Let The World Go By
This is a story that involves sex between males. If such a story is offensive, or illegal for you to read where you live, then do not continue, go and surf elsewhere.
This is a work of fiction and in no way draws on the lives of any specific person or persons. If there is any similarity to any real persons or events it is entirely coincidental.
The work is copyrighted © by the author and may not be reproduced in any form without the specific written permission of the author. It is assigned to the Nifty Archives under the terms of their submission agreement but it may not be copied or archived on any other site without the written permission of the author.
For those of you who are interested in reading my other works that are on Nifty here is a list:
1 "The Case of the Fallen Idol" in Gay Male/Beginnings/fallen-idol June 28 2004
2 "Rusty" in Gay Male/Historical/rusty April 14 2004
3 "A Trail West" in Gay Male/Historical/a-trail-west May 4 2004
I really do apologize for my slowness in getting this chapter uploaded. I hate it that I have been so slow, but as you read it perhaps you will understand. Once again I want to thank all of you who have sent me comments about the story.
Fire In Winter
James continued to struggle with himself through the years that followed. He alternated between justifying his behavior based on the fact the she didn't really care for him, didn't really love him or understand his needs, and hating himself because he couldn't be what she wanted or needed him to be.
Elaine really didn't know why she didn't love him the way she thought that she would. He was good to her, he worked hard, he played with the children, was always around whenever she needed him to do something for her. But something about him told her that he was somehow distant from her. She couldn't put her finger on it. Most of the time she didn't think about it. Between raising the children, (she thought of herself as the only one who was doing that, not doing it with him), and working part time, she rarely had time to dwell on it. She was glad that James was so dependable, and that he was so careful about seeing to it that they didn't have sex at the wrong time.
All through the early part of 1966, James and Elaine planned their vacation. It was to be their first trip overseas. The year before, they planned a trip with a tour group from his work, but Elaine had gotten ill and they had to cancel it.
But now, everything was all set. Elaine's parents were going to stay at their house with the children, so that they could still go to school easily with no disruption in their schedules.
The airline tickets had been purchased and arrangements made for their first night's lodging in Lisbon. Late on Saturday afternoon they were to leave for New York, and then on to Europe in the evening.
Even the children were excited as they rode to the airport in Lorri's car. They were chattering and laughing with Lorri and Roy's children, all six of them sitting in the back seat.
James and Elaine rode in her parent's car. It was cold and windy, even for March. They would be gone for three weeks, returning the week after Easter.
The goodbyes were said, and they boarded the giant 747 bound for New York. Elaine found herself more excited than she cared to admit. She knew that James was giving up things he would rather have done with the money they were spending on the trip, but he wanted to make her happy, and that's all that counted. She hugged his arm tightly as they took off. He turned to her and smiled.
James was excited too. But he also knew that if she thought that he was going to have a good time and enjoy it, that she would have found some excuse for not going. Such were the games that they played. He knew her better than she knew herself, he understood her moods, and he had learned how to deal with them.
In New York they had just time to get from the North West Terminal to the International Terminal to catch the 707 flight to Lisbon. She had worried that they wouldn't have time to make the change, but he had assured her that there would be time. She had wanted to take an earlier flight, so that they would be certain, but James had talked her out of the four-hour wait in New York, actually she let him talk her out it, because she didn't want to sit there for four hours either. But she needed have someone to blame in case they didn't make connections.
Once safely on board and waiting for the plane to take off, she looked at him and smiled.
"I love you," she said. "I'm so excited."
"I love you too," he answered. "I'm glad we going, really I am." He could see that it didn't really matter to her, whether he was glad or not, and he thought, You bitch, I'm going to have a good time, even if you don't! And he smiled back at her.
The pilot released the brakes on the 707 and the already fully powered engines pushed the silver plane down the runway, and as the wing tips pulled themselves into flying position and gained enough speed it rose suddenly from the earth as if torn loose from the runway by some giant hand and thrust into the black sky.
Dinner was served, and gladly eaten by almost everyone. It was nearly nine o'clock by the time it was served, and most everyone had skipped dinner in New York, as had Elaine and James. The food was good, if small in portions. The wine was a Portuguese Rosé. They were offered seconds on the wine, and both accepted the wine. James drank his; Elaine stuffed hers into her purse.
Blankets and pillows were passed around as the passengers settled in for the long flight across the Atlantic. Though the flying time was less than six hours, it would be morning when they arrived. Everyone wanted to get as much sleep as possible in order to enjoy their first day.
Elaine had no problem getting to sleep, but James couldn't seem to get comfortable in the cramped conditions. He finally did get nearly three hours total, but he knew it would be quite enough for him. He was one of those people who felt that sleep, although necessary in moderation, was a waste of time.
James was sitting next to the tiny window. All through the night he was amazed to look out and see stars that appeared lower in the sky than they were. He realized that it was just the illusion created by the height of the plane above the water. At last the sun burst out of the water like a giant flaming orb, the stars vanished in its light, and the new day was born.
For another half hour the plane pushed eastward across the water, before faintly at first, the land rose to greet them. Even before they could see the coastline, the plane had begun its descent.
Hardly before they knew it, they were on the ground, dragging sleepily down the ramp into the lounge. Immigration procedures were commonplace to European travelers, it was only the Americans who found it strange to have their luggage searched each time they landed at an airport.
After a cursory glance through them, the customs man stamped their tickets and passports. Like most passengers, Elaine and James rode the bus into Lisbon. They were let off in front of their hotel. James set the suitcases down in the lobby and walked to the desk, while Elaine took a seat near the entrance. He placed the verification of reservation receipt in front of the clerk and asked if they could check into their room now.
The clerk looked at the slip of paper and then at his list of reservations.
"I'm sorry, Señor, but I have no reservation for you," and as James was about to say something continued, "But there will be no problem. I am certain that we will have something by siesta.
"In any case, the rooms are not ready until ten o'clock. You may leave you luggage here and when you return you may check in. Oh yes, the dining-room is ready to open should you like breakfast."
"Thank you," James said, and he frowned momentarily as he returned to where Elaine was sitting. If he told her they didn't have reservations, she had have a royal fit; if he didn't tell her and there wasn't a room when it came time to check-in, there would be even more fun!
He chose breakfast as the meal he wanted ruined by the fuss she would make, and explained the difficulty. She was, of course, as he had thought outraged by the inefficiency of the travel service, or the hotel, or whoever was at fault, but since she had chosen both, she couldn't blame him.
James reassured her that the clerk had intimated that they were not fully booked, so they would indeed have a room when they wanted to check in later.
They went to the dining room and ordered coffee and pastry. When the order arrived, Elaine found something more to complain about, but her Portuguese was not good enough to make herself understood by the waiter, and so she dropped it. James found everything very tasty, and was delighted with the coffee that was very strong.
After breakfast they went back to the lobby. James once again told the clerk that they would be back later, and was once again reassured that there would be no problem about the room.
Once outside, Elaine pointed out on the map where they were, and where they wanted to go. It was not too far, so she agreed to walk. If she got tired they would take a taxi back.
The weather, although cool, was perfect for a walking tour of the city. They struck off toward their destination. The museum was open by the time they arrived and they walked slowly through it, looking at everything.
Attached to the building was a tower built to honor the famous Vasco de Gama, Explorer of the New World, as he was called. They went inside and looked around before beginning the climb to the top. Along the way up there were little portholes through which they could peer out over the buildings below as they climbed higher. It was a long climb, and the stairway circled the building many time before they reached the lookout at the top. Elaine didn't complain about the climb since she was the one who suggested that they make it.
The view from the lookout gave them a delightful vantage point from which to look across the city and the harbor nearby. There were few buildings taller than the tower, and they had an unobstructed view of the city beginning to come to life. In the bright sunlight people were hurrying to their jobs, walking, on bicycles, a few in cars. Taxis were far more common than private cars.
They walked on continuing their tour. By lunchtime they were indeed beginning to tire. Even James was glad to take the taxi back to the hotel. As they had been assured, a room was ready for them when they got there. It was small, but it had a bathroom and all that they needed for the one night that they would be there.
Lunch was eaten at a small restaurant they had seen on their way out earlier in the morning, not far away. Elaine had looked at the menu and decided that she would try the fish. When the order was brought to the table, she thought that it was too much food for lunch, until James pointed out that they probably wouldn't eat again until nearly ten o'clock. Such was the custom in both Portugal and Spain, and they would be on that schedule for nearly the entire three weeks of their vacation. After lunch they returned to their hotel for a nap, Elaine because she always napped in the afternoon, and James because he had slept badly on the plane.
The next morning with their suitcases packed and ready to travel, they left the hotel early heading for the train station in a taxi to catch the eight-fifteen train bound for Madrid. They got off just across the boarder at Badajoz. While waiting for their southbound train, they had a snack of hard-bread and cheese and olives, with a small bottle of white wine which they shared. From there they climbed around the train bound for Seville, their first stop in Spain.
It was Sunday and the city was quiet and sleepy looking. The taxi ride from the train station to the hotel was uneventful. After checking they decided to stroll about the area.
A large poster on the side of one of the buildings told them why the city was so quiet. The sign read "El Primero - En La Playa Del Torro - El Michael Y Otros Matedoros Bravos", the bullfight, the first of the new season.
James was disappointed; he had wanted to see a bullfight, just to be able to say that he had seen one. Elaine, on the other hand as usual, was glad that they had missed it. Such violence was not what she had come to Spain to see! James felt the same way , but then that wasn't why he really wanted to see one, especially after he saw the poster with El Michael's picture.
It was a warm afternoon, but being a Sunday all the stores were closed, although there were certain shops that were kept open for the tourists. They browsed the windows of the stores and shops, and where the occasional shop was open, they went inside to examine some of the items which they had intended to buy somewhere during the trip. But mostly they were just looking.
That evening they ate dinner in the hotel dining room. The food was simple, but artfully prepared, and as they were to find throughout Spain, it was delicious. And with the Sangria prepared by the waiter at their table, it was complete.
Elaine had gone to the rest room when the waiter returned with the check. James paid the bill and tried to tip the waiter. He refused the money smiling.
"En España," he said, "No necessario to tip."
"Si! Enteñdo!" James said, using up most of his Spanish language knowledge. The waiter smiled and winked.
Oh really, James thought How nice!
"¿A que hora?" James asked.
"En una hora, en la playa," the waiter bowed as he saw Elaine returning.
"Sí!" James smiled.
"What was that all about?" she asked as she sat down.
"I was just asking him what time they opened for breakfast." James said.
"Oh, I could have told you that, it was one the menu," she said.
"Oh, really?" James returned. Of course it was, he had noticed it too.
"Are you finished with your coffee?" she asked, "I'm really very tired."
"Yes," he said, "We can go now." They went up to their room. Elaine undressed and climbed into bed.
"I'm going out for some fresh air," James said putting on a sweater.
"Don't be too late," she mumbled as she rolled over. "Just leave the light on in the bath, so you won't wake me when you come in."
"Good night," he said and he turned off the lights, except for in the bath, and closed the door softly was he left.
He walked down the stairs and to the dining room. The waiter saw him and nodded. James went to the front door and down the steps to the street.
It was cool and he was glad he had worn his sweater. He strolled down the street to the small fountain at the first intersection. Many of the cities had such fountains at several places scattered across the various intersections of major street. They were called Playas, parks.
He crossed over to the fountain and sat down on the bench that ran around it. He took a cigarette and lighted it, and sat facing the hotel. Actually smoking was another reason he liked to go out for a walk in the evening. Elaine didn't like the smell of smoke in the house, especially in the evening when she was trying to sleep. James often went for walks in the evening for that reason, and to be alone also.
Promptly at eleven, the waited appear from behind the hotel, and walked down to where James was sitting.
"Good evening, Señor," he said smiling.
"Good evening," James returned. He wondered at the situation, and how it was going to be handled. He wondered at the fact that he had dared to do it at all.
"I am glad that you could come," the waiter said.
"So am I," James answered. He was impressed by his English and told him so.
"I take English in school," he said. "But at work, we're supposed to pretend not to know too much."
"I see," James said. "What is your name?"
"I am Esteban, Stephen, I believe you say."
"My name is James."
They shook hands. Stephen's grip was firm, but not overly so. James had stood up as he had seen him approach.
"So where shall we go?" James asked. He couldn't delay too long.
"I live not far," Stephen said, and motioned with his hand the direction. Stephen was not as tall as James, and had dark black wavy hair, slightly longer then James', which gave him a boyish look. He still wore his uniform of dark trousers and white shirt, and the jacket trimmed in gold.
They walked away from the hotel along the still brightly lighted street. Two block later, Stephen pointed to a doorway.
"I live here," he said. "But we must be quiet, as my brother is asleep upstairs."
"There won't be a problem?" James asked.
"No, Señor, no problem. Even if he should wake, he would be no problem. He might even enjoy watching." Stephen smiled.
"I hope not!" James said laughing.
They went up quietly and Stephen unlocked the door. In the light from the window, James could see the small room, and the layout. There were two beds, and a dresser on one side, a table on the other near a doorway that led to the kitchen, and another doorway that he supposed led to the bath.
On closing the door, Stephen reach up and pulled James' face down to his. They kissed deeply, bringing themselves to excitement. Stephen's hand groped him softly, increasing his arousal. James' hand slipped into Stephen trousers and he touched the fully hard organ concealed inside.
Quickly Stephen led him to the empty bed and undressed him, then slipped out of his own clothes tossing them aside on a chair nearby.
No conversation was necessary, and they partook of the pleasures for which they had come, savoring the delights of their manhoods before them.
James quickly dressed, as did Stephen, and then Stephen walked with him to be certain that he found his way back to the hotel.
"Will I see you tomorrow?" Stephen asked.
"We will be here until Tuesday morning," James said.
"Tomorrow night then?" Stephen asked.
"At the same time?"
"Yes," Stephen answered. They shook hands, lingering briefly, and then parted each returning to their beds, satisfied that tomorrow would bring further pleasures.
On Tuesday morning, they boarded the train once again, this time to Cordoba. One day there, and then it would be on to Malaga. The rain in Malaga prompted them to leave a day early and press on to Seville. They would save the extra day for Madrid. From Seville to Granada, then to Murcia, Valencia, Saragosa, and finally Madrid.
Their arrival in Madrid marked the end of their journey across Spain, nearly two weeks into their trip. Only once after Seville did James have occasion to meet someone. It was on the train between Granada and Murcia. It was brief and sensual, bringing more excitement than gratification, as it was not possible to do more that touch and kiss in the space between cars where they could stand out of sight only part of the time. Elaine seemed pleased that night with his ardor, even if she was not the cause.
Madrid was the highlight of their trip. Arriving on Wednesday of Holy Week, the city was in a festival mood. The hotel was in the heart of the city, although it was not convenient for the two most famous of Madrid's attractions, El Prado, the museum and gallery, and El Escorial, monastery and the memorial to the civil war dead. However, it suited their needs better.
They had lunch in the hotel that day, and as usual, Elaine took a nap during the siesta time in the afternoon. Her back was beginning to require more rest than usual because of all the walking. The rest helped the most. James used the time to scout the surround area for places of interest that were not in the guidebooks they were using.
He was on his way back, to the hotel and since he was early, decided to stop for a beer. He walked into what appeared to be a bar similar to those in the States. He stepped up to the bar and ordered a bar.
James spotted a young man sitting at the bar smoking a cigarette and sipping a beer. He was dark and had curly black hair, and was clean-shaven. James guessed his age to be twenty-two or so.
James sat down on the stool next to him, and began a conversation with a comment about the weather, which was beautiful.
"Sí, Señor," the man answered, "It is very nice."
"Are you from Madrid?" James asked.
"No, Señor, I am from Cueta en Morocco."
"You're a student then?"
"Not at present," the man answered lighting another cigarette and offering one to James. James took one and accepted a light as well.
"My name is James."
"I am Sarbo, Miguel Sarbo," Miguel said.
They talked briefly, and James realized that he must leave. "Will you be here tomorrow?" James asked.
"If you wish me to be," Miguel answered.
They shook hands and James left.
James hurried back to the hotel. He found that Elaine was still asleep, but it was time to awaken her.
They walked about the streets that afternoon. They encountered the church of San Francisco, one of the many old churches that were being readied for the Easter services coming up during the rest of the week.
The next morning the tour of the Prado was arranged. While he enjoyed seeing the paintings by the famous El Greco, and De Vesgas that hung there, his mind was elsewhere.
James could barely contain his anticipation of the afternoon meeting with Miguel. With Elaine safely resting in their room, he hurried to the bar where he had met him the day before.
When he arrived he found that Miguel was not there. He ordered a beer anyway, and was sipping it slowly when he saw Miguel enter. Today he was dressed in cream-colored slacks and white shirt. It gave him a very different appearance.
James ordered a beer for him, and they talked for a while. He was glad the Miguel had returned to meet him. When they finished their beers, Miguel suggested that they go for a walk.
As they walked, James noticed that he was slightly shorter than he, but his stride gave no indication. He was handsome and well built.
"Here is my home," Miguel said, "At least for now. Would you care to come up?"
James answered with a nod and followed him up the stairs to the third floor. He was slightly nervous, but excitement was building in him anyway.
The room was furnished simply, similar to Stephen's. Miguel motioned for James to sit on the bed, and went to the window and opened the shutters letting more light into the room.
"You are very handsome, James," he said.
"Thank you," James answered softly.
"Do you like my body?" Miguel asked as he slowly removed his clothes, revealing his finely shaped physique.
"You make me excited," James responded.
"Good," Miguel said as he took off his shoes and slacks.
"You see, you make me feel that way too.
"Please," Miguel said, "Join me."
James stood up and took off his clothes revealing his firm body. He also was aroused and Miguel took one of his hands and moved it down his smooth body. James relaxed and allowed himself to be taken by this dark skinned man.
For the next three days, James and Miguel met each afternoon to enjoy their limited time together. On the last day, Saturday, James took a small package from his pocket.
"Here, Miguel," he said, "I want you to have this."
Miguel unwrapped the package to find a silver pendant and chain. The symbol on the pendant was that of a dove in flight. One the reverse was the word Pace, Peace.
"Thank you, James," Miguel said, tears forming in his eyes. "It is very beautiful." They kissed and he said, "I have nothing to give you."
"You have given me all that I need from you, and more than anyone could hope for," James paused, "Yourself."
"You are very kind," He kissed James again. Their lovemaking that afternoon was slow and easy. It was difficult for James to leave when the time came. They kissed goodbye in his room, and walked slowly down the stairway to the street.
James had brought his camera along, and asked him to pose standing near the doorway. Sunlight struck his face in which created a halo effect about his face. James walked up to him.
"Goodbye my friend," he said.
"Hasta luego," he replied blinking back the tears.
"Sí, Hasta luego," James said and hurriedly turned and walked away.
Easter Sunday morning found James and Elaine bidding a reluctant farewell to Madrid. They had traveled more than one thousand miles on the train through the land of Isabella and Ferdinand, the Catholic Kings, as they were known all through Spanish history.
The majesty of the Escorial and the haunting beauty of the Valley of the Fallen were still fresh in their memory. The night before they had taken part in the Easter vigil in the Church of San Francisco. The service was not unlike it was throughout the Catholic world, though the language was Spanish here, the pageantry of the Roman Church remained basically the same as it had been for hundreds of years.
As their plane rose from the runway, each had their own thoughts and memories of their over two weeks in Spain. They would forever recall with fondness, their delight with the visit. James' memories were, however to be colored by his meetings, though short, with Miguel and Stephen.
Short stops in Paris and London, and then they landed in Dublin for the last stop on the trip. She was making a pilgrimage that her father was never to make to the land of his parentage. Though it was doubtful that they would be able to go to the village where his parents were born in County Cork, she felt just being on the island was sufficient.
James for obvious reason would rather have gone to some other cities in Europe. he had lost contact with Mischa in the intervening years, but he knew he was somewhere in France or the Netherlands. He dared not reveal his interest in visiting those places however.
He decided to enjoy the remainder of the trip and to make it as memorable for Elaine as possible; it might be their last chance to visit there. With that goal in mind, he relaxed on the flight to Dublin.
Throughout the rest of the year, they recalled the memories of the trip. The new year brought new problems. Elaine was pregnant again. She was depressed beyond belief. She blamed James for it, and could not be convinced that he had not done it deliberately. By all reckoning, she couldn't have become pregnant in December. The fact remained that she was indeed expecting another baby in the summer. After almost eight years without a baby in the house, many changes would have to be made.
When at last Margot was born, Elaine was hostile toward anything that James wanted to do. James determined that it would never happen again. He sought out a doctor to perform the simple but effective surgery on himself. He scheduled the operation for the week following Elaine's return from the hospital. Elaine had to sign the form too, which when she learned of it found many reasons why he shouldn't do it. He told her that she could sign it or not sign it, it was up to her. If she wanted to continue to have sex she had have to sign it, if she refused, it would never happen again. She signed.
His recovery was as quick, as one might expect considering his health and age. He was now thirty-one. Elaine was quick to complain about the extra work with the new baby, and although Margot was a peaceful child. Elaine was not the only member of the family who really didn't appreciate her arrival; Dean made it clear that he didn't like giving up his position in the family as the baby. Those feelings were never quite buried.
James immersed himself in his work, and began staying later than was required, so he wouldn't have to listen to her complaining.
Tommy, always an adventuresome child, was now going on sixteen, and the others, Toni and Dean each a year younger than their nearest older sibling were in constant and continual arguments with their mother for one reason or another.
James remembering his own teenage years, often sided with the children for reasons he could not explain to her, or even to himself. It was not surprising that he and Elaine argued over this too.
One Sunday morning at breakfast Tommy spilled a glass of milk on his way from the kitchen to the dining room where they were having their usual Sunday faire, pancakes and sausage that James had fixed for them after church. As usual, her parents were there too.
Elaine berated Tommy for being so clumsy and screamed at him to clean it up. Her parents kept silent, but James who'd been listening to the same tirade day-after-day could not.
"Please control yourself!" he said in a voice just loud enough to get her attention.
"But you saw him!" she shouted. "Look at the big mess there is!"
"It'll come up," he tried to reason with her. But she would have none of it, and continued.
"Elaine!" he shouted this time. "Stop bitching over a little spilled milk!"
Everyone was shocked. Even Tommy, who was now in tears trying to clean up the mess, stopped and waited. No one had every spoken to her in that tone of voice within his hearing. Her parents kept silent too and waited.
She stopped, and seeing she was obviously outnumbered, got up from the table and ran into the bedroom crying.
"Let's finish our breakfast," James said firmly, trying not to let his anger get out of control. He had a terrible urge to go after her.
Elaine's mother washed the dishes when they finished eating, Toni and Dean dried. Her father invited the children to come to their house for dinner that afternoon, which was not uncommon. James affirmed that it was okay for them to go.
"You and Elaine can come too, of course," his father-in-law said.
"Thank you Phil," he said. "I'll talk to Elaine and let you know about that."
Elaine's mother looked anxiously in the direction of the bedroom, but received a cold glance from James, and changed her mind.
The children all went with their grandparents when they left. James shampooed the milk spill on the carpeting. He then went to the bedroom. She was sitting on the bed, red-eyed, biting her lips reading a book.
"Can we talk?" he asked.
"What's there to talk about?" she snapped.
"Well, we can begin by finding out what's bothering you."
"What do you thinks bothering me!"
"I mean besides being called out for yelling at Tommy. I'm sure you didn't enjoy that anymore than he did when you yelled at him."
"You damned right I didn't!" she shouted at him slamming the book closed.
"Well," James said calmly, "You deserved it. You were being ridiculously unreasonable with Tommy, you know."
"Someone has to correct him! God knows you never do!"
"Correction is one thing, what you were doing could hardly be called that. It borders on child abuse. Do you realize that? Apparently you don't since you've been doing an awfully lot of it lately."
"And who are you to talk? You're never around to help with them at all anymore!"
"Perhaps you're right about that. But you're to blame for that situation. But do you think that if I were here it would make any difference? I was here this morning, and it didn't seem to make any difference!" James was desperately trying to control his temper.
"What good did it do? You saw him, he deliberately spilled the milk on the carpet!"
"What?" he almost shouted, "You've got to be kidding! He tripped on the rug in the doorway."
"Well everyone else seems to be able to walk through there without falling!"
"He happens to be almost sixteen, boys that age are a little awkward, that's all."
"He's a little more than awkward if you ask me!"
"Yes, he is, he's scared to death of you, and that doesn't help any, either." James said, and then added, "This conversation is going nowhere. I think it's time that we talked to someone about this problem."
"Talk! Talk! Talk! That's all you ever want to do about anything, is talk!"
"You're right, forget about it!" James turned to leave, and then remembered the dinner invitation for the evening.
"By the way, your folks invited us over for dinner tonight. The kids went with them after breakfast. Do you want to go?"
"Why should I? To go there and be embarrassed by you in front of them? Not me, I'm through with that, thank you!"
"Okay, I'll call and explain."
"I'll bet you will! No, you leave my folks out of this. I'll call!"
"Have it your way!" he said and started to leave, "Don't count on my being there, no matter what you decided to do."
"Sure!" she screamed, "Leave why don't you? That's all you ever do, is leave! Why don't you just leave for good!" she shouted after him as he shook his head and walked down the hallway.
He picked up a pack of cigarettes and his jacket and went out the backdoor. He sat for a few minutes before starting the car. Then he drove away from the house, which was no longer, a home.
It was raining when James pulled into the parking lot. He looked at the address on the card he held up to the dome light of the car. The number on the building was the same. he had made the appointment on Elaine's suggestion. She had grown remorseful following her outburst on Sunday.
"Hello, Reverend Young," James said when the smiling young man in sport shirt and sweater answered the door to his knock.
"Good evening, James. Please come in."
"It's good of you to see me so late, Reverend," James said.
"Please, call me Bob," Bob said. He was a marriage counselor besides being a minister and a child guidance councilor.
"I hardly know where to begin," James said sitting down in the chair. Bob lighted his pipe and took a seat behind his desk.
"Start with the incident which caused you to decide to call me," Bob said.
James recounted the event on Sunday, leaving out no details, even using the same words where he could remember them. Bob nodded occasionally to indicate he understood what James was saying as he puffed slowly on his pipe.
"So often, in these cases," he began, "It's not easy to even talk about such a situation. From what I hear you saying, I would guess that you have some fairly good ideas about what some of the problems are."
"But before we get into that," he said, "I feel that I must tell you that it will not be possible for me to help you much at all, unless your wife is willing to come in and talk with me too. Perhaps she will not, if you're here, but I do have to hear her side of the story too."
"I have no objections to that."
"Good, then if you can get her to, then call me, and arrange an appointment, we can get started right away."
Reluctantly Elaine agreed to the meeting, and it went about as James expected it would, at least the part of it he heard. What she said when he was out of the room, he would never know.
Whatever she said convinced Bob that it would do no good to talk further with her. But he asked James to set up some appointments and he would do what he could to help James.
Elaine was less abrasive at home during the period following the meeting with Bob Young. Perhaps things could be worked out, James thought.
He enjoyed his meetings with Bob. He seemed really interested in what James had to say. The only reservation James had about the meetings was what the outcome of the personality evaluation that was part of it would reveal.
Bob was good at his job, and James knew that his preferences sexually were bound to be found out if he continued, even if he never asked a direct question regarding it, and he rarely did.
Despite his reservations, James answered the questions as honestly as he could. And as he had suspected there were no direct questions.
One evening when James returned from work, he sensed that Elaine was upset and needed to talk with him. He waited until the children were in bed and she was getting ready for bed before he broached the subject.
"You seem upset by something," he said, "Would you like to talk about it?"
"I'm sure if it will do any good," she began. "I saw Doctor Steiner today." He was her GYNOB, as she referred to her gynecologist. "I talked to him about the counseling.
"He asked me some questions. Some hard questions."
"What kind of questions," James asked.
"He asked me if I thought you were seeing another woman," Elaine paused as if to gauge James' reaction.
"What did you tell him?" James asked.
"I told him no, but I asked him if he thought the same situation could be true if you were seeing a man or men." She looked directly at him.
"What did he tell you?" James was trembling.
"He told me that it was even more likely." She stopped and started to cry.
James tried to hold her and comfort her, but she pushed him away.
"Don't! You don't care for me that way, so don't try to pretend!"
"What are you talking about? You know that I care what happens to you," he protested.
She stopped crying and looked up at him angrily, "You are homosexual, aren't you!" It wasn't a question, a simple accusative statement.
"Yes," he said slowly and deliberately, "I am."
"I never thought about the possibility until today." She began to cry again. "I want you to go away! I can't live with you knowing that!"
"What did the doctor suggest that you do if what you guessed was true?" James asked trying to maintain control of himself.
"What do you care?" But then remembering what they had said. "He said that you should be tested for VD, and should have a mental test."
"What on earth for? Don't you think I'd know if I had VD! And I'm certainly not crazy!" James was insulted.
"You might know that, but I have no way of knowing!" She shouted.
"If it'll make you happy, then I'll go be tested. What are we going to do until we get the results?"
"I don't really care what you do, you're certainly not going to sleep with me!"
"What are you going to tell the children if I don't stay here?" James asked.
"Does it matter to you what I tell them?"
"Of course it does. They are my children too, you know."
"Well, there's no doubt about that!"
"I'm glad to hear that! From the way you were talking I was beginning to wonder if you thought it was even possible."
She reached up and slapped him.
"Damn you!" she should. "Get out of here!"
Tears came to James' eyes. He turned around and went up to the attic and got a small suitcase. He packed shaving things, and went down to the bedroom where she was sitting and starting getting some of his clothes.
She got up and left the room. He finished packing. He checked to see if he had his bank card, he didn't have enough cash to stay anywhere.
James went up to the boys' room. They were both asleep, but he woke them and told them that he was going away for a while. Then he went to the girls' room. He woke Toni and told her, and asked her to tell Margot in the morning. Sleepily she said that she would. He told her to tell the boys that he would be back to talk with them all in a couple of days.
Then he left the house carrying his suitcase. As he drove down the alley he realized that this life that he had lived for nearly twenty years was over. The closet door was open. The question remained, how long before he had have the courage to go out into the light.
He was almost forty year old, and his life was ended. A life together with a woman he had loved as he had loved no other. Perhaps it was meant to be that way. Perhaps it should have never happened at all. Perhaps it had all been a mistake. It was hard to believe that half of one's life was a mistake. Tears streamed down his cheeks as he drove through the streets sobbing. He pulled over to the side of the rode and stopped. He waited until the sobbing stopped and no more tears would not come. He dried his eyes and pulled back onto the street again.
Maybe he was wrong, maybe it wasn't the end of his life. Maybe there was something left for him to do. Maybe there was a better way to live. He had to find out. That was what he had to do now, find the better way.
To be continued
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