Reservations – A Novel
By Drew Filchak
I looked up from the deal briefs I'd spent the last hour reviewing as the endless expanse of Atlantic blue passed beneath us. My expression shifted from focused concentration to pleasure as Ben stood next to my seat looking plaintive and upset.
"I'm bored. Cody's watching that stupid Priscilla movie again, T’s with the pilots, Chris and Mau are sacked out all lovey asleep, and Ranus is going on and on to Fu-man and Cleats about how insightful and dope Mau's poetry is. I'm just bored." He concluded his rant by dropping into the lounger across from me.
"Did you finish your assignments from Gayle?"
"They're boring too." His sigh was definitely Oscar worthy.
"Well, then I guess that leaves you with me."
"But you're reading all that work stuff."
"And it's boring me to tears. You know you're my favorite activity. Come over here," I said patting the seat next to me. I watched as a grin fought for life through his oppressed scowl. "You promised me on the flight over that on our return flight you'd tell me what your favorite part about Paris was."
He shifted to sit next to me.
"Well … Fu-Man's new jet is pretty phat."
I grinned. "I'd have to agree with you there, pup. It sure beats flying commercial."
“But that’s not really Paris. What did you like most about being in France?”
He remained silent for a heartbeat or two. “The coffee.”
I turned to look at him. His answer wasn’t quite what I expected. “The coffee? I mean, sure, it was very good, but that was your favorite thing?”
He rolled his head to look up at me with a quick nod. “It was good in the morning when you and I went to the café across the street from the hotel and had a couple of cups before everyone else woke up.”
Ah. Maybe he knew just how much his words meant to me. From the way he scanned my expression, I’d almost put money on it. “The coffee was my favorite part of the trip too, Son.”
His grin was hidden behind his pursed lips and quick tip of his chin. His subtleties were so revealing at times yet you had to watch for them or you’d miss them. “I liked the desserts, too. Dude, if I could have those deserts all the time you wouldn’t have to buy so much ice cream.” He’d obviously received the reaffirmation of his Number One Boy status and moved on.
What a constant grin he was. “If you stopped eating ice cream, we’d save thousands of dollars. Probably enough to pay for your college education.”
“Dream on, Blair. I’ll get a job first.”
My day would be dismally grey if I didn’t get at least one eye roll out of him. “So what do you think of Mau’s poetry? He’s sure writing a lot of it.”
He expelled a long-held breath and shook his head. “It scares me, man. Serious.” Our eyes met again. “Is he gonna be alright ever?”
I nodded slowly. “Hopefully in time, Ben. Gayle’s very confident.” I grasped his knee firmly once to comfort him. “His stuff’s not all dark, you know. What do you think about the stuff he writes for Chris?”
His grin returned. “It makes me feel all weird and dopey inside, especially when Cody reads it to me.”
“I think Cody makes you feel that way with or without the poetry.”
“Yeah.” And then he shrugged. “He makes me crazy when he touches me.”
“And you’re doing okay with him touching you?”
Another nod. “It’s the bomb, B. I like his body no doubt, but I loooove his kisses.”
“Good.” I rolled my eyes dramatically at him and grinned. It felt like a change of topic was in order. “So what do you think about Ranus’ poetry?”
The loud tisk and heavy eye roll told me what I wanted to know even before he spoke. “It’s so stupid, Blair. I don’t get what every one sees about it. Just talk English, man.”
I laughed. “Well, there are a whole lot of people out there clamoring for more of his stupid poetry.”
“Their loss, dude.”
God, he could make me laugh. His next question surprised me with its out-of-the-blue nature. “So when are you and Joel going to take your honeymoon? I heard you guys yesterday talking about some wine place you wanted to go to again. We’re cool taking care of ourselves for a while, ya know.”
It was my turn to nod. “I know, Ben. But it feels like we’ve all just gotten settled into the new house and into a routine that seems to work. Plus, business-wise, Joel and I are busier than ever.”
“So? You guys are always jammin’ on something. If you’re so worried about us, I’m sure Evil Houseparent Bill would love to take a break from babysitting those losers in your house.”
“You don’t like the boys staying with Bill? I thought some of them were your friends?”
He shrugged. “Jay and Baggy are like my boys, but Trent’s just a dick. I don’t know what Bill sees in him. He’s so slack. All he does is give him major shit.”
“Nice language, pup.”
“Well he does.”
I smiled. “Just remember, Son, that it wasn’t all roses last April for us either, but we all connected pretty much from the start which I think is pretty rare considering everything you’d been through. I can’t share with you what Trent’s story is, but I will tell you its pretty ugly.”
The silence between us was comfortable as he considered my words. Ben was a thinker and while sometimes his emotions overruled his thinking mind and launched him into some fairly rash conclusions or action, for the most part he remained level-headed. It actually had been amazing to watch his development over the last five months.
“Did you ever think about kicking us out?” The tone of his voice held a portion of doubt.
“Not even when Codes and I got drunk and broke that sculpture?”
I shook my head.
“Because I fell in love with you the first morning I woke up and looked in on you when you were still asleep in the guest room.”
He grinned. “Yeah, right. And then I stole from you. You’re whacked, B.”
“You know what I mean by ‘falling in love’ and I’m not talking about the way you and Cody feel about each other or the way I feel about Joel.”
“I know, dude. You mean like how a dad falls for his kid the first time he sees him even if he’s all ugly and smash-headed and purple.”
That one was worth a full-out guffaw. “You watch too many documentaries, Ben.”
A smirk crept across his face. “Fu-Man says he’s just happy it’s not porn.”
“Well, the Fu-Man has relaxed quite a bit around you guys now, hasn’t he?”
“So have you, Dad.” He watched my eyes close in satisfaction then snorted. “You’re so easy, Blair.”
“I know. Just an old softy. But I never get tired of hearing that.”
“Tired of hearing what?” Joel asked as he passed our seats and sat on the lounger facing us.
“He likes it when I call him dad.”
I chuckled. “As if you just cringe when I call you son.”
“He’s got you there, Ben.”
Ben tipped his chin towards Joel and grinned. “It’s alright. I do like it. I mean he is my dad, right? Or have you dudes been bullpooping us.”
“No,” Joel grinned. “No bullpooping here, dude. He’s definitely your father.”
Just then, Robert, the steward, rolled a table into the cabin, covered with dishes of ice cream and a bottle of chocolate syrup. Ben’s eyes lit up.
“Right on!” he exclaimed as Robert handed him his bowl along with the syrup. “This is great. Thanks! You’re a mind-reader, dude.”
“You’re welcome, sir.”
Ben snorted. “Sir. That’s so cracked, man.”
“Of course, sir.” Robert gave a quick smile and nod to Joel then moved to serve the rest of the boys.
I turned to watch Ben take his first bite. His enjoyment was immense. “So you’re liking this setup, Pup?”
He nodded quickly and swallowed. “What’s not to like, B? I’m flying around in a phat jet getting ice cream by the gallons and I got all my boys and you and Fu with me. I’m lovin’ this, man.”
My eyes met Joel’s as we shared a smile. In front of me sat the man of my dreams, beside me sat the best son a guy could ever wish for and I had the rest of my new family surrounding me. I couldn’t ask for it to be any better.
Plus, I was in a phat jet.
I was content.
“Me too, Pup. Me too.”
Special thanks goes to Rock Hunter for his endless efforts to edit this mess. Thanks, Bud!
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