West Otter Lake
Copyright© 2013 – Nicholas Hall
West Otter Lake – Chapter Twenty-Five - "Home is the resort of love, of joy, of peace, and plenty, where supporting and supported friends and dearest relatives mingle into bliss." – (Thomson)
A beautiful late October morning awaited me when, a week later, I was released from the hospital to return home. Craig arrived alone in the Resort pickup truck; pleased as I was to see him, I was still disappointed Leandro wasn't with him, but I understood the reason why. There'd be ample opportunity to be with him at home. Leg immobilized and arm and shoulder tightly bandaged, my mode of conveyance was a wheelchair, rented from a medical supply store. The doctors fitted me with a walking cast, but cautioned me to stay off of it for at least another week when I was due for a check-up. A decision would be made at that time when I could resume navigating, sans chair.
The orderlies at the hospital had been more than kind and generous in wheeling me down the hall to visit with Luis once he was out of ICU and in a regular room. His color was beginning to return once more to his face and he began looking healthier as a result. The doctors noted to me, once Luis was out of surgery and cognizant of his surroundings, the only thing he seemed concerned about was Ollie. Dr. Carlton realized the sooner she began letting Ollie in to see him, the quicker Luis' recovery would be. She wasn't wrong there! She remarked to me she's never seen two young men so absorbed with each other. Ollie was like a mother hen, fussing over Luis, catering to his every need, and worrying about him.
"That's quite a switch from around home; usually it's Luis who's the one watching over and taking care of Ollie." She merely raised her eyebrows in understanding.
Before leaving the hospital, I stopped in Luis' room to say goodbye and check on him. He was sitting up in a chair, chomping at the bit so to speak, anxious to be released as well. I could detect some uneasiness on his part, perhaps the thought of being left alone in the hospital was bothering him, but I assured him Grandma Mae and Ollie would be in right after school.
"Doctor Carlton says if everything goes as well as they have been, you'll be out next week, Luis. Patience, patience," I urged. I kissed him goodbye on the forehead and as Craig wheeled me from the room, I twisted in my chair to wave one more time and saw before my eyes the same Luis I'd become to know and love, but a different one!
I saw a Luis who'd matured, met death, defeated it, and was willing to sacrifice all for someone he loved. I was so proud of him, sitting there in that chair, chest and side swaddled in bandages, looking so grown-up, but still so young. I can imagine, through his façade of a smile, he missed his brother Leandro just about as much as I, but not in the same way. He and his brother had been through a great deal together and this was one more chapter in his young life. His parents, in Mexico, took the news of his bravery when Leandro called, with great pride and excitement and sent him a long letter telling him so. It was a great letter but a sad one since he and Leandro missed their parents, but there was no way they could be reunited yet. Perhaps, sometime in the future, it could be arranged, but not now.
Craig pulled the truck up to the front door of the Lodge and there waiting for me on the front porch was Leandro, all smiles and barely able to contain himself; just inside the door stood Mae, Cedric, and Edward and Henry and Louisa. Ollie, Terell, and Treyvon were at school; our greeting would have to come when they came home.
Leandro walked deliberately, carefully down the steps to the truck while Craig unloaded my wheelchair. Gently, ever so gently, he embraced me; kissed me and buried his nose in my neck, saying not a word, but expressing his love and thankfulness in that quiet, deeply meaningful manner as only lovers can do. He carefully picked me up and carried me up the porch steps and waited until Craig brought the wheelchair into position. Settling me in, a smile accentuating his face, tears streaming down his face, he announced, "He's home!" and that said it all!
Cedric and Mae gave me a simple "Welcome home, Conner" and we headed for the Great Room where a warm, crackling fire greeted me in the fire place. Wheeling me closer, Leandro covered my legs with a light blanket and pulled up a chair next to me. We sat until Mae announced lunch and we all dined in the kitchen. God, it was nice to be home and seated at our own table! During lunch, Edward announced he was leaving in the morning since he felt he'd taken care of everything he could. He'd stop and see Luis before he left, just to make certain. Cedric would drive him to the airport where he could catch a flight.
Henry and Louisa, already packed for their journey, said their goodbyes, with promises to Mae they'd return before next summer to visit, drove away on their long journey home. They were going to go part-way, spend the night, and continue on the next day. Mae was sad to see her sister leave, but pleased they'd be coming back as often as possible to visit.
Lunch over; I worked in the office, sorting out what needed to be done to winterize the cabins and campground, then reviewed it with Craig, Leandro, and Cedric. Draining down the water lines and blowing them with air from our portable air compressor to remove any water in low spots would protect them from freezing. RV antifreeze in the toilets would keep them from cracking during the cold and maintain the liquid in sewer line traps. The docks had to be taken out and stored near the maintenance shed; lower units on the outboard motors drained and greased before storing the motors on stands in the shed; propane tanks topped off, and the wood shed filled with dry wood. The outdoor furnace would have to be checked for water in the boiler and that the circulation pumps were functioning properly.
"It's more of a job than I imagined," commented Cedric. Craig just nodded in agreement. Loren would pitch in after school and on weekends as well as Ollie, Terell and Treyvon. The boys would fill the wood shed with wood from the big pile near the back side of the shed. The garden tractor and trailer could be used to haul the wood.
Tired, I asked Leandro to help me to the couch in the Great Room so I could have a nap. When I awoke, it was dark, the fire burned down to red, hot embers, and I had the distinct impression I wasn't alone. Turning my head, I was confronted by two brown happy faces, attached to bodies kneeling next to the couch, patiently waiting for me to wake. Before I could ask how school was Treyvon announced, "Grandma drove Ollie over to Parsonville to see Luis..."
"and Leandro asked us to keep an eye on you so he could fix supper," concluded Terell.
I grinned at the boys; "Do you have a hug and a kiss for your big brother?"
You bet they did, but carefully, worried about my wounds.
"Can we see?"
Before I could reply, one flipped the blanket off and their eyes swept my body, focusing first on my shoulder and then my leg.
"Do they hurt real bad?"
"Not any more – well maybe a little – I have to be careful. You know boys, you were real heroes; fast thinkers who saved us all from further injury by nailing the bad guy with missiles from your slingshots. I'm really, really proud of you!"
It was difficult for me, my voice choked and tears flowed, imagining the bravery it took for two small boys to swing into action the way they did. They lay their heads on my chest and Treyvon said softly, "Because we love you Conner." With that, they raised up their heads and began jabbering about school and all that happened while I was gone.
After supper Leandro carried me upstairs to our bedroom, stripped me for bed, propped pillows behind my back and head so I could sit semi-upright, and let me rest. Ollie and Mae came in when they returned from Parsonville to visit a minute or two and the Twins, at their bedtime, both dressed in their jammies, crawled up in bed with me. Each had a story book in hand and proceeded to read a story to me. Since I often read to them before bed, until they fell asleep, they reasoned I'd enjoy it also. Once they fell asleep, books slumped in their laps, Craig and Loren carried them next door to their bedroom and tucked them in.
Leandro settled in next to me warming me with his nakedness, causing me to sigh in comfort and pleasure at having him near me. It was a sensation I'd missed terribly and one I thought, the day of the shooting, I'd never experience again. It wasn't just the sexual stimulation of his body next to mine I missed, but the security of my lover and the soul-mate I desired and relished.
Breathing deeply, contentedly, I moved so he could place his arm around my neck and bring me as close to him as possible, cognizant of my healing wounds. Without saying so, we both knew our sexual gratification of each other would be held in abeyance until I was physically able to participate to enjoyable fulfillment for both of us. It was more important to me that I bring pleasure to Leandro more than receiving it myself, although I must admit, my pucker twitched in anticipation of future events.
The intervening week between when I came home and Luis arriving back at the Lodge was busy. Winter wasn't that far distant and the crew, minus me, hustled preparing us for the impending cold and snow. By weeks end, Ollie and the Twins had the wood shed full and stacked more split, dry wood along one outside wall of the shed; "just in case" Ollie advised, already having experienced a good part of one winter in the north.
The day of my checkup was also the day we brought Luis home from the hospital. Mr. Wilcox, high school principal at Otter Lake High School, graciously excused Ollie so that he might accompany us. School administrators such as Mr. Wilcox are rare I fear and he was, and is, one of my favorite persons. He'd made arrangements for Luis to continue his classes on line through the school's distance learning program via laptop computer and our Wi-Fi system at the Resort. This kept Luis up to date with lessons and prevented him from falling behind. Since he and Ollie shared the same classes, Ollie could help him if he had difficulty (as if either of them would, they're so bright).
I met with Luis' doctor before he was discharged and was assured, if his recovery continued as well as it was doing, he'd be able to return to school within two or three weeks; on a limited activity schedule, however his visits to the doctor for checkups would determine that. He definitely would be restricted from physical education classes until after the Christmas break. The hospital required Luis be placed in a wheel chair, although he insisted he could walk quite well on his own, for him to be discharged and taken from the hospital. Ollie insisted on doing the pushing honors. The orderly assigned to the job was about to object when a stern look from Ollie and a sharp word from Luis altered his position and he demurred to their wishes, stepping aside so Ollie could take his place. I thought it was a very wise choice on his part.
It was going to be a very interesting situation once we reached the truck, I thought. I was confined to a wheelchair, by necessity, until my doctor gave me permission to begin using my walking cast (didn't happen this visit; ordered to wait another week); Luis seemed temporarily incarcerated in one; I rode in the front, again because of my leg. Where in the hell would Ollie and Luis sit?
Apparently, I was the only one concerned because when we reached the truck, Ollie and Craig lifted Luis into a jump seat behind Craig; Ollie climbed in the other jump seat behind the seat I usually sat in, buckled himself and Luis in place; and Craig helped me into the shotgun seat and, after he settled his butt behind the wheel, off we went to home.
Luis was welcomed home by Mae and Cedric (the Twins were in school) and most importantly, by his brother, Leandro. Leandro held his younger brother in his arms, rocking him back in forth, while they both cried tears of joy and Thanksgiving. Ollie stood silently to the side, tears streaming down his face, watching the reunion between two brothers who'd been previously so uncertain they'd ever see each other again. Their parents, sent back to Mexico by the authorities, kept in constant contact with Leandro after they learned of the shooting. Luis was under strict orders to call them once he arrived back at the Lodge to assure them of his health and recovery. I promised him he could do so right after lunch.
Mae announced lunch- pizza- a favorite of Luis. The way he tucked into it, he must've missed home cooking almost as much as he missed his brother and Ollie. I thought after lunch and making his phone call to Mexico, he'd want to take a nap. Luis spent almost a half-hour on the phone to his parents and amid tears and laughter, he assured them he was fine physically and all was well here at home. He ordinarily called his parents once a month, but this one was special and needed to be done, not only for their peace of mind, but for his own welfare.
Hanging up the phone, Luis leaned over to Ollie, whispered something in his ear, and with Ollie supporting him, journeyed slowly to the Great Room and settled down on a couch. Ollie covered him with a blanket, walked over to the piano, and began a private recital for his boyfriend. Luis sat listening, a smile of pleasure, of peace, and contentment adorning his face as Ollie played for him. Soon, he dozed and Ollie slowly and quietly brought his musical interlude to a conclusion and joined Luis under the blanket, resting his head comfortably on Luis' uninjured shoulder. Soon, he too was fast asleep! Both boys evidently didn't sleep well away from one another. I understood completely; I felt the same way when I was in the hospital, far removed from Leandro. I slept sound my first night at home, comfortable and secure in the presence of my lover and I felt assured, both Luis and Ollie would now do the same.
Thanksgiving, two weeks away, brought no news of Wesley Johnson, Sr. concerning his whereabouts or possible involvement in the gun attack on Luis and me. It was as if, according to the sheriff's department, he dropped off of the face of the earth. Authorities were still active in their search for him, but thus far, to no avail.
Our first snowfall occurred about a week before Thanksgiving just before the opening of the gun deer season. The snow decorated the landscape with about six inches (Leandro suggested I strip naked and lay on the snow to be certain of my estimate by using the stiff, pale, rod poking up from my crotch to do so, but I demurred from his suggestion) of white, sparkling, crystals of frozen beauty. Not only did it set the stage, portending winter, for the upcoming holiday, but provided a tracking snow for the gun deer season. If, perchance, the deer wasn't dispatched immediately, hunters could track the wounded critter and do the deed then.
Ollie and Luis chose not to hunt this season, for obvious reasons, but Craig, Loren, and Cedric were eager to give it a go. Of course, the Twins could hardly contain themselves in anticipation of traipsing along with them. They were too young to hunt, but that certainly wouldn't stop them from going along. Treyvon and Terell were turning into real outdoors people. Sending them along with Craig should teach them a great deal about conservation of our resources, given his college degree, and the importance of harvesting only what you intend to use and dispatching the game with a quick, accurate shot.
Deer season meant there were other hunters in the woods and not all of those hunters were as safety conscious and careful as those in our household. A trip to Parsonville outfitted all of us in blaze orange jackets, coats, and hats. There were three days of school left before Thanksgiving break during deer season. I insisted the boys wear the blaze orange to and from school and around the Resort grounds. They felt a little self-conscious the first day they trooped to the bus stop at the end of the lane attired in blaze, but once on the bus and saw the rest of the kids dressed the same way, all was well- they were in fashion with everyone else!
Thanksgiving dinner, prepared by Leandro and Mae, was celebratory in so many ways, but really we were thankful all of us were well, healing, and secure in the Lodge. Mae and Leandro fixed turkey with all of the trimmings, salads, and pies. Our after dinner respite was entertainment by Mae, Ollie, Leandro, and Loren, each playing a couple of pieces on either the piano, guitar, or violin.
Treyvon and Terell wanted to go hunting with Lore, Craig, and Cedric on Friday morning, so we bundled them up early, before dawn, and off they went, happy at pigs in shit. Late that afternoon I heard the kitchen door bang open and then shut and into the Great Room rushed the Twins.
"Guess what, Conner?" they both exclaimed at once.
"You found that bear from last summer and frightened him so bad he crapped his fur!"
"No, you silly goose," they giggled, "come look at what we got."
As I began to rise, they shouted for Ollie, Luis, Leandro, and Mae to come quick and see also. Fortunately, we were all in the Lodge so we all gathered on the front steps in time to see Cedric and Craig dragging a nice young buck deer through the snow toward the Lodge.
"Where's Loren?" I shouted, concerned he was not with them.
"Bringing in another one," voiced Craig excitedly, "I thought I'd help Cedric with his."
The Twins must've brought them good luck, because Loren's deer was almost identical to Cedric's; nice six point bucks promising fine eating. Once processed, the deer would provide steaks, chops, roasts, burger, and summer sausage; enough to feed our crew and provide variety, throughout the winter.
After Thanksgiving, we made a trip into the forest to select and cut our Christmas tree. Placing it in front of the windows overlooking the lake, decorating it with baubles and lights, it really reflected and glowed with the love and warmth we all found in West Otter Lake Resort and Campground.
To be continued:
Thank you for reading "West Otter Lake – Chapter Twenty-Five - "Home is the resort of love, of joy, of peace, and plenty, where supporting and supported friends and dearest relatives mingle into bliss." – (Thomson)
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