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 email@example.com.
As I have said, this is a fantasy - total fiction. The names and events are only real in my imagination. Any similarity to your life or loves is not intentional.
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.
Some of my email is from those who say they have lived parts of this story. They see parts of themselves in the Eric character. I hope you all turned out as well as he does. My prayers go out to those of you who are still on the journey.
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 6
I awoke well rested, and looking forward to the new day. I had slept through the night, which rarely happened any more. I was totally relaxed, and laid on the bed for a few minutes enjoying the silence of the early morning.
I got up and did the necessary things to make myself comfortable, put on my shorts and shoes, and padded across the hallway to Eric's room. I tapped on the door, and opened it carefully. He was lying there snoring softly. I wanted to let him sleep, but he had said he wanted to get up so I walked to the bedside, turned on the small lamp on the night-stand, and shook his shoulder gently. "Eric," I said just above a whisper. "Eric. Wake up, Son."
He rolled onto his back, and opened his eyes. As he focused on my face, he started to frown, and then the fog cleared as he remembered he had said he wanted to get up early. "G'mornin' Dad."
"Good morning, Son," I said as he screwed his little fists into his eyes. "Are you sure you want to get up?"
"No," he said honestly, "but I'll try it 'cause I want to be a part of everything you do."
I smiled at him, and said, " Well then, get up and wash the sleep out of your eyes, and put something on. I'll be in the basement when you're ready."
"OK. I'll just be a minute," he said as he got out of the bed, and followed his rigid boyhood to the bathroom.
I left him to his private morning rituals, and went to the basement. I did my stretching, and started the treadmill. Adjusting the speed to a normal walk, I had just gotten on it, when Eric came in and climbed on behind me. He had watched me jog the morning before, so I was not really surprised that he did it correctly. "You should do some stretches first," I said, "to prevent stiffening up later."
He stepped to the sides of the moving belt, and dismounted. I did the same, and showed him how to stretch out his tendons and muscles. "You should do this before and after every workout," I said. "It will help reduce any soreness you may get."
I put him to walking some more while I sat down and did some work on the butterfly machine. He watched me while he walked, and said, "How long do I have to do this?"
I smiled and said, "It's not a chore. If you think that's enough, stop and do something else.
"Like what?" he asked as he stopped the treadmill.
I got up and said, "You could start building up your arms with some curls>" I showed him how to do the exercise properly, and handed him a couple of five pound weights to work with.
"These are too light," he said. "I can lift a lot more than this."
"I'm sure you can," I said, "but using a weight you can handle easily let's you do more reps - er, repetitions - and it's the reps that build the muscles. You can increase the weight when you can do a hundred reps with each arm, but for now just start with three sets of ten reps each."
"What do you mean -sets?" he asked.
"Do ten lifts with each arm, and rest a bit," I said. "That's one set."
I watched as he started flinging the weights up and down. "Slow down, Son," I said. "Take your time and make sure you do each lift properly. This isn't a race. We want to spend the time exercising, not doing it in as short a time as possible."
I worked on my abs, which I felt had suffered from the large caloric intake on Christmas, and showed Eric various exercises he could do without making him too stiff and sore. I taught him the proper way to do pushups and squats. We both finished up with a jog on the treadmill. I put Eric in front of me so he could hang onto the handle while I used the side rails for balance. We ran a moderate half mile that left us breathing deeply.. I showed him how to cool down, and we went up to my shower, which was big enough for four people to bathe in at the same time.
We soaped each other's back, then rinsed the sweat off our own bodies. Eric wanted to wash my privates, but I told him that would get us both all sweaty again. He giggled and said, "Yeah, maybe, but it would be fun too."
I said, "That kind of fun will lead us down a slippery slope, and we aren't ready to take that plunge yet."
We got out of the shower, dried off, and Eric ran to his room to get dressed for the day. I took a little extra care with shaving, and then put on a pair of slacks and a turtle necked shirt, black socks, and a pair of loafers. By the time I got down to the kitchen, Eric had my coffee waiting. I kissed his forehead, and thanked him. "How about sausage and pancakes this morning," I said.
I put some link sausage on the grill and they cooked while I mixed the batter. In less than fifteen minutes we were feasting on a good breakfast. He had set the places on the island with orange juice at each place, my cup freshly filled with the last of the coffee from the carafe, and milk for himself. I enjoyed the closeness, and could no longer imagine a life without this wonderful boy.
"Do you want to watch the market with me this morning?" I asked.
"Yeah," he said. "Maybe for a while."
We sat in the same seats we had used the day before. I turned on the computer, and brought up the markets. It seemed to be a rather listless day, and I noticed Eric beginning to flag after a short time. I said, "Do you want to go take a nap? You really aren't used to being up this early."
He smiled at me a little guiltily and said, "Maybe for a little while."
I hugged him as he got up, and said, "Pleasant dreams."
He hugged me back, and went up to his room. I stuck it out for another hour, but finally gave up, and went into the kitchen. I used the bones from the rib roast, and some other leftovers from the freezer to start a pot of hearty beef soup. I put it on the back of the range, and let it simmer. I put a pork loin in an enameled roasting pan, and after rubbing it with salt, pepper, thyme, and rosemary, poured some red wine into the pan. I peeled some small potatoes, opened a bag of baby carrots, and threw in some roughly chopped onions and garlic. I put the cover on it, and put it in a slow oven to braise.
I went back into the computer room, and checked the IM for people I knew who were online. I chatted with a couple of them for a while, listening to them brag about their Christmases. I smiled to myself when I realized none of them had gotten anything that could compare with the gift that had been given me.
I checked the local newspaper for anything interesting, and was about to shut the machine down when a small headline attracted my attention. Teen Found Dead in Snowbank. I clicked on the link to the story, and read that an unidentified teenager had been found by a store owner while shoveling the walk in front of his business. The police estimated him to be about fifteen, but said he had no identification, and they had no clues as to where he was from. The article went on to say that no facilities were available for runaways, and that he had evidently frozen to death in the big storm on Christmas Eve. Yeah, I thought. No room for him at the Inn.
I got a printout of the story, and determined to write a letter to the paper with a view to pointing the finger at incompetent social services, callous taxpayers, and self righteous "Christians.". I was angry for the first time in years, and thought about how close Eric had come to a similar fate. Then I cried for this unknown young man whose life Society had wasted.
A little after noon I went up to wake Eric, but found him in the library reading a book. "What are you reading?" I asked.
He held the book up so I could see the title on the spine. The Book of Virtues I read. "Do you like the stories?" I asked.
"Yeah," he said. "They're all about how to be a good person. Have you read it?"
"A long time ago," I said. "I got a lot out of it. It helped me deal with the nasty bastard I used to be."
"No way," he said. "You were never nasty."
"Well, thank you kind sir," I said smiling at him. "I'm glad you think so, but the fact is that I used to be the same kind of queer you hated while you were on the streets. After I read that book, I didn't like myself very much, and I changed some of the things that made me that way. I still have to keep a tight rein on my thoughts, but it gets easier every day."
"Is that why you went to prison?"
"It certainly had a lot to do with it, " I said. "It took a long time for me to realize it was my fault, and not the fault of the boy I had sex with."
"Did he rat you off?"
"Yes, and I hated him for it back then," I answered. "I spent three years devising plans to get even. Then I realized I was only wasting my time instead of using it constructively. When I got out, I had to attend a therapy group, and that was one of the books they suggested I read. It made me think of all the damage I had done to others, and I decided to try to do better."
"You sure did a good job of that," he said. "You're the best guy I ever knew."
"Thank you for saying that," I said. "We can talk about it later if you want to, but it's getting on toward one o'clock. John will be here soon, and you'll want something to eat before he gets here. Go comb your hair, and make yourself presentable. You want to make a good impression, don't you?"
He put a bookmark in the page, and stood up. "I don't care what you were before. I sure love you the way you are now."
"I love you too. Now go."
I went back down to the kitchen,, and heated a can of chili. I put some lunchmeat on a plate, and poured a glass of milk. Eric ran in as I was dishing up the chili. I noticed he had changed into slacks and a dress shirt. "You look very nice," I said as he filled his mouth with chili.
He smiled at me, and continued his assault on the chili and sandwiches. When he finished, he loaded the dishes into the dishwasher, and came to me and hugged me around the waist. "You can stop changing now," he said. "You're perfect just the way you are."
The intercom beeped, and Tom told me John was on his way up. I thanked him and sent Eric to greet him at the door while I stood off to the side where I could watch his face.
When Eric heard John's knock, he swung the door wide and nailed the man with his brightest smile. He stuck his hand out, and said, "Good afternoon, Mister Bishop. My name is Eric Larson, and Bob wants to adopt me."
I had known John for a little less than a year, but had never seen him at a loss for words before. He stuttered, "Er, um, ah." He finally took Eric's outstretched hand and said, "How do you do Mister Larson." Eric gently guided him into the house, and closed the door. John stood in the foyer staring at him with his mouth agape.
I walked up to him barely subduing a laugh, and said, "I see you've met Eric. Quite extraordinary, isn't he?"
Although still somewhat taken aback, John regained his bearing as Eric headed for the kitchen, and said, "He's amazing. Where did you find him?"
"Actually he found me. I believe he is Santa's gift to me because I've been such a good boy all these years." We both chuckled over that statement.
As we retired to the family room, I gave John the short version of Eric's plight and how he came to be my permanent guest.
We sat at the coffee table while Eric busied himself in the kitchen. He came in a few minutes later carefully balancing a plate of Oreo cookies, three cups and saucers, a sugar bowl, a creamer, and a carafe of coffee on a tray He put it down and asked, "Is there anything else I can get you, sir?'
John shook his head more in wonder than denial and said, "Not for me. Thank you."
After we had sipped the coffee and dispensed with small talk, the tray was pushed aside, and John opened his attache case. He pulled out a manila folder, and put it in front of me. "This is the result of that project you had me look into last February," he said.
It was my turn to lose it. I sat with my chin on my chest looking at the vellum document in front of me. Emblazoned across the top was the unmistakable single word "PARDON". I glanced at the State Seal, and the scrawled signature and said, "I don't believe it! You did it!"
"Well, I had a small part in it," said John, "but you did most of it. That shelter you funded had a lot to do with it. That gave him a good reason to consider it, and the two hundred thousand in his offshore account did the rest.
"Your record has been purged," he continued. "I had a friend run an NCIC [National Criminal Information Center] background check on you, and it came back blank. There are undoubtedly some hard copies of your transgressions laying around in old files somewhere, but the computers are clean."
"How is the shelter coming?" I asked. "I just saw a story in the local paper that said a youngster died in the storm. He was found in a snowbank."
Eric asked, "Was it a street kid?"
"They think so," I told him. "He didn't have any ID, and there is no missing persons report fitting his description."
"Was there a picture with the story?"
"Yes, but not a very good one," I said. "It's on my desk if you want to look at it."
Eric jumped up and ran out of the room. He came shuffling back a few minutes later weeping quietly. "It's Jeremy," he sobbed. "That's one of the guys I told you about who helped me."
John asked him gently, "Do you know his last name?"
"He said it was Shaw, but nobody ever gives his real last name. I'm not even sure his real name was Jeremy," Eric sobbed. "All I know is, he was a good guy. He was another one the pastor at the Angel of Mercy mission wouldn't let stay."
"WHAT?" John burst out. "Why couldn't he stay?"
"Pastor Bucholtz said there was no room in God's house for faggots," said Eric. "That's why I couldn't stay there either."
John was appalled. "How many were told that?"
"There were five of us. We kind of looked out for each other until I lost track of Jeremy and Josh." Eric was still crying, but he was holding up better than I would have under the circumstances.
John dialed his cell phone, and spoke into it. "I want to talk to Dan. This is John Bishop." He waited a minute or two, and then said, "He damned well better find the time to talk to me right now. I have some information on that dead teen" Less than a minute later he said, "Dan? I think I have some information for you. I have it on good authority that the boy that was found in the snow this morning went by the name Jeremy Shaw. He had some buddies that weren't found. Do you know if they're in your lockup?"
A couple of minutes went by, then, "Yeah." ---. "I see. Who's the PD? --- Uh-huh. ----Uh-huh.--- No.--- Well, I may take a hand in it. ----- OK, Dan. I'll talk to you soon." He laughed and then broke the connection. He turned to Eric and said, "Your other friends are being held at Juvenile Hall at the moment. They are being charged with Breaking and Entering. I'll see what I can do for them tomorrow. I have to talk to the Public Defender first. We lawyers have strict rules about stepping on each other's toes." He made a wry face.
"Can't you just get them out and bring them up here?" asked Eric. Things are so simple to solve when you're thirteen.
"There are a lot of reasons why that's not a good idea," John said to him. "For one thing, it would put you and Bob at risk. Then too, I know what Bob's rules are, and I doubt these boys could measure up. I'll see what I can do tomorrow. Till then, there isn't much we can do except pray I can convince the DA not to press charges."
"If it will help, I'll cover any damages they caused," I said.
"That might be the thing that springs them," said John, "Well, let's table that for the time being.
"To answer your question about the shelter," he continued, "the contractor is into cleanup, and the decorators are in full swing. We have the necessary permits and licenses. It should be ready for occupancy by the first."
"That's only a few days away," I said. "Is the staff lined up?"
John ticked the positions off on his fingers; "We have a pediatrician, three of the four counselors, a cook, and a housekeeper," he said. "I'm sold on Janet Hayes as the director, but I know how you feel about women in authority, so I've also got William Petty on the list."
I knew they were both highly qualified. "Why do you like Janet better than Bill?" I asked.
"Both have impeccable credentials," he said, "but I read both their doctoral theses, and Janet's covers the ground in the field we need. It's a masterful paper on the needs of homosexual youth. Besides that, she has seven years experience working for the Colorado State Hospital in just that niche." He paused, then said, "And I'm pretty sure she's gay."
"Is she available now," I asked, "or will we have to wait while she plays head games with us?"
"She wants the job. The salary offer is acceptable, but the thing she loves most is the idea of functioning without the State looking over her shoulder."
"Sign her up," I said. "Have her ready to take over on the first. Hire the others, and have them move in. I want to get the shelter open so there are no more 'Jeremy Shaw's' slipping through the cracks.
"The first is next Monday," I said. "I want to have a small ribbon cutting ceremony, and I want to be the one to cut the ribbon to open 'The Jeremy Shaw Memorial Shelter.' Invite the press. I'd like for them to hear what I have to say." I gave him an evil smile. He had his mouth open again. "Well, I paid four million dollars to build the place. Shouldn't I have the say as to what it will be called?"
Eric suddenly wrapped his arms around my neck and murmured, "You're the greatest, Dad."
John looked thoughtful. "Be careful how you word that speech," he said to me. "I feel the same way you do, but I don't think it's a good idea to tread on too many important toes before we even begin."
"Fuck them, their important toes, and the horse they rode in on!" I said angrily. "They've had a hundred years to fix the problem, and have done nothing constructive."
"If I'm following your logical train of thought," John said, "you will want me to petition the court to assign Eric's delinquent friends to the new shelter."
"Why, that's a wonderful idea, John," I said sweetly. "If the staff is ready, they could move in tomorrow after court., don't you think?
"I'd also like to cover the boy's funeral expenses." I said. "It makes me angry that the State will just throw him in a hole and cover him up to hide their mistakes."
John pulled out his cell phone, and started dialing. Within a half hour he had notified all the staff members except one of the counselors, and was assured that the shelter would be staffed sufficiently to accept the three boys when they were released. "Done, and done," he said. "The funeral home will take care of the nitty gritty, and Jeremy will be 'at rest' by tomorrow morning in viewing room 'B'.
"Now, what's this about an adoption?"
"I think Eric said it quite succinctly," I said. "What we need to discuss is a plan of action."
"Well, now that your record is no longer an issue, I don't see any reason why it can't be done," said John. "It might be a good idea to file the petition in another county, though. You are quite well known in this one, and there are pit bulls around who might try to derail your petition. Marie Perkins comes to mind." He had mentioned the assistant DA who had prosecuted my conviction. "She can't legally quote chapter and verse, but she can mention the pardon, and throw suspicion around."
"Where would you suggest," I asked. "I'm a legal resident here, and I really don't like the idea of moving." I laughed. "It's pretty hard to move a place this big."
"How about Lincoln County," he said, ignoring my attempt at humor. "It's not that far away, and all you would have to do is buy a vacation cottage - a beach front cabin on the coast, maybe. After the adoption is final, you can sell it, or rent it out. Consider it an investment."
"Sounds like a plan," I said. "If I rented it out during the summer, I could also make it available to friends and employees. I'm sure Tom and Carl would enjoy a week or two on the beach, although I don't know what we'd do around here without them."
"Well, we'll call that a 'yes'. You can get hold of your realtor in the morning, and let me know as soon as you've completed the purchase." He continued, "Meanwhile, I'll get the paperwork started. Anything else?"
"Yes," I said. "Eric needs his basic records, and I thought you might be able to talk to his father about them. He will need his school records, birth certificate, Social Security Card, and anything else you think he might need in the future."
John thought a moment. "I think it's a good idea to talk to his father anyway. We might be able to make a shortcut in the adoption process if we can get him on our side."
"Good luck," snorted Eric. "He threw me out of his house. He said I must be the milkman's kid because none of his family was queer."
"That's even better," said John. "I'll bet he has a favorite tavern where he drinks."
John said, "I wonder how he would like it if it became common knowledge there that his son is gay." He put on an evil smile. "This is all ammunition for our side. We might even get lucky, and get him to sign a 'Termination of Parental Rights' affidavit."
"He stole my bank account too," Eric said. "I had over a thousand dollars in it that my mother gave me before she died."
"Oh Eric," John said, "I'm going to love doing this for you. I don't suppose you know the account number."
"No. The passbook was in the family strongbox," he said. "Does that make a difference?"
"It would make it easier," said John, "but I'll see what my investigator can find. For now, just write down your father's name and address. Put down your mother's name too. I'll take it from there."
Eric took the proffered paper and pen, and wrote the names and his old address on it. John took it and put it in his attache case. "Anything else while I'm here?"
Eric and I looked at each other, and I said, "I guess that's all. You're welcome to stay for dinner if you want to."
"Thanks, but no," he said. "Billy will be waiting for me, and he'll be cooking tonight. I can't miss that - much as I'd like to." He laughed at his own joke, and we all stood up. He extended his hand to Eric, and said, "I'm very happy to have met such an extraordinary young man. I hope to see you again soon." He turned to me and said, "It's always a pleasure, Bob. I'll keep you posted on everything, and I'll call you tomorrow about those three in Juvie."
"I appreciate it, John. I'll be waiting for your call."
Eric and I saw him to the door, and said our farewells. He smiled and waved as he got into his Mercedes, and drove off down the hill.
Eric pushed his head up into my armpit, and put his arm around my waist. I led him back into the family room, and sat him next to me on the sofa in front of the fire, which he had rebuilt earlier. He grabbed me with both arms and sobbed, "He didn't deserve to die," he moaned. "Why did God make him die? He wasn't really bad."
My eyes were full of tears too, but not so much because of Jeremy's misfortune. My love for Eric made me hurt because he was hurting, and I had no answers for him. Platitudes would not assuage his grief, so I cradled him in my arms, and rocked him until he fell asleep from emotional exhaustion. I loved him the more because even in the flush of his new-found largess, he had not forgotten the realities plaguing those he had shared the hard times with.
I gently woke him after an hour, and said, "Supper time, Little One." He opened his eyes, and his eyes filled up again. I said quietly, "Maybe Jeremy died so that your other friends could live a better life. There are people in town who are really pissed off that a young boy died because there was no place for him on Christmas Eve."
I heard the phone ringing, but let the machine answer it. What I had in my arms was much more important than anything else. I said to Eric, "It's time for dinner."
He answered, "I'm not really hungry."
"OK," .I said, "but you'll have let me go turn off the oven or we'll be smoked out." He released me, and I went to the kitchen. I turned off the oven, and took the roast out to cool. Eric came in a few minutes later, and said, "I guess I should eat something. You went to all the trouble of fixing it."
"Don't worry about that," I said. "I'd throw it out and start over if it would make you happy again. I felt the way you do when my mother died. I was in prison, and they wouldn't even let me go to the funeral. They just told me she was dead, and sent me back to my cell."
The phone rang again, and I picked it up. "Llewellyn here." I said.
John's excited voice said, "I got him! I got the son of a bitch. He's going to be defrocked and sent to burn in the Sahara if I have my way."
"John?" I said. "What are you talking about?"
"I called the head honcho at the Angel of Mercy Synod, and read him his beads, from 'a' for asshole to 'z' for zero - including, but not limited to 'f' for faggot and 'q' for queer. I told him his fucking pastor here was responsible for Jeremy's death. I told him the donation you made last year would not be renewed, and that I was going to try to bring charges that would take away their tax exempt status."
John," I said, "are you drunk?
"You bet your bippy. And I'm mad too."
"Is Billy there?
"Yep, and he's mad too," he said.
I had never known John to be this upset over anything before. "Let me talk to Billy," I said.
Billy came on the line, and said meekly, "hello?"
"This is Bob Llewellyn, Billy. I want you to find your dad's keys, and hide them. He's apt to go looking for that pastor, and do him real harm. That will only get John in trouble, and won't do anything for Jeremy or anyone else."
"OK, Mr Llewellyn. I'll do it. I've never seem him so spaced out. He really scares me."
"There's no need for you to be scared, Billy. John couldn't hurt you, but he might kill the son of a bitch who turned Jeremy out into that storm."
"Thanks for telling me what to do."
"Just hold him tight," I said. "He needs your love now more than ever. I'm always here if you need me. Just call."
"I will. Thanks again." He hung up.
I put the dinner on the island, and Eric picked at it, but did get some of it down. I ate sparingly too, and there was a lot left over. I put everything away, and carried Eric upstairs. I put him to bed, and laid next to him until he fell asleep. He slept fitfully, so I stayed with him all through the night. He woke as dawn broke gray and cloudy. "Dad?" he said. He looked at me mournfully and asked, "Why, Dad?"
I looked at him sadly, and said, "I don't know, Son. Some things have no explanation. I wish I could give you a reason, but I can't."
He snuggled himself into my arms, and asked, "Do you suppose he suffered?"
"I don't know that either," I said, "but I've heard that it's an easy way to go. I read that you get warm and go to sleep before you actually die of the cold, but I don't know. I guess nobody knows."
"I hope he's happier now," he said. "He always said that all he wanted was to be safe and warm ."
"I'm sure he has his wish. He's probably looking down on us, and wondering why we're so sad when he's so happy."
"I hope so," he said, and closed his eyes again.
This story continues to write itself. The plot has gone off in a direction I had not originally planned. I hope it all turns out well in the end.
Comments are always welcome at firstname.lastname@example.org.