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. 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.
Apparently, my plan had worked even better than I'd hoped. I didn't see Mom again for more than two weeks. I talked to her on the phone several times, but she was always busy doing something with Johnny. While I was pleased things were going well with them, I missed her. I'd expected to spend lots of time with her on her visit regardless of how things turned out with him.
And, oddly enough, I missed Johnny, too. Since that last visit to the library when he told me I'd exhausted their research materials, I hadn't been back. I'd plugged the information I'd found at the Archives into my family tree and built on that somewhat, but there was no point in going back to Plainfield. I missed being able to share my findings with Johnny. And I missed his company as well.
I kept thinking back to the night at Cay's. I'd joined Mom and Johnny at their table between my sets and listened to them, at first scolding me for having set them up so secretly and then as they reminisced. I hadn't seen Mom so happy in a long time. I hadn't seen Johnny so happy and animated ever. They chatted and laughed all through my second set, right up to closing time when we all left together. I'd encouraged Johnny to take the train into the city, knowing Mom would drive Grandma's car. That way, if things went well, they could ride back to Jersey together. And that's what happened. Mom offered Johnny a lift and they went off together while I walked the few blocks back to my apartment feeling very satisfied with myself.
I was dying to know how things were going with Mom and Johnny but Mom seemed to be enjoying keeping me in the dark. If I dropped hints that I wanted to know, she ignored them. When I came right out and asked, she told me to mind my own business. Since I`d chosen to keep her in the dark about my plans to get them together, now it was my turn to be clueless. She wasn't being seriously vengeful; she was always laughing as she told me off. But she wouldn't tell me anything, except that they were seeing each other all the time and enjoying it. That in itself was good enough, for the short term anyway.
Finally, Mom called me and invited me to dinner. She said I`d suffered enough in the dark and she would catch me up on everything.
"I've made reservations for Thursday at eight at Snuffy's Steak House. I know I should have asked you first if you were busy, but I can always change them."
"Thursday's fine with me. Does that mean Grandma is going to be joining us?" Snuffy's was one of Grandma`s favorite restaurants.
"No, she's got other plans. It'll be just us young girls, Jack."
"Ma, you know girls is not politically correct. Besides, at your age ..."
"Oh, and I suppose bringing up a woman's age is politically correct?"
"I think we'd better drop the subject while we're still speaking. I suppose you'll pick me up at the Fanwood station?" Grandma's house was only a few blocks away.
"Actually, I have something to do earlier and I'll be coming from the other direction. You can walk or take a cab. It`s only a mile or so."
"A mile isn't so far that you couldn't go out of your way to get me."
"You're a city boy. You walk forever and take cabs every day. Now all of a sudden you need your mommy to pick you up?"
So that's where the sarcastic bitch part of my personality came from.
"All right, I'll meet you there at eight."
It had been a beautiful fall day Thursday but the forecast was for rain in the evening. It was only partly cloudy when I got off the train in Fanwood so I decided to walk. It was a pleasant half hour stroll through suburbia and I got to the restaurant just before eight. A hostess was standing just inside the door.
"Reservation for Martin."
She checked her list, picked up a menu and asked me to follow her. She led the way to a secluded corner table that was set for two. Sitting at one of the seats was Johnny, not Mom. I hadn't expected her to be on time, but his presence was a complete surprise. From the look on his face he wasn't expecting me either.
"Jack! Where's your mom? She didn't tell me you were joining us."
"She didn't say anything to me about you either. We'll have to have another place setting brought for her."
A cute young dark-haired waiter took our drink orders, unsweetened iced tea for both of us, and said he'd bring a third place setting when our third arrived.
"So, you and Mom have been keeping pretty busy."
"Yes, she's fantastic! She hasn't changed a bit yet she's lived through so much. When we were teenagers I thought she was one of the most positive, upbeat people I'd ever met. I'm so glad to find that she still is."
"Yes, that certainly describes her. I think I've inherited a bit of that from her but maybe I'm a little more realistic."
"You're a lot like her, and not just physically. I can't believe I didn't figure out who you were, if not when we first met, at least as I got to know you."
"You mean as my hair started to grow back in?"
"I think if your hair were as long as it is now back when we met I would have guessed. As it was, every now and then I'd look at you and be sure I knew you from somewhere. The familiarity was haunting, but I just couldn't make the connection."
Just as the waiter appeared with our iced tea my cell phone rang. A look at the screen told me it was Mom, so I turned away from the table to take the call.
"Where are you? And what's going on? The reservation is for two and Johnny's here."
"So how does it feel to be set up, honey? Turnabout's fair play, you know."
"What are you talking about?"
"Put Johnny on the phone, dear."
I handed him the phone and he listened for about thirty seconds before giving it back to me.
"Are you coming or not?"
"No, I'm not. I guess I'll have to spell it out for you, baby. Johnny's gay. He's a great guy and starting right now you're on a date. Knock yourself out." There was a slight click and then dead air. I sat there stunned, staring at the phone.
"So I guess we won't need the extra place setting." I looked up and Johnny was smiling at me.
"Um, no, I guess we won't. Uh, if you don't mind my asking, what did Mom just tell you?"
"Only that she won't be joining us." He thought for a moment and then smiled. "Oh yeah, and that she's set us up on a date."
"You seem to have taken it in stride." He hadn't acted anywhere near as shocked as I had.
"Judy always did have a wicked sense of humor. It looks like she found a fun way to get back at you for setting her up on a blind date with me."
"Are you really gay?"
"Neither of us is equipped with gaydar, apparently. I had no idea you were gay until she told me the day after our `date' at Cay`s."
So he'd known I was gay before which explained why he wasn't as surprised as me.
"And this date?"
"Don't be silly. As we know, I'm old enough to be your father. This is just Judy's way of getting back at you."
"You don't mind being used in her attempt at child abuse?"
"You`re hardly a child, Jack, and it isn`t exactly abuse."
The waiter came to take our orders so the conversation stopped for a moment. After he left, I returned to the subject.
"I can understand Mom wanting to get back at me for surprising me, but she's punishing you, too."
"Punishing? I hardly think of having dinner in a nice restaurant with someone whose company I enjoy as punishment. Sure, it wasn't what I was expecting, but I've seen Judy nearly every day for the last two weeks so I can skip a day without minding. Besides, this place is only a mile from my house, so I didn't even have to travel. You're the one who should be pissed. You came all the way out from the city to see her."
"I can't ever be pissed at Mom. Annoyed sometimes, but never seriously. And I'm sure she's not even annoyed with me. We just like to tease each other."
"I've noticed. But it's clear how much you two love each other."
I tried to get the topic of conversation back to Johnny, not Mom and me.
"It's funny, back when Mom first told me about you, about how the two of you had been great friends but not lovers, I suggested you might be gay. She pooh-poohed the idea."
"In the seventies, being gay wasn't as legitimate a lifestyle option as it is now. Most people thought it was a terrible thing, a shameful secret, so they didn't even consider that a friend might be gay. And I was mostly in the closet then. But, in a way, it was knowing Judy that convinced me I was truly gay."
"What? You're saying Mom made you gay?"
"No," he laughed. "Not at all. It's just that if there were ever a woman I could have fallen for, it was her. She was pretty, bright, charming, funny, kind. The fact that I couldn't think of her as anything other than a friend convinced me I wasn't even the slightest bit bisexual. I was totally gay."
Just then the waiter brought our dinners. What little gaydar I had worked on him the first time he'd come to the table. He must have overheard bits of our conversation because each time he came by he was friendlier. And flirtier. After he left I mentioned it to Johnny.
"I think our waiter has the hots for you."
"What makes you think it's not you he's interested in?"
"He impresses me as someone who's looking for a daddy."
"I hate to tell you, Jack, but to someone his age thirty-two is old enough to play the daddy role."
"Well, I'm not into kiddies."
"Oh?" He raised an eyebrow. "And what are you into?"
In all of our genealogy sessions the conversations had naturally been about me and my family. But because I'd been trying to find out more about him I'd had to keep gently maneuvering the conversations back toward his life. Now I was finding that no matter how I tried, he still managed to keep turning it back to me. I was determined not to let that happen even if I had to be blunt about it.
"Since we're not really on a date, what I'm into is none of your business." I smiled in what I hoped was a mysterious manner and then abruptly changed direction. "When we first met, you said something about being a widower. That's probably what made me think you were straight."
"Well, Ron and I were together twenty-three years when he died, so I think that qualifies me as a widower. We weren`t married although we were registered as domestic partners."
"Whoa! Twenty-three years. I haven't made it past three. What's your secret?"
"No real secret. He was a great guy and I loved the security he provided me."
That didn't sound all that romantic to me. `Great guy', `security'.
"You must have really loved each other."
"He certainly loved me more than I could ever believe, and yes, I loved him."
Something about the way he said that made me look at him. It didn't come out sounding quite as I thought it should. He was blankly staring off across the room, lost in thought.
Neither of us wanted coffee or dessert so we asked for the check the next time the little hottie came by. After a brief tug-of-war over it, we split the bill. When the waiter brought the change and we'd counted out a tip, we both just sat for a minute. I'd enjoyed the evening and didn't really want it to end.
"How did you get here tonight?"
"I walked from the train station in Fanwood." I glanced at my watch as we both got up. "It looks like we timed this perfectly. The next train is in forty-five minutes, plenty of time for me to get back there."
"Don't be silly. I'll drive you."
"You don't have to do that. I'm used to walking."
As we approached the door I could see it was raining. Actually, it was more than raining, it was pouring. I pushed the door open and before I'd taken a step a gust of wind blew it shut in my face.
"That settles it, I'm driving you."
"No argument here. I'm no fool."
I followed Johnny running across the lot to his car and we were pretty wet by the time we got in. He drove slowly through the black night. Even with the wipers on high speed it was hard to see where we were going. There were rivers running down the gutters on either side of the road, sometimes widening out to lakes across the lanes.
"This is ridiculous," Johnny said as we stopped for a red light in the center of town. "You're going to get soaked waiting on the platform for the train. Is there any reason why you have to be home tonight?"
"What do you mean?"
"You can stay at my place and catch a train in the morning. This storm can't last like this all night."
"I really don't want to put you out."
"Don't be silly. I've got two guest rooms. You can take your pick."
I really didn't want to travel home in this weather, but I wasn't sure staying at his place was a good idea. Okay, maybe I suspected his motives a little. After all, Mom had called the dinner we'd just had a date, even though we'd agreed it wasn't. Now he was inviting me back to spend the night at his place.
"I promise I won't jump your bones, Jack, if that's what's bothering you. Scout's honor." He held up his right hand with three fingers up.
"You were a Boy Scout?"
"I not only was a Scout but I did a couple of them as well. But that's another story."
"One I don't think I want to hear. Okay, I'll take you up on your offer. This storm seems to be getting worse, if that's possible."
He turned right and drove through the dark. I couldn't see where we were going at all in the storm and even though he was familiar with the roads he seemed to be straining to see as well. A couple of minutes later he pulled into a driveway. All I could make out of the house was the front door with a light on either side. The rest was just a large dark mass. As we drove past the house toward a two-car garage in the back, Johnny pressed a button on the remote control clipped to his sun visor and the door began to open. He pulled in and we got out of the car.
"I think I have an umbrella in here somewhere."
I looked across the back yard. There was a light on next to the back door.
"We're already pretty wet and it's only thirty feet or so. Why don't we just make a dash for it?"
"Okay, but stick to the pavement. The lawn's probably pretty soggy."
Johnny hit the button just inside the garage door and it closed behind us as we raced toward the shelter of the small awning over the back door. The rain was blowing sideways so it didn't provide much shelter as Johnny fumbled with his keys and unlocked the door. We were dripping wet when we got inside.
"Man, what a monsoon!" Johnny said as he flipped a light switch, revealing a large, modern kitchen.
"We`re dripping all over your floor."
"Don't worry about it. Let me get some towels." He went through a doorway into the laundry room and came back with two large towels. "I'll get us a couple of robes and we can toss our clothes in the dryer."
He left the room and I used my towel to dry as best I could. When he came back a minute later he handed me a large terry robe and slippers and directed me to a half-bath off a hallway. I quickly got out of my clothes and put on the robe. When I returned to the kitchen Johnny was also wearing a robe and slippers.
"This is a novel way of getting a date out of his clothes," I said as I handed him my things.
"I thought we established this isn't a date. And I've already promised not to molest you, so relax." He put our wet clothes in the dryer and started it up.
"I'm just teasing. I trust you."
"I could go for something to warm me up. How'd you like some hot cocoa? Or coffee or tea if you'd prefer."
"Cocoa would be fine." I hadn't had hot cocoa since I was a kid but it sounded good.
"Great! I'll put on the milk and give you a quick tour of the house."
Leaving the saucepan on low heat, he gave me the promised tour. Besides the kitchen and laundry room, downstairs was a large living room, formal dining room and family room with a fireplace. Upstairs was a master suite and three smaller bedrooms, although one was set up as an office.
"This place is huge for one person." We were back in the kitchen where Johnny poured the hot milk into mugs containing cocoa and little marshmallows.
"It was Ron's family home. He grew up here."
We moved into the family room where I got comfortable on the couch while Johnny built a fire in the fireplace. As the kindling began to crackle, Johnny sat at the other end of the couch and turned sideways to face me. The wind was still roaring outside and the rain was slapping against the windows at one end of the room.
"You know, after all the time we've spent together over the past several months, I knew more about your ancestors than about you. Most of what I know of you I've learned from your mother in the last two weeks."
I scowled. "You were supposed to be spending time talking about each other, not about me."
"Oh, we caught up on our own lives as well. But Judy loves to talk about you. She`s very proud of you.. She considers you the one thing she`s done right."
I felt my cheeks warming and was sure I was turning bright red.
"I don't know about that. Mom's made some bad decisions in her life, mostly about men, but she's done plenty right. Apparently now you know all about me but I still know very little about you. So talk."
"What do you want to know?"
"How about telling me about Ron?"
He smiled. "That's such a long story I don't even know where to start."
"How about when you met? That would be logical."
"Yes, although it's also a bit embarrassing. You see, right after I graduated from high school, I stumbled upon a cruising area in a county park near here. As a closeted but very horny eighteen year old, I found the anonymous, quickie sex to be very exciting. One day I met Ron there."
"So, a quickie in the bushes led to this?" I swept my arm around.
"Actually, although Ron cruised the park now and then, he wasn't into doing it in the bushes. He was the first guy I met there who insisted I follow him back to his house. It was the first time I'd ever actually been in bed with a guy."
"And it was love at first whatever?" I did some mental calculations. "But that would have been the year before you met Mom, and you weren`t living here then. Mom wasn't `gay-suspicious' of you and she would have been if you'd been in a relationship with him then."
"It wasn't love at all. It was just a trick. I continued cruising off and on as I started college, but mostly I was wrapped up in studying and friends. I was very closeted and Ron was nearly twenty years older than me, so I definitely wasn't even thinking of a relationship. Our paths did cross at the park now and then and occasionally I came back here with him."
"So when did your relationship move on to the next level?'
"That happened very slowly and took years, even after I moved in here. Not long after your mother was tossed out of that Catholic nursing school, my parents found out I was gay. To say they didn't handle the news well is an understatement. My father told me I had two weeks to get out of the house and four weeks to change my name. My mother just cried every time she looked at me. I had no idea what to do. My friends from school, including your mother, had no idea I was gay and I wasn't ready to come out to them. And I really didn't know anyone gay. It was June so I didn't have a dorm room to fall back on. I wasn't even sure I could continue in college without help from my parents. I had a summer job that paid crap so I couldn't afford a place of my own, even if I'd been able to find one that quickly."
"So what did you do?"
"One day I got very depressed and went cruising to try to take my mind off my hopeless situation. And I ran into Ron. We came back here for sex. I hadn`t intended to tell him my troubles, but in the middle of sex I broke down and started crying. To assure him it wasn`t him or the sex I was crying about, I told him everything. He offered me a room, no strings attached."
"And that's when you became a couple?"
"Far from it," he chuckled. "Once I moved in, we stopped having sex, though for different reasons. He was afraid I'd feel I had to whether I wanted to or not. And I didn't want to lead him on because I really wasn't interested in him that way."
"You weren't? So when did you change your mind, or heart?"
"Much later. Ron didn't charge me any rent. He was a stockbroker and didn't need the money. Even so, I had to take a year off from school to save up some money so I could continue. A friend of his helped me get a job in the library here. I liked it and decided to get a master's in library science when I went back to school. In my personal life, I came out totally. I figured I had nothing else to lose. I did end up losing my college friends but that was more due to my not being there anymore. I got involved in a local gay group and made new friends and had a few brief relationships."
"And Ron just kept his distance? How long did that go on, with you living here, seeing other guys?"
"By the time I got my master's, I'd been here six years. I was 25, he was 44. We were friends, good friends, but that's all. Until I had one particularly rough breakup with a boyfriend I'd been seeing for nearly a year. He was young and adorable and I was crazy about him. But I'd never been terribly confident or secure in myself and there was something about him that played on all my insecurities. By the time his best friend told me he was seeing someone else behind my back, I was a mess. I just fell apart. Ron was there for me. He took care of me, comforted me, gave me emotional support. Several months later, when I was back on my feet, so to speak, he confessed he'd fallen in love with me and wanted to be more than friends."
"That must have been an awkward situation for you. How'd you react to that?"
"Actually, my reaction was pretty rational rather than emotional. I loved Ron, I knew that. No one had ever been so good to me. Physically, he wasn't my type, but we had originally met sexually, so there was some appeal there. I'd had a number of short, unsuccessful relationships and I figured I wasn't about to get a better offer, so I decided to give it a shot. There was always a chance of ruining a beautiful friendship if it didn`t work out, but we`d been friends long enough that I was pretty sure we could make it work."
"As you said, not very romantic."
"Yeah, but it turned out to be a wonderful relationship for both of us. We were very happy together for twenty-three years after that. Of course, I'm sure he was happier with our sex life than I was, but it was still good for both of us."
"That sounds a little egotistical, if you don't mind my saying."
"It wasn't meant to be. If you get to know me better you'll find I don't have much of an ego. Let's see if I can explain this without getting too specific and personal." He hesitated and thought for a moment. "Basically, when it came to sex, Ron and I were very much alike. We were both tops who liked younger guys. So who do you think had more fun in bed - the guy who was topping a younger guy, or the one who was being a bottom for an older guy?"
"Ahhh. `Nuf said. I get it now. But you went all those years not enjoying the sexual part of your relationship?"
"Don't get me wrong. I enjoyed it. Just because you prefer one sexual activity doesn't mean you can't enjoy others. And we loved each other, so as an expression of that love it was wonderful. But let's change the subject. This has become much more personal than I intended."
Just then a buzzer went off in the laundry room indicating the dryer had shut off. While I carefully folded clothes so I wouldn't be a wrinkled mess on the train home in the morning, Johnny heated more milk to refill our mugs. Then we settled in on the couch again and talked some more. We swapped stories about Mom and talked about our common taste in music. It was so comfortable sitting there in front of the warm fire while the storm raged outside. I'd always enjoyed Johnny's quiet company while we were doing our genealogy research but I liked him even more now that he was opening up to me. Before we knew it the clock in the hall chimed twelve.
"I've really enjoyed this and I hate to end our conversation but I have work in the morning. And I'm sure you'll be eager to get back to the city, considering you hadn't planned on spending the night."
"I didn't realize it was so late. I suppose we ought to get to bed."
Johnny led the way upstairs and made sure there were fresh towels and a new toothbrush for me in the bathroom, then showed me to the larger guest room. I got a little nervous at the doorway, all of a sudden not sure how the evening was going to end. He leaned in and for a moment I thought he was going to kiss me but instead just reached up and ruffled my hair, smiled and said good night. He turned and went into his room and closed the door.
I closed the door to my room behind me, took off the robe and slippers and climbed naked into bed. As I lay there I re-ran parts of the wonderful evening through my mind. My last thoughts before falling asleep were an uncertainty as to whether I was relieved or disappointed that he hadn't kissed me goodnight. It certainly hadn't been a date, that was a point we'd both been clear on, so a kiss to end it wouldn't have been appropriate. But, I thought as I dozed off, it might have been really nice.
To Be Continued