Warning, Disclaimer, etc.

The following story contains graphic descriptions of  affection,  love, and sex between two consenting males, one adult, one teen.   If this turns you off, if you are below the legal age to read about it in your locale, or if you are against freedom of the press for adults who WANT to read such stories, LEAVE!  I'd appreciate comments from those who read it:: Nels, at NailsB69@hotmail.com

The Bagboy
Chapter 7
by Bob Nelson

Brief Synopsis:  Greg and I were shot by a redneck homophobe, but Ralph wasn't hit.  Ralph, the man's son "came out" and saved us from his "Dad"  by wounding the man twice to hold him off.   Next Ralph and Greg tied him up to a tree.   Then Ralph got what he considered "the best present ever!"  when the slathering, shouting cuss said he was NOT Ralph's father.   But the jerk was Greg's UNCLE!   Read preceding chapters to learn ALL that happened..

This chapter is told by Greg.  Bob was out of it, in Intensive Care.

I came out of the Chapel feeling a real sense of peace.  Kind of a serenity, where I knew God had heard my thanks and my prayers for Bob and Ralph.  Yeah,  where IS Ralph??   As I entered the waiting room for the ER, I saw him curled up asleep in two chairs in the ER waiting room.   It had been a long day for all of us.  Bob and I had homes to go to -- but Ralph was truly homeless.  Of course my folks insisted that I stay with them while I finished college at  Liberty U.  My marriage had crashed, my rock band had crashed in Seattle about the same time my wife ran off with the drummer.   So I appreciated their taking me back and giving me "room and board."  Bob has an apartment in off Timberlake Road, which I've enjoyed visiting a couple of times.  Yeah, nice -- and fun!!

But the problem tonight is that we've got to find this boy a "rabbit hole" to hide in,  a safe place with some tender, loving care.    On the wild ride to the hospital I told him my folks would put him up, but let's look at that.   I looked down at this kid with affection and appreciation for how he saved us,   amazed again by the guts he'd shown!  He laid his very life on the line to save Bob & me, closing down any chance of staying in the only home he'd ever known.  Well, Ralph is my "almost cousin"  and even though he didn't know me when he saved us, he knew he had an Uncle Adam out here, somewhere.  I'll do whatever it takes to keep him safe and give him a chance to grow up.  He sure acted grown up, out there in the mountains!   Now he's here, needing our protection.... and he's gay, or thinks he might be.

Golly,  he's thin.   Really skinny -- undernourished -- but he's a very handsome boy.  His light brown hair curls down to his neck and a little bit over his ears;  his darker brown eyebrows and eye lashes  accent his deep, dark brown eyes.  When he gazed straight into my eyes as he explained all that stuff, I couldn't see any color change between pupil and iris.  His intense gaze showed his strong character.  His physical strength is pretty awesome, too.   He handled that fat bag of beans and bacon, his "Daddy," pretty easily, and the man must weigh at least 75 pounds more than Ralph.

What a nice looking face, neck, arms, I thought as I stood there.  His skin looks like flawless silk
tanned to the color of coffee with a jigger of milk in it.  His long legs are also well shaped -- and hairless, far as I can see.  He has no hair on his arms or chest.   I saw that when we used our shirts to staunch Bob's bleeding.    His butt's nice, too, and will be a bubble butt when he fills out some.   He's cute all over... but,  Hell, I can't think of him that way -- my lover's still in Intensive Care!  My Lover - - yeah, it still hasn't sunk in, but Bob and I said it when he was in the Recovery Room and it sounds good!   Though Ralph is an awesome young man -- and as handsome as any I've seen in a long time -- it's a good thing I'm "taken" or I could get into trouble.   Big trouble if I ever tried anything with this boy,  or any boy.   Thank God Bob I'm an adult.  I doubt if Bob would have looked at me twice or ever begun a friendship with me if I'd been a teenager.   Not in this day and age, and never in this town!, I thought, looking away from Ralph and moving toward the snack machines.

I've gotta call home.   Before I crash on a chair, too.  Ah, the phones are next to the snack machines.  Let's see.. here's a quarter, and - - here's a dime.  Good.  Clink-clunk, jingle.  It's ringing.....

"Hi, Mom?  Yeah, it's me.  No, I'm fine, but I AM at Lynchburg General -- my friend got shot and I brought him here.  Luckily Nurse Jane was on duty at the Emergency Entrance, got him right into surgery, and he's resting easily, now.  Yeah, IC for tonight.   No, that isn't why I calling, though it's a big part of what's next.   Did Dad ever tell you about a brother named Cain?   Well, I never knew him or about him, but  he's the one who shot my friend --- no, we didn't do anything to antagonize or threaten him;  it's a long story -- more later on that.   The point is that both my friend and I might be dead except for a boy -- Uncle Cain's boy Ralphie -- who hit his dad in the head to knock him out -- to keep him from shooting us.  He then tied his Dad up.    We brought Ralph here with us as the crazy old goat threatened to kill us all.  Yes.   . .    Yes. . . .   That's right . . . . he said two or three times that he'd kill us, and that if left him tied up he'd hunt us all down and kill us.   Now Ralph needs a safe place to stay, at least for a week or two. Maybe we can figure out where. . . .  What?   Of course he's a nice kid.  Yeah, 14 years old and polite.   And he knows when to stand up for what's right, thank God! . . .  No, Mom, I was NOT taking the Lord's name in vain!  It was a  fervent, heart felt prayer of thanks!  . . . Well, please wake Dad up from his nap and come get us. . .  Yes, Ma'am . . . and would you bring one of my old jackets and a pair of my jeans I've outgrown? . . . Yes,  for Ralph, . . Oh,  and a complete change for me. . . . Because I got blood all over me. . . No, Mom, I'm not hurt; it's all from my friend. . . . Mom . . . Mom. . .  Mom!   I'll tell you more, later. . . . Later, Mom.  I'm so tired from it all I have to sit down.   No, we didn't even think of eating... not since breakfast. . . . . . . Oh, good idea.  Get it in the drive through and hurry, please. . . . . OK. . .  Love you too, Mom."

Man, all that explanation wore me out!  But Mom sounded OK with it, once she realized I'm not hurt.  Now, do I have one more dollar bill?   Yeah, here's one.   I'm so wiped out that I'll have to tell myself how to do it.    Put it into the Coke machine, select "Coke," here comes the change (at least it's only fifty cents each, instead of sixty-five, like at school) and here comes the Coke clunking down.   Wonder if Ralph would like one -- Oh, he's waking up,  guess the noises woke him.

"Huh?  Wha'?  Oh, hi, Greg.   What time is it?  Nine P.M.?  Gee, I gotta be gettin' home --- oh, that's right.  I ain't got a home no more!  But hey,  (as a smile spread across his face and his eyes lit up), I don't gotta live with THAT ol' asshole no more!   But (as a frown erased his smile), where will I live, Greg?"

"Ralph, you'll stay with me and my folks" (I hope).   "I just called them to tell them where we are, why we're here, and that we're only here because you saved my life and Bob's!   Sure they'll want you to stay!  We've got plenty of room.  I have a big bedroom and next to it is the smaller bedroom I had when I was a kid.  My sister had the big bed room then.   No, it's no trouble!  Hey, come here...."

Confusion, fear and pain chased each other across  Ralph's face.  It tore me up, so I pulled him up off the chairs and wrapped him in a big bear hug.   He let out a little sigh, released some pain or panic, and snuggled into my shoulder-neck-chest hollow.  He wriggled a little, to get in "deeper," and heaved a big sigh of relief, then a shudder.

"If you think it's OK, Greg.  I don' wanna be no bother - -- "

"Ralph -- Ralph!  You saved my life!!  and Bob's, too!   Do you think my folks will just say "Thank you, young man, now run along."???   No way!   Even if Mom doesn't remember you, I'm sure my Dad dos.  I told Mom you were my cousin, so that should decide it for her.   Family is always welcome to stay!  Of course she'll have to check you out, and decide, then act like she's talking my Dad into it.   But I know it'll work out and you'll stay with me.   Even if you really aren't my cousin, I'd like to call you cousin, and wish you were.   You're a really neat guy, Ralph!"  I said, easing the hug.

I held Ralph out at half arm's length so I could look him full in the face.    His gaze didn't waver;  he looked back at me trying to be strong.

Later he told me he was almost in a panic, and was thinking,  'Does Greg really want me to stay with them -- with him??   No one, Not anyone has ever wanted me to stay with them, once Mama left.   Could there really be a place to stay where people would be nice to me?   Where Greg would take care of me, and give me some hugs?  OK, if Greg says so, I'll believe it.'

At this last thought, Ralph's worried frown disappeared and his face lit up, like sunbeams bursting through dissipating storm clouds, pouring light  and life back into a hidden meadow that had been lashed by the thunderstorm.

"OK, Greg.   I'd like that.  I'd like it a whole lot!"  His smile spread farther,  then began to slip.  "But do you think that maybe I could stay in your big room with you, tonight?   I don't wanna be alone - - not tonight."  He finished in a fearful voice, with a worried little kid look, "I could sleep on the floor or on a pallet.  I won't take up much room, and I sleep real quiet."

"Ralph, I'd be really happy to have you stay in my room with me and I have a big bed so there's plenty of room for you -- for us both!   Besides, you're so thin that you'd only take up as much space as a willow switch!"   I said this in a light voice, trying to ease his fears with some humor, but Ralph cowered back, eyes wide and terrified, hand in front of his face as if to ward off a blow.

"Oh, Greg.... I'll be good.  I'll be real good!  You don' need to lay stripes on me with no willow switch!!" he blurted, tears filling his eyes.  He had been standing up tall and brave; but now he crouched,  quivering with fear.

That "old sum bitch" (which was the kindest way I could think of the crazy redneck who'd shot us) must have made Ralph's life T-Total Hell for the boy to fall apart like this, I thought.  Then I said,

"Ralph, NO one will switch you, beat you or punish you in any way,  EVER, while you live with us!  I promise you that!   Oh, Ralph, YES, you'll sleep with me!!  I'll hold you and protect you tonight, to show you that HE won't find you to hurt you.  He won't ever hurt you again!   I promise you that!  And my Dad will promise you that!  And my Mom would take her broom to that old sum bitch before she'd even let him in our house!   Please forgive me for using that silly word!  I just meant something thin....  You're thin as a twig.  Oh, Ralph, I'm so sorry...  Can you forgive me?..  That's better, you're not shaking, now.  Do you feel better?  Please give me a little smile... That's the start of one... a little more, now..  That's better...  Let  it grow.  Hey, you good-lookin' cousin, I'm gonna be proud to show you off!   Now there's a good smile from my handsome cousin!"

"Yeah, cousin Greg.   Kin I call you that, even if it ain't so?  Even if I'm a bastard?   I sure did like the hugs and the way you held me.   That's the first time I've felt safe in years .. . or loved."   Ralph dropped his eyes and voice during this last sentence, embarrassed to admit it or hope.

"Yes, Ralph.  Cousin Ralph!  I like that!  I like that a lot!   I only have four cousins, and three of 'em are girls.  That's so cool!  It's so great that you're my cousin!  You are my cousin, Ralph!!  You earned the right to be my cousin.    Some places in the world say that if you save someone's life you're responsible for them,  but I think it makes us both responsible, for each other!   I asked my Mom to bring one of my jackets for you,  -- one that I've outgrown.  Can't have my new cousin freezing on his first night down here!" Greg finished with a grin, grabbing Ralph and pulling him into a hug.

Ralph returned it hesitantly at first, then stronger and stronger until he was hugging Greg harder.   They boy's mountain tough muscles were strong!   They were facing each other, six inches between their faces, bodies pressed length to length.    Suddenly, Ralph and Greg both felt a twitch in their dicks.   Fear, Panic, and Anger had set their bodies' Reticular Activating/Adapting system  to the adrenaline rush of the "Fight or Flight" mode, and kept them there for hours.   Inability to really fight, and delay in their flight had increased their tension.   Final flight, then the safety of the Hospitalhad totally drained both young men.   But holding a handsome guy who had helped you fight your way to safety was an erotic experience for them both, starting tumescence in each.   A look of panic flashed in both faces, but moreso in Ralph's, who stepped back in horror, and said,

"Oh God, Mr. Greg!   I'm sorry!  I'm so sorry!   I'm just so damn sorry!   I told my Daddy -- no, that piece o' shit -- that I'm queer, but I ain't never done this b'fore!  I ain't never humped up agin a feller and got a stiffie, b'fore.  Please forgive me, Mr. Greg!!   Please!"    Ralph stumbled backward until he ran into the row of chairs, then collapsed into one.  He curled up in the fetal position and started sobbing.

Greg quickly stepped over and laid his hand gently on Ralph's shoulder, "Ralph!   Ralph!   It's OK!  It is  OK,  Ralph!!!   I got a stiffie, too!   It's natural when you hold someone you've been through a real tough time with.  It's OK, Ralph!   We didn't plan it or try to do it.  Please stop crying.  We didn't DO anything!  Our bodies just did what happens sometimes when you hug somebody.  Come on - let's go into the Men's room and clean up.  My folks will be here any minute, and we need to get cleaned up.   We are so dirty!"

He stood up, pulled Ralph up, and guided him into the nearby Men's "Rest Room", though very few people go in there to rest.   Ralph stopped and stared as soon as he saw all the shiny porcelain, steel pipes, faucets, valves, sinks, bowls and dispensers for soap and paper towels.

"What's all this stuff for, Mr. Greg?" he asked in a small voice.

At least it surprised him out of his tears, Greg thought.  "This is a place where men and boys take a leak or a crap, then wash up.   See, there's a place to sit and shit inside each of these little rooms, and wash basins set right in the counter.   Here, let me show you how the faucets work... but  you haven't passed water since we were in the mountain, have you?"

Ralph looked embarrassed and nodded his head "no."

"Nothin' to get embarrassed about, Cousin Ralph.   See these funny things on the wall?  Lots of guys piss in them.  That's what they're for.  Or you can just let it go into the water in one of the little rooms, after you raise the seat."

Ralph looked from one to the other and back.  Finally he looked up at Greg and asked, "Kin I go in one o' them lil' rooms by myself and do it into the water?"

"Sure, Ralph.  Let me show you how you can lock and unlock the door.  You don't have to.  I just don't want you to feel trapped in case it gets locked after you go inside.   Come on, we can both fit in the biggest of the little rooms," Greg said, leading Ralph into the handicapped stall.

"See, pull the door till it stops, turn this little thing, and you're locked in... So nobody else can come in.   Turn it this other way and it unlocks it so you can get out.   Kinda like the bolt action on your rifle,  isn't it?   Here,  you try it now, while I'm in here - - - in case you need help opening it.

Ralph locked the door and unlocked it twice, then said low, while looking down, "I kin do it, now, Cousin Greg."

Greg smiled his encouragement, went back into the main section, and heard Ralph lock the door behind him.   Greg soon heard Ralph's stream hitting the water in the toilet, which lasted quite a while.  Ralph heaved a sigh of relief, then a moment later unlocked the door and came out with a small smile of accomplishment.   Greg took him back in and showed the boy how to flush the toilet, telling him it was the usual thing to do, since the water didn't flow to take it away.

Ralph said, "Oh, we don't piss in the streams, Cousin Greg.  That could dirty the water for the people who live downstream!"

"Cousin Ralph, there are a lot of people down here off the mountains that don't even think of that.
 Now, I'll show you how these faucets work to get water into the washbasins so you can wash up.   See, you just turn this knob to start the water and turn it the othe way to stop it.  If you want cold water, look for a blue dot or a C, like this.  If you want hot water, look for a red dot or an H, like this.  You can even mix it so you get warm or cool water."  Greg ran them each a basin of water, showed Ralph the soap dispensers, and cautioned him about using too much or getting it in his eyes.   They both washed hands, arms, face, neck and some around the ears.

"There, Cousin Ralph!  Later at my house I'll show you how to get washed all over, in the shower bath.   But doesn't it feel good to get this much cleaner?"

"Yeah, it does, Cousin Greg.   But I never seen no spring set in the wall of a house!"

"Oh  the places we'll go, the wonders you'll see," said Greg, quoting Dr. Seuss, though of course Ralph had never heard of him.   A plan began to form in Greg's mind -- a way to help Ralph learn as many of the things that he could -- things that most 5 year old children had been exposed to so often they had picked it up my osmosis.   Ralph was so bright, and had proven that he could define and solve problems.  'Hell,' thought Greg, 'I wouldn't BE here, if he wasn't a quick thinker and a man of action!'

"Dry your hands on these pieces of paper that come out like this.  That's the way.  No, you don't have to save it.  We throw them away.  Later other people grind up this paper and make other things out of it.   I'll show you LOTS of things to do, and you should ask me if there's any of it you don't understand the first time, or just want to hear or do it again, Cousin Ralph."

"You'd tell people I'm your cousin?  Even if I ain't got hardly any schoolin' - -  an' no clothes 'but these??"

"You bet, Ralph.  Cousin Ralph!   I'll be proud as a peacock!    When I called home I asked my Mom to bring some of my old clothes that I outgrew.  They might be loose on you, but that stuff you have on has had it.  I have plenty of clothes you can try on, and keep the ones that fit."

"You mean you'd give me more than one pair o' pants?  More than one shirt?  an' they'll be mine?"

"Sure, Cousin Ralph.  When I outgrow any clothes we just put them aside and when we have enough we take them to a place that gives them to people who don't have any, like you.   But we can give some clothes to you, right away, tonight.  I'd really like to do that!"

"Oh, Cousin Greg, I'd like that a whole bunch, too,  to wear some clothes that used to be yours!  It'd make me feel special, and real close to you.   But won't it take them clothes away from the people y'all were gonna give 'em to?"

"Cousin Ralph, that's one of the things I like best about you!  You're always thinking of others before yourself.   No, there's lots of old clothes collected in this town for the people that need 'em.  Enough so they can pick through them to find three or four shirts and pants."

"Golly!   This mus' be a really rich town, to have that many clothes to jus' give away!   Maybe it's too rich for me to stay, if y'all have to buy food for me.   Maybe I could help... but no, I don't think I could hunt, here."

"Come here, your cute lil' cousin of mine!"  I wrapped Ralph back into a hug which we both needed.  All the stress of the day had exhausted us.   He snuggled back into my shoulder-neck-chest hollow, then backed up to look me in the face, again.  He looked worried.

"Is this all right?   To hug you?  After what happened in there ??  My Daddy said  no real man ever hugged anyone.  No, he's NOT my Daddy!  He's a mean ol' bag o' rotten chicken guts who never touched me 'cept to beat me.  I didn't know a man could be gentle - - till now.   But is it all right - - - or is it a sin?"

I leaned over and kissed his forehead and brushed his cowlick to the side and back.   "Ralph, of course it's all right!  It feels wonderful to me, too!  We need to do this to let our bodies feel safe, to know that there's a guy who helped us and that we feel good about.    I feel real close to you, Ralph,  and you're already very special to me.   I want to give you some TLC -- that's Tender Loving Care.  Wait, no, don't look scared.   I don't mean I'll make love to you - -I don't love you like a man loves his woman, or like I love Bob.  But I want to hold you and feel you and give you as many hugs as you want!   You sure haven't had enough so far in your life!  Sometimes we may get stiffies, but that's all part of being a boy or a man.   We won't DO anything with them, because when they get like that, they're for making love, with someone you love.  Have you ever been in love, Cousin Ralph?"

"I sure ain't, Cousin Greg!!  I ain't got no idea what to do.  Maybe we shouldn't hug when we're around other people, like your Mama and Daddy?"

"WOW!  You never quit thinking!   And you ask the right questions, even when you're tired.  No -o -o, we'd better not hug as much as either one of us would like to when my Mom and Dad get here.  You came out to the man you thought was your Daddy -- "

"Whatcha mean, came out?"

"You told him you were like us, gay, or as you said, "queer."   That saved our lives, and was one of the bravest things I've ever seen.   But I haven't told my folks that I'm queer, nor about Bob being that way, too.  We'd better not tell them tonight.  There's so much that we do have to tell 'em, just not now.  We'd better wait to tell them we're gay -- or queer if that's how YOU want to say it.  Let's just tell them that old "sum bitch" shot us because he thought we were kissing, OK?   That will be a way I can start to ask my Dad if his father was the one who made Uncle Cain so murderous toward gay guys.  Can you do that?  It won't be telling them a lie, just won't be telling them all the truth."

"But why ain't you told 'em, cousin Greg?   Ain't  you  sure?"

 "I'm sure that I like men more than I like women -- and found our today that I love Bob - - - but my Dad may be as crazy about this stuff as the man you thought was your Dad.   That could be bad for all three of us."

"OK, cousin Greg, but I don' see why folks cain't jus' be who they are an' be OK with who they are.  And if anybody asks, why not ask 'em why they're askin'?    Otherwise it seems like you're havin' secrets from some folks an' not others.  Ain't it hard to keep track of who you toll' what to?"

"Cousin Ralph, you plugged the target dead center, again!  That's exactly the way it should be and some feel strong and powerful enough to tell anyone they meat that they're gay.   But there are some folks in this town -- in every town -- who feel the same way about this as the man you knew as "Daddy."  They might not shoot us, but would find ways to make us feel bad, or threaten us to try to run us off."

"Well, cousin Ralph, except for your Mama an' Daddy. I'm not goin' to lie to nobody!  Too hard to keep track.   If  a  boy or man asks me if I'm queer, I'll jus' tell him 'Shore am!  An' proud of it!' "

"Come here, you strong, brave, cute cousin, you!   I need a hug from you, this time."   It was quiet for a few minutes as we hugged tightly, breathing each other's scent.  We reveled in feeling each other's strong bodies  -- even with the smudges and sweat from our struggles out in the mountains.   We felt  tingles on our skin from each other's touch.  The hugs helped me relax completely.  Then I could feel the deep inner strength of  a boy who didn't carry  problems with him but lived each day, fully in each moment.

Just then I heard Dad clear his throat his throat, behind us.

"Greg?   Is this the boy who saved your life?"

I began to spin out of the hug but drew some courage from Ralph, so I slowly turned leaving one arm over his shoulder, and said,

"Yes, Dad, he is.  Hi, Mom.  Mom and Dad, may I introduce you to Ralph?   He acted like such a man, today, that I asked him if it's OK to call him Ralph.   His stepfather had called him Ralphie, partly to make him feel like a little kid, Ralph said, and he's happy to switch to Ralph."

"Step-father?   I thought Cain was your father, Ralphie -- I mean Ralph."

"You knew him?   and knew about me?"  Ralph asked wide eyed, with fear and worry on his face.

"Yes, Ralph.  I last saw you when you were about four years old, and my brother -- who I thought was your father, told me to 'Git the Hell outta here and STAY GIT.'   I'd gone to see if I could take custody of you -- I knew he was already switching and slapping you WAY more than anyone should.  And worried about your food, shelter and schooling.  But he said 'I'm his Daddy and the Bible says spare the rod and spoil the chile, so I ain't gonna spare no rod!  Now  GIT!!'  I was so sorry to leave you there, and I certainly wouldn't have if I'd known!   Your Mama was too scared of him to speak up.   Is she still up there with him?"

"No, sir, Uncle Adam.   She done left about five year ago, an' Daddy -- well, he AIN'T my daddy -- has been gettin' worse an' worse.   So when he was about to shoot this here boy o' yours and his friend', I jus' couldn't let him!   I hit him with a club.   Then I grabbed the guns and kept him covered while I untied Greg an' his friend."

Dad and Mom both spun back toward me, wide eyed, as they said almost in unison,  "You were tied UP?"

"Yes, he'd tied me and my friend Bob to the tree we were hiding behind after he'd shot us -- except it didn't hit me, only Bob."

"He SHOT you??"

:"Yes, Sir."

"Why?   I know he was getting crazier and crazier, didn't like folks 'snooping around', but to SHOOT you?"

"I think it was because he was up the hill a ways, and after I made Bob promise he'd never tell anyone where Grandpa's cabin is, he turned toward me, and said in a real low, sincere voice that he never would.  While he was saying that, we were face to face, really close.   From what Uncle Cain said later, he thought that we were kissing, so shot us as 'preverts' on his land."

"Shot you for KISSING?   Even kissing another man?   He had to have gone completely crazy!  Hiding way up there, no one to talk to except Ralph, here, and probably not ever letting Ralph talk.   Right, Ralph?"

"Yes sir, you got that right.  When he tol' me somethin', or axed me somethin' all I could say was 'Yes SIR!' or 'I'll go get it, Daddy!' unless he axed me if I'd taken somethin' or broke somethin'.  Then I could say 'NO Sir,' but if I did he'd prob'ly beat me worse than if I said 'Yes sir.'   He sure was hard to live with. ~ ~ An' today he said he'd kill me soon as look at me after I kept him from killin' these guys and tied HIM to the tree.   We left him there, jus' a hollerin' and fussin' and cussin'.... Guess he's still there, unless the State Troopers found him by now."

Dad turned back to me, "You called the State Hiway Patrol?"

"Yes, Sir,  Nurse Jane suggested it, as he had shot my friend, intentionally - - and may have been trying to get us both with one shot.  Attempted murder.   Ralph told them about the place and what to look for.  They said they'd head right out."

My Mom had collapsed into a chair when I said I'd almost been shot, too.   Dad looked like he wanted to sit with her, but had to show his strength, and carry on.  Damn the macho attitude that makes a man try to act strong, instead of showing how he really feels,  I thought,  but he had been appalled that Uncle Cain had shot us just because he thought  we were gay....   Maybe... just maybe Dad was not infected with the same poisoned perception, blind hate and vengeful actions as his brother, Cain.  How appropriate that Grandpa named him that!

"God, son, I am so thankful you're safe!  That all of you are safe.   And I'm proud of you for bringing Ralph out with you.  We all owe him for your life!"   He turned and said, "Ralph, let me shake your hand as a brave, quick thinking young man.  If you weren't  both of those, my son might be dead!"    Mom sobbed quietly into one of her tiny hankies she always carried.  Later I realized it was the only time she ever used one.

Ralph stood straight and held his head up with pride.   I love that boy!   Well, different than Bob, but I do love him, too.   He shook Dad's hand and replied,

"Sir, I'm shore glad that Daddy came to git me.  That gave me a chance to he'p.  Mighty  happy to he'p, even 'fore I knowed he was my cousin!"   Ralph's speech became more "hill Billy" or "country" when he was under stress, but he sure made sense, and told it honestly and well!

"OH, I almost forgot!" Mom said,  "We brought both hamburgers and fried chicken.  Aren't you both hungry?"

As soon as she brought out the Colonel's box and Ronnie Mac's bag, I could smell them both.  My mouth began to water and my stomach almost spasmed from being so empty.   I glanced at Ralph who looked like he wanted to jump INTO the box and bag, but was holding back.   Such a nice kid from such a helluva place!

"Yes Ma'am, and I'm sure Ralph is, too.  As the man who saved  us,  he gets first dibs.   Go ahead, cousin Ralph!"

"Are you sure?   I'll just take what you don' want --- " he began, but all three of us cut him off.

"No, you get to pick first."
    "Take both."
            "Take as much as you want."
  "It looks like you're hungrier than Greg --- you sure are thin!"

That last was from Mom, who would fatten him up, that's for sure.   Well, one big problem solved.  When Mom feeds you, she feels responsible for you, which includes making sure you have a place to stay, clothes, etcetera.  So Ralph was officially part of our family... and I was delighted!

Ralph finished off a hamburger in six bites, then attacked a drum stick.   Mom looked at Dad with a worried look and said,

"Dear,  look how thin this nice young man is!   And if he left that horrible man tied up who threatened to kill Greg and him, we'd better take him home where he'll be safe.   And I can make sure he eats  enough to get some meat on his bones - - - don't you think so, Dear?"

Dad looked at me and grinned, to let me know he'd figured the same thing out.   He said to her,

"Sarah, I believe you just had a wonderful idea!   I'm glad you thought of it.   Now  Ralph won't have to wonder where he'll stay, or whether his Daddy -- or the man who said he was his Daddy -- will find him to hurt him. "

He turned back to Ralph and said, "Ralph, we would be very happy to have you come stay with us -- No, no, don't shake your head.  We insist, besides, you are family!  Please. . . Please??"  Ralph hesitated, then nodded yes.  "There, that's settled.   You can have Greg's old room.  We have plenty of room,"  Dad said with a smile.   A real, genuine smile.

I am so lucky to have them as parents, I thought.  Then I snuck a look at Ralph who was giving me a look as though asking "But can't I stay with you, in your bed, tonight?"

I smiled and nodded a big "Yes" nod at Ralph, saying out loud,

"No problem!  I'll help him settle in as soon as we get home, right after our showers.  Lucky you put the second shower in Sis' room when she was thirteen."

Dad laughed and said, "Well, you never would have been ready for school if you'd had to wait till she was out of the bathroom!   Only logical thing to do, and since it was such a big room, it fit in, easily.  So you'll each have a bathroom and a nice big shower."

I excused myself to go back to the Recovery Room to see Bob.  If he was in any trouble, I'd just tell them all to go on without me until I could get home, later.   Nurse Jane was just going off duty (what had she done, a Triple?) and gave me a BIG smile as she answered my question before I asked it, with

"He's not here.  Said he felt fine so we sent him home."

"WHAT???"  I screamed, "sent him HOME!!  Are you --- "  Then I saw the twinkle in her eye.  "Got me again, Nurse Jane.   You really scared me!   Where'd you hide the man I love --- I mean my friend?"

"It's OK, Greg.   I know.. but you're wise to keep practicing  'my friend'  for use in public.   He's doing so well we put him in a private room, right across from the Nurses' Station, 2nd floor.  You want to go tell him goodnight?  We just gave him a sedative to let him, no, to make him sleep all night.   You might as well go home and do the same.  I can find two more small dose sedatives for you and that young boy, if you think you might need them.  No?  Good.   Oh, are your folks here?  I'll go say Hi to your Mom, and tell them you've gone to check on your friend but will be back in five minutes.   That means you can have ten, but NO more."

Gee, no wonder everyone calls her "The mean Nurse!"  Yeah, like a chocolate coated marshmallow -- a thin, hard shell on the outside and a big, soft middle.   Real mean!   I took the steps two at a time... no time to wait for a dumb elevator, when my man was waiting.   "My Man!"  What a wonderful phrase.  "Lover" -- a better one!  Here's the Nurses' Station.  She must have told all of them, as two are pointing at that door.   It must be Bob's room.

I opened the door and saw him lying back on two big pillows, a drip going into one arm, but definitely looking better than when we got him here!   He looked at me and smiled.  I smiled back, and said,

"Hi, Lover.   Thought you'd get away, huh?   Well-ll-ll, you're not going to get away from me that easy --  but seriously, how do you feel?"   I went in and closed the door most of the way to give us some privacy.

"Hi, Greg-Lover.   Started to have some pain, so they just gave me two pills.  They must be strong ones, ''cause I don't hurt, and I'm starting to get really sloopy,  I mean sleepy," Bob said with a cock-eyed grin.

I stepped over to him and kissed him.  Not hard, no bruising of tissue -- just kissed him with all the passion, thankfulness, and love that I could transmit from my lips to his.   It must have worked; he began to close his eyes as I got close, then popped them wide open when he felt the Love Kiss.  He began to smile while kissing, then started kissing me back just as fervently.  Hey, this could get habit forming..   mmmmmmmmmmmmm....   I wanted to hug him - - Hell, I wanted to jump his bones and make wild, mad, passionate love to him, right here in the Hospital - - - but we had to wait.  Slowly we broke the kiss.   A big sigh of relief and happiness together,  and we both began, in unison,

"Ralph needs - - - -" and laughed.

I continued, "Ralph needs a place, and Mom brought food for us, fed him, so you know what that means!   I have a new live-in Cousin!"

"Oh  Ho!  So, I'm replaced already!   I can't get it up, can't help you out, so you find the first gorgeous, brave, strong, handsome, good looking younger man, and take up house keeping with him!"   He tried to look hurt, but couldn't help giggling, half way through.   The relief was so great that everyone was out of danger, had a safe place, and was loved, that we began laughing - - - until his second chortle made him stop with a sudden look of sharp pain.

"Oh, BOB, I'm sorry.  I forgot about your wounds and your operation!!!  I didn't mean to laugh or to let YOU laugh, I'm sorry, I - - -NURSE! "

"Hey, OK!. . .  Oh, Hi, Nurse."

One of the LPNs  had barged in the door almost before I'd called her.  She flipped Bob's sheet back to uncover his bandage and his drainage tube.  She watched it for three minutes, alternately checking the monitor over his bed and his vitals.  All done with a stern, tight-lipped look.  Then she relaxed and looked at us.   "It's OK, - - - but your monitor at our station gave a spike which is why I came in Stat!  We watch you for any changes.   What brought it on? "

Sheepishly I admitted, "We were laughing."

"Laughing?!?!  What can you guys find funny about this?" she said, pointing to Bob's dressing.

"Oh, not that," he replied,   "just that Greg's Mom has decided to take our Rescuer in off the street.  Literally.   He had no place to stay - - until she fed him."

"Wait - - she fed him, and that makes him a boarder?" she asked with a puzzled look, then turned back to Bob, "But YOU aren't going anywhere for a day or two!"

I tried to explain, "Oh, not this guy!   My Mom is going to adopt the boy -- young man -- who saved our lives.  She takes in any stray kitten, puppy, or bird.  She's always been a soft touch.  But we were kind of worried, since she'd never ever seen this boy --- this young man."

"From what's on the Hospital Grape Vine and Rumor Hotline, that young man saved your BUTTS!!"

"Exactly, and I didn't really worry.  When Mom turned to Dad and started to 'convince' him to take the guy in who DID save our lives, it was a done deal.  While I was telling Bob, we  were so relieved we busted out laughing."

"And almost busted out your Special Friend's stitches!!" she said, with a deep scowl - - but it softened to a gentle smile when she saw us wilt under her hard gaze.   "Now, kiss him goodnight, and we'll see you in the morning;  yes, we all  knew you'd be back... and we all know that you two are a couple... and we're happy for you --- and we 'never saw a thing or know anything.'  We don't ask and we don't tell !!!!"  With another smile, then a wink, she left us alone.

I knelt beside my Lover's bed, quietly sending him the strongest love messages I could without touching him.   No more chance of popping a suture!  I held his hand, stroked from his brow down the side of his face, to his lips, then leaned forward and kissed him.   Gentle as a feather landing, this time.   Bob responded in kind; it was even more erotic than the hard, passionate kiss.  Really hot.. arousingly  hot.... We both moaned, so I knew we were in perfect synch, again........    Mmmmmmmm.   The light pressure got even lighter, then I felt Bob's mouth relax.  I leaned back and saw that he was asleep.  A deep, peaceful sleep, with a beatific smile on his face.  Now where did THAT word come from??   Mother Theresa was the only one I recall having that term applied to her.... but it seemed to fit Bob right now, too.    I leaned over and whispered,

"Good night, my Love.  I do love you and need you.  Sleep well, Lover.   See you tomorrow."

Bob's smile broadened as he sighed and settled deeper into sleep.  I knew my messages were received, same as when he was in the Recovery Room...   Then I heaved a sigh of total peace -- and Thanks, as I turned and left his room.   I waved goodnight to the nurses, headed down the stairs, and ran into my Dad at the bottom, about to come up.

"Is he all right?   You were gone so long we were getting worried."

"No, Dad, he's resting very comfortably, in fact, he fell asleep.   He wanted to know if Ralph would be taken care of, and I told him yes, that Mom had fed him --- then had to explain what that means in our house.   He got so tickled he laughed hard, once, then winced in pain.  The nurse came in to check, then bawled me out for making him laugh, fresh from abdominal surgery.  Bob explained that I didn't try to, but she shooed me out.  Man, I'm beat, anyway.   Where are Mom and Ralph?"

"They're slowly walking to the car while I get you;   Let's go... you've had one Helluva day!  I am so thankful that you're safe!!!  I don't tell you very often, but I love you, Greg!   I am so lucky to have you as a son, and I will always love you."

That was a shock!  two shocks!   Dad never cusses, not even Hell or Damn.  And to tell me he loves me,  twice!   Well.... maybe I don't have to worry about his mind being poisoned by Grandpa or his brother Cain, after all.

"Thanks, Dad.  I love you, too!   Come here."   He came over and seemed to know it was time - -  time for a real hug.  It was the best, longest, tightest hug I'd had from him in years!!!   "Yay, God!   Way to go!" I prayed as loud as I could -- without speaking.   We broke apart after a long time -- but not long enough, if you know what I mean.  We looked each other in the eyes. Really looked deep, and said softly, at the same time,  "I love you."   Nothing more was needed.   We walked out to the car breathing deep, happy breaths,  and I hoped Dad was feeling that lightness of "God's in His heaven; all's right with the world."

As I came down from this euphoria, I wondered, 'when would be a good time to tell them,  to come out of the closet?  And tell them that Bob and Ralph are gay, too?  Certainly not tonight, when Ralph's going to share my bed.  Tonight I want to hold him, and he needs me to hug him to reassure him he's safe.  Oh, I hope and pray that the Troopers got that ol' son of a bitch, my Uncle Cain,  locked up -- really tight!'

Comments?  Questions?   Don't worry,  "more will be revealed" about Ralph.   You may download any or all of this story, but may NOT post, publish, send or sell it as though it is yours.  It is copyrighted.   Write me,  Nels Beck at  <NailsB69@hotmail.com>