I Love Corey, Chapter One Hundred



     Can you believe this is chapter one hundred? Not bad for a story that was only supposed to be eight to twelve chapters in length. As the old saying goes, you have to do that over and over and over again until you get it right. All I can add is that it is a good thing I didn’t start this story when I was young because that would probably have resulted in thousands of chapters, and my fingers get tired just thinking of that. One of these days I’m either going to die or give up on getting it right. Right now the odds are that I’ll die first, but you never know. I might suddenly become smarter and decide that enough is enough.

     Here is the place where I chase all the younger readers off. Perhaps I’d better say that I attempt to chase them off. Who am I bullshitting? Younger readers will stay or leave as they see fit and nothing I can say will make any difference, but in order to assuage my conscience, if you have not reached the age of majority, leave. There, I’ve said it, and if you stay it is your own fault should you turn into a dirty old man as the years go by. Don’t blame such a thing on me.

     Alas, there are people in this world who become upset when reading about gay sex acts. If that is what happens to you, then I have done a poor job of writing because upset was not what I was aiming for. Aroused, excited, horny, those I will lay claim to, but upset, never. Anyhow, watch out because I might put some of those in anywhere and upset you. Leaving now assures you won’t be exposed to such horrible things.

     If you happen to live in an area where the reading of this story is against the law, what are you doing here? You know very well that you should leave and I shouldn’t have to tell you to do so. You are wasting both our times. Scat. Be gone.

     Fiction is where our minds take flights of fancy, and all things are possible and everyone lives happily ever after. This story is fiction, and as such my mind took one of those flights. However, remember the story of Icarus. There is about as much truth in this story as there was in his. By the way, Icarus didn’t live happily ever after, and if you don’t happen to know who Icarus was, Google him and learn something.

     This story is posted for your enjoyment. Please treat it as my property and properly attribute any quotes used from it, and share your fortune from the commercial use of it.

     I wonder if Don’s computer will accept Icarus. Mine didn’t and I had to add it to the spell-check. Anyhow, Don helps make this story readable by catching most of the mistakes, something you really need to thank him for. Now if he would catch some of my poorer writing and correct that, it would be even better.

     As usual you may send your missives of criticism, complaints, questions, or even compliments to the same old address of “fritz@nehalemtel.net” where they will be answered when I get around to it. Be sure to put “I Love Corey” in the subject line so I don’t send your email to the nether regions of cyberspace from whence they will never return. And having said all that, I hope you enjoy the following chapter. Fritz


                    I Love Corey, Chapter One Hundred.

     Mornings are times I’m never at my best, but I was better than usual. I was still on such a high over the adoption proceeding that I woke up grinning and it just got better. We breezed through breakfast and Bruno and Sarah assured me that between themselves and Kath, the boys would be fine while Corey and I were gone. Originally I had thought we would be leaving after school let out, but with the school still being closed we could leave much earlier and that would allow for a relaxed trip with lots of time to get the trailer set up and the pickup disconnected. Even the weather was cooperating and while it was overcast, no rain was expected on the trip. Add in that I’d finally managed to get a good night’s sleep, something that hadn’t happened after the court hearing owing to my excited emotional state, and I didn’t see how things could get any better. I even remembered to give the boys their allowances a day early without being reminded. Along about nine I patted Dog on the head, gave the boys a hug, and Corey and I headed north. While I managed to avoid Bruno and his bone-crushing hugs, Corey wasn’t as lucky and got a surprised and strange look on his face, sort of like he was about to explode. I noticed that he took a deep breath as soon as Bruno set him down.

     Corey was chattering away, wondering what was in store for him. He was excited about it and having him happy and excited made me feel the same. I made a quick stop at the bank ATM, to stock back up on cash, did the same at the service station, to fill the pickup clear up, and away we went.

     It didn’t take long to hit I-5 and once we were headed north, I relaxed and started cruising along. I’d gotten the bars on the equalizing hitch right and the trailer was towing nicely so everything was going like it should. As we rolled along Corey happened to put his left hand on the seat between us, and I couldn’t resist and reached over and took hold of it. It wasn’t hard to drive one-handed and it had been so long since Corey and I had been alone. Before JJ and LT had come on the scene we had frequently held hands, but it had never seemed right after they joined my little family.

     We discussed lunch and decided that a can or two of soup, along with a sandwich would be better than stopping at a restaurant, so slightly north of Yreka I took the exit for the rest area alongside of the Klamath River. I drove under the freeway and pulled into the rest area and we parked. Corey was still chattering away, but by now he had quit talking about art and we were talking about the Klamath River and gold mining. I knew very little about it, but I did know there had been some mining on the river and filled him in on what little I knew. Corey was all charged up over that and said we ought to bring all the boys up and look for gold after school was out for the summer. I could just see visions of large gold nuggets dancing through his mind. He was excited and almost bouncing he was so happy.

     Once I’d unlocked the trailer door, we realized that it was quite dark because all the shades were pulled, but since we weren’t going to be there very long I merely turned on the lights and started heating the soup. The only problem with that was that Corey was glued to me and every time I moved, I kept bumping into him. He had a sexy grin on his face and the more I bumped into him, the more I liked it. It was easy to turn the heat off under the soup and get on to more important things. After all, a hot and sexy boy is much better than soup.

     Once the soup was turned off, it didn’t take us long to find the bed. Not only that, we left a string of clothes along the way so we could find our way back to the kitchen. Once there I was soon enjoying my favorite snack, essence of Corey. We were both so hot we practically attacked each other, and in that state neither of us lasted long even though we’d had a pleasant encounter last night in bed.

     After it was over, we simply laid there, hugging each other. Then a thought went through my mind. “First time in the trailer,” I said. “Do you think it’s now properly broke in?”

     “No,” he giggled. “Let’s do it again.” And so we did.

     This time it was take turns rather than sixty-nine. I always liked it better that way because you could just enjoy rather than have to concentrate on pleasing the other, but we had been so hot the first time that neither of had been willing to wait.

     We might have laid there forever had Corey’s stomach not growled and reminded me of why we had stopped. It didn’t take long to finish heating the soup up and make a couple of sandwiches and shortly thereafter we again drove under the freeway and then back up onto it and were once again headed north. Lunch had taken considerably longer than planned, but we were off to such an early start that it made no difference. So who cared that it cost us an extra hour. I know both of us considered it time well spent.

     Corey was more relaxed the rest of the trip. We continued holding hands off and on, but our conversations were now more in depth instead of jumping around from topic to topic with hardly anytime spent thinking about what was being said. We discussed what an artist’s workshop was supposed to be and both came up mostly blank. I did comment that I suspected there would be some lectures by various artists, but that was only a guess on my part. I was basing that on some teacher’s workshops I’d attended, but had no idea if artists did the same. When Corey asked me why Bob had insisted that he bring all his painting supplies, I could only speculate and say that perhaps some of the speakers would ask him to demonstrate how he did something and then show him how to do it better. Finally, the conversation worked its way to JJ.

     “I’m sure glad JJ’s happier,” Corey offered. “He was getting hard to get along with. He never did his chores and tried to blame us.”

     “I’m just sorry I didn’t understand what the problem was a long time ago. The way he’s been the last two mornings makes me wonder if we ever knew the real JJ,” I replied. “I don’t every remember seeing him so bubbly in any of my classes. It’s like he’s a whole new JJ.”

     “Did you see the grin on LT’s face this morning? I think someone got lucky,” Corey answered with a little giggle.

     That was too much for me and I started giggling along with him. I was almost tempted to mention that he’d been doing his own share of giggling this morning over breakfast, but I was afraid he’d tell me the same thing. Instead I squeezed his hand which I was once again holding.

     “What’s going to happen with David?”

     Talk about bringing me back to earth in a hurry; nothing Corey could have said would have produced a faster change in mood.

     “I’m not sure,” I replied. “He needs some more tests to see about his educational needs, and then there’s his Thursday appointment to see about his hook. I don’t know enough to know how it’s all going to work out, but he’ll probably need a tutor for a while and that has to be worked in with his therapy on learning to use his hook. And have you noticed how he cringes anytime anyone’s voice is raised? We’re all going to have to try to make sure he feels safe. I don’t think he’s ever had much feeling of security.”

     “How bad are his grades?” Corey asked.

     “Well, let’s just say he probably couldn’t pass fourth grade requirements.”

     We drove on in silence for a while, both thinking, yet we never let go of each other’s hand. After a couple of miles Corey again turned to me.

     “We’ll just have to help him, just like we helped Kyle and Mark.” He said that as though it was a foregone conclusion that we would both do everything we could to help David, as if it was something which needed no discussion. When I glanced up from the road I could see Corey’s jaw was set and there was a look of determination on his face. He had come a long way from the shy and reticent boy I had first met less than a year ago. It was like he gained in confidence every day and that he was growing up right before my eyes. He hadn’t been as assertive when JJ and LT first moved in, but he was still learning his place in my heart when that took place, and now that he knew his place, I could see the strength in him that had kept him going when his world was falling apart and he was scared over his mother’s drug problem. I could only wonder how many children, put in his situation, would have managed to survive and not turn out embittered with the world. I had often wanted to ask him what had kept him going and why he wasn’t bitter and angry, but had always held back from doing so because I did not wish to make him remember things he would rather forget. Perhaps when he was older I could ask those things, or maybe he would volunteer them sometime, but the change in him was remarkable. I could only marvel at what a little love and acceptance could do, along with wonder what the world would be like if all children received love and acceptance. What affect would such a world have on crime and violence? What affect would it have on hate and bigotry?

     “We need to find a rest stop. I’ve gotta pee,” Corey’s voice brought me back to reality.


     “I can make it for a while,” he replied.

     As it happened we had just passed Sutherlin and I didn’t know where the next rest area was. I started looking for a good place to pull over so he could use the toilet in the trailer, but before I found one we came to a rest area. Corey scurried out of the pickup the second I came to a stop and hurried towards the building. As luck would have it I was able to park quite close to the building in the area normally used by trucks. I could remember seeing such areas filled many times, but I suppose the time of day had more to do with that then whether or not that particular rest area had a lot of traffic. Corey was standing at the urinal as I walked in behind him and before I could step up alongside of him I could see his shoulders start to relax. Perhaps he had needed to go more than he had let on, but that was Corey. Never demanding and always trying to think of everyone else. I could only wonder at my luck. Why did he love me?

     After we washed our hands it was back on the road for our final leg of the trip. I’d printed out directions to the trailer park and also directions to the Valley River Inn where the workshop was going to be held. Had I realized that the workshop was going to be held in a motel/resort type complex I would likely have rented a room, but I had already made arraignments to rent a space before I had learned that. It would have been more convenient to stay at the motel, but it was only a few miles from where the trailer would be located so that shouldn’t turn out to be a problem.

     What with our dalliance during lunch, it was almost four o’clock when I turned off on the Coburg exit. A few minutes later I was checked in and was parking the trailer in the stall assigned to me. It was really easy because of the large pull-through sites, and upon looking around I could see why Carl had recommended Premier RV Resorts. It was beautiful and I couldn’t have been welcomed anymore graciously.

     Corey and I were finishing unhooking the pickup when Carl and Bob pulled in and parked in front of a trailer the next stall over. They immediately walked over and we started conversing with them, which slowed us down and made getting the pickup unhitched take longer than it should have, but we weren’t in any hurry so it didn’t matter. We did learn that Carl was one of the people in charge of the workshop, and once Corey learned that he started peppering him with questions and not giving him time to answer.

     “Whoa boy, calm down,” Carl replied around his laughter. “We can cover all that over dinner.”

     “But I need to know which pictures to take,” Corey whined. “Bob picked out my worst.”

     “That’s the object,” Carl answered. “By showing people how to overcome their mistakes, they learn better techniques. Your poorer paintings contain more mistakes to learn from.”

     The next thing I knew Bob and I were standing there visiting and Corey had dragged Carl over to the back of my pickup and the two of them were going through the canvases Corey had brought. After Bob and I exchanged information on when we had left (I learned he had left Thursday and spent the night with Carl) we walked over to see how Carl and Corey were progressing.

     As we walked up to them I heard Carl say, “You need to use these four for the class and you ought to sign those two and put them in the exhibition. Be sure to have your easel there and a couple of blank canvases for demonstrations. You did bring your brushes and paints?”

     Corey ran up to the side of the pickup, opened the door and came running back with his box full of brushes and tubes of paint. Before anyone could say anything he had a brush out and was practicing his signature on a blank canvas. Carl looked at me, grinned, and shook his head.

     Suddenly it was as if there was no one there except Corey. He would try signing his name one way, and then he would step back and look at it. Then he would try it slightly different and do the same. He tried everything from block letter to cursive and couldn’t seem to make up his mind. Sometimes he signed Corey, and others it was Corey Lofton. The first time I saw him sign Corey Lofton it was like I’d been slugged in the midsection. It wasn’t that it hurt; simply that it took my breath away. I felt that same wonder I’d felt when the judge had given his ruling. Corey was mine. He was now my son as soon as some paperwork was completed, along with a few more interviews. My eyes started to blur and my throat ached and all I wanted to do was wrap my arms around him.

     After several different tries Corey seemed to settle on one, the C Lofton one. He turned to Carl, “Do you think that looks okay?”

     “Why just the first initial?” Carl asked.

     “It’s too long the other way. It takes up too much room.”

     “You could use two lines,” Carl replied.

     Corey was once again in his world, experimenting with using two lines. His face broke into a grin when he when he saw how it looked in cursive with Corey on top and Lofton slightly under it and moved left a couple of letters.

     “How’s that?” he asked.

     “Is that the letter style you want?” Carl asked him.

     “Whadda you mean?”

     Carl took the liner brush and quickly demonstrated several different styles of letters. He also moved the bottom line to the right in some of them which gave it a much different look. I could see this might go on for a while so I turned to Bob and asked, “You guys want to have dinner with us?”

     Bob chuckled. “I told Carl if we played our cards right we’d get out of cooking.”

     “Why do I feel like I’ve been set up?” I asked while laughing. “Is it because you like my cooking, or is it because you don’t like your own cooking?”

     Bob grinned at me. “Both.”

     “Come on,” I said while turning towards the trailer. “Let’s go have a beer and let those two hash out the signature.”

     I’d brought four steaks figuring that Corey and I could have two meals out of them. By using them all for one meal I would have to do a little shopping, but I didn’t think that would be a problem. Bob was right behind me when I entered the trailer and quickly accepted the beer I offered him. I started laughing.

     “You better appreciate that beer,” I told him. “I hauled it all the way from L.A. for you.”

     “What?” he asked, sounding incredulous.

     “That’s some beer I bought over spring break when I took the boys to Disneyland. It’s been sitting in the trailer ever since. Think you guys can make it on baked potatoes, a steak, and some green salad?”

     When Bob said he and Carl would be happy with the steak and baked potato menu, I took a swig of my beer and stood back up. I turned the oven on, took four potatoes and rinsed them off, poked a few holes in them, wiped them with a little shortening, and popped them in the oven. While I was doing that, Bob and I were laughing about Corey and how serious he was about his signature for his paintings.

     “I suppose it is pretty important to him,” Bob finally said. “He’s good enough that he needs to pick something which will last him a lifetime.”

     “You really think so?” I asked.

     “It doesn’t make any difference what I think,” Bob laughed. “Carl thinks he is and he knows a hell of a lot more about what will sell than I do. I’m just a failed artist who took up teaching because I could never make it as a painter.”

     “Aren’t you selling yourself short?” I asked him. “I’ve seen some of your work and it looks pretty good to me.”

     “Pretty good,” he laughed. “Pretty good won’t make a living. When it comes to technique, I’m good. I don’t have the artists touch.”

     “What do you mean?” I asked.

     “The simple way to put it is that when Corey or Carl paint, they capture emotion or a mood. When I paint it’s just another picture. They do it automatically by shading tonal ranges or subtly exaggerating or suppressing parts of the picture. No matter how hard I’ve tried, I couldn’t do that. My pictures look nice, but they don’t reach out and grab you and draw you in. That one of Kevin and Dog radiates happiness and I can’t capture that. Art is not supposed to be a faithful representation of life; it is supposed to capture life. I suppose I could have made a living at it because there is a market for pretty art, but I could never rise above wall art. I wasn’t willing to spend my life cranking out pictures that people would buy to break up a blank wall, and then discard as soon as they found something they liked better.

     “When I realized I would never make it as an artist, at least in the way I wanted to make it, I decided that I’d try to help other aspiring painters. I can teach techniques and once in a while someone like Corey comes along. When they do, I’m torn. I’m so jealous that I want to destroy them, but on the other hand I want to help them succeed so that when they do, I can know that part of the reason for their success was me, so I decided to teach high school art. That way I don’t get in the way of my students egos because they haven’t developed enough ego to be a problem the way some college students have.

     “Carl dropped out of college and pursued his art, but I stuck around and picked up enough credits to teach. After he dropped out, I met my wife. Who knows how things would have turned out if I’d dropped out with him?”

     There was a slight amount of what I thought was sadness in his last statements and I wondered if he regretted his decisions. Yet Bob had told me, many times in fact, how much he had loved his wife and how much he enjoyed his children and grandchildren. I decided not to pursue that topic and instead changed the subject.

     “So what kind of setup is this workshop?” I asked. “What should Corey expect and how can I help?”

     Bob grinned at me. “You’ll just have to wait until Carl tells Corey. I think both of you will be surprised.”

     That statement intrigued me, but Bob was unwilling to say anymore about the workshop and so we talked about other things until Carl and Corey came in. By that time the potatoes were far enough along in their baking that I got up and started in on the rest of the dinner. Potatoes, steak, and salad didn’t seem like enough so I grabbed some frozen peas and started them cooking while I diced up a couple of tomatoes to add to the salad greens. When the peas had partially cooked, I drained them and added a little cream and let them simmer in it to finish cooking and started the steaks. I pulled the potatoes out of the oven and cranked it up to 450 degrees while the steaks browned, and as soon as they were browned I popped them in the oven to finish cooking. By that time Corey had the plates on the table and the wine opened. Once again we were reduced to water glasses for the wine and I wondered if I should look for some inexpensive wine glasses for the trailer, but wasn’t sure where I could store them.

     Once the steaks were done I finished the salad by dicing a few green onions and added the dressing while the steaks rested. Then it was time to eat.

     All the while I had been cooking, Corey had been trying to pry information out of Carl without success. He was as close mouthed as Bob, and I kept wondering what the reason for the secrecy was. When we started eating Corey stopped asking and buckled down to eating, but as soon as his hunger was somewhat assuaged he was right back to asking questions about the workshop. By the time we finished eating, Bob was smirking and Carl was laughing over all the questions and the fact that Corey was getting desperate sounding.

     “Enough,” Carl laughed. “As soon as the dishes are cleaned up we’ll go down and let you see what’s going on.”

     It was a good thing everyone was finished eating because the dishes disappeared like they had been beamed up to the Enterprise on Star Trek. I mean Corey exploded out of his chair and grabbed dishes so quickly I almost got my head cut off when he went past me on his way to the sink because he hadn’t raised his own plate quite far enough. Had it had a sharp edge I would have been almost bald as it brushed through my hair awfully close to my scalp on its way to the sink. That wasn’t good enough for him and Corey started whining at me to help him so we would get done sooner. I didn’t have much choice in the matter because he grabbed me and dragged me to the sink before I could even answer. By now Bob and Carl had collapsed in laughter and while Corey was blushing, he wasn’t slowing down in the least. I’m not sure how clean the dishes were when we finished, but the dishtowel looked pretty grim because he kept snatching them out of my hand and drying them before I was done washing them. I had no more than opened the sink’s drain when Corey turned to them and said.

     “Okay, I’m ready.”

     Carl shook his head, still laughing and said, “Follow me.” With that he led us to my pickup and we got in and he told me where to go.

     A few miles later we arrived at the Valley River Inn where the workshop was to be held. Carl led us in and introduced us to several fellows and two gals who were working at a table on the registration forms and badges. Corey and I both received a badge and a stack of papers about the workshop. Then Carl led us into a large room which was divided off into small sections by ropes, like in theaters, and led us to one of those sections which had Corey’s name on it. It was a small area, about ten by ten, and Carl instructed Corey to set up his easel, after which he showed him where to put his paintings. Mostly they were leaned against the easel and the back wall. After that Carl led us to another room where there were a number of completed paintings amongst which he placed Corey’s completed ones, the ones Corey had just signed. All the while we were doing that, Carl was explaining that it was a workshop where the artists paid to come and have a group of professional artists look over their work and offer criticism and advice. We also learned that both Carl and Bob were among the organizers and that there would be some lectures on painting and then the professionals would visit each registered artist and look over his or her paintings and try to explain or show how to overcome problems and improve their work, mostly in a group format.

     We also learned that the main room, the one with all the sections where the easels and incomplete painting were, would have to be cleared by 10:00 P.M. tomorrow. The smaller room, where the completed paintings were displayed, would be available until noon Sunday. Carl added that normally the better paintings were eagerly snapped up and he told us he had several which were on display and hopefully they would sell. That got Corey even more excited and he started asking how much Carl thought his, meaning Corey’s, paintings, were worth. Carl never would give him an answer, but instead suggested that Corey wait for offers, telling him that would give him a better idea of their worth. Carl then explained that anyone could make an offer on a painting and the artist could accept it, or turn it down, or even negotiate with the buyer. Perspective buyers had all day tomorrow to look them over and make offers and then on Sunday morning the artists would look over the offers and decide if they wanted to sell, sort of like a written sealed auction where none of the bidders were aware of what the other bidders were offering.

     Carl and Bob said they had some business they needed to attend to and left us in the room with all the paintings. We started looking some of them over, and the more Corey looked, the more depressed he became.

     “Those are all lots better than mine,” he sort of whined. I couldn’t judge, but some of them were very nice. My problem was that even had Corey’s paintings been nothing more than dribbled paint, I would have loved them, so there was no way I could fairly evaluate his work. To me they were perfect just because he had done them. I did notice that most of the artists had many more paintings displayed than did Corey, and when I started looking through the papers we had received with our badges, I noticed that all the paintings belonged to some of the artists conducting the workshop. Each of those artists had a little bio which told about their major works or accomplishments. I learned that Carl had done several commissions for paintings to hang in museums, and that Bob had been the teacher of a number of successful artists. For many years he’d taught school and also offered art lessons on the side.

     The fact that the only paintings I had seen were by the professional artists conducting the workshop got me to wondering if any of the other students would be exhibiting their work, either here in the sales gallery, as Carl had referred to it, or elsewhere on the premises.

     I had never realized how long it took to look at paintings and discuss them because Carl and Bob came back when Corey and I had only covered part of the paintings and told us it was time to leave. When I looked at my watch, we had been looking at paintings for an hour and a half and in order to cover all of them it would take several hours more, yet there were less than a hundred paintings on display. While it might not take long to glance at a painting and see if you liked it or not, when you started discussing them and explaining what you liked and disliked, the time simply got away from you and Corey and I had done lots of discussing on the paintings we had looked at. Well, maybe I ought to say he had done a lot of discussing because I mainly listened, but it was interesting because he told me what he thought was good and bad about each of them. As he had explained what was right or wrong with each one, I suddenly had a new appreciation for paintings. Corey pointed out little things, like the way the artist had used the light to enhance the painting, or not if that was the case. I had never realized that the direction of light could have such a big impact on the mood of a painting, but listening to Corey’s explanations gave me a whole new appreciation of art.

     As we drove back to the trailer Carl finally asked Corey why he was now so quiet. When Corey told him that he didn’t think his two paintings belonged in the sales gallery, Carl’s answer was, “Bullshit. If I didn’t think they belonged there, I wouldn’t have allowed you to put them there.”

     “How many other students are going to have paintings there?” I asked.

     “I don’t know,” Carl answered. “We need to see what they bring. Not many, but probably some, although most of the time only a few make it. We hold workshops like this in several cities and sometimes there are several artists who are good enough to have a painting or two in the gallery, but I have seen times when none of them brought anything good enough. The pre-registration period this evening is over and that’s what Bob and I were doing, looking over the students’ paintings and seeing if any should be placed there. We didn’t find any which were good enough this evening, but there are still about half of the registrants to go. Since you’re all set up, you won’t have to be there as early, but Bob and I have to be there by six-thirty tomorrow morning to check the rest of the students and see if any have anything which should be added to the gallery. If you guys get there a little before eight, that will be soon enough.”

     “You really think I’m good enough,” Corey asked in a sort of hesitant voice.

     “Oh yeah,” Carl answered. “You’ll get offers for those two. Whether you decide to sell them or not depends on if you think the offer is high enough.”

     “But how will I know?” Corey whined.

     “Wait and see what the offers are and Sunday morning we’ll discuss it,” Bob answered. “Carl and I can probably give you some idea if the offers are reasonable. Then you can decide if you want to sell them.”

     “Don’t forget you have to share some of the money with Kevin as a modeling fee,” Carl said. “I don’ know who the other boy is, but you have to do the same for him. Did you get releases from them?”

     “Ah, no,” Corey answered.

     “Oh shit,” Carl said. “Unless you can come up with releases, you better not sell them.”

     “I don’t think that’s a problem with Kevin. I’ll give a call tonight and ask. As for David Clammer, I’ll call and see if I can get his grandmother to agree to a release. How much is a normal fee for something like that?”

     “Models go for anywhere from sixty dollars and up, depending on the amount of time they pose. Since the time isn’t a factor, owing to you having worked from a photograph, offer them fifty dollars. And after this, make sure you have releases from any people you use in your pictures. Had you done it when you should have, I would have told you to offer them no more than twenty-five dollars, but as it is, you need releases if you’re going to sell those pictures. I’ve got some standard release forms I’ll give you and you can have more made. And the reason for the differences in prices is that the higher ones are for when you sketch or paint directly from the model, and the lower ones are for a photograph.”

     We got back to the trailers and Bob and Carl headed for Carl’s while Corey and I went to mine. Corey had perked up when Carl had told him he was good enough to be included in the sales gallery, but he was not nearly as excited as he had been earlier.

     “Like do you think anyone wants to buy my pictures?” Corey asked when we were inside. “Man that would be awesome if they did. How much do you think they’re worth?” Corey spit all that out so fast I didn’t have a chance to think about either question, much less answer them.

     “I don’t know. I know I like the one of Kevin and I’d give you a few bucks for it.”

     “How much?” Corey immediately asked.

     “Oh, I don’t know. It ought to be worth twenty bucks or so,” I chuckled and replied. I was lucky I hadn’t started filling the coffee pot because Corey immediately punched me in the shoulder. It wasn’t a real hard punch, just enough to where it would have caused me to spill anything I might have had in my hands.

     “Watch it punk,” I grinned at him. “I’ll paddle your ass if you keep that up.”

     “Oh goody,” he grinned. “Can we start now? That way I can claim child abuse.”

     “Child abuse my ass,” I replied, while reaching for him. He dodged and before I knew it we were chasing each other around the trailer. Obviously, I wasn’t very serious about catching him because the cramped quarters of the trailer assured I could have grabbed him anytime I wished to, but we were having fun acting like he was trying to escape me. After a short while I got him cornered next to the table and his only options were to stand there and get caught, or change tactics and catch me. He opted for the latter and rushed me, but I merely opened my arms and when he was close enough, wrapped them around him, pinning his arms to his sides. We were both giggling, but that all stopped when I leaned down and kissed him.

     Several kisses later I decided that coffee wasn’t on the agenda and instead guided Corey towards the bed. Some things had come up that I thought could be better taken care of in bed. Corey’s arm reached out and flicked the light switches off as I steered him towards the back of the trailer and soon we were hurriedly striping each others clothes and throwing them on the floor.

     Since I let Corey take the lead in making love, we had worked things out to where it was easy for him to tell me what he wanted without using words. Tonight he lay on his back, spread his legs, flopped his arms out, and grinned at me. That was the signal that he wanted me to take the lead, something I was more than willing to do. Then he crooked and wiggled his finger at me, indicating he wanted the finger routine, and I obliged him by sticking my finger in my mouth to lubricate it and then inserting it and stroking his prostrate. That made ‘Little Corey’ swell even more and soon I was enjoying another snack of Eau De Corey. I really liked that snack because it was not only tasty, it came in a lovely container and had a handy and attractive dispenser.

     Once I had sampled another taste of Corey, it was his turn to sample me. All I can say is that he had become very skilled at taking that which he wanted. In a very short time he had me thrashing and twisting on the bed. He knew all the places where I was sensitive, and he managed to hit each and every one of them which must have raised my temperature at least a million degrees judging by the way my heart was pounding and I was sweating. I felt like I was burning up under his ministrations, and it didn’t take long before he was rewarded for his efforts. After I collapsed back on the bed, we snuggled together and held each other.

     “I can’t wait for tomorrow. It’s going to be awesome man, like radical,” Corey said.

     I was a little surprised at his choice of words because normally he only used those types of expressions around other kids. Like a lot of young people, Corey was skilled at switching between the language of his contemporaries and the one he used when conversing with adults. That he would use those words to me showed me how excited he was and how much he was looking forward to the workshop.

     “Don’t get yourself too wound up,” I said. “It may not live up to your expectations. Remember that both Bob and Carl are part of it and you’ve had individual instruction from each of them. Tomorrow there’s going to be others there and they have to work with everyone, not just you.”

     “Yeah, but there’s going to be other artists giving instruction,” he replied. “I’ll get to meet more artists and see how they do things.”

     We continued chatting about the workshop, trying to remember everything Bob and Carl had said. At least we had learned more about it and discovered that it was primarily an instruction seminar. Artists paid money and a number of more successful and recognized artists then worked with them, helping them where they were having difficulties. That was the reason Bob had picked out Corey’s worst examples. The various artists would go around the room and try to show each artist how to correct and overcome his or her difficulties. Corey was quite good with faces and animals, but for some reason his trees and landscapes looked flat. I had overheard Bob working with him on trees a number of times, but so far he had not mastered what Bob was trying to teach him. Maybe tomorrow one of the other artists could explain it so Corey understood it better. After all, I had often found that an individual student required a different explanation for math concepts than most of the class, and there was no reason to think art instruction would be any different. I had learned to accept that sometimes I couldn’t come up with an explanation which every student understood, and perhaps one of the others would get through to Corey where Bob had been unable to. By the same token I was surprised because Corey had not experienced any problem understanding Bob’s explanations regarding shading as a means to add expression and structure to faces. Yet when it came to trees or shrubs, he didn’t seem to understand that the same techniques worked. It was easy for him to shade and make cheekbones more prominent, but he couldn’t seem to master doing the same thing to make tree trunks appear round.

     After a while Corey rolled into his usual place, relaxed and drifted off to sleep. That sounded like a good idea to me, so after a last whiff of his scent I joined him in sleep. Tomorrow would be another day and I wanted to be alert enough to enjoy it. Today had been a really great day and reminded me of when we were first together. Back then we had run around the house constantly touching and kissing each other, and had held hands when in the cars. With the arrival of JJ and LT, that had stopped, but I know I had missed it and it appeared that Corey had also if his actions today were any indication. While we wouldn’t be able to do any touching and kissing at the workshop, there was still tomorrow night and the drive home.

     We had a wonderful morning. When the clock rang, we had no one else to interrupt us and so we dallied around. By the time we decided that it was time to get out of bed, we had both pleasured the other and were then in a race with the clock to get cleaned up and dressed. It was a dry cereal morning and even so we pretty much bolted it down and dashed out the door, all the while grinning at each other. Thankfully the traffic didn’t hold us up and we arrived at the Valley River Inn in ample time to get inside and get ready. In fact, we were almost fifteen minutes early.

     I looked around and counted forty other people set up like Corey, and there were some others wandering around and looking at the various examples on display. I noticed that several of those walking around had notepads and where occasionally writing in them. At precisely eight o’clock, Carl stepped up to a mike and started the workshop.

     First he welcomed all and introduced the others who would be assisting him. Then he explained that there would be a couple of short lectures on various parts of painting and that the artists had looked over the examples each participant had brought and picked out what appeared to be each persons weakest part and than split the participants up into groups for lectures on those parts. With that he introduced another artist and the lectures started. There were two of them and they were short and I was surprised that they were about how to sell art and not how to create it.

     After that Carl assigned the various participants to groups. Naturally Corey ended up in one on landscapes, more specifically how to make trees and shrubs look more realistic. Since I wasn’t trying to learn to paint, I ended up joining a small group of people who had accompanied the participants and we sat around visiting and getting to know one another.

     Several of those in the group had accompanied the instructors and I sometimes found it hard to understand everything they were talking about since they used some terms I wasn’t familiar with, but in a short while I had started to figure most of those terms out and was having an easier time of making sense of the whole things. Finally someone got around to asking me who I was with and when I told them my son, their eyes went up in disbelief. I then had to explain that Corey was my adopted son. By the time I explained a little about how I came to adopt Corey, the first grouping was completed and it was time for the next stage of the workshop.

     Each of the participants was then sent back to his area and the instructors started walking around and gathering up a few of them and congregating at various participants easels and in effect working with a smaller group. In theory, with ten instructors, each of them would have had four students with one student left over, but in practice one group had six and there were a couple which had only two with the rest of the groups being between those two numbers. The group Corey was in had five and they happened to end up at Corey’s easel, so I walked over to see what was being said.

     I was standing there trying to make sense out of what was being said when the instructor turned to me and asked me what I was doing there. When I explained I was with Corey, he told me he had a chore for me. He handed me a list and told me to go to the area where several artists supply companies were set up and get him the things on the list. There was a whole list of brushes and a few different tubes of paint along with some blank canvases he wanted, and when I was finished I was out over four hundred bucks. Fortunately they were all crammed into shopping bags so I could carry them all back.

     I was startled when the instructor started taking some of the new brushes and with the aid of a razor blade shaped them differently from their original shape. Then he started in explaining why he wanted them shaped the way he had done them, and what he was trying to accomplish. It was all over my head so again I wandered off, this time in search of a cup of coffee.

     I found the coffee shop and was enjoying my coffee when one of the ladies who had accompanied her husband joined me and we sat and got better acquainted. She was also a school teacher and she and her husband lived in Seattle where she taught and he had a studio. I learned that her school, Ballard High School, was larger than our whole district and had approximately seventeen hundred students of which slightly over sixty percent were white. Our whole district, K through 12, was only a little over twelve hundred, so naturally each teacher there was not as well acquainted with the whole student body as the teachers in my district. She had an easy and relaxing personality and quickly drew me out on how I had happened to adopt Corey, and we sat and visited about the problems facing some children and how it was a shame that a few parents were such poor parents. I also learned that her husband, Dale, had been a teacher for some years, but his primary love had been painting and that he had eventually managed to work his way up to where he could retire from teaching and paint fulltime. All in all it was an enjoyable conversation and was simply drifting between subjects when I happened to mention that Carl was the reason that Corey had become interested in painting and that he was the reason that Corey was here.

     My word, I had said the magic words I guess, because Shirley took off on what a nice person Carl was and how talented he was. I was reduced to nodding now and then as she told me about all the help Carl had given her husband with his painting. I learned more about what the art community thought of Carl during the next fifteen minutes than I had ever wanted to know, but nonetheless, it was interesting. I learned, for example, that Carl was much in demand as a portrait painter, but didn’t like it, so he turned down most of the offers he had in that field. Shirley laughed and said that it took better than ten thousand dollars to talk Carl into painting a large portrait anymore, and then he only did it when he was in the mood. I gathered that he could have been a full time portrait painter and would likely have been so busy he could have never caught up, but by turning most of them down it gave him time to paint what he enjoyed, which was more on the lines of Frederic Remington or Charles Russell. I also learned one other thing and that was that he had most likely sold us the painting Corey had in his room for far less than he normally sold one of that caliber. According to Shirley he liked to go to art fairs in a few communities and sell a few paintings, more to meet people and get a feel for what people wanted than because he needed money. She told me he often laughed about having to dash off a few junk paintings so he had something to sell. When I thought about it, I had not seen anything in his studio like most of those he had on display when Corey and I had first met him.

     Shirley and I finished our coffee and went back to see what was happening at the workshop. They were right in the middle of switching the groups around and having another artist take them over. Corey’s group now had three in it, instead of five, and Carl himself was teaching it. He was handling it differently in that he had all of the participants of the group bring their easels over and each of them was assigned to paint a tree from a photograph Carl had on display. The photograph was of a pine tree, but I couldn’t remember the name of the particular pine it was. It had thick bark with deep creases in it, and was of a cinnamon color. Carl was explaining that when they painted trees, they should have a specific tree in mind and not try to paint a generic type of tree. As I watched, he finally mentioned that the Ponderosa Pine was a good example of a specific tree and that it should look quite different from a fir tree, or a spruce tree, both in color of the foliage and in the bark.

     Corey was listening intently when it was almost like he had been slapped. Carl was almost done with his demonstration when Corey’s head snapped around and he stared at the photograph. After that is was like Corey was in his own little world. He stepped up to his canvas, scratched a few lines on it in charcoal, and then took his palate knife and started in. Nothing else seemed to matter as he feverishly worked on his painting, and soon all the others were watching him. I could see Carl had a little grin on his face as the tree emerged on Corey’s canvas. Suddenly the tree took shape, and the trunk appeared round like it should be. The other two students in the group watched for a few minutes and then turned to their canvases and likewise started in, but I could see they were making the same mistake Corey had been making up till now, and that was that they were not putting the paint on thick enough to allow them to make it textured enough to look real, something I had just figured out from listening to Carl explain what he was doing and why. The added texture made the light look right and caused the shading to make the tree go from oval to round. Corey was ignoring the foliage and concentrating on the trunk of the tree, which had been the biggest part of his problem. Now he had a great trunk and I knew he could make the needles look real.

     About then Bob came over and when he looked at Corey’s tree, he started to smile. “He’s got it,” he said to Carl. Carl just nodded.

     Corey suddenly stopped working on his canvas and went over to the pictures Carl has on display. There were several others lying there and he sorted through them and picked up a different one, studied it and walked back to his easel with the picture still in his hand. Then he started on another tree and this one was slightly different. Its bark was grayish and looked like scales, but it didn’t take Corey long to figure out how he wanted to paint it. It was strange to watch a tree trunk appear before my eyes from a swath of paint on a canvas. Once again he had laid a thick layer of paint, only this time he used the brush to jab at the trunk to make the scales rather than the tip of the palate knife to make the deep seams like he had in the pine bark.

     By now Carl had a smile clear across his face. He turned to Bob and I heard him whisper, “So who’s the instructor now?”

     Bob was grinning when he whispered back, “I was the one who taught him how to add structure to faces. You really screwed him up on that.”

     It was clear they were both delighted over Corey’s progress. Carl finally looked around and realized that the two other students needed help and moved over to help them. One was a gentleman who appeared to be in his thirties, and the other was a lady of about twenty-five. I know I was prejudiced, but to my eyes neither of them was doing nearly as well as Corey. Carl and Bob proceeded to ignore Corey, but I’m not sure he would have paid any attention to them had they tried to say anything to him. He was wrapped up in what he was doing and appeared to have forgotten that anyone else existed. I’d seen that look of concentration before and when he had it, you had to almost grab him to attract his attention. Merely talking to him didn’t work because it was like he didn’t hear anything. Yet only when he was painting did he become so focused. When he was working on something like his schoolwork, most any sound would cause him to raise his head and look around, but when he was into his painting, only the picture on the canvas existed in his world.

     “It’s about time to break for lunch,” Bob said to me. When I looked at my watch it was ten minutes to twelve. Corey was still working feverishly at his easel and by now he had several tree trunks completed and each one looked far more realistic than any he had done before. The young lady was starting to understand, but the gentleman was still having problems and Carl was trying to make him understand what he was doing wrong. As I watched, I could see that it wasn’t so much that the tree needed to be painted from real thick paint, but the paint needed to be thick enough to get the texture right. I found the whole thing fascinating because art had been a subject I’d never paid any attention to before. I had seen paintings which were clearly much better than others, but I’d never been able to tell what those differences were, only that they existed. Now, I was getting a glimpse of a few of the techniques which artists use to make their illusion seem real. After all, a canvas is flat even if the paint is applied somewhat thicker in places. By the use of texture, through brush strokes or other means, the artist can control the way the light reflects from it and make a flat surface appear round. He simply creates an illusion and the imagination of the viewer takes over. By getting real close, there was only a flat canvas, but by standing back at normal viewing distances, then the play of light and the texture of the surface fooled the eye making the painting appear to have depth. That depth could be used to make a tree appear round, or one part of the painting to be in front of another.

     Another of the artists stepped up to the microphone and announced that everyone needed to break for lunch. There was a sudden scurry of activity while the various artists and students washed their brushes, but Corey was still in his zone and it was like he didn’t hear anything. I finally walked over and grasped his shoulder. For the first few seconds, nothing happened and he went right on painting, but he was having trouble making the brush move where he wanted it go because I had hold of his right shoulder. Finally, he became aware that someone was interfering with him and he turned and saw me, eliciting this response, “You’re making it hard for me.”

     I know I’m sometimes dirty minded, but I started to giggle over his words, wondering if he had any idea of how I had taken them. I couldn’t resist and my eyes swept downward to check and see if I was indeed making “It” hard for him, and after watching me he suddenly started to blush.

     “Wash your brushes,” I told him. “It’s lunch time.”

     As I started to turn my eyes fell upon Carl, who had walked close to us, and he was grinning like crazy and giggling. It was quite apparent that he had taken Corey’s words the same way I had and that caused me to blush also, which brought about even more laughter from him.

     “Come on,” Carl said, “lets go have lunch,” as he continued with his giggles.

     The other people were looking at us like we were some kind of mental retards or something and I could only hope none of them asked for an explanation of why Corey and I were blushing, or why Carl was giggling. I was pretty sure I wasn’t up to trying to explain that to a bunch of relative strangers.

     As we walked to the room set aside for lunch, Carl explained that he had taken the liberty of filling in our luncheon choices owing to the fact that he had eaten with us a number of times. He explained further that the other participants had been offered a choice in case they were vegetarians or had food allergies, but he said he knew we ate most anything and so he had picked out the items he thought were among the best on the menu. He had done a great job of picking and the crab chowder was excellent, as was the slow barbequed chicken sandwich which accompanied it. I was somewhat surprised that Corey and I were at the head table, but Carl laughed it off by saying that he hadn’t had enough time to visit with us lately and scolded me for not coming to Medford to visit more often.

     After lunch, as we were walking back to resume the class, Bob asked me if I was enjoying watching.

     “Well,” I answered, “I’ve attended things that were less interesting. However, I’m not an artist and most of it is over my head.”

     “Have you ever spent much time in Eugene,” he asked.

     “No, this is my first time here. I’ve driven past a couple of times on my way north, but I’ve never stopped except to gas up,” I told him.

     “It’s up to you,” he replied, “but the afternoon will probably be more boring, so I suggest that you spend some time looking the town over. Eugene is a nice town and I think you’d enjoy it. This afternoon is going to be even more technical and you’ll likely be bored beyond belief. If you get back around five-thirty it will be plenty early. Don’t forget that there’s a banquet at seven.”

     I talked it over with Corey and he agreed that I should look Eugene over, adding the comment that maybe I would see something to buy for him. The smirk on his face told me he was kidding, but then he said that since the trailer park was nice, maybe we should all come up sometime during the summer and it would be better if I had some idea of what was available. Since I had been bored with the actual class, I decided to follow Bob’s advice and look Eugene over.

     It’s odd how things work out. I was checking Eugene out and saw a photography store. It had been a couple of years since I had spent much time in one and so I decided to look it over and see what was available. Maybe I could find a lens for the Hassey that I didn’t have, or I knew I was getting low on film and perhaps I could buy a brick of film to replenish my supply. Corey had been whining that we needed to pick up some more enlarging paper and so, with those thoughts in mind, I walked in to look things over. Big mistake. I encountered the salesman from hell. Understand, it wasn’t that he wasn’t pleasant, or that he didn’t know what he was talking about, only that he was one of those salesmen who could sell me anything. He never crowded, only pointed out various things and let me talk myself into buying. Oh I got the film, and the paper, along with some chemicals, but I wasn’t prepared for the fact that the store had a Canon Eos-1Ds on display. When Bruno and Corey had told me that was exactly what I needed, I’d put their advice to the back of my mind because I hadn’t actually seen one, nor handled one, but here was a chance to see if they were right. Like I said, big mistake.

     The salesman patiently answered my questions about the camera and dug out several lenses for me to try with it. Then he let me take a few pictures and printed them out to show me how well it did.

     That salesman was so nice that it only took me about an hour to convince myself that Corey would get a lot of good out of the camera, and then he even had the audacity to compliment me on my good judgment for buying it. So two hours after I walked through the door I was walking out with a couple of big bags full of stuff. I had no idea what had gotten into me. I had never spent money in such foolish ways before and here I was carrying a camera and lenses that I didn’t need and had spent a lot of money on. I was almost in shock. On the bright side, at least I didn’t have to pay the California sales tax. Jeez, I needed to have my head examined. It was a good thing that Uncle Matt kept making me money otherwise I would not have been able to afford the sudden spending I had been doing since the boys came into my life.

               To be continued…