I didn't talk much before he left. And I don't want you to talk about it either if it upsets you. You've got to take care of yourself."
"It doesn't upset me, not much anyway." He surprised me and smiled. "I've known about your job practically from the start, from when you first came back home. Believe me, it's not any man's dream to have his son grow up to be a prostitute but I haven't got anything against the profession itself. Don't forget, I was in the army for a few years and then didn't marry your mother until I was 32 so I was single for a long time and sowed some wild oats. I patronized one or two ladies of pleasure in my younger years."
I was totally stunned. This wasn't a conversation I ever thought I'd have with Dad. So many questions popped into my head I didn't know where to start.
"But how did you know?"
Dad reached into his pocket, pulled out a card and slid it across the table. It was one of my Dream Date #5 cards.
"A few days after I came home from the hospital the first time you left a card case on the counter here when you were out in the garden. I know I had no right to look in it but I was curious. You'd been gone twelve years, we weren't speaking much and I wanted to know a little bit about your life. The other card was self-explanatory but this one was a little odd so I called the number on it. The nice lady who answered told me all about the business and gave you rave reviews. Of course she didn't mention the sex part but that was pretty obvious."
"So why did you get so upset when Teddy told you?"
"I knew he was an unhappy, unpleasant boy, but when I realized he'd been trying to blackmail you, his own flesh and blood, I just lost it. I know I wasn't a very good parent but Barbara and that husband of hers have done a really lousy job raising that kid."
That was my opportunity to assure him that he had been a good parent, but in spite of his remarkable current acceptance of me I couldn't bring myself to say anything like that so I let it go.
"So you don't object to my job?"
"Of course I do but it's your life, not mine. And since you've spent your whole life trying to be what others want you to be I can see how you'd be good at the job. But even though you've talked all around the core of the job, not wanting to say what it really was, I could tell you weren't really happy with it."
"I'm not, especially lately. Sometimes I feel like I'm really helping someone, letting him fill in a piece of his life that he's been missing, but most often the clients are just self-indulgent creeps." It was amazing being able to talk to Dad like that. "But I don't know what else to do and I've got to support myself."
"Well, as long as you're stuck here taking care of me why don't you make the most of it? I can understand your reluctance to give up your apartment in the city but this is your home, too. And farming is something you love and are good at. When you were a kid I thought you were just doing it for me but now I can see it's for you as well. And if you're doing all the work here I think you should get whatever the farm is bringing in so that would give you some income."
"I can't imagine the limited operation we have going here is making much money and you need some yourself."
"Don't worry about that. I've got all I need. And you won't need much living here. You've somehow been able to juggle working the farm, taking care of me and getting to your job in the city. If the farm were your only job it would be a lot easier on you. And I could hire a part-time baby-sitter so you could have a little bit of a life off the farm as well."
Dad really seemed eager for me to make the farm my home. It was a huge turn-around from when I'd first arrived and he'd grudgingly put up with my presence.
"I suppose we could work something out, especially now that we're not at each other's throats all the time. It's just going to take a lot of rearranging in my head, going from thinking of this as a temporary relocation to a permanent move."
"I'd be lying if I said that giving up your city job wouldn't make me happy. Look at it this way." Dad grinned. "If you're still into trying to please me, this would do it."