IN HIS FATHER'S HOUSE - 9, Rev.
Copyright 2011, 2012 by Carl Mason
All rights reserved. Other than downloading one copy for strictly personal enjoyment, no part of this story may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, except for reviews, without the written permission of the author. However based on real events and places, “In His Father's House” is strictly fictional. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental. As in real life, however, the sexual themes unfold gradually. Comments on the story are appreciated and may be addressed to the author at firstname.lastname@example.org
In addition to numerous articles on the problems faced by juveniles incarcerated in adult prisons - especially those sentenced to life sentences without the possibility of parole - the author is especially indebted to three books: Santos, Michael G., Inside, Life Behind Bars in America (New York: St. Martin's Griffin edition, 2007); Parsell T. J., Fish, A Memoir of a Boy in a Man's Prison (Cambridge, MA; Da Capo Press, 2006); and Gagnon, Robert J. 053803, Life at Fifteen, updated ed. (n.p.; Robert J. Gagnon-Paperback, 2006). Echoes of each will be heard in my story that follows.
If you would like to read additional stories by this author, please turn to the "Authors/Prolific Authors" link at the beginning of the Nifty Archive.
This story contains descriptions of sexual contact between males, both adults and teenagers. As such, it is homoerotic fiction designed for the personal enjoyment of legal, mature, adults. If you are not of legal age to read such material, if those in power and/or those whom you trust treat it as illegal, or if it would create unresolvable moral dilemmas in your life, please leave. Finally, please respect yourself and those around you by practicing safe sex.
(Revisiting Chapter 8)
One vigorous lunge and he was staggering out of the water...exhausted, acting on sheer instinct, covered with oil and other muck, bleeding rather steadily from cuts on his upper thighs, back, feet, and one forearm - but with the two little ones clasped to his chest and definitely alive! Allowing one of the boys to be taken from his arms, he stood for a moment in all of his physical glory, jubilant, surrounded by a cheering group of admiring young men and women. He still held the second little boy who was naked and crying his eyes out. Noting that a press photographer was taking pictures, he surrendered the child. Suddenly, he realized that the remnants of his shirt were gone and his badly torn Jockeys sure weren't covering much, but so what? He barely realized that the light was growing dim as he was gently lowered onto a blanket-covered stretcher.
One or two days later, one of his uncle's men told him that Hank had been taken to the hospital in the upper town. Struggling out of the tent where he had been recuperating, he demanded clothes and a ride across the river. No one was about to deny anything to one of the real heros of the day.
(Continuing Our Story: Forced Rest)
As Jeb was trying to kick the military bureaucracy into life, several of the young men and women with whom he had been working stopped by the field hospital where he was recovering. Not exactly used to being treated like a hero, Jeb was truly delighted to see
them and quickly invited them to his birthday party a week and a half away.
Unfortunately, the visit was shortened by the arrival of the Jeep he had requested. The Army even threw in a driver - which was sufficiently rare to deserve comment! Within minutes, they were on their way out of the lower town, across a bridge that the engineers had replaced with a pontoon version, and up the long hill surmounted by the hospital. (It turned out that the corporal who had driven him was himself from Abington and accepted his party invitation with delight. Both Harley [the corporal] and Jeb noticed the good chemistry!)
Reaching the hospital, Jeb was greeted by the Victoria Radzelti, the Director. Needless to say, he was relieved to learn that his uncle was basically being kept for observation - though the Director admitted the she and the medical staff had also prescribed a little forced rest! Thus, it was in good spirits that he steamed into Uncle Hank's room with an airy, "Mornin', Dad!" His uncle was not in similarly high spirits. In fact, having had a difficult time in the hospital, he was unconsciously searching for someone on whom he could vent some of his pain! His golden one had chosen a bad moment to draw close. Viciously, he snarled, "I guess that I can't avoid being your uncle, but how in hell did you start taking my being your father for granted?" If the reader has ever pricked a fully inflated balloon with a pin, he has some idea of the scene that ensued. Jeb's ego was in no way strong enough to handle such an event, even if in joking. Delivered with that which appeared to be hate-filled rejection, he collapsed emotionally like a dish of ice cream attacked with a blowtorch! "I...I...I'm sorry," he stuttered and fled from the room.
Dr. Radzelti found him a couple of hours later, sitting on a bench in one of the hospital's small, beautifully landscaped courtyards. He sat with his face buried in his upraised knees. She later said that it was his golden thatch that had lighted her way. "Jeb," she said, her voice low and almost...intimate. "I am about to break a major hospital rule. I only hope that you are a man whose character is as pure as your uncle's. Then you may understand. The Army surgeon in the MASH who accepted your uncle expected to do little more than remove a few pieces of shrapnel from his leg. When he began probing, he found some things he didn't like. Knowing that our volunteers include three of the most noted surgeons in the country, he arranged for a second opinion. Jeb, I must give you the results without sugarcoating them. They found some cancerous tissue in the one leg. It appeared to be quite new and limited in its growth. They removed it and feel that they got all of it. We see no reason to believe that your uncle will live anything other than a long and productive life. There are, of course, several steps to be taken during his recovery, but more of that later.
"Henry Taylor is an unbelievably powerful man, a human being who has on occasion bourne great burdens...and always without complaint. Please believe that the explosion you witnessed this morning was the very first I have experienced in a lifetime's association. He and, to a lesser extent, I realize how deeply it wounded you. Naturally, you alone must decide how far you must go in holding him responsible. I simply wanted you to be aware of facts that may be relevant to what he did...in addition to my observation that he is crushed by his actions. He considers what he said to be inexcusable." So quietly as to be almost unnoticed, the beautiful, cultured woman kissed Jeb on the cheek, rose, and walked back into the hospital corridor.
In about an hour, Jeb's head suddenly peered around the doorjamb at the entrance to Hank's room. Noticing that Hank was sprawled out on his stomach, he walked over and sat in a chair close to the side of the bed. Realizing that he was awake from the tear-streaked face and a deep sigh, he stood, kissed the back of his neck, and murmured, "Wanna try again, old man?" (Pause.) "Only somewhat more than I want to keep breathing," came Hank's tearful reply. "I think the only thing that would make me feel like lashing weights to my feet and taking a dive into the Kennessau would be your really regretting using the word 'dad'." (Pause.) "Both us spoke out of fear and pain," the blond replied slowly. "Is there enough love between us to simply to say how very much we regret this whole damned thing and take it from there?" he continued. "Done!" Hank exclaimed, slowly turning over and facing the young man whom he so cherished. "Thanks...dad" were Jeb's only words as he buried his muscular upper body in Hank's arms.
After a couple of days, feeling even closer, the two headed back to the lodge. While at the hospital, Hank's visitors had loaded him down with stories of his boy's prowess and he could speak of little else during the drive. Jeb was constantly embarrassed, but after all he had been through, he simply blushed, occasionally laid his hand on Hank's thigh, and allowed love to close a few more of the wounds that so deeply scarred his soul.
(The Gathering Storm)
Returning home surely didn't put Parkersville behind them! Within the week Jeb received an invitation from the Sixth Grade of one of their elementary schools. The students asked if he would spend a little time with them to give them a better view of the tragedy and, perhaps, answer a few of their questions. He accepted on the spot! Later that same week he received a formal invitation from the County Board of Freeholders (often called the "County Council") to attend their December meeting and receive an award for his volunteer work in the recent flood. Jeb had more reservations about that request, but Hank convinced him to accept. After all, he argued, they can't give the award to every single volunteer and he was surely a deserving representative of those who made such a vital contribution. For some days, Jeb held himself a little straighter, a soft grin playing around his lips.
Jeb would have been considerably less sanguine had he known of a phone call received by his uncle. Lon Peters, Sheriff of Johnstown County, phoned Hank to give him a heads up on a most difficult subject. It seems that a Mrs. Lorna Higgins, one of the County's more active "activists", visited him with a photo in hand and a pile of hatred in her heart. The picture was the one taken of a near naked Jeb holding a naked little boy whom he had just rescued from drowning. She suggested that if that had been the end of it, she might not have come forward. Now, however, she had heard that he had been invited to one of the elementary schools and singled out by the County Board of Freeholders for a valor award. Butter couldn't have melted in her mouth as she (innocently) asked Sheriff Peters if he knew that Jeb had been in a state prison for over three years - and that the murder case had always been surrounded by rumors of child molestation? Yes, rumors are rumors, but where there's smoke . . .
Furthermore, reputable figures had reported that a conspiracy was involved in his murder conviction being thrown out of court. The liberal state governor had pleaded new evidence (e.g., the deathbed confession and its acceptance by California authorities) and his desire to practice Christian charity. The facts were somewhat different. He had been deeply involved in a political dogfight. Only four points ahead in the polls, the bosses believed that if they could virtually ensure his election, he would be more likely to give them what they wanted when the next crisis arrived. Higgins asked if Jeb Taylor, a possible predator and the incidental recipient of a tawdry deal, was the kind of individual whom we wished to hold up in front of our citizens, especially our young, as a model? The Sheriff answered her...point by point...and advised her strongly that she had no cause for further action. For what he saw to be good reasons, Hank did not mention this event to Jeb.
Lorna wasn't about to accept the Sheriff's position - and took her copies of letters, the photo, and her complaints about local law enforcement to the Capital Clarion, the main newspaper in the County seat. Its top editors had immediately shown interest and offered Mrs. Higgins a generous fee for her material. They also promised carefully to consider her future freelance submissions and held open the possibility of a personal byline.
On the day before his birthday, Jeb received two letters, one from the Principal of the elementary school, the other from the Johnstone County Executive. It had suddenly become necessary to delay his visits. Both courteously asked his understanding. Without thinking much about it, he accepted the requests. Needless to say, he had been working since 5:00 a.m. on preparations for his birthday party and, therefore, did not attend to the letters as carefully as he might. Hank did not even see the letters or the short replies he immediately penned and mailed.
The calendar page of Jeb's Saturday birthday party was finally opened. It was that kind of October morning that one dreams about in the lower mountains: crisp, but not cold, bright with the remnants of the fall leaf display, filled with opportunities for those still open to beauty and life to take part. Between 15 and 20 young people began arriving around 2:30. Most were college-aged and male, but there were pleasant exceptions. Jeb was overjoyed, especially when everyone seemed to enjoy each other.
A few horses were available for riding. Surprisingly, a goodly number of his guests insisted on splashing around in the pool. (Truth was the water wasn't far from freezing over!) Hot showers, hot spiced cider, and homemade cookies got the human machinery restarted. A handful of simple-minded games such as darts gave people opportunity to get to know each other a little better.
Inasmuch as the afternoon shadows were lengthening and the time for gift-giving was approaching, Jeb finally asked Hank if he had seen Kip Young anywhere around, but he hadn't. (Hank has met Kip at the hospital and realized that Jeb was...interested.) The big blond was just about ready to gather people together (for they were scattered all over the lower floor in small groups) when Kip walked in. He didn't think too much about it, for Kip lived some distance downstate. Also, it didn't seem that any of the other guests focused on his arrival. In any case, expressionless and mute, Kip walked up to Jeb, threw the first two pages of the state capital's Sunday newspaper in his face, turned on his heels, and walked out! Jeb did no more than retrieve the folded pages of copied newsprint before Hank took them out of his hands and growled that he still had guests - good people who knew he was a great guy. Fortunately, the paper had flashed before his eyes for only seconds and without the slightest warning. Its full significance simply escaped him at that moment. This allowed their host to move on...almost without hesitation...to the end of the party.
The gifts were most thoughtful, especially from people who hadn't known him since kindergarten, and Jeb was delighted. Admittedly, the piéce de rèsistance was Hugh's gift to the young man he adored, a Mercedes SL63 AMG hardtop roadster in Palladian Silver metallic. (One of the richer young men whispered enviously to his date, "She'll go 186 mph! Well over $150K!") To his guests' howls of laughter, Jeb swallowed...hard... when his uncle presented him with a metallic miniature of the sports car, promising that he "wouldn't forget to give him the original"! As the party wrapped up in conversation over the birthday cake and coffee - Jeb thanked each of his guests individually.
They didn't try to clean up after the last guest departed. It was late; they had been hard at it since early morning. Hank made his way upstairs almost immediately, Jeb promising to follow momentarily. It turned out to be an exceptionally long moment, for Hank woke up about two hours later...in a cold bed. Making his way downstairs, he noticed that nothing was left of the fire in the great fireplace save glowing coals. The blond one was nowhere to be found, although Hank did notice the newspaper pages, crumpled and thrown onto the floor. There were also signs of physical distress in the entry hall.
(To Be Continued)