One Night in December
The following is fiction. Although some of the events depicted are based on actual happenings they are only incidental to the story and do not constitute a basis in reality.
The story is copyright, the reader may download a copy for his/her own use, but republishing or archiving on other websites or newsgroups without the author's permission is strictly prohibited. All rights are reserved.
The following story contains references to men having strong emotional and physical feelings for members of their own sex. You shouldn't read it if you're below the age of consent in your community or if said community doesn't allow you to access such material.
The author would like to thank Drew Hunt for his inspiration in the writing of this story. Without his love, friendship and editorial help the author would never have had the courage to even try to write a story such as this. Thanks go to Tim Mead as well. His editorial help and encouragement have been invaluable. T. O'Reilly 7/14/06.
I was in my classroom at school. It was my prep time: last hour of the day again this year. I wasn't sure whether I appreciated this or not. It was nice to be done teaching a bit early in the day. But with no absolute requirements being made on me, I'm afraid that I wasted more time than I would if prep had been earlier in the day. I was trying hard to concentrate.
"Mr. Bennett?" the intercom speaker squawked.
"There's been a delivery for you here in the office," the appliance replied.
I thought I heard giggling. "Okay, I'll be right down."
I walked down the hall to the glass enclosed office. Both secretaries were standing behind the counter smiling at me through the branches of an enormous bouquet of red roses.
`Holy Mother of Pearl,' I thought, `what's he done now?'
"Oh, Mr. Bennett," twittered Martha. "I think you got a secret admirer." I cringed inwardly at her lack of grammatical correctness. Sarah, the other secretary laughed lightly. "The card isn't signed."
`How the hell did she know the card wasn't signed?' I took the card out of its holder. It wasn't in an envelope. So much for privacy.
"Come on, tell us who they're from," Sarah begged.
Had she been hibernating in a cave for the last two years? Everyone at school knew that Andy and I were partners.
The card read, "Happy Valentine's Day, Red. Twit twit 00000. L. B."
"Who calls you Red?"
"Come on tell us!"
"What do those silly words mean?"
The ladies continued to fire rapid questions at me.
I took a deep breath. "Ladies," I didn't quite know how to answer them. Of course L.B. was the nickname I used for Andy, `Little Beaver.' The `twit twit' thing was his imitation of the loon mating call. The loon was the symbol used by certain Native American tribes for whom homosexual relations were accepted. The loon often forms same sex partnerships. It was Andy's way of saying `Wait till you get home'.
`T.M.I.' I thought, `T.M.I.' "Ladies," I continued, "believe it or not I did have red hair when I was younger, I haven't the foggiest what `twit twit oooo means," I lied, "and L.B. is Lauren Bacall."
"Who's she? Do we know her?"
`Oh God,' Here I thought I was being cute and they didn't know who Lauren Bacall was. Now I really felt old. Maybe I should've said Lucille Ball. Then they would've gotten the joke, maybe.
"These are from Dr. Barnes," I confessed.
"Oh that's so sweet. I wish my boyfriend would've remembered it was Valentine's Day," said Martha.
"I'm sure my husband won't," moaned Sarah. "You sure are lucky to have found a man like Dr. Barnes."
"Ah, yes, thanks, I think so, too." I wasn't sure I was comfortable yet with my gay side being paraded about quite so openly at school.
I walked down the hall holding the vase of flowers in front of me. As I approached my classroom I was nearly bowled over by someone charging down the hallway at top speed.
"Mr. B. I'm sorry. I need help. Please help me. Please."
It was Brad Sturgis.
"Brad, what's wrong?" Brad had graduated middle school two years before. He was now a sophomore at the high school. He was one of my favorite students. He'd been in my weight training club that Andy often helped me with.
He was out of breath and white as a sheet. Mr. Collins, his high school strength training and conditioning coach, came around the corner.
"Hi, Stan," I said, "What's this all about?"
"Let's go in your room," Stan replied, "Brad's had quite a shock. He insisted that I drive'im here to you."
We went into my room and Brad collapsed into the first desk he came too. He started crying.
I went to my knees beside him and put my right arm around his shoulders and my left hand on his thigh. In one of those bizarre moments that make you feel schizophrenic, I experienced a surge of appreciation for the muscular young man I felt beneath my touch. While at the same time I chastised myself for feeling sexual toward this boy who was obviously in distress.
"Brad, what happened?"
He continued to cry. I looked up at Stan.
"The state police called the school. Brad's parents've been in a serious accident. They're at St. Joe's emergency."
"Mr. B. what am I gonna do?" Brad moaned. "Will you go there with me? I can't go alone. Please, Mr. B."
"I offered to drive `im but he said he wanted you," said Stan.
"Of course I will."
The classroom phone rang.
"Twit twit oooooo!" I heard through the receiver. Andy was giving me his loon invitation to sex.
"Hey, David, did you get the flowers?" I could hear the smile in his voice.
"Yes, I did. Thank you. Listen, Andy, we have a situation here. Brad Sturgis just came in. His parents have been in an accident. It's pretty serious, I think. Meet us at St. Joe's."
"I'm on my way."
We arrived at the emergency room and went straight to the triage desk. The nurse on duty looked up.
Brad looked at me.
"This is Brad Sturgis. His parents have been brought here."
"And you are?" Said the nurse in a bored tone looking at me.
"I'm one of his teachers," I replied irritably. Why did she have to act so impersonally?
"Name?" She asked, again in that impersonal tone.
"Brad." He said.
"No," she looked at him over the rims of her glasses, "I mean," she said as if talking to a kindergartener, "your parents' names?"
I felt like punching her.
"Edward and Rhonda Sturgis."
Her demeanor changed immediately.
"Oh, come with me, Brad. I think you better come, too," she said looking at me with eyes that said more than her words.
As she was leading us to a conference room Andy arrived. I hugged him and told him what I knew. He said he would wait in the lounge area.
"Why are we going in here," asked Brad? "I want to see my mom and dad."
"Dr. Rayburn will want to see you first," said the nurse, now full of compassion and sympathy. `This isn't good,' I thought.
As we waited, Brad paced the floor. I sat ready to intervene should it become necessary. I was pretty sure it would be.
Dr. Rayburn entered the room. He introduced himself and asked Brad to sit down. I sat next to him.
"When can I see my mom and dad?"
"Brad, I'm terribly sorry, you're mom didn't make it."
With those few words I could see Brad's world start to crumble.
I stood up beside him and placed both hands on his shoulders. He shook his head as if trying to rid his mind of the news he had just received.
Dr. Rayburn looked as if he would've rather been anywhere but here. "Your dad is on life support. He is in critical condition.
Brad took a deep breath. "I want to be with him."
The doctor looked at me. I nodded. He asked us to follow him.
We entered the cubical where Mr. Sturgis lay. He was on a ventilator. IV's were running in both arms. A heart monitor beeped ominously in the background. Brad walked over to the side of the bed and took hold of his father's hand. He stood there for a long time. Then he said, "Dad, I love you."
Fifteen minutes later they pronounced Edward Sturgis dead.
"Yes, Mrs. Sturgis," I said speaking on the phone to Brad's grandmother. "I will take care of Brad until you get here. . . No, it's no trouble. Let us know when your plane is to arrive. Brad and I will pick you up at Metro."
Brad was sitting on the couch with Andy. Jake and Annie were doing what they could to help. Both were sitting with their heads on Brad's knees. Dogs know.
"What am I gonna do? I got nobody `cept Gram. What am I gonna do? He looked pleadingly at me. Brad was an only child and his only uncle lived in California. He had six kids of his own.
Andy looked at me. He put his arm around the boy's shoulders. I took a deep breath and blinked back tears.
"I don't wanna go home. I don't wanna be alone. Can I stay here with you?"
"You sure can, Bud," Andy said.
That night Andy and I were curled into a ball on our bed. There was no thought of sex this night. Well, not entirely, anyway. We had other, more pressing, things on our minds: Brad. How quickly life could change. Both of us were trying to formulate a plan for the boy.
The door to our room quietly opened. Silhouetted in the light from the street lamp that streamed in through the window we watched as a young man in his white briefs made his way to the side of our bed. He carried a pillow and blanket. Without a word he lay down on the trundle with the dogs. They made room for him. I turned over and reached down. He took my hand. Andy spooned himself behind me. United in his grief we fell asleep.
Mrs. Sturgis, Brad and I made our way to the parking lot at Metro. With relative ease we had come through the busy baggage claim and were loading her suitcases in the car. We left the airport by the Eureka Road exit as it was less congested. On the way back to Ann Arbor Mrs. Sturgis, Bertha, as she insisted I call her, asked to be taken directly to the funeral home. Arrangements needed to be made. On the ride there and after the arrangements had been completed we talked about Brad's future.
"Bradley tells me that he has talked with you about his staying in your home to complete his year at school"
"Yes, Mrs. . . er, Bertha. He would like to continue here in the fall as well. He's a good football player and would likely be offered a good athletic scholarship if he continues to do well."
"Why would living with me in Connecticut not offer him the same opportunities?"
"Well, it's more advantageous to have a continuous program at one school. That way his coaches know him better and can make a stronger case for his recruitment. Sometimes switching schools means you have to give up some playing time until the new program recognizes your talent."
"I see. And how would your wife feel about this living arrangement?"
"My wife passed away several years ago."
"I am sorry, Mr. Bennett."
"David, please," since Bertha offered me that courtesy I thought it only right that I offer her the same.
"All right," she smiled, "David."
"All my children are grown and have left the nest. There's plenty of room."
"Well, Bradley won't be in need of financial aide I'm sure. His father would have provided for him adequately and with the sale of the house, I doubt that an athletic scholarship would be needed."
"Gram," Brad interrupted. "I want to play football. Even if I have enough money to pay for college I want to go to a good school with a respected program. That's why it's important that I stay here."
"I see," she said again. "Well, if that's what you really want?"
"Oh Gram! It is!"
"Would I be able to see you in the summers at least?"
"You bet! Well, I'd have to come back in August for conditioning and football camp."
"I'll take this under consideration, but. . . it seems to be in your best interest to stay with David. But, just let me think about it a while longer."
"Gram you're the best." He hugged her.
The funeral was three days later. I had been at the chapel every evening with Brad and Bertha. Andy hadn't come due to a series of veterinary emergencies. However, he was going to be able to attend services that afternoon. We walked in together about a half hour before they were scheduled to begin.
Bertha walked up to us. "Hello," she said to Andy, extending her hand. "I don't believe we've met. I'm Bertha Sturgis, Bradley's grandmother."
"Pleased to meet you ma'am. I'm Andy Barnes, David's partner."
"Partner?" Bertha looked at me. "I didn't realize that you had a business in addition to your teaching." She looked back at Andy, "What sort of business is it?"
"I'm a vet," Andy replied, "but David isn't my business partner. He is my life partner."
"Life partner? Oh. . . I see." A strange look crossed Bertha's face. "Well, very nice to meet you. Thank you for coming." She abruptly turned and walked away.
The services were hard to take for all of us. We all felt for Brad. He was an only child and now he was alone except for his Grandmother, Andy and I. After the ceremony at the cemetery we returned to the church where the altar society had prepared a luncheon. Brad sat with us but his grandmother sat with his uncle Ned and his family from California.
I began to get concerned when I didn't hear from Brad for the next two days. Finally he called.
"Mr. B. you gotta come talk with Gram. She's changed her mind. She is gonna make me go to Hartford with her. I don't know what's goin' on. She won't tell me why."
"Is she there, Brad? Let me talk to her."
"She's not here. Can't you come over here? I don't know what changed her mind."
"Okay," I said.
After determining when Mrs. Sturgis would be home, I called Andy. He offered to go over to the Sturgis' home with me but something told me it would be better if I went by myself.
"Good afternoon, Mr. Bennett." No more David? "I'm glad you came over. I need to talk with you about our change in plans for Bradley. Bradley please leave us alone."
"But, Gram, this is about me I should be able to. . . "
Brad left the room.
We sat down. I waited for Bertha, I guess it was Mrs. Sturgis again, to begin.
"Mr. Bennett, I have decided it would not be appropriate for Bradley to stay with you and be influenced by your aberrant life style." My hackles rose. "I certainly would not want him to decide that your way of life was something he would be interested in."
I understood now. She hadn't been aware that I was gay and in a relationship with a man. I willed myself to remain calm.
"Mrs. Sturgis, being gay," she shifted uncomfortably, "is not something you decide to be. It is something you are. Of course there are those who are not homosexual that choose to engage in homosexual behavior. But, in the end it is something that is determined by other factors, possibly genetic ones. Bradley either is gay or he isn't." She reacted again to the use of that term. "His living with Andy and me wouldn't change what he is. Personally, I don't believe that Brad is gay. Living with Andy and me won't make him gay, just as living with you won't make him straight if that's not what he is inside."
"Be that as it may, homosexuality is an abomination to the Lord. I couldn't in good conscience allow Bradley to live in such an environment. While I appreciate your offer to take him in, I will not allow it."
The discussion continued for some time, but she remained convinced that I wasn't worthy of becoming Brad's guardian. I left with many of the negative feelings that I had worked so hard to overcome, rising to the surface again. Being gay was a curse. It was something you hid deep inside at all costs. If you were found out you were scum. You were a target. Things were slowly changing but it still wasn't a badge you could wear with impunity.
Andy listened to my account of the afternoon's events. He shook his head. "Same old, same old," he sighed. "I'm so sorry that she can't see that her side of things is . . . well, ridiculous. Brad is the loser here."
"We are, too, Andy, we are, too."
We didn't hear from Brad again after he left for Connecticut. We found out through the school grape vine he was gone.
Andy and I went to bed the night we heard that he'd left. We held each other. After a time the tightness in our chests relaxed. We were able to comfort each other through the union of our bodies. As we drifted off to sleep, I whispered, "We're here for you if you need us, Brad." I hadn't been allowed to say that in person. I could feel Andy nodding in agreement.
April arrived, and with it the first few days when you could be sure that winter was going to release us. March had been unusually winterish: very cold and lots of snow. For some reason I had been drawn to the barn despite the rotten weather. I seemed to need to be around the horses and horse people again. Some of the sadness of Meg's moving on was retreating. Her name was still on her tack cubby door: `Meg Bennett.' I don't know why Ben and Janet had left it there. Maybe they understood more than I gave them credit for. The love of horses, which Meg and I shared, had helped forge a deep and lasting bond between us.
Andy had gone with Ben and Janet to a spring horse show in Kentucky for the better part of a week. I missed him when he was gone like this even though it was often just for a long week-end. This time it seemed to be more acute.
I'd received an email from Brad. This was the first we'd heard from him since his grandmother had moved him back to Connecticut. From what he'd written he seemed okay but not his usual light-hearted self. The part of the letter that upset me the most was: "Gram has decided that I should go to a small Catholic high school here in Hartford. It doesn't have a sports program. I guess my dream of playing college ball is over."
"Shit!" That was so unfair. I didn't know what to do. I just knew I wanted to do something. Playing football was so important to Brad. It was his motivation for doing well in all areas of his life. Maybe that was why I wanted Andy at home. I wanted to talk with him. I needed some advice as to how to answer Brad's email. I called Andy's cell.
"Thank you for Calling Hawthorn Ridge Veterinary Practice. Please leave a message after the tone. If this is an emergency please call South Main Veterinary Clinic. The voice mail gave the number.
"Hi Andy, this is David. Just missing you and," I didn't want to cause him concern when he was away. " and, well, I was just missing you. See you soon. I love you."
When I came out of the shower I saw that the voice mail signal was flashing on our bedroom phone.
"Hi, hunk! I miss you, too. We're on the way home but will be really late so don't wait up. Have to settle a couple of new horses at the barn. Just keep the bed warm for me."
I smiled. That I could do, keep the bed nice and warm.
I sat down at the computer wrapped in a towel. No use getting dressed if my next stop was bed.
It was so good to hear from you. I'm really bummed by your news about school. I know how much sports mean to you. Just keep your chin up and hang in there. Maybe we can figure something out."
This was sounding so lame, but I didn't know what else to say. I just wanted him to know I understood. I wanted to give him hope but I hadn't a clue as to how I could help him. The rest of the email was filled with news about Andy and me, school and the barn.
I signed it off and sent it feeling very dissatisfied. But, the truth was I didn't know how we could help him. His grandmother was his legal guardian.
The dogs and I went up to bed. I dropped the towel off in the upstairs bathroom, checked out the reflection of Andy's `Hunk' in the mirror and decided the `Hunk' needed to lose a few pounds. Then I hit the sheets. Sleep didn't come right away. When it did it didn't last long.
I woke up to what sounded like jingling. `What the hell. . . ?' I turned over half sitting up leaning back on my elbows. The light went on from the wall switch. There leaning on his right shoulder against the door frame was Andy. His arms were folded on his chest. His right leg crossed over his left, he stood on one leg with his right toes on the floor. He had on black cowboy boots with spurs. That was the jingling I'd heard. He also wore a black cowboy hat, a red bandana, and a red thong with some sort of insignia on the left side. He smiled. I woofed.
"Hey, cowboy," I crooned, "Ain't this a role switcharoo. Ain't you supposed ta be Little Beaver?"
"Well, yep pardnar I usually is but, dang ifni' I don't like your this're cowboy hat of yorin. Whada ya think?"
"Good `nuf to eat, Ubetchim."
He chuckled, put his thumbs in the waistband of the thong and sauntered forward and stood by the bed. I crawled to the end of the bed on all fours and took his swollen package still wrapped tightly in the thong into my mouth. The taste of silk, the feel of his throbbing penis through the fabric, the male smell of him sent me into the farthest reaches of arousal. I wrapped my arms around his hips and enjoyed the firm roundness of his ass cheeks. He rubbed my head and massaged my shoulders. He reached down and freed himself from the confines of the thong and I took him deeply into my mouth and throat. His undulations began and he spoke my name over and over. Then he held his breath, stiffened and fired. I drank of his maleness until he was spent.
Without hesitation he reached for the lube in the bedside drawer. I crawled to the edge of the bed and sat. He spread the semi-liquid on my penis and turned his back to me. He slowly sat as I guided myself into him. With a shuddering sigh I took the full weight of this wonderful man onto my lap. He moaned in response. With a maddening slowness he raised and lowered himself on me. I ran my hands over his chest, caressing his sensitive nipples. My hands went down exploring the thick, red, pubic hair, the still erect penis, the round, full testicles. Finally, when I couldn't stand it any longer, I thrust upward harder and faster until I reached the edge. I wrapped my arms around his waist, laid my head against his back and poured my love into his body. He responded by climaxing a second time sending streams of his seed up onto my hands and his stomach.
Without bothering to clean up, he took off the boots and hat, kicked the thong off his leg and we crawled into bed. We held each other, we kissed, he turned over, I molded my body to his and we slept.
In the morning we had turned and I was lying facing away from Andy. He was spooned against me with his right arm resting lightly on my abdomen. As I lay there I noticed the red thong on the corner of the dog's trundle. I reached out, picked it up and brought it to my nose and breathed in the exquisite scent of my partner.
"Like that, do ya?" Andy said pressing himself more firmly against my back and at the same time reaching down to fondle me.
"Yes siree, sure do."
As I lay, enjoying the stimulation, relishing in the fact that we didn't have to stop as it was Sunday morning, I felt him adjust himself so that he was asking silent permission to enter my private space. I raised my leg slightly and granted him entry. He was a little light on natural lubricant, but the pain wasn't so bad that I couldn't endure it for the brief time it took him to remedy that situation.
This was heaven. He slowly manipulated me in cadence with his gentle thrust. There was no rush, no straining to reach orgasm, just a gentle persistent rhythm of love. All the while I clutched the thong to my face with one hand while stroking his masculine forearm with the other. Then with the same leisurely pace we reached and crossed the peak within moments of one another.
We dozed for about a half an hour. I woke and looked at the thong I still held in my hand. The insignia on the side was a black circle bisected by a feather.
"What does this stand for?" I asked him.
"Um, what?" He'd still been sleeping.
"The symbol on the thong. Does it mean anything?"
"Oh yeah it does." He snuggled into my neck and kissed me. "It's the sign of the loon. I read about it in a book a long time ago. It's the sign used by a group of Native Americans who identified themselves as members of a gay society. Pretty cool, huh?"
"More than cool." I turned over and kissed him with that special expression that comes following nights like the one we had just spent.
We finally pried ourselves out of bed, took care of the dogs and shared a shower, after which I insisted on wearing the red loon thong.
We were in the kitchen getting breakfast. I told him about Brad's email and my response to it. He frowned.
"Man, this is tough. I wish that there were some way to get across to Brad's gram that her position is needlessly taking away something that means so much to him. It might even have really negative effects on his future,"
"You're right, Andy, but her stand is based on her deeply rooted religious beliefs and those're gonna be hard to change."
At that moment the phone rang. It was Mike.
"Hey, Dad. How you all doin'?"
We talked for a half an hour about the family, John, his partner, and Brad. After I'd told him about Brad's email Mike was quiet for a time.
"I wish I had some advice or a solution to offer, but I don't know what can be done at this point."
It seemed none of us had a clue as to what we could do for Brad.
We said good-bye, but before the connection was broken, Mike said, "Oh Dad, I almost forgot. Peter, Angie and the boys are coming to Boston for a visit in July. Isn't that awesome!"
"That's great. I bet they have a different itinerary than you had for Andy and I when we visited last summer." I laughed.
"Yeah! Somehow I don't think P-Town or the gay bars would sit real well."
We said good-bye again.
After I had relayed Mike's side of the conversation to Andy, I asked him what he would like to do for the rest of our Sunday. He suggested we go out to the barn. They'd brought a couple of new horses in, he said, and he wanted to check on them. We cleaned up breakfast and hopped in the truck with the dogs in the back.
The barn was pretty busy as it was such a beautiful spring day. Lots of the boarders were there, riding and socializing. We made our way down the aisle and stopped at a stall which housed a nice looking gray thoroughbred. We continued on until we stopped again. In this stall was a sorrel quarter horse. He had a large white blaze and four white stockings. He was a quality horse by the look of him. Coming over to the doorway he nuzzled my outstretched hand.
"What's his name?"
"Check out the name plate," Andy said just as Ben and Janet walked up.
I read the name. Mr. Snazzy Showtime. "Sure fits with all that color on him," I said. My eyes then dropped to the owner plate beneath. Owned by David Bennett.
I stood for a minute trying to take it all in, when three voices sang out behind me. "Happy Birthday!"
"Are you serious?"
"Ubetchim," was Andy's reply.
I hugged each of them in turn and then entered the stall. Snazzy came to me and searched my pockets for a treat. I patted his red-gold neck. "How about this." I said pulling out a carrot. "This is just too much." I shook my head.
Andy wanted me to try him out immediately. We groomed and saddled him. I took him out to the outdoor arena in the sun. I knew immediately that this was no ordinary horse. He was light and responsive to my leg as we loped around the arena. His frame was perfect, his gait was true, as was the cadence.
"This is some horse," I breathed. "He's too much horse for just trail ridin'."
"You're right about that," said Andy. "That's not what I bought him for. You're gonna show'im." He broke into a broad smile.
"What!, I can't. . . I never. . . " I sputtered.
"Meg told us that all the while she was showin' you would say that someday you wanted to show yourself. Well, buddy, guess what? Someday just arrived."
He pulled a show bill out of his pocket. "Your first show is in five weeks, May 14th."
The next five weeks were spent training: not Snazzy, me. We hauled him over to Grand Rapids where the trainer who had worked with Meg had her farm. She was overjoyed to see us and loved Snazzy. We hauled there and worked for three week-ends straight. In between times I rode at the barn under Andy's and Meg's guidance. I went shopping for show clothes and a show saddle. Finally May 14th arrived.
I was pretty nervous as we pulled into the fairgrounds as the sun was coming up. Memories of show days with Meg came crowding into my mind. I smiled through my nerves.
As we unloaded the horse and got things set up old friends from our show days came up and renewed acquaintances, admired Snazzy and wished me well when they found out it was me showing and not Meg. The strange thing was that I would be showing with some of Meg's contemporaries. They had aged enough to be in the same age group, thirty and over, as I was. I felt old. I was showing against people I had known as children.
The first class of the day for me was showmanship at halter. My hands were shaking so much I could barely tie my tie. Andy finished it for me.
"You'll do fine," he said encouragingly, "just fine." His hands were resting on my shoulders and his blue eyes shone with pride.
"I don't know about that." I said.
"Know about what?"
It was Meg, Sean and the baby. They had come to see me show.
Meg immediately started putting the final touches on Snazzy's grooming. She applied hoof black to make his hooves shine, and show Sheen to make his coat glow in the sun. Finally she used tons of fly spray so he wouldn't be bothered by insects and could stand still in the ring. Then, while I got my sports jacket and hat she took Snazzy to the warm up area and started getting him tuned in to the pattern we would perform.
When the rest of us arrived there I was impressed with both Snazzy's responsiveness and Meg's retention of her showing skills. She went over the pattern with me, handed me the leather lead and we practiced it. In a kind of fog I led Snaz down to the entry gate.
"Hey!" Yelled Andy. "Your back number!" He pinned it on, gave me an extra pat on the butt and whispered "Good luck."
I got in line with the other contestants. When the girl in front of me started her pattern I walked to the gate and set Snazzy up square. The girl finished her pattern and trotted out. As she walked by she said, "Good luck, this pattern is a bear."
`Fuck! Just what I need to hear.'
The judge nodded to me. I nodded in return and we were off. In what seemed a blink of an eye I was leading Snazzy out of the arena. I couldn't remember doing the pattern at all. I had no clue to how I had done. My cheering squad was all over me when I reached the top of the small hill behind the arena.
"David, you did it!"
"Daddy you were awesome!"
I smiled and patted Snazzy.
"Except. . . "
"You left out part of the pattern. But, what you did of it you did really well."
"What did I???"
"You forgot to back three steps after the 360 turn over the haunches. But really, the rest was perfect."
That mistake meant no ribbon, of course, but no matter. I was glad it was over. I had done it and loved it. I could hardly wait for the next class.
We had a long wait. The English riding classes and lunch separated the Halter Division from the Western Division. Andy and I sat on the grand stand eating a hamburger and watching the English riders.
"Why don't you ride in the English classes?"
"Me in those tight little breeches? No thank you."
"Hey with that cute ass of yours. . . I'd love it. And besides the word around here is that this judge rides for our team." Andy winked at me. "That butt in those breeches might give you a real advantage."
"My butt is for your eyes only, Buster." I chuckled and knocked his cowboy hat over his face.
"More than my eyes, I hope," he retorted.
Meg had once again taken Snazzy to warm him up. Andy and I were struggling to get me into my chaps. They were like a second skin. Andy didn't waste the opportunity to grope me under the guise of helping me zip up the tight fitting chaps. The natural accentuation of my package caused by the fit of the chaps was now being augmented by the response I was having to being handled by my lover. And out in the open as well. Oh well, if the judge really was a member of the club this might catch his attention if my riding didn't.
"Now remember, Dad, this is Western Pleasure. Snazzy is being judged not you. All you have to do is guide him around the ring and stay out of his way. He is a great horse and he will do all the work." These were Meg's words of wisdom as I entered the ring with the eight other riders for Western Pleasure, 30 and over my first riding class of the day.
Around the ring we went following the announcers instructions. "Walk, jog, lope. Walk and reverse. Lope, jog, walk. Halt and back four steps." This time I didn't forget to back.
"Bring your horses to the center of the arena facing the grand stand," came over the speakers.
The eight of us lined up and waited for the announcement of the placings. `That'd been a good ride,' I thought. I was kind of daydreaming when I heard: "Third place to 321, Mr. Snazzy Showtime ridden by Dave Bennett."
I realized my number had been called but it didn't register until Snazzy moved out of the line to the gate. I patted the side of his neck, touched my hat to the judge, jogged out of the arena and collected my yellow ribbon. Andy was more excited than I was. He insisted I pose with the ribbon while he took a picture. I felt like a 4-Her again.
The next class was Western Horsemanship. This time the onus was on my shoulders. I was going to be judged on how well I rode. Meg coached me through the pattern I would be riding several times and I headed for the arena. The first part of the pattern went well. Then I got to a part where you had to reverse and back about ten yards. Unfortunately the command for stopping when going forward is the same as for asking a horse to back: squeeze with both legs and pull back on the rein. Again the tension of the situation got to me.
When I reached the marker where I was to stop, I applied the brakes as if I were going forward. Snazzy obediently kept backing up. I said, "Whoa" and applied the brakes again. Snazzy again obediently backed farther. I was almost to the end of the arena. Now I started yelling, "Please stop, please stop," pulling even harder on the reins and squeezing with all my might. I could hear laughter from the crowd. I was starting to sweat.
Then I recognized Meg's voice coming from the stands.
"Dad, release the reins!"
I did. He stopped. The crowd applauded. I blushed. The judge laughed and shook his head. Accentuated package or not. . . I wouldn't get a ribbon in this class.
Last class of the day: trail. I could handle this one. After all, trail riding was what I did all the time. This, of course was a simulation of what you might find on a trail ride but, hey, been there, done that. My only question was Snaz. I'd never taken him on a trail ride nor had I practiced any trail maneuvers with him. We would just have to see.
As I entered the trail course, Meg, Sean with the baby and Andy with his camera were on the rail. We walked to a post where I stopped Snazzy to put on a yellow rain slicker. He stood perfectly still. He even sighed. We proceeded placidly across a small bridge, turned left and picked up a gunnysack of cans from a barrel. I dragged them on the ground as was instructed. Snazzy didn't even look at them. I replaced the bag on a second barrel and turned him around to back through a maze. Backing we knew he could do.
Turning Snazzy around, we jogged through a zigzag of closely placed orange traffic cones, turned left again at the end of the arena, loped to a log, side passed to a mailbox and took out the mail. I showed it to the judge and then trotted over three more logs and through some brush. We were doing well. Then we had to go through a gate. Snazzy didn't understand my cues and so we blew that obstacle. I removed the slicker and nodded to the judge. The first horse show was in the books. We had two ribbons: a sixth place in trail to add to Snazzy's third, and a camera full of pictures.
I waited for Andy on the bed. Tonight I was going to be the cowboy. I lay propped up on the pillows with my hands clasped behind my head. The black cowboy hat pushed over my eyes. I was wearing the red bandana and the red loon thong, which was being stretched in anticipation of what I had planned. I wore my boots. My legs were crossed at the ankles.
Andy came in. He was wrapped in a towel and was drying his hair.
"Howdy thar, Beaver," I drawled.
Andy looked up from his towel, a slow smile spreading across his face.
"Howdy yourself, Red."
"I ain't properly thanked ya for that awesome hoss you buyed me. Mosey on over here, Indain. Get outa that breech clout"
Andy let the towel drop from around his waist and walked across the room. As he did I watched him lengthen, harden, and rise. He walked to the edge of the bed, climbed in on his knees and began massaging my calves, my thighs, and finally my balls and cock through the fabric of the thong. He reached underneath with his thumbs and rubbed the tender underside of my penis. Then he lowered his mouth and continued his ministrations. My cock was positioned to the left side of the thong with the loon insignia just below its head in the tender groove which was one of my hot buttons. He kissed and licked that area until I was close to bursting.
Then he backed off and moved slowly, gently, tenderly up to my abdomen, kneading and caressing with his hands and tongue. Laying his chest against the thong, he continued to move up my body to my chest and nipples. I squeezed his shoulders and back as he continued his climb to my face. My hands then sought and found those wonderful mounds of flesh below his waist. Once he reached his goal, his mouth covered mine and we were united once more in that most intimate of actions.
He began to undulate on top of me, his penis pressing against mine. Faster and stronger the strokes came until he breathed my name into my mouth and came. I continued to thrust upward until I, too, released my seed. Now, both the inside and the outside of the red loon thong were soaked with the fruits of our passion.
"Thank you," I whispered into his ear.
Our spring and summer fell into a pattern. About every other week-end or so I went to a horse show. If Andy was able to come with me he did, but often his veterinarian duties kept him from this. Usually Meg was there as well. Meg was happy to come to the show and act as groom. She even began talking about taking Snazzy in a couple of classes herself as we were in different age divisions. Besides, I never rode in the English classes so she could do that anytime.
Andy and I were sitting in the stands near the end of July watching the English riders, and once again Andy was teasing me about how cute my ass would look in tight breeches. Meg was showing Snazzy in this class, Hunter Under Saddle, and I was marveling at the versatility of my birthday gift from my guy. This horse could do anything it seemed. We had been steadily improving as a team. He was winning every Western Pleasure class. We were consistently placing in the top three in trail, and I was even getting a ribbon here or there in the other classes we did.
My cell rang.
"Damn!" I had already struggled, with Andy's more than willing assistance, into my tight chaps and couldn't get to the phone. It was trapped in my jeans.
By the time I had helplessly struggled to free the phone, accompanied by Andy's laughter, it had stopped ringing.
"They'll call back whoever it was," said Andy, still chuckling.
Almost before he finished that sentence, his phone rang. His cell was set to play 'Call to the Post' so that we could tell them apart when we were at home.
"Dr. Barnes." Then he turned to me and mouthed, "Oh my God! It's Brad."
We'd heard from Brad only sporadically over the past few months. We'd faithfully written encouraging messages of support. His responses had been few and far between, as well as brief. Reading between the lines, we knew he was very unhappy if not downright depressed.
"Slow down, Brad!. . . What did you say? . . . Holy shit, err cow, I mean." Andy looked at me apologetically. "Here, tell David what you just told me." He handed me the phone and at the same time gave my thigh a huge squeeze.
"Hi Brad. How are. . ."
"Mr. B. I'm coming home. I'm coming home."
"Brad, what happened? How come? Is your gram alright with this?"
Just as Brad launched into his explanation of how this miracle had come about, the PA system began to announce the placings for the Hunter Under Saddle Class. I'd decided that since Snaz was doing so well, I'd take him into the Western Pleasure Sweepstakes and win a bit of money as well as a ribbon if possible. It was the next class so Meg and I would have to change saddles and bridles double quick.
"Brad, sorry, I gotta go. Tell Andy what happened and I'll call you right back. This is great."
I handed the phone back to Andy, forgot myself and kissed him, let out a whoop and ran - as fast as a man can in skin tight chaps - for the entry gate where Meg was waiting with her blue ribbon in her teeth while trying to uncinch Snazzy's saddle.
I made the class, although I was the last one in the gate. It was hard to concentrate on riding as I could see Andy sitting in the stands still talking to Brad. Every time I went around that side of the Arena he would wave and give me the `thumbs up'. On the other side of the arena Meg would shout coaching instructions. I could hardly wait to find out what was going on.
When the class was over and I'd picked up our third place winnings, (I was sure my transitions were slow, I just couldn't maintain my concentration) I rode out of the arena to where Andy and Meg were standing.
"He'll be here in time for football camp and conditioning," Andy sang out.
As we went through the rest of the day, Andy filled me in on the conversation with Brad. There were several times when I just shook my head in amazement at how things can turn around so quickly. I had tears in my eyes several times as Andy told me just what had happened to make Mrs. Sturgis reverse her stand.
It seems that yesterday afternoon there was a phone call to Brad's home. Brad answered. The voice on the other end asked to speak to Mrs. Sturgis. After the phone conversation Brad's gram had asked that he make sure he was not at home that evening because they would be having visitors to talk about things of a sensitive nature.
Just as Brad was leaving the house the visitors arrived. It was my sons, Mike and Peter, and a young priest. He greeted them and left. When he had gotten home they were gone and his grandmother was sitting in the living room, crying softly.
"Bradley, I've been a fool. Can you forgive me," Brad reported her saying. The next thing Brad heard was that she would be making arrangements to move him back to Michigan and to call me to pick them up at the airport. He had given the flight number and arrival time to Andy. Brad would be home tomorrow night. He had no idea of what was said to change her mind but he didn't care, he was coming home.
That night Andy and I were celebrating his return in the way we celebrated most major (or minor, for that matter) events in our lives by making love.
"Well," I said, as we lay exhausted in each other's arms, "Once Brad is down the hall you'll certainly have to control your exuberance when you cum, my friend. No more yelling `Hallelujah and Glory be'!"
He chuckled. "And you'll have to stop shouting `Hot Damn, it's a gusher," he teased.
We both knew that we were kidding, but at the same time we understood that having a teen age boy living with us was going to change things around the house. Just how much it would change things we would have to discover in the days and weeks to come.
The plane arrived on time. Even the baggage claim seemed to want to cooperate in getting Brad settled in as soon as possible. As we drove home Brad babbled on and on about football camp, how he hoped he could play either tight end or middle line backer, how he had put on weight enough to play either position and how he had been working out at the local Balley's in Connecticut to stay in shape. He certainly showed the effects of those workouts. Bradley the boy had left Ann Arbor, Brad the hunk had returned.
I looked at Mrs. Sturgis in the rear view mirror. She had a contented smile on her face. The kind of smile that said she knew she was making the right decision. Since Brad's house had been sold he and his grandmother were staying with us. We stopped at TG Friday's for dinner and then went on to the house.
After getting Mrs. Sturgis settled she asked if we could go for a walk. She had some things she wanted to discuss with me. While Jake and Annie took us for that walk Andy and Brad continued to sort things out in his new room. A majority of his belongings had been shipped UPS over night and the boxes were still needing to be unpacked.
"David," she began. Hmm? I guess she was Bertha then, too. I smiled.
"David, I have to apologize for the way I acted after my son's and daughter-in-law's deaths. I've been brought to realize that things are not as black and white as they were taught to me. I am an old woman, raised in a strict religious tradition, that taught that sexual orientation such as yours in and of itself was cause for damnation. I had also believed that exposure to that lifestyle could influence a person to become a ho. . . to adopt that way of living for themselves. It was in that frame of thought that I made my decision to move Bradley out of Ann Arbor. I truly believed it was in his best interest."
"And now," she continued, "I am trying to be more open minded and accept that there may be more than one way of regarding these things. I'm not saying that I do not have my reservations about how you are living your life, but I am willing to try to see a point of view other than the one taught to me so long ago."
I nodded and smiled.
"Also, while I do not by any stretch of acceptance of this living situation wish for Bradley to enter into this way of life, I realize now that I neither have the right or the power to demand that he be one way or the other. This coupled with the fact that I saw how miserable he was in Hartford made me see that he would be better off here with you and Dr. Barnes."
"Brad told us that my sons, Peter and Mike, as well as a priest visited you. It was after that visit that you changed your mind?" I`d talked with both Peter and Michael and had heard their account of what had been said but I wanted to hear her side of the story.
"Yes, your sons are wonderful young men. They love you dearly, and it was that love for you that initially made me stop arguing with them and keep quiet and listen. Oh, yes, the first part of our discussion was not all tulips and daisies, I can assure you." She laughed softly. "When I began to see the respect that they had for you and for Dr. Barnes it was like a fog lifted and I saw you for what you really are: decent men, desiring only to do good for my grandson, not some seductive demons out to capture his innocence. Forgive me for being so graphic but those were my feelings at the time."
"I understand." I would have added `apology accepted' but I felt it would be somehow degrading to this brave woman who was struggling with the prejudices and bigotry of her generation.
"When your Peter told of how he had struggled to determine his own sexuality, in light of his brother's disclosure, and how you had unselfishly supported him, leading him in the direction that was right for him, not in the direction that you might have preferred. . . "
I wanted to interject that my preference was irrelevant in this situation, but again I merely nodded and let her continue.
". . . I knew Bradley would be safe with you."
"Thank you," was all I could manage to say.
"Then Michael, ah, so handsome and so successful, pointed out that both he and Peter had been raised in the same family under the same influences and they had adopted different orientations all together. That put to rest the last of my fears."
"And the priest?"
"Ah yes, Father Haines. His contribution was to point out that scriptures are open to many interpretations and that while the consensus seems to be that homo. . . er"
"Homosexuality," I completed the word that seemed to be a sticking point for her. It was as if she were afraid the word would offend me.
"Yes," she went on, "homosexuality is not part of God's plan, there is room for other points of view about what the Bible says on the subject. He gave me several books to read that forwarded other interpretations. The credentials of the authors seemed to be of the highest caliber. But, the real convincing argument was that because so many priests are . . . homosexual, and that Bradley was going to be in a school where many priests taught. Well," she paused here and gave a little laugh. "Well, I think you get the implication." She laughed again. "As Father Haines was leaving, he turned and added, `By the way, I ride the bus, too.' I take it that means. . . ?"
"Yes," I said, "I think you're right."
We finished our walk in silence, taking in the warm summer night and the singing of the insects. At some point she slipped her arm in mine.
Fall in Ann Arbor, Michigan is my favorite time of the year. Not only does it offer some of the best weather for trail riding and horse showing, it's also football season. Andy has always suggested my love for the sport is based on the tight pants the players wear showing off there delicious buns to perfection. I can't completely argue against that point.
This year we not only had U of M football to look forward to, but Brad playing on the high school football team as well. He had secured a starting position as tight end. Friday nights were spent either here in town or traveling to his games. Saturday afternoons were spent at the U of M stadium or gathered around the tube. Sunday's were trail rides or horse shows. Brad was a good sport. He was not all that comfortable around horses yet, but, he insisted on trail riding with us or helping out at horse shows as a way of saying thanks for our being at all his games and picking him up after practice.
It was on one of these beautiful fall evenings that Andy, Brad and I were returning from a trail ride. As the sun was setting a beautiful big orange moon was rising on the opposite horizon: the Harvest Moon. After we got the horses groomed and cooled out, I took Brad home to finish homework. Then I came back to pick up Andy, who had stayed at the barn to check on some horses he was treating, and to look over his vet appointments for the next morning.
When I walked into the office, Andy looked up and smiled at me. That smile with those wonderful blue eyes always did things to me that nothing else in the world could.
The barn was now deserted.
"Come with me." Andy got up and walked over to me, took my hand and led me out into the barn. As we walked down the aisle toward the big sliding back door he draped his arm over my shoulders. I put my arm around his waist. We ambled past the stalls with the horses munching quietly on their evening hay. When we passed Snazzy he raised his head and nickered asking for attention. We stopped and patted his nose. I straightened his championship cooler that hung on the rack attached to his door.
Mr. Snazzy Showtime
Western Pleasure Champion
Spurs and Saddles Horse Show Circuit
We came out the back door. Andy stopped me. He pointed up into the sky. The moon had now risen and had turned a luminous silver, bathing all the paddocks, ponies and trees with a soft magical light.
"Follow me." He led me around the side of the hay shelter. He stopped, walked inside and beckoned me to follow. The moonlight shining through the open walls of the shelter revealed blankets, a bottle of sparkling white grape juice, and two glasses.
"I wanted to celebrate out here in the moonlight."
"We've got a lot to celebrate: Brad, Snazzy, your practice."
"And us." He pulled me against him and kissed me.
We separated and stood facing each other in the moonlight. Slowly, never taking our eyes off each other, we undressed.
Finally we stood naked before each other, our bodies reflecting the silver that surrounded us. Our responses were full. We sank to our knees and embraced then slowly lowered ourselves until we were lying on the blankets.
There are many ways of making love: the fun teasing variety, the rough passionate hungry kind and then there is that which fits a time such as we were sharing.
With tender kisses and caresses we expressed to one another the love we felt and the joy we shared in the life we had found together. Our love culminated as first Andy joined with me, and then I in union with him released in turn the essence of our maleness, to be stored and absorbed within ourselves as a seal of our commitment.
Lying in the moonlit hay shelter, snuggled under one of the blankets because the air had lost most of the warmth of the day, we toasted each of the things we were celebrating.
"Happy?" I asked.
"Ubetchim," he replied.
"Twit twit ooooo."
We made love again.
Walking through the snow with my companions, I began to muse about how much I loved these early pre-December snows. This snow was light and fluffy. The many flakes sticking together made for what Patti had always called `Christmas snow.' This walk was bitter sweet. I was happy to be out with Jake, Annie and Brad. But. . .
"I miss them," said the teen-ager beside me.
"Yeah, it's hard, especially that first time the holidays come around."
He nodded in agreement.
I shared with him some of the pain I had felt when Patti had died. How I couldn't face decorating until Andy had come into my life.
"It just seems so strange to know that things are never going to be the same. Sometimes I just feel like I'm not going to be able to stand it."
"Well, you have Andy and me as well as your grandmother, Mr. Brad Sturgis. We're happy to have you in the family." I tousled his blond hair that was frosty with white snowflakes. "I hope we'll be able to take some of the sadness away for you."
He smiled his bright `Crest Whitening Toothpaste' ad smile, squeezed the back of my neck in return and said, "Thanks again, Mr. B, for being there for me when I needed you. You and Dr. B., too. I don't know where I'd be now if you two hadn't stepped up and taken care of me.
We rounded the corner and headed back to the house. "Thanks for suggesting we take a walk," I said, "it was good to get out. The snow is just right."
We walked toward our front door. Andy's truck with its veterinarian HopCap on the bed was parked in the drive.
We came in the back door and stamped off the snow. Brad bent to take the leashes off Jake and Annie. He hung them in the laundry room. Both dogs sat wagging their tails expectantly. The laundry room was where we kept their doggie treats. Since someone was in the laundry room naturally they would get a treat.
"Beggars," said Brad with a laugh as he doled out the miniature bones.
I heard Andy talking in the kitchen. As we came down the hall he turned and waved.
"Yes, yes, Dad that would be great."
"No, it's no problem, we have plenty of room."
"Yes, even with Brad here." He turned his head to us, shook it and rolled his eyes.
"No, Brad's okay with it. He knows about David and me."
"No, he won't be `freaked' if you and Norman are in the same room." He put his hand to his forehead and tilted it backwards.
"Okay, that'll be fine. We'll pick you up at the airport. Let us know when you're getting in."
"Bye Dad. . . I. . . I love you."
He hung up the phone and turned to Brad and me.
"Well, Dad and Norman are coming for Christmas."
End of Year Three.