These introductory comments are for my American readers.
The presidential election is less than a month away. There are only two men who have any chance of winning that election - Al Gore or George Bush. Al is a bit flawed and definitely boring. George has as his senior political advisor Ralph Reed, the cute, friendly, boyish former head of the Christian Coalition (and Pat Robertson's Josef Goebbels).
Al Gore, however, does have the training to step in directly to lead the strongest, longest streak of economic growth that any economy has ever shown. He supports gay/lesbian rights to legal equality. And, so far, we haven't seen him play dirty in this election.
George, on the other hand carries with him the personal support of Pat Robertson and the Christian Coalition. We have had the chance to see him turn to the preacher/wannabe fuehrer to pull his nuts out of the fire after his substantial loss in NH (Robertson and the religious right started a rumour campaign against McCain in SC that included telling people that McCain had a bi-racial child <he has a Vietnamese adopted daughter>). The Robertson effort was very under the radar and very effective among the less-educated voters who make up his fascist movement and the Republican party in the South.
This election is important on a number of fronts - do you want an economy that continues to grow or one that is thrown back into the grow and burst cycle that Bush's dad and Ronnie the B-movie actor gave us? Do you want up to 3 supreme court judges appointed in the next 4 years who will make decisions on gay rights, women's reproductive rights, guns, hate crime legislation, etc, based on law or on what Pat Robertson says are his conversations with God? Do you want gay acceptance (legal and social) to continue to spread or do you want acceptance that acceptance rejected on the federal level? Do you want federal officials appointed who are favourable to the law or who are intolerant, close-minded bigots?
If you vote for Bush, stay home or vote for Nader, you effectively vote for Bush and the Robertson agenda for America. You'll have yourself to blame for the first recession to hit America in 8+ years, you'll have yourself to blame for the increasingly anti-gay stance that will take over the federal government. And you'll be able to blame yourself for the return of the American decline that started with Vietnam and continued through 1992. That decline has been arrested for the past 8 years but George Bush is guaranteed to start the country spiralling downwards again with more poorly educated Americans with a federal government that is underfunded because of his tax cuts and with spiralling inflation because of the federal debt.
If you vote for Gore, America has a chance to enter the 21st century still growing, vibrant, and better educated than it has been for 25 or more years. And you'll hopefully have broken the back of christian fascism. Unfortunately, I'm not an American citizen - I can't vote. Fortunately, my passport isn't American - I can leave before George opens the door for Pat.
VOTE NOV 7!!!!! You're voting for your legal and economic rights for the next 20 or more years.
He knew he was acting like an ass but he couldn't seem to stop himself. Rich Dailey continued concentrating on an imaginary line stretching out in front of him as he stepped from the sliding glass doors back to the far wall, pivoted and retraced his steps until he reached the wall where he would pivot again.
Vic glanced up from the report in his hands and silently watched the man who'd been his lover for three weeks a few moments before he finally spoke. "You know I have a lot of work to do, Rich."
"I know," he mumbled. He did not stop his pacing - and he didn't look over at Vic either.
"You've seen me bring work home ever since you started visiting us here."
"So, stop pacing and look at me then."
The irritation in Vic's voice caught at him as nothing else had. Rich stopped in mid-stride and turned reluctantly to face the other man.
Vic visibly relaxed. "All right, what's the problem?" he asked peering over his reading glasses at Rich. "Are you getting tired of me already?"
Shock clouded the boy's face. "Oh, Christ! That never even crossed my mind."
"So, what is it then?"
"I guess I'm-" He glanced about the room as if searching for something solid to blame. "Maybe, I'm bored."
"Give me one more hour and we'll go into town."
"That's not it." Rich plopped into the chair across from Vic. "It's - I guess I'm just tired of D. C., Vic. Every year by this time, you, me, and Dave are already in P-town - we've already started our tans."
"And this year we're not?" Vic sat back in his chair and permitted himself to smile.
"Yeah - that's sort of the problem," Rich answered, hoping it really was the problem.
"The last time I heard, you were working with the hottest dude in northern Virginia - besides, I can't get away yet."
"I know." He ran his hands over his face and looked down at his feet. "I know I'm acting like some spoiled brat." He cringed suddenly at the image of himself that came swimming into his mind. "But a real big part of me wants to have one last fling before I have to be a grown-up."
He realized he hadn't considered Christie. He was her big brother. She was his responsibility, not this man's. He wished Ruby would hurry up and get well.
Vic Marshall gazed over at the eighteen year old he'd known for so long and smiled. In some ways, Rich was just one more son he loved. Especially when he was caught being both boy and man at the same time as he was now.
Back in the spring, he'd hired a house in Provincetown for two months this year - a month longer than usual. Only, he'd scheduled the rental to coincide with Dave coming back from his mother's and extending through the rest of the summer so the boys would have a month there without him. Of course, that had been before Rich decided he was gay after all and moved into his bed.
"Why don't you just quit your job?" he asked quietly.
"Say what?" Rich Dailey stared at him, caught by surprise at the suggestion.
"Quit your job and go on up to P-town," he elaborated. "Dave and I can join you the end of next week."
Although it hadn't crossed his mind before, the idea seemed a good one to the older man. He would have Christie in camp in less than a week and it was looking as if the children's mother was going to remain under the state's care for a lot longer than the hospital's four week detox program.
Her doctor wanted to send her to a state asylum for some kind of chemical therapy. He kept using the term manic depressive when he talked about her. It sounded like an easy solution to the whole situation; if nothing else, Ruby Dailey would be a lot more stable than being just one more dried-out drunk when she was released.
Rich was grinning broadly when Vic concentrated on him again.
He would be in Massachusetts when Dave got back and found out about him. To him, that meant Vic would be explaining his new status to his son. Even better was that the younger Marshall'd have had time to adjust to the idea before Rich finally did see him. The more he thought about it, the better he liked the idea.
"You've got to get a place first!"
"I reserved the house this spring - and set the lease last month but it's free starting this coming weekend. You can take up all the shit - drive up. Then, Dave and I can just fly in the following week."
Rich grinned suddenly and stood up. "You've been letting me think we weren't going to do anything - you damn nut." He squatted down beside the man's chair and kissed him his cheek.
Vic's hand moved to the other man's back and let it slide down to his buttocks. Rich's lips sought his, suddenly hungry.
His tongue probed deep, and Vic's hand began a more deter-mined search for an entrance beneath the waistband of the boy's briefs. "Get rid of this damn paperwork, old man." he demanded breathlessly, standing back up.
"Why?" Vic managed to ask in mock surprise.
"I want you in the bedroom, that's why."
"I want you to fuck me, that's why." He smiled down at the older man. "And I am the best fuck in northern Virginia."
"Really?" Vic stood up slowly. "Who says?"
"Just about everybody who's had a piece of me." Rich grinned. "And I want you to have all of me. Come on, Vic - get the lead out."
"What about Christie?"
"Shit!" Rick went to the sliding glass door and looked out into the backyard and saw his sister sitting at the patio table with the friend she'd made since she came to live with Vic, the two girls deep into sharing secrets and pretending to sip tea.
They appeared to be having a tea party. "She's occupied, mon capitan," he said as he turned back to the older man. "We've got time. Now, get your ass moving, I've got a real need-" Feeling the now familiar itch in his ass growing, he started toward the stairwell.
"Coming." Vic moved slowly, giving him time to get to the bedroom first. Something about seeing Richard Dailey lying hot and naked on the bed waiting for him excited him far beyond the immediacy of sexual gratification.
"Come on - get your ass on over here." Rich growled from the bed as Vic reached the door of the room and stopped, gazing at the bed and the youth waiting hungrily there for him.
A smile spread across his face as he saw that Rich had indeed thrown off his clothes and was solidly erect.
"God!" the youth groaned. "I'm horny as all hell - and you're coming on as slow as molasses in the winter. Get over here and give it to me now - please."
* * *
Rich sat across from Ruby Dailey at the table in the hospital's psychiatric ward. It still shocked him to see how plain and old she appeared without make-up; but she still looked better than she had when she entered the hospital.
"They want to put me away forever, Richie," she told him, fidgeting worse than he'd ever seen her.
"You know that, don't you?" she asked a moment later in a low voice and stared directly into his eyes. Silence enveloped them and it had the strange effect of calming her as she waited him out.
After a few moments of her probing eyes, he began to feel she was trying to enter his brain and looked down at his hands, pulling himself away from those unblinking eyes watching him. He didn't want her in his soul. Not her - not anybody.
"Who does, Mom?" he asked.
"This doctor - and your Mr. Victor Marshall - that's who. They want to take you and my precious little baby girl away from me. They want to lock me away from you - from everybody who loves me." She sniffed and her chin quivered.
"Mom, they aren't - I don't believe it for a moment," he managed even as her paranoia was weaving itself into his thoughts.
"They are too, baby." Tears welled in her eyes.
Rich didn't remember how her tears affected him. He never did, and they caught him every time. "Okay, Mom - maybe they are at that."
"You've got to get me out of here, Richie. That way I can take care of you and Christie - just like I always have." She reached across the table between them and grabbed his sleeve. "Promise me, Richie."
"Promise you what, Mom?" he asked, barely able to hold onto his suspicions.
"Promise me that you'll help me get out of here."
He forced himself to look at the woman staring at him so earnestly. Her tears were real and - in her mind, at least - so were her fears. She wasn't just any woman, however; this was Ruby Dailey. He found himself coming close to believing her.
The doctor had warned him this might happen. He'd explained mentally ill people could almost be believable. It depended on the closeness of the relationship a person had with them.
Rich forced himself to remember her those last few weeks before Vic got her into the hospital. She hadn't been right then. Her moods swung all over the place; it'd almost been like taking the Cobra for the first time at King's Dominion. He hadn't known what she would do, or say, next.
Then, though, she'd been on booze. He'd been able to blame her mood swings on that. Here, however, she'd been dry already for more than three weeks. Her fears - the doctors called it paranoia - were really a part of her. They didn't come out of a bottle after all. Still, though, he couldn't stop wondering if she might be right.
Psychiatrists were supposed to be nuts themselves. Only, she was blaming Vic for this too. And the man hadn't had to commit her to have Rich. He already had him - ass, cock, and every other part of him too. "How would I do that, Mom?" he finally asked.
Ruby leaned closer to him and looked around to make sure no one could overhear her. "You're so sweet, my precious baby." She smiled at him, her lips thinning and losing what little color they had had.
"They lock you up at night," he reminded her dubiously.
"You won't tell anybody?" He shook his head slowly. "Okay, they got a big demon who comes around at night - he checks out the girls in here."
"A guy does this?"
"No, honey - a demon - you know, from hell."
"Oh." Rich stared at her in shock even as he finally became able to retreat from the suspicions she'd aroused in him.
"Anyway, he sort of likes me - and I can get him to come in - into my room."
"It ain't going to be hard, Richie, baby." She glanced over her shoulder again. "Anyway, what I want is for you to bring me a hammer."
"Yeah, when he brings out that big scaly thing of his, I'll hit it with the hammer you bring me - then, I'll bash his head in." Her eyes blazed and she smiled triumphantly. "He'll be leaving the door open, don't you see? I can just walk out. So, you'll bring me a hammer next week, baby?"
"I'll try." He was suddenly fighting the urge to stand up and run away from this crazy woman.
"Okay," she breathed and grunted softly. "Now, if you come back on Monday, I'll have to wait until Tuesday to get him - you be waiting across from the hospital on Tuesday night." She looked around then. "It's going to be late for you, Richie - maybe even one o'clock." Her brow knitted for a moment as a new thought struck her. "What day is it today?" she asked in a whisper.
"Okay. You got the plan down pat, Richie?"
"Yeah, Mom." He pulled his hand away and stood up. "I - uh - I'd better go."
"You won't forget, will you?" she asked, studying him closely.
"Me?" he snorted. "Mom, I'm Richie, Ruby's son," he answered with more bravado than he felt, thumping his chest and forcing himself to smile.
"Silly me," she answered, smiling at him. "So, I'll see you Monday evening - that's three - no, two - days from now."
"Right, Mom. I'd better go - otherwise, they might get suspicious if I stay any longer."
"Good thinking, honey." She smiled again at him. "You be good, Richie." She'd already turned from him and was walking back toward the matron and the door that would lead her back to her room.
His eyes met Vic's as he entered the psychiatrist's office. There were tears trying to form there, but he was still able to hold them back. He'd told himself that he had to be grown up with this doctor; he had to make Vic proud of him. Only, he didn't know how he could continue to keep the facade up much longer.
"She's pretty bad off, isn't she?" he asked, unable to meet the doctor's curious eyes.
"Son, that's almost an understatement." The doctor shook his head slowly.
"There are as many answers to that question as there are patients. Alcohol can lead a person to hallucinate - after many years of abuse, that is. They become paranoid, seeing things that aren't there - from pink elephants to conspiracies. With prolonged alcoholism, it's often a chemical imbalance in the body that causes this kind of behavior-"
"What can I - we - do about my mother, Doctor?" he asked, breaking in on the man.
"There's a new program at Blacksburg and it seems to be producing some really good results - they do take indigent patients - and I personally think she should be committed there so they can find out what's out of kilter as it were."
"How long would she have to be there?"
"That's hard to say - probably six months to a year."
"How do we get her into this - this program?" he asked resignedly.
"You sign these forms." He watched as the man shoved a folder across the desk toward him.
"Me?" He glanced quickly over at Vic, fear in his eyes.
"Rich, you're her closest relative," the man told him, his voice gentle. "You're also a legal adult now - that means you alone can do it."
He grimaced at the man he loved. "Oh, gee whiz, thanks." He glanced over at the doctor. "Why do I feel like I'm condemning her as soon as I sign these papers?"
"You're her son, and I suspect she's just gotten through to you by pulling a few heartstrings during your get-together."
"Do I have to do it?"
"Either you do it or we have to release her. And she'll be back to drinking inside of a week - and probably dead in a year."
"Ouch!" He glanced at Vic once more. "Give me the forms and show me where to sign, Doctor," he grunted.
* * *
It was still early Saturday morning but he was already through Baltimore following I-95 North toward Massachusetts and the Cape. A part of him was beginning to regret not seeing Vic for the next week. Another part of him, however, was just plain happy he wouldn't have to face Dave when the other man learned of the alteration in his relationship with Vic.
Most of him, though, was just happy to be on the road, to be moving. His fingers drummed on the steering wheel of the Landrover in time with the heavy metal cassette he had on the car's player, his mind a blank screen upon which events of the past month flashed and, a moment later, was replaced by another memory.
Christie had been funny when she discovered she was going to camp. They were all sitting around the table eating pizza Vic'd ordered in and his sister was running on and on about the plans she and her friend were making for the summer. Vic had fixed her with a smile that somehow stopped her chattering.
"I wouldn't make too many plans if I were you," he told her when he had her complete attention.
"Why not, Uncle Vic?"
"Well, Rich here is leaving for Massachusetts the end of the week-" His lips turned up into a smile in spite of his effort to keep a straight face. "And I'll be following him at the end of that week."
Her face broke into a wide grin. "We're going to-" She tried to remember the name of the state and failed. "What's there, Uncle Vic?"
"A beach - and a lot of shows I'm looking forward to seeing."
"I'm going to the beach!" she yelped and jumped up to run around the table to hug him. "I do ever more love the beach, Uncle Vic." She pulled away and her hands had gone naturally to her hips. She stared at him. "Why didn't you tell me?" she demanded.
"Because we've just decided to go. But you're going to do something even more fun than go to the beach - something grown-ups aren't allowed to do."
Rich had watched her as she tried to chew that tidbit. "What could be funner than the beach?" she'd asked finally.
"I thought you might go to a camp with lots of young ladies - and even a young man or two."
"Camp?" She stared at him with something that was too close to disgust for Rich to feel comfortable. "Camp? Phooey!"
"This is a special camp, young lady," Vic continued, leading her. "A camp just for people like you - gifted young people like you."
She'd finally bitten. "What makes this old camp so special?" she asked suspiciously.
"It's a camp for the fine arts - for acting and singing - for boys and girls who have a lot of talent and are very, very bright. Of course, it's a lot of hard work too."
"Work?" Her face began to screw up in disgust. "Like school?"
"Oh, no. This camp's nothing like school where you're bored out of your mind." Rich noticed that Vic wasn't looking at his sister - not exactly. He was watching her - but out of the corner of his eye. He was pretending to almost ignore her. "This camp helps boys and girls learn how to sing and act - they show them how to do it right. And they put on shows for all the grown-ups so the kids can show everybody in the world just how good they are."
"Why would I want to go to this old camp?" she asked, almost captured in the older man's web.
"Because, at the beach, there aren't any boys and girls."
"Yeah. But, at this camp, there aren't any real grown-ups until they put on one of their shows. It's out in the woods so the boys and girls learn some things about how to camp - and they have the biggest pool for the kids to swim in."
"Where is this camp?" she asked, almost accepting her going there.
"In New York. It's probably the most beautiful countryside in the whole world."
"Is that near this place you're going?" Vic nodded slowly. "I - guess I could see what this old camp's like," she allowed.
Rich still remembered that first day - the day Vic'd come to Bell-haven to pick him up at the gas station. He allowed himself to wonder how he'd ever gotten enough nerve up to test out his wings as low as he'd felt that day.
He'd even been calling himself a "queer" and "faggot" back then. He'd seen himself as something dirty and unwanted - as just a piece of meat. Like Dave Marshall would see him. Just a little more than three weeks ago.
Between his mother and Ron, he'd really been thrown for a loop. Boy, had that ever more changed. Thank God Vic'd been there to pick him up before something really bad had happened.
He wondered if every gay boy was a basket case when he finally realized what he was and what he wanted.
Ron had scared him shitless - and sent him running to Vic for protection. What he'd gotten was acceptance and understanding - and, most important, love. He guessed most guys probably got a hard cock up their ass followed by the quickest brush-off anybody'd ever seen. That and the word about them spread all over town with a phone listing in public toilets. It was no wonder they got out of their small towns just as soon as they could and ran for the nearest big city where they could be treated as just another human being instead of the dirt they'd known at home.
He'd been ever more lucky, all right. He'd had Vic Marshall.
* * *
Rich Dailey was on Route Six above Hyannis. At most, he had another hour ahead of him - and that was only if the traffic remained as heavy as it was now. His ass hurt from sitting on it for ten - almost eleven - hours. His eyes were beginning to blur. He'd never realized how lonely this trip could be and he was bored beyond belief.
It was actually a relief when he spotted the youth on the side of the road with his thumb out. He wasn't really surprised a moment later when he realized he was slowing down.
"Thanks, man," the blond greeted him as he pulled the door open and leaned forward to see his benefactor in the growing twilight. "I was getting tired of standing out there. I started out at noon in Plymouth and here it's already eight o'clock." The man threw a knapsack onto the seat behind Rich. "My name's Hank and I'm going up to P-town - what about you?"
"I'm Rich - and I'm on my way up there too." He stuck out his hand and smiled as the man hesitated in the door. "It's good to meet you, Hank." He realized at that moment the other man was appraising him openly and wasn't sure whether he should preen or be insulted.
Hank was maybe twenty and good looking in an effeminate sort of way. He was also slim and shorter than Rich. Though he'd given Hank a quick once-over, he was nervous, knowing the man was still checking him out as he pulled the door closed. The memory of what had happened with Ron sprang up in his mind, fleshing out like a sail caught in a sudden wind.
"You like what you're seeing?" he asked suddenly, showing more nerve than he felt.
"Yeah," Hank answered and smiled. "Where you going to stay?"
"We've got a place down on the Truro side of town."
"On the bay?"
"Yeah. My bedroom looks out over the water."
"Christ, but that's got to be nice - I'd love to see it."
"Why not?" he shrugged. "Where are you staying?"
"I don't have a place yet." Hank smiled. "But that won't be a problem. An hour at the 'slip and I'll have more offers than I'll know what to do with." The blond fell silent for a moment and Rich glanced over at him.
A quizzical look came over the other man's face. "You - uh - said 'we' a moment ago?"
"My lover and his son - and me, of course." Rich felt a jolt of pride for being able to use "lover" and not blush.
"Are they already here?"
"Nope. Vic and Dave are flying up Saturday."
"You're going to be free for a whole week? With a place of your own?"
"I guess so - why?"
"Do you cheat?"
"Say what?" Rich Dailey didn't want to hear this. It frightened him. He'd been faithful for a little more than three weeks. Yet, he knew that, if he wasn't careful, this Hank could easily become another Ron. He was definitely good looking and Rich had already recognized his own interest in him.
The blond man in Virginia had taught him a lesson he was sure he wasn't going to forget for a long time. He liked sex. All he had to do was have a decent looking guy who was interested and the itch was flaring hot and bright, and uncontrollable. "I-" He felt himself blushing. "I never-"
"A gay boy who looks as good as you do and who's alone for the next week in the biggest gay resort on the East Coast. Come on, Rich - get real!"
"I've never cheated." he shot back vehemently, forgetting for the moment that he was lying.
"Where have you been, dude?" Even with the wind blowing over him from the open windows Rich Dailey felt suddenly hot. "When did you come out anyway - and where?"
"A little more than a month ago was my first time - back in Washington, DC"
"That was your first time?"
"Yeah. Look, can we change the subject?" He knew himself too well; Ron had taught him how easy it was to get him hot enough he couldn't say no. He didn't want it happening again. He'd been lucky that time; Vic hadn't found out. He didn't want to stretch his luck out to its breaking point.
"Sure, I guess so. I don't want to sound like I'm trying to get you to do something you don't want to do."
"Thanks. I appreciate that."
"It's just that you're one of the best looking guys I've seen. You're free as well - and you've only been doing it for a few weeks - shit! The novelty hasn't even worn off yet. It's damned unreal."
"Hank-" There was warning in his voice.
"Sorry." The blond grinned over at him ruefully. "It's been one beautiful day. Did you enjoy your drive up?"
"Not really - it's one hell of a long drive." He allowed himself to relax again.
"I bet. What do you do down there in Washington?"
"I was working. I just graduated from high school - I guess I'll find another job when I get back."
"You're eighteen - almost chicken. Holy Christ!"
"What do you do, Hank?" he asked hurriedly, cutting the other man off from what seemed another digression.
"I'm a hair dresser. And don't jump me with any of the old clichés either - at least, I don't wear a stud in my ear."
"Hey!" Rich's hand went instinctively to his ear.
"Sorry. I guess I get defensive about my job - I like it, but I don't like to hear any shit about only gay boys being in my profession."
Rich relaxed completely then. The verbal duel between them was over - he'd found Hank's clay feet and the other man knew it. And, strangely, knowing the blond's blind spot make him more likable. "I'll lay off you if you lay off me."
Hank laughed good-naturedly. "Okay, Rich. I guess I was coming on pretty strong there."
The younger man glanced over at the blond. "Why were you? And I don't mean to open it all back up either."
"I guess I just don't like the idea of prostituting myself to get a bed and a roof over my head." Out of the corner of his eye, Rich could see the other man hang his head and look out the window. "It might be fun and the guy might be a great looker - but, when you have to worry about where you're going to sleep at night, you can't just say no too easily."
"I'll settle that for you - you can stay at the house until Friday. Just so long as we don't mess it up."
"Hey, that's great." The blond suddenly leaned over and kissed his cheek. "You're one hell of a guy," Hank told him.
"Don't go around broadcasting it, okay?" he answered quickly, a grin on his face.
Hank laughed. "You're full of it too."
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