THE CASE OF THE GENTLE GYMNAST Copyright © 2005 by Jerry Leckie — A young police detective, assigned to a gay missing persons case, finds himself on a voyage of self-discovery when he begins to question his feelings for his partner.

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From Part Four, Chapter Eighteen:  John waited patiently on the stoop of the apartment while Bart fidgeted with his keys to unlock the door. Inside, Bart's nervousness suddenly overtook him. He had never felt so inadequate and insecure. Resting his trembling hands on John's shoulders, he asked shyly, "Uh, are you hungry? Uh, would you like something to eat?"

John smiled and took Bart's hand. "Thanks, but no. If it's all right with you, I'd like to lie down for a while," he said, leading his lover into the bedroom. There,
John took him into a poignant embrace and kissed him tenderly. "I'm glad to be here Bart."

He sat on the bed while Bart stood nearby, staring at him uncertainly. Giving his lover a come-hither look, John removed his shoes and socks; then, he paused and cocked an expectant eyebrow at the man he adored.

Bart's Adam's apple bobbed once, as he cautiously moved to a chair and did the same.

From that moment, everything suddenly seemed to move in slow motion, as in a beautifully choreographed ballet.

John slowly stripped out of his shirt and waited, smiling. With eyes full of wonder, Bart follow suit, unbuttoning his shirt, shrugging it off his muscular shoulders and letting it fall to the floor.

Eyes now glittering with anticipation, John stood, unbuckled his belt and unzipped his pants. Without breaking eye contact, he hooked his thumbs in the waistband and lowered them to his knees. Seated on the bed, he deafly pulled them off and dropped them on the floor. He stood once more, in his white boxers.

Bart stared at the large tent in the front of John's underwear and swallowed. He fumbled until his pants were undone, then stood, pushing them to his feet, and stepped out of them. Wide-eyed, he presented himself to his lover.

John licked his lips at the sight of the impressive erection straining the front of his lover's briefs. Without preamble, he dropped his boxers to the floor and moved to the center of the bed.


Bart seemed entranced as he walked robot-like toward John. He paused to shed his briefs, and climbed onto the bed, kneeling over his new lover. His heart pounded fiercely; his face was a study in wonder as he observed the man he had come to love. Here, embodied in this magnificent form--that he could actually reach out and touch--was the one being in the universe that he loved, adored and respected more than any other. And, John loved him in return.

He extended a hand and stroked John's cheek, his lips, his ear -- so much beauty there, so much love in his eyes. Bart's heart swelled at the thought. He smoothed the soft hair on his lover's chest, feeling the soft skin and hard muscles underneath. Warm velvet over steel. His fingertips continued down John's torso to his navel. Oh God, how beautiful! he thought. Such a small thing, but so beautiful.

His breath caught in his throat when his hand brushed John's erection. So big, so elegant, so sexy. His mouth watered. He touched it, then petted it like the precious creation it was. Hurrying on, he stroked his love's thighs, knees and calves. So strong, so perfectly formed ... and, Oh God ... even his feet are beautiful.

Bart was momentarily overwhelmed. Shaking his head, he lay on John's chest inhaling his scent. Sweet, sexy, lovely, musk of the gods. Damn! He turned his head and licked John's skin, tasting his essence. Finding a nipple, he suckled contently for a moment, then kissed his way to his lover's lips.

He probed John's mouth, dueling with his tongue, sharing the thrilling rise of their mounting passion. Bart's breath came in ever shorter gasps. His head felt light. The feeling of John's roaming fingertips over his body was carrying him near the edge.

A flash of lust and love, mingled with primordial desire pulled him away from John's lips. He turned in the bed, dove onto his lover's penis and commenced the intuitive act of suckling, now only aware of the need to feel the organ in his mouth, to love it and draw as much pleasure from it as possible.

In his heightened state, he was hardly aware of John's fingers knotted in his hair or of the low primeval sound that grew in pitch and volume until John's body trembled and bucked, and semen rocketed into his mouth.

Bart savored and swallowed every drop, an act that, surprisingly, seemed as natural to him as breathing or the beating of his heart. He lingered for a time, holding the object in his mouth, delighting in the clean sweet taste and the heady scent of his lover's genitals.

At length, he collapsed onto John's chest, murmuring, "Hold me please. Oh God, keep me from floating away, because I have gone to heaven. John, I have never ever, ever experienced anything as wonderful as this. If I'm asleep, may I never wake up, because I want to lay here in your arms and love you like this forever."

Bart's senses must have temporarily experienced overload. When they returned, he was on his back with John kneeling over him. His nerves were alive, on fire with lust, for John was playing his body like a musical instrument, licking, kissing, stroking every erogenous zone he could find. At the moment, John's tongue was exploring the contours of his ear.

When his body began to shake, he grabbed John by the shoulders to stop the stimulation until he could bear it once more. He pleaded, "Oh, please, just kiss me. Let me hold you for a minute."

John lay on top of Bart and allowed his head to be pulled down for a kiss. To Bart, no kiss had ever been so sweet, so tender, so thrilling. Passion rose in him until his breath came in short gasps. He could feel their erections dueling between their bodies. His fingers began to claw the hard muscles of John's back.

"Ohhhh!" he exclaimed as the total moment overwhelmed him. John smiled in understanding and moved between his lover's legs, taking his penis into his mouth. "Ahhhh!" Bart gasped and clenched his teeth. His hips bucked once and he gave his seed to the man he loved.

But, their passions were still running high. John turned in the bed and they began to nurse each other, hands roaming, thrilling at each erogenous zone found.

At length, they slowed to savor their physical communication. John rested his head on Bart's thigh, nursing his penis, and allowed his fingers to explore lazily between his lover's shapely buttocks. Bart moaned in pleasure at this new experience. Presently, John inserted his finger in the anus, eliciting more excited sounds from his lover. When John's finger located the prostate, he began to massage it. Bart's body trembled and his penis swelled immediately to new dimensions, delivering another volume of his essence. The taste of his beloved brought John's ardor to a peak and he too rewarded Bart.

Minutes later, they lay facing each other, forehead's touching, exchanging kisses and words of endearment. Each was a novice at this kind of love making and emotional attachment. They were not frightened by it, but unsure from lack of experience.

Considering this, Bart was curious. "Where did you learn all of that stuff you were doing to me?" he asked softly.

John chuckled. "This was all new to me and I wanted to please you. So, when Brandon and Ed came to visit me yesterday in the hospital, I asked them for some pointers."

"Well," Bart exclaimed, "you must have listened to their instructions very carefully, because everything you did was perfect." He kissed his love on the nose. "Thank you."


Bart and John were truly detectives, experts at searching, analyzing, seeking and organizing details. So, they spent the rest of Saturday and all day Sunday, honing their lovemaking skills. Actually, they never got dressed and never left the bedroom except to use the bathroom and to eat. They learned much, had a great amount of fun, gave each other unbelievable degrees of pleasure, and fell even more deeply in love.

This behavior was unsurprising, for they were intelligent adults and realized that the secret to any successful relationship is communication, communication, communication. They were already best friends and had the highest respect for each other. Thus, as they made love, they talked, asked questions and expressed preferences. By late Sunday afternoon, it was obvious that they were totally committed to each other in body, mind and soul. Neither would ever take the other for granted.

Sunday night, they dressed and went out to dinner. Their behavior was comfortable, relaxed, but always attentive to the other. That they would live together was a given. Bart's apartment was larger, and since John rented and Bart leased, they decided that John would move into Bart's place -- as soon as possible. They were two young men in the prime of life, very much in love, with libidos that had burst forth in large measure.

The next evening, they were invited to a long overdue dinner with the boys they had rescued. Promptly at seven o'clock, Bart and John were ushered into a small banquet room in the Eureka Hotel to the sound of thunderous applause. Every boy stood in welcome. After the din had calmed, each youngster insisted on giving the men a hug, including Dickie and Brandon. Randy, Joe, Mickey and Ed were there also. They stood smiling in the background, but, by and by, took their turn hugging the two men they loved and respected.

The assemblage was eventually seated at the long dining table, and servers filled their goblets with sparkling cider for toasts. Randy, Joe, Mickey and Ed took their turns feting the pair for their part in freeing the boys. At his turn, Brandon stood and addressed the room with a sly grin. "Men, you've heard about the cunning and bravery of Bart and John. But, what you don't yet know is that just last week, they became a couple." He raised his glass. "Here's to their love; may it last forever!"

Everyone stood and bellowed, "Here's to Bart and John!" Then came the call for speeches.

The two rose to their feet, grinning shyly. At length, Bart asked for silence. "Perhaps you will accept this in lieu of a speech." He took John in his arms and indulged in a long, sweet kiss.

The boys went silent, seeming to hold their collective breaths. For many, this was the first time they had seen a pair of male adults express affection. When the kiss ended, wild cheers erupted, that is until the hotel servers wheeled in food carts, proving that absolutely nothing is more important to a teenage male than eating.

After the meal, soft drinks were served and Bart and John managed to spend at least a few minutes chatting with each boy. As the evening wore to a close, Ed Tekai made a date with John to paint his portrait.

Over the next four days, things concerning "The Case of the Gentle Gymnast" began to fall into place.

Bart began to see light at the end of the tunnel of reports he had to write for the case. And, John went through what he hoped was the last battery of tests at the hospital.

Brandon's parents and Reverend Downing were brought to Canyon City for trial in federal court along with the two would-be kidnappers.

Experts at Matson University completed their testing of the boys, finding that all of the youngsters were at least one year behind their peer groups in school. They also found that none of the boys suffered severe psychological trauma, but would have to be carefully integrated back into society.

Meanwhile, Jack Wade stumbled onto a possible answer to permanent housing for the boys. While reviewing the CC&Rs (Covenants, Contracts and Restrictions) on the title to the compound property, he discovered that, under the original grant, if the property was ever abandoned, title reverted to the Matson Charitable Trust.

Jack had the property appraised at a market value of twenty million dollars. He put a real estate broker to work and found a small hotel in downtown Canyon City for sale for two million. Armed with this information, he proposed to the board of trustees of the Trust that they sell the compound, then buy the hotel and establish an endowment fund to operate it as a home for abandoned gay children. Finding the trust suddenly several million dollars richer, the board readily agreed to the project.

Child Protective Services was overjoyed to be relieved of the financial burden of the boys, but insisted that many details of their education, psychological welfare and supervision needed to be worked out.

To that end, Matson University agreed to construct an accelerated educational program designed to ensure that the boys would earn their high school diplomas by their eighteenth birthday. To compliment the university staff, Randy volunteered to teach music. Likewise, Ed and Stella offered to teach art. Joe agreed to teach technical writing. And, Linda and Brandon offered to teach physical fitness.

By Friday afternoon, Bart had written almost all of the reports for the case, and was feeling very proud of himself. John had been called into police headquarters that afternoon and Bart was thrilled at the prospect of having his partner back on the job.

At five o'clock, Bart powered down the computer on his desk and put away the files he had been using. He stood, yawned and stretched his muscular frame, listening to the segments of his spine pop back into place. Picking up his jacket, he went in search of John. The Human Resources Office was dark, so he began to search rooms in the area.

He found his lover sitting in a conference room reading a folder of information. "Hey sexy, ready to hit the road?"

"Yeah, I guess," John said without looking up.


"They say I can't pass the department physical. I've been retired." Bart saw a single tear roll down his beloved's cheek. "I'm off the force, Bart."


Bart sat beside John and swiveled his chair to face him. A dozen thoughts raced through his mind at once. He knew John's passion for his career and felt his keen disappointment. He would mourn the man's absence in the department as well. But there were more important things in life.

He took his lover's hands. "I know you're disappointed. I am too. I'll miss having you by my side here." He sighed heavily. "Let's go home. We have some thinking and talking to do."

In their bedroom, they disrobed and sat cross-legged on the bed, facing each other. Bart kissed his mate, then smiled wanly at the devastated expression on his face. "John," he said firmly, "careers are wonderful. They give us something to do that we enjoy. They allow us to unfold knowledge and skills. But, let's put things into perspective. The Canyon City Police Department can get along without you. I can't."

He squeezed John's hands. "There are many good careers, but good relationships are rare. We are what's important. You can make another career, any time, any where. Rather than let your retirement from the force get you down, try to concentrate on the good thing we have."

John's face was a mask of emotion at work. "I hear you Bart. I know you're right. But, police work is all I've ever known, ever wanted. I don't know how to do anything else."

Bart chuckled and took John's face between his hands. "Oh, you sweet, guileless adorable man! If you could only see yourself as others see you. You're intelligent, honest and have the ability to see into men's souls. And it doesn't hurt that you're movie star handsome. The point I'm making is that you have the skills to do almost anything."

He waived his hands in the air, indicating the entire planet. "You could be an executive or a teacher or a counselor or a fuckin' fortune teller. You're uncommonly intelligent and have a way with people."

Bart pushed his lover back on the bed and lay beside him. "Tomorrow we'll look at the want ads in the Times. Oops, no, we'll have to do that Sunday. Tomorrow Ed is going to paint your portrait." He grinned. "I wonder if he will see the same things in you that I see." He covered John's lips with his and took him into a tender embrace.

At ten o'clock the next morning, the lovers were welcomed by Ed and Brandon into the warm, glass enclosed solarium on the roof of the Eureka Hotel. It was a cold, clear blustery day and Ed wanted to paint John in natural light, dressed in a bathing suit.

Although Bart had talked and made love deep into the night, John's normally confident and sunny manner had not been restored completely. And, Ed picked up on it right away. He whispered a few words to Brandon and the gentle gymnast excused himself to run an errand.

The artist had draped a sky blue beach towel over a large chair placed before a row of potted palms. Several colorful beach balls completed the scene. John stripped down to his Speedo and Ed paid him several joking compliments regarding his strapping physique while positioning him in the chair.

At length, it became evident to Ed that John's depression and Bart's silent concern for his lover was smothering the area with bad karma. This would not do. He placed a cell phone call to Brandon and in minutes the boy appeared, twirling a Speedo on his index finger.

Grinning, Ed took the flimsy garment from his lover and handed it to Bart. "I've decided to paint the both of you together. You're new lovers and this is too good an opportunity to pass up. You two are so in love that the air is fairly crackling with energy and I have to capture that for posterity."

Bart's mouth opened and closed a few times before he spoke. "Oh, uh, I don't know, uh, I've never done anything like this before, uh, wouldn't you just rather paint John."

John started to snicker. Ed quickly joined in, immediately followed by Brandon. Eyes glittering with mirth, John jumped to his feet and began unbuttoning Bart's shirt. "I think it's a great idea Ed. Come on love-of-my-life, get nekkid." John continued to strip his red-faced lover until he was down to his briefs. Dangling the Speedo before Bart, John crooned, "Okay lover. Do you want me to peel those shorts off you, or do you want to do it yourself." He giggled. "Either way, my mouth is going to water when it happens."

Bart suddenly realized what Ed had accomplished. Giving the smirking artist a quick look of gratitude, he turned to his lover and performed an exaggerated bump-and-grind while he peeled out of his briefs.

When he stood naked, Ed shouted--with mock disgust, "Oh now look what you've done! John's got a boner! Brandon, throw a bucket of cold water on him!" John looked at his crotch to see if it was true and the other three roared with laughter.

Mirth was the mojo that banished the ill karma and the way was clear.

Ed scratched his chin in thought for a moment. Motioning for Bart to put on the Speedo, he moved John into a sitting position on the chair and sat Bart on the floor beside him. He moved them about for a few minutes, finally placing John's hand on Bart's shoulder and Bart's arm around the calf of John's leg.

Brandon and Ed stood back studying the tableau. "Wow!" Brandon exclaimed, with big eyes.

"What?" Bart wondered, with a concerned expression.

Ed poked Brandon in the ribs. "I'm thirsty. How about going to get us some bottles of cold water." To the lovers, he said soothingly, "I think that position is perfect. Now, I'll need you to hold it until I make my sketch."

He worked rapidly for more than an hour. His delicate hands flew across the canvas delineating the lines, highlights and shadows of their bodies. Meanwhile, Brandon fed the men water and scratched an ear here and a nose there when they became uncomfortable. At last, Ed completed the sketch and decreed a stretch, bathroom and snack break in the hotel suite below, where Bart and John were besieged by the boys.

Back in the solarium, Ed used the sketch to reposition the pair. Immediately after he began to apply the oil paints, two of the boys appeared to watch the proceedings. Curious, they conferred with Ed about his work, then settled on the sideline to chat with John and Bart.

During the conversation, the boys eagerly confessed their hopes and aspirations to the men. It was a tragedy that their naturally indomitable spirits were overshadowed by fear, the fear of being rejected by the world at large. Both John and Bart assured them that they were whole and complete beings that were not defined by what others thought of them, but by what they were. Who they would become was their choice. They could become anything that they wanted to be and progress as far as their desire and talent would take them.

At the end of their conversation, the boys thanked John and Bart and departed, only to be replaced by two more boys.

And so it went. While Ed painted, the boys appeared by twos and threes to sit and chat with the men in the quiet solitude of the space. The large, the small, the handsome, the cute, the shy, the extroverted all expressed the same concern in a dozen different ways. And, John and Bart, in turn, found dozens of reasons to counter the young men's fears and to encourage them to find their right desires and talents and use them to the best of their abilities.

Each group of boys left the solarium imbued with hope and joy for the future, as well as deep respect and reverence for the men.

By two o'clock, the last group of youngsters had left the solarium and a contented silence fell, lasting for about half an hour, until Ed called Brandon over to the easel. He gave his lover a kiss and quipped, "See if you can get those two old guys to their feet. They've been in that position so long they're probably frozen in place."

Bart and John made rude noises and gestures as they stood. Ed and Brandon laughed as they began to clean the brushes. Bart demanded, "Well, are you done?"

Ed giggled. "Yes, you are now immortalized, so to speak. Come take a look."

As they moved in front of the easel, Bart quietly exclaimed, "Wow."

Brandon snickered. "That's what I said when I saw the sketch." He gave his lover a hug. "And, it goes double now."

On the surface, the painting was a celebration of light reflecting from the men's bodies, highlighting their power, strength and beauty. But, underlying their elegant physical appearance was internal power, courage, hope, patience, goodness and love, energized by an enduring strength of character. The overall impression was one of sensual openness that inspired trust, respect and affection.

Brandon placed a hand on each man's shoulder and murmured, "If I didn't already know you, seeing this painting would make me want to."

Bart and John were rendered speechless. They simply turned to Ed and enveloped him in a tight embrace.


Late Sunday morning, they lay naked on their stomachs in the middle of the living room floor reading the Help Wanted advertisements in the newspaper. They chuckled at this and that and the other of the ads while their feet touched, gently stroking here and there.

As Bart turned the page, John stole a kiss. Bart snuggled close to his mate, placing an arm around his waist. John grinned and rubbed noses with his love. Bart quickly took advantage of their proximity to capture John's mouth, drawing him into a sweet kiss. He rolled his lover onto his side and pulled him close, pressing their rapidly expanding genitals together.

Bart moaned at the touch. He was reaching for John's bubble butt when his cell phone rang. Groaning in disgust at the thought of being called to the station on a Sunday, he answered the call. He made several polite responses with a perplexed expression on his face and terminated the connection. "That was Jack Wade. He and Jerry Brent, the CPS guy, want to come over for lunch. And they are brining it." Blushing, he concluded, "He says we don't have to get dressed; he just wants to talk over some things."

John snickered looking pointedly at their bare bodies. "How did he know?" He rolled lightly to his feet and held out a hand to help Bart up. "Jack should be in the CIA. I'll swear that nothing gets past that guy. He must be able to see through walls."

They hurriedly dressed in cargo shorts and polo shirts, but remained barefoot, just to spite Jack's comment. John was in the kitchen stuffing the newspaper into the trash bin when the doorbell rang. Bart led Jack and Jerry--laden with food cartons--into the room. "I hope you like Chinese," Jack commented. "I should have asked."

Laughing, Bart began taking plates from the cupboard. "Chinese is fine. Cops do not live by donuts alone."

John greeted the men and began setting the table. Presently the four were seated and scarfing up food. Conversation was light and amusing until their plates were empty. Bart served coffee while John cleared away the dirty dishes.

Looking pointedly at Jack, Bart said, "That was delicious. Thank you very much." He knew very well that this was not a social call.

Jack favored them with a delightful smile. "I dropped by the hotel this morning and saw your portrait. Ed Tekai is an amazing artist. His painting of you bares your souls, to those who are sensitive to art."

He turned to John. "Last night I heard about your early retirement from the police department; then, when I saw the portrait of you two, something fell into place. I discussed it with Jerry and he agrees. Jerry, why don't you tell them about some of your concerns."

Jerry nodded and began to speak. "As you know, the Matson Charitable Trust inherited the compound, with the intention of selling it and buying the Hill House Hotel downtown. Well, a developer has bought the compound and tomorrow morning the Trust will place a convincing bid on the hotel. An endowment fund has already been created to maintain Hill House as a residence for the boys. It will be a simple matter to hire kitchen and janitorial staff and perform some cosmetic work, so the place can be prepared for them in record time."

He cast a glance at Jack, then continued. "My concern is that the boys are not in shape to operate in every day society. They must be carefully integrated back into it. And that task will require a full time staff person who cares for the boys and has the patience and insight to work well with them."

Jack spoke up. "And that's where Ed Tekai's painting comes in. When I saw it, I knew you were the man for the job John."

John's eyes went wide. He thought for a moment before asking, "Exactly what would you expect of me?"

Jerry pursed his lips in thought, then ticked items off on his fingers. "Officially, you would be the house administrator, making the rules, supervising the staff, planning activities. But, more to the point, you would become their surrogate father, the trusting, loving parent they never had." He sighed. "With twelve of them, that would require a lot of love, and some degree of detachment also--I know from experience--or the job will tear you apart. You have to love the hell out of them, give them the best guidance you can, then let them make their own mistakes ... and learn from them."

Jack interjected, "And another thing--and I know this from experience--you have to love them enough to let them go. They will graduate from high school and move on, or some of them may thumb their noses at you and just leave."

John's head was swimming. At last, he said, "I already love them. But, I don't know how good of an administrator I would be."

Jack chuckled. "Just think of it as a household with twelve children. Oh and by the way, the salary for the position is quite handsome." Jack's eyes narrowed. "Are you interested?"

John nodded. "Yeah, I'm interested. Just give me a chance to think of what questions I need to ask."

"Well, there's something else you need to consider. The job would require you to live at Hill House."

Bart, who had been smiling, thinking this was the perfect career for John, suddenly stopped. He hadn't thought of that.

John saw the expression on his lover's face and murmured, "Bart and I want to live together. We're a couple."

Jack soothed, "I'm not suggesting that you live apart." He turned his piercing eyes to Bart. "You were in that painting too. You and John have very different personalities, but you are the perfect compliment to each other. That's why you're together." He laid a hand on the man's arm. "Bart, you would be a wonderful help mate to John in this job. He'll be good at it, but he will need help."

He leaned back in his chair and gazed at the two men. "Will you think about it? And give it some serious consideration?" Bart and John nodded.

After Jack and Jerry departed and the kitchen was clean, the lovers shed their clothes and cuddled in the middle of the bed. "The fucking world just rushes on, doesn't it?" John murmured. "I want to get off and stop thinking for a while."

Bart chuckled. "There's always another challenge, even when we want to stop and rest." He kissed his love and stroked his cheek. "I love you so much John. I'm so happy to be with you. I'll follow you anywhere."

John propped himself up on one elbow. "It's like you said earlier. We're the important thing in our lives. Our happiness comes first. So, let's work this challenge out. If I take the job, we have to move in with the kids. We're a new couple. Could we survive an instant family?"

Bart seemed unfazed by the comment. "It's more than an instant family. It's more like a continuous new family. I saw the plans for that hotel. It has forty rooms, and the Trust was established for permanent housing for abandoned gay kids. Hill House could have a couple of dozen kids living there fairly quickly. I think the answer would be to hire at least two assistants to help us."

John's brows knitted. "You're seriously considering this?"

Bart brushed his lover's lips. "I've already said that I would follow you anywhere. And I will be happy with you anywhere, in a city or on a fuckin' island in the middle of the ocean."

John gave his beloved an adoring smile and murmured, "God, you're incredible," followed by a long kiss. He came away frowning, with a new thought. "
You're a cop. If you moved into a gay youth house with me, you'd be out of the closet to the department and to the world."

It was obvious that Bart had not thought about this. He hugged John close to him and was silent for several minutes. Then, he began to laugh. And, he laughed himself into a coughing fit. John pounded him on the back until he recovered.

Grinning broadly, he wiped tears from his eyes and said, "I'm sorry, but it just suddenly struck me as funny. After all the advice I gave you about careers and all of the advice we gave the boys about being able to be anything they wanted to be, I really can't be concerned about whether the department wants a gay cop or not. You and I and our happiness are the important thing."

John moved over Bart and they made languid love for the rest of the day. Just before they fell into exhausted sleep, Bart mumbled, "Let's call Jack first thing in the morning."


Three weeks later, on the Wednesday before the Thanksgiving holiday, John and Bart stood across the street observing the newly renovated Hill House. The three story building was an Art Deco masterpiece that had been kept in good repair. The huge neon marquee had been taken down and replaced with a simple canopy. A polished bronze plaque beside the door simply said "Hill House."

Renovations had been fairly easy. New carpet had been installed throughout, and new paint in bright colors had been applied to every interior wall. The first floor housed the office, dining room, kitchen, ballroom, two bathrooms and two meeting rooms. A full basement housed the heating and cooling units, laundry and storage facilities. Nine rooms on the second floor had been converted into three apartments, one for Bart and John and two others for staff yet to be hired. The rest of the space on the second and third floors would house the boys.

A gay-owned janitorial company had been hired to keep Hill House clean. The assistant chef at the Hotel Eureka had been hired to rule over the Hill House kitchen. And, a gay student from Matson University had been engaged to man the office.

John and Jerry Brent had hammered out a list of house rules that were acceptable to Child Protective Services. John was delighted that he would have no end of volunteer help. Randy and Joe had contacted the Gay/Straight Alliance at their old high school and were already planning joint activities, such as dances in the ballroom, bike rides, hikes and basket ball and soft ball games. Ed volunteered to teach martial arts. And, the list went on.

Bart held a conference with his Capitan and the Chief of Police. Neither man was concerned that he was gay, but they reasoned that his status as a detective required long and irregular work hours with a high degree of concentration. Furthermore, his duties at Hill House would require the same effort. Therefore, they asked him to choose the vocation in which he wanted to concentrate his energies. Bart agreed with their logic and made his choice.

He, John and the boys moved into Hill House the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. Confusion reigned supreme but everyone thoroughly enjoyed themselves.

At noon on Thanksgiving Day, a ribbon cutting ceremony was held to officially open Hill House. The chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Matson Trust made a small speech as did Jerry Brent. Then, Bart and John cut the ribbon to the sound of wild cheers and applause.

Bart and John led the assembled group into the dining room to celebrate with a traditional Thanksgiving feast.  When everyone was seated, Brandon stood and made a speech.

"This is a propitious day. It is Thanksgiving Day. And, my fellows from the compound and I have much to be thankful for. The Matson Trust has provided us with this beautiful home and with Bart Killian and John Wilson to preside over it. In addition, Bart and John rescued us from the compound, and to honor them as our rescuers and our surrogate fathers, my partner, Ed Tekai, and I would like to present to Hill House a token of our appreciation."

He stepped back and removed the cloth covering the portrait of Bart and John. It had been beautifully framed and hung in a place of honor behind the head table. A brass plaque on the bottom of the frame identified Bart and John as the first administrators of Hill House.

Several weeks later, Randy and Joe were seated in the office with Bart and John. As usual, the building was a beehive of activity and the noise floated through the open door. It was late afternoon and the quartet had been trying to finalize some plans for a dance the following Friday, but had been met with constant interruptions from the boys.

Randy threw down his pencil and asked, "Is it always like this?"

Bart and John laughed. "Twenty-four hours a day," John admitted.

Joe wondered, "How do you get any privacy ... uh, you know ... to ..."

John pointed to a framed copy of the house rules. "Every boy has his own room. When he wants privacy, he places a sock on the doorknob outside his door. It's in the house rules." And, with a wicked grin, he added, "And the rules apply to us as well."

Randy was incredulous. "You mean when you two want to make whoopee you put a sock on your doorknob?"

Bart quipped, "Yep, works like a charm."

They broke up laughing.
The End

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