Tim and the Guys


Chapter 6

The following fictional narrative involves sexually-explicit erotic events between men.  If you shouldn't be reading this, please move on.

In the world of this story, the characters don't always use condoms.  In the real world, you should care enough about yourself and others to always practice safe sex.

The author retains all rights.  No reproductions or links to other sites are allowed without the author's consent.  

Thanks to Tom for doing the editing chores, and to my Nifty Six colleagues.

My good friend and "Nifty Six" colleague Ash Bradley has a sweet series in the College and Relationships sections, "How Will I Go On?"  Check it out!


David was so sweet!  After he moved to California, I thought he'd probably just cross me off as a bad experience, but he didn't.  He called at least once a week and emailed me, even if it was only a line or two, almost every day.  I told him about Ced's accident, of course, and he always wanted to know the latest about Ced's condition.  Tim told me he had gotten a note from David saying how sorry he was to hear about Ced's amnesia and expressing the confidence that he would get his memory back sooner rather than later.  All of that made me feel terribly guilty, of course, though I know that was never David's intention.  He was a gorgeous, sexy, dear man.  I was really happy with him.  But he saw what I'd not been able to admit to myself, and that was how fixated I had always been on Tim.  And he didn't hold it against me.  It was more resignation on his part than anything else, I think, when he told me our relationship never had a chance.  He continued to be my friend, as much as he could be a continent away.

*          *          *


My friends nearly drove me crazy for a while that summer.  They meant well, and I loved them for it, but they wouldn't let me alone.  Chaz and Trey, Rick, and Max must have made a pact to see that I didn't have any time to brood over Ced's condition when all I wanted to do was brood over Ced's condition.  

Another thing:  I was becoming increasingly angry over the inability of the police to find the guy who had run into Cedric and kept going.  At first they had seemed confident they'd catch the bastard, but as time passed, they seemed less sure of that.  

Part of me knew very well that there was no point in lying around missing my lover, furious at the runaway driver, and, most of all, scared for Cedric.  It was, obviously, counterproductive.  But I didn't give a damn about productivity.  "Fuck the paper!  It can wait," I said to myself each time my conscience urged me to go to the library or get back to my reading.  

I did have several long talks with my cousin Susan, who cried along with me and held my hand over the phone.  She said she could just imagine how she'd feel if anything like that happened to Frankie.  Then Frankie would get on the phone and let me pour out my worries and fears all over again, and she'd make soothing noises.  One day I said to her, "Just imagine, a queer being mothered by a pair of dykes."  She thought that was so funny she had to call Suze, who got on the extension, and we all laughed together for a while.  

I had also told them about my mother's last words to me after the funeral.  Frankie was sympathetic and Suze was just plain angry.  "Jesus, Tim!  What is it with our family?  How come you are such a sweet guy and our parents are such bigots?  Woops, sorry babe.  I know you just lost your dad, but . . . "

"But he was a bigot, Suze.  He didn't want anything to do with me, and once the funeral was over, Mother didn't either."

"Tell me about it.  My folks seem to be more worried about their standing in the community than anything else.  They couldn't hold their heads up in Ashville or back in Marietta if their friends knew their daughter was a lesbian living with another lesbian."

So, Suze and Frankie were a lot of comfort.  Perhaps because we were talking on the phone, I felt I could open up to them in a way I couldn't with the guys there in town.  I didn't know Rick well enough.  I suspected Trey knew exactly what I was going through,  but somehow the compassionate look in his eyes made me want to run away rather than talk with him.  Chaz was good-hearted, but not someone I'd select as a confidant.  And so it went.  I loved them all, but I was unable to talk with them about what I was feeling.  And the person I would have wanted to talk with about my problems was a large part of the cause.  I couldn't talk with him because he barely knew me.  Didn't know me as a lover -- just as some prof whose class he had once enjoyed.

Oh, and it didn't help things when Chaz let slip one day that he and Trey had been allowed to go and see Cedric.

*          *          *


It wasn't the best summer Tiger and I ever had.  Mark and Lori were gone.  Trey missed Geoff Benton.  Our buddy Kent Statten had gone home and would be going to Duke Law in the fall.  Max seemed lost and kind of forlorn without David.  And Tim -- well, the little prof was a mess.  Tim was always so much in control.  I don't mean the guy was cold.  I never thought that Iceman thing was appropriate.  It's just that he usually seemed so level headed, so mature.  Now, though, he didn't seem to care about his appearance.  He didn't get his hair cut, so it was down below his collar in the back and over his ears on the sides.  It flopped down almost to his eyes in front.  And I saw him with a three-day growth of beard pretty often.  Only when Trey or Max would say something about it would he shave.  And around the house he usually wore a white tee or a wife beater and shorts.  

When we were able to get in to see him, the house was a mess.  There were wine or whisky bottles in the living room and stacks of unopened mail, magazines, and advertising circulars all over the place.  Trey asked him one day if he was being sure all the bills were paid.  All Tim said was, "Yeah, I think so."

I know Trey worried about him.  I did, too.  And, of course, we were both worried about Max, who, like I said, must have been really missing David.  On top of that was the biggest worry of all.  What was going on with Ced's memory and would he ever get it back?

One day we got a call from Ced's mom.  She told us Ced had been pretty unhappy that Tiger and I hadn't been to see him.  The therapist had suggested to Angel that maybe it was time for us to be allowed to visit him.  She said she'd explained to Ced that we had offered over and over again to come and see him, but that the doc had told us not to.  Since Ced didn't seem to be making much progress, though, she thought it couldn't hurt for the three of us to get together.  All she said was to answer his questions honestly, but to try not to upset him.  Oh, and she said it would be better to limit our visit to a half an hour the first time, but that maybe it would be okay to come and see him once or twice a week after that.

Ced was living at home in his apartment over the garage and working for his dad.  

Trey and I drove to Shaker on a Saturday morning.  When Trey parked the Lexus near the steps up to Ced's apartment, we got out.  I hugged him and gave him a quick kiss.
"Chaz," he said, "this is going to be hard.  Keep in mind, big guy, that he doesn't remember anything about his life with Tim.  We're supposed to just answer any questions he wants to ask, answer them honestly, but we aren't to put any pressure on him.  Okay?"

"Sure, Tiger, I got that."  We kissed again quickly and went up the stairs.  

Cedric opened the door and was waiting for us by the time we got to the top.  He gave us that big smile of his and said, "Hey, guys, I've missed you!"

He looked great.  No bandages, no casts.  We were told his head was shaved when he was in the hospital, but his hair had grown back in.  I think he'd lost a little weight, and I could tell from the way his tee fit him he hadn't been working out.  But he looked good.  And he was a sight for sore eyes.  We hadn't seen him for a long time.

He and Trey hugged and then held on to each other awhile.  "Ced, it's been too long.  We've missed you, too!"

Leave it to me.  I hugged Ced too hard, and he winced.  "Oh, sorry, Ced!  I forgot you might be a little tender."

I was still holding on to him when he said, "Yeah, Chaz, most of the pain's gone, but that collar bone is still a bit sensitive."

"Well, I'm sorry, but it's just so good to see you again."  Then I gave him a quick kiss.

He pulled back.  "Whoa, Chaz.  What's with you?  Kissing a guy?  I mean, come on, I'd really like another."  And he pulled me close and gave me a much hotter kiss than I'd given him.

He grinned.  "What's with the new Chaz?  Kissing queers?  I don't know what's gotten into you, bro, but I LIKE it!"

Trey and I looked at each other.  We had realized that Ced didn't remember his relationship with Tim, but it hadn't occurred to us that he didn't know about us becoming partner and coming out to our friends.

"Hey, guys, sit down."  He sort of waved toward the seats in his living room.  "Would you like some lemonade?  Angel made some up and brought it over.  She says we are supposed to check in with her before you guys go home, by the way."

Trey and I both took lemonade.  

When we were all sitting, it was kind of awkward, like where do we go from here?  What happens next?

Tiger stepped up, as he often does.  "Ced, honestly, how do you feel?"

"I'm physically almost completely recovered, Trey.  My head's another matter.  I don't seem to be making much progress.  My therapist, Dr. Conkley, is great.  I really like her, and everybody says she's the best.  You know right after I woke up, I thought it was strange none of you guys came to see me.  Then mother explained that Mark was in Germany.  When they caught up with him and told him about what happened, he offered to come home, but by then I was out of the woods physically, and they told him not to bother.  He emails just about every day, and he called the other afternoon."

He took a sip of lemonade.  "I figured you guys had graduated and gone home to Richmond and Cincinnati, but I confess I really thought you'd come back to see me when you heard about the accident.  Then I heard that you were both still at school.  I want to know why, by the way.  And then I really didn't understand why you were staying away."

He grinned.  "Finally, I made myself such a pain in the ass that Dr. Conkley gave in and said she had asked my friends to stay away.  She was hoping I'd be able to get my memory back through our sessions, and she didn't want anybody either pressuring me or prompting me, as she put it."

Trey said, "You've got to believe we wanted to be here.  We've been champing at the bit to see you.  But they told us it would be better for you if we waited.  So we waited."

"Yeah, dude," I said, "but it's been real hard."

"So what are you two doing still at the university?"

We explained that we had both changed majors, and that switching in our senior year set us back.  So we wouldn't be graduating until the end of the fall semester at the earliest, and maybe not then.

"I can't believe it.  Tiger, you switched from business to English?  Good choice, man.  I love my English major.  But why did you switch?"

I wondered how Trey would answer that.

"Well, Ced, I took a bunch of English courses last year and liked them so much I decided what I really wanted to do with my life was be a college professor."

"What did Uncle Jack have to say about that?"

"He was pissed, what else?  He said I was irresponsible."

"And what did you tell him?"

Trey grinned.  "I just told him he and Robby could run the family enterprises.  I didn't think I was cut out for that sort of thing."

"Good man!  You gotta do what's best for you, brother."  Then he turned to me, and I noticed he winced a little as he did, he said, "And you, Chaz.  You're taking a degree in recreation?  You planning on spending your life playing games, man?"

"No way!  You know I've worked in the Cincinnati parks system for the last several summers.  Well, last summer, I really got involved with the program and with the kids I was counseling.  I decided that I'd like to stay with that kind of work.  I'm gonna go on and get a master's.  I'll probably wind up in administration eventually, but I really don't ever want to lose contact with the kids."

"My oh my, as Angel says.  You two make me so proud!"  Then his face fell.  "And this just shows me how much I've missed in the last year."

I think Trey and I were so conscious of trying not to volunteer information that we didn't know what to say next.  So we all talked about the Indian's current piss-poor season.  

Then Ced asked about Stan Mason.  We took turns telling him about Stan's move to Florida, him finding Doug, all the problems they had with the bishop.  Without mentioning the names of Tim and people Ced didn't remember, like Philip, Steve, and Max, we told him that some of us had gone to Florida to help Doug and Stan demonstrate in front of the Cathedral in Waltersburg.

After that, Trey, looking at his watch, said, "You know, I hate to go, but Angel told us in no uncertain terms we were to keep this visit short.  It's already been half an hour, so I think we'd better be on our way."

He grinned.  "Well, you know she wants to see you and give you each one of her special hugs, don't you?"

We admitted we did, so we all went over to the main house, where we visited with Angel and Jake.  She made us eat some wonderful cinnamon rolls she'd just taken out of the oven.  Knowing us, she served glasses of milk with them.  I noticed she kept the conversation light, mostly chit chat.  Tim and Max were never mentioned.  

All of them were about to come out to the car with us when it was time to leave, but I saw Cedric make a gesture to his mom as if he wanted her and Jake to stay in the house.
When we got to the car, he hugged me and then Trey.  

"Okay, dudes.  I may have a memory problem, but I'm not stupid.  I saw you two kissing each other before you came up to my place.  Greeley, I never thought I'd live to see you kiss another dude, not even Trey, and I think I know how much you like him.  And then you kissed me.  What the fuck has happened?  What did I miss?  After all the women you studs have had, you're into kissing men?  Did the Bi Fairy wave his wand over you or what?"

I chuckled, but I waited for the smart one to answer the question.

"Well, that's sort of what happened, Ced.  We'll explain the next time we see you.  But you won't believe who the `Bi Fairy' as you called him is."

"You aren't getting away from here without telling me."

"Would you believe Tim Mead?"

"Jeez, you guys.  Everybody's been tiptoeing around the subject of Dr. Mead ever since I came out of my coma.  He was even there that day.  But now no one will tell me why he just happened to be there.  Come on, dudes, you gotta tell me."

Trey hugged Ced again.  "Bro, we promise to tell you everything next time.  We've been told to answer any of your questions."

"Shit.  I'm so sick of that damned doctor deciding who I can see and who I can't, what I can be told and what I can't."

"Hey, man," I said.  "Be cool.  You said you liked her and you trust her.  You just gotta keep on trusting her for a while."

"Yeah, I suppose so, but I'm about to freak out, you know.  It's terrible to have lost a whole year, especially when it is beginning to look as if it was a really strange year."

I chuckled.  "Yeah, dude.  You could say it was a strange year."  I put an arm around Ced's shoulders and the other around Trey's.  I pulled them so they faced each other, and we had a sort of a three-way hug.

"Look, Ced," Trey suggested, "Chaz and I usually work out on Tuesday afternoons since we don't have classes then.  Maybe this Tuesday we could come back and answer more of your questions instead."

We got another one of Ced's great smiles.  "I am going to have a real hard time waiting until Tuesday, but thanks, guys, for coming.  I'm soo glad to see you.  And I think it's soo sweet that you two are partners.  I mean, you didn't say that, but it's pretty obvious."

"Yeah," I said, "we're partners, and you wouldn't believe what a hot fuck this guy is."

Trey blushed more than I'd ever seen him.  He almost had one of those full-body blushes that Tim gets.  "Chaz!" he exploded.

Cedric was almost breaking up laughing.  "Oh, man!  I never thought I'd hear that from your mouth, Chaz Greeley, never in a million years."  He took a deep breath. "So, okay.  You guys take care.  I hope they'll let you stay longer Tuesday.  Wanna stay for supper?  I'm sure Angel would be pleased."

"That would be a real treat, Ced, if your mom doesn't mind."

"You just assume you'll be here for supper.  If she has other plans, I'll fix the three of us something in my place."

"Sounds like a plan," I said.

We had another three-way hug, and we left.

*          *          *


I called Tim from the church.


"Hey, Mead.  It's your spiritual advisor."

"Oh, shit!  You again?  When did I ever say I needed a spiritual advisor?  Go sell your claptrap and witchcraft to someone who believes in it!"

"How are you, Tim?"

"Oh, about the same, Max, thanks.  How are you?"

"I'm okay, too."

"Max . . . "

"Yeah, Tim?"

"Look, uh, I need to thank you and apologize to you."

"You do?"

"Yeah.  I've been so self-absorbed these days I've forgotten how much you are hurting over the departure of David.  I've been rude to you.  I've neglected you.  I've let you take care of me when you needed care as much as I have.  I'm sorry, Maxie.  Forgive me?"

I chuckled.  "Only if you'll come for dinner tonight."

He laughed, and that was the best thing I'd heard from his mouth in weeks.  "That sounds suspiciously like blackmail.  What makes you think I don't have a handful of dinner invitations for this evening?"

"Yeah, I know how charming and gracious you've been lately, so I'll just bet the governor and the president of the university are vying for your attendance at their dinner parties."

"Right.  So when do you want me?"

"I've got some New York strips.  I thought I'd do them outdoors.  I've got potatoes we can bake in the microwave.  A salad should complete the repast.  Doesn't sound very gourmet.  Is it enough to tempt you?"

He chuckled again.  "Any port in a storm, Max.  So, as I said, when?"

"I'll be home at 5:00  Give me time to change clothes.  We'll open a bottle of red, and you can help me get the damned charcoal to the right point for grilling the steaks."

"Sounds better than nuking a Stouffer's."

"Okay, Timmy.  See you later."

I thought what a shame it was that Tim, who really was an excellent cook and who had loved cooking side by side with Cedric, was now eating frozen dinners.

He got there about 5:30.  I opened a bottle of some California merlot, poured us each a hefty glass, and we began working on supper.  I fussed around getting the charcoal started on the patio.  When I got back to the kitchen, Tim had scrubbed and pricked two big potatoes.  He rubbed them with oil, and then put them in the microwave for a few minutes.  Then he put them into the oven.  I reached into the pantry and got a jar of salsa.  I poured the salsa into a small bowl and put corn chips in a large bowl.

"Come on, professor.  Let's go sit and munch while the coals cure, or whatever it is they do."

"Yes, father."

We sat in the living room with our merlot and munchies.  I noticed that we were dressed almost identically.  He had on a university tee with his khaki shorts and Birkenstocks without socks.  I was dressed the same except that I was wearing a plain white tee.  Again, Tim hadn't shaved for several days.  Although his beautiful hair was auburn, his beard was just plain red.

Lifting my glass, I said, "Good to have you here, old buddy."

He lifted his, sighed, and said, "Maxie, thanks for having me."

"Tim, I try not to give you advice when you don't ask, you know."

"Yeah, Max.  That's one of the many things I've always loved about you.  So, go ahead, advise me."

"Well, babe, if you're going to go for two or three days without shaving, why not just grow the damned beard?"

"Ya think?"

"Yeah, I think it's sexy.  I can't see you in a long beard.  You can do that when you get old.  But a full beard kept carefully trimmed would look great.  I think your current stubble is pretty sexy, in fact."

He groaned, and I tensed up.  What had I said?

"Max, it's been a while since anyone said I was sexy.  I miss him so much!"

I got up and sat next to him, taking him in my arms.  "Yeah, baby, I know you do."  He rested his head on my shoulder.  It felt so good.  I was coming to think David had been right and that I'd never been willing to admit to myself that my feelings for Tim were more than just those of one old friend for another.  Holding him there seemed so right.  

Then I thought of his commitment to Cedric.  I pushed him away.  

"I'd better check those coals, I think."

"Relax, Max.  Those coals won't be ready yet."

He was right, of course, but I did at least go back to the chair I'd been sitting in and scoop up some salsa in a corn chip.

"So you think I should let the beard grow, huh?"

"Yeah, why not?  You'd look like Eric the Red!"

"I'm hardly of Viking proportions, Max," he said, chuckling.

"Well, maybe not, but I still think you should try it.  And I like the longer hair, too, though you may want to get it trimmed up.  I remember your wearing your hair long like that at Kenyon."

"Yeah, it was when I started hanging around with all the jocks here that I started wearing it shorter."

"On the other hand, you once told me you wore the glasses to make yourself look older."


"Well, Timmy, you and I, we're pushing the big three oh.  Maybe we should start trying to look younger.  We don't want to look middle aged before we have to."

He laughed.  It was wonderful seeing him laugh again.  He hadn't done much of that lately.  Then he turned thoughtful again.  "You know, Max, I think I had better not grow the beard just now."

"Why is that?"

"Eventually they are going to let me see Cedric, and when that happens, I want to look the way he might remember me.  As I understand cases like his, you can never tell what little thing might trigger the return of his memories.  I also understand they come back piecemeal more often than all at once."  He helped himself to a corn chip and some salsa.  "Where was I?"

"The beard."

"Oh, yeah.  So I think I'll not make any changes in my appearance just now."

"Then, babe, you'd better get a haircut before Ced sees you.  You haven't worn it this long since I've been back in town."

He picked up his glass, lifted it to me, and took a swallow of the merlot.  "Thanks, Max.  You're right.  I started wearing it shorter when Ced and I became lovers."  His voice broke on the last word.  I stood and made myself busy with the dinner preparations.

Somehow, we got everything on the table at the right time.  The steaks were medium, the potatoes done, the salad cold and crisp (right out of the bag).  It wasn't gourmet food, but it was edible, and about as good as the cuisine de Hewitt could manage on the spur of the moment.

We both decided we didn't want any of the cookies I offered, even if they were from Fein's.  We just had coffee in the living room.

I took a deep breath.  "Tim, I know this is a terrible time for you.  And I've got this fear that the guys and I have been a little heavy-handed in our attempts to keep you diverted."

He smiled at me.  "Well, Max, don't tell the others, but you're right on both counts.  I'm scared to death Ced will never remember what we had.  And, though I love you all, I've been kept so busy by you, Trey, Chaz, and even Rick, that I hardly know whether I'm coming or going.  Some days I really do want to be left alone."

"Okay, I understand.  I had a few days like that myself after David left and you had sent the guys to keep me diverted."

"Oh, you knew I was responsible for that?"

"Of course, babe."

"Well, like you, I had the best of intentions."

"So, Tim, tell me how you really feel.  Come on, spill it.  If you can't tell me, who can you tell?"

He set his coffee mug on a coaster on the side table.  "Oh, God, Max.  You don't want to know.  I don't want to sit here and bitch to you about how I feel.  You have your own problems, and I haven't been of any use to you at all.  I don't want to make this all about me.  Why don't you tell me how you're doing?"

I figured that a little breast baring on my part might stimulate him to unload later, so I said, "It's been tough, Tim.  I miss David.  He's a sweet, gorgeous, sexy, delightful man."

"So are you, Max.  I still don't understand why you aren't together."

"He wanted me to come to California, and I wouldn't."

"Come on, Max, don't shit me.  There's more to it than that."

"Yeah, well, maybe so.  I felt that my vocation was to be here.  I have a commitment here.  I couldn't just pull up stakes so soon and try to find a parish in the San Francisco area that would have me.  And he wasn't willing to stay here."

"That's what I don't understand.  David's bright and personable.  He could do well anywhere.  Why insist on taking this transfer?"

"Well, I think I understand that."

"Explain it to me."

Woops!  I couldn't very well tell Tim what David had said.  "Let's just say that he told me I wasn't quite what he thought he was getting when he took me on, though he put it more tactfully than that."  Not quite the truth, but as close as I could come at that moment.

"Now, Tim, I've come to terms with losing David.  He calls often and emails me every day.  We're still good friends.  Besides that, he's worried about Cedric and about you.  So why don't we talk about you?  Wouldn't it help to just spill it to your old buddy?"

"Somehow, Maxie, even though you aren't wearing your collar, you are."

"Aw, come on, Tim.  I'm not speaking as a priest.  It's just me, Max.  If you can't unload on me, who would you choose to dump on?"

"You don't really want to hear all this."

I took his hand.  "Believe me, Timmy, I do."  And I did.  Not to be nosy, but just because I knew he was suffering and didn't have anyone else to talk to.  It occurred to me that perhaps the special bond he had with Trey would enable him to talk more comfortably with him.  Then I realized that Trey was younger, and that Tim and I had known each other much longer.  No.  He needed to tell me, and I think deep down he knew it.

"Talk to me, babe."

I was still holding his hand.  He shuddered.  

"Yeah, Max, you will understand.  I've always busted my butt to make something of myself.  I always knew my dad wanted a more masculine son.  He wanted a tall, macho kind of son who'd major in something respectable, make a success of himself in the little community where I grew up, and maybe play golf with him when I wasn't home mowing my lawn and playing with my kids.  I think he knew from the time I was thirteen that I wasn't going to be any of that.  But they tried to pretend they were proud of my running in high school and my good grades."

He looked away for a moment and took a deep breath.

"The same at Kenyon.  They came to campus for some of our meets, as you know.  They seemed proud of my GPA and my success as a runner.  But I always knew I wasn't what they wanted.  I'll bet your parents never made you feel like a disappointment to them because you were short, did they?"

"No, they didn't, babe."

"Well, call me paranoid, but I think mine always did.  I look like my mother's side of the family, I majored in English, and I didn't like the things they liked.  Cocktail parties, the country club, the church, and golf.  Maybe I should have tried harder to like all that shit, but I just couldn't."

I was beginning to see that, though I had intuited much of this, I hadn't realized how important it was to him.  I had expected Tim to be talking about Cedric, not his parents.

"So, Max, when I went home and came out to them and they reacted as they did, I drove home, that is back to campus, through that terrible rain storm, because I knew I had Cedric here waiting for me.  He was my home.  He was my anchor.  I could take their rejection because I had him."

"Yes, Tim.  Cedric is a blessing in your life.  You are lucky to have him."

He sobbed.  "But, Max, I don't have him.  He's rejected me too."

"Cut it out, Tim!  He hasn't rejected you.  He just can't remember you yet."

He looked me straight in the eye.  "Come on, Max.  Isn't it obvious that deep down he doesn't want me?  Something in his subconscious is telling him that he'll be better off if he never remembers the year we had together.  Physically he is almost completely recovered, Angel tells me.  So without realizing it on the surface, he's found a way to ditch me."

"I don't really think it's like that."

Tears were streaming down his face.  "Max, you were there, you heard what my mother said to me as we were leaving after the funeral.  By the way, I'll always be grateful to you for what you said to her.  But my parents both rejected me the night I came out to them.  My mother did it again the day of Dad's funeral.  And now Cedric has rejected me, too."

I sat next to him and took him in my arms.  

He continued, talking into my chest.  "You know I can't share your belief in a deity.  I don't have any anchor, any reason to go on.  My scholarly career, my career as a teacher just don't seem worth the trouble.  I was terrible to Amy, I dumped her for Cedric, and now I have nobody.  I'm pretty worthless, don't you think?"

"Mead, that's the most shameless pitch for sympathy I've ever heard."

"Sorry.  I think I'd better go home.  Thanks for dinner.  You're sweet to put up with me to listen to my maunderings."

He started to stand, but I grabbed him and pulled him back down.  

"Now you just wait a minute!.  If you want me to tell you how brilliant you are, I'll tell you.  National Honor Society, Phi Beta Kappa, published scholar with a national reputation at 27, popular teacher, center of a group of guys who look to you as their core, their center, and the partner of a guy who absolutely adored you until he met with an unfortunate accident."

I squeezed him to me.  "There, now I've said it.  Don't give me any more of that shit about how worthless you are."

"Max, I know you are trying to make me feel better, and I love you for it, babe, really I do.  But none of that stuff seems important right now.  I had a guy who loved me beyond reason, or so I thought.  And what do I have now?"

"You've got me, Tim.  I love you!"  I kissed him.  Not the peck on the lips we'd begun exchanging in the last few months.  Rather, a full, open mouth, hot, wet, penetrating, passionate kiss.  And, mirabile dictu, he reciprocated, fully as much a participant as I was.

And then, simultaneously, we both realized what we were doing.  He jumped up.  

"Tim, I'm sorry.  I should never have done that.  It was a momentary lapse, I'll never -- "

"No, that's okay, Max.  I understand.  You were missing David and we're old friends.  I shouldn't have gone along.   Thanks for dinner."

He rushed out, leaving me there cursing myself.

To be continued.