West Otter Lake

Copyright© 2013 – Nicholas Hall


West Otter Lake – Chapter Seven – "A dining room table filled with children's eager, hungry faces around it, ceases to be a mere dining room table, and becomes an altar."- (Simon Strunsky)

"The bedrooms are on the second floor, so, if you'll follow me, we'll get you situated," I announced and waved a hand for the Thompson/Johnson Family to accompany me.

As I started up the stairs, I felt a small hand grip my left and another grip my right hand. I looked down at two beautiful, wide-eyed little boys holding on to another brother they never knew they had until just hours before. Reaching the second, balconied level overlooking the Great Room, I cautioned the boys to be careful when near the railing. Walking past Luis' room to the one adjoining, I situated Ollie in that one, reasoning they were both the same age so they might have some common interests, I hoped.

Walking by our rooms, I pointed out to them this was Leandro and my bedrooms. The two rooms on the south, opposite Ollie's and Luis' rooms, became home to Mae in one room and Terell and Treyvon in the other. The little boys were fascinated with the railed walkway on the three sides of the Great Room, but standing somewhat back, evidently heeding my warning, cautiously peering between the narrow slits of the rails, over into the room below.

"That's a fair drop down there," cautioned Ollie, surprising me since I assumed he'd remained in his room, "so don't you little squirts get it in your heads to do a `Peter Pan' from up here- you'd be smashed, like a bug!"

His words were enough to cause them to grip my hands tighter and pull themselves closer to me.

The twins would be in one room, with their grandmother next door. I assumed, since they were young, only eight years old, and in a strange house and land, they'd probably want to be near their grandmother. Entering their new bedroom, I showed them the bathroom, the empty closet and dressers, towels, washcloths, and, yes, the extra toilet paper. The bed was a queen-sized as are all of the beds in the Lodge and if the boys weren't comfortable, we could certainly move it out and bring in two singles. I did need to locate three more student desks, however, for homework and a private place for each of the boys to store their own things.

Terell and Treyvon stood in the middle of the room, their new room and Terell, I think, said softly, almost breathlessly, "You mean this is our very own room?"

"All by ourselves?" continued Treyvon, I think.

I'm going to have the damnedest of time identifying each boy – I guess that's normal with identical twins, at first, so I answered, generically, "Yes, boys, and Ollie will have his own room too, next to Luis. If you look out your door, you can see his room across on the other side."

As they peered out their door, eyes wide in wonderment, I quietly asked Mae, "Do we need night lights?" and she nodded we did.

"Now, my new brothers, we have to get your stuff and your grandmother's unloaded and in the bedrooms."

Leandro and Luis were waiting patiently in the Great Room as we came back down the stairs. I asked if they'd lend a hand with unloading the car and they readily agreed. Taking Luis aside, I asked, "I hope it's o.k., but I put Ollie in the room next to you?"

"That's O.K. with me; we're both going to be in the same grade and probably the same classes, so maybe we can help each other with homework." As if Luis needed any help with homework!

"He's pretty quiet, you know," Luis continued.

"Oh, I think you'll bring him out of that," I mused.

It didn't take long for us to unload Mae's car. She and the boys really didn't have much. While she helped the twins unpack and put their clothes away, I gave Luis a gentle nudge and nodded in the direction of Ollie's room indicating he might want to help him.

Leandro asked Mae for her car keys and put her car in an empty bay in the shop. After doing so, he and I ended up in the kitchen to collapse and reassess our situation. The next day was Sunday so we didn't need to worry about school for my three new brothers until Monday. Mae and I'd have to go to the school and get them registered and started in classes. So far, I was really coming up with some real surprises for the school district; first a young Latino and now three African-American boys who were my half-brothers. Mr. Wilcox, the high school principal, was principal when I was in school and had been for a number of years. He was well respected, fair, but firm. He booked no nonsense in his school and demanded his teachers do their very best for all students.

Mr. Wilcox was the one individual, other than my grandparents, who helped me face my fears and my sexuality. I knew what I was, but struggled with how others viewed me and accepted me. One day, during the second semester of my freshman year, as I was leaving the cafeteria after eating my lunch, he stopped me, put his arm around me and said softly, "Conner, always be true to yourself; it doesn't matter what you are, what you believe, or who you love. Accept others for what they are, no more and no less, and expect them to do the same. If they don't, then that's their problem, not yours," gave me a hug, and walked away. The more I thought about what he said, the more sense it made, and the stronger I became.

Leandro and I decided, if Mae was agreeable as well as the Ollie and the twins, she'd help in the kitchen and the reservations when Luis was busy elsewhere. When the season started, she'd supervise the cabin crew and run the bar for us. We'd pair up Luis and Ollie and they could help Leandro with the outside work as well as selling bait, cleaning fish, and gassing up boats. In other words, they'd work the docks, taking care of client needs there. The twins would help out where and when they could, under the supervision of their grandmother or one of us. They'd be "gofers" and do all of those little chores I used to do, as well as swim, fish, and be little boys.

It took Mae and the boys about an hour to put things away and become familiar with their rooms. Every now and then, I could hear a giggle and voices; Luis and Ollie's voices deeper than the high-pitched squeals and laughs of the little boys. Luis trooped them all down stairs, leaving Mae to rest while he gave them a tour of the Lodge. After a thorough investigation of the inside, they all stood on the front porch while he pointed out the cabins, the outbuildings, the wood shed and outdoor furnace. I think he told them the story of me finding them there, because I heard Ollie say, "What did he do when he saw you?" and the voices got softer again.

By the time they came in from the cold porch, all four were shivering, so Leandro suggested it was a good time for hot chocolate. He hustled around, getting them seated and preparing their hot drinks. Leandro was clearly in his element having people to care for and fuss over. He loved it and it radiated from his face!

The boys finished, put their cups in the dishwasher, and while doing so, I took the opportunity to look them over more closely. All three boys were thin, not emaciated, but naturally slight in stature, and perhaps average or below in weight and height. How they kept their pants up around their waist, was amazing; they seemed to have no hips. Their hands were thin with long delicate fingers; eyes were deep, dark, almost liquid in appearance; and smiles that would melt your heart. Ollie was about Luis height, perhaps an inch or two shorter, maybe five foot two inches or so, but less in weight, around ninety pounds I should guess, wiry – no - more lithe, and would probably fill out more as he matured and developed. He seemed to have no fat on him whatsoever, as well as did his brothers.

The twins, Terell and Treyvon (I'd have to come up with some way of telling them apart before long, I thought), were both cute as buttons and almost miniatures of Ollie, only with a mischievous glint in their eyes. They too seemed small for their age, fifty pounds soaking wet and perhaps four feet high; lean and small framed, again not unusually so, just small, delicate little boys.

As the boys scampered back to the Great Room with Luis in the lead, I expressed my concerns over the boy's physical stature to Leandro. He both looked at me as if I'd lost my mind and then laughed!

"Conner," mused Leandro, "have you ever taken a close look at yourself in a mirror? You're built the same way; thin, no fat, with a slim-waist and no hips. That's why your cock looks so damn big in comparison!"

He began fussing about supper preparation; brow furrowed, deep in thought, pursing his lips, until he finally said, "With so many hungry boys to feed, I'll really have to start planning menus and watch my shopping."

I then realized how much more of a burden he'd be carrying if he did it all by himself. Fearing he might be overwhelmed, I offered to help, but he looked at me strangely, replying, "Conner, I love to cook and cooking for such a large family as ours has grown to be is going to be fun. I'll just have to plan a little better. I don't want anyone leaving my kitchen hungry; it'll be great having laughing, happy boys with full tummies around the table."

Noticing the "our family" and "my kitchen," I realized Leandro was more than happy to feed everyone and do for them. It was another way of contributing to the family, giving his talents and energy to something and people he loved. Evidently making up his mind, left the kitchen and on his way out the door, coat in hand, said, "I'd better make certain the furnace is stoked up; I wouldn't want Mrs. Thompson and the boys to get cold." Then as an afterthought, "I think I'll bring in some wood for a fire in the fireplace. That should warm them up and make everyone feel cozy and welcome."

I left the kitchen with the intention of going to the office to catch up on the mail and paperwork, but, as I walked through the Great Room, I spotted Mrs. Thompson, arms folded, standing in front of one of the big windows overlooking the lake. I approached her and without turning or acknowledging my presence, she said simply, "Thank you!"

Standing a moment before I stepped forward to her side, answering, "You're most certainly welcome!"

We stood quietly, both of us deep in our own thoughts, the grandmother of my half-brothers, and me.

"It's so quiet, peaceful here," she spoke softly, turning to me just a little, "Wesley wasn't wrong about that, but I don't see the Resort and Lodge as he did – a place to escape from, but the opposite; a place to retreat to; a place where my grandsons can grow up without fear of being shot by some wild, revenge-filled gang member or being pumped full of dope by some greedy coke dealer."

I wanted to tell her there're problems here in the north woods also, especially for people of color and there're drug dealers, murderers, and other problems, but before I could speak of my concerns, she raised her hand in a request for my silence, as she proceeded to add, "I know it's not going to be easy on the boys; a resort has to be a lot of work and there's a lot of prejudice and bigotry in the world, there's no escaping that, but they can come home and be safe here. I just know they can; you and Leandro would never let anything happen to them."

I nodded, not only in agreement, but commitment, responding, "We'll do all we can to make that happen, Mae. It won't be easy, you know, three African-American boys, two Latinos, and one of those in a relationship with an openly gay white man. Hell of a combination, isn't it, Mae?"

She smiled, patted me on the arm, answering, "We all can help, can't we?"

With that, I heard feet pounding on the stairs again and Luis and Ollie scrambled into the Great Room, with Terell and Treyvon following close behind, shorter legs trying to keep up with the older boys. The twins skipped over to their grandmother where they both received a kiss on the forehead and a hug.

"Luis and Ollie," I asked, "why don't you get your coats on and help Leandro bring in some wood for the fireplace. He'd like to have a fire in the fireplace this evening."

They scrambled to find coats and headed out through the kitchen. Taking a hand of each of the little boys, I leaned over and suggested, "Why don't we go to the kitchen and see what there is to snack on. Do you think there might be a cookie or something?"

They both giggled their little boy giggles and as I walked toward the kitchen, the boys in tow, swinging my arms as they skipped alongside, chattering little boy talk.

Stepping in the kitchen, I wrinkled my nose, exclaiming, "What's that terrible smell? It smells awful, almost like chocolate chip cookies! No one I know likes chocolate chip cookies."

"We do," shouted the twins excitedly, and headed for the table where racks of cookies were spread out cooling. Leandro, stepping in the door at that moment, smiled that beautiful smile of his at the boys, picked up a couple of napkins, put four big, warm, chocolate chip cookies on a plate in front of the boys, and then filled two glasses full of cold milk to accompany them.

"For my favorite twins," he said and patted each of the boys on the cheek.

Treyvon and Terell grinned, and responded, "Thank you, Leandro," before each carefully took a cookie from the plate and bit down on the savory morsel. As they swallowed, you could see the contentment, the pleasure, the joy on their faces, and their smiles toward Leandro was all it took to send their thanks and how they felt about him also.

Luis and Ollie traipsed in from the Great Room after filling the wood box by the fire place and removing their coats, following their noses to the kitchen.

"I thought I could smell cookies," grinned Luis. "Got any more oh brother mine?"

Of course he did and Luis and Ollie joined the twins at the table while Leandro poured two more glasses of milk.

Supper was hamburgers and oven fries; I thought the boys would have had their appetites spoiled by the cookies, but not so.

"Boys need to eat," commented Mae and Leandro agreed.

The two older boys cleared the table of dishes, while the twins "helped" Leandro light the fire in the fire place. Time, after supper, seemed to slip by quickly and before long, Mae announced, "Terell and Treyvon, time for a bath and pajamas."

They looked clearly disappointed, but I promised to read them a story before bed. Ollie, it seemed, was the one designated to help with baths, so holding his brothers hands, he started up the stairs. Luis, looking confused or at least undecided, shrugged and trotted up to join his new companions and house-mates. While they bathed, I rummaged around and located the box of books Grandmother Johnson used to read to me. Selecting a couple to read, I set them aside, ready for the twins.

In a half hour, all four were back down stairs; the twins, all clean and fresh smelling in matching pajamas, exuding that soft, delicate, "little boy" smell as they snuggled up against me in preparation for a story to be read to them. Each had their head up against my arm as we sat on the couch, the crackling warmth of the fire in the fireplace sparkling in their eyes as I began to read. Within ten minutes, they were both asleep, all tuckered out from the all night trip and their first day in their new home. I let them sleep for another five minutes and then, with Leandro carrying Terell (I think) and me carrying Treyvon (I hope), we carried them to their room and tucked them in bed together. We gave them each a kiss on the forehead and turned on a night light. Leandro and I were well pleased how things could turn out for our new family.

Not long after we returned down stairs, Ollie kissed his grandmother goodnight, saying the same to us, and went to his room. Mae yawned and soon she was off to bed, leaving Luis, Leandro, and me in the Great Room.

A bright, white, full moon was casting it's luminescence on the snow covered lake by nine-thirty and we all were tired. Luis yawned, gave us each a kiss goodnight and went to bed. Leandro made the rounds, locking up, checking everything, while I went to our room and stripped for bed.

I was comfy, cozy, warm under the blankets when Leandro came to bed, sliding in next to me, cold body touching mine. I reacted by thrusting forward to escape him. I rolled over, about to ask him why he was cold, when he said apologetically, "Sorry, I checked around outside before I locked up," and wrapped his arms around me, seeking an opening with a very warm and large part of his body. Just as he was making the delightful insertion, the bedroom door opened!

Luis walked in, clad only in his boxer shorts, and padded silently across the bedroom floor, and, upon reaching our bed, crawled across me as his brother did a hasty retreat and scooted under the covers between us.

"Yes?" I asked expectantly.

His hand slipped down my side, he grinned, and with a glint in his eyes, said, "You guys are naked; can I get naked with you?"

"No!" we responded loudly.

Luis then was quiet for a moment or two and finally spit out what was on his mind. "Conner," he began, "do we have enough money we could buy Ollie and the twins some clothes? If not, I think Ollie can wear some of mine."

"Why do you ask, Luis?"

"Well, I helped Ollie put his things away and he has one other pair of jeans, about five pair of really thin boxers and t-shirts, and some socks and sweat shirts. After bath time, helping the twins get their jammies on, I noticed they didn't have much more either. All three could really use some new clothes."

I really wasn't surprised! Mae brought everything she could and did the best she could, but there just wasn't a great deal of money to do with. My cash reserves were going to take a beating until the vacation season began and reservations began paying off, but with four more, now seven of us, in our household, our expenses, including school, would go up, so that was to be expected. It was a sacrifice I was more than willing to make to keep our family together.

"Luis," I said softly, "maybe tomorrow after breakfast, if the weather's decent, I can take Mrs. Thompson and the boys to Parsonville shopping at WalMart® and perhaps stop at St. Vincent de Paul's too."

Luis scrambled out of bed, pleased with himself, and headed for the door. Before he left, he turned and reminded me, "Don't forget a jock strap for Ollie; he has to take Phys. Ed. too."

God, that's right; Monday we'll have to enroll them in school!

"I think I'll have to build a bigger bus waiting shed," sighed Leandro before reaching for me and guiding me to a position straddling his hips, poised for a little cowboy action.

To be continued


Thank you for reading "West Otter Lake – Chapter Seven - "A dining room table filled with children's eager, hungry faces around it, ceases to be a mere dining room table, and becomes an altar."- (Simon Strunsky)

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Nick Hall


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