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Copyright 2002 by the author. The author retains all rights to this story and requests that you do not alter or post this story in any form without his permission. The following is a work of fiction. The characters are purely fictional, as are the events. This story depicts acts of love and sex between consenting persons, youth and adult. If stories of this nature offend you, please leave now.

If you are under age then get your friend and have him read it to you. Sit on his lap and cuddle up, I hope you'll love the story as much as you love him.

Namaste, Nick

The Grommet - Chapter One

The ocean breezes never failed to invigorate my walk on the beach. To smell the hint of salt, hear the cry of gulls and feel the splash of warm waters around my ankles always drew me in. I could walk for hours, just falling into nature, barely bothered by the occasional reminder I was not the only soul on the beach. The joggers, dog walkers and shell searchers were as much a part of this place as the salt and gulls and spume. In fact over the early winter months I had come to know some of these people almost as neighbors in the suburban sense. We didn't speak and didn't know each other's names, but we knew that each had been here yesterday, and the day before. We knew that each could nod and share the ocean, the sky and the sand. It was almost as if each were a rightful piece of the place and the time.

I would walk morning and night and came to know that each day part had its own population. The real shell searchers walked of a morning, the older women, apparently without mates, also appeared with the dawn. Late afternoon brought the younger lovers and the older men. I wondered if the older women of the morning were escaping the older men of the late afternoon, or if some quirk of nature kept the widows and widowers apart by the space of one tide? Of course the afternoon also brought forth the children. Whether they stayed snuggled in blankets deep in dreams in the early morn, or already plied the trade of children with school and busses and lunches, etc., I didn't know. But by afternoon they exercised the other childhood trade and played in sand or surf depending on their wont.

It was unusual, and therefore would generate a raised eyebrow of a question, when a regular morning friend would appear in afternoon or vice versa. Often the eyebrow would generate a shoulder shrug, as if to say, well I just wanted to try this new day part and see if the gulls were as loud, if the sand was as soft, if the salt air moved less quickly. All communicated in eyebrow and shoulder across the space of less than 10 yards of sand.

The dogs were less circumspect in their communication. Depending on the temperament of the human companion, and proximity of a flock of gulls on the ground, the second day of meeting would often elicit a quick detour and not really a sniff, but clearly an attempt to catch the essence of the passerby. The third day would bring a sharp dance of approach and if the return dance seemed to promise a furtive pat on the head, by the fourth day human, dog and passerby were almost inseparable friends, bound by the same 10 yards of sand for the people, but doubled or tripled for the canine depending on its breed and size. I must admit, the retrievers and setters were clearly my favorite, and I would be certain to reward the approach with a quick pat and words of affirmation.

The children were a species apart upon the beach and seemed both connected to it and an actual part of it. The play was more organic than shell seeking, more visceral than jogging and more serious to the participant than the dog's rambunctious romp which was still always rooted in knowledge of exactly where the human companion walked. The children knew no other humans on the beach and really only acknowledged dogs when a sand castle was tromped or a long tongue found an unprepared cheek, ear or hand. Then the acknowledgement was likely to be a squeal of disgust or delight, quickly followed by commands, often unheard by all but the dog, from the human companion and the dog would romp out of the scene as quickly as it had entered.

For smaller children there was a hovering of attendant adults. A blanket, perhaps a beach chair, a cooler or large bag of chips, drinks, sun oil, etc. More the detritus of the adults than the children, but it only came with the kids.

The older kids were almost invariably boys and their clear focus was off the beach and into the waves. I don't know if this beach was particularly good for surf, or just easily accessible, but whatever its value, it drew a regular dozen or two. The would either be there or not, as if some primal call of wave and sun was passed around the school rooms and playgrounds saying, COME, EMBRACE ME TODAY or STAY, TODAY IS FOR OTHER BOYISH PURSUITS.

I always walked slower, more attuned to waves when they were there. Seemingly the charge of their internal electricity and the pulsing beat of ocean upon the shore drew me sure as a porch light draws the moth. Their exuberance, the cries of success and triumph when against the combined forces of Newton and Neptune they progressed from breaker to beach was intoxicant to me.

I watched and learned there were essentially three groups: some young ones of 8 to 10, usually a tag along to one of the second group, those just reaching the glory of pre and post pubescence, and finally a hard core group of older boys with developed musculature and the driving force of strength.

The beach was a place of boyish roughness. Littler ones pushed aside, the brunt of jokes and unmerciful teasing. Yet underneath a sense of belonging and an air that all are one. I could tell that the oldest was likely to punch the youngest and call him baby or wimp or whatever the epithet of the moment might be, but if someone outside the group would try the same, they would be there to protect or at least exact revenge.

The water seemed to have a different ethic. Skill counted more than size here and although size generally brought more strength and more practice and more skill, some of the littlest were clearly masters of their craft and would generate the loudest cheers and be shown respect. Others backed off waves for them in some arcane right of way more strange to divine than even the rules of sailing.

Then there was that strip of planet neither land nor sea. Where constant wash kept living plants at bay, but constant low tide kept aquatic life at a minimum too. Here all seemed equal. Here leashes were strapped on, sand was washed off, a splashing ritual was completed to start the surfing and another was carried out to end it.

I'm not sure when my progress on the beach changed from brisk to slow and then slow to stopped, but I found that on the days the boys were in the surf, I was indeed stopped and transfixed. Eventually, I found that I was seated just up the dune, not in their space, but part of their event.

It took somewhat longer than with the dogs, but one day I found myself saluted with a wave from one of the older boys at the end of the day. From then it became another silent friendship. They would arrive; I would walk by, then stop and sit. They would surf; I would watch. They would finish; I would get a round of waves as they ended their day. I'd wave back; they would leave the beach. I'd continue walking up the beach to home.

I found it was a little like dolphin watching. I didn't know their names but got so I could tell them apart. I picked up on size and hair, boards and wet suits. I didn't name them or assign numbers like a biologist might, but I knew them one from another and learned some of their skills and personalities by simple observation.

After a month or so of excluded inclusion, I brought my camera. I tried to concentrate on great rides and although I was no surfing photog with water proof camera and wet suit in the midst of the action, I'm pretty good and have the luxury of superb equipment. I was quite satisfied with one or two great shots a day, and soon my walls were covered with my boys on their waves. I don't know when or how I decided, but one day I printed an 8 X 10 of one great ride and putting it in a plastic bag, I dropped it near the boy's gear while they were surfing. At the end of the day, I got the usual waves, then a whoop and a cheer as the boy in the picture discovered his prize. Seeing his joy and the admiration and bon homme of his buddies, I resolved to present them each with their own prize as the weeks went by.

Surprisingly on the next day I caught the worst little surfer on the best ride of his young life. The whoops and hollers and joyous boy-dance when he found the five action series pictures seemed to make the whole beach warm up another 10 degrees. I even got an "Hey! Thanks Mister! These are so Kewl!" yelled up to my dune. Like an idiot on the stage I actually stood and took a little bow, then waved and walked back toward my house.

The older boys tried a few days of showing off for the camera, but I stuck to my policy of one a day, mixed among all age groups, trying hard to catch a better shot for the least skilled. Over the course of two months each had had his shot and it seemed that as Spring began to creep into us all, our project was finished.

As I realized this it seemed the boys did too, because the next day instead of a round of waves, one of the middle group tykes broke away from his mates and came running up the dune to me.

"Hey, Mr. Nick," he called. "Come down and take a group shot, will ya'? The warm weather surfers'll be here soon and we might not be together again. Come on!" By now he was at my dune and actually leading me by the hand toward the boys.

Electrified by his touch and stupefied by their inclusion of me into the group, I idiotically asked, "How'd you know my name?"

"Oh, we've known for weeks" the towhead sang. "Johnny there," pointing at one of the littlest, "lost the bet and had to follow you home. He got your name from your mail. We had to be sure you lived here and weren't just scoping us out to steal our stuff."

God, I thought, it's not a surf club, it's a surf Mafia!

"Come on!" he impatiently pulled me toward the group.

"Hi boys," I managed.

"Hey Mister Nick!," they replied almost as a group, then a chorus of individual voices in round and descant all at once....

"Thanks for the pictures."

"They are so kewl."

"My mother couldn't believe I could really surf."

"My grandpa thinks my picture's the best birthday present I ever gave him."

And a dozen other comments I couldn't even grasp. My concentration was a shambles, because in addition to the verbal praise, it seemed every hot boy hand was pressing mine, patting me on the back or shoulder, hugging me, or touching me somehow. I felt like I'd been dropped into a pool of electric eels. Nothing had ever been so good, so sweet, and so unexpected.

Then the oldest stepped forward and said, "I know it's a lot to ask Mr. Nick, but could you do a group shot of us and our boards? You don't have to print them all at once, but we'd like to have us all together."

"I'd be happy to," I stammered in reply. "Get yourself lined up and we'll see what we get."

Among much jostling, pushing, shoving and giggling, I despaired of ever getting them arranged, and then suddenly, they were. It was a perfect composition: tall and small, fair and dark, skin and board. "Hold it! Smile!" I yelled and they did. I ran off ten bracketed shots because I knew this combination of boy and sea would never appear on earth again.

As suddenly as they stilled, they were a writhing group of boys again; thanking me, packing up and heading off for homes. As quickly as I had been included in the group, the group dissolved and I was standing alone on the beach contemplating nature's beauty.

I did print them all at once. I somehow knew that tomorrow would bring the end of this conjunction of boys and sand. I gave them each their copy and got more hugs in exalted return. They shared their names and now my wall has each and all, together and apart, identified in print and in my soul.

The boys had been right, the warm weather surfers were beginning to show up. In fact, the warm weather everybody was starting to gravitate to the beach. My morning walk was still a fairly solitary thing, there were a few more shell searchers. The late afternoon was a much different experience.

The surf line now regularly held a dozen adults, and the older boy contingent was larger. The smaller boys were not as evident, but perhaps it was just because there didn't seem to be the group activity to start and end the surfing. Now the surfers arrived in twos or threes and went directly into the water. The warm rituals of teasing, splashing and general boyishness was replaced by a fixation on the wave. I noticed too that the easy give and take of right of way while on a wave was a thing of the past. Now it seemed that stronger or just bolder surfers would grab a wave and devil take the others. There seemed to be no sharing, the was no celebration of another's ride and while the air and sea were warmer now, the surfing was definitely colder.

I'd occasionally see one of "my" boys. I'd often get a little wave even when they were out among the breakers. They didn't get together as a group, and it was difficult for me to tell if they all were still about. The area of ridden waves had widened and the number of surfers had forced the entire venue about a mile wider on the beach. My boys could have been there and just not able to get together.

This wasn't all bad. As I said, the sun was warmer and the air and water were too. The playful groups of smaller kids was growing and the beach itself was more alive and noisy with the sounds of laughing, happy children.

It wasn't all good, either. The trash began to mount. Although most still made its way to the garbage barrels, there was enough more to begin to blow around and find places in the dunes to hide. I noticed that under the deck of my house seemed to be a perfect landing place for styrofoam cups and grocery bags. There was a little ell under the steps which seemed to be a natural vortices sucking in anything loose and blowing in the area. Every time I came home and climbed those stairs, I could see the pile growing and knew I'd have to clean it up. Every time I vowed to do it tomorrow I'd forget and not think of it until I climbed the stairs again. One thing I'd really learned through my first winter on the beach: relax, patience, tomorrow. The trash could wait. At least under my deck it wasn't cluttering up the dunes or bobbing in the spume.

I'd also learned to do some surfing of my own that winter, the internet kind. I'd found the beach cameras where one could see the break on many, many beaches. I'd found the surfers forecasts where the size of swell and direction of wind was told with more detail than the TV weather people gave to temperature and rain. I'd found the surfing ezines and used their photography links to study how the professional photogs and surfers worked together to get the great shots found on magazine covers and pages. I liked to think that I had become a better photographer and created better compositions because of this, but I was probably just kidding myself.

I read the zines with interest and amazement. The focus on surfing Tahiti, Pongo Pongo, the remote beaches of Costa Rica and places I would never dream of going. I wondered how they could sell to the surfing crowd I saw, because no one here was likely to get the chance to jet ski out into the Balinese surf and ride those 20 foot monsters. No one here was probably going to be a Kelley Slater or Andy Irons and make a bazillion dollars barely wearing ...Lost or Billabong tee shirts. I found the shoe and sun glass ads the most puzzling. Here the great surfers were hawking stuff you never saw them wear. The ad would have an air picture with lots of splash and action, but did the hero wear sunglasses or flip flops on his board? No! A strange juxtaposition Not to mention these kids thought that Nixon was a watch and not a crook!

Then I took a drive one cold and rainy day and ended up at one of the surfing superstores. Looking at the displays and wandering the aisles, I tumbled to the pitch. The mags and zines and even stores were not really about surfing, they weren't really about skill and sport, they were about dreams and fantasies. For a little while an adult could believe that extra 10 pounds didn't exist, those extra twenty years had not really already gone by, the traps of family or job had not really ensnared the boyish desire to skip school. For maybe longer a child could believe I'll grow another foot or two, I can fly, I can soar, I can be what I am, not what my mother says, my father wants, my teachers or preachers force me to be. Everyone here was playing hooky.

Of course the fantasy did focus on a sport, and some were actually good enough to play and to enjoy. It was a little like football in junior high and high school; millions play. It was very much like football in college and the pros; millions watch. It was the youngsters version of golf; me and my equipment, I don't need a team, I don't need a coach, I don't need to actually be any good. I just need the desire to try, the desire to escape whatever else would occupy the time and I need to dream.

I dreamed that afternoon. I dreamed of replaying my youth, of riding those waves, of exercising the independence to leave my nest and carry my board to the water line. I dreamed of sharing the friendly teasing of my mates, of the thrill of flying above the waves, of tasting the fear of going airborne with the water rushing at my face.

I bought a couple of the tee shirts, debated hard at long and short boards, soaked up the enthusiasm of the kids running the place and thought of my boys and how for a while, they had escaped their bonds. I prayed they'd have the luck to escape them for a good long time.

That afternoon I walked the beach as usual, but the ran and dreary skies had kept all but the most diehard joggers home. It was with a melancholy mood I returned home and cursed myself again for having not dealt with the pile of trash. It seemed to be growing some, a discarded beach towel, a blown chip bag, a pop can or two. "I'll get it tomorrow," I told myself for the umpteenth time.

I sat on the deck and watched the waves break out of the gloom and generally moped around until my son called. He insisted that I come and spend the upcoming holiday weekend on the farm. The grand kids were asking for me, he wanted to see me, and his young wife must have caught my mood from all those miles, she was worried about me being all alone. I wasn't particularly excited about the visit, but I couldn't think of a reason not to go. After all, I had not made it at Thanksgiving or Christmas and I did always enjoy when I went. I agreed to come and then on a lark asked about shirt sizes. I'd take my brood some surfing wear!

The drive to the farm was uneventful and long. I had stopped at the surf shop and picked up what I hoped my grand kids would like, a couple of Quicksilver and Rip Curl tee shirts each. My 5 year old grandson wouldn't really get it, I was sure, but my granddaughter was just ten, and maybe these shirts would be cool at school.

I must have picked well, because the kids were squealing and squirming until their Mom said they could put them on. They were gone and then back in a flash sporting the Rip Curl tees. My son and daughter in law were all smiles and there was a new addition, a golden retriever, who practically wagged her tail off she was so pleased with the happy kids, happy adults and new face in the crowd.

We enjoyed a relaxing family weekend. I took the kids fishing down at the pond, my son took everyone for a hay ride behind the tractor, we had a bonfire and roasted marshmallows. The kids, both sets! were wonderful. Perhaps it was the change of scenery, perhaps just the bright sunshine and cool crisp spring weather, but it did get me out of the melancholy mood I had been stuck in all week. The only sad part to the whole weekend was the story of the dog.

The kids had decided she'd be named Daisy and I don't think you could have found a brighter, happier dog. She had shown up in the back pasture one day, probably dumped in the country by some uncaring owner. Bedraggled and thin as a rail, she had been limping and skittish, but desperate for attention, food and loving. My son had coaxed her into the pickup, and back at the house she had been greeted with open arms and loving affection. Baths, brushing, a full plate of food had started her on a road to recovery. The only problem was that my granddaughter seemed to be allergic. She loved Daisy and wanted to help bathe her and run and play, but after just a few minutes of being near, she was wheezing, congested and clearly reacting to the dander. Trips to both the vet and the doctor had done little to alleviate the symptoms, and finally my son and daughter-in-law had decided that they had to find another home for Daisy. They hadn't told the kids, and dreaded what it would do, but had to act. I could see for myself that neither Daisy or my granddaughter understood what was happening. The more the little girl was around the dog, the worse she sounded and felt. The worse she got, the dog could tell something was wrong and got closer and closer to her, trying to comfort and protect. Of course this just aggravated the conditions and it was clearly a cycle which had no villain, but couldn't be allowed to continue for my granddaughter's sake.

Surprisingly, the dog had latched on to me and throughout our bonfire and cookout she had lain by my side, often with her muzzle or a paw draped across one of my feet. She seemed to know that she shouldn't be around my granddaughter and even my daughter-in-law noticed and commented on how attached Daisy had become to me and that usually they were having to tie her up by now, just to give their little girl a break. I absent mindedly reached down and scratched Daisy's ears as if we had been sitting side by side for years.

Next morning over early coffee, my daughter-in-law spoke what we all had probably pondered all night. Daisy had to leave their family, the kids had to be told. I hadn't planned it, I'm not sure I had even consciously thought it, but I simply said it, "Daisy can come home with me. I've got the beach and enough room. That way she's still in the family and the kids can visit. Besides, I think we're just old friends reacquainted somehow."

My daughter-in-law came over with a big hug and looking up, my son was beaming. "Maybe this is what was supposed to happen all along," he said.

The morning was a blur of kids and hikes, crafts and playing catch. Then just after lunch I started to pack the car. After getting all squared away, all the kids were gathered to give their final hugs. We hadn't said anything, but when I opened the passenger door, Daisy jumped right in and settled down as if it was her rightful place. My grand daughter squealed, "Is Daisy going to live with Grandpa? That's so neat. He won't be lonely anymore."

I must admit, I hadn't really thought I was lonely, but her honest childish openness brought home the fact that maybe I had been. Maybe the melancholy mood was just a taste of loneliness.

Daisy was a perfect passenger. She loved to watch the scenery roll by. I learned to read her look which told me to lower the window when we were in town and going slow. She'd put her nose out into the wind and I think she actually smiled. A couple of times we passed another car with dogs inside and I swear I could hear Daisy telling them telepathically, "This is my human, this is my car. Isn't he great! You should be so lucky!"

On the Interstate, she laid her head across my thigh and slept for a while, then seemed to sense that we were near a rest stop and made her needs know with just a gentle pat of her paw. We stopped and she jumped out. I almost panicked as I realized I had no leash, no way to control her or keep her safe. As if to reassure me, she came to my side and sat. Then as I walked forward she kept a perfect heal only pausing briefly to finish her business, but never leaving my side. As we got back in the car, I scratched her head and told her she was wonderful. She licked my hand and I swear she told me I was okay too!

It was dusk as we pulled in the drive. Daisy was just as well behaved and followed me in and out as I unloaded the car. Then I took her on a tour of the house and she sniffed each room and checked for monsters under the bed. She always glanced my way asking for permission to enter a room, and as I'd nod, she'd make a thorough inspection. At the door to the second bedroom, which I had made my darkroom, she sniffed and sniffed and when I opened the door, she looked inside and seeing no real furniture, she sniffed again, then snorted once and backed out looking at me to close the door again. When I opened the patio door, she went and stood beside the rail and surveyed the beach and surf. Sitting down and looking back at me, I'm sure she told me this was grand, I'd picked the right place, she approved.

We walked down the stairs and I showed her the side yard, she immediately knew it's purpose and marked her territory at each corner. Then as we walked out to the beach, she glanced up at me, then took a bounce backwards and dived under the deck. I laughed and told her, "Sure, go check it out. I'm saving that trash pile for something special though!"

I know she laughed in return and in just a few moments she was back at my side, her inspection complete.

We walked the beach as I had seen the other dog walkers do; nearly in the waves. Daisy having looked and asked was given permission to run a little ahead, a little behind, a little up the beach. It seemed so natural, we fit the pattern perfectly. I had my more or less straight path along the waters edge. Daisy had her figure eights and loops and swirls no more than 10 yards any side of me.

She saw the flock of gulls and I heard her beg to give them a chase. "Go, girl, make 'em fly." I said and she was off like a rocket. The gulls burst into the air and I heard Daisy's real voice for the first time as she gave one bark, "Get moving birds! This beach is mine, it is my human's!" I know she said.

This walk was probably the best I'd ever had. I thanked the stars that brought her to the farm and then into my life.

As we returned home, she once again dived underneath the deck and I could watch as she checked out every corner and sniffed each post. She surveyed our not so little trash pile, and once again I promised to clean it up. She bounced back to my side, and we just stood there reviewing our domain. I took a deck chair, she sat beside me and I scratched her ears as she laid her muzzle in my lap. We were at peace, we were at home.

We went inside and got her food and water bowl straightened away. I put her bed in the corner of the dining room. She sat and looked at me like I was daft. I just shrugged my shoulders and said, "Well, where else should it be?"

She showed me pretty quick! Picking up the blanket first, she carried it into the front room and tossed it beside the sliding door right next to my recliner. Then returning to the dining room, she dragged the bed behind her down the hall and into my bedroom, beside the bed. As if to guarantee I understood, she jumped into the bed, and with three clockwise circles, arranged it as she wanted and plopped down, muzzle on paws looking up at me clearly saying, "Get it?"

"Okay, okay!" I laughed. "I know when I am beat."

Her tail began to thump and I'm sure the seismographs would show the moment Daisy got her way.

Early the next morning, far earlier than I was used to, Daisy stuck her nose into my arm. A cold nose communicates its needs very quickly in the predawn light. I stumbled out of bed and staggered to the front room. Opening the sliding door, I watched as she slipped outside and down the stairs. I followed my own call of nature, then still in my sleepy fog, fell back onto the bed. I was asleep in seconds.

A few hours later, I slowly woke and once again followed my foggy head to the bathroom and then the kitchen. I started coffee, stretched and walked to the front room to look out on the surf. Standing at the sliding door, I turned and basically tripped on Daisy's blanket. I was awake like a shot. Daisy! I'd let her out, I'd let her down, I'd not let her back inside!

I rushed out on the deck and looking up and down the beach I called her name. "Daisy! Daisy!" I frantically looked to the side of the house, but she was nowhere to be seen. God, how could I lose her? Just hours after deciding we were home, I'd ended up just throwing her out. How could I be so stupid?

I ran inside and threw on a tee shirt and tennis shoes, I ran back to the deck and called her frantically "Daisy, Daisy?"

A quiet woof! I heard her woof! But where had it come from. I called again, "Daisy, Here girl!"

Again the little woof, this time I knew its source. She was below the deck. I jumped to the stairs and looked between them underneath. She was hunkered down among the trash.

"Come on girl, come on upstairs. I'm sorry, I didn't mean to forget you!" I cried.

She looked at me but didn't move. "Woof," she quietly replied.

My mind was just a swirl, God how could I have been so cruel, she was scared and didn't know if I still loved her. No, she had eaten something among the trash and was sick and couldn't come up. No, she had hurt herself or gotten stuck and then I'd abandoned her. What a jerk I was. How could I tell her I was sorry?

I went down the rest of the way and crawled under the deck. "I'm sorry girl. I'm just a jerk. I didn't mean to forget you. I love you, come here." I pleaded.

"Woof, woof," was all I got in return. She didn't move.

I was really worried now, I crawled further back under the deck, telling her I loved her, I was sorry, I was a jerk. She didn't move, but didn't act scared either. She didn't seem in pain, so what was up? Why wouldn't she come out?

I got near to her and as I reached to pat her head I looked beyond and beside here. I was stunned. She was laying up against a little body. I could see a patch of towhead hair and a tanned little arm running up her side and plastered under her chest.

I scurried forward and patted her. "What's this girl? What have you found?"

She licked my face and gave a little woof, as if to say, "Jeesh, about time idiot. Can't you see this is important?"

"Good girl, come on let's move aside and see what's wrong."

Now that I finally had a slight grasp on the situation, she seemed to relax. She crawled forward and away from her little limpet, and turned and looked at me like, "Well go on. It's one of your kind. Get it fixed."

I reached out and touched the body with some dread, what if it was cold? But then I saw it was shivering, at least it wasn't dead. I touched the hair and moved the head back a bit showing me its face. My God, it was Cam, the boy who led me off the dune and down to join my boys for their group picture. He was burning up. My hand was almost seared his forehead was so hot. But he was shivering, his little body wracked by sweat and shakes. He moaned a little, seemingly to protest that Daisy wasn't at his side.

I had no clue what I should do, but Daisy was not so dumb. She scooted forward and nudged me even closer to the boy. Then, "Woof!" she commanded and I knew that she was right.

"Yes, girl, you're right, let's get him out of here and upstairs, then we can see what we need to do."

"Woof, Woof, Woof!" she reaffirmed and pushed me even closer to the boy.

I'm not sure how in the confined space, but I managed to get him turned and lifted into my arms. Man he was so small and so hot. I couldn't believe how fragile he seemed in my arms. This was the boy who took my hand, who sang my name, who led be down the dune, and here he was a helpless pile of sweats and shivers.

Daisy and I managed to crawl out from the deck without me dropping our precious bundle, believe me she supervised my every move. As we climbed the stairs she came behind as if to guard our rear. Then bounding ahead, she woofed me toward the bedroom. I laid him on the bed, pulled off his ragged tee shirt and turned to the bathroom. I quickly wet a washcloth and turning back to the baking boy, I sat beside him on the bed and began to cool his brow and wipe the sweat away.

Daisy gave a snort that clearly told me, "Good, be gentle, make him well," and she jumped into her bed but with an eagle eye watching my every move.

Once I had Cam more or less completely bathed I tucked the blankets around him and called to Daisy, "Here girl, get up and cuddle. I'm going back down to see if there's anything else down there we need."

Daisy cocked her head and listened and as I patted the bed, she hopped up and with a little kiss to Cam's flushed cheek she settled down beside him.

I went back out and below the deck. Searching through the accumulated stuff I found it wasn't much more that the trash I'd thought it was for weeks. Two soiled and tired beach towels, candy wrappers, chip bags, a couple of empty pop cans. There jammed against the house foundation was pile of freshly moved sand. Scrapping it aside I found Cam's board and wadded up wet suit and a small backpack. Inside the pack were tennis shoes, a couple more tee shirts, a change of shorts, but nothing to tell me to whom or where this boy belonged.

Returning to the house I glanced in at Daisy cuddling close and said, "Good girl, keep him safe." I'd swear she nodded in reply.

I made a fresh cup of coffee, changed Daisy's water bowl and a topped off her food, then went back to the bedroom.

Daisy hopped off the bed and jumped in her's as I sat again at Cam's side. I touched his brow and found he was still roasting. The washcloth bath and blanket wrap at least had stopped the shivering, but it was clear this boy was sick.

I rifled through the medicine chest and found a thermometer and some children's liquid Tylenol left from some grandchild's visit. Returning to his side I took his temp and found it was 101 degrees. While high, I knew this wasn't life threatening and I readied some Tylenol and holding up his head I managed more to pour it down his throut than to get him to take a dose.

I rinsed the washcloth ad repeated his wipe down. He moaned and wiggled some, but didn't wake.

For the rest of the day Daisy and I alternated sitting by his side, comforting, bathing, watching out. He'd sweat and chill and wiggle some, but never came out of the fever. I forced another dose of Tylenol down him at noon and another at dusk.

I managed to get Daisy out to do her business near nightfall. She gave me such a look before going down the stairs I didn't leave the deck. I told her I'd stay right there and wouldn't be so stupid as to shut her out again.

I made a sandwich as she lay in bed beside Cam. Just as I was putting the mayo away Daisy came in to the the kitchen and gave me a definite bark. I got the message and went directly back to Cam. He didn't seem to have moved or changed, but Daisy barked again. I rinsed the cloth and wiped his brow and as I moved the coverlet to wipe his chest I saw why Daisy was upset.

I hadn't been too smart and Cam had wet himself. It wasn't lots, but his shorts were soaked and the bed beneath him needed changing. It had been over thirty years since I had nursed a sick child and even longer since I had changed one, but now I guessed I hadn't too much choice. "Well girl," I said to Daisy, "thanks, but you could have told right before it happened!"

"Woof," she said as if telling me I should have planned ahead.

I thought through the logistics of the project and gathered clean sheets, some towels, another blanket and a bowl of warm and soapy water with clean washcloth. I gently eased the tie of Cam's boardshorts and with more difficulty than I expected pried apart the Velcro fly. I pulled the shorts down and off his legs and wadding them with the used washcloth, tossed them into the bath.

I stopped and stared at the boy's beauty. His face and hands and feet had winter tan, but his chest and arms and lower legs were just starting to catch up as the warmer weather allowed him to skip the wet suit more. I couldn't help but mutter as I realized that while he was clean, it was the clean of ocean water. His pure white skin beneath his shorts was splotched with dried salt and I could tell as I cleaned his tummy and below, his little blonde pubic patch held more grains of sand than hair. His penis was pulled tight into his body and I gently stretched it to get the dried salt and urine cleaned away. He was circumsized and the little head was at first a ghostly shrivelled white, but as I wiped it clean it plumped a little and a healthier pink color started peaking through. His balls were bigger than his dick and fever had them loose and stretched deep down between his legs. I rinsed the cloth and wiped them clean, then reached beneath and lifted them to wipe their underside and down his thighs. As I held them up they writhed and moved within their sac and I marvelled at their dance. I wiped his thighs and on down to his knees noting the perfect skin, no hair, no scars until the scab on his right knee reminded me he was real and could be, no, was hurt.

Finishing with his front, I lifted him and walked around the bed and laid him down on the side unspoiled by his accident. I turned him bottom up and retreiving my bowl and cloth attended to this side. If anything it was even more beautiful than the front. Two pefect globes held tight, but standing proud above his lower back and thighs. Each cheek sweetly dimpled and a little crease marking where the legs began. I washed him reverently and softly moved his legs apart opening his most private place to tend it too. Again I muttered at the crusted salt and grains of sand. This boy hadn't seen a real bath in quite a while. I wiped his crease and gently swabbed sand from his tiny rosebud. I could hardly keep from crying he was so beautiful, so vulnerable, so helpless and so dear.

I covered him with a towel and returned to the wet side of the bed. I stripped it back and struggled some to make it up. I hadn't thought how hard it would be to make a bed with someone still inside. I added some towels below the sheet in case he had another accident and then I lifted him back to this side. Finishing the bed, I tucked him back beneath a blanket and looked at Daisy. She knew her job and hopped up beside him snuggling down while I took the linens, towels and his shorts and shirt and began the wash.

Grom photos can be viewed at

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