Copyright 2003 by

This is a fictional story of loving between friends, young and old. If you don't like friendship, don't read it. If you don't like love, I'm sorry for you. If you are not old enough to legally read this, find your friend and have him read it to you.

Thanks to Teglin and Mal and Ted and Beachkid for continuing to inspire me to try and write my best.


Stocking Stuffer Part 20 Spring Break Part 10

Soon all three boys were dressed if one could call two ounces of nylon that. They were dancing round again and pulling at Tommy, Gene and Brian's arms. With an exaggerated howl, Brian scooped up Mikey, Gene grabbed Scotty and Stephy found himself thrown over Tommy's shoulder like just a sack of wheat. With a giggling upside down wave, Stephy told me to have a good day with my "edilator" and those radio guys and then they had left the suite.

I apologized to WKE for the "edilator" title, but he just grinned and waved the apology away. "I haven't felt this young or had this much fun since I left college!" he exclaimed. "They can call me anything so long as they let me see those smiles and feel those hugs!"

I groaned in return, "I bet you left college all of four/five years ago too?"

"No," he brightly sank the dagger deep, "I've only been out of school for two years now!"

"Gawd, I feel a thousand." I moaned into my coffee.


We chatted a while about the coming interviews and what I should expect at the party and at dinner tonight and then he excused himself to finish dressing. I went back to the bath and finished with my shave and turned to the closet to dress. Gawd, I hated suits and I was stuck for the next three to four hours. Then we'd have a break and then back in tie for the cocktail party, then the monkey suit for dinner. Why did I agree to these impossible events? I didn't need this! Not one book would be sold today! I looked in to find my suit and saw the size ten chinos and boys button down oxford hanging next to mine, I saw the second formalwear bag, I saw the half a dozen tiny polo shirts and my heart melted to my shoes.

I did this now for Steph, to see his smiling face looking off that balcony and across the world of care into the Magic Kingdom. I did this now to feel his uninhibited love, tucked up in a hug and spread not just to me, but to all the members of our tribe. I did this now to guarantee his future life, I'd put away enough to more than live my life and now every additional cent was dedicated to my boy. He'd never again feel the pain of hunger, he'd never again be forced to perform for drunken men for gifts, he'd never again fear for safety while I could still scratch paper with a pen. Remind me to talk to our lawyer friend and be sure I'd sewn up every rip in his past life.

Finishing dressing I struggled with the tie and finally getting it reasonably four-in-hand, I left the suite and headed for the convention area.

WKE was waiting at the door and greeted me with loud and boisterous fanfare. You wouldn't have guessed we'd shared the nude cuddle of my son just moments ago. It was like the greeting of long lost friends. I knew he was good where I was concerned, I was quickly finding out he was extraordinary with the crowd. I was not the only author at this event, in fact there were probably twenty in the room at the moment, but WKE had captured the entire room and suddenly I was surrounded by a gaggle of the press. WKE deflected every question, turned every congratulatory phrase and generally made me the center of attention and totally untouchable by the crowd. They loved every second of it and his gentle redirection just seemed to make them smilingly ask for more.

WKE led me across the room to the media center where a private glassed in interview suite was built right on the convention floor. Sweeping inside, he turned the crowd over to a very nicely formed pair of receptionists: one male, one female. They were a stunning couple in their own right, but as I watched I was the one stunned. The young women practically captured every male in the crowd, but the young man had quickly and equally with ease drawn the women and one or two men to his side. They did a cool and quick scheduling of interviews and suddenly everyone was happily easing back into the mixture in the room. WKE never left my side as first the young woman and then the young man would lead the winner of this time slot forward for their interview.

I must have done the same interview 30 times that morning, twice for TV cameras. It was such a sham, but such an efficient and happy sham. Not one of the interviewers had every read a single one of my books, and most were reading the publicists poop sheet as they developed and the asked the exact same questions the last one had so laboriously thought out.

Them: So, Mr. Nick, tell us a little about your new book?

Me (brightly): Well it's a juvenile detective story of theft and deceit and betrayed friendship.

Them: And the main characters, two boys I believe, are they based on real life boys?

Me (professorial) : No, David and Jimmy are not real, they embody, I hope, the great genius of discovery and adventure in all boys.

Them: How do you feel about the phenomenal success of J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter?

Me (seriously): Ms. Rowling has written a magnificent universe of childhood: a childhood celebrated and esteemed for the power held in the hands of her children. Her books have lifted the entire world of juvenile fiction and hopefully helped millions of children learn the joy of reading.

Me (Wryly shy): Perhaps a few will find my books and gain enjoyment there too.

Them: Do you think the recent birth of her son will stop the cycle of the books?

Me (Beaming at WKE): I wouldn't dare to speak for her, but the joy of a new son is such a shining gift I wouldn't doubt if she wrote even more and faster. Love just pours back from our children and it certainly motivates on the more difficult days.

Them: Have you seen the movie adaptations and how do you feel they have been treating the stories within the books?

WKE (Diplomatically stern): Now it's not fair to interview Mr. Nick on Ms. Rowling, do you have another question about Nick's book?

Them: Oh well yes, of course, uhmm, my (nephew, son, grandson, neighbor) loves your books, would I be able to get a signed copy to take home?

WKE (full snakeoil salesman mode): Yes, of course, there will be a public signing tomorrow in the Magic Kingdom and you are welcome to come, we'd be happy to make a child's day, right Mr. Nick?

Me (proudly condescending): Of course, there is nothing I can think of better than the smile of someone treasuring one of my books, I'd be happy to personalize one for you.

And interview ceases.

Gawd thirty times the same basic vacuous questions and none of this would be seen or heard by anyone! Every interview was probably scheduled to air in the early morning Sunday hours when stations tried to be community minded and offer public service, exactly when they knew the public was still curled up toasty warm in bed.

As WKE led me from the booth and into the dining room for lunch he clasped my shoulder and praised my performance. I felt just like the dancing bear must have felt after getting his reward kibble.

When the luncheon was done poor WKE could barely keep up I was in such a mad dash back for our suites. The tie was gone before I'd left the banquet room and the coat wasn't far behind. Swiping my suite key in the slot, I growled as the light glowed red and the knob wouldn't let me in. As I growled louder a second time, WKE caught up and reaching in flipped the card over and swiped it green and held the door for me. I'm not sure I growled my thanks. I tossed the coat and tie and shirt on the couch and grabbed a beer as I shed first shoes then socks then pants in a trail to the bedroom. Tearing open the dresser drawer I quickly shed my underwear and pulled on my old familiar, comforting shorts. Sighing with the released tension of the morning and the wonderful taste of the beer I noticed the message light blinking on the phone. Ughhh, I groaned, some stupid reporter forgot to ask if I knew J.K.'s new son's name I feared. Picking up and finding the correct sequence of buttons to push I found not some stupid reporter, but my wonderful Steph's excited song.

"Nick! Lunch should be just about done. Come down to the beach, please Dad? We need you????" and then a little group giggle of some co-conspirators I guessed.

"Hey, WKE!" I yelled across the hall, "Our boys need us on the beach! Get your shorts on and let's get down there for a while. I need a break from all this business bullshit!"

"Right behind you once again my friend!" he called out and coming from his room he was indeed ready for the beach. I took a quick look and decided Tommy had good taste! He wasn't in a speedo; the suit was more like a skin tight pair of boxers. A short waisted University T set off his rippling abdominal muscles and the bright blue of the shorts. A cheeky grin and large silver sunglasses finished him off just right.

We breezed toward the beach and I don't think I saw anyone or anything along the way. Then as we came around the corner of the resort sundecking and pool areas, there was the beach, there was our tribe, there was my boy. I stopped dead and since WKE didn't run me down I must assume he saw the same scene of beauty that stole my breath. A Hobie Cat sailboat was pulled up on the shore and Brian and Tommy were on the trampoline deck obviously giving some kind of lesson to the boys.

The boys stood in the sand, rapt attention to the lesson. Steph was in the middle, his brilliant yellow speedo a jewel on the whiteness of his back and thighs. Beside him, Scotty in the blue geometric print like a sapphire shining on his golden stretch of skin. Mikey on the other side, a crimson point of flame, a fire ruby, inside the shimmering silver of his smaller body. Above them Tommy, like a Greek god fresh from the sea and now atop the acropolis; shining, glistening, dew drops of refracted rainbows flashing the entire world to look at him, to praise his silken skin, to cry with envy at the emerald green jewel of his barely more than thong.

I think WKE was the one to squeak at the gems laid out before us.

That squeak must have resonated across the sand, because Tommy looked up and saw us stopped. His face broke into a giant grin and pointing back our way he must have told the boys. Soon all three shining faces turned towards as and then an explosion seemed to rock the sand. Six silken feet, driven by thirty tender toes, dug in the sand and launched three angels at our hearts. I barely managed to brace when Scotty and Steph slammed into my chest. I heard the "Oof!" that meant Mikey too had hit his target next to me. We now were just a mass of writhing, long, lean, slender arms and legs attached to lips intent on kissing off our faces. Between the nibbles I could hear the angels singing thanks: thanks for the best day they'd ever had; thanks for the fun yet still to come; thanks for being us; thanks for loving them.

How could we not!

WKE and I managed to stumble with our precious load across the sand and Brian, Tommy and Gene each took a boy and guided us to their group of lounging chairs. Soon another beer was occupying my hand, while Stephy and Scotty occupied my mind with a data dump of all the wonderful things they'd done and how Tommy and Brian were going to take them sailing. Seems as if WKE was getting the same treatment from Tommy and Mikey. Gene and Brian just sipped a beer and beamed with pleasure at the love these boys were shedding all around the beach.

I vaguely watched as several other families walked past on the sand. I saw a father reach out to a son and an older brother picking up a little one. Again our boys had started what I could only pray would be a life long chain reaction.


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