Luke & JJ
by Greg Bowden
next ten days were a flurry of activity and there was so much to do that J.J.
was sure it wouldn't all get done, but it did, somehow, and so here they were,
sleeping in a tent beside the
stage line operated the camp--actually a small collection of rude tents and a
more permanent cook house and barn--for the benefit of their passengers bound
had been only five passengers on the stage from
J.J. turned over onto his back, unable to sleep. The cot, though hard and narrow, was comfortable enough and the rough wool blanket was appreciated--although he wished it was Luke instead of the blanket giving him warmth. Luke was on the cot next to him, breathing softly in sleep. Because of the other three men in the tent with them, J.J. was afraid even to reach out and touch Luke.
He could see a few stars shining through a tear in the roof of the tent and he could hear the breeze rustling the new grasses growing along the river bank outside. He yawned and stretched, wishing he would go to sleep but knowing his thoughts weren't going to let him do so. So much had happened he didn't think he would ever get it all sorted out, but his mind kept insisting that he try.
night, the one that had led directly to this one, and to this place beside the
"I've heard about that place," Eliot had said. "It's said to be open and lawless, a God forsaken place if ever there was one."
"But there's gold there. Tons of it," J.J. had replied, "and with new miners arriving every day. I heard the men talking with Mr. Tomasini, telling him he could make a fortune there, selling his bread." J.J. had become excited listening to his own words. "If Mr. Tomasini could, so could I. I know it!."
"And I've got a strong back," Luke had said, touching J.J.'s foot with his own, making a sign. "I can surely dig gold."
how do you think you'll get there? It costs ten dollars on the stage for a man
to go just to
"I've got some money saved. From working at the bakery." He'd also thought perhaps he could ask Mr. Clifford, the jeweler, for money instead of that gold chain he was holding.
"So do I." Luke had had an odd smile when he said that.
Before they left Eliot's porch that night Eliot had made them promise that they would do nothing of a physical nature inside the house, or anywhere else they might be found out. "I'm sorry, brother," he had said, hugging each of them, "but it must be this way. For the sake of those who love you."
After a pause: "You know, it's an odd thing. Hiram believes you to be brothers--I mean true, blood brothers." He had shrugged and then hugged each of them again. "Perhaps he's right."
was a rustling of blankets and someone quietly left the tent. A moment later J.J. heard him urinating in the sand just outside.
It was must be Rusty, what was his name?
Rusty returned to his cot and almost immediately began to snore softly. The images in J.J.'s mind swirled on.
Both his father and mother had taken the news better than he had expected. There were concerns about it being Spring and time for the plowing and planting but his father had been sure that, between Eliot and himself, help could be found. It was almost as though John knew that there was more to this than met the eye but wished not to inquire into it.
Louisa had seemed pleased for them, hugging each and wishing them success. Later though, alone in her room, she had cried, knowing in her heart that this was not the same as Eliot going off to the lumber camp. Eliot had come back, just as she had known he would. She had no such conviction where J.J. and Luke were concerned.
When news of their decision got around, most probably from Mr. Tomasini who liked gossip as much as his own bread, Luke and J.J. had become minor celebrities in town, to the point that Mr. Blakely from the Tribune sought them out for an interview. The story he wrote about them took up almost half a page in the paper. Unfortunately for the family's piece of mind, the other half of the page had been devoted to a long story about Devil's Shaft, a story which liberally used words like lawless, wicked, and crazed. Mr. Blakely also retold the story of the young girl who, upon learning that her family was moving to the town, had written in her diary, "Good-bye God! We're going to the Devil!" He had also made mention of the famous Elijah Casey who, having survived the Civil War whole, had gone to Devil's Shaft and promptly frozen to death looking for a strayed ox.
The story may have upset Louisa but it only served to excite J.J. He had four copies of that particular edition of the Tribune with him, in his trunk.
Also in his trunk were several recipe books and a solid hickory rolling pin, gifts from Mr. Tomasini. Mr. Tomasini had also given J.J. two dollars wrapped in a paper on which he had carefully written out the recipe for his famous cinnamon buns.
It hadn't all been easy, though. There'd been the packing, the sad good-byes and a fear of the unknown mixed in with the excitement. Hardest of all had been keeping the promise made to Eliot.
The first two nights hadn't been too bad. They slept in their union suits and pushed their pillows far apart. On Saturday, Luke made up some chore to do and so didn't come in to bathe until after J.J. had finished and dressed. J.J. pretended to read in the parlor until Luke was finished. Only then did he go and help with scrubbing out the tub.
Four nights later J.J. had a wet dream. In the morning, a dampness at Luke's crotch gave evidence of his own dreams. Perhaps that, and another like it, helped them get through the next days, perhaps not. At any rate, the promise had been kept and now, here in this tent with three other men, it was still being kept. J.J. didn't know how much longer he was going to be able to last.
loud snore came from somewhere on the other side of the tent, probably from one
of the Kirlew brothers. They were on their way to
The hotel was a very special treat from Mr. Clifford.
Luke and J.J. had arranged their passage to
At the shop Mr. Clifford had tried to put the chain around J.J.'s neck and J.J. had stepped back, blurting out that the chain was not for him but for Luke. "I thought as much," Mr. Clifford had said with a fond smile. "Then we shall have to wrap it in printed paper, won't we, with perhaps a bit of silk ribbon."
While busy with the wrapping, Mr. Clifford had asked J.J. about the story in the paper, the one about him and Luke leaving town. When J.J. confirmed it he'd wanted to know all the details.
"You're quite fond of each other, you and Luke, aren't you? I mean..." Mr. Clifford raised one eyebrow.
J.J. had nodded. It was always so easy to talk to Mr. Clifford and he always seemed so interested in what J.J. had to say that it just seemed natural to answer.
then. I should like to give you a little gift of my own, if I might." He
went to his desk, dipped his gold pen in the ink well and wrote on a stiff,
white card. "When you get to
"Oh, Mr. Clifford. We couldn't. It's too much." Luke had no idea how much a hotel room would cost but he knew it had to be a great deal.
"I think not, J.J. And I know Mr. English will be most happy to have you in his establishment. I shall write to him tonight and tell him to expect you. Now here, take Luke's gift and be off with you."
He had opened the door and then put his hand on J.J.'s shoulder. "I should like to hear from you, when you get settled in Devil's Shaft. I've grown quite fond of you, you know and I would like to know you've arrived safely."
The chain, wrapped and tied, was in J.J.'s Gladsome, waiting to be given to Luke.
He turned on his side and, at last, began to drift into sleep.
They slept until six when a great clanging awoke them. The cook pushed his head through the tent flap and loudly struck the large triangle he was holding. "Breakfast in ten minutes, gentlemen. Then you'll have another hour on the stage before you connect up with the train."
He struck the triangle again and left.
The men rubbed sleep out of their eyes and arose, one by one. Dressing was accomplished quickly since all of them, with the exception of Rusty Clark, had slept in their clothes. Rusty had stripped himself down to nothing but a pair of blue and white stripped short legged drawers. They were the prettiest drawers J.J. had ever seen, with large, blue-dyed mother of pearl buttons and he made up his mind that one day he would have a pair like them.
After breakfast, back in the stage coach, excitement ran high. Buddy Kirlew took a poll and found that none of them had ever ridden on a train before. His brother Don wondered to himself why Rusty looked so worried until he realized what must be going through Rusty's mind: you can't just up and ask the engineer to stop the train so you can get off and relieve yourself. He began to chuckle.
"What's so funny," Luke asked him.
shook his head. "Nothing. Nothing.
Say," he said to Luke but watching Rusty out of the corner of his eye,
"I hear this train we're going on is one of Southern Pacific's best
express trains. Only makes two stops between
Luke had caught on to the game but thought Rusty suffered enough as it was. "I didn't hear that," Luke replied, "But I did read where these are the most modern coaches in the world. Why, they even have indoor plumbing."
"Indoor plumbing?" Rusty sounded almost desperate.
"Sure," Luke said, looking at him. "You know, a little room in each car where you can go to relieve yourself. Any time you want." He was gratified to see a smile come back to Rusty's face; Rusty even uncrossed his legs. Luke winked at J.J. who smiled back. He was pleased with Luke for ending the joke.
hour later the stage pulled up at
"It's so big!" Luke exclaimed, his eyes glittering. He gasped when smoke suddenly poured out of the wide stack and steam hissed out at the side, enveloping a man walking along the tracks. For a moment they feared for the man, until he reappeared like an specter out of the mist.
"And to think," J.J. whispered, "we're really going to ride in that." He had to restrain himself from jumping up and down or clapping his hands.
went to see that their trunks were put safely aboard the baggage car and then
were directed to the passenger car specified on their tickets. The stage driver
handed each of them a box lunch which the camp cook had prepared for them and
waved them off. The
found seats up near the front of the car and J.J. pushed their valises onto an
overhead rack while Luke assisted a lady with her hat box. Rusty came and sat
down in front of them, just across the aisle from the door to the convenience.
car lurched, startling them. A man across the aisle told Luke that it was only
a freight car being added to the train. Probably produce on its way to the big
trip, so very exciting at first, quickly became tedious. The scenery was
beautiful: low, rolling hills, green from the recent rains and dotted with huge
oak trees. It was beautiful but quickly became monotonous, not far different
from what they had left behind in
They ate their box lunches of fried chicken, bread and small, hard apples, during a stop at one of the stations and drank some cool water, thoughtfully provided, free, by the railroad. It was about the only free thing the railroad did provide.
After lunch, back on the train, Rusty asked Luke and J.J. what they planned to do when they reached Devil's Shaft.
"Work," Luke replied. "Make our fortune in the gold fields."
"He's going to make a fortune in the gold fields," J.J. laughed. "I plan a quieter time, working in a bakery."
starting one, if there isn't one there," Luke said. "What about you,
Rusty? What's your plan? You going to stay in
Rusty seemed to hesitate. "I don't know. Maybe, maybe not."
"You got people there or what?" Luke asked.
"Oh, no. No. I'm just going to... Well, to see a Doctor," Rusty stammered. He suddenly jumped up and hurried to the convenience, almost forgetting to close the door behind himself in his haste.
"I hope you'll excuse me," he said when he returned, "but, see, I have... Well, I don't know what but whatever it is, it makes me have to pee about a hundred times a day. Ol' Doc. Henderson, he said I should come up here and maybe this doctor he knows can do something about it." He looked a little chagrined. "It gets kinda embarrassing, you know? Always looking for a bush to get behind."
They both agreed with that.
"So, I just hired myself out every place I could 'till I saved enough to come see the doctor. I sure hope he can fix it."
as they drew closer to
then they arrived. Through a tunnel, across land scattered with houses and
small farms, past some tidelands and there they were, in
J.J. Nothing like
They might have spent the entire afternoon standing on that platform if it hadn't been for Rusty who found a friendly cab driver who seemed to know his way around.
The cab driver hollered at a uniformed man with a dolly and got him to take Luke and J.J.'s trunks out and secure them on the back of his cab. He made J.J. give the man a dime and then piled them, along with Rusty and Rusty's meager luggage, into the cab. He took Luke and J.J. to Mr. English's hotel on Kearny St. first, charging them an extra dime for each trunk, and then went off with Rusty, taking him to a boarding house the doctor had recommended to him.
English himself met them at the door, welcoming them to
"Excuse me," Luke said, suddenly remembering his manners and snatching off his hat, "but who is Michael?"
"Michael? Why, he's your friend, the jeweler. Michael Clifford." He looked from one to the other of them and then smiled. "Ah, but he is your friend," he said, looking at J.J. "Yes, I remember now, he said it was the taller, blond man he knew. You," he fixed his eyes on Luke, "are his friend. Ah, life is so confusing and yet so beautiful, too, don't you agree?"
He stepped around behind a small counter in the foyer and pushed a large ledger book towards J.J. and then handed him a pen. "Just your name, please, right," he laid his finger on a line, "there. And you," he nodded at Luke, "will sign just below. Now let me see, what have I done with those keys? Luther? Luther!"
The houseman appeared through a doorway at the back of the foyer. "Yes?"
"Luther, what have you done with all the keys? The gentlemen," he gestured at J.J. and Luke, who was now signing the register, "must have keys."
J.J. looked over Luke's shoulder, watching as Luke wrote his name in the book. J.J. suddenly looked puzzled but did not speak.
"I have them." Luther held up a small ring with two keys hanging from it. "Shall I escort the gentlemen up?"
"Certainly, certainly. The gentlemen are tired and dusty from their journey. I'm sure they'll want a bath and perhaps," he gave them a conspiratorial smile, "a nap. And then some food, of course. It is now," he looked at the ormolu clock on the wall opposite, "just after . You shall have a light supper at, let us say, eight. I shall prepare it myself. Now off with you, off with you. Luther will see you to your rooms."
"This way, gentlemen, you're just up here," he indicated a wide stairway with a most curious carved Cupid standing on the newel post, "on the second floor." He led them upwards, their footsteps muffled by a richly patterned oriental runner which was held in place by brass rods, fastened to the treads with fancy brass fittings.
"Here we are," Luther said, turning to the right in front of the gilt mirror at the top of the stairs. He opened a door and bowed the two young men into a room the likes of which they had never before seen. The walls were covered with a pale yellow fabric which had some sort of figure worked into it with silver thread. Velvet, of a light brown color, hung at the windows and covered two comfortable looking chairs facing a fireplace which had a marble columned front and mantle. On the mantle stood a small, gilt French clock with matching candle sticks at each side. Against one wall stood a marble sideboard holding an enormous arrangement of exotic flowers.
"The bedroom is here." Luther slid open a broad door revealing another room, almost as large as the one in which they stood. That room was finished in pale blue with a dark blue spread and canopy over the largest bed either of them had ever seen. The bed, dresser, chest and armoire were of some light colored wood, beautifully carved and with pulls of gilt and crystal. There was nothing about either room that could possibly remind Luke of that other hotel room, so far away and so long ago. He was greatly relieved.
"I've run your bath for you," Luther said, opening yet another door. Over his shoulder J.J. could see a huge tub, filled with what appeared to be steaming foam. A smell of vanilla permeated the air.
Luther left them, then, suggesting they make use of the bath before it got cold.
"I don't believe it, J.J.," Luke said, testing the softness of the bed with his hands. "Are you sure Mr. Clifford meant us to have all this? I mean, he didn't just arrange to book us here, did he?"
pulled out the card Mr. Clifford had given him. "It says right here, 'the
bill is to be sent to me here, in
Quickly they undressed each other and then, hurriedly, before passion could take over, went to take their bath.
The bath tub was a huge white enamel affair with brass feet that had been fashioned into claws balancing atop silvery balls. The vanilla aroma seemed to be coming from whatever Luther had put in the water to make all the foam. They climbed in together and sat, facing, gazing at each other, the heat of the water both relaxing and exciting them.
Luke had just reached out, beneath the suds, to find J.J.'s rigid sex when there was a loud knock at the door. He jerked his hand back, a stricken expression on his face but J.J. just laughed. "Don't worry," he whispered. "No one could see through all this foam." There was another quick knock and they heard the door open. A moment later Luther appeared in the bathroom, carrying a tray.
"Complements of the house," he said, placing two glasses on the low shelf just behind the tub. "Good whiskey, imported. Just the thing to sip while you relax in the bath. Now don't forget, supper will be served in your sitting room at eight." He was gone as quickly as he'd entered.
Without a word Luke climbed out of the tub and went to the bathroom door, closing and locking it. Only after he had tested the latch, making sure it was secure, did the look of panic leave his face.
J.J. had no idea what Luke might be thinking but by the expression on his face, he thought it best left alone. He held out his arms, pulling Luke back into the water with him.
Each of them, in his own mind, had planned to wait until they were in the bed but Nature was not to be denied. The embraced awkwardly, slipping against each other in the water, and erupted, suddenly, violently, and without great pleasure. When it was over they both felt more relieved than anything else; then, as they washed each other, kissing, touching, holding each other, true passion began rise in them. They quickly got out and dried each other with the thickest, softest towels they had ever touched.
J.J. pulled the dark blue silk spread off the bed while Luke went to the hall door and locked it. He also wedged a side chair under the doorknob and then draped his coat over it. The phrase in case the maid should drop something just outside came into his mind but he pushed it away.
The sheets on the bed were pale blue, matching the color of the walls, and smooth, almost like silk while the pillows were huge and soft as clouds. Neither of them took very much notice.
They spread their love making out, taking delight in it, laughing sometimes, sometimes serious. They spoke to each other in little whispers and said things they had never said before. Most of all they gave each other pleasure and love. Then, finally, they slept.
At there was a knock at the door. Luke came awake but without the panic of before. He pulled on one of the rich dressing gowns that had been left for them and went into the sitting room, closing the sliding door.
Luke removed the chair, feeling a little chagrined, and opened the door to find Mr. English, holding a large tray. He stepped into the room and looked Luke over critically.
"Ah, yes, I'm glad to see you took my advice and had a bit of a nap. Nothing like a bath and a nap, and so on, to rejuvenate a man. And where is your companion?"
Luther, who had been standing behind Mr. English, moved into the room wheeling a serving cart which gave off delicious smells. He went to a small table folded against the wall and opened one of its leaves. As he smoothed a white cloth over the table J.J. pushed the doors to the bedroom open. He was wearing the other dressing gown.
"So, here is our young man now," Mr. English exclaimed, busying himself at the fireplace. "You are hungry, I'm sure. Well, we shall see to that, yes indeed, we shall see to that."
"We'll go change," Luke said, gesturing to J.J.
"No, No. That's not necessary. Not at all," Mr. English said, striking a match to the kindling he had arranged in the fireplace. "You are not fully rejuvenated I'm sure, and will wish to return to the bed soon after your meal. Stay as you are." He waived them to the chairs in front of the fire.
There was a soft knock on the door and Mr. English called out something very foreign in sound. The door opened and the first Chinese man Luke and J.J. had ever seen entered, carrying a stack of linens. He bowed to Mr. English, turned and bowed to Luke and J.J., then disappeared into the bedroom.
Luther held out a tray with two small glasses of cold, white wine which Luke and J.J. took and sipped in silence while Mr. English puttered about the room and Luther laid the table. When all was in readiness Luther rang a tiny silver bell and Mr. English ushered them to the table.
First there was a well seasoned stew of oysters, cream and leeks, served in small china bowls set in silver holders. The stew, Mr. English said, would serve to stimulate all the appetites.
Next there was grilled chicken breast, masked with a small amount of a rich cream sauce and sprinkled with chopped chives. The chicken was accompanied by the smallest, sweetest green peas they had ever seen and it was all served with more of the cold, crisp, white wine. Neither of them had ever eaten such tender chicken.
The chicken was followed by a small pat of soft, rich chocolate, flavored with mint and decorated with a rose made of whipped cream.
Afterward they were invited to relax again in the chairs by the fire. There they were served a good, strong coffee which, to their amazement, was brewed right there by pouring boiling water into a silver canister set atop each cup. Cream and sugar were offered and refused as the coffee proved to be quite delicious in its own right.
While they enjoyed their coffee, Mr. English arranged a small platter of cheese, a pierced silver bowl filled with small green apples, a decanter of deep red wine, and two small glasses on the marble sideboard.
"Oh, sir," J.J. said to him, "I don't think we could eat another thing." He looked to Luke for confirmation and Luke nodded.
Mr. English laughed. "No, no, my young friend. Of course you do not wish this now. But later," he smiled indulgently at them, "later you will be happy for it. Yes, quite happy for it. But later. For now," he glanced at Luther who, having cleared the table, was just wheeling the serving cart to the door, "we shall leave you. I trust you will have a good night? Yes," he winked at them, "I am sure you will. Sure you will. Oh," he paused at the door, "breakfast will be at your convenience. Simply come down when you are ready and be assured, we shall not disturb you until you do come down. No. Not at all." He winked again and was gone, closing the door softly behind himself.
Luke and J.J. sat for a while, finishing their coffee and gazing at each other, their eyes slowly filling with desire. "Come on J.J.," Luke finally said, his voice turning husky, "let's go back to bed."
J.J. stood and his robe fell open, revealing his own excitement.
The Chinese man had done his work and left, silently, while they ate. Not only were there fresh, clean towels in the bathroom but he had also changed the sheets and made up the bed. J.J. wondered what he had thought about the disarray he had found but the thought faded away as Luke put his arms around him and began to touch him in that special way.
Later, they dozed--a light, contented sleep which alternated with slow bouts of passion that eventually culminated in great waves of pleasure for both of them.
They woke fully as the clock in the sitting room chimed three and they found that they were hungry again. Luke remembered the cheese and apples laid out on the sideboard so they went into the sitting room, built up the fire and sat, naked, in front of it, feeding each other slices of apple and sharp, crumbly cheese. They poured the wine--called Port--and found it to be very much to their liking.
"J.J.," Luke said, slicing another apple, "why do you suppose Mr. Clifford did this? I mean, why for us? It must be very expensive"
J.J. rolled over and kissed Luke in one of his favorite places. "I think maybe it was a sort of bonus or something."
Luke took a ragged breath. "Bonus?"
"Ummm. See, I..." Suddenly J.J. let go and jumped up. "I almost forgot." He ran off to the bedroom.
When he returned he was carrying a small package wrapped in paper printed with a fancy design and tied up with silk ribbon. He sat down and put the package in Luke's hand. "Here. Open it." He had a broad grin on his face and his eyes shone with anticipation.
Luke carefully untied the ribbon and unfolded the paper. Inside, wrapped in tissue, was the heavy gold chain. He looked up at J.J. "What's... I mean, why..." he stammered.
J.J. laughed. It's for around your neck, to hold your mother's ring."
"But J.J.," he hefted the chain in his hand, "how did you ever..."
"I didn't. I worked for it," J.J. said with pride. "Every day, after I finished at the bakery, I spent an hour straightening Mr. Clifford's store room and picking up after him." He laughed a little. "You know, for a man who dresses so neatly, he has very unorganized habits." J.J. kissed Luke again and then turned over, laying his head in Luke's lap, looking up at him. "It was supposed to be for Christmas but then I couldn't because I didn't want anyone to think... Well, you know."
Luke stroked J.J.'s hair. "I know. It was me that said we had to be careful."
"So after I'd worked out the cost of the chain, I kept on. It was kind of fun, learning a little about gold and stones and things. And Mr. Clifford was always so grateful when I straightened up and he could find things again. He was kind of disappointed when he heard we were going to Devil's Shaft."
Luke was having trouble with the knot in the rawhide thong around his neck.
"Here, let me do it." J.J. knelt behind Luke, prizing at the knot with a fruit knife. "Anyway, he made me take this chain--which is a lot heavier than the one I first picked out--and said he would take care of our stay in San Francisco. So, maybe it's a sort of bonus for all that cleaning up."
The knot came loose and Luke carefully took the ring off the rawhide loop. He held it out to J.J. who polished it with one of the linen napkins and then threaded it on the gold chain. They stood and went to the mirror over the sideboard so Luke could watch as J.J. drew the chain around his neck and locked the clasp.
"Thank you, J.J.," he said, with a tear in his eye. "Thank you."
They stood for a moment, in front of the mirror, looking into each other's eyes. Then they laid in front of the fire and made love for a very long time.
It was near ten the next morning when they came out of their room, bathed, combed, and shaved. They were ravenous.
Mr. English met them in the foyer and took them into a little breakfast room which had a view of the garden and took what morning sun there was. He immediately poured coffee, put rolls and butter on the table and then went into the kitchen.
Twenty minutes later Luther came through the door and served them platters of beefsteak and fried potatoes with onions. There were also side dishes of sliced tomatoes, cheese, hard boiled eggs and preserved fruit.
They ate it all.
As Luther cleared the table, Mr. English inquired as to their plan for the day.
"We'd like to see some of the sights," J.J. said, the excitement clear in his voice. "I've read about your tall buildings and the great mansions and the odd trolleys..."
"Yes, yes, we have all of that and more. Luther," he called into the kitchen, "where are our maps? The free ones, from the bank." He turned back to Luke and J.J. "I shall draw out a route for you, so you will see what we have to offer the tourist."
Luther came into the room and handed a thick folded paper to Mr. English and then continued with his clearing chores.
Mr. English showed them, on the map, where they were and then indicated the places of interest for them. "Now, don't try to do it all today. You have tomorrow as well, I believe, so don't wear yourselves out."
He gave them some tokens for the cable cars, told them about some good though cheap places for a meal and sent them on their way. "Now remember," he called at the door, "supper is at and I will expect you to be on time."
They walked through the business section of town, marveling at the buildings and commenting on how well everybody was dressed and how fast they walked, all seemingly intent on some urgent business.
They walked back and forth in front of the elegant Palace Hotel before they built up sufficient courage to enter the lobby. There they were amazed by the marble and gilt and stained glass and carpet. There was a room, a dining room, which was carpeted from one wall to the other, with no floor showing around the edges at all. A doorman directed them out into the great carriage lobby where carriages and their horses actually came into the center of the hotel to discharge their passengers. They could hardly speak with the wonder of it all.
in the day, after a cable car ride up a long hill, they lounged against the
wall of the great mansion belonging to Mr. James Flood and looked out, across
"Luke?" J.J. stared out at the teaming waterway. "Why'd you sign that way? In the book at Mr. English's."
"Sign? Oh, yeah." He looked down at his boots. "Well, I got to thinking about what Eliot said about Hiram thinking we were real brothers and all. I... I never did have much of a family and you and your ma and your pa and all made me feel like I was part of you so... It just came out." He looked up at J.J. "And it might be easier, folks thinking we're brothers, not just... well... I don't know. Not what we are, I guess."
J.J. had his hands deep in his pockets and now began to pace a little on the smooth, concrete sidewalk.
"Is something wrong, J.J.? Shouldn't I have?"
J.J. stopped his pacing and pushed his hands deeper into his pockets. "Oh, no, Luke. No. It's just that... It's like, well, like we belong to each other now. I can't explain it, but," he faltered, unable to continue.
"Then why do you stand like that, you hands jammed down in your pockets like you're angry?"
J.J. looked up in surprise and then, realizing how he must look, began to laugh. "Oh, Luke, I'm not angry. It's control. I'm so afraid I'm going to grab you and hug you right here on this street that I've got to keep hold of myself, that's all." He held out his arms. "See?"
They both began to laugh and then found themselves hugging each other anyway, right there on the street. Then they said to hell with sight seeing and went back to Mr. English's and took a nap.
To be continued.
Comments, suggestions or criticisms always appreciated and always answered.