This Magic Place -- Chapter 4

    "Probably," slanting a grin at me. "Just the canned stuff, though. You can suck it up through a straw. You'd love the attention, wouldn't you?"

    "You bet."

   Another turn-off and then a few short miles, another turn-off, each road becoming more narrow and rougher. Finally, we pulled onto a gravel road complete with monumental potholes. We bounced our way over a rise and then smooth riding into a clearing and stopped.

    "We're here."

    "Good. I gotta take a leak," and stepped a few feet away from the Jeep. I had just gotten aimed and had let go when he was suddenly standing beside me, "me, too," and a thick stream arched out.

   I couldn't help myself and I quickly glanced over, hoping, and was disappointed. He was standing on my left, and his right hand was in the way. But since I was standing in essentially the same position but on his right, I was wide open. I think I got pretty well checked out.

    "Okay, where's this river at?," I asked.

   "Wait a minute, let me get this thing put back where it should be." He came up beside me, zipping up. "It's about a block further on down that path," as he pointed.

   "Well, c'mon, let's get the stuff and get with it," as he headed for the Jeep. We gathered up fishing rods, waders, starvation kit and various other fishing gear and headed for the river.

    "Hey, we forgot to bring bait," I said.

    Dac turned around and looked at me with a surprised look on his face, "I thought you -- "

    "Gotcha," I laughed.

    He just smiled and shook his head. "And you gripe about my stories. There's no hope. And the next time, there's going to be two, one right after the other."

    "Oh, lord, that would be enough to put a pall on the whole day."

    "Oh, that's all right. I know you secretly love them and can hardly wait for the next one."

    I looked heavenward, found no relief and walked off. We got to the river which probably, during spring run-off, was a sizable river. For now, however, it was nothing more than a very large stream. It was moving right along over what appeared to be large, submerged boulders, turning and twisting. Some rocks were above the surface and the water was splashing and cascading over them.

    I followed Dac as he started walking upstream and we eventually came to where the stream made a broad sweeping curve, the broad, outside of the curve shallow, maybe a foot or two deep and still moving rapidly. The inside of the curve much deeper and still, hardly moving at all. Dac squatted down and began assembling the rods.

    We went to opposite ends of the pool and waded out into the shallows and began casting into the pool. It had been a number of years since I'd done any fly fishing but after the third or fourth cast, it was coming back to me. Dac, of course, put his fly exactly where he wanted it on his first cast and then stood grinning at me until the hang of it finally came back to me.

    The fish weren't terribly cooperative but they were there, each of us pulling in two or three 12 to 14 inchers right off. Then it was kind of sporadic after that. We changed positions a couple of times but it didn't make much difference. We stayed with it until about 2:30 or so and as I glanced over at Dac, he was making 'feeding-face' motions at me, so I reeled in and made my way back to the bank.

    "I'm hungry," as he came over and squatted down next to me.

    "Yeah, me too. Where do you want to eat?," as I pulled my waders off.

    "There's a place right there," pointing to a large tree almost directly behind us. "Besides, that's where I put the food."

    We got comfortable under the tree and started eating chicken sandwiches, potato salad, Greek olives and assorted pickles and washing it all down with iced tea and finishing it off with coffee from Dac's thermos.

    "You make this?," gesturing toward the thermos.

    "Yeah. Is it okay?"

    "You make good coffee."

    "Thanks." He glanced off then back down at the ground, fumbling for a cigarette, seeming to be deep in thought. He glanced over at me and then leaned towards me and quietly, as though he didn't want anyone else to hear, "This is good; isn't it?"

    I glanced at him, "Yeah, it's so peaceful up here and relaxing--" and I glanced back at his face and realized from the sound of his voice and the look in his eyes, that he wasn't talking about where we were or what we were doing.

    You mean you and me; don't you?"

    "Yes," quietly, almost breathing the word. The look on his face and in his eyes telling me that he was wanting to say more than he just had but was unsure and a little nervous.

    "Yeah, Dac, it's good, real good. It's easy to be friends with you. We click, you know? I just didn't realize how much I needed a friend until I met you. I'm glad I did."

    Dac looked down for a moment, then kind of shook his head and faced me and said, "I feel the same way about you, David." He shook his head and turned away.

    "Christ," he muttered.


    He turned, finally, facing me, "Why is it so hard for guys to talk about their feelings for each other? I don't understand. I mean, there are things I want to talk about, say to you, need to say, and I just clam up and can't let go.

    "I don't know for sure. I think a lot has to do with the way we were brought up -- you and me. You know the old saying, men don't cry and quit being a baby, why don't you grow up and so forth. You learn at an early age to hold in your feelings, suppress pain, to be the so-called strong one. And somewhere along the line you discover -- if you are lucky -- that you have done such a bang-up job of it, you can't tell someone how much you love them when it most counts. You can't talk about love, tenderness, sex and on and on because that's being wimpy or womanly and all that horseshit. Kind of a sad commentary on our society when you think about it.

    "But you know, the more you and I talk about these things, no matter how scary they are to you or me, the more we each will experience a sense of freedom. It's like you tell yourself, Oh, I'll just die of embarrassment if I talk about this or that. And in the end, it's the embarrassment that dies.

    "And you know something else? We have made some real progress because I can look you right in the eyes and say to you, Dac, you're my friend and I love you, Bud."

    Except that Dac wasn't looking me in the eyes, he was very studiously looking at the ground.

    Maybe I could help him out. I grabbed my chest with both hands and went "Ohh, Ohh," and grimacing all over the place.

    Dac looked over at me with alarm smeared all over his face. "Whatsa matter? What's wrong?"

    "Dac, I'm having a hug attack. Help me, help me."

    He looked at me in amazement and then it dawned on him, "You shit," he yelled and then kind of laughed and then came into my arms and we wrapped around each other. "Oh, God, I love you, best friend," he whispered.

    "I know," I whispered. "I'm so lucky."

    After we separated, he kept glancing at me with this little grin on his face and finally, "Would you really like me to feed you chicken soup?"

    "Damn right but not out of a can, and rub my back and read to me. Sing to me, too."

    "You'd have a relapse if I sung to you."

    "I'll chance it. Oh, you meant just when I was sick?"

    Dac had another one of his silences, finally finishing his coffee then looked over at me, "You want to continue fishing?"

    "No, not really. We could head on back and grab something to eat on the way and have coffee at home and sit around and talk for a while. What do you want to do?"

    "Sounds good to me."

    "Oh, what about the fish?," I asked. "None of the appliances in the kitchen have been delivered yet."

    "Oh, well, there's a family I have known for a number of years that I've given stuff to in the past. They're kind of hard up. They just live down the road from here."

    We wrapped the fish in the paper the sandwiches had come in. Dac put some money on top of the fish and started closing the wrapper.

    "Wait." I dug in my pocket and did the same. We took off and made a stop a few miles further on and dropped the fish off to a very grateful family.

    We stopped at a fast food place somewhere along the way and got hamburgers and fries and ate in the car. I had tried to talk and joke with him but was getting little response. He seemed to be dwelling on our past conversation or lack of it -- at least from his side of the fence. I knew he was feeling bad about it and I tried to think what I could do to help, thinking that perhaps when we got home the privacy and not being disturbed would help.

    We got in just before sunset and I got started on a pot of coffee. When it was ready, I filled a couple of mugs and headed for the front steps where Dac was already sitting still looking down at the mouth.

    "You know, I had a good time today and I really enjoyed the fishing and the conversation," hoping to break through his gloom and find out exactly what was bothering him.

    He turned toward me, "I did, too. It's just that . . . just," and then stopped.

    "Say it, Dac, I'm not going to hate you or laugh at you or whatever. Or pass judgment on you, either. Hey, I'm your best bud, remember?"

    "I know. I don't doubt it in the least. There are things that I need to talk about, need to tell you, but I . . . I . . . I just can't do it, I just can't let it out and I don't know why. I mean, I want to, but . . ."

    "I know. It's all right," seeing how upset he was about this. I sat there thinking about what he had said. "There are some things about me that I want to talk about and I'm kind hung up on it, too. Can't seem to open my mouth and let go. So you're not the only one."

    I decided to change the subject, "You ever read any books by Heinlein?"


    "Well, he wrote a bunch of stuff, some of it, in my opinion, not all that good, but several books were excellent. One book, in particular that maybe has something to do with this problem between you and me is one called Stranger in a Strange Land, and it's about Michael Valentine Smith, the man from Mars, raised by Martians. And in it, he talks about groking."

    Dac, looked over at me like I had been smoking something rare and exotic.

    "Well, I won't go into what groking is all about but the main character keeps talking about time is for waiting, time is not full, when time is full then whatever is going to happen will happen and so forth.

    "And maybe, my gloomy, sexy, best bud, that is the problem with you and me. We don't know each other well enough to let go of something so very personal and private yet. But when time is full, when it is time, then we will talk about it. And in the meantime, let's just continue to be best friends and keep getting to know one another better and better. What do you say?"

    "Yeah," his face lighting up and turning to me, "Maybe that's the problem, we just don't know one another well enough. It's like we are pushing it, trying to go too fast. Just have to slow down and let things happen when they will."

    "Yeah," I said, "It'll happen when it's time."

    "You really think I'm sexy?," with this little grin on his puss.

    "I said that? Oh, a slip of the tongue, obviously."

    "Oh, you lie like a dog. Besides, I like the lie -- if it was a lie, which I seriously doubt. Nice to know you think I'm sexy. You're pretty nice, too."

    "Oh, aren't you the generous one? You're sexy and I'm just pretty nice?"

    "David, you can't have everything, you know. You have me for a best friend, what more do you want? I got to go. Tomorrow's going to be a busy day what with electricians, moving van and whoever else shows up. And they will probably all show up at the same time." He started heading for the Jeep. Stopped and came back up to me. "Gimme a hug."

    "Yes, sir," and we hugged each other, and all too soon, broke apart.

    "I really did have a good time, in spite of my bad mood."

    "I'm glad you did. So did I. Okay," I said, "See you tomorrow," and as he walked off, "Oh, hey, I just remembered--"

    "Yeah, yeah," sarcastically, "Cinnamon rolls."

    I laughed and we said goodbye.

    Monday morning came too early. I had done a few things around the house getting ready for everybody and then showered and went to bed only to lay there thinking about Dac and my feelings. Man, I was falling for him. Big time. This had never happened to me before; in fact, I wasn't even sure that 'falling for him' was the right term. I had been attracted to men before, as I was to Dac, but there was more to it than just that. A lot more and I was really confused about these feelings. He was on my mind almost all the time. The feelings I was having toward him were ones of warmth, tenderness, being there, understanding, helping and I'm sure, many more.

    In the past, my sexual attractions to other men had been strictly physical and certainly nothing emotional. Nothing more than a quick romp in the sack and don't slam the door on your way out. This was emotional. Big time. What is going on, I wondered.

    I finally fell asleep around midnight. I was just out of the shower and getting dressed trying to wake up when I heard pans clattering in the kitchen.

    I made my way downstairs into the kitchen and there was Dac making coffee, a bag of cinnamon rolls on the counter.

    "Hi, smiles. Oh, you brought the cinnamon rolls. Thanks."

    "Oh, such little faith and I promised you I would bring them."

    "The only thing I heard you say as you left was 'yeah, yeah.'"

    "Well, that could be construed, within context, of course, as being a promise. Oh, and I have a story for you to get your day started right."

    "Oh, c'mon, I just got up. I haven't had my cinnamon roll or coffee yet."

    "You'll like this, I promise. It's about growth, maybe even yours, who knows?"

    There was this guy in a bar and he went into the mens' room to take a leak and this black dude came up beside him and pulled out this humongous cock -- I mean, it must have been at least 12 or 14 inches long -- and started taking a piss. Well, the other takes a look at all that and couldn't contain himself, so he says, hey, buddy, that's really something. Did you just naturally grow that way? The black guy looks over and says, no, I used to be rather small, like you, but my grandfather told me to put lard on it every day and really rub it in and it would grow and get bigger. It really works. So, the other guy races home and starts to work. Anyway, about a month later this guy happens to be in the same bar and goes to the mens' room and this black guy comes up beside him and it was the same guy. The black guy asks him if he had tried that remedy. Well, the other guy was really pissed and said, yeah, I used it, did it just like you said and at the end of the week it looked smaller to me and by the end of the month it was definitely smaller. So it didn't work, in fact, it made things worse. And the black guy said, well, just what did you put on it? Well, there wasn't any lard in the house so I used Crisco. Crisco, the black guy said. You stupid shit, that's shortening!

    I tried not to smile and took a big bite of cinnamon roll hoping to hide it.

    Dac was laughing. "See, See? I knew you would like it." and then he whispered in my ear conspiratorially, "Let me know if you need any lard. I can get a good price for it."

    By gosh, I wasn't about to take all that, "I don't need any lard, Dac, and you know it."

    "How the hell would I know?" still laughing.

    "Well, you checked me out pretty thoroughly at the fishing place."

    "Oh, well," turning a bit red in the face, "that was just sort of a glance, I wasn't really looking."

    "Oh, man, you're so full of it, you slosh when you walk. Even I'm impressed."

    Then with a superior little smirk on his face, "Yeah? Well, I wasn't the only one glancing around."

    I started laughing. "You always check out the guys?"

    "Just my best bud."

    "Your hand was in the way," I said.

    "I'm right-handed, what did you want me to do; 'look ma, no hands?'"

    "I'm standing on the left side next time."

    He just smiled at me. "We'll see."

    And all hell broke loose. First Dac's crew arrived ready to begin work then the arrival of an appliance truck, a small panel truck with the name of a local electrical company, and the furniture in another truck.

    It actually did get sorted out albeit with some arguments. The furniture got unloaded, the electrician made his rounds through the house working up an estimate, and the appliances got unloaded and installation began. The electrician eventually left after innumerable questions saying he would be returning tomorrow with an estimate and could begin a day or so later. I decided it was a good time to have a cup of coffee and parked myself on the front steps, lit a cigarette and got my mouth all set to enjoy peace, quiet, coffee and said cigarette.

    It was short lived as the next wave hit in the form of the moving van, a repair truck from the local phone exchange, the guy about re-doing the access gate (when did Dac talk to him?), and one of the appliance installers with a question.

    I answered his question since he was practically standing in my face. The phone repair had an estimate of the cost to replace the wiring from the road up to the house and would I be good for it? I signed and he headed for town and his crew, saying he would be back after noon. I hollered at Dac to go over what I wanted on the gate with the guy and work out a price and got the movers unloading and directing them to the proper rooms.

    I decided to take a break before I started on my end of things, got a fresh cup of coffee and again located myself on the front steps and just kind of sat there letting my thoughts come and go at random (mostly of Dac). I finally decided that the first order of business was to get some food in the house -- at least for the next couple of days. I made out a quick list and headed for the Cruiser.

    Dac came walking over as I was getting ready to leave, "Where you headed?"

    "To the grocery store, I need to get some food in the house. So I don't have to keep eating out."

    "You want me to come with you? We're not doing anything at the moment that the crew can't handle by themselves."

    "No, I can get this done quicker by myself," and saw the flash of disappointment, quickly covered, "but I need someone very sexy to have supper with me. You know of anybody that might fit that description?"

    He looked at me and gave me this big grin, "Someone very sexy? Oh, I know just the person for that job. What time is very sexy person supposed to arrive?"

    "Oh, I would say -- well, actually, about the time you guys quit for the day."

    "Well, I'll see what I can do," and I headed for town. I got supplies for the next few days, put a few things on order to have delivered later in the week and headed back home.

    I got things unloaded, checked to see that the refrigerator and freezer were operating and then started looking through the stack of boxes for everything that I was going to need to put supper together. I had just put the chickens in the oven and finished peeling potatoes and was looking around for the right pans before starting on the next step when the front door opened and this voice yelled out, "Hey, special delivery is here!"

    "I'm in the kitchen," I hollered back, finally locating the pans.

    Dac came in the kitchen all smiles.

    I looked up from what I was doing, "Hi, special delivery. Everybody gone for the day?"

    "Yep, just you and me, babe. Boy, you've been a little beaver. Don't know what you're fixing but it certainly smells good," sniffing appreciatively.

    "I planned it that way," finishing up the pies. "Boy, the things I do for you," glancing up at him, "you must be something special."

    "Even very sexy?," grinning from ear to ear.

    I laughed. "Yeah, that, too," as I put the pies in the other oven, adjusting the temperature and setting the timer. "I hope to hell they remembered to calibrate the ovens."

    "They did. I saw the guy doing it."

   "Good. Dac, if you want to take a shower, you can use the shower in my bedroom. And there are clean clothes in the closet. So help yourself. We're about the same size, so they should fit. more or less."

    "Oh, sounds good. I could use a shower."

    "Yeah, I think so, too."

    "Hey, is that a nice thing to say? What kind of a host are you?"

    "One with a sensitive nose. Go take your shower. I'll have a beer with you afterwards."

    "You mean, you're not going to come scrub my back and various --"

    "--parts thereof? No, I better stay with what's going on down here. I don't want to ruin a meal."

    "You're passing up an opportunity to view my beautiful body, you know that; don't you? Women have swooned at the sight and broke out in a cold sweat and had to be put to bed and the doctor called and --"

    "Or for other reasons, no doubt," I said.

    "Well, that too but I didn't want to make you feel like one of the 'little people.'"

    "Jeeze, I was talking about my sensitive nose, not your tally whacker and you know it. Go take your damned shower."

    "Gotcha!," and went laughing up the stairs. Visions were running through my mind of scrubbing his back and everything else, and . . . And one way or the other, he would find out about me and I would stand to lose something far more precious, his friendship and goodwill. But the frustration was becoming more difficult.

    He came sauntering into the kitchen wearing a pair of my jeans and one of my favorite butter yellow oxford shirts, open at the neck, with the shirttail out and the cuffs rolled under. He looked delicious and probably knew it.

    "I borrowed a pair of your socks and underwear. Hope you don't mind."

    "Of course not. I'll treasure them always. Maybe I can make a macrame wall hanging with DAC stenciled across the crotch."

    "Yeah, I figured as much," with a smirk. "They'll be plenty stretched in that area so you'll have plenty of room to write. Where's that beer you promised me?"

    "Here," as I handed him one and got one for myself. "Here's a glass."

    "Thanks. Hmm, Point Beer?," looking at the label.

    "Right. It's made in Stevens Point, Wisconsin. It was rated number three internationally several years back. It's not a pilsner, just a good solid beer."

    "Will I like it? I've never tried it before -- never heard of it, for that matter."

    "Yeah, I think you'll like it. But pour it into a glass and get a head on it before you drink it."

    "Why? I always poured it down the side so I wouldn't get a head."

    "Yeah, I know, but you want to taste the beer, not the carbonation, or the preservative in other words, and that's why you pour it into a glass and get a head on it."

    "You sure are smart. Were you born that way?"

    "No, I worked at it, same as you. What's the matter, Dac?"

    He looked over at me, "I'm sorry, I've been acting obnoxious. I'll do better. It's just that I've been kind of frustrated lately."

    "Well, I can relate to frustration. Is it time to talk about it?"

    "I know you would help and thanks, David. But not yet. We will talk about it, but just not yet. Like you said the other night -- last night, I guess it was -- time is not full yet."

    He took a swig of beer, getting foam on his lips. "Hey, this really is good."

    "I figured you would like it. Well, supper is ready. You want to get the table set and we'll eat."

    Dac got the table set and then came over behind me and plonked his butt down on a cabinet and watched me put the rest of the meal together.

    "We're having two chickens for supper? What are those round things?"

    "No, we're having one chicken for supper. I'll bone the other one and use it for sandwiches and those round things are German dumplings. And this is gravy," as I handed him a bowl. "Would you set it on the table, please."

    He put it on the table and then came back for the chicken that I had carved. "Thanks, I'll put the dumplings on. Could you grab the salad out of the frij, please. The dressing is in the small container next to the salad."

    "Got it, got it, and got it. Are we ready?," halfway sitting down.

    "No, we need the milk, since you're just a growing boy."

    And clowning around, "I am that. It's just growing -- I mean, I'm just growing and growing."

    "Now, are we ready?," Dac stood looking at me.

    "You want me to say grace, or do you?"

    "Would you, please. It's been a while for me."

    "We'll have to do something about that, shortly. Give me your hands, please," as I held mine out to him.

    "I don't do this with just any guy. You know that, don't you?"

    "Gee, I must be special. It's just that you get me so worked up I have to hold them for a bit."

    "Aaaaooh," with a silly grin on his face. He put his hands in mine ready for me to say grace and it happened again. "Did you feel that?," I asked him.

    "Yeah, it's happening again. What's going on? We gonna be transported or something?"

    "I don't know. I'm getting tired of trying to figure it out." I said a quick grace. "C'mon, let's eat, Bud, I'm hungry and I know you are."

    "Yeah, starving." He glanced up at me, "How do you eat dumplings? I've never had them before."

    "Uh, you usually take two or three on your plate and quarter them and then put gravy over them. Sort of like very solid mashed potatoes, which is what they are made of."

    We started passing food back and forth and began eating. "Oh, David, this is so good. And I like dumplings, these are good. I don't know how long it's been since I had a meal this good. What is that seasoning? I've never tasted anything quite like it."

    "Oh, glad you like it. Thank you. The seasoning is basically what I could get my hands on in a hurry. A little ginger, oregano, orange peel, kosher salt and I give the chicken a good going over with olive oil first. I usually just grab when it comes to seasonings, so it never turns out quite the same."

    "You did good, best bud." I think that's what he said. His mouth was kind of full. So was mine. We continued stuffing our faces until the chicken was nothing but a bare carcass and a lonely dumpling in the bowl. I handed the bowl to him, "Here, finish him off."

    "I didn't want to be discourteous," he said.

    "I know it and I appreciate your courtesy; but Dac, I come from German parents. Believe me, the cook -- my Mom -- would get royally pissed if there was uneaten food left. Here, have some gravy with it. Now if I had a dog, he'd get the rest of the gravy with a little bread and chicken scraps. Oh, well. C'mon, Bud, give me a hand here."

    Dac and I cleared the table and I brought over the coffee pot and filled a couple of mugs. "We'll have dessert in a while after those dumplings get settled. They're real rib stickers. My Dad used to call them sinkers."

    "Anyway, I got a suggestion to make," as Dac glanced up at me. "I've been thinking why don't we set aside every weekend for us. I don't just mean going fishing or something like that, not that I didn't enjoy the fishing, I did. I haven't done that in years. But what I was thinking was we could take out Friday night and drive to Denver and take in the opera and eat out or see some movies, museums and that sort of thing. Or to some of the tourist places here in the state. Or to Albuquerque for some really good food. There are a couple of good restaurants even though there must be several hundred restaurants in town all claiming to be the best. Or we could go to the Santa Fe Opera, that is, if you like opera."

    "I do, very much. And it sounds like a good idea. Let's do it. I can always do my errands when I go into town for project supplies and the like."

    "Yeah, and you can bring your laundry out here if you want. You said something one time about having to go to the laundromat."

    "Great. Where do you want to go this weekend? Any suggestions?"

    "No, not at the moment. Let's give it a couple day's thought and see what we come up with."

    And so that's what we did. We went to many of the tourist places in New Mexico, the cliff dwellings in Bandolier Park in the Jemez Mountains, to Carlsbad Caverns, the cliff dwellings in Chaca Canyon. We left early Friday with Owen, Dac's second in command, in charge of closing things up and headed for Denver and saw a performance of pianist Van Cliburn. We talked about it all the way back to the hotel and late into the night. I was amazed at Dac's understanding of piano repertoire and who was who in the performing arts world.

    We went to the Spaghetti Factory and the Library while in Denver, stuffing ourselves on spaghetti with clam sauce and prime rib at the Library, and then brunch at the Flying Dutchman as we headed home.

    One weekend we went out taking pictures of flowers, using a close-up lens with Dac's jean covered leg as a backdrop (he suggested his rear end, with a leer, but I told him it was too scrawny, and besides I might want to reach out and pat it). I couldn't wait to see how the yellow daisies and Indian Blankets turned out.

    In all the times that we stayed overnight in a hotel or motel, we didn't sleep together or even see each other naked. We slept in separate beds. Our ribald sense of humor still continued as strong as ever and Dac seemed to have a never-ending supply of jokes, stories as he called them. It was frustrating -- at least for me. Maybe for Dac? I didn't know, but I hoped so, I sure didn't want to suffer alone. Then too, I was hoping he was feeling the same way about me as I was toward him. But we continued to grow closer.

    I have never lived a lie and I kept wondering how much more of this I could take before finally exploding and telling him. Surely if we were close friends and he treasured our friendship, as he said he did, he would be able to accept it. But I didn't know.

    It was toward the end of the week. The men had left for the day and Dac and I were eating supper together while he was catching up on his laundry.

    Dac looked over at me, "We got plans for this weekend?"

    "No, not really. I was going to ask if you had. But if not, then I would probably be doing something around the house."

    He sat moving his cigarette around in the ashtray, not saying anything, thinking about something. Finally, "Something around the house, like what?"

    "Well, depending on what you wanted to do, I was going to get the stuff in the library unpacked, CDs, videos, that sort of thing. And the place generally cleaned up. The stereo and video equipment is hooked up and running and I need to finish up in there."

    "How long would that take?"

    "Oh, two or three hours, I imagine. I pretty much know where I want to put everything, just a matter of a little sweat and muscles."

    He looked at me, finally making up his mind, "Well, I thought if you wanted, I would come out early and help you unpack and stuff, maybe work half a day. Then let's go for a hike, there's something I wanna show you.  Nobody knows about it except me.  It's really neat.  Tell you what, I have such a big heart and generous nature, I'll even stop at Swilars and get breakfast for both of us.  How does that sound?"

    "You're welcome out here any time, day or night. I enjoy your company, Dac, you know that. You don't have to buy me breakfast or whatever to come out here."

    "I know, but I got to eat and I assume you do, too, and I would rather eat with you than by myself, or anyone else for that matter, so quit your arguing and just agree with me."

    "All right, I agree, smart ass, what time?"

    "Smart ass will be here at eight o'clock sharp."

    "What did you say a minute ago, you have a big what -- I didn't quite catch all that?"

    "Heart, you ass."

    "Oh, I see. Well what's this neat something that nobody knows about except you?"

    "Oh, no, no, no," wagging a finger at me. "That's secret.  You'll find out soon enough."

    "Wondering what the secret is will keep me awake tonight, although I probably would have trouble getting to sleep anyway, it's so quiet up here."

    "You'll probably wake up several times during the night wondering what woke you up and then you'll realize it was just me you were dreaming and yearning for. So just turn over and think pleasant thoughts about me and about this neat thing I'm going to show you and go back to sleep.  Anyway, I'll be on my way and I'll see you tomorrow morning with food."

    If he only knew the number of 'yearning' thoughts I had about him.  "Sounds good, I'll be ready."

    Dac left and I went upstairs and started unpacking boxes.  I worked for an hour or so and finally around eleven o'clock, I decided to quit and take a shower and go to bed.  Surprisingly, despite not being used to the quiet of this place yet, I went right to sleep, and while I did wake up several times during the night, I took Dac's advice and thought about the neat something and managed to get back to sleep.

    I was shaved and cleaned up by the time Dac arrived complete with a monumental breakfast.  We sat at the kitchen table eating and talking.

    "Did you wake up during the night?" as the sausage he was eating disappeared, soon to be followed by another.

    "Yes and you were right, it was dreams and the quietness that I'm still not used to that woke me, but I just thought about that neat thing of yours and went back to sleep."

    Dac practically choked and then started laughing, "That didn't come out quite right, but I know what you mean."  And still laughing, "Nice to know you think I have a neat thing, though."

    I thought back to what I had just said, "Oh, shit, I'm sorry.  Glad you didn't take it the wrong way."

    "Forget it, no big thing."

    And then we both started laughing.

    "All right," trying not to smile, "How many boxes of junk and stuff you got to unpack?"

    "It's not junk I'll have you know. Oh, not too much that needs to be unpacked.  Mainly I wanted to get the library cleaned and shined up a bit.  The whole thing shouldn't take us more than three hours or so."  I looked at my watch, "We should be done around noon, grab something to eat and take out."

    We started unpacking and putting things away, then started cleaning walls, ceilings, floors, windows and finished right at noon.  Dac took out the last load of trash while I put away cleaning materials and headed for the kitchen to roust up something to eat.  I made chicken sandwiches and we sat eating lunch in the kitchen.

    Dac glanced over at me, and got this sneaky little smile on his face, "Hey, you know the definition of gross?"

    "I'm not going to avoid this am I?"

    "Nope. But you'll like it, though.

    "All right. What's the definition of gross?"

    "It's when you come home late at night and throw your skivvies against the wall and they stick."

    "Oh, disgusting. Right in the middle of lunch, too. Where did you get that? One of your crew tell you? I can just about imagine which one."

    "Oh, I can't reveal sources. I knew you'd like it, though. Oh, by the way, you got film for your camera?"

    "Yeah, bought film for it the other day.  Why, you planning on mooning for me or are you going to finally show me your beautiful body?"

    And with a smirk, "Sure, then you'll have something to keep you snug and warm during those cold, lonely nights.  I don't know, just thought you might want to take it along."

    "Why, will there be something I would want to take a picture of, aside from your puss?"

    "Just thought you might want to take it along."

    "Did I miss something here? Didn't we just have this conversation?" I asked.

    No answer, enigmatic smile. 

    "Dac, you're absolutely infuriating. You know that?"  Which got me another smile.  I took the damned camera.

    We started out, heading for the north line of trees.  It was cool as we entered the forest.  We followed a path that apparently had been there for years, used by game and others as well.  At mid-afternoon, the sun was shining in streaks through breaks in the pines creating a backdrop of brilliant contrasts of gold and dark.  There was a slight breeze and the smell of pine was intense. 

    Dac and I were within an inch or two of being the same height so that one did not have to slow down for the other.  We talked, pointing out various things to each other and commenting on the beauty of the sunlight as it played through the branches above.  There were pine needles everywhere making a soft and crunchy feel to our path.

    "How far are we going to go?"

    Dac glanced over at me and smiled, "Oh, a ways.  We'll still be on your property."

    "Boy, you're just a wealth of information today; aren't you?"

    Another smile and silence and we kept walking.  We crossed the creek back and forth several times, still staying with the path and winding up and down and around the terrain.  We had been walking for about forty-five minutes when we eventually came to a small clearing and Dac stopped.

    "Let's take a break."  He knelt down by the stream and dipped water up in his hands and drank.  I did the same.  It was good, sweet tasting, not the usual taste of chemicals and chlorine.  We sat talking and very carefully smoked a cigarette.

    "About thirty minutes more and we'll be there," he said.

    "Be where?," I asked.

    "Where we're going," he said.

    "Ooooohhh," I said.

    Another smile and off we went.  We had been following the creek pretty much all the way this last part of the journey.  I could hear what I thought was a sort of slapping, popping sound in the distance but wasn't sure.  I glanced at Dac but he seemed to be locked in enigma mode.  The sound grew more pronounced as we got closer.  I finally realized that it was water splashing against rocks.  It seemed to be coming from the other side of the high ridge that we were making our way around.

    Once around, we came into a small clearing.  I took two or three steps and stopped and stared.  Nothing had quite prepared me for this.  I had guessed that from the sound of the water, there must be a waterfall or something similar and there was, but far more than what I expected.

    There was a large rectangular pool about the size of a standard size swimming pool with grass on one side growing almost to the edge of the water.  There were bushes and cattails at one end of the pool with water lilies and a variety of flowers creating a riot of color along its edge.  And at the other end, the northern end, was the waterfall, cascading down in a number of small falls and riffs from the rocky cliff, high above, each fall, seemingly, with its own particular cacophony of sounds, to end finally in a foaming explosion on a pile of rocks and small boulders and from there on into the pool.

    The pool itself was clear and appeared to have a rock bottom.  It was so clear, I couldn't tell how deep it was.  On the side of the pool with the grass along its edge, the ground sloped gently upwards to a sort of knoll crowned by a huge, magnificent weeping willow, its slender branches swaying gracefully in the breeze.

    I turned to Dac, and he was squatted down by the water's edge, looking up at me with an expectant smile on his face.  "Whadaya you think?"

    "It's beautiful, it's . . . I can't find words to describe it.  It's . . . how did you know about this place?"

    "I found it, rather by accident, actually."

    "What do you mean?"

    "Well, it was early last summer and I happened to drive by the access road on my way back from some project or other and well, you remember me telling you these last two years have been pretty rough for me?"

    I nodded.

    "Well, anyway, I had done some work for Jensen a couple of times in the past and I remembered how peaceful and quiet it always was out here and I decided, sort of on a whim, to come in and just walk around and enjoy the solitude and maybe I could get my head back together.  Anyway, the gate was locked -- Jensen had already moved out -- but I burgled it and closed and locked the gate behind me, and parked the Jeep down by the house behind some bushes. I didn't want somebody showing the house and wondering what the hell I was doing here and so forth.

    So, I got out and started walking around and I noticed that there was a path that led into the forest and decided to follow it.  I assumed it was a game trail and I just decided to see where it went to.  After a while, I realized that a game trail wouldn't be any wider than the game that used it, and if you remember, we followed that same trail up here but we walked side by side practically all the way.  By that time, I was getting curious as to why it was as wide as it was and what was at the other end of it.  And I found this, end of trail, end of story."

    "Then you're saying that the trail was used for various equipment to come up here?"


    "Then this place is manmade?"

    "Well, partially.  The waterfall and pool, I think were already here, perhaps not as they are now, but nevertheless.  The water lilies and the flowers I think were put in. The rock lining the bottom of the pool, if you notice, is all about the same size and I suspect that it was put in by Jensen -- I think it was Jensen -- along with the grass and the willow tree. I don't know who else would have, he was the original owner. It belonged to the state before.

    I looked over at the willow, "But that tree has got to have been here 15 or 20 years."

    "It's 15 or 20 years old but it hasn't been here that length of time.  Willows aren't native to mountainous areas; otherwise, you would have seen some on the hike up here.  You'll find them mostly down in the lower climes along the river beds.  No, the willow was brought in.  But the funny thing is that there are no nurseries in this part of the country -- at least that stock large trees -- so I figure it must have been brought in from Albuquerque or somewhere else.  Must have been a hell of a job getting it up here.  And cost a chunk, too."

    "And you think the grass was planted here, also?"

    "Yeah, originally it was bare earth right up to the water's edge, like the other side over there."

    I turned to look.  "I wonder how many people know about this place."

    "No one and I rather carefully checked around.  Jensen and you and I are the only ones that know about it.  Well, of course, his wife and probably the kids would have known about it at the time but his wife is dead and the kids are on the west coast, so for all practical purposes we're the only ones that know about it.  Kevin certainly doesn't know anything about it.  He would have busted his butt bringing you up here when he was showing you the place."

    "Neat." I turned back to Dac, "You know what? Let's just keep this a secret between you and me. Sorta just for us. What do you think?"

    "I was thinking pretty much the same thing. You know, I even thought about not telling you but then you and I got acquainted and got to be really good friends and I had to tell you. Besides, I knew you would really get a kick out of it and I could hardly wait to tell you."

    "Is that why you waited?"

    "Yeah. I wanted to be sure about you, about my feelings about you, what kind a person you were and so on. I guess I figured that if we turned out to not be friends or it looked like it was heading in that direction, then I would just keep my mouth shut."

    "It still could turn out that way, you know?"

    Dac looked at me, "Do you believe it will?"

    "No, I don't," and quietly, "Ever."

    "Me neither."

    I glanced over at him, "I'm sure glad we got to be friends."

    "Oh, yes," looking at me intently, "For a lot of reasons."

    "Oh, I forgot."  Dac walked over and kneeled at the edge of the water, "C'mere, there's something else I want to show you."

    I walked over and squatted down beside him, getting a little closer than I had intended, as my leg was touching his.  Hell, it was flat out against his and I loved it.  I knew I should move over but I could feel the heat from his body and arousal for me was instantaneous.  And instead of moving, he swayed slightly toward me. "What?," I said.

    "Stick your hand in the water."

    I did so, figuring it would be ice cold being fed from the mountain stream, and looked at Dac, "It's warm, almost like bath water.  What the hell?"

    We were so close and there was no need to but we were suddenly talking in voices so low we were almost whispering.  "Underground thermal that warms the water in the pool.  Now, if you stick your hand in the water by the falls, it will be ice cold but the heat of the thermal offsets the coldness of the water from the stream."  And he continued talking about something or other. His voice sounded like he was nervous about something. All I could think of was the sweet warmth of him and all I would have to do would be to move my arm and I would be holding him. I was so close to doing it and I wanted to so much and --

    He turned toward me, "How's that for a heated pool?"  I could feel the warmth of his breath on the side of my face as I looked toward the falls.  I didn't say anything for the moment and we became silent. We were caught up in a magic spell of intimacy and the warmth of our bodies touching, and desire was suddenly in our voices, our breathing, in the air around us.

    My voice was shaking, and I made some inane remark, "Wish I'd brought a pair of swimming trunks."

    Dac didn't say anything for a moment and then, leaning closer, almost in my ear, whispering, "Let's go swimming naked.  Just you and me, nobody will know."

    I turned toward him, our faces and lips almost touching, "You want to?" And I knew he could see the want and need in my eyes.

    His voice suddenly whispery, throaty, "Yeah, do you?"

    "Oh, Dac, yes."

    Our eyes met, and we both knew. Time is for waiting and the waiting had finally been fulfilled. It was time to take the next step and we both wanted it. But still, a shadow of lingering doubt. For better or worse, we would bare our souls to each other in this magic place.

    He smiled and tentatively, carefully touched my face, moving his hand to the back of my head, and I closed my eyes at the feel of the warmth and softness of his hand, as he brought my face closer until our lips touched for the first time.  We broke apart, searching each other's face, smiled and put our arms around each other and kissed again, his tongue moving across my lips, gently, softly.  I opened my mouth and felt wet warmth as he entered, touching me, exquisitely touching, our tongues in gentle caress.  His hands never still, moving always, a caress, my hands moving into the black softness of his hair. And finally, this first time, this spellbound time, as I looked into his eyes, I touched the beauty that was his face.  The sadness of before was no longer there.  Now, there was joy and love, unashamed. And suddenly it was as though a celestial laser penetrated my body, and my whole being opened and was flooded with an overpowering sense of joy and wonder and love for this man, knowing that I had never before experienced it, the ineffable sweetness of the moment leaving me in breathless thrall.

    We broke apart finally, tears coursing down our faces.  We moved, again, into the circle of our arms, Dac kissing the side of my face, holding me even tighter, almost gasping, "Oh, David, David," and I kissed him again, our tongues delving deeply into each other's mouth.  The heat gradually growing and then his tongue started coming into my mouth with force, savagely and I found myself responding in kind. This was not the tenderness of moments ago, this was need, want, lust, desire.  Frustrations had been stripped away from our souls, our personalities. We were suddenly standing with our arms tightly around each other, kissing each other hard, fast, everywhere we could get at, our faces, necks, hair.  Our hands were everywhere, violently caressing, touching, feeling, grasping.  We were panting and moaning, talking in half sentences, fragments.  Suddenly Dac's hand went down inside the front of my pants and his warm hand wrapped around me tightly. It was so intense, I cried out.

    He growled into my ear, "I want to see you naked."

    I could hardly speak from the intensity of the moment, "I want it . . . too . . . for you . . . only . . . for you."   We practically attacked each other as clothes began flying in every direction, shirts pulled off, buttons flying.  Shoes and socks went the way of the rest, and then turning into each other's arms, I felt the heat of his body against mine as mine was against his and we let out a gasping sigh of pleasure as we began moving and thrusting against each other.  I held his face in my hands and his lips were soft, swollen and wet as my tongue went deep, sliding against his tongue, caressing it, making love to his mouth.  The intensity built, my breath coming in short stabs, my knees growing weak.

    "Dac, lay down," I gasped.

    We lay, facing each other, kissing, hands everywhere, touching each other's face, nose, chin, looking into the shining in each other's eyes.  Then his arms on my shoulders pushing me onto my back and the heat and weight of his body as he lay on top of me, the hardness of his sex rubbing against mine as we continued to thrust against each other, rubbing, sliding, producing a myriad of hot pleasures.  My legs were wrapped around his and my arms around his back holding on for dear life.  His mouth found mine again and I thrust deeply into him tasting the wetness and slight acid of his passion.  I kissed his face, his nose, eyebrows, ears, neck.

    And finally, the rasp of his beard against mine and he buried his face in the crook of my neck with a gasping cry, "Oh, God, David."

  His body suddenly grew tense and his arms wrapped even tighter around me, "Oh, David, I love you, David, Davvviiiiid," and the flooding heat of his seed shot in streams between us, triggering my own release, our sperm mixing.  And wrapped tightly in each other's arms, we joyously rode the waves of little death.

    We were gasping for breath.

    Dac still on top of me, his heart of hearts whispering in my ear, "I love you, David."

    "I love you, my Dac, my bud. Oh, Dac, I can't find words.

    He sighed, body relaxing, "I'm happy, so happy."

    He finally raised up and looked at me, "Suppose we ought to go swimming?"

    "We did rather make a mess of ourselves."

    "Uhmmm," as his body slid back and forth on mine, "Yeah."

    Dac got up and started walking toward the pool, his bottom winking at me.

    "Oh, yeah, nice butt."

    "You think so?," and wiggled it provocatively at me.

    "Oh, yeah, I'd like to kiss it or bite it.  Or maybe pinch it. Oh, yeah, that really sounds good."

    "Kissing is fine. Maybe a gentle nibble.  Licking sounds nice, too."  He glared back at me, "NO pinching."

    I came up behind him as he was about to step into the pool and placed my hand on his butt, feeling the warmth and play of muscles beneath the taut skin.  I felt him flinch and glance back at me, probably expecting a pinch.

    "Just feeling around for the best places," I grinned, as I stepped into the water.

    It was none of the typical rough horseplay of a bunch of males, screaming and yelling, wrestling and dunking each other and splashing water all over the place. Instead, it was being tender and caring with each other.

    And we stood, facing each other, washing each other off, hands lingering.

    And we stood, facing each other, smiling. We shared a secret from the world. In all my life I had never smiled so much. I'd never had reason to.

    And we stood, facing each other, gently touching, looking into each other's eyes and getting lost.

    And Dac looked at me, "Hold me."  And I held him and he held me in water up to our necks, as we stood, facing each other.

    We dried each other off, using our clothes.  "We better head back.  It'll be dark by the time we get home," I said.

    We headed for home.  We didn't talk a great deal -- that would come later -- we held hands, walking side by side, whispering to each other.  Occasionally, one would stop the other and we would hold each other and kiss briefly and rather carefully since our lips were a bit sore from the day's activities.

    We came into the clearing at dusk and I marveled at how our lives suddenly had changed. Dac looked at me, his heart in his eyes. "Stay tonight," I whispered to him.


All right, guys, that's it for a while. This next section is giving me fits, so it will probably be a while before it's posted. The response has amazed me. It has been overwhelming and gratifying. Keep writing. I love to hear from you. Harlequin