Chapter 14, SAD TIMES, GOOD TIMES...AND IN BETWEEN
"Son," Ellen Sloan said to Jeremy, "as your sister told you, I'm not at surprised that you possess more than a few of the genes that my brother had. Win was a good man and all I can hope for is that you follow his example and lead a good life. If your friend turns out to be even half as good as Karl was, you'll be very lucky and I'll honor him as another son."
The small family unit enjoyed a quiet dinner on the evening after the late Sunday gathering Jeremy had at Marché with Charlie, Zach and Will. As Naomi had predicted, there was no hesitation on their mom's part to accept Jeremy's homosexuality. Mrs. Sloan had pulled out an old family meat loaf recipe and directed the siblings in its preparation. After Jeremy's revelation, the final course of the successful dinner was banana chocolate chip cake that Naomi had picked up from the nearby Sweet Mandy B's. Brother and sister cleaned up while their mother settled down for the news and, later, Jay Leno's Tonight Show. Eventually, Jeremy, stifling a yawn, decided it was time to get some sleep. He gave his mother a kiss on the forehead, told her he loved her and wished her a goodnight. He was physically exhausted from the weekend of dancing - especially the boys' night - and despite it going well, was emotionally drained from the dinner.
The next morning at seven, refreshed, a briefs-clad Jeremy got out of bed, completed his pit stop once his morning wood had deflated and went to the kitchen to make coffee. He thought it strange when he heard the television audio with one of the morning shows and even stranger that his mom was up. She never got up that early. He walked up to his mom and knew immediately what had happened. Ellen Sloan's eyes blankly stared forward and her mouth was open. A shattering shiver raced through his body and rapidly flashing images of earlier years raced through his mind. "Oh, Ma," he quavered to her lifeless body, "this is it?" Trembling, he bit his fingers and felt the sudden onrush of tears.
Boy Scout training kicked in and Jeremy tried to find a pulse...without success. He gently closed her eyes and studied this still, peaceful form for a few moments until the crying ran its course. He then grabbed the nearby remote, turned off the television set and rapidly went to his sister's room. He knew Naomi didn't have a class until later and always was the last to awaken.
"Naomi, wake up," Jeremy said loudly as he pounded on her bedroom door. "I need your help." His near shout faded in a gurgle when his tightened throat betrayed him.
"I'm coming," came the voice from her room. "What on earth is wrong?" Naomi opened the door and gave Jeremy a confused, puzzled look. By habit, she wore only an old, over-sized tee shirt.
"It's Mom. She's...she's gone. In the living room," he blurted out, urgently.
"Oh, my...of course." Naomi grabbed her robe and tried to put it on while following Jeremy to the living room.
"I found her just a few minutes ago. The television was still on. I, ah, closed her eyes, turned off the TV and checked for a pulse."
Naomi, being a skilled nursing student, automatically checked for any vital signs at both the wrist and throat. She stood back and looked sadly at the slumped form of their mother. It almost looked like the older woman was asleep in the easy chair. "Jeremy, she probably passed away several hours ago...before 1:00 a.m., since the TV was still on." Naomi grimaced and fought unsuccessfully to hold back her tears.
Jeremy pulled her close and held her. "Hey, Sis, we'll make it through this." Her reaction triggered more tears from Jeremy. "I guess it was Mom's time." This time, however, his tears trickled out in a slow and determined manner.
Naomi let loose, and cried harder...wetting Jeremy's bare chest. Finally the sobbing subsided. She took a deep breath, looked up into Jeremy's eyes and said, "Thanks, Jer. I think I'm fine for now. Would you call the non-emergency number for the police and tell them what happened? They'll also dispatch an EMS team to verify Mom's dead."
"Yeah, I'll take care of that. Anything else we should do?"
"No...not right now. Let me put on some clothes real fast and you do the same thing. You might as well brush your teeth cuz it's going to be a long morning."
"Right." Jeremy went to the kitchen to telephone while Naomi stood silently by her mom's body for another moment before she moved away.
In less than 15 minutes, the now presentable brother answered the door when the EMS arrived. A few minutes later, a Chicago policeman was on the scene. With their interviews logged and an estimation of the death time based on rigor mortis, everyone was satisfied that a natural death had occurred and marked the time of death as 1:00 a.m. The policeman notified the coroner's office and received approval to mark the case closed without any need to perform an autopsy. By 8:15 a.m., the officials had departed and the siblings went into the kitchen to make coffee. They were exhausted and needed something 'normal' to do.
"I knew Mom wouldn't last for long with her condition. It's just so weird to have her...body in the next room and know that we'll never talk to each other again." Almost by rote, Jeremy measured out the coffee and poured the water into the Mr. Coffee.
"That dinner last night is especially important now...our final sit-down with Mom. I know she was very happy. And she loved the meat loaf we made." Naomi's sad smile tried to mask a few more tears.
"Yeah...I felt that, too. I guess I'd better call Bobby and tell him what's going on. He can let the school know I won't be in today."
"Good idea. And I'll call one of my classmates before I contact Northwestern."
A couple of years ago, Mrs. Sloan had decided she wanted her body donated to medical science and she registered with the Northwestern University Medical School. The ailing woman's decision was driven in part by good citizenship but more by economics. They were too poor to afford mortician or crematorium services and she decided that this was the easiest way to efficiently "tidy up loose ends after I'm gone," as she put it. The only costs they would have were twenty bucks for copies of a Cook County death certificate.
Jeremy and Naomi sat quietly in the living room lost in their thoughts. Occasionally, they would share a memory about their mother. Although it was not said, both realized this was the last time they would see ever her again. Mid-morning, two attendants from the medical school arrived to pick up their mother's remains. Naomi signed the release forms after the body was laid on a gurney and placed in a gray body bag. Jeremy and Naomi accompanied the attendants outside to an un-marked black van and said a final, respectful goodbye. It was almost eleven and the day was dimly cast in dark, pale gray.
Notifying close family was a moot issue. Ellen's parents were gone, as well as Uncle Win. They had to make final official phone calls to the insurance company that electronically deposited a pittance of a monthly payment into the family bank account, and to Social Security.
"I think that we need to clean ourselves up and get out of here for a while. We can go through Mom's stuff later. I think what we should do is to have lunch someplace and then go over to Our Lady of Mt. Carmel. Even though we're not Catholic, somehow lighting candles and offering a prayer for her seems the right thing to do."
"Sis, that's a super idea. Maybe we can eat at Ann Sather's on Belmont? It's not that far from the church. Also, I should leave a message for Charlie. He's in classes until about four."
"That's cool. We can come back here after prayer and start sorting out her things. I think I know where all the family pictures and papers are. If you don't mind, I want to work my 3:00 p.m. shift. I need to keep busy and the hospital will be a good place for that."
"I'll probably spend time with Charlie. If I'm not here when you get back from work, you'll know where I am. But I plan on going to school tomorrow."
"I understand, brother-mine." Naomi gave him a big hug. "It's just us, now. We have to be each other's pillars."
Jeremy found a substitute to fill in for his Bally's shift and by 5:00 p.m. was at Charlie's apartment - backpack in hand. When the door opened, the vision of his buddy was like the transference of ethereal, restorative energy. Entering the room to Charlie was great comfort. Being held protectively in the arms of his lover was infinitely more therapeutic. For several minutes, he stood silently with his head leaning on Charlie's shoulder as he let his emotions release. He couldn't remember the last time he had sobbed so completely without holding anything back. All the time, Charlie stroked his head and whispered encouragement. Finally, Jeremy dried up, wiped his eyes and tenderly kissed his rock of a man.
"Thanks, Babe. It's that day you know is coming...but you really aren't prepared for it. I mean I knew she wasn't very healthy and all...just didn't think it would happen this suddenly. She was only 45."
"That's ten years younger than my folks - at 55 they're still pretty active. Sit down, babe, and I'll get us drinks. You want a coke, or something stronger?" Charlie led him to the couch by hand and stood by as Jeremy sank into the cushions.
"If you have beer, I think that'll hit the spot."
"Beer coming up for both of us," Charlie responded as he walked to the kitchen.
For the next half hour, Jeremy described his day and over another round talked about his mother's wishes concerning the donation of her body. His visit to the Church had been a very positive and spiritual sendoff. Naomi and he both felt they had communicated with a divine being as they lit candles. Afterwards, they had returned home and tentatively looked through all the important papers that their mom kept in a locked drawer. They decided to spend the upcoming Saturday weeding out her possessions: a keep pile, a toss away pile and a Salvation Army donation pile.
"You're doing okay?" Charlie asked.
"Definitely, now. Being here with you really helps."
"That's what we do for each other. Hon, you're the most important person in my life. Whatever you need...I'll take care of." Charlie moved his hand to Jeremy's neck and firmly rubbed it.
"I feel the same way," Jeremy replied. "It'll take a while to register that she's gone. We had a tight but not very typical family. You know about my Uncle Win. I never knew my father. He split before I was born. So that was one set of grandparents down the drain. Mom's parents passed away six or seven years ago - within a year of each other. So, now it's just Naomi and me." Jeremy let out a long sigh before taking a sip of beer. "We may have some distant relatives in Indiana...I just don't know who or where they are."
"When you're up to it, we'll get together with my folks for dinner. Mom will love you and Dad will be tolerantly polite. I've already emailed my brother and he looks forward to meeting you when he and his wife come out for a visit this summer. They have several gay friends in Manhattan and are great."
"Not having Mom around is going to give Sis and me more time to get on with our lives. She's about to finish nursing school; between home and the hospital job she hasn't had much of a chance to work on her social life. And, after I graduate this summer, I'll be able to be scheduled for private parties...once you get me trained."
"Let's talk about the Barecats. Are you going to need any down time this weekend? We'll need to call Garin if that's a possibility."
"Naw, I'm cool. I plan on returning to school tomorrow and working will be the best thing for me to do. Naomi and I need to plan a new schedule at home...but that's no big deal. It'll be more like being roommates with her. I'll stay here tonight and start a new routine tomorrow."
"Whatever you need, Babe it's yours. Speaking of which, how about us going out for some food. It's after six and I'm getting hungry."
"Me, too. Any ideas where we could go?"
"Let's go over to Penny's Noodle Shop on Sheffield. It's terrific Thai food and cheap. When we get back, I'll need to spend some time on a paper that's due."
"I've got some studying to do, too, and brought a few books. There are a couple of chapters I need to read. And then I'll be ready for a new experience," Jeremy said with a small smile.
"New? What's that?"
"Since we've become boyfriends, we've never had the opportunity to sleep together overnight. Tonight is kind of our honeymoon." Jeremy snickered suggestively and kissed Charlie on the cheek.
"Wow, I hadn't thought about that - but you're right. The big question is: do you snore?"
"I don't think so. Jeez, I've never been with anyone to find out. Guess we'll find out tonight. Oh...which side of the bed do you want?"
"That's easy, Jer. I'm almost anal about being near the clock radio."
"Good. That's all settled. Charlie, I really appreciate how you're helping me and want you to know that my love for you just gets stronger every day."
"Me, too, Babe." Charlie twisted around and brought his lips to Jeremy's and secured a kiss that was somewhere between an 'I love you, you're mine' reassurance peck and a tongue-drilling 'let's get nekkid and fuck' lip-lock. Jeremy responded with just as much passion; both were learning the different levels of lovemaking. That night was a demonstration of their love fulfilled by touching, nuzzling and cuddling.
The next morning, Charlie dropped Jeremy off at Robert Stein's house. Jeremy wanted to tell Bobby the full situation before school. Mrs. Stein, as promised, had made a large breakfast for the two young men. After condolences from the Steins and Jeremy's reassurance he was doing fine, she went up to her bedroom and Robert's father left for work. Alone with his best friend, Jeremy related all the details of the previous day right up to his dinner with Charlie.
"You wanna stay here at night for a while?" Robert asked as he stood up to gather the dirty dishes. When Jeremy started to help him, Robert silently waved his hand for him to sit down.
"Much appreciated...but I've got to help Naomi settle things. It'll be strange, though, going home tonight to find no one there."
"You're going to work...at both places?"
"Yeah. I need the diversion now and the money. Plus, I feel safe whenever I'm around Charlie. Nothing clingy, ya understand. Just reassuring..."
"That's super to have a relationship at a time like this. Just remember, Jer, if Charlie's not available we're still best friends."
"Bobby, that goes without saying. I know we'll always love each other and you'll be there for me...and vise versa." He stood and they silently held each other.
"Between you, Charlie, Sis and the others...I'll get through this. This week will be pretty light at work with Good Friday coming up. And there's no performance on Sunday due to Easter. I think that Naomi and I will attend Easter services at Fourth Presbyterian on Michigan Avenue with Charlie and go to brunch afterwards at the 95th in the Hancock." In Chicago, this verbal shorthand meant The Signature Room on one of the top floors of the John Hancock Building - America's fourth-tallest skyscraper and a Michigan Avenue landmark. "Charlie's making reservations. This is the first time they've seen each other since...they dated. It's my new nuclear family. Strange, huh?"
"Naw...it's cool and very 21st century. You'll have a good time at the restaurant. I've only been up there once and it'll be a great place for the three of you. I'll offer a little prayer for you and all at the 'gogue' this Friday night."
"Now that is cool. Thanks."
The rest of the week was a period of healing and adjustment. Jeremy's classmates gave him respectful space, Zach offered a big brother's shoulder and his fellow Barecats lent unconditional support. Naomi experienced the same thing at her school and the hospital.
During the week, all of the family papers, photographs and documents were reviewed and re-filed. The last responsibility by the siblings was sorting out their mother's clothing and meager possessions. Saturday was rather anti-climatic...for most of the day. With the help of Robert and his car, clothing of any value was taken to the Salvation Army for those less fortunate. While they were driving back to the Sloan apartment, Robert received a call on his cell that changed the pace of the day. His mother had picked up the early edition of the Sunday Trib and relayed the news that the magazine supplement included the big spring fashion spread. She was surprised to find Jeremy prominently displayed in the layout.
"Holy, sh...ah, crap. I'd forgotten about that completely. The pictures were taken months ago," Jeremy said. "Bobby, would you mind stopping by the corner store so I can buy a copy?"
"Sure thing. Jeez, I can't let you out of my sight for a minute for fear you'll be up to something else," Robert replied with a laugh.
"I remember you mentioning the fashion pictures...but that was a long time ago. I'm dying to see my little brother doing his thing." Naomi, sitting in the front seat, turned, blew a kiss and winked at Jeremy.
"Pictures, first." Jeremy returned the wink. He recalled that Naomi was going to be part of a bachelorette group that would celebrate at the club in May.
Robert stopped curbside and Jeremy trotted inside the small neighborhood market. He returned a few minutes later with two papers. He gave one edition to Naomi and tore apart the other one to find the magazine. They each found the glossy supplement about the same time and gazed at the cover. There was Jeremy, standing with a beautiful female model, wearing ensembles that were identified from the Spring, 2007 Paul Smith Collection.
"This is great...did you know they'd be using you on the cover?" Naomi asked.
"No. It's a complete surprise. And I did my photo shoot solo. The editors must have decided to fuse our images and highlight the one designer."
"Man, you'll be a bitch to be around after this," Robert said, looking at Naomi's copy. "Don't get a big head or anything, but that's a terrific cover picture. Turn to the other pictures."
"Still the same old simple Jer."
"Yeah, right. Like you're not going to be the pinup of every horny teen - girl or boy - in Chicago." Robert rolled his eyes and looked at Jeremy.
"Sis, you should know that I told Robert about me being gay."
"And...?" Naomi asked as she looked up at Robert.
"He's still my best friend. In fact...it's one more thing we have in common," Robert replied with a shrug.
"We came out to each other this past winter, just before you and I had our talk," Jeremy busily turned to the photo spread pages and hoped that his sister would do the same thing. 'No reason to tell her how we came out,' he decided while he checked the magazine. "Oh, they used several of me."
"Hmmm," was all Naomi said as she carefully looked at the pictures. Only the sound of breathing interrupted the silence while the threesome reviewed the layout. "Well," she finally added, "it looks like you've got a career with this modeling thing if you want."
"I'd appreciate it if y'all downplayed it...especially at school," Jeremy said. "Right now what I really need a free pass."
"You got it. I'll let the other guys know not to give you any crap for at least a week." Robert smiled and added, "But after the girls see your show...all bets are off."
"What girls?" Naomi asked.
"Next weekend, Rachael - Robert's ex - is celebrating her birthday at the Barecats club. A good friend of mine heard about it and passed it on. It'll be a real surprise when I dance on stage."
"Not so little brother, I think that you are definitely going to be the talk of the school...whether you like it or not. My advice is for us to enjoy the Easter weekend and then suck it up because you're definitely going to be in the spotlight - in several places," Naomi said with a chuckle. "Robert, I think that we need to go home and relax for a while. Thanks for all your help."
"I'll always be available for the Sloan kids," Robert said with a wink as he turned the ignition to start the car.
That Sunday, Naomi, Charlie and Jeremy arrived early enough at Fourth Presbyterian to find street parking and seats on the main floor for the 9:30 a.m. Easter Service. Naomi was dressed in her all-occasion white blazer, skirt and heels while the guys wore dark suits. Jeremy noticed that several people in the congregation seemed to recognize him. He smiled and laughed as he wickedly wondered if it was the magazine or the dancing that had jogged their memory.
The buffet at The Signature Room was superb as the cloud-free view of the city and lake. Best of all was the way Charlie and Naomi fell back into an instant familiarity. They recalled happy memories of their times together four years earlier. At the end of brunch, they all knew that a special friendship had emerged amongst them. They laughed to each other about Charlie's status as Naomi's brother-in-law while the express elevator whisked them back to the ground floor.
At first, Jeremy wasn't sure if Garin would go along with his idea for the Saturday performance his female classmates would be attending. His plan was for all the dancers to wear black masks in the opening chorus, to be followed immediately by his Joe College number. He would keep on his mask until he was down to only his thong in the runway routine. At that point, Charlie would come out on stage, in his fireman's costume with a large "Happy Birthday, Rachael" sign.
Garin thought the idea was a crowd-pleaser and gave it a green light. He knew that Jeremy was nervous about girls from his school being in the audience and wanted to put his rising star at ease. He was also sympathetic to the recent passing of Jeremy's mom.
That evening, Jeremy was rather quiet and paced backstage as the audience for the first show filled the club. Tommy's further sleuthing had confirmed that Rachael and seven other girls - three who were Jeremy's former girlfriends - would be coming to the early performance. He recognized them at their location halfway back on the right when he peered out through the curtains while the house lights were still on. He was a little relieved that the girls weren't close to the runway.
He stepped back, lowered his head and thought for a moment about his life - where he had been and where he was going. Jeremy offered a silent prayer for his mother and felt proud that he had made her happy while she was alive. He thanked God for the strength the 'man upstairs' had given Mom to successfully raise to her kids by herself...especially with her physical challenges. His thoughts were interrupted by the first music cue; the show was ready to begin.
The opening number, "Celebration", was well received by the audience and none of the cast felt wearing the mask to the conclusion was a liability. Jeremy took a deep breath and waited for his solo music to begin. The marching music started and he headed out on stage. His heart started pounding when the spotlight hit his body and masked face, and his adrenalin kicked in as he got fully into his act. He worked extra hard to project his character and the fresh sexuality that was becoming natural to him. Several times, his eyes shifted over to the girls' area but due to the lighting he couldn't identify any of their faces. There was palpable excitement in the audience: he was receiving the women's energy and feeding it back by taking his performance to a new level he had not yet experienced...except for that one boys' night a couple of weeks earlier.
Jeremy pulled away his pants as the final chords of "Go U Northwestern" were playing. He was now down to his thong, cap...and, for tonight, the mask. He turned around, shook his buns and briefly bent at the waist. As rehearsed, he faced the club again and tossed off the cap. He pulled off the mask as the final chords of the song played and abruptly the stage went dark.
'The applause was better than usual for an early show,' Jeremy thought, as he blotted his sweat with a towel. He listened for his music cue and the runway tip dance. The lights came on as the first beats of "Shake Your Booty" rocked the speakers. Jeremy tossed the towel aside and started his dance onto the runway. He saw his classmates in the seats identified earlier. Their expressions ranged from surprise to shock to delight. Out of the corner of his eye, Jeremy saw Charlie arrive on the runway carrying a large sign that proclaimed Rachael's birthday greetings. While Jeremy danced in the background, Charlie moved forward with the beat and held up the sign. When he was near Rachael, he looked in her direction and, as the soundman stopped the music and the lights were brought up slightly, yelled "Happy Birthday."
Someone towards the back started singing the traditional birthday song and Charlie sang along as he pointed to the sign that showed Rachael's name. By the time the song was finished, the entire crowd was cheering for the laughing and slightly embarrassed birthday girl. Charlie bowed, nodded to the soundman and left the stage. Jeremy was so proud that Charlie had effectively pulled off the playful stunt. He could tell from their expressions that Rachael and her friends were having fun.
Slowly the houselights dimmed again and Jeremy revved up for his runway dance. The birthday singing had really loosened up the crowd and there were plenty of women waving paper currency. He approached them one by one, he darting himself forward and angling just right to receive his tips. The typical one-dollar bills were evident at the beginning, but as he arrived mid-point on the runway the denominations became larger. He noticed some women pointing at him as they smiled and talked to each other. 'Must be a Trib-reading crowd I'm working,' he decided as he dipped for a ten spot. He allowed a little lingering of fingers by one woman after she slipped a twenty towards the front of his thong.
He turned and there was Rachael by the runway, smiling ...holding two tens. Jeremy danced over to her edge, planted his feet wide and lowered his body in a very suggestive way. He thrust his left pelvis forward and was pleased that Rachael picked up on the move. She slid one of the ten-dollar bills into the left side band of his packed, form-fitting thong, whereupon he did a few bumps and then thrust the right side of his body toward her. He winked as she attached the other ten. "Happy 18th, young lady," he shouted to her before dancing away towards the other waiting women.
"I think you need to explain a few things," Rachael yelled back.
"Lunch next week...my treat."
The second KC and the Sunshine Band song finished as he left the runway and stage. That meant the show was perfectly on schedule and the little extra birthday moment hadn't hurt the overall performance. Jeremy loved the enthusiasm and applause from the audience and was relieved that his double life had been revealed.
The next morning, all the guys were listening intently as Jeremy told them about his Barecats affiliation and a few of the performing details. As pre-arranged, Tommy, Sam and Robert had corralled the others from their group at the restaurant so Jeremy could let them know what he'd been doing at his new job. They sat at a large, round table and seemed fascinated learning this other side of Jeremy. He could tell that a few were really turned on by his tale.
"Buddy, I've only seen pictures on the Internet but you mean that you're prancing around a stage wearing nothing more than a jock?" asked one of Tommy's swimmer teammates.
"If it was a jock, I'd feel fully-dressed. The thong doesn't cover much...and please consider my skillful dancing as more than just prancing around," Jeremy replied with a laugh.
"Jeremy, I think we've all seen each other in the shower at school. What you're packing would be hard to hide. Speaking of which, do you ever get...?"
"Ewww, I take the fifth." Jeremy put an exaggerated expression of shock on his face and continued, "Let's just say that most of the time, I'm pretty careful about getting, you know, a woodie. And by the way, Mr. Size Queen, you also do pretty well in the equipment area." Jeremy was amused that his friends could discuss checking out other guys without embarrassment. Straight guys would never admit to this common male habit of visually comparing another's endowment.
"Damn...I got a boyfriend and now you tell me that I might've had a chance." The table reacted to the light banter with a round of snickers and chuckles. "Seriously, dude, it really sounds fun and the money must be good. Hope it all works out for you."
"Thanks. I appreciate that. The thing is, Rachael and her peeps celebrated her birthday at the show last night and I wanted all of you to find out about this from me before it hits the school gossip mill tomorrow. With the other stuff that's happened to me - Mom, and the magazine pictures - I need your support and a little back-covering."
"Meaning?" asked the Troy Tuturno, a sophomore tight end on the football team.
"I'm prepared for a little razzing about the Barecats and the Trib thing - but there are a few assholes at school that might try to make my life difficult. Some of those homophobic turds are probably aware that we also perform a few 'men only' shows and may try to make a gay-hating deal out of it. The last thing I need is for a group of queer baiters trying to pound my ass. But, when push comes to shove, I have no problem coming out to those animals and fighting back one-on-one. A couple of those guys haven't liked me since grade school and always travel in a pack."
"I see what you mean," Troy replied. "There are a few senior linebackers who have a pretty mean streak about gays. However, we've got other teammates who will take them on. Let me enlist a few of my friends to help out."
"And the swim team will be on your side."
"Good...that's all I could ask for. By the way, for you guys now 18 - or with great fake I.D.'s - there's another boys' night coming up in a couple of weeks," Jeremy said. "Sunday, April 29th, to be exact. I know you'd enjoy the show."
"Wow. An evening with 400 gay guys watching hot studs bump crotches and shake buns at us...where do I sign up?" asked Troy with an exaggerated leer.
"Here's the plan, horn dogs," Tommy replied. "We all get together at my place around five and carpool down to the club. It's an early show so we'll be back to the house by about 8:30 for burgers. The only thing is...it's got to be a brew-free evening because of school the next day. My folks wouldn't stand for it otherwise."
"It'll be kind of a last unofficial get together before we get crazy with graduation stuff," Robert said. "I'm really proud to have been let into this inner-circle and feel great about our special friendship. It doesn't hurt that Sam and I are together."
"Man, everything's going well and then you have to be all mushy." Troy grinned to indicate he was pulling chain.
"Is everyone ready for a little partying in a couple of weeks?" Tommy asked.
"Absolutely," replied Sam. He looked around and everyone nodded - in addition to a few high-fives and knuckle taps - before ordering brunch.
Jeremy reflected on Robert's thoughts about Sam. He resolved that after the show he would bring Charlie back to the party and introduce his partner to the crew.
This chapter is dedicated to LMF. 1913 - 2007.