This story is my first attempt at writing fiction - particularly erotic fiction - although I have some technical writing in my background. The names and events are all figments of my imagination, and I apologize for any similarity to your life or lovers. I assure you, it's not intentional
I claim copyright privileges for this story. It springs from a favorite fantasy of mine, and if you find it enjoyable, let me know with an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
I want to thank all those who took the time to write. It's exhilarating to know my work is appreciated in places I will never have the time or resources to visit; Australia, New Zealand, Europe, as well as many North American cities and towns. The sheer volume of the email precludes individual answers to everyone any more, but rest assured, each one is read and valued highly.
The usual disclaimers apply. If you are under the legal age in your State or Country, please go read something else. If you are offended by homosexual liaisons between a boy and a man, why are you reading stuff from an erotic gay site?
For all the rest of you, enjoy.
Eric - Chapter Four
I awoke, and looked at the clock. It was almost seven o'clock. I had overslept my usual rising time by more than an hour, and I realized I had not undressed before lying down. I felt grubby, and my mouth tasted vile. I rose, and went into the bathroom, relieved my bladder, and took a swig of mouthwash. That was better. I decided to catch up the lost time by eschewing my daily workout, and moved to the shower after putting my teeth in to soak..
Once showered, shaved, and dressed in clean sweats, I checked to see if Eric was awake. I poked my head into his room, and heard soft snoring. I smiled, and closed the door. There was no need to arouse him. He had not had a secure place to sleep in almost a year, and I was loathe to disturb him.
I went downstairs to the kitchen, got out the coffee pot, ground the beans, and put the water up to heat. I took some bacon out of the refrigerator so that it would come apart easily when Eric got up. Then I went into the computer room, and turned the machine on. While it booted up, I went into the family room and started the little train to slowly chugging around the base of the tree. I checked to see that the watch was staying in place, and then returned to the kitchen. The kettle was already whistling, so I poured the water over the coffee, and stirred it up. Covering it with a small towel, I went to the refrigerator and got out the dinner entree - a five rib USDA Prime beef roast - and put it next to the bacon. I had found that a roast comes out better if given a chance to rest and come to room temperature before being subjected to the heat of an oven.
I pushed the coffee grounds to the bottom of the French Press pot, poured the rich, dark fluid into a carafe, added the cream and sugar, and grabbing a cup, returned to the computer. I turned on the router, and checked my email and bank balance. I brought the account registers up ro date, and leaned back to enjoy my second cup of coffee. I looked out the window and saw in the dull, early light of day that the snow had continued through the night, and that there was well over three feet on the ground. I thought about taking some pictures of it this afternoon just to make a record of what was probably the biggest snowstorm in Oregon history. I turned to the machine, and brought up the weather site. The prediction was not good - twelve to fourteen more inches on the valley floor, which translated to about three more feet on my front lawn. I felt sorry for people like truckers and emergency workers, who had to be out in the storm. They would miss being home with their families on this Christmas Day.
"BOB! BOB!" I heard the shrill voice of my little man crying out in the kitchen.
"In here," I called to him.
He ran in and exclaimed, "BOB! IT'S STILL SNOWING!"
I chuckled and said, "Can't slip anything by you."
He stopped short, and looked puzzled for a moment. Then he giggled that beautiful, tinkling laugh, and launched himself into my lap. He wrapped his arms around my neck and hugged me with all his might. "Merry Christmas, Bob," he said, and laid a kiss full on my lips.
I kissed him back briefly, and then pushed him away a little. "Merry Christmas, Eric," I said. "Don't you think you should get dressed, and greet the day?" He had run downstairs in nothing but his briefs, which were tenting strongly in the crotch area. I drew him into a hug for a few moments, and he pressed his hard penis into my belly. Frottage isn't really my thing, but I permitted him this simple pleasure for those few moments before I gently disentangled him from me, and kissed him on the nose. I smiled at him and said, "Go on upstairs, and get dressed. There's a lot to do this morning, and you can help."
"OK," he said brightly, and ran out of the room. He stopped at the outer door, and called back, "I love you."
"I love you too," I answered, and he was gone.
I turned the knob on the router so it would send any nasty bytes into la-la land, and sat there musing about how diametrically my life had changed in the last fourteen hours. What a wonderful gift had been given me. What a responsibility! This wonderful boy, who brought me so much joy, was like a newborn child - full of questions and expectations; looking to me for answers and guidance. Twenty years ago I would have already bedded him, and the desire to do so still ran strong in my veins, but how could I betray his trust like that? I knew he had desires too, but he was unaware of how sex can change one's perspective of a relationship. I, on the other hand, knew all too well what devious demons rise up to destroy trust and love. Eric was thirteen - fourteen tops - and I was an old man of seventy. I didn't know, nor really, did he, if he was in love with me or with the things I represented to him - security, warmth, and yes, license to be whatever he wanted to be.
As I heard his excited footsteps running into the kitchen, I deferred any decision for the time being. We would have to discuss a lot of things, but I decided to put that off until after the holiday. He had enough on his plate just now, and didn't need me to shit in his mess kit.
He stopped at the door, and asked, "Bob. Can I come in?" I smiled as I realized I only had to tell this boy something once.
"Yes, if you want to, but I'm just finishing up in here. I'll be out in minute," I said. "Why don't you go in by the tree, and relax? Maybe Santa left you something."
"OK," he said ruefully, "but I don't think so. He took me off his list a long time ago."
I began the shutdown process, and watched to see that it progressed smoothly. After it completed, I turned the power switch to "off", and went to join Eric. He was sitting with crossed legs as if hypnotized watching the train navigate its restricted course around the base of the tree.
I wanted to sit on the floor next to him, but I knew my arthritic old bones would make a strong protest, so I sat on the arm of the sofa, and watched the entranced youngster. He looked up at me and said,"He did. He brought me something." Tears of happiness were streaming down his cheeks. "Look! There on that flat-car! It says it's for me from Santa."
"So it does," I said. "Why don't you stop the train and take it off so you can open it?" I asked.
" I don't know how," he wailed. "I've been sitting here trying to figure out how."
I leaned over, and pushed the button on the controls (cleverly hidden inside one of the larger village buildings) to sound the train's whistle, and operated the throttle control so that the flat-car stopped in front of him. He carefully lifted the rubber band and removed the box. I set the train in motion once again as Eric started to unwrap his gift. When he opened the box and saw the watch, his eyes bugged out, and he looked up at me with disbelief. "Are you sure he meant this for me?" he asked incredulously. "They always told me that little boys couldn't have watches."
"Well, maybe he figures you're not a little boy any more," I said, silently cursing the cheapskate parent who had put that thought in his lovely head.
He put the watch on his wrist, and admired how it looked. Frank had done a good job scaling its size to the size of the boy. It was a little big, but I planned on putting some meat on his slender frame in the coming weeks. It wouldn't be long before it was perfect. Getting up from the floor, he put his arms around my neck, and said,"I love you Bob. I wish you were my Dad."
"I'd like that too," I said, "but God didn't plan it that way. He must have something else planned."
"Can I call you 'Dad' though?" he pleaded. "We could play pretend."
"I don't mind, if you want to," I answered. "In fact, I'd kind of like it."
'I hope His plan is for me to stay here with you, Dad," he said squeezing his arms tighter, and nuzzling his face into my neck.
"Me too, Son," I said hugging him back. "We'll have to wait and see what the future holds. How about some breakfast?"
"Yeah," he said with enthusiasm. "That sounds great!" He loosened his grip on my neck as I stood, and followed me into the kitchen. I lit the griddle and put some bacon on it. "Mmmmmm. I like bacon. Can we have some potatoes too?"
"Of course," I said while adding a few more strips of bacon. "How would you like them; sliced, hashed, baked, or boiled?"
"Mom used to mash them up and fry them in the bacon fat," he said. "That was good."
I got out a few potatoes, peeled and grated them, and put them in a skillet with a glob of butter, and some grated onion. I diced up a strip of bacon, and added that along with some salt and pepper, and then turned the bacon. "How do you like your eggs?" I asked.
"Scrambled," he said quickly. "I hate it when the yellow part runs all over the plate."
"I know what you mean," I smiled at him. "I think it's kind of gross too." I stirred the potatoes with a couple of flips, and put a lid on them. I turned my head to look at him for a moment, and he was standing there with an astonished look on his face.
"How did you do that?" he asked.
"Throw the potatoes in the air and catch them without dropping any on the floor," he said.
"Lots of practice," I told him. "Lots of practice, and lots of time cleaning up the floor." I chuckled at him, and gave the skillet another couple of flips. I checked the bacon, and removed it to some folded paper towels to drain, then broke a half dozen eggs in a bowl and stirred them with a whisk. "Why don't you set a couple of places there on the island," I said. It will all be ready in a couple of minutes." As an afterthought I said,"There's orange juice in the fridge if you want some."
Eric quickly complied with my request as I poured out the eggs onto the griddle and worked them around with the spatula. They set almost immediately on the hot surface, and it took only a little longer for them to be cooked through. I put the drained bacon on a plate, slid the potatoes onto a second plate, and the eggs onto a third. I put the three plates on the island just as Eric was finishing up his chore, and noticed there was a glass of orange juice at each place. We sat down on the same stools we had used the night before.
Eric sat there and began eating while I got up, poured him a glass of milk, and got my coffee cup from the counter. I ate sparingly, but I didn't expect any leftovers. I was not a fan of a big breakfast, and seldom ate any at all. Coffee seemed to suffice until lunch. Eric made up for my lack of appetite though. He ate everything on his plate, and refilled it. In a surprisingly short time, there were only five empty plates on the island. Eric got up and carried the dirty dishes to the dishwasher. I watched as he loaded it properly, set the controls, and turned it on. "What are we going to do today?" he asked expectantly.
"Well, for most of the morning, I'll be cooking," I said. "Remember, we are having guests for Christmas dinner. They will be arriving around one o'clock, and I plan to serve the dinner around two."
"Can I help?" he inquired.
"Of course," I said, "if you want to."
"I want to. What can I do first?"
"First, calm down a little." I chided him. "Preparing a holiday feast is a lot different than a short order breakfast. It's a slow careful process. Different foods cook in different times, and you want everything to finish at the same time so it's all hot when it gets to the table.
"There are some basics that are important," I continued. "The most important is keeping your hands clean. Hands are one of the chef's best tools, and it's very important that nothing dirty is transferred to the food. Sometimes a quick rinse is all that's needed, and other times - like when you've been handling meat or something greasy - soap is necessary. I use the liquid dish soap there on the sink. A couple of drops is all you need, but it has to be done whenever your hands feel icky. OK?"
"OK," he said. and went to the sink to wash the bacon grease off his hands. He turned around wiping them with a towel, and asked, "What's next?"
"Cutlery," I said opening the wide drawer in the island where sixteen knives lay nestled in their individual velvet lined sockets. "Knives. As you can see, there are a lot of different shaped blades in several sizes. They are all razor sharp, and each one does a particular job better than another, but you have to understand they are tools. They only do what you tell them to do by the way you hold, push, slice or move the blade in some other way. If you are careless with them, they will misunderstand your instructions and may do damage to your hands. There are a lot of "wanna be" chefs in the world called 'Stumpy'," I said with a chuckle. "I don't want you to become one of them."
I looked at him closely, and though he was smiling at my attempt at humor, I saw he was suitably impressed with the seriousness of my prelude. "Here, you can use this one to make the salad.," I said selecting an eight inch French Chef's blade. "The lettuce, and other stuff are in the left drawer at the bottom of the refrigerator. Get them out, and put them over there by the cutting board." I indicated the butcher block insert in the granite counter top.
He did as I bade him, and I took the knife and showed him how to rest the point on the board and use the knife as a lever, meanwhile pushing a scallion under the sharp edge. I showed him how to curve his fingertips under, and use his knuckles as a guide on the side of the blade. "Don't try to be fast. It takes a lot of practice to get fast, and we have plenty of time before our company gets here. When you finish that, I'll have some other things you can do."
I put a large cut glass bowl by the cutting board, and he looked at it. " You want me to put the stuff in that after I cut it up?"
I nodded, and said, "Yes, just pile it all in. When you have everything cut up and put in the bowl, you can mix it all with your hands.When you are finished, put a plate on top of it and put it back in the fridge."
I picked up the package of meat I had put out earlier, and took a position across the island from him so I could watch him without being obvious. I watched his slow careful knife strokes as I unwrapped the roast. It was beautifully marbled, and had a nice quarter inch cap of creamy fat on top. I silently thanked Artie, the butcher. It really pays dividends to know a butcher you can trust. I went to the sink and washed my hands. Eric was looking hungrily at the roast when I returned to it and began rubbing salt and pepper into the surface. After wiping my hands on a moist towel, I laid a couple of cloves of garlic on the counter, smashed them with the side of my big cleaver, and chopped them quickly. Scooping the paste up on the blade, I wiped it onto the cap of fat, and smoothed it in with my hands. "You won't get that salad made in time if you keep watching me," I said, "Pay attention to what you're doing. We don't need any blood in the dressing." I chuckled as he blushed, and returned to his careful slicing - his face intent with concentration.
I stood the roast on its ribs in a clean pan to rest some more, and started scrubbing a dozen nice big baker potatoes. They would end up as mashed, but I liked to bake rather than boil them. The moisture they lost in the oven would be replaced by the butter and cream added after they were scooped out and riced. I pierced them liberally, and put them on the bottom rack in one of the ovens. They would take an hour or more to cook.
I sliced open two acorn squash, and scooped out the seeds, replacing them with a spoonful of brown sugar and a glob of butter each. I grated nutmeg over them, sprinkled them with salt, and set them on a cookie sheet in little rings I made of bunched foil so they wouldn't spill the contents of the seed cavity. I put them on the top rack in the oven with the potatoes as Eric was putting the completed salad into the refrigerator.
"Very good," I told him. "Are you ready to shred some cabbage?" He nodded with a big smile.
"OK, get it out of the fridge. It's in the other drawer."
"Where?" he said as he slid the indicated drawer out. "All there is in here is some kind of maroon lettuce."
I chuckled a little and said, "That's it. It's red cabbage."
"Oh." he blushed as he brought the two heads to the cutting board. "I never saw cabbage like this before. I thought cabbage was green."
"There are a lot of different kinds of cabbage," I told him. "Most of them are green, but I've always liked this kind the way my grandmother made it." I quartered and cored the heads, and showed him how to run them through the shredder attachment for the Oster stand mixer. He got a kick out watching the spinning blades make short work of it, shooting the shreds into the catch basin. I cored three apples, and let him slice them up and add them to the bowl. He watched as I rendered some bacon in a big pot. I took the bacon out when it had given up all its savory fat, and gave it to him to munch on. I dumped the wet cabbage into the pot with the hot fat, and he jumped back as it sizzled and popped. I added some salt, and covered it with a lid.
"Boy, that's a lot of cabbage," he said. "Are you planning on leftovers?"
"I hope so," I said as I added three bay leaves and a few of juniper berries to the pot, "but this will cook down to about a third of what you see, and it's so good there may not be any left after dinner." I added the sugar and cider vinegar, put the lid back on the pot, and turned down the heat to low so it would simmer. I glanced at the clock on the wall, but said, "What time is it?"
Eric glowed with pride as he studied his new watch and said, "It's a quarter to eleven."
"Good," I said. "It's almost time to put the roast in. Let me know when it's eleven o'clock." I turned on the second oven to preheat, and put up the water for another pot of coffee. Eric watched intently as I weighed, and then ground the beans and put them in the pot. When the kettle whistled, I poured the boiling water over the grounds, and stirred the mixture. I put a towel over the top and set a timer to four minutes. When the timer dinged, I put the plunger into the pot and slowly pushed the grounds to the bottom. I poured the coffee into the carafe, and found him next to me holding my cup. I thanked him and filled it, poured a little cream in , and added a scant spoon of sugar.
"I could do that," he said as I took a sip.
"I'm sure you could," I agreed, "but it's not necessary. I usually get up pretty early in the morning, and you need your rest. I don't often make a second pot."
He looked a little disappointed, but smiled and said, "Maybe I'll surprise you some day. OH," he blanched looking at his watch. "It's a couple of minutes after eleven."
I tousled his hair, and said, "Good. We can get the meat in and rest a while." I put the roast in the oven and said, "Be sure to let me know when it's eleven thirty. I have to turn down the oven or we'll be eating charcoal." It would cook at a moderate heat, but I always sear a large roast in a very hot oven to keep the juices inside.. At just over ten pounds, it definitely fit the "large roast" category.
We went in to the family room where I sat on the couch by the fire sipping my coffee while Eric sat on the floor by the tree experimenting with the controls for the train. He looked at his watch every few minutes, and I was sure I would be reminded when to attend to the roast.
I hadn't felt so happily relaxed in more than half a lifetime. God had blessed me with this boy/man, and I mused on how I could best show my appreciation. I was well on the way to dozing off when Eric put his hand on my arm and shook it gently. "Dad," he said softly. "Dad, it's time."
I came fully awake instantly, and said, "Oh! Thank you, Son," and got up to go reset the oven temperature. I liked this pretend game he had thought up. Who was I kidding, I thought.I wasn't playing a game. I wanted it to be real.
"What else is there to do?" he asked.
"Not much," I said, "except be patient. The potatoes and squash will take another half hour or so, and the green bean casserole is already made and only needs to be zapped in the microwave. I made an apple pie the day before yesterday so dessert is done, and we won't open the wine until the meat comes out. If you want something to do, you can set the table in the dining room."
"OK," he said with a smile, and started to get out the stainless flatware.
"Hold on there," I said. "I think it would be nicer if we used the good silverware and china. It's in the sideboard in the dining room."
I led him into the dining room, and showed him where everything was stored. I helped him put the fitted pad on the table, and cover it with a festive tablecloth printed with Poinsettia flowers and leaves. I laid the first place setting, explaining what each plate and utensil was used for, and let him copy it for the other three. Rather than seat myself at the head of the table, I left that position for the Prime Rib, and arranged it so that Eric would sit to my right on one side, and Tom and Carl would sit on the other side opposite us. It would allow conversation without a lot of neck twisting and shouting.
While Eric was completing the table settings, I went down to the wine cellar and selected a nice, fruity, Oregon Merlot, and brought two bottles of it up and set them on the service counter. I also brought up a crisp California Chardonnay to serve with the shrimp cocktails that were resting in the refrigerator marinating in the sauce, awaiting nothing more than a lemon wedge and service. I poured the white wine into a decanter, and put it into the refrigerator to chill. Then I checked the ovens. Everything looked good, and the kitchen was starting to fill with delicious aromas.
Eric came into the kitchen and said, "Mmmmmm. That smells good" I smiled at him, and he said, ".I'm done. Come see if I did it right"
I followed him into the dining room, and looked at the table. Each place setting was an exact duplicate of the sample I had provided him as if he had measured the placement of each piece with a ruler. "Perfect, " I said. He beamed his sunshine smile at me. I thought, This child could sustain himself on nothing but praise..I wondered how long it had been since anyone had so much as acknowledged his efforts.
It was now almost noon, so I gave Eric an oven mitt to insulate his hand, and set him to scooping out the hot potatoes with a spoon. He cut each one in half carefully, and meticulously scraped the fluffy contents of each shell into a bowl. Meanwhile, I got the squash out of the oven, and pierced the softened meat of them in several places so that the bubbling butter and sugar would seep into them. I put them back in the oven, turned down the temperature to keep them warm, and got out the potato ricer. I put Eric to ricing the potato pulp, and watched as he squeezed the handles and scraped the mesh with the spoon, all the time with that intense look of concentration on his face. I smiled, and put two sticks of butter in a small pot on a low flame to melt. I also heated some light cream, and when he was finished with his chore, I poured the hot butter over the potatoes, and mixed it in with a fork. I added some salt, and mixed in the hot cream a little at a time. When the consistency was right, I tasted them, and offered Eric a dab. He tasted it critically, and said, "Pretty flat. They need something else."
I smiled at him. This kid wasn't going to let me get away with anything. "They need more salt," I said. "I wanted to see if you would notice it." I added the salt, and offered him another dab. "How is it now?"
He tasted it again, and said, "Much better. How do you know how much to put in?"
"Practice," I said. "Everything takes practice. The thing to remember is, you can always add salt, but you can't take it out."
I took the roast out of the oven, and speared it with a thermometer. It came up to 130 degrees so I removed the thermometer and returned the roast to the oven. "That will take another half hour," I said. "It should be 135 to 140." I got out the platter I wanted to use, and put it in the warming drawer just as the intercom phone beeped. I love it when guests are punctual.
I answered it, "This is Bob."
"When do you want us up there?" Carl's voice asked. "Tom has been sitting here for an hour telling me to hurry, but I know how much it takes to put on a big dinner."
"Give us twenty minutes," I said knowing he would catch the plural thirty seconds after he hung up. "We're still in our 'grubbies'."
"That's what I thought," he said. "See you then," and broke the connection.
I told Eric we had twenty minutes to change into our good clothes, and we hurried up the stairs. I was slipping on my suit jacket ten minutes later when he came into my dressing room with a frown. "I can't get this to look right," he said holding up his only tie. "Can you show me how?"
"Sure," I said sitting down in front of the mirror. "Bring it over here, and stand in front of me." He stood facing me with a big grin on his face. I turned him around, and he watched in the mirror as I manipulated the silky cloth strip quickly, pulled the knot tight, and slid it up under his chin. "I'll teach you how to do that, but there isn't time right now."
He said, "Thank you," and dashed into his room to get his jacket. I waited for him at the head of the stairs, and we walked down together. He looked stunning in his new navy blue suit, crisply starched white shirt and Eton tie, and my chest filled with a surge of pride in this little man. The doorbell rang just as we got to the bottom of the stairway, and Eric looked at me questioningly. I nodded, he opened the door, and was greeted with an eye level view of Tom's big Western belt buckle. His mouth dropped open, and he stepped back a pace. His head tilted back, and he craned his neck to see Tom's smiling face.
Eric recovered with amazing aplomb. He zapped Tom with that sunny smile, extended his right hand, and said, "How do you do, sir, My name is Eric Larson. Won't you and your friend please come in?"
"Thank you, Mr. Larson," said Tom smiling broadly, and taking Eric's hand into his huge paw, he stepped aside to let Carl precede him into the foyer. "My name is Tom Coleman, and this is Carl Reiner. I'm very pleased to meet you."
Eric beamed at Carl, and shook his hand also. "Thank you for coming," he said. "Bob has told me all about you both."
Carl looked at me and scowled, "Party pooper." He was carrying a large Poinsettia plant, which he offered me with a smiling "Merry Christmas."
I smiled at him and said, "Not so Carl. I just didn't want him to faint dead away when he saw Tom. He's had a tough time, and I thought he deserved that courtesy - and thank you for the plant." I set it down on the small table by the door saying, "Merry Christmas to you too."
Eric, continuing his gracious host role, asked, "May I take your coats?"
I put out my arm and took Tom's heavy overcoat while Carl gave his to Eric. "Thank you, Eric," said Carl. Tom was dressed in a black, western style suit complete with frock coat and string tie, and Carl wore white slacks and a navy blazer over a white velour turtleneck. A tasteful gold chain supported a small sparkling ruby just below his throat. I wondered if that was Tom's Christmas gift to him.
"Why don't you take our guests in by the fire and make them comfortable while I hang up their coats?" I said to Eric, taking Carl's coat from him. He beamed with pride at being entrusted with this important duty, and led Tom and Carl into the family room while I hung their coats in the game room. I then picked up the Poinsettia, and took it in to put it on the dining table. It had several showy bracts and lent a very festive note to the table setting. By the time I walked into the family room, Eric had seated them in front of the fire, and was making small talk about the weather as if he had know them all his life. This youngster never ceased to amaze me.
I asked Tom and Carl if they would like a drink, and they told me what they preferred. I went to the wet bar in the game room, mixed their drinks, and returned to the family room. I said, "I have to finish getting dinner on. Eric will entertain you while I do that. I won't be long."
Carl started to get up, and said "Let me help."
I stopped him saying, "That's all right. There isn't that much to do, and we'd just be in each other's way." I winked at Eric, and added,"Besides, if I needed help, I'd have asked my assistant chef." Eric puffed with pride and beamed at me.
I went to the kitchen, and took the roast out of the oven, put it on the warmed platter, and set it back in the warming drawer to set the juices. I took the obligatory green bean casserole I had made two days earlier, and put it in the microwave to heat. I opened the Merlot so it would breathe a bit, and took the shrimp cocktails out of the refrigerator. I quartered a lemon to provide a wedge for each one, and carried them, and the Chardonnay, into the dining room. I put one at each place, and put the decanter in the center of the table. Returning to the kitchen, I measured out fat from the roasting pan, and flour in equal amounts. Discarding the remaining fat, I put the pan on to heat, and put both fat and flour back into it. As the roux started to brown, I poured some red wine into the pan, and scraped up all the baked on brown bits of fond. Then I added a good quantity of rich beef stock, and waited for it to thicken. I emptied the roasting pan into a large saucepan, and then filled the gravy boat, which I put in the warming drawer with the roast. I carried the salad and a Roquefort dressing I had made about a week before into the dining room and put it on the sideboard. The whole series of chores had taken less than fifteen minutes. I checked the casserole, punched up another five minutes, and returned to our guests.
Tom was relating a humorous anecdote concerning his brief stay at the Police Academy when he was eighteen, and had Eric giggling uncontrollably. I waited until Tom finished his story, and said, "If you're all ready, dinner is served."
All three affirmed their readiness, and stood up. Eric led Tom to the table and showed him his seat while Carl held back and whispered to me, "Bob, he's adorable! Where on earth did you find him?"
"That's a long story, Carl," I said quietly. "Actually, he found me, and I hope he decides to stay. He's the best thing that's happened to me - ever - and that includes winning the lottery."
We all sat down at the table, and I said,"I'd like to say a word of thanks to God if nobody minds." We all bowed our heads, and I said, "Thank you Lord for all your bounty - the good food, the good friends, the good conversation, - - - and for the companion I have waited for so long. Amen."
Eric beamed beside me, and exclaimed, "That goes for me too, Lord. Amen."
Tom, quietly wiping his eyes, whispered Amen, and Carl, with tears streaming down his cheeks, said enthusiastically, "God Bless us, every one! Merry Christmas! Let's eat."
Everyone laughed, and the mood brightened immediately. We all made short shrift of the shrimp cocktail, then Eric cleared away the few dirty dishes while I got the main course brought to the table. There were oohs and aahs as I presented the Prime Rib, and each one was suitably impressed with the various tastes. Eric wasn't thrilled with the red cabbage, but he didn't make a big thing of it either. He simply left most of the small helping on his plate. In spite of all the horrible things that had been done to him by his father and others, his skills in a social environment were exemplary.
We chatted happily about the weather, the meal, and happy experiences. Eric basked in the glow of the friendship that filled the room, beaming his extraordinary smile whenever he was addressed. He volunteered very little, but was open, forthcoming, and respectful if asked his opinion. By the time we were all sated, the roast was but a mere shadow of its former glorious self, and the remnants of the feast lay strewn about the table. Even Tom, whose sheer size needed more fuel that most men, sat replete. I was pleased that leftovers were few. Cleanup would be easy.
I rose and said, "If you'd all like to go in and sit by the fire, we can have coffee and dessert there." Tom and Carl slowly got up and made their way out of the dining room. Eric began helping me clear away the detritus of the meal. "Just stack the dishes and leave them, I told him. We have all day tomorrow to clean up. I made the coffee, and poured it into cups laced with a little Kahlua and put then on a tray with a creamer and sugar bowl. Eric asked if he could have some too, and I pointed to one of the cups. "That one is yours," I said. "It doesn't have any booze in it."
He smiled a sprightly, "OK.,"and wheeled the cart with the coffee on it into the family room..
I cut wedges from the apple pie, plated each one with a small slice of sharp cheddar cheese, and put the plates on a tray with forks and tea-napkins. I picked up the tray and went to join the others. Carl groaned as I put the pie on the coffee table. "I believe you are the instigator of a plot to destroy my girlish figure."
"And you are a willing co-conspirator," I retorted.
Tom howled with laughter, and said, "He's got you there, Babe."
"And you're no help, ya big lug," Carl objected. "You don't even look like you had a snack."
"Now, now children," I interjected. "Play nice." We all laughed some more, but the party started to wind down.
A little after five o'clock, Tom stood, and said, "It's time for us to go home, Babe. I'm about ready to fall asleep, and I know you don't want to be the one to carry me."
Carl stood up and said, "Like that's even possible." We chuckled, and looked at Eric. He was almost asleep, and blushed when he saw we had all caught him dozing off.
Eric got up quickly, and ran into the game room to get the coats. He struggled a little under the weight of Tom's big overcoat, but Tom took it from him quickly and said, "Thank you Eric." Carl also thanked him, and good wishes, season's greetings, and thank you's were passed around.
Eric opened the door, and said, "Look! It stopped snowing,"
It had not only stopped snowing, but the sky had cleared. The big gibbous moon lit the landscape brightly, and reflected softly off the few remaining clouds scudding their way to the east. Eric said, "That's beautiful, but it's freezing out here!" He turned and ran for the fire.
"I think he has the right idea," I chuckled. "Good night my friends. Thank you for coming. Drive carefully."
Tom and Carl said their farewells, and climbed up into the snowplow they had ridden to the house in. Tom started it, and they drove away with a spume of snow shooting a graceful arc from the blower attachment. I stepped inside, closed the door, and watched their slow progress down the hill for a few moments through the window beside the door before turning and joining Eric by the fire.
"Merry Christmas, Little One," I said sitting down next to him.
He slid over and snuggled up to me with a contented sigh. I heard him murmur, "Merry Christmas, Daddy. I love you." just before he fell fast asleep. We sat like that for an hour or more while I listened to his soft snores and relaxed completely with my arm around his shoulder. Finally, I scooped him up, and carried him up the stairs. I sat him on his bed, and undressed his sleepy little body. Turning back the covers, I laid him on the sheet, and covered him.
After folding his clothes carefully, I leaned down, kissed his cheek, and whispered, "Sleep well, my love. Angels will guard your rest and bring you happy dreams."
I hope you enjoyed Christmas Day
Many of you have wanted me to rush the chapters. I'm sorry I'm so slow, but I'm not a fast typist, and I do take extra time to edit them with care. I think the results are evident - at least to me.
Coming up in Chapter Five: That discussion I've mentioned a couple of times. Please be patient. It will take a while.
Comments, of course, are always welcome at email@example.com.