Uncle Phil's Legacy

by Tim Mead

Chapter 10

Having ordered the small oriental chicken salad at Applebee's, Jeff felt virtuous.  Macey had decided the shoe sale going on at Belk's was more important than eating, so he was on his own . . . without her there to urge him to eat healthy.

Macey fought a constant battle with her DNA.  She wasn't fat exactly.  But she was what Jeff's mother would have called "big-boned."  She watched what she ate, and she worked out at a gym, but she was never going to be svelte.  Still, she was always perfectly groomed and made up, and her taste in clothes put most of the other women they worked with on the third floor at UbiCo to shame.  Until it was known around the office that she'd taken up with her Air Force guy, moreover, she was constantly being hit on by her male co-workers.

It had been nine months since she'd befriended Jeff upon his arrival at the company, and she hadn't seemed so excited about her previous boyfriend.  That was probably why she had dumped him last summer.

His thoughts about Macey were interrupted when his cell phone rang.  He really disapproved of people who talked on their phones in restaurants.  He thought of just turning the phone off, but checked the caller ID first.

It was Stan Mason.  He decided it might be important, so he answered.

"Hey, counselor, what's up?"

"Jeff, how are you, guy?"

"I'm good thanks.  How are you and Doug?"

"Both great.  And now that the amenities are over, I'm calling to see when you could have supper at our place."

"Oh, gee, Stan.  My calendar is so full . . . .  I guess I could squeeze you in almost any evening . . . except for weekends."

He heard Stan's sexy chuckle.  Jeff had never known a man pushing sixty who was as sexy as Stan.

"Saving those for Sam, huh?"

"Stan, if I admit you're right will you promise not to tell people about us?  I don't care."  Jeff glanced right and left, then lowered his voice.  "In fact, I'd like to stand by the town clock and tell everybody that Sam Dudek and I are lovers.  But he has to make a living in Lake Polk and, well, you of all people should know what it's like."

"Yeah, of course I know what it's like, and you can count on our discretion.  I do need to talk with you.  Besides, both Doug and I would like to see you.  Any other time we'd ask Sam, too.  But this is something of a confidential nature."

"Stan, you're sounding like a lawyer."

Again the chuckle.  "Sorry about that.  Let's just say it has to do with the envelope you gave me along with the tax materials.  The one Phil labeled Ex Cathedra.

"Oh, yeah!  What's that all about?"

"If you'll come about 7:00 Thursday evening, I'll be happy to tell you all about it."

"Oh!  Okay.  Sure.  Can I bring anything?"

"Is that your mother's training or Phil's?"

It was Jeff's turn to laugh.  "A bit of both, actually, though I'd rather credit Phil."

"No need to bring anything.  See you about seven, okay?"

"Yeah, thanks.  I'll look forward to it."

After they hung up, Jeff admitted to himself he was curious.  What could have been in the envelope that Stan didn't want Sam to know about?

Whatever it was, he was looking forward to the evening with Doug and Stan.  With Phil and Buddy gone, this was the only gay household he knew of in Lake Polk.


The next morning as he was doing his run around the lake, he encountered Ian, as usual.  When he saw Jeff coming, the boy stopped and began jogging in place.

Jeff stopped.  "Hi, Ian.  What's up?"

The boy had a look of expectancy on his face.  "Jeff, I really need to talk to you.  Could you spare a little time some evening soon?"

"How about tonight?"

"Sure.  Can I come over after supper?"

"You wanna meet me someplace for supper?"

Ian looked uncomfortable.  "Uh, I don't want to talk about this in a restaurant.  At least not one in Lake Polk."

"Oh, okay.  Then how about if I stop and get pizza on the way home from work?  I can throw together a quick salad and we can eat together at my place to talk about whatever's on your mind."

"Cool!  Can I help pay for the pizza?"

"Not necessary.  Just show up at my place about 6:30.  What do you like on your pizza?"

"Anything!  Oh, no anchovies.  But Italian sausage and peppers and extra cheese would be good.  'Shrooms, too, if you like `em."

Jeff chuckled.  "You sound like a growing boy."

Ian quit jogging and pulled himself up to his full height.  "I'm not a boy.  I'm almost twenty."

"Sorry, dude.  Didn't mean any disrespect."

Ian began jogging in place again.  "Awesome!"  He beamed at Jeff.  "See ya tonight!"


When at lunch Jeff told Macey about his encounter that morning with Ian, she smiled and nodded.

"Uh huh.  I told you he was after your bod, Jeff.  He's a lonely gay kid who's become infatuated with a gorgeous older man."

Jeff wasn't sure how he felt about older, but gorgeous was good . . . if not true.  He was sure, though, that Macey was wrong about Ian.

"Ian is bright.  He's cute.  And, like you said, he's a lonely gay kid.  I'll give you all that.  I imagine he just needs a sympathetic ear.  I'm sure he feels very much alone, but I'd be willing to bet he doesn't have any designs on me."

"You know him and I don't, babe.  But any healthy gay guy would have the hots for you.  I know you're getting closer with Sam, but you can't tell me nobody's hit on you except him lately."

Jeff flushed, thinking momentarily of Paul Moretti.

"See," she said gleefully, "you're blushing!  How many have there been?"

"None of your frickin' business.  Let's change the subject."

She looked disgustingly smug.  

"Getting back to Ian, Lake Polk and even Cypress Haven are really small, country towns.  I'll bet Haven State doesn't have a gay-straight alliance.  And it's only been a couple of years since that guy was murdered.  He was only a couple of years older than Ian is now."

The look on Macey's face changed to serious.  "I'm not saying that guy deserved what happened to him, but—"

"You'd damn well better not be!"

"Chill, Jeffie.  You know I don't think that way.  All I'm saying is that your Ian probably has better sense than to come on to a couple of strangers late at night."

"Assuming he came onto them.  There's only the killers' word for it.  And the jury apparently didn't believe it."  He paused.  "Now, tell me why we're arguing."

She looked angelic, innocent.  "I don't know.  Were we arguing?"

"Oh, yeah.  I remember now.  Trust me, Ian's not interested in me except as an older gay friend."

"We'll see.  You can tell me tomorrow."

Jeff thought that, in the highly unlikely event Ian did have a crush on him, he wouldn't tell Macey.  But he was sure the boy's problem must be something like his feeling isolated in a homophobic community.

On the way home that evening, he stopped at the Pizza Hut, where he ordered a large pizza with the toppings Ian had requested.

While he was waiting, his phone rang.  He wasn't surprised that it was Sam, for they usually checked in with each other on week nights.


"Hey yourself.  What's up?"

"I'm at Pizza Hut."



"I'll bring beer if you feel like sharing."

Well, that's awkward.

"Sorry, Dude.  But I'm having company for supper."

"Oh."  The single syllable conveyed a load of disappointment.

"Ian Harkness asked me if he could talk to me, so I invited him over for pizza."

"Ian's the kid who wrote his paper about Agatha?"


"What's he want to talk to you about?"

"I don't know.  I think he's lonely.  Guess I'll find out this evening.  I can call when he leaves if you want."

"Lonely, huh?  Should I be worried?"

"Of course not!  You're as bad as Macey.  She thinks Ian has the hots for me.  On the basis of no evidence whatsoever, I might add."

"Maybe you should call when he leaves."

"Don't you trust me?"

"Well, when you put it like that . . . call me anyway.  Maybe I'm lonely, too."

"Okay.  Pizza's ready.  Talk later."


Jeff put the pizza in the oven to stay warm.  He set the table on the screened porch.  His mother had always insisted on calling theirs the lanai.  Phil and Buddy had called theirs, which was larger than the Elders', the "screen porch."

It was a mild evening, perfect for being outside.  He wished he could have come home at noon and opened all the windows.  Maybe the next morning he'd leave the windows, at least those on the second story, open when he left for work.  It was good to get the place aired out once in a while.  He knew people in Florida who never, ever opened the windows of their cars.  And most of them had little deodorant trees hanging from their rear-view mirrors.

He had just finished making the salad when he heard Ian's old Civic pull into the driveway.  It wasn't loud enough to attract the attention of the Lake Polk police, who had a fairly high tolerance for cars that made noise, but the car obviously needed a new muffler.  Or exhaust system.  The lot of the college student.

Ian had a package of Publix brownies with walnuts.

"Mom's are better, but she doesn't know I'm here."


"I told her I was going to Denny's with a friend from campus."

"Ian, it really isn't any of my business, but why did you lie to your mother?  Is there something wrong with you being here?"

"Let's eat.  I'll tell you later, okay?"


Ian scarfed down his share of the pizza and a bowl of salad.  Not finished growing yet, Jeff thought.

After they'd cleared the table, Jeff asked if Ian wanted milk with his brownies.  That's what he'd have preferred, and he thought that the younger guy would probably also want milk.  He was surprised when Ian asked for coffee.

"I've got a shitload of studying to do when I get home."

"Oh!  Okay.  Coffee it is."

After they'd finished, Jeff lit a candle in a glass chimney on the porch table.

"Uh, thanks for the supper, Jeff."

"No problem, dude, I've enjoyed the company.  But you wanted to talk with me about something?"

Ian leaned on the table and clasped his hands as if he were about to pray.

"I've got to freakin' get out of here!"

"You mean Lake Polk?"

"Lake Polk, Imperial County, Haven State College."

"I can guess why, but maybe you'd better tell me so I'll know for sure."

Ian worried a cuticle on his thumb.  "I was in the closet all the way through high school.  I played varsity soccer.  I was one of the jocks.  I've listened to my friends making fag jokes all my life.  I wanted to get out of here to go to college.  But then Dad got killed.  And Mom wanted me to stay around.  So I enrolled at Haven State."

Jeff nodded but didn't say anything, waiting for the boy to continue.

"But this is just like high school."

"You haven't met any gay guys?"

"A couple."


"That's it.  They're a couple.  They both go to meetings of the HSC gay alliance.  But there's only about a dozen people in that group and they're mostly girls."  He grinned.  "Girls who look like Amy, Sheldon's girlfriend on `Big Bang.'  And everybody makes fun of `em.  Dudes and chicks.  They're all gay and all nerds."

"Do people who are nerds mind being called nerds?"


"How do you feel about being called a fag?"

"Oh!  You know, a lot of the kids in high school called themselves nerds.  I think people like Steve Jobs have made the idea of being a nerd acceptable."  He giggled.  "You know, when Georgia Tech plays Georgia at home, they put up signs saying `Someday we'll be your bosses'."

Jeff chuckled and took the last sip of his cold coffee.

"So, sorry I interrupted.  Have you got anything specific in mind, a plan of action?"

"Yeah.  First I've got to tell you about this course I'm taking."

"A course you like?"

Ian's eyes lit up.  "Oh, yeah.  It's Linguistics 101."

Jeff's surprise must have shown up on his face.

"Yeah, I get that it's not likely.  But it's great.  The instructor, Dr. Frye, is awesome.  And I'm learning so much in his class."

"Isn't linguistics something to do with knowing lots of languages?"

"That's what I thought.  But that's not what this course is about.  Doc Frye says linguistics is `the scientific study of language.'  And it takes in all kinds of things.  We started with a week on grammar and syntax.  And then phonetics.  Next we're looking at how languages change as time passes.  Then we're gonna study regional and social dialects.  There's even a unit on what goes on in the brain so we can process language.  Like, it's all so cool!"

"Sounds like a lot of material to cover in one term."

"Well, it's an introductory course, a survey of what linguistics is all about.  Doc said on the first day he's always frustrated because we can only hit the high points."

"It sure doesn't sound anything like my English classes, in high school or at FSU."

"Yeah, he says when it comes to grammar and such the English teachers have it all wrong.  Language is what we make it.  There's no English grammar rules carved into stone tablets."  Ian grinned.  "I think he really likes being something of a subversive."

"God!  If Mrs. Brucker, my senior English teacher, heard that, she'd have a conniption."

"I think if I told my mom she'd have one, too."

"Is that the problem?  You're afraid to tell your mother about this course?"

"It's more than that."

Jeff waited for Ian to continue.

"Man, I've talked to the doc about this.  I want to major in linguistics.  I've never had a subject I've liked this much, and he says there are jobs in all sorts of areas for people with degrees in linguistics."

"Can you do that at Haven State?"

Ian grinned.  "No."

"Aha!  So what've you got in mind?"

"Well, you know I was saying I'd like to go to Miami because they've got an active gay community there on campus and at South Beach."

"Uh huh."

"Well, the prof says Florida has one of the oldest and best linguistics programs in the country.  And a big gay community.  Even one of the political bigwigs is gay and out."

"As a Seminole, I'd hate to urge anyone to become a Gator, Ian.  But I have to say this sounds like something that'd be really good for you.  So what's the problem?"

"My dear mother!"

"It's not a matter of money?"

"You know, she let me think it was at first.  But when I began to ask her more specific questions, she admitted that Dad had left us pretty well off, including a fund for my education just about any place I want to go."

Jeff didn't want to make negative comments about Ian's mother.  But he wondered what her problem was.  "Have you told her about the idea of transferring to Florida?"

"Not yet.  But I've figured out that she just wants to keep me around.  You know, she's lost dad.  And now I'm all she's got.  Except of course for half the kids at Lake Polk High who all love her and who she loves."

"She sounds like a great teacher."

"She is.  And she's a great mom, too.  But it's pretty obvious that she wants to keep her baby boy around close."

During the conversational lapse as he considered that, Jeff became aware of the sounds . . . the voices of kids at the city's sports complex across the lake, trucks on the highway a few blocks to the south, and, even though it was dark, a mockingbird singing from a nearby live oak.  All very normal.  But Ian's problem wasn't.

"You've got to look at it from her point of view, man.  She's lost her husband not long ago.  And now, as you say, you're all she's got.  Can't blame her for worrying about you being away someplace at school."

"Yeah.  And me being gay makes it worse.  She's always afraid I'm gonna do or say something wrong and then get bashed."

"I'd think that'd be more likely to happen here than in Gainesville."

"Good point.  I'll remember that one."

After another minute or so of thought, Jeff said, "You've obviously talked with Dr. Frye."

"Uh huh."

"Is he gay?"

"Jeez!  I don't think so.  If he is, my gaydar's shot all to hell."

"Do you think he'd be willing to talk with your mother?"

Ian's eyes sparkled, catching the light from the candle.  "Hey, I bet he would!  He could approach her as one academic to another, tell her about the opportunities in Gainesville, and all that."

"Well, it seems to me like you know what you need to do."

Ian heaved a big sigh.  "Thanks, Jeff.  I'm sure glad I talked with you."

"Always here, guy, always here."

Ian stood and picked up his mug and plate.  "Gotta hit the books.  This is a school night."

When they had taken their things to the kitchen, Ian stood there a moment looking awkward.  "Can I have a hug?"

"Anytime.  C'm'ere."

As he listened to the old Civic start and rumble out of the driveway, Jeff thought about their hug.

It was tight without being suggestive.  No crotch grinding or butt groping.  Jeff figured that Ian was comfortable hugging him.  The hug was not that of two straight guys.  Nor was it the hug of someone who was making sexual overtures.  It was more like the kind of hugs he'd exchanged with Buddy and Phil.  So Macey was wrong and Sam had nothing to worry about.  He'd be sure to tell them both about that.


January weather in Central Florida is fickle, balmy one day, frosty the next.  Thursday evening was chilly.  Stan grilled steaks outside, but they ate them, along with salad, baked potatoes, and a nice pinot noir, inside.

Dinner table conversation was pleasant.  They brought Jeff up to date on Mark's slow but steady recovery, asked about Jeff's work.  Asked if he'd decided what to do with the dildo collection.  

When Jeff said he hadn't really given the matter any thought, Stan asked, "Next Saturday's the January car show downtown.  Are you going to take the Auburn?"

"Yeah, I suppose I should.  Phil wanted people to have a chance to see it.  And nobody else in the Lake Polk group has anything even remotely like it."

Stan looked at his partner.  "Dougie, let's put that on our calendar.  It's been several months since we've taken that in."

Doug nodded his agreement.

"You guys don't worry about being seen together in public?"

"Everyone that knows who we are knows what we are," Doug said.  "But we try not to rub their noses in it."

"Yeah," Stan continued.  "At the car show we'll probably split up, wander around, look at cars, talk with people.  We have a lot of friends in town, you know."

"What happened to the ones who gave you guys such a hard time, back when you were forced to resign as city manager?"

Stan cocked his head to one side.  "Most of them are still around.  But there weren't that many of them.  A couple of rabid homophobes and one borderline on the city commission were enough to make my job untenable.  And though I couldn't prove it, I think the vandalism to my car and Dougie's front lawn was caused by some of Lake Polk's finest."

"In fact," Doug said, "we think most of our problems emanated from within the police force."

"But things calmed down?"

"Indeed.  I left office.  Not long after that Phil and Buddy got back from their trip and learned what had happened.  Those two lived quietly, but they swung a lot of weight.  They'd been very charitable over the years and had made a lot of influential friends.  So after that, except for the occasional muttered "Fag," people are at least civil.  And, as I said, through the church and our practice, through our neighbors, we've made a nice group of friends."

Doug grinned.  "Despite the common myth that gay men are all pedophiles, it's surprising how quick folks are to take your money when you're willing to help improve sports facilities or playgrounds."

"Or almost anything else."

They talked a while longer about general things.  Then Doug served big bowls of cherry-vanilla ice cream . . . in honor of upcoming Presidents' Day, he said.

"But that's a month away."

"Okay, so Stanley likes cherry vanilla."

When they had finished, Doug offered coffee.  Jeff, who'd been wondering all evening what Stan had to tell him, declined.  Asked if he wanted a drink of some kind, he again declined.

"Okay, then," Stan said.  "It's time for me to explain why we didn't invite Sam to be with us this evening."


"In the envelope marked Ex Cathedra—"

Jeff had intended to look up ex cathedra but never got around to it.  "Sorry to interrupt, but what does that mean?"

Stan looked at Doug and said, "Professor, will you do the honors?"

"As you probably recognize, it's a Latin term.  It generally refers to a pronouncement from a high-ranking cleric, one that's not just from the man but carrying all the authority of his office."

"Okay.  But I still don't see what that's got to do with Phil."

"Literally," Doug continued, "it means `from the chair.'  Traditionally the reference is to the bishop's chair.  Cathedrals are places where bishops have their official chairs."

"Oh, okay!  I get it.  Sort of.  But . . . ."

"Patience, Grasshopper," Stan said, his blue eyes sparkling with what looked like mischief.  "In that envelope is a narrative.  One that answers a question that had bugged Doug and me for a long time.  But it's also a confession to a crime of sorts."

"Phil committed a crime?"

"Well, it's more that Buddy did.  But Phil admits to collusion."

"I don't understand."

"The crime was blackmail.  That's why Sam's not here tonight.  And that's why Phil instructs me to keep the, uh, document and under no circumstances to let you see it.  He left it to my discretion how much I'd tell you about its contents.  Anything I tell you tonight is hearsay, inadmissible in court.  And I can always destroy the document and deny anything you say."


Stan held up his hand.  "It isn't going to come to that.  Trust me.  I think you're going to enjoy this story."


"You know that Doug was forced to stop being a lay Eucharistic minister in this diocese when the stuff hit the fan, right?"

"Uh huh.  Phil told me all about it.  He also said you guys and a bunch of your friends demonstrated in front of diocesan headquarters in Waltersburg, too.  I've always thought that was so cool.  But the bishop didn't do anything in response, did he?"


"What was his name?"


"Oh, yeah.  I remember now.  He left soon after all that, though, didn't he?  Took early retirement or something?"

"He gave up his position and went into a retreat to spend the year and a half before he could retire with full benefits."

"And thereby hangs a tale," Doug said, grinning.

"Seriously?  You aren't telling me that Phil blackmailed the bishop?"

"It was more Buddy, actually," Stan said, eyes still twinkling.

"But Stan, you're a lawyer.  You can't approve of blackmail."

"You're right.  As an officer of the court, I am legally bound to uphold the law.  But in this case, the perpetrators are beyond the reach of the law.  At least of man's law.  And somehow I don't think they're in much trouble with the Lord."

"Okay, okay, guys.  I gotta know what happened."

"That's what I'm about to tell you.  But first, what do you know about how Phil and Buddy met?"

Impatiently, Jeff forced himself to take a deep breath and expel it.  "Let's see."  He closed his eyes as he searched his memory.  "You know there was a really bad freeze from about here north back in the late 90's.  I think I must have been about fifteen.  It was so severe that nearly all the citrus groves were killed.  I don't mean the fruit was damaged.  The trees were killed."

"Yes.  That's a long time before I came to Florida, but I remember reading about it at the time.  It made national news."

Doug nodded, but didn't say anything.

"Most of the growers," Jeff continued, "sold their property and if they could afford it, bought land south of here, down toward Avon Park, Sebring, and even further south."

"But who'd want to buy dead orange groves?" Stan asked, a twinkle in his eye.

Jeff grinned.  "At the time, hardly anyone except Uncle Phil.  He was a chemist at the local citrus processing plant.  But he had some inherited money.  Money my old man thought should have been his."  He shook his head.  "That's another story.  Huge hunks of land with dead citrus trees were going for a song.  Phil bought up as much acreage as he could afford.  And the guy who handled the real estate deals was Uncle Buddy."

"And what," Stan asked, "was Buddy doing before he became involved in real estate?"

"Well, he must have been in the Navy.  There are some of his old uniforms at the house.  But I don't remember him talking about his Navy experiences much."

"Okay.  Did you pay any attention to those uniforms?"

"Not really.  They were in plastic bags.  I don't know anything about the insignias of Navy rank, but I'm pretty sure he must have been an officer."

"Right.  Buddy graduated from Annapolis and spent twenty years on active duty.  He was a Captain when he retired."

"Jeez.  You know, I never thought about it, but it must have been tough being gay in the Navy back then.  At Annapolis?  And then as a career man?  Wow!"

"Exactly," Stan said.  "And the story I'm about to tell you has to do with Buddy's Navy days."

"And the evil bishop?" Jeff asked.

Doug and Stan looked at each other and grinned.

Doug nodded.  Stan said, "Yessir."

"So, what happened?"

"I don't want to go into too much detail.  But basically, at one point there was a young chaplain under Buddy's command.  One day Buddy walked into the base chapel and found the chaplain and a young seaman in what used to be called a `compromising position.'  You have to remember that all I know is what your Uncle Phil says in his narrative."

"Okay."  Jeff wanted to say, "Get on with it!" but he was too polite.  

"He actually caught the two with their pants down.  Now this was before `Don't' ask, don't tell.'  Back then it was grounds for court martial.  Officers and enlisted men were forbidden to fraternize, much less have homosexual relations."

"So the chaplain and the seaman were in deep shit."

"Indeed.  Or would have been if they hadn't been caught by a very understanding – and gay – superior officer."

"Buddy let them off the hook?  Sounds like him."

"According to Phil, he talked with them separately.  He warned the seaman about how seriously he could be treated if there were ever a repetition of his act.  And then had him transferred to a post on the other side of the country . . . but one that was closer to his home town and his family.  So, as Phil commented, the young sailor was warned but not punished for his behavior."

"Like I said, sounds just like Uncle Buddy.  But what happened to the chaplain?"

"Buddy `talked' with him." Stan smiled broadly.  "I almost feel sorry for the chaplain.  But knowing who it was, I don't.  Anyway, Buddy told him he wasn't putting anything in his service record this time.  But he said he'd follow the man's career wherever he was assigned."

"And did he?"

"He did.  The lieutenant left the Navy the first time he had the chance.  And went on to a career in the Episcopal Church.  And it was apparently a spotless career.  As if he had seen the light.  In fact, he became one of the most right-wing clerics in the Church."

"Wait!  You don't mean that was Wenn, the guy who was bishop here, who gave Doug all the trouble?"  Jeff looked at Doug, who grinned and nodded.

"Okay, so what happened?"

"When Phil and Buddy got back from their trip and found out what had taken place here with Doug's losing his certificate as a lay minister and the demo at diocesan headquarters, Buddy went to Waltersburg to see the right reverend bishop.  Unlike Dougie here, he had the clout to demand an audience with His Grace."

"His Grace?"

"Just a little joke.  `Your Grace' is how one addresses bishops in the Church of England."

"Oh, okay.  So what happened?"

"Buddy suggested that Wenn was a hypocrite.  And that if he didn't moderate his severe and un-Christian-like stance against gay people, word of his past indiscretion might leak out."

Doug, smiling broadly, continued the narrative:  "The bish huffed and puffed and threatened a lawsuit for slander.  But a few months later, word came down from on high.  Well, from Waltersburg.  That he was stepping aside and going into an Episcopal monastery."

Jeff did a fist pump.  "Yeehaw!  Good for Uncle Buddy."

Stan put his hands together in a prayerful position, looked up, and said, "Revenge isn't a particularly Christian emotion."  Then he laughed and said, "But, yes, good for Buddy!"

Doug got up, went to the kitchen, and came back with a small tray with three snifters of brandy.  

After each man had his glass, Doug raised his and said, "To Buddy!"

"Down with hypocrites!" Jeff added.

"Hear! Hear!" Stan chimed in.

As they sipped, Stan continued, "Per Phil's instructions, I'm going to destroy the Ex Cathedra document.  So that there's no record of what happened.  I'm sure you see the wisdom of that."

Jeff nodded.  "Yeah.  Seems the best thing all around."


It was only about 10:00 when he got home, so Jeff called Sam.  He didn't want to tell his friend about Uncle Buddy and the Bishop over the phone, but he was eager to get their weekend plans set, including time to tell him the story.

"Hello, Jeff."  Was Sam sounding a little frosty?

"Hey, dude!  What are we gonna do this weekend?  Any suggestions?"

"I'm not sure getting together this weekend would be such a good idea."  Definite frost.

Surprised and disappointed, Jeff asked, "Why not?"

"Paul came into the store this afternoon."


"He bought some washers he could easily have picked up in Sebring.  But then after I'd given him his change, he looked around to see if anyone could hear him, leaned forward, and said something else."

Oh fuck!  Paul's always bad news.  What's he done now?

Jeff was almost afraid to ask.  "What did he say?"

"He asked me if I didn't just love the fine gold hair on your butt."


Please consider making a donation to Nifty.  What would we do without it?

If you want to comment on this story, email me at t.mead76@yahoo.com.  Please put the name of the story in the subject line so I'll know it isn't spam. Thanks.  --Tim