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 next morning I didn't have to call Karen to check in. She called me.
"I hear you had a little problem last night, honey."
"More like two problems and they weren't so little."
"I know, they've both called Ed to complain already. He wants to talk to you. Do you think you could stop by the office sometime this afternoon?"
"Sorry, I'm still in Jersey. I'll be back for the opera tonight but that won't be until after the office is closed.''
"Okay, hold on and I'll see if he can talk to you now. Before I go, are you still on for your grooming appointment Sunday night?"
"Okay, hold on."
A minute later Ed's gruff voice came on the line.
"So what the hell happened last night, Silas?"
"Karen says they've both called you so I'm sure you know."
"I want to hear your side of it." My side? It sounded like Ed had already decided to go with the old 'the customer's always right' adage.
"Townsend was going to skip the condom right from the start and would have if I hadn't called him on it. Then he offered an extra hundred if we went along with it. Trying to re-negotiate in the middle of a scene is bullshit in any case, but this was a case where he wanted to break one of our basic rules."
"And the kid was okay with it?"
"Yeah, Dan told me afterward he'd wanted bareback right from the start but you'd nixed it."
"That's right, I did."
"So what could I do? You don't allow us to re-negotiate deals and you're the one who made the no barebacking rule."
"You're right, but I've always allowed you boys a lot of leeway in deciding how to handle things that come up unexpectedly. In this case we ended up with two very dissatisfied customers."
"How could they be so dissatisfied? They got exactly what they expected to get going in."
"Yes, but then they raised their own expectations and you shot them down rather abruptly."
"What else could I do? I didn't want everyone coming out of character completely and risk the whole scene falling apart."
"I know you did the best you could but in hindsight maybe it would have been best to just let them do what they wanted."
"I can't believe you're saying that."
"Look, Silas, I'm as pro safe sex as you are. The reason I instituted such a tough rule was to protect both my escorts and my clients, but mostly you boys. I have a responsibility to my staff but I have nothing to say about how the clients run their lives. And in this case since the only risk was to the two clients, it might have been better to let them do what they wanted."
"Then they'll have to do it with someone else. I can't control what they do the rest of their lives but there's not going to be any risky behavior in the same bed with me."
"And I'd never ask you to do that. I just wanted you to know that in rare instances like this where you are not personally at risk, you are permitted to break the rule, if you are so inclined. I'm going to get a memo out to the others about it, but I also want to make it clear that it's entirely up to you and I'll stand behind you if you decide not to."
"Thanks, Ed, I think you know where I stand."
"Exactly where I'd stand if I were in your position."
And that was why Ed was running the business and I was only doing the fucking. He was somehow able to see both sides of every question and reconcile his own beliefs with those of the clients. I was relieved that he wasn't pissed at me, in fact he agreed with me, but there's no way I'd want to have any more to do with clients like Mr. Townsend and Dan.
I was getting a little tired of waiting for Barbara to call me back. She'd had three days to talk to Dad and try to come up with some answers. I'd been thinking a lot and while I knew our options were limited I still had lots of reservations.
The farm work wasn't bad. Sure, there were lots of things that should be done that I hadn't been doing all week. Basically, I had just been taking care of the animals. The crops were at the stage where they were growing by themselves and didn't need my help. But I could be working in the garden. And I could be painting the buildings. Even if I did those chores I could still handle things at the farm and get into the city for some work as well. I'd done a little financial figuring. Each date paid differently depending on what was involved, but I averaged five dates a week which gave me a very comfortable income. Commuting into the city from the farm five times a week was out of the question. It was just too far and too time-consuming. Besides, every time I left the farm to go to work I'd have to hire someone to baby-sit the old man. I decided that seven dates a month would cover my basic expenses - the apartment, commuting, food. Eight would give me a little cushion as long as Dad could cover his own expenses.
But the real stumbling block was Dad himself and he was the only reason I would have to be at the farm. I couldn't see any way the two of us could co-exist in the same house. His parting words to me still stung when I thought of them. Even after all these years, I just wasn't sure I could be around him without hurting. And that was just my feelings. What was he thinking about me after all these years? In the first twenty years of my life he hadn't mellowed at all. I didn't expect there'd be much change now.
And even if the best case scenario worked out it would take time - the fields couldn't be rented out until the next year, someone would have to harvest this year's crops, the animals would have to be sold. So Dad's retirement, if he could afford it, wouldn't happen until next year and someone would have to look after things until then. And I knew that someone would have to be me. Uncle Frank would probably offer to help, but he had his own farm to run and wasn't getting any younger himself. A live-in caretaker for Dad wouldn't run the farm and a hired farm hand wouldn't take care of Dad. Only a relative with no choice in the matter would do both, and do them for free.
I was just about to call Barbara when she called me.
"So what's the story, Babs? Did you ask him about me?"
"I was going to ease you into the conversation gradually but it turned out there wasn't much point. He already knew you were there. He'd been going nuts about the animals ever since he was admitted to the hospital and even though the staff assured him things were under control, as soon as he had access to a phone he called Uncle Frank who told him you were on the scene taking care of everything."
"I'm sure that made him feel all better."
"Well, at least he's not worried about the animals anymore. He knows you care more about them than you do about people."
"What do you mean? I like people."
"Maybe you do now but don't forget I was there when you were growing up. The cows were just about your only friends."
That was way too close to the truth and I wasn't comfortable thinking about those lonely days, much less talking about them.
"Enough of the warm memories, Babs. What does Dad think of his situation and how does he want to deal with it?"
"At first he was fighting with the doctor, insisting he would recover fully and be able to go back to doing everything he was before but I think he's starting to realize that may never happen. They've been getting him up out of bed and he can't even walk down the hall without having to rest."
"So what's the answer? Did you suggest selling the farm?"
"Yeah, and I could probably have heard his reply without the phone. No way that's happening."
"So what does he want to do?"
"I told him that you were willing to stay there for a while and take care of the farm and keep an eye on him. He had to think about that for a while. The next time I talked to him he reluctantly agreed but said if you were going to be there it would be on his terms."
I laughed out loud.
"I don't think he's joking, Silas."
"No, I'm sure he's not, but I was laughing because my position was going to be that I'll stay here and help but only on my terms. After all, he's the one who needs me."
"This is the first time I've ever thought of you two as thinking alike."
"God forbid. Look, this is something he and I are going to have to work out. As much as I would like to let you take care of it I've got to stop whining and dragging my feet and go take the bull by the horns."
"So you're going to go see him? When?"
"Any idea of when he'll be ready to leave the hospital?"
"They're talking about Monday."
"Then I'd better go today and at least break the ice."
"Let's hope that's the only thing that gets broken."
As soon as I hung up I called Karen to let her know I wouldn't be able to handle any dates after Sunday night. I had managed to save up quite a bit over the years so I wasn't worried about going a while without a paycheck, but I didn't want to live off my savings for long. Once Dad was home I'd see if he was able to be on his own for six hours or so at a time, long enough for me to get into the city for dates. If not, maybe Uncle Frank could stay with him. In the long run I knew I'd have to hire someone but there was no point in even thinking about that until I'd seen how Dad and I got along. Maybe the whole thing would be a disaster.
I detoured to the hospital in Denville on my way into the city and stood in the hall outside his room for a long time trying to get up the courage to go in. The staff was probably used to nervous relatives pacing about but even so I was starting to get some worried looks. Finally a nurse went into the room and I followed her, thinking he might be less rude with a third person around.
Lying in the bed looking pale, he looked a lot smaller than I remembered. His personality had always made him seem a little larger than life, but he was really just about my size. Now, however, he looked old and shrunken.
"So, you finally showed up. Just like you to pussy-foot around in the background, hiding behind your sister."
"I wasn't hiding. I just assumed you'd rather talk to Barbara than see me."
"You got that right." he snorted. "You still queer?"
The nurse had been adjusting the machine regulating his IV but she looked up at that question.
"Yes, but I prefer the word gay."
"Longest you ever stuck with anything and it had to be that."
"Look, I know you don't approve and we're probably never going to change that, so why talk about it? In your condition it doesn't help to get you all riled up. It looks like we're going to be stuck with each other for a while so let's see if we can't get along."
"I'm not dying yet and when I do it'll be on my terms. I'll talk about what I please until then. If you can't show some gumption and stick up for yourself you're a sorry excuse for a man, queer or not."
"I told you, the word's gay."
The nurse hurriedly finished up what she was doing and practically ran from the room.
"See there, you can speak up when you want to."
"Let's not argue. Barbara said you'd let me help you but only on your terms. I just want to make it clear to you that since I'm the one doing the favor, it'll be my way. I'm not as assertive as you but I'm not going to take any of your crap either. I'll take care of the farm and I'll help you follow the doctor's orders, but stay off my back."
"Well, maybe you've got some balls after all. Everybody's telling me I need some help, and maybe that's true right now, but that doesn't mean I'm an invalid you can push around. As soon as I'm on my feet you can stop doing me any favors and get the hell out of my life."
"I guess we understand each other. Now apparently you're going to be discharged Monday so I'll be back to get you then."
"You're not going to visit over the weekend?" While I wasn't positive I was pretty sure he was being sarcastic.
"No, I don't think that would do anything for either of us and we're going to be spending more than enough time together from now on. Besides, I have a friend visiting for the weekend."
"A friend? No way I'm allowing any of that to go on under my roof."
"Olivia's just a friend, Dad. Believe me there will be nothing going on between us."
"A girl, huh? Maybe there's hope for you after all."
I sat in the truck in the hospital parking lot for a long time recovering from the brief encounter with Dad. I'd gone in thinking I could treat him like one of my clients, that is, be agreeable and who he wanted me to be. I'd tried all my life to be the kind of son he wanted, always doing whatever he wanted me to. For some reason I had never been able to please him. The harder I tried, the more he found fault with me. But it had worked with all of my clients so I thought maybe I could succeed now that I had more practice being amenable.
But as easy as it was for me to reflect my clients' desires, it was next to impossible for me to give in to Dad at all any more. Maybe it was the hurt from our last conversation but I found I could no longer submit to him, no longer put his wishes first. Given his precarious health situation I knew that I should, and I truly did want to help him, but I couldn't stop myself from standing up to him and saying what I thought and doing what was right. And that took a lot out of me.
I was also shaken by his condition. I hadn't been prepared for him looking that old or weak. I'd somehow expected him to look just the way he had when I'd left home, maybe a little grayer and craggier. His personality hadn't changed much but physically he was just a shell of the man who'd raised me.
Finally I was able to snap out of my funk by reminding myself I had to get into the city and get to work. After this week I had no idea when I'd be able to earn any more money, so I had to make it while I could.
At the apartment I took out the programs from operas I'd been to with client's over the years. It wouldn't hurt to refresh my memory about them. I wasn't sure what kind of social situation I was going to be in but utilizing what little knowledge I had of opera would help me fit in.
Since I now knew that I would be staying at the farm for an indefinite period I packed some more clothes. Nothing I owned was appropriate for farm work but I wouldn't be doing chores all the time. I'd have to buy some clothes to work in. At the last minute I put on my tux. I didn't want to take a chance on messing it up by doing anything once I was dressed.
The date started out just like my leather dates with PDB. I stood on the corner of Ninth Ave. and W. 18th St., just a short walk from my apartment, feeling very out of place in my James Bond outfit. The limo pulled up, the back window went down and there he was. He nodded approvingly and opened the door.
"If I hadn't seen your pictures on the web site I would never have known you were the same man," he said as I got into the car.
"Yeah, I'm a bit disguised when we usually meet."
"My name is Paul," he said as he held out his hand.
"Peter," I said, giving the first name that popped into my head as we shook hands. "So what kind of event are we going to tonight?"
"Before the performance there's a champagne reception to raise money for the pediatric cancer program at Memorial Sloan-Kettering. My wife bought the tickets a while ago but our daughter gave birth to our first grandchild last weekend so she's gone to help her."
I had assumed there was a wife in the background. Most of my clients were married.
"If you were supposed to be there with your wife isn't it risky taking me?"
"No, I doubt anyone will know me there. And if someone does I'll introduce you as an opera lover from my office taking advantage of my extra ticket. I'm in advertising, by the way, in case anyone asks."
The reception was in Damrosch Park next to the opera house. It was full of very stuffy people but the champagne was good and the hors d'oeuvres were even better. Paul and I chatted with several people briefly but mostly with each other. He was pleasant company but I had just about run through all of my opera knowledge when it was time for the performance.
I enjoyed the production more than the other time I'd seen Tosca. Then I had no idea what the story line was, so it was like watching a foreign film without the subtitles. Afterwards I'd read up on it, so this time I knew what I was watching.
The evening had been pleasant but I hadn't forgotten that it would probably end with some kind of sex with Paul, even if it was just the usual blowjob in the backseat. So I was surprised when the limo picked us up in front of Lincoln Center and Paul asked me where I'd like to be dropped off.
"You don't want to, uh, do anything else before you let me go?"
"You mean sex?" He smiled. "Much as I enjoy sucking that big dick of yours, I don't have to do it every time. Tonight I just wanted a handsome, charming escort for the opera and you were marvelous. Besides, I wouldn't want to mess up your tuxedo."
"Don't worry about that. Someone spilled champagne on my sleeve ten minutes into the reception so the suit will be going to the cleaners anyway. You've hired my services for the evening. You can do whatever you want, within reason."
"You're very sweet, Peter, but you've given me a fine evening as it is."
I wasn't about to argue. I'd surprised myself by offering more than he'd asked in the first place but it had been such a pleasant evening I wanted to make sure he got everything he wanted. I told him he could have the driver drop me off where he'd picked me up and that's what he did.
It was a little after eleven-thirty when I opened my apartment door, nearly a half hour before Livy was due to meet me, but she was already there, sitting on the couch watching David Letterman on TV, eating the last of the Edy's Double Fudge Chocolate ice cream she'd found in my freezer.
"My, don't you look dashing? That must have been some date."
"Oh, nothing special, just a champagne reception and a night at the opera." I said casually.
"And now it's home to the farm to milk the cows."
"That's not until morning, dear."
"Whatever. Are you going like that or do you want to change first?"
"No point in taking the time to change just for the ride. Let's go." I picked up my bags and my laptop. I was going to be at the farm for a while so I was going to have to get an Internet connection out there. "Oh, did you bring a camera?"
"I'm a photographer, Silas. Have you ever known me to go anywhere without a camera?"
"Just checking. I have to have some pictures taken for the Dream Dates web site over the weekend."
"I might have known you had an ulterior motive for inviting me out."
"No ulterior motive. I really only wanted your company but the photography is a nice bonus."
When the attendant at the garage brought the truck around Livy gawked.
"You can't be serious. A pickup truck? How butch."
"What else is a farmer going to drive? With all the hauling we have to do a car isn't practical."
We stowed our bags behind the seat and got in. As we drove off Livy laughed.
"I was just looking at you dressed like that and a picture of that guy from that old TV series, Green Acres, popped into my head. You know, where he was driving a tractor in a business suit?"
"Very funny, but I assure you I know how to dress for farm work. And that's why I asked about the camera. I need some pictures of me in action around the farm."
"No problem, as long as it's not x-rated action."
"You don't have to worry about that. The cows and chickens are all female. And while I love cock, the rooster is out of the question."
On the trip to the farm Livy regaled me with stories of her recent dating adventures. While she had had a few relationships that lasted over a year in the time I'd known her and professed to want long-term monogamy, when she was single she could be quite the stud. Since it was the middle of the night I couldn't point out any places of interest on the way so I just listened and concentrated on driving. When I turned off the highway Livy mentioned how dark it was.
"Don't folks out here believe in street lights?"
"What would be the point? There's almost nothing around to see."
Livy yelled "Watch out!" when I swung the truck off the road into the driveway. I hit the brakes and turned to her.
"What's the matter?"
"We ran off the road, idiot! Can you see where you're going out here in the dark?"
"Of course I can, and I meant to turn off the road. We're here."
"Here? What do you mean, here? We're in the middle of nowhere."
"Home sweet home, dear. Welcome to the Clove."
"The Clove? What's that?"
"The Clove River runs through this valley so this area is called the Clove."
"Well, that awful smell sure isn't cloves."
"What do you mean awful? Nothing but fresh air out here."
"You don't smell that?"
I took a deep breath through my nose and realized what she was referring to.
"You must mean that hint of cow manure."
"Hint? That's a hint like getting hit with a sledgehammer is a light tap."
"Oh, c'mon, it isn't so bad. We're upwind of both the barn and the pasture. Tomorrow I'll take you where you can get a good whiff of it."
"Oh joy, the anticipation will keep me up all night."
As I continued into the driveway the headlights swept over the shed.
"Please don't tell me that's the house."
"No, silly, the house is over there."
I pointed to the right. I'd left in the middle of the afternoon and had forgotten to turn on any lights so the house was a barely noticeable shadow in the darkness. The only light on the property was on the side of the barn and that was across the road with the barn blocking most of it.
"Take my arm if you're afraid you'll get lost," I said as we got out of the truck. I was surprised when she did just that as she came around to my side.
"I just don't want to disappear down some hole along the way."
"No need to worry about that. While it's not paved the walkway to the house is smooth. And the rest of the area around is just lawn, no ditches or holes."
We dropped our bags in the hall at the foot of the stairs and I turned on some lights. Livy looked around.
"I feel like I've stepped back into the fifties."
"Actually, I think the living room furniture is from the sixties, but the kitchen was modernized in the fifties."
"So you do have indoor plumbing?"
"Of course! We got rid of the outhouse when I was in high school."
She gave me a look of horror.
"I'm just kidding! My grandfather put in the two bathrooms back during the Depression."
"I think I need a drink."
"You've got a choice between Jack Daniels and Remy. We've also got some merlot but I bought that to go with supper tomorrow."
"I've never had Jack Daniels but I'm always up for new experiences."
"Then Jack it is."
She followed me into the kitchen where I poured us a couple of large whiskeys-on-the-rocks. We sipped them as I gave her a tour of the house. Downstairs was only the living room, dining room, kitchen with pantry and a full bathroom. I pointed out the door to Dad's room but didn't open it. It was the one room I hadn't cleaned or even been in. I knew it would need cleaning but I was waiting until Dad was home. Going in his room when he wasn't there seemed like a violation of his privacy.
We carried our bags and drinks upstairs. I had Livy put her things in Barbara's old room and I put my bags in mine. In addition to those rooms was my parents' old room, a small bedroom that my mother had used as a sewing room and another full bath. All of the rooms in the house were fairly large, especially compared to those in Manhattan apartments.
We went back downstairs and got comfortable in the living room.
"It's a pretty big house for four people. That was your whole family when you were growing up, right?"
"Yeah, but farm families used to be bigger. My great-great grandparents built this house a few years after the Civil War, though the land had been in the family a couple of generations before that. They had nine kids and I don't think they thought the house was big."
"Nine kids that many generations back? This area must be crawling with Willsons by now."
"Not really. Six of them were girls so their names changed when they got married. And one of the boys didn't get married. He must have had the family gay gene. And each succeeding generation got smaller."
"You know a lot about your family history."
"That's the family Bible." I pointed to a large book on the shelf under the coffee table. "It's all in there."
"So what happens to the farm after your father? Does he have any brothers or sisters?"
"He just had a younger brother who was single when he was killed in Vietnam so the family is down to just my sister and her kids and me."
"So the farm ends with him?"
"I don't know. I haven't really thought about it." I'd been trying not to think about it and didn't like the direction the conversation was taking so I downed my drink and stood up.
"Well, time for bed. Do you want to get up to watch me milk the cows in the morning?"
"Sure, that's what I'm here for. What time? Nine-ish?"
"No way! Are you serious?"
"The cows make the schedule, not me."
"Then it looks like I won't be learning to milk a cow after all 'cause there's no way I'm getting up that early."
"I thought as much. I'll have to teach you to handle an udder in the afternoon then."
As I lay in bed a little later I thought about Livy's questions. When I'd left home I'd done a good job categorizing the farm as my past. I'd tried to think about it as little as possible. But in the week I'd been back it had been on my mind a lot. What would become of it? That question had come to my mind because of Dad's condition. It was his farm and his decision. But in just one week of doing the chores around the place I'd realized just how much the farm still meant to me. It wasn't just a part of my past. It was and always would be a part of me. So what happened to it mattered, not just to Dad, but to me. But I had nothing to say about it. It was all up to Dad.