Warning! This is a tale about men loving men. If you find this disturbing - click off. If it's unlawful for you to read this - click off. If you under age - good luck if you can get away with it.
This is not a story for getting your rocks off. Just thought I'd let you know, so you won't waste your time if that's what your looking for. Otherwise, I hope you enjoy my writing.
I appreciate feedback and do my best to respond to it all. I may be contacted at: J S.Collection@Verizon.Net
Those Golden Eyes
Once again I'd like to express my appreciation to Dave for his corrections of all my mistakes. If there are any now it's because I added more after he did his magic. Thanks again, Dave. JWS
"Just call me Dear Abby, out of one crisis into another," Dave said to Roger as they headed down the stairs. He decided that he'd play it as if he were unaware of Tim's upset.
"Do you want me to come in with you or wait here in the foyer?" Roger asked.
Dave looked at Roger. "You know I think I'm beginning to like you. At first I thought you didn't have any sensitivity. Tim's parents are probably just as upset as he is. Please wait out here."
Roger nodded and stood to the side as Dave knocked on the door to the condo and smiled when Tim Sr. opened it.
Roger leaned back against the wall and sighed. When he'd interviewed for the job he'd had no idea what he was getting into. When Paul Hansen had asked him how he felt about working for a gay man, he'd answered that it didn't matter to him what a man's sexual preference was. It didn't infringe on his own sexuality. When he'd met Dave he couldn't believe that it was him that Paul was referring to.
And then he'd thought that Paul was pulling his leg when he'd been introduce to Joe and been told that he was Dave partner. After he'd digested that he'd met Johnny and no mention of sexual orientation had been made. He'd felt relieved that there was another straight guy working with him.
He had assumed that Joe and Johnny were identical twins. He'd heard that many times one of a set of twins would be gay. And then along came Tim and upset the cart, when he informed Roger that Johnny was his lover and two years younger than Joe. "God, maybe it is catching." he said under his breath as he thought about it. And Charley! That had really thrown him. He looked like a Marine or a gung ho cop. Who would ever have thought that he was a....Roger corrected himself before he thought it.... gay man, too.
He wondered if Charley had forgotten about their postponed dinner date. Even though there was no one around. He blushed as he thought about it. 'Shit,' he thought, 'it's just two guys going out to dinner. Nothing more.' Being seen in public with Charley was something he'd be proud of. Hell, everyone would think the same thing that he had when he met him.
He heard the door open and stood up, ready to escort Dave back up stairs.
"Hello, I'm Dave Gates." Dave said, introducing himself to Tim's father when he opened the door. "I just dropped down to welcome you. Did I miss Tim?"
"Nice to meet you, Dave. I'm Timothy Corbin and this is my wife Edie. Yes, Tim had to leave. School or something."
Dave noticed the tears that Edie was trying to hide and the tightness around her husband's eyes.
"Yes, he's always studying. You must really be proud of him. He tells me he's been on the honor roll since he was in grade school. Smart young fellow with an amazing memory. You know if it wasn't for his amazing memory I wouldn't be around today," Dave told them. "Tim helped save my life when I was kidnapped. His ability to describe the kidnapper and the car along with the license plate number, helped the police to locate, within an hour, where I had been taken. If it hadn't been for Tim they may never have found me."
"Our boy did that?"
"He sure did. I was so grateful to him that I searched for that El Camino and gave it to him with a little reward."
"Tim said he'd never need all you gave him."
"Well, it's not my place to tell you how much. It was really just a pittance."
"Where we come from we work for our money. Tim was not raised to take handouts like this."
"Handouts?" Dave suddenly understood Tim's frustrated anger at his dad. "Mr. Corbin, just how much do you think a life is worth? Let's say your life in particular or your wife's. Would you say it's worth everything you have?"
"Well, yes. I would give everything I own to save my wife's life. And I guess I would my own, too."
"Tim, you know I would forfeit everything we have to save yours," Edie asserted.
"So Tim saved my life," Dave said. "How do you put a price on that? Would you say my life is worth a thousand, ten, a hundred thousand? How about a million? I have much more than that, so shouldn't I have given him a lot more? My partner, Joe, was ready to give a huge fortune to the kidnapers to save me. Don't you think that a part of that should be Tim's? I mean he did save my life after all."
Timothy gulped. Before he could formulate an appropriate answer, Dave continued.
"There isn't a finer man I know than your son. And here you're acting like you are ashamed of him." Dave paused as though a thought had just occurred to him. "Ohhh, I think I know why. You are ashamed that he is gay. That is a shame. Here is something that he had no choice in being and you are ashamed of him for it."
"We're trying to learn to accept that. It's just that we've been taught all our lives that it is an abomination." Edie answered.
"Tim tells me that you are religious. Do you study the bible?" Dave asked. Edie expression made Dave back track. "I'm not trying to insult you, but do you read whole books and chapters or do you study only the particular verses that your preacher suggests?"
"I attend a regular study group."
"And you take particular verses to study and discuss their meaning, right?"
"Of course, that's how all study groups do it."
"Have you ever sat down and read the complete Book of Leviticus?"
" The complete book?" Edie thought a minute. "I don't think I have."
"Well, before you condemn your son, I'd suggest you read and study the whole Book. By the way that's a lovely red dress you're wearing, Edie."
"Thank you. I wore it because I know Tim likes it."
"Oh, I don't know if Tim told you," Dave said, changing the subject. "the kitchen is fully stocked. The fridge is full of food, so if you want a snack, help yourselves. You're invited to have dinner with us tonight on the terrace. If you need anything, there is a list of telephone numbers beside the phone. Don't hesitate to call me. It was nice meeting you, I've got to run."
Back in the foyer he thanked Roger as they head back up the stairs.
After Dave left Edie commented about the oddity of Dave talking about the Book of Leviticus. "I don't think I've ever read more than the verses that are always recommended," She said, as she dug into her suitcase for her ever present Bible.
She opened it to the Book of Leviticus and sat down to read the entire book. Her husband walked over to the French doors that opened onto the balcony and stared out at the city. Noticing a lounge chair he opened the door and stepped out. The air was fresh, he took in a deep draught. Going to the railing he looked down on the University's huge complex of buildings. He thought about his confrontation with his son, and sighed. It seemed that every time he tried to talk to Timmy it turned into a battle of wills.
He admired his son and was proud of what he had accomplished in his young life. So why was it that he always ended up condemning him? He regretted that he'd let Edie hold him back from going to his Graduation Ceremonies. Those damned religious beliefs of hers certainly could mess up their lives. He made the decision that it wasn't going to influence him anymore. He loved Edie but he hated how she raptly accepted everything her church told her. And he hated himself for not being strong enough to stand up to her and her church. He was going to have to sit down alone with Timmy and straighten out things between them.
He sighed again and lay down on the chaise. With his hands behind his head he stared into the blue sky. Dave sure was an attractive fellow. He kind of reminded him of Mike. God, he hadn't thought about Mike for a long time. He'd loved Mike. Maybe even more than he loved Edie. He'd seriously thought about breaking it off with her when they were still engaged and trying to make a life with Mike. But the choice had been violently ripped from him.
He closed his eyes and ventured back to his days as a soldier in Nam. Jungle. Sniper fire. His squad had been pinned down for hours and was slowly being picked off by a damned Cong sniper. From their location they couldn't see him. Mike had kissed him on the cheek saying he was going to flush the son of a bitch out. Before he could collect his wits, Mike had sneaked away.
He and the other three unwounded grunts had waited. Hyper-alert. Suddenly the silence was broken with a series of rifle fire. He pinpointed where the firing was coming from and sent a burst of bullets into the bush. There were two screams of pain at once from two different directions.
He knew Mike had been hit, he'd heard his scream of pain. Nothing had mattered except getting to him. He rose from his hiding place and ran in the direction Mike had gone, expecting to be gunned down any moment. Nothing happened. He'd taken out the sniper. He yelled out Mike's name and heard a whimper and groan. Rushing in the direction of the sounds, he found Mike.
Just as he got to where he was lying, he simultaneously heard another shot ring out and felt a searing burn in his side. He toppled over Mike and lay there trying to catch his breath and stop the pain. He turned around and crawled to Mike's side. He gathered the dying man in his arms. Mike's last word still rang in his ears. "This is for the best, Buddy. Never forget I love you." Tears coursed down Tim's cheeks as he remembered the feel of Mike's life force leaving his body.
After getting out of the hospital he'd been shipped back stateside and processed out of the Army. He'd stopped in Phoenix to visit Mike's grave and to give his parents his condolences. It wasn't two months later that he'd married Edie.
Timothy drifted into a light troubled sleep and dreamed that Dave was Mike reincarnated, come to set his life back on the right track.
He was awakened by Edie sitting on the edge of the chaise and taking his hand in hers. She had tears running down her cheeks.
"Why are you crying, Sweetheart?" He asked.
"Tim, we've gravely wronged our son. And I've been wrongly misled by Pastor Barnum. Surely, he knows what the rest of Leviticus says. Yet he's never mentioned any of it except the verse condemning people like our Timmy. I should be stoned for just wearing this dress. That's what Dave was saying when he complimented it. He was basically saying I'm a hypocrite. And I am."
"Edie, my love, one thing that no one seems to take into account is that all that stuff was written a long time ago, a long time before Christ even. Times change. And along with it laws must change, too. The laws in Leviticus were laid down for the people of the time. Jesus never condemned love of any kind. He admonished the people to love each other and not to judge them. We've both wronged Timmy. We judged him and withheld our love. And that is a sin."
"I know that now." Edie wept into her hands.
Tim slid off the Chaise and stood offering his hands to his wife. She took them and allowed him to pull her up to stand facing him.
"We must seek Timmy's forgiveness before we can seek God's." He took his wife's head between his two hands, wiped her
tears away with his thumbs, and then pulled her to his lips, and wrapped her in his firm embrace. "Come, let's go find him."
Tim eventually got past his anger at his parents and felt saddened that they still couldn't accept him. He stood and stretched wishing that Johnny was home to commiserate with him. He wandered into the eyrie looking for Dave and found him in the kitchen peeling carrots for a pot roast. When Dave saw him standing in the doorway, he smiled.
"Feeling better?" he asked.
"Some, I guess."
"I met your parents. They seem like very nice people."
"They are." Tim sighed. "Except when it comes to their faggot son."
"Has either one of them ever used that word?"
"What? Faggot? No, they won't even say Gay."
"Why do you use it?"
"Why? Because that is what they make me feel like."
Dave dried his hands and walked up to Tim and rested them on his shoulders. "Have you sat down and talked with them about this, Tim?"
"What's to talk about? Mom bursts into tears and Dad gets critical of things he doesn't even know anything about."
"And you get angry and supersensitive, don't you?"
"Are you blaming me?"
"No, Tim, I'm not blaming you. But I'm not blaming your parents either."
"So what are you trying to tell me, Dave?"
"Tim, your parents love you. I could see it in their eyes when I was talking to them."
"Strange way they show me."
"Look, I've invited them up for dinner. You and Johnny are invited, too. You are a very intelligent fellow. Try to see their side of the issue. You might discover none of you are right or wrong."
"For you, Dave, I'll try."
"No, Tim. Do it for yourself. I think you'll be surprised."
Tim went home thinking about what Dave had said. He'd been to church with his mother enough as a youngster that he knew where most of her precepts came from. By the time he was sixteen he'd decided that the Baptist church was a self righteous, hypocritical, hate-mongering institution and refused to go with his mother anymore.
As he thought about his father he realized that his dad had never really said anything negative to him about being gay. He'd just become more critical of everything he did. It was as if he expected Tim to be more perfect for being gay. And when he wasn't being critical he just seemed to ignore Tim, closing himself into a pained shell. Tim wondered why. He could think of no logical reason his dad would act that way, unless......no that was out of the realm of possibilities.
He tried to get into his school work, but just couldn't concentrate on the text. His mind kept wandering back to what Dave had suggested and that was like a dead end street. So he put on his jogging shorts and went for a run.
After Deave finished all the prep work for dinner with the----, he called Jason and met them at the house when they got out of class. When Dave walked into the living room he was secretly impressed with how clean and neat everything was. Dave hadn't been in the house since Pete and Jason had moved in. The ever astute Jason watched him checking everything out. "You didn't expect a couple of gay boys to live like college pigs did you?" he asked grinning.
"Busted," Dave said, as he laughed. "I actually didn't know what to expect. I am impressed."
"And we do it without a maid," Jason said. His manner was haughty.
Pete shook his head and smiled. He loved his ballsy little guy.
Dave nodded. "Even more impressive."
"So you wanted to talk to us, Dave?" Pete asked.
"Oh yes, Gio has this idea that you might be willing to rent a room to his knew chef. I just wanted to feel you out about it."
"Why don't we sit down?" Jason said, motioning toward the kitchen table.
"You know?" Dave said, as he approached the table, "Bill and I always sat here to hash out everything. We didn't use the living room much except to entertain."
The two boys smiled as he reminisced.
"Can I get you something to drink, Dave? We got sodas iced tea, or I can make you some coffee if you wish."
"Thanks, Jason, I had a Cappuccino with Arlen a earlier," Dave said.
"Arlen? Did he tell you what he did to Ted?" Pete asked.
"Yes, I'm quite sure he'll be around to apologize soon."
"I don't know if an apology will be enough," Jason said. "Do you want to meet him?"
"That would be nice if he's up to it."
"Let me go see how he's feeling," Jason said, getting up and heading toward the bedrooms. He knocked lightly on Teddy's door and heard him bid to enter.
"How are you feeling?"
"I'm fine. Lip's going to be sore."
"I'll bet. There's a man out here that wants to meet you. You feel up to it?"
Teddy sat up. "Sure, let me put a shirt on. I'll be right out."
Jason stopped at Jake and Charley's door and listened. He could hear them talking, so he knocked. "Hey you lovebirds, Dave is here. Why don't you come out and say hi?"
He heard Jake say that they'd be right out. Jason went back into the kitchen. "Did you know that Jake got out of the hospital today?" he said to Dave. "I told them you're here, they'll be right out to say hi."
"How's he doing?" Dave asked.
"He's doing great. They've been in there making like bunnies since they got home," Jason said. Pete rolled his eyes. And Dave let out a hardy guffaw.
Teddy appeared in the doorway. Pete looked up and smiled at him. "Come on in, Ted, we were just having a good laugh at Charley and Jake's expense."
"Do they ever stop?" Teddy asked. They all laughed again.
"Ted this is Dave Gates. He's a close friend and our landlord. Dave this is Ted Edwards, Chef Extraordinaire."
Teddy turned a rosy shade of red, and took Dave's hand. "It's good to meet you, Sir."
"It's good to meet you, too, Sir." Dave replied. They grinned at each other. "Arlen really did get you, didn't he?"
"I've had worse. It's not really as bad as it looks. There's no loose teeth."
"Gio tells me you like living here."
"These guys are really cool," Teddy said. "If they'll have me I would love living here."
"We'd love for you to live here, Teddy," Pete said.
Jason nodded. "Yeah, maybe you can cook just for us sometime," he said. Teddy rolled his eyes.
Jake padded into the kitchen. He was dressed, but still barefooted. Dave stood up and hugged the big man. " How're you feeling, big guy?" Dave asked. Jake smiled. "Like I'm the happiest man in the world. Especially with this man at my side." He reached back and pulled Charley up to his side and kept his arm around his shoulder. Charley offered his hand to Dave as he said, "Good afternoon, Dave."
Dave grimaced at the offered hand and held out his arms to Charley. "You're part of our family, first and foremost, Charley. You can be formal in front of strangers."
Charley grinned and stepped into the hug.
They all sat down and visited. Dave eventually asked Jake when his next book was due.
"They've made me a big offer if I can get it out in eight months."
"And can you?"
"If Charley can learn to keep his hands off of me while I'm writing." He grinned at his lover. Charley grinned back and brought Jake's hand up and kissed the palm. Jake visibly shivered. Dave shook his head. "New love, ain't it grand?" Jason and Pete grinned at each other and then at the others. Dave glanced at Teddy, who was looking on filled with envy. "You'll find your man, Ted, Just be patient."
As he approached the apartment he saw his parents walking away. He called out to them as he ran to catch up with them.
All three of them were trying to apologize at the same time and no one was listening to the other. They all stopped talking and smiled.
"Come on up, I'll put on a pot of coffee. We need to talk," Tim said.
Timothy and Edie followed their son back to the small two bedroom apartment. As Tim opened the door he explained that they were looking for a house to buy and that the apartment was only temporary.
Once they were all settled around the table in the small kitchen, and the coffee was brewing, Tim took the lead. "Dad, Mom, I would like to explain where I'm coming from in my perception of being gay.
His parents nodded and gave him a small smile. They both noticed how Tim had matured. He'd left home a rebellious teenager and now he was a man. Timothy chuckled to himself thinking about how Tim had fallen back into being the rebellious boy this morning. He had a feeling that Dave might have had something to do with Tim's more mature attitude.
"You know I was raised to believe in God. And you both know how I feel about your church, Mom, especially after I discovered my sexual orientation. I have done a lot of research and a lot of soul searching in the time since I left home. I find that I have a stronger belief in God now. And I feel closer to Him, too.
"One thing that I believe about God is that he is infallible. He doesn't make mistakes. I am the way God intended me to be. I am not a mistake. To condemn me is to demean God for I am his creation just as you are. That I truly believe.
"Many people say I had a choice, that I chose to be Gay. That's totally ridiculous. Can any sane sensible person believe that given a choice I would choose a life that is looked down on and despised by the general population? That I would choose to be ridiculed, maybe tortured and killed for my choice? No one, given a choice, would choose that. I can no more be straight than either of you could be gay."
Timothy blushed and bowed his head at his son's last statement. Tim saw it and wondered why, but didn't comment on it. Edie was staring at her son as tears flowed unstaunched down her cheeks. She didn't notice her husband's reaction.
"I love you. You've been good parents. I hope that you can learn to understand what I am and accept me. I won't apologize for what I am for I have done nothing wrong. I try my best to be the honest upstanding moral person I was raised to be. I don't see that my sexual orientation belies that. I was a virgin when I met Johnny. And I will be true to him for life. I can't be any more than that." He looked at each of his parents. "The ball is in your court."
Edie wiped her eyes and smiled at her son. "Timmy, I was blind because I refused to see. Rather than think for myself, I took the easy route and let another person dictate what I should believe. This morning after you left, Dave came down to welcome us. He opened my eyes to my blindness. Well, your dad helped with what he said, too. Timmy, I'm so sorry for the way I've been treating you. I haven't been a very good mother trying to be holier than thou. Can you forgive me? It may take me a bit of time to completely accept that you are gay, but I'm sincerely going to try. No, I'm going to do it. I love you, Son. And I am proud of you. Although, right now, I'm not very proud of myself."
"There's nothing to forgive, Mom. I love you and Dad very much."
"I need your forgiveness too, Tim, I know I've been critical and have ignored you recently. I won't any more. I love you, too, Son."
That evening at Dave's was one of the best that Tim could remember. Dave, Joe and Johnny all loved Tim's parents. And the feeling was mutual.
Edie insisted on helping Dave clean up after dinner. Timothy discreetly asked his son to take a walk with him, excused himself to the two Paolini brothers and with an arm around Tim's shoulders, he guided him to the other side of the roof top garden.
"Son, I think it's time to share something with you that I have hidden for most of my adult life. As much as I love your mother I've never told her what I'm going to tell you."
He commenced to tell Tim about Mike and how he felt about him. Tim held his dad as he wept. Timothy had never let himself mourn Mike's death until then. Not even when he'd visited Mike's grave had he let his emotions go.
"I always wondered where my middle name came from. So I was named after him? " Tim asked.
"Yes, Son, it was the least I could do for him."
"That's so romantic, Dad. I'm sorry you lost him."
"But if I hadn't Tim, I wouldn't have had you."
"Yeah, Mike gave his life so that I could be. Wow, he was really something wasn't he, Dad?"
"Yes, he was son. And you are the best."
"You think that is what he meant?"
"I do, Tim, I really do."
Johnny had gotten worried when Tim and his Dad were gone for so long. He wandered around the house and stopped when he saw Tim holding his dad as he wept. He smiled with satisfaction, knowing everything was going to be all right with his lover and his dad. He returned to the den where Joe and Dave had retired for coffee and desert with Edie. She looked up at him as he sat in a big comfortable leather arm chair. "Are they okay?" she asked.
"Yeah, they're just doing a little father and son bonding. They're fine."
Outside, Timothy was trying to get his emotions under control. He felt at peace with his loss of Mike. It had been cathartic to tell his son about him and to finally mourn his death. Tim stood next to his father, his arm around his shoulders. He'd never felt so close to his dad before. For the first time Tim realized his dad was just a fallible man, and now he wasn't just his father, he was his friend, too.
"Good grief, I can't go back in there with my eyes all red from bawling," Timothy muttered, wiping his face with his palms.
"Well, they are probably in the den, so you can go wash up in the little toilet just inside the French doors." Tim led his dad to the door of the toilet, went into the den, cuddled against Johnny and smiled sweetly at is mom.
When Timothy entered the den he saw his son sitting next to Johnny, who had his arm around Tim's shoulders. He noticed that Dave and Joe were sitting close enough to touch and that Edie was smiling. She seemed to be okay with it all. He sat down next to her and put an embracing arm around her shoulders.
"Life's good Mom," he said, "Our boy is getting hitched to a fine man and he is surrounded by good friends that love him. What more could we want?"
Edie smiled and shrugged. "As long as he is happy, I can ask no more."
It was nearing nine o'clock that evening when there was a knock on the front door. Jake, Charley and Teddy were in their respective bedrooms. Jason and Pete sat at the kitchen table studying. Jason wasn't quite sure he'd heard the rapping and looked up at Pete, who hadn't heard it at all. "I think there is somebody at the door," he said, as he got up and headed through the livingroom to the foyer. Pete got up and wandered over to where he could see who was there.
Jason looked out the Peek Thru. Seeing Arlen standing there, he opened the door. They stared at each other a moment before Jason spoke. "You can come in if you promise not to hit anyone."
"I promise," Arlen muttered, and shuffled in.
Jason looked him over in the bright light. "You look downright miserable to be on top of the world," he said, referring to the winning status of the university's football team.
"You want some coffee, tea or maybe a coke?"
"Come on in the kitchen. We're still hitting the books."
Jason turned an went back into the kitchen passing Pete who was standing in the door staring at his friend. Arlen followed, looking like he'd lost the most important game of his life. He stopped in front of Pete. "I'm sorry, man. I need to talk."
"Feeling less hostile, are you?" Pete asked.
"I apologize for that. I'm going through some heavy shit. I don't know how you guys dealt with it."
"With what? What are you talking about?"
"I'm a fucking faggot. And I don't want to be." Arlen yelled.
Jason was immediately in his face. "You're no such thing. You may be gay, but you are not a faggot. Don't use that nasty word."
Two doors down the hall had opened and three big good-looking men now stood behind Arlen. All three of them were bare chested.
"Did I hear someone yell faggot in here?" Charley asked. Jake was standing behind him with his hand on Charley's shoulders. Teddy stood to the side with his arms folded, looking belligerent. Charley had seen Arlen once and had not been introduced to him. Jake only knew of him from Jason's story about the infamous kiss, but knew immediately who he was.
"Yeah, but you won't hear it again," Jason said with conviction.
Arlen turned and looked at them. Seeing Teddy's bruised mouth, he muttered, "Oh god." He covered his face with both hands and stumbled past Pete and collapsed onto a chair at the kitchen table, and buried his face in his folded arms. Pete followed him and put a comforting hand on his shoulder. "Pull yourself together, guy. You'll get through this," he told him.
"You three lunks want some hot tea?" Jason asked, drawing their attention away from Arlen.
"Have you got Camomile?" Jake asked.
"Sure that's what I'm making for Arlen and us."
All three of them agreed that Camomile tea was okay. Jason pulled out three more mugs and dropped tea bags in them. Pete looked up at the three men and motioned toward the kitchen table with his chin. "You guys stop gawking and find a chair. Our friend here has a problem. Maybe we can all help him come to terms with it."
They quickly took seats across from Arlen. Pete closed up Jason's and his books and moved them off the table. Arlen kept his face buried in his arms. Jake sat next to Charley with his hand on his shoulder. Charley sat with his elbows resting on the table, chin in hands. Teddy sat apart and away from the table with his arms folded across his chest. Pete had sat next to Arlen and was rubbing his hand up and down Arlen's back. That left the last chair on the other side of him for Jason.
Nobody said anything while Jason brought mugs of steaming brew to set in front of each person. He passed the spoons and the sugar bowl and then sat down himself. Everyone except Arlen busied themselves with their tea. Pete briskly rubbed Arlen's shoulder and squeezed the back of his neck. "Come on, dude, drink your tea."
Arlen sat up and concentrated on his mug. He finally looked up and glanced at each one of the men across the table. His eyes settled on Teddy. "I stopped back in the restaurant to apologize, but you were gone. I'm sorry I lashed out at you like that. I didn't mean to hurt you."
Teddy smiled, "I'll get over it. Are you going to be okay?"
Arlen shrugged. He looked at Jake and Charley. "I'm Arlen Aldridge." He audibly gulped. "I'm ...ah...Oh God this is so hard to say. I'm ....gay." He closed his eyes and hiccupped.
Charley nodded. Jake reached his hand across the table. "Jake Shipman. Welcome to our world." He said, as he shook hands with Arlen.
Charley followed his lead. "Charley Hill. I guess I'm gay, too."
Arlen shook his hand. "What do you mean? I thought you and Jake were...ah... lovers."
"We are. I'm only gay with him."
"I..I don't understand. You're straight, but you have a gay lover? Can you do that?"
Charley grinned. "No, I'm gay. I hid it until I met Jake. Once I saw him it was easy for me to come out of my closet. There was no reason to fight it any longer. I just never said it out loud before."
"Cool." Arlen murmured. His eyes wandered over to Teddy.
Teddy smiled and fidgeted. He picked up his mug and sipped. When he set it back down he realized everyone was looking at him. "I gay, too. I just got discharged from the Air Force. I got caught in an officer's private quarters."
"Geez." "That sucks." "Oh, man, that's hard." "Wow."
Teddy grimaced and just nodded his head. "It doesn't matter. I got a certificate from the Cordon Bleu School of Culinary Arts in Paris. If they wanted to throw away that training, it was their loss. My gain. I'm a certified chef."
Arlen looked surprised. "Oh I thought you were just a cook."
Teddy chuckled. "That's just what I am. A glorified cook."
Arlen stared at him. "I'm sorry I hit you. Please, forgive me."
"Sure, I forgive you, but you're going to have to make it up to me."
"What do you mean?" Arlen asked.
Teddy shrugged with a grin. "We'll have to get together and discuss that in private."
Arlen blushed. The other four guys chuckled, amused at Arlen's embarrassment. They quieted down, sipped their tea, mused about being gay and simply enjoyed the camaraderie.
Arlen studied each of the guys at the table. Jake was the only one he didn't really know much about. He knew that he'd written a successful novel and had been in the hospital, but not much more. "Jake, I just bought your book and have just started reading it. How did you come out?"
"Oh, I kind of knew for a long time that I was different. Never put much thought into it until I started college. By then I'd done my stint in the army and wasn't concerned about what others thought. I met Jim Provost and we became buddies. I guess I never thought about coming out, I just did it."
"You just got out of the hospital today? Did you have an operation or what?"
"No offense, Arlen, but I don't want to talk about it. If you really want to know I give Jason my permission to tell you. In private." He looked at Teddy who he hadn't been introduced to. "And you too since you seem to be part of this group."
"Oh, I'm sorry we should have introduced you guys," Pete said and then made them. "So for a while, at least, it looks like the five of us are roommates."
"Oh man, I'm always odd man out." Arlen whined.
Teddy laughed. "Looks like I'm odd man in."
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