The following fictional narrative involves sexually-explicit erotic events between men. If you shouldn't be reading this, please move on.
In the world of this story, the characters don't always use condoms. In the real world, you should care enough about yourself and others to always practice safe sex.
The author retains all rights. No reproductions or links to other sites are allowed without the author's consent.
The town of Stafford, the Sunrise Arts Center, and the characters in this story are fictitious.
Special thanks to Mickey S. and Drew Hunt, who have provided inspiration, advice, and encouragement throughout the writing of this series and to Jeff Allen for botanical information.
* * *
This chapter begins two months after the events of chapter 29. It's now early April.
In the weeks after Frank's kidney stone episode, we were both busy. I suppose I should say that he was busy, as usual, and I was busier than usual. I spent a good deal of time working on the history of the Arts Alliance. Sometimes I brought the work home, but the Board Minutes were in large, heavy notebooks, as were other materials such as photos, newspaper clippings, and the like. Thus it was easier to work at Sunrise. I could get a lot done in the library in the mornings. School kids didn't usually come to work there until after school. If I needed to see a piece of correspondence, moreover, it was easier to ask Jean to dig it out for me if I was already on site, as it were.
One of the first things Frank and I did after returning from the hospital in Asheville was to call Burke. He suggested we make an appointment to see Chave MacPherson in their downtown offices. Chave was charming and helpful. He explained things to us clearly and suggested some precautions we hadn't even thought of. I can't help mentioning that he was also very sexy. Both Frank and I found him extremely attractive, and on the way home Frank wondered to me why Chave was single.
"You've got to promise not to tell anyone about this, Frank."
"My lips are sealed. Unless you want to stick something between them."
"Just wait, you tease, until we get home, and I'll stick something between your lips."
"I can hardly wait, but you'd better keep your eye on the road right now. So what were you going to tell me?"
"It's something I heard at Sunrise, and I can't name my source --- or guarantee its accuracy."
"Yeah, tell me," he said, grinning.
"Rumor has it that Chave made a play for Whitney and got turned down."
"Not surprising. Whitney's with Stuart."
"Yeah, but this was before the Gala, before he and Stuart more or less came out as a couple."
"Oh, so the little guy had a choice and picked Stu, huh?"
"So I've heard."
"I can imagine who your source is. She seems to know everything."
"I'm not saying."
"Well, God knows Stu Blount is a hunk and a half. And I've worked with him ever since he came to Stafford High. He's one of the nicest people I know. Besides that, he and Whitney have their art in common. I guess it isn't too surprising."
I stopped for a traffic light.
"Still, though, there's something about MacPherson, something about the way he looks at you, something about his air of confidence that is powerfully attractive."
"Frank Cummings, are you going to leave me and go chase after Chave?" I asked, grinning to let him know I was teasing.
"No way, Dr. Baker. I like my hunks mature, and MacPherson's practically a kid. He can't be over 35."
"Mature. That sounds good. And did you just call me a hunk?"
"I've never been a hunk, but thanks. I'm just grateful that you don't mind the way this old fart looks."
"Shaddup. You're a great-looking old fart."
A few days later, we got a call from Chave's office asking Frank and me to stop by to sign and pick up copies of the wills and other documents he'd prepared for us. Chave wasn't in the office when we got there. His paralegal told us he apologized but that he couldn't be with us. He said to be sure to call if we had any questions. Then she gave us the papers to sign. Then she and another staffer witnessed them.
When we whipped out our checkbooks to pay, she told us that there was no charge, that all of this was done with Burke Davis's compliments.
Frank and I called Burke that evening to thank him. He said it was the least he could do since we'd been such good friends. We chatted for a while about superficial things, and then I asked about how things were going at home.
"No improvement, thanks for asking. I've decided to get away for a while. I'm going to have extended visits with both sets of grandkids. My kids say they'd love to have me come. I think the younger ones are expecting to get some free baby sitting while I'm there, and that's okay with me. I have never been able to spend enough time with the grandkids. As for Marcy, well, I'll deal with her when I get back."
"How long will you be gone, Burke?" Frank asked.
"A couple of months. My new partners can handle things at the office. But I promise I'll be back for your commitment ceremony. Have you decided when it will be?"
I gave him the date in June we'd chosen. "Most of the arrangements haven't been made yet, but we've reserved the gazebo at Sunrise for the ceremony and the main gallery for the reception."
"Wonderful! I wouldn't miss that for the world. I'm really happy for you guys. But Frank, I hear you're retiring."
"Well, congratulations on that. I'm sure Jon will keep you busy."
"Or vice versa," I said, chuckling.
We thanked him again, wished him a happy trip, and said we'd look forward to seeing him in June.
After we got off the phone with Burke, I asked, "Hon, are you sure you won't be at loose ends after you retire? Won't you miss teaching?"
"Jon, how about you? You've said you miss your students, but not the hassle that goes with teaching. That's exactly the way I'll feel. Besides, I'm thinking of volunteering one half-day a week at Sunrise. As you know, my list of books to read is endless, and I hope to make a dent in that."
"Good luck," I said. "My list is longer now than it was when I retired."
"Well, at least I'll have lots of good reading to do. We can work together in the garden in the nice weather. And, of course, we're going to travel."
"Indeed. I'm gonna get your cute ass out of here and we're gonna go to some of those places we've dreamed of visiting."
"What if we have dreamed of going to different places?
"We'll do them all. What's to stop us as long as our health lasts?"
"Not a blessed thing, lover, not a thing."
Speaking of travel, in early March we spent the better part of a week in New York. We visited the Metropolitan Museum, the MOMA, the Guggenheim. We saw "The Producers" and heard the New York Philharmonic play at Lincoln Center. We also saw a lavish production of "The Pearl Fishers," a piece that neither of us had ever seen, though Frank had it on cd and we both loved listening to it. We arrived home tired but happy, as they say, and vowed we'd do that at least once a year.
I raised the question of where we were going to live. "Don't you think we should get rid of our places and find something that's ours?"
"If you really want to, babe, we can do that. But I wouldn't mind moving in here with you on a couple of conditions."
"I wouldn't want you to always think of this as my house, you know."
"This house has a wonderful tradition. It's been in your family since the beginning. I wouldn't ask you to part with it. Besides, I love it."
"You said there were conditions?"
"Uh huh. I want to make a financial contribution to our living expenses at least equal to what the rent or mortgage payment on this place would be. I don't expect you to put the deed in our names jointly, but I want to feel as if I'm carrying my share of the load. Second, I do have a few pieces of furniture I'd like to bring along and I'd expect you to make room for them."
"And that's all you're asking?"
"Done. Let me have a kiss to seal the bargain."
It was my old buddy Tom in Atlanta who had sent the pics of Jamie and Phil to their parents. He said he'd been so furious over the way they'd treated him, that when he found out what they'd done to me, he just couldn't resist. He didn't even seem particularly sorry about what had happened to them. And he laughed when he heard they were going to go to the Citadel.
"Like there aren't any gay guys there because it's a military school!" he'd said, chuckling.
At least I was able to reassure Kevin Ptacek that I hadn't done it. He wanted to know who had, but I wouldn't tell him. I thought the whole retribution thing had gone far enough.
Speaking of Kevin, he became very friendly with me and with Louis, too, after all that. He said I was right about the retribution. He also said that if the Albrights and I were gay, maybe he'd been pretty wrong-headed in his thinking.
"You guys have always been cool, and you're damn good soccer players. I just wish I'd had some kind of attitude adjustment earlier."
Louis chuckled. "You're not getting ready to play on our team, are you, Kevin?" We were at the lunch table, and our "fag hags" snickered at that. Kevin winked at Shondra and then looked back at Louis.
"No way, Jose. But I think it's a good thing we're going to have this new GSA chapter."
I should have mentioned that the Board of Education approved the new group over the opposition of a few Super-Christians after the editor of the Sentinel and a bunch of other prominent citizens got behind us.
"So, Big K," Louis asked, looking at him seriously, "are you gonna join?"
"Me? But it's a gay group, isn't it?"
"Listen to you," I said. "You just said it was a good thing. And what does GSA stand for?"
"Gay/Straight Alliance, isn't it?"
"Uh huh. And what good will it do if all the straight kids avoid it?"
"None, I guess."
"Then," Louis persisted, "I think a prominent junior jock like you, a guy who will no doubt be the captain of the soccer team next year, should get involved."
"Well, I don't know. . . ."
"Think about it, man," I said.
And you know what? Kevin was elected president at the first meeting of the group. All of the new officers needed to be juniors or sophomores because it didn't make sense to elect seniors who'd only be around for another couple of months. So, though Louis and I and a surprising number of other kids at school attended the meeting, it was our man Ptacek who was the group's first president. Pretty cool, I think.
It was exciting to be in the spring of our senior year at SHS for a lot of reasons, but the thing I remember most about that period is the trip Louis and I took to Chapel Hill. We left really early on a Friday morning (with permission, in view of what we were doing) and drove to the campus during the University's spring break. It's a three-hour drive, so we left about 6:00 AM.
We took Louis' car, of course. It wasn't warm enough to have the top down, but we were hoping that maybe it would be warm enough later in the day. It was a beautiful day that Friday, though I confess when we started out I was still pretty sleepy, having gotten up at 5:00. Louis was disgustingly chipper. He kept exclaiming about the redwood and dogwoods blooming in the hills. By the time we got to I-40 I was awake enough to enjoy them, too.
I guess neither Louis nor I have mentioned that we got our scholarships. Mine was good for all four years provided that I stay on the soccer team. Louis got a merit-based scholarship that was good so long as he majored in art. Both sets of parents were not only proud of us, but they were happy that they wouldn't be bearing all the costs of our stay at UNC.
When we found the place on campus where we'd been told to park, we were met by a guy who introduced himself as Ken. He was our guide that day. He asked if we'd like to visit a john first, and we said we'd stopped at a rest area between Greensboro and Burlington and that we were fine. So Ken spent the rest of the morning showing us around the beautiful campus. And it really was beautiful, especially at that time of year.
I was impressed by the sense of history and tradition I felt all around us. The university had been there for two hundred years, and of course it has many famous alumni. I was glad I was going to become a part of all that. It's hard to explain, and I'd never had a feeling like it before.
Ken led us along brick walkways across the manicured campus lawns. Among many other things, he showed us the Morehead-Patterson Bell Tower, the Davie Poplar, a tree at the spot where the site of the university was first chosen in 1792, "Silent Sam," a statue of a soldier to commemorate the 321 UNC alums who died in the Civil War and all of those who fought in it, plus many historic and many modern classroom buildings. And what excited Louis most was that we saw the Ackland Art Museum. Ken took us inside to show us the entry lobby, but we didn't have time for Louis to look at the exhibits. Ken reminded him he could spend all the time he wanted to in there next fall.
At lunchtime Ken took us to a university-run cafeteria. Although I'd enjoyed the tour, and our guide was very helpful, full of knowledge and enthusiasm, ready to answer questions, I'd had trouble keeping my eyes off of him, and I knew Louis was having the same problem when at one point he looked at me, tilted his head toward Ken, and then winked.
Ken was Asian, I'm guessing of Japanese extraction, but he told us he was born and raised in California. He was about 5'9" and had the build of the gymnast he was. He wore his black hair short on the sides but full enough on top that he could part it in the middle. He had a nice nose, wonderful lips, and sexy brown eyes. Oh, and an amazing butt. He was wearing khakis and a Carolina blue sweatshirt. As he led us around that morning, he had two pairs of eyes watching his ass cheeks move under the khakis. And he probably knew it.
At lunch he explained that his official duties were over so far as we were concerned, since I was scheduled to see Coach Wolfe and get a tour of the facilities, as well as plan my fall schedule. Louis was getting similar treatment in the Art Department. Ken said that since the University was on a break, he had nothing going on that evening and wondered if we'd like to get together with him for supper. Then he suggested that maybe we could do something together that evening if we wanted. We said that would be great. We were checking into the Hampton after our meetings that afternoon because our parents hadn't wanted us to drive back that night. He said he'd pick us up there at 6:00.
My afternoon went quickly. Coach Wolfe was younger looking in person than in his pictures, and he really treated me as if he was glad I would be coming to UNC. He said he was sorry that I wouldn't get to meet his assistant, Coach Bender, who was out of town. The facilities were impressive. I got to see Fetzer Field, which every soccer player in North Carolina knows about, and the new McCaskill Soccer Center, which has locker rooms and team meeting rooms for men's and women's soccer and office space for the faculty. The Coach told me the Center cost almost two million dollars.
After he showed me around, he took me to his office, where he asked me all sorts of questions about my family, about Stafford High, about my aspirations. He made me feel as if he really cared about me. And that made me glad I'd decided to come to Chapel Hill. Afterward, he introduced me to another member of the PE faculty who helped me plan my fall schedule.
When I met Louis back at the car, he was already there. He said his meetings had gone well and he couldn't wait to get back here as a student, as a Tarheel.
I said, "Aw, come on, Louis, you're not that much into sports."
He said, "Every student here is a Tarheel, dude. Besides, I'm gonna be the soccer team's number one fan."
It had warmed up enough that he put the top down on the Sebring for the short drive to the hotel.
Ken took us to eat at a pub that was a college hangout. I was surprised that it was so crowded since the University was on its break. Ken apologized that Louis and I couldn't order beer, but we said that was no problem since neither of us liked it much anyway.
Over our burgers and fries, Louis asked him why he'd come to Carolina from California.
"Well, for one thing, I'd never been outside California, and I wanted to come East. I chose Carolina for several reasons. It's a good school. It's got a great tradition. But also in part because Thomas Wolfe went here. I love Wolfe. I've read all of his novels. I've not managed to get to Asheville, though. I hope to drive over there this summer and see the Wolfe family home. Do you think that's a silly reason to choose a university?"
"You're an English major?" I asked. I'd never read Look Homeward, Angel or any of Wolfe's other novels, but Mr. Cummings kept telling us that we should, especially since Wolfe grew up just down the road a piece from us.
"Yeah. I know I'm never going anywhere after college with gymnastics, and I'd like to go on to grad school and maybe teach in college eventually."
"Hey, I'm thinking I'd like to do that too."
After we'd eaten, Ken mentioned that there was a showing of "Casablanca" at the local art theater and asked if we'd like to see it.
"Normally I'd not suggest that to a jock like you, Judd, but if you're interested in English, maybe you'd be interested." Then he seemed to think he'd made some sort of mistake, and said, looking sheepish, "No offense, Louis."
We both assured him we'd love to see the movie with him, though we'd both seen it on television.
After the movie, which, as usual, brought a lump to my throat, Ken took us back to the Hampton. We thanked him for spending the evening with us.
"No problem. It wasn't a part of my official duties, but I liked you guys when I met you this morning, and wanted to get to know you better." Then he handed me a folded piece of paper.
"This is the address of my apartment and my phone number. Give me a call when you get to campus this fall. Maybe we can hang out or something."
We thanked him again and shook hands, promising we'd look him up for sure.
In our room we were tired but also exhilarated. I think both of us were sure at that point that we'd chosen well when we applied to UNC. We were too keyed up to go to sleep right away, so we found lots of fun things to do in the king-sized bed in our room.
Yeah, I know, you want all the details. Let's just say that if he hadn't already had so much practice, Louis should have been walking funny the next morning.
We slept late and then had a morning bout of love-making that left me a little tender in the nether regions. Not that I minded. We each had a big breakfast courtesy of the Hampton, fortifying ourselves for the trip back to Stafford.
It had turned cloudy and drizzled off and on, so we had to leave the top up on the Sebring. After an hour and a half, Louis pulled into a rest area. When we'd both stretched our legs and peed away some of the juice and coffee we'd had earlier, Louis asked if I wanted to drive. I readily agreed.
We weren't very far down the road when Louis put his hand on my thigh.
"Watch it, babe. Don't want to run us off the road."
He moved his hand to the back of my neck and began stroking the short hair there.
"That's almost as exciting as having you feel my leg, you know."
"Spoilsport!" he said, grinning. He removed his hand and then asked, "Hon, do you think Ken would have come up to the room with us if we'd asked him?"
"Are you sorry we didn't ask him?"
"Now there's a question. How can I answer it?"
"Just tell me the truth, babe."
"Well, I admit I found Ken sexy. And he's really a nice guy. And I think he pretty obviously liked us."
"We've never talked about that kind of thing, have we? You know you're enough for me, Louis, all I ever want or need."
He glanced at me and grinned. "But?"
"Well, I admit I've wondered about a three-way that you and I were involved in with another hot guy."
"Yeah, have you?"
"Sure, I've wondered."
"The next question is would you want to do it sometime?"
"I dunno. I don't think so. Our sex is so much an expression of how we feel about each other, I don't think I'd be comfortable doing it with some other guy, even if you were involved, too."
"You know the atmosphere on campus next year is going to be different from what it's like in Stafford. We may have all sorts of opportunities and temptations."
"I know. I've thought about that a lot. I'm just hoping that you don't meet some guy who'll sweep you off your feet."
"It ain't gonna happen, loverman. I'm yours for as long as you'll have me."
I really hoped that was true, but I knew we were only eighteen and that what we thought was the love of a lifetime might turn out to be something else. I also knew, though, that I loved Louis with all my heart, and I'd try my best to deserve his love.
One of the nice things about being back in North Carolina is that spring comes so much earlier than in the Middle West. And with spring come not only crocus, daffodils, forsythia, redbud, and dogwood, but, trite as it is to say it, a feeling of renewal. I could sense it in the staff at Sunrise. Stuart said the effect of spring on the teens at the high school was to make them restless, even more hormonal than usual, but fun to be around.
Stuart and I settled into a beautiful relationship. We spent nearly every evening together and as many nights as our schedules would permit, either at my place or his. We were together each weekend, except that he wasn't interested in coming to church with me. He didn't mind my going, he just didn't want to come along. I didn't want to probe, so I figured if he'd had a bad church experience somewhere in his past, he'd tell me when he was ready.
One of the things we shared that spring was our preparation for the joint show we were having at Sunrise in May. He was busy in his studio, as I was busy out in the garage where I worked on my glass and had my kiln. I'd had to get him to tell me approximately how many pieces he wanted to put in the exhibit so Jean could order the display cabinets. After looking again at the podiums we'd used the previous fall for Telford's busts, I decided I wanted them repainted white. I wanted as much light in the gallery as I could get to make the glass come alive. So Stuart and I spent a Saturday afternoon helping Jerome paint them. With three of us it didn't take long. Stuart good naturedly grumbled that Jerome was getting time and a half for working on a Saturday and he wasn't getting anything. Jerome grinned at him and said he figured I'd make it up to him. Stuart blushed and then said he'd be sure to expect his overtime pay that night.
Important things happened in the lives of two friends -- or acquaintances -- of ours.
One day in March the Sentinel announced that Asa Dean was being promoted to managing editor. He'd still do occasional pieces of reporting, and he'd write editorials as he saw fit. Ben Ferris was being promoted to editor-in-chief.
My big lover showed just how big a man he was by suggesting we should have Asa over for dinner to celebrate his promotion. I agreed, not only because I wanted to see Asa, but also to find out why a reporter of his abilities would want to change to what was basically a desk job. Stu insisted that I make the call to Asa, since he didn't feel he knew him well.
The new editor seemed pleased when I identified myself and congratulated him. When I told him that Stu and I wanted him to come to dinner that Saturday evening, he said he would like that but there might be a problem.
"What kind of problem?"
"Well, Whitney, I'm with somebody now. Could I bring him along?"
"Asa, that's great. It sounds as if you have two things to celebrate. Of course you can bring him along. I want to know all about him."
"I'll have to check with him to see if it's okay to come Saturday, but I am pretty sure he's free."
"Great. But you haven't told me who he is."
"His name is Seth Morgan. He's a nurse at Stafford General. If it's okay, I'll call him and get back to you."
"Sure, Asa, when it's convenient."
That afternoon Asa called back saying that he and Seth were looking forward to seeing us Saturday evening at my place. (That reminded me once more that Stuart and I were going to have to talk seriously about living arrangements soon.) I told Asa that he and Seth could dress casually and that we'd expect them about six.
Stuart was spending the weekend, so he and I worked out Saturday morning. As usual, he pushed me until my ass was dragging. We stopped at the supermarket on the way home. He helped me tidy up the house and then we worked on dinner together. We fixed a pot roast with carrots, onions, potatoes and green peppers around it plus a salad. Stuart made biscuits from scratch. (I knew there was a reason why I loved that man!)
Asa and Seth arrived about five minutes after six with the obligatory bottle of wine. It was a chilly early spring night. Both of them had windbreakers, which I put in the closet in the entryway. Then Asa did the introductions.
Seth was about an inch taller than me, which made him about three inches taller than Asa. He looked to be about the same age as Asa and Stuart, that is thirty, give or take. I was definitely the old guy in the group at 36.
Asa's new boyfriend had black hair which he wore a little shaggy, intense blue eyes, and fair skin. He had a round, boyish face. I think he was a bear in the making, though, because some curly black hair peeped out of the vee in his shirt and there was more on the backs of his hands.
The two of them were really cute together. Seth was the more outgoing, Asa quieter. But they kept touching each other, looking to each other for reassurance, grinning a lot. They reminded me a bit of Louis and Judd in that respect. No question about it, Asa had found himself a hot guy, and they were clearly crazy about each other. At one point during dinner Stu looked at me, grinned, and rolled his eyes as if to say, "Whadda ya gonna do with these kids?"
Asa explained that after he'd met Seth and they'd been so attracted to each other, he went to Ben Ferris, his boss. When he came out to Ferris and explained that he was afraid being openly gay would compromise his effectiveness as a reporter, the boss suggested the promotion.
"He said he and the publisher had wanted to make that kind of change for some time, but they didn't think I'd want the desk job. So, he was happy when I agreed to `move up'."
"Well, everything seems to have worked out well for you two." I lifted my glass. "To Asa and Seth." We all drank to their happiness together.
I couldn't help wondering whether Asa had told Seth about Robert, his former partner who had beaten him. And I offered up a quick silent prayer that Seth would be good to Asa.
I said there were developments in the lives of two acquaintances.
One evening Stu and I decided to go to the Migliore's restaurant for dinner. We'd managed to eat there a couple of times a month ever since Asa introduced me to it.
We didn't see Asa and Seth there, but we did see Chave MacPherson. With another guy.
We were having our wine when they came in. They didn't seem to notice us and were seated across the room. They were both wearing blue oxford shirts, khakis, and loafers. Chave's companion, who had to be 6'4" and weighed about 250 pounds, had mousy brown hair which he wore in a high and tight, as if he were a Marine or something. I'd seen Chave a couple of weeks earlier at a Board meeting where he looked and acted the same as always. Now, however, he was sporting a buzz cut, and there was something different about his demeanor.
Later, after our entrees had been served, Stuart said to me, "Hon, you're staring at them." He chuckled. "Don't be so obvious."
"Chave isn't even aware we're here. Had you noticed that he just seems to be concentrating on the guy he's with? He just looks at him and listens.
"No, I hadn't. He looks different with the short haircut, but I don't see anything else out of the ordinary.
After I had taken another bite of my pasta, I said, "You know, I'm surprised to see Chave here. The food's great, of course, but he usually eats at Palmer's or Raintree."
"Well, maybe his friend chose this place."
As they sat there, the bigger guy did a lot of the talking. He'd occasionally raise his eyebrow and Chave would nod. By this time Stuart had joined me in trying to watch those two without being obvious about it. I noticed they were both drinking beer. Another anomaly. I'd never known Chave to drink beer.
After the guy I was beginning to think of as The Marine had finished what appeared to be a lecture, Chave relaxed a little. As they worked on their dinners I noticed him looking intently at his partner. Suddenly, I had it! Chave's face gave it all away. I'd never seen him look like that before, but it was clearly the look of infatuation.
When Stuart and I had finished our meal and were leaving the restaurant, we stopped by Chave's table to say hello. It appeared to me as if Chave glanced at his friend for permission and got a nod before both men stood up.
"Hi guys," Chave said, smiling. I want you to meet my friend, Cletis Woodruff." The way he said "friend" made it clear that Cletis was a special friend. "He's a state trooper."
"Glad to know you gentlemen," the trooper said, "and call me Clete, please."
I couldn't help asking, "How did you two meet?"
Chave looked at Cletis briefly and then said, "Burke Davis introduced us."
That made sense. Jon Baker had told me Burke had been a prosecutor and had also been a litigator in private practice. So he could easily know lots of cops. I didn't really know Burke, but I wondered if he had been intentionally matchmaking.
We chatted a few minutes longer before Stu and I went to his car.
On the way home, he asked, "What are you grinning about?"
"It appears that Mr. MacPherson is either about to become a notch on somebody else's bedpost or, more likely, that he's already become a bottom for this guy. Did you see the body language between those two?"
He chuckled. "Oh, yeah! No question about which of that pair is gonna top tonight."
"And how about us, big guy? You gonna ravish me?"
"Sure, Whit, if that's what you want," he said, giving me an evil grin.
Even though he was driving, I bopped him on the arm. "Watch it, there, Bluto. You call me `Whit' again and you're cut off!"
Another chuckle. "Yeah, right!"
[There will be one more brief chapter after this one. --Tim]