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.One Night in December
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.
"They musta sent you the wrong ones!"
"No, Andy, these're the right ones. Just keep trying," I said, attempting to keep the irritation out of my voice.
"David, you are never going to fit into these with your jeans on."
"Well, I have to wear jeans under them, I can't show a horse with my balls and butt sticking out."
He laughed, his infectious laughter erasing my irritation. I soon joined in with him.
Andy was wrestling with getting me into my new custom-made chaps. They were black, fringed, trimmed in high quality silver and skin-tight. He had one leg half way zipped.
Finally, with much grunting and groaning the zipper gave and one side was zipped all the way down to the ankle. He started on the left leg. He had just gotten the zipper started when the phone rang.
"Keep zipping," I told him as I reached over his bent shoulders for the phone.
Brad's voice came over the line. "Hi Mr. B, how ya doin' ? "
"Fine Brad, what can I do for you?"
"Just wanted to know if I could come home this week end and bring a friend?"
"Brad, you know you don't have to ask if you can do stuff like that. Ouch! That's my skin your pinching there, buster!"
"Just pull on it harder. Harder. Andy, just take a hold of the damn thing and pull."
"Just put your other hand on my ass and . . . . Shit. That hurts."
"Woo, sounds like some serious S and M goin' on." Brad was laughing.
"Sorry, Brad. Andy was just getting fresh with me."
Brad laughed some more.
"Actually he's trying to squeeze me into a new pair a custom chaps."
"Oh, I see." Brad chuckled. "Kinky."
I chose not to respond.
"Now about you bringing home a friend. You know you don't have to even ask about that," I said.
"Well," Brad sounded hesitant. "This is a girl type friend."
"A girl type friend?" I queried.
"Yes. It's all right for me to have a girl friend isn't it?" There was just a bit of defensiveness in his voice.
"Of course it is, son. Uh. . . one bedroom or two?"
I thought that one simple word held a hint of embarrassment.
""Okay, well thanks Mr. B. Say `hi' to Dr. B for me. And Cheryl and I will see you Friday.
The zipper gave way and I was zipped into my new custom fitted chaps. Quarter Horse circuit here I come.
Andy stood up and admired his handiwork. Then his brow wrinkled.
"Can you move?"
"Of course I can," and to prove it I took two whole stiff legged steps before I fell on my face.
I was tucked in Andy's arms. The new chaps hung on the bedpost. Andy's suggestion of my wearing them without jeans had taken root and I obliged him that night with a little cowboy strip tease. Without jeans underneath I could move a bit better and had done a little number to a relatively unknown Willy Nelson* tune on the CD player. The effect was quite successful. I had made my way to the bed by the end of the song and found a fully aroused hunk of a man drooling in bed. Drooling both from his mouth and his cock.
We had never done it with chaps before, so this was a new experience: one that I was sure we would repeat again. The next time I would make sure Andy was wearing my old, off the rack chaps as well. It was very erotic. There was something about dressing up, pretending to be someone bolder, stronger. It was very liberating.
"So, Brad has a girlfriend?"
"He didn't say he had a girlfriend, he said he had a girl type friend."
"Oooh sahrry. What's the difference?"
"I'm not sure. But, I think that there is one."
"What do you make of this?" Andy inquired.
"I think it has something to do with his need to appear to the world as straight."
Ever since last fall when Brad had broken off his relationship with Ted, he'd played the role of a macho jock at school. Now, it appeared that he was expanding things to include his home as well.
"You know he's only nineteen. He could very well be straight. I didn't know for sure I was gay until I was in my twenties."
I thought about Andy's comment. Though I didn't know specifically what to call it, I'd recognized feelings and attitudes that were the precursors of being gay from a very early age. Then came the pressure of society and the need to hide. I married and decided I was bi. After all I was having regular sex with a woman, my wife, and even though I had a host of man buddies, I must be bi. Then someone, I don't remember who, said, "Bi? Man you're just one woman short of being gay," then he laughed. He was right. I was gay.
"I know." What else could I say? It could very well be that he was bi. The one thing I knew for sure was that gay, straight or bi, Brad would be loved and accepted by his foster parents. There would be no pressure here for him to be anything but what he truly was. Then why was I feeling uneasy?
Friday arrived, and with it Brad and Cheryl.
"Mr. B., Dr. B., this is Cheryl."
We exchanged greetings with a very attractive brunette who had a voice like a foghorn.
"I'm so very happy to meet you both. Braddy has told me oodles about you. Did he tell you I was interested in becoming a teacher? Well, I am and I have been dying to talk to you about it."
She had addressed all these remarks to Andy without stopping to take a breath, so that no one could get a word in to correct the misconception. Finally Brad told her that I was the teacher and she repeated the entire spiel again, word for word. This time it ended with her asking where the bathroom was as the ride from Toledo was ` ever so long.'
"Isn't she something?" Brad said, with a decidedly phony show of enthusiasm.
"Yes, she sure is," we responded, exchanging glances.
We somehow got through a very awkward weekend with our guest. After Brad and Cheryl left on Sunday night, I turned to Andy and said, "Shit."
"Yes, shit! Or should I say bull shit!"
"What's that supposed to mean?" my husband queried.
"It means BULL SHIT! Come on Andy, don't you see that Brad is just playing a game here. Trying to be the BMOC, the horny stud jock. That bimbo is no more `something' to Brad than . . . than . . . well than a tree toad or . . . something"
"Well, no," Andy replied. "I think he's just dating. David, why are you so disturbed by the fact that Brad might not be riding our bus when you used to be so opposed to the possibility of him being gay?"
Andy was right. When Brad first came to live here I was afraid his being gay would betray the trust his grandmother had placed in us. But, despite admitting that Andy had a point, I still felt uncomfortable. Why was I disturbed by the thought that Brad might be straight or bi?
Cheryl was followed by a parade of young women. There was Anna, the would be model, who was just going to college so that no one would think she was a dumb blonde.
Carla who felt that it was just wonderful that we, meaning Andy and I, had stood up to the mores of society and declared that we were homos and proud of it. Susie who was studying home economics so that when she married, (at which point she looked at Brad and giggled ), she would be able to be the perfect mate for a successful business man. There were others but they all began to blur together after awhile.
After each visit, Andy and I would go through the same conversation. Monica's departure was no different.
"She was really a very nice girl wasn't she?" Andy remarked while standing at the sink flossing his teeth.
"Yep," I replied from the stool where I sat clipping my toenails.
"Come on, David, she was a really nice young woman. I think she was the best of the bunch so far."
"There, that's the point," I retorted, " the bunch. Brad has been parading a different girl here every time he comes home. That is the point," I repeated. "He is playing a game."
"If you are so concerned about him, talk to him about it."
Andy was right, again. If I was concerned I needed to talk with Brad. I couldn't just go stewing about it until it came out in a way that would hurt him and our relationship.
"You're right." I'll drive down to Toledo this week end."
But what would I talk to him about? I still didn't know what was bothering me about his possibly being straight. Nevertheless, I would go.
"Finally, you're doing something sensible. Do you want me to come with you?"
I ignored the first part of his remark, stood up and embraced him from behind. "No, I'll go on my own."
Just as I was about to leave the room, he whispered, "I won't be too long," seductively into my ear.
I lay on my back waiting for Andy to come to bed. I was composing the things I would say to Brad. At the same time I was trying to figure out what the basis for my concern was about him. It just couldn't be that I wanted him to be gay. That would be so hypocritical of me. Wasn't I the champion of `be who you are?' Did that mean be who you are as long as you are queer? No, it couldn't be that. Then what was it?
That was the last coherent thought I had. I was drifting off when I suddenly became aware that someone was watching me. Andy was standing at the foot of the bed sensually stroking his dick. I watched mesmerized as Andy continued to stimulate himself, the head of his cock appearing and disappearing from the hood of his foreskin.
I raised my arms to him and he responded by walking to the bed, kneeling on the end and knee walking until he was positioned above me. He slowly lowered his face to mine and kissed me gently, tenderly, lovingly. Pulling him down on top of me, I relished the feel of his body against mine, his lips on mine, his tongue in my mouth.
He shifted his position so that he lay with his testicles pressed against mine. Thrill after thrill shot through my body. He set up a rhythm so that our cocks ground against each other's abdomen while our inhalations and exhalations were synchronized as well. The breath that he'd had in his lungs entered mine and mine was shared with him. The thought of something that had been so deeply, intimately within him drove me to the edge of orgasm. It must have had the same effect on him as he moaned my name and I could feel the warm wetness of his cum on my stomach. This immediately triggered my own release and we blended our emissions in the ecstasy of climax.
We fell asleep in that position and stayed there until some time in the middle of the night. I stirred. Andy was asleep on my chest with his head in the crook of my neck, his legs straddling mine. I could feel the accumulation of saliva in that dimple between my clavicles and sternum. I breathed deeply in total contentment. Andy moved. The light on the bed stand was still burning. He raised his head. The beautiful steel blue eyes smiled into mine. A single thread of saliva extended from his smiling mouth. I poked out my tongue to receive this gift of his body. He sighed and lowered his lips to mine.
"Be right back. . . don't go anywhere," he murmured.
I smiled. `Never, my love,' I thought as he rose from me, the dried cum causing our skin to tantalizingly stick together.
As he walked to the door I watched his beautiful ass undulate as he left the room.
`This is too good to be true,' I thought as I let my body relax. `This can't be real.'
But it was.
Driving down US 23 South to Toledo I kept going over what I was going to say to Brad. I really wasn't sure what to say to him. I wasn't sure why I was feeling the need to say anything. It was his life, his decision and yet I couldn't let it go.
"Well," I said out loud to the passing countryside, "you decided to talk with him, so you will"
I arrived on campus and drove to the athletic complex. Spring practice was in full swing and that's where I would find the football team and Brad. He'd told me that today would be a full pads practice and if I got there early enough I should make my way to the practice field.
I walked to the bleachers and sat down. The team was having an inter squad scrimmage: offense against defense. I wasn't sure where I would find Brad. Last year he'd played line backer but he'd said that there was some talk of his being a wide receiver this year. In the stands with me were about a dozen students, some reporters from the local press, fans, including a few teenagers from the community. Not as big a deal as the Blue and Gold spring scrimmage at the U of M but nevertheless a nice crowd.
I finally located Brad. He was indeed on the offense and was in on the very next play.
The pass was thrown in his direction and he dropped it. It was right on the money and he just plain misjudged the catch. He was called to the bench where I saw the receiver coach talking with him head to head.
Brad returned to the line up on the next series of plays. He ran a deep post route and this time he did catch the ball, but turned right into the arms of the defending line backer.
`Shit,' I thought, ` having played line backer all those years he should know better than that.'
Immediately I caught myself. `Don't go there. Remember what happened with Pete when you started to critique his play. Let the coaches do their job.' Was I trying to tell myself something about the present course of action that I'd been considering taking with Brad?
I watched the rest of the scrimmage and enjoyed the May sunshine. In the end the offence had scored three times, and the defense had prevented four scores, so the defense was given credit for the win. If they followed the Michigan tradition the offense would have to serve the victors at a dinner following the final spring practice. I waited a few minutes and then decided a trip to the locker room would be visually rewarding.
I was right. I got to the locker room just as the teams were changing, showering and showing off their wonderfully toned and trim physiques.
`You're a dirty old man,' I mused as the beautiful young men milled about in various stages of undress. Eye candy to the max.
Brad came up to me and tapped me on the shoulder. I turned and he gave me a welcoming hug.
"Be with you in a minute Mr. B," he said as he toweled his wet hair and moved his towel clad body to the lockers. "You just enjoy the scenery." He winked. I blushed.
We left the sports complex and drove to a restaurant Brad liked. It was a unique little place. It was called Fritz and Alfredo's: unique because it served a combination of German/Mexican food. It was run by a couple that shared those heritages and was an experience in good taste.
After Brad and I settled in, talked a bit about the scrimmage and had ordered our meal he said, "You said you had something you wanted to talk to me about?"
I didn't know now if I really wanted to confront the issues that were still, as yet, undefined in my mind. I'd hoped that we could talk after dinner thereby giving myself more time to formulate the conversation. Well, if I hadn't figured it out yet I might as well get started. Maybe something would come to me.
"I don't know where to begin actually," I said being as honest as I could. "I'm just concerned about the . . . " About what? I fumbled for the right words.
Brad looked across the table at me with a `let me in on what are you talking about,' look on his face.
I finally took a deep breath and just said, "I'm concerned about the number of young women you seem to be involved with."
As soon as I said it I wished I hadn't. I had no right to be poking my nose into his business. He wasn't my son. I was on thin ice with him here.
Brad didn't respond immediately. He seemed to be considering what to say in reply. Finally he cocked his head to one side and said, "I appreciate your concern but it's really none of your business."
It was as if he had slapped me. I knew it was none of my business, hadn't I just had that very thought myself? `He's not your son.'
"Brad, I know it's none of my business, but I just don't want you to make the same mistake I did."
There it was, the reason I was so concerned. It was finally clear to me. I had married because I was afraid to be the person I really was. I'd made a choice that was both a blessing and a curse. My marriage to Patti was wonderful in so many respects, but I'd paid such a huge price in the turmoil that had gone on inside of me: the constant cognitive dissonance, the deceptions, the rationalizations over the extra curricular activities.
"It just seems to me," I continued, finally knowing from whence my discomfort arose, "that you're trying too hard to be something you aren't."
Brad shook his head. "I never expected this from you."
I wished to hell, now, that I had never brought this up. He was right. I had no business going here.
"You were always the one that said to explore, to take your time, to make sure of your feelings. Well, I'm doing that and now you're upset with me when it seems like I might be doing something other than what you want."
"Brad, no, I do want you to explore and be sure. . . "
He cut me off. "That's what I'm doing."
"I just don't want you to try to be something you aren't because of social pressure. I did that and . . . "
"And your marriage was a failure? I don't think so. You and Mrs. Bennett were in love and had a wonderful family. I remember seeing you together at school and thinking how great is this. How much I would want that if. . . and I did say if, I ever got married."
"There was another side to it, Brad. A side that wasn't as wonderful." I told him some of what it was like to be torn between two worlds. To want, need that which was forbidden, and feeling like shit because I did.
He seemed to consider this. Then he said, "But you did have the two worlds. You had a family and now you have Dr. B and your family. I've seen that too and I think that's pretty great as well. Everything turned out pretty well for you didn't it? You've shown me what's good about both. I'm gonna be very careful and make the right choices but right now I need to feel I'm free to explore."
`From the mouths of babes,' didn't someone say? Brad was on target. I'd had the best of both worlds. Who was I to deny him the chance to find his way? Maybe there was no right way to go about this. Maybe we had to take chances and accept the easy with the hard. Men, and women, for that matter, who have this particular orientation also have needs and desires that make this situation difficult at best: needs for family and children. I was very, very happy with my life now with Andy. But I was very happy with my life with Patti as well. I closed my eyes trying to wrap my mind around my thoughts. I couldn't.
Brad and I spent the rest of the evening together. We went to a show. I don't even remember what the movie was about. We walked around campus. We talked about anything and everything. But, we didn't go back to the topic that had brought me to Toledo in the first place. That topic was closed for now. Brad would do the right thing and I would support him even if that "right thing" wasn't as cut and dried as I would like it to be. I don't know if I had helped him any. . . but he had helped me.
Summer was here. Brad was home. I was out of school and getting ready to venture back to the Quarter Horse circuit where Meg had shown for so many years. It would be a challenge. The local circuit on which Snazzy and I had been showing was pretty competitive, but showing in the class A world was another matter altogether.
Since my trip to Toledo Brad had stopped bringing his girl-type friends home. I didn't know whether I was comfortable with that, as I felt it was probably due to him not feeling as free around me. But, be that as it may he was home and nothing seemed out of the ordinary. Our conversations were easy and relaxed. We laughed, talked and generally were the family we always had been.
The first show that I would be attending was at the Pavilion on the MSU campus. Andy and Brad were going to go with me for moral support. It had been about 12 years since Meg had shown this circuit. I wondered if I would know any of the people.
We arrived on Friday afternoon and got Snazzy all settled in his stall. We then ran into town to check into the motel where we would be staying. Arriving back on the show grounds we headed for the warm up pens to see what was going on.
As we approached the first pen, a very handsome young cowboy rode toward us on a beautiful Quarter Horse stallion. He stopped, looked at me, smiled and said, " Mr. Bennett? Holy cow. Mr. Bennett." I had no idea who this gorgeous hunk of man flesh was.
He swung down out of the saddle and came toward me, his hand out stretched. I took his hand and tried my best to recognize this man with the piercing blue eyes, scruffy black growth of facial hair that was so popular with the younger guys, and shoulders like Atlas.
"I'm sorry. Tell me who you were when I knew you," I chuckled, "cuz I don't know you now." That was the line I always used when former students had grown up and then came back to haunt me.
"It's me, Hank, Hank Reynolds."
"Hank? Holy shit! Little Hank"
Without thinking I pulled not so Little Hank into an embrace and could feel the rock hard pecs and biceps through the silk show shirt he was wearing. We stood there, his hands on my hips and mine on his shoulders laughing and hooting.
"Man, you sure have grown up."
Hank had been a scrawny little 10 year old who used to come to the horse shows with his folks who owned a barn and were trainers. He hung out with us for Lord knows what reason and we kind of adopted him when his mom and dad were busy showing or coaching.
"Oh, I'm sorry," I apologized. "This is my partner, Andy."
Hank smiled and raised one eyebrow at me as he took Andy's hand.
"And this. . . " I turned to introduce Brad. One look at the shit eatin' grin on Brad's face told me that his identity crisis just might be over. "Is our ward: Brad. He's a student at U of Toledo."
Hank stepped forward and took Brad's hand. "Bet you play football don't ya?" He said holding onto Brad's hand a bit longer than necessary.
Andy and I exchanged glances.
"Yeah, I do. How'd you know?"
Hank gave him an appraising look. "Oh, I could tell." He flashed that heart-melting smile once more.
"How are your parents? What are they doing now? What are you doing?" I asked in rapid fire wanting to catch up on all the news and feel part of this world again.
"I got a class in just a few," he replied. "Come to the camper after and we can talk. Mom and Dad will be there."
We agreed and made our way to the indoor arena and found seats in the stands. We watched as the three-year old open western pleasure class entered the ring. Hank stood head and shoulders above the others, not only because his stallion was poetry in motion, but because of the presence he commanded in the ring. Brad sat transfixed. Andy nudged me and I nodded.
After the class was placed with Hank and his horse taking second place ("What! Was the judge blind or something?" was Brad's comment. ) We met outside the ring. After we had congratulated Hank and he had attended to the horse we made our way to the camping area. His parents were just arriving from the barns as well where they had been working with some of their clients, getting them ready to show the next day.
The greetings were enthusiastic and the conversation around the fire was fun and brought back memories. It was good to be back on the circuit. I was afraid that Brad might be bored as nothing that was said remotely involved him but I needn't have worried. Brad hung on Hank's every word and gesture. It wouldn't have mattered if we were all speaking Greek. Brad was happy to be where he was.
After finding out that the Reynolds were still training, that Hank was going to MSU grad school majoring in equine sciences, that he had turned pro this year and was taking on a few of his own clients to coach, we said good night and started to leave.
Hank spoke up. "Hey Brad, a bunch of the guys and gals are going down to Jackson to the Saddle Saloon for a while tonight. You wanna come?"
"Uh," Brad looked at me, "sure. But, I'm not 21."
"No problem, Bud, you can be my personal designated driver." Hank did that smile thing and I felt myself responding, too.
I nodded at Brad, as if he needed my permission, and he said, "Great! Let's go."
The boys left with Hank's arm around Brad's neck and we talked to the Reynolds for another hour or so. On the way back to the truck to go to the motel several old friends recognized me and stopped to chat. It felt good to be back.
Once back at the motel Andy and I watched TV for a while and then decided it was time to go to bed.
"Do you think we have time for. . . ?" Andy asked wiggling his eyebrows at me.
I checked my watch. Ten o'clock. I was sure that Brad wouldn't be home until at least midnight.
"I think I could be persuaded," I said, walking toward him and taking him in my arms.
"Are you sure you're gonna be with me tonight and not with Hank?" Andy teased.
"You'll never know." I laughed and pulled him down on top of me on the bed.
The alarm went off at six. My first class wasn't until nine but I wanted to make sure I was there and ready with no last minute snaffoos to deal with. I switched it off quickly and slipped out of bed. I turned to go to the bathroom and instinctively checked the second bed to be sure Brad was there.
"What?" Andy said arousing himself and leaning on one elbow.
I pointed to Brad's bed. He lay spread eagle on his back in his boxers wearing Hank's black show hat pulled down over his eyes. Next to him lying face down with one arm draped comfortably across Brad's abdomen was Hank. Naked except for his whities that clung to one of the most beautifully shaped man asses I had ever seen.
"Well, I'll be dam. . . " Andy started to say.
Brad woke up and pushed the hat back on his head.
"Oh, hi." He said, turning a bit red in the process. "We . . . got in a bit later `n we thought so I just had Hank crash here. Hope that was okay?"
"Not a problem," said Andy, smiling. "You guys have a good time?'
"The best. I could really get into this country western thing." Realizing what those words could be construed as he blushed and said, "I mean. . . well. . . "
Both Andy and I laughed. Our laughter roused Hank, who turned over giving all of us a good view of his semi hard morning wood.
"Hey, good morning," he said stretching like a panther accentuating the outline of the family jewels against the fabric. He shook his head.
"What time is it?
"Shit, I have kids that need my help to get ready to show. Told them I would be there at 7:00. He jumped out of bed, ran to the bathroom, peed with the door open, came back and pulled on his jeans and boots jumping on one foot, and finally slipped on his shirt. Without bothering to button it he shook hands with both Andy and me, kissed Brad on the cheek, said "see you later Babe," and was out the door.
"Babe?" Andy and I said in unison.
There was a knock on the door.
I opened it.
"Sorry." Hank stuck his head inside. "Keys, babe?"
Brad jumped up; his dick was hanging out of the fly of his boxers. He stuffed it back in, grabbed his jeans and shuffled for the keys. Walked to the door and handed them to Hank. He was rewarded with another kiss: this time right on the lips.
"Later," said the cowboy and left once more grabbing his hat off Brad's head as he did.
Andy and I stood with our mouths agape.
Brad turned to us with his crooked little grin, shrugged his shoulders and said, "Sorry, he tends to be a bit shy."
The rest of the show weekend went by in a whirl. I didn't show well. Snazzy was competitive but this was a whole different world in terms of skill. I needed help. That providentially came in the form of Hank. He watched me ride and offered to help me with the areas that were weakest. He said that the horse didn't need more work so there was no reason for Snazzy to be moved to his barn. He would just come down during the week and we could work out of mine. This, of course, had an ulterior motive: Brad. I told him he had to treat me like any client and charge me exactly what he would charge others. `At least until he became part of the family,' I thought chuckling to myself.
We took our good-byes. Hank true to his shy self gave both Andy and me a huge bear hug. Brad got treated to a headlock, nuggy and full body embrace. There was no kiss though. I thought Brad handled the out in the open show of affection quite well. In fact he seemed to have had some sort of internal release. From that point onward, Brad appeared more relaxed and happy in general
Once again our summer settled into a pattern. Hank would come down to work with Snazzy and me on a Tuesday, often staying till Thursday.
The first time Hank stayed with us, I put on my most serious face and asked Brad, " One bedroom or two?"
Brad raised an eyebrow. "One."
I got a kick in the butt as a reward for my cheek as I turned to take the clean linens to the room.
On Friday Brad and I would pack up the trailer to head for the horse show. Andy would come when he could. We would hook up with Hank. We would work on my show skills, go to dinner, check into the motel, now with two adjoining rooms: one for the boys and one for Andy and me. Then they would go out with the young crowd. I would spend the evening at someone's campfire. I was riding better, the horse was winning, I was placing. Things were fine. I hoped that they continued that way.
In mid July Brad had to report for football practice in Toledo. He still made it home for horse shows but I knew that the fall would bring some decisions that had to be faced.
I talked to Brad about it as we stood by the rail and watched Hank work with one of his clients in preparation for a class.
"What's going to happen in the fall?"
Brad sighed. "We haven't really talked about it."
"Don't you think you should? I mean that's what came between you and Ted."
Brad sighed again. He turned to me. "I love him, David." Brad never called me David. "He's more important to me than football."
With that astounding statement, he turned back to the arena to watch the man he loved at work.
Fall did come and with it Brad's return to Toledo and the football program. I wondered how much this new relationship and the new level of acceptance of his life style would affect his play. It didn't. He was on the starting offense as a receiver. He was still on the defensive roster as a line backer so he might be playing double duty.
Andy and I kept our tradition of going to all home games and as many away games as were feasible. Hank came to some of the games when he could. Quarter horse shows continued through the fall, culminating with the All American Quarter Horse Congress in Columbus, Ohio and the World Show in Dallas in October and November respectively. Hank was committed to attending both of these shows.
When Hank did come to the games he was careful not to cross the line and jeopardize Brad's position on the team. He even went so far as to enlist the aid of two girls from the Quarter Horse circuit who were lesbian partners. They came with him to the games occasionally and the four of them "double dated" with the other members of the team and their girlfriends. Brad continued to say privately that he no longer cared if he were found out. He loved Hank and didn't want to hide it. But, he went along with Hank's plan with the girls nevertheless. Don't ask, don't tell, I guess.
On a cold and dreary day at the end of October, a crisis came about: Ted.
Andy was at the clinic trying to get the last minute clients squared away. I was home packing the van for the trip to Toledo to see Brad's game against Central Michigan.
A car drove up in the driveway. I saw someone jump out and the car pulled away. I went to the front door just as Ted bounded up the steps and was about to knock on the door.
He grabbed me around the waist and gave me a big hug.
"I'm glad I caught you. I was hoping to ride to the game with you and Dr. B if that is okay?"
Ted hadn't been to a game this year. He hadn't had contact with Brad for many months. Why now?
In the middle of these thoughts another vehicle pulled up in the drive. It was Hank's F-350.
"Oh God!" I thought.
"Hey Mr. B." Hank bounded up the steps hugged me and without seeing Ted standing behind me launched into his explanation of why he was here when he was supposed to be getting ready to go to the Quarter Horse Congress in Columbus.
"I just decided I could get to see Brad play as well as try to get to Columbus on time with the kids and their horses. I'll be down there for two full weeks and I'll miss him so mu. . . Oh hi. What're you doin' here?"
He had noticed Ted.
"Ah, You two know each other?" I queried.
"Yeah from school. We've had some classes together." Hank responded.
`Of course,' I thought, `they're both in the equine studies program.'
"Good to see you, man," said Ted, extending his hand, " I might ask you the same question? What brings you to Ann Arbor."
I answered for Hank, "He's my trainer and. . . "
"And Brad's boyfriend," Hank interjected firmly establishing his territory and held out his hand to Ted.
Ted looked shocked, hurt, bewildered. But, he stood his ground and added. "I'm Brad's former boyfriend and I came to catch a ride to see him play this Saturday." He took Hank's hand and a sort of two bulls vying for rutting rights took place.
`Oh boy,' I thought.
Andy drove up. Good, old, solid, calm, cool Andy. He acted like this was the most natural thing in the world: boyfriends, former boyfriends, one big happy family.
The ride down to Toledo was interesting to say the least. Andy and I carried the conversation. I sat in the back with Ted while Hank rode shotgun with Andy in the front. Both Ted and Hank said little but when they did it was always in reference to something they had done with Brad, about Brad, concerning their relationship with Brad. We arrived in plenty of time to get our seats and get Ted a ticket. Getting into Rocket games was not the same task as getting into the Big House in Ann Arbor.
The competition in the stands was as intense as that on the field. As if trying to show who was the number one fan of #86: Brad, the two young men cheered, clapped and stomped on every play in which he was involved even when he was intercepted or failed to stop the receiver from scoring a touch down which decided the outcome of the game. Toledo lost 24 to 21.
We waited outside the player's locker room for Brad to emerge. What his reaction to Ted's presence would be was anyone's guess. I was nervous. Andy was engaging. The boys were strutting like stallions courting a mare. This was unreal.
Finally Brad came out with a group of his teammates. We had been here, done this so often that members of the team recognized us immediately and came over and shook hands. Amid the condolences on the loss, Brad finally noticed Ted. He froze.
Hank, seeing that Brad had noticed Ted, immediately moved to his side and gave his usual greeting of a macho head lock around the neck. Brad pulled away. Ted walked up and extended his hand to him. Brad looked from Andy to me to his teammates who looked as if they expected an introduction. They knew Hank. He was my riding coach and a friend of the family. Who was this other guy? I could see the panic on Brad's face despite the earlier declarations that he didn't care if they knew he was involved with a guy.
This was Ted's opportunity, if he would take it. He could vent the hurt of being rejected because Brad didn't want to chance being outed.
I opened my mouth to say something but I had no idea what.
Then Ted, bless him, came to the rescue.
"Hi, I'm Ted," he said. "Dr. B invited me to come down. I'm in vet school at State."
Everyone shook his hand and apologized for losing and making his trip less enjoyable. He told them that it was a close game and they played well, omitting that Brad's error had lost them the game.
Brad looked as if he could kiss Ted. The relief was almost tangible.
The rest of the evening was spent at Fritz and Alfredo's where everyone relaxed and had a good time. Ted and Brad took a walk around the campus after we left the restaurant. When they returned, Brad walked up to Hank, took his hand and kissed him on the cheek. Ted, while looking wistful, just smiled.
"Oh my God," I thought, "I can't believe this is happening."
It must have showed on my face because Brad immediately said, "It's cool, Mr. B."
The ride back to Ann Arbor was quiet but pleasant. All three boys sat in the back seat of the van. We talked little but thought much. When we got home Brad and Hank retired to his room. Ted looking a bit melancholy went to the guest room and Andy and I went to ours.
I lay on my back staring up at the ceiling. Andy was rolled on his side caressing my chest and nipples. I was responding to his touch but at the same time I was thinking how strange life could be. The year had started out with my worrying about Brad making a wrong choice for his life, and was ending with that choice being made in a way that made me comfortable and happy. Why was that? Was I becoming heterophobic? Or was I truly concerned for Brad's happiness? I tried not to think about that but instead concentrate on the sensations that were running through my body because the man I loved was loving me.
The next morning Hank drove Brad back to Toledo for bumps and bruises before going on to Columbus and The Congress. As they were leaving Ted walked up to them. "You guys make a great couple. I know you'll be very happy."
"Thanks Ted," Brad said giving him a hug.
"Since we both go to State," Hank added, " and are in the same general program we oughta get together for a beer and hang out."
"I'd like that," Ted replied taking Hank's proffered hand.
Ted's ride back to East Lansing arrived. Andy and I stood on the steps with Jake at our side like any proud parents and waved our boys good-bye.
Andy had been called to a vet emergency just as we had begun an evening of togetherness on the floor in front of our Christmas tree, Claudia. This had been our first chance to be together alone since Brad had come home for the holidays. Tonight he was driving back to Toledo for a party with Hank and a group of friends. He would be staying the night so although I was irritated that Andy had to leave; I knew we had the whole night.
I sat on the couch enjoying the Christmas present I had received the previous weekend. "You need to go out?" I asked the wiggling black and white puppy on my lap, a gift from Brad and Andy. I had renamed him Jester. He came with the name Fester, but who wants a dog whose name means puss pocket. He was a three-month-old boxer/Boston terrier cross. A family had gotten him for their son. The boy quickly developed severe allergies so they dropped the pup off at Andy's clinic. Their loss was my gain. The question increased his wiggling and he bounded off my lap and headed for the sliding glass door off the dining room.
"You're learnin" fast," I said proudly.
"You coming, Jake?" I asked our big, lovable yellow lab. His response was a thump, thump of his tail on the floor with no real effort to get up.
"Okay, but you have to go out sometime tonight, even if it is snowing." He let out a sigh and laid his head back down.
I was glad Brad was staying the night in Ohio. The snow wasn't that bad, but sometimes a light snow could be more treacherous to drive on than a big snowfall. People respect a big snow.
I stood in the dining room watching Jester play in the snow. He'd done his business and was now racing around the yard trying to hold as many snowflakes on his tongue as he could. I chuckled at his antics.
However, since I was dressed only in the red thong with the loon insignia that Andy had given me I was getting chilly. Andy and I had decided to wear our thongs tonight. The previous year on our "honeymoon" on the Cape we had seen numerous men wearing them. We had joked about just how brave some of those guys had to be to be seen in public wearing a thong with the bodies they were putting on display. We decided that we could wear them with impunity given the shape we were in. So for the fun of it we got ours out for Christmas, planning on modeling them during our annual intimate time together on the floor in front of Claudia. That's what we had been doing when he got the emergency call.
"Jester, come!" I was getting a bit irritated as the puppy was not exactly responding. It seemed the more firmly I called him, the more he thought it great fun to tease me and run around the yard in circles.
Finally I decided to throw caution to the wind and go get him. I prudently turned out the deck and yard floodlights and tippy toed out into the falling snow looking like a member of the polar club getting ready to take a plunge. Jester thought this was a wonderful idea. He got even more frantic as he raced around me. Being almost totally naked in the snow on December 29th was not my idea of the best time I'd ever had. (Well, yes, I know it was my idea.)
After what seemed an eternity I enticed him to my side with a snowball pretending it was a treat. I grabbed the quivering ball of snow-covered fur and stood up. Claudia was framed in the bay window and . . . `Oh My God,' so was Brad with the group of friends with whom he was going to the party. Evidently the snow had turned them back. Some of them I had never seen before in my life.
To make matters worse, Jake had decided it was time to go out. He appeared at the deck door and upon seeing Jester and me, began barking. Brad and the group walked to the door and stood behind him. Barely audibly I heard Brad say, "What's out there, Jake, what do you see?" He then switched on the lights flooding the back yard with light. As he did, Andy walked up behind them.
Brad had opened the door for Jake to come out into the yard. We all stood there staring at each other. I slowly lowered Jester to cover the Red Ryder Loon Symbol monogram.
"And this," Brad said in a voice somewhere between astonishment and humor, "is my other dad, David Bennett, and his Christmas present, Jester.
I weakly waved my hand, Jester's stump of a tail wagged furiously.
"How do you get yourself into these situations?" Andy asked as he and I lay together under the fleece blanket on the floor in front of where the tree used to be. Our thongs were lying together next to us: the annual ritual in honor of our first love making had just been completed. Jake and Jester were snuggled at our feet.
"What do you mean 'situations?' I never went out in the backyard like that before."
"Well, the backyard, no, but what about that time when we were in bed when it started to rain. You remembered that the car windows were rolled down, and instead of putting some pants on, you ran out just as you were to close them."
I winced at the memory.
"Then when the dome light came on when you opened the door you jumped inside the car."
"Yeah, well I could close the windows from in there couldn't I?" I said defensively.
"Yes, but when you got out, the light would come on again. Then you decided you could crawl out the window." Andy was beginning to chuckle at the memory.
"But, then I would be outside and the window would still be open." The humor of the situation was coming back to me.
"Then. . ." he was laughing openly, "then you jumped out of the car, slammed the door and fell into the bushes beside the drive."
"And, and," now I was laughing too, hard enough to make talking difficult. "and then Mr. and Mrs. Wallace came by walking that scrappy little dog of theirs. "And, and. . . "
I was laughing too hard to go on.
Andy had to continue, "And the dog came barking up the drive followed by the Wallaces, who were going to see who was prowling outside our house."
"I jumped up and ran for the door. Mrs. Wallace screamed. Mr. Wallace dropped the leash and that fuckin' little dog ran after me nipping my heels. I still have trouble looking the Wallace's in the eye when I see them."
We both laughed.
"Well, at least I keep things lively around here," I said before giving Andy a kiss.
"Yes you do Mr. Barnes-Bennett. Yes you do." Andy returned the kiss.
End of year Six.