* * *
Saturday afternoon, not long after lunch, Cam and Kevin went up to their
room while Ian and the other boys watched television, and Mary and Catherine
talked in the latter's study. Throwing glances at the telephone,
Kevin paced up and down in his and Cam's room for twenty
minutes before he came to a decision. He strode over and picked
up the phone, punching in a number. Cam looked up from the
"Hello, Mrs. Butler," Kevin said when the woman answered. "This is Kevin. Is Heather there?"
"She is," Mrs. Butler said. "I'll see if she'll talk to you. Hold on."
Kevin heard the receiver being put down and hushed voices in the background. Then the phone was picked up again.
"Hello," Heather said.
"I know. What do you want?"
"I've just been wondering how you're getting along," Kevin said.
"How do you think I'm getting along!?" Heather asked. Kevin knew
that if her mother hadn't been in the room, Heather would have added
"you asshole" to what she'd said to him.
"I'm big as a house, and very uncomfortable, thanks to you. And you've pretty much ignored me for months."
"It's just that you always get so upset when I call. I didn't want to bother you."
"You're so considerate!"
"I'm just wondering whether you've made any decision about who you want
in the delivery room with you when the time comes," Kevin said meekly,
not wanting to start a row.
"Yes, I have. My mother will be with me. I don't want you within mile of me when I deliver."
"Oh," Kevin said. "That's probably just as well," Kevin said. "She has experience."
"You don't even care," Heather said, beginning to cry. "You've never cared. All you wanted was the sex."
"You know I'm sorry about the way things worked out for us, Heather."
"Not sorry enough," Heather said with a sob. "Is that it?"
"Yes," Kevin said. "Except, do you need anything?"
"Not from you."
Kevin sighed. "All right, let me know if you do."
Heather slammed down the phone without saying good-bye.
Kevin gently put the phone back in its cradle, and looked over at Cam.
"Bad?" Cam asked.
Cam stood up from the desk and went over to Kevin, taking him into his arms and holding him and rubbing his back gently.
"Sorry, man," Cam said.
"I feel bad for her," Kevin said, pulling back and looking Cam in the
face. "I know this hasn't been easy for her, and I want to support her, but she won't let me. I just
don't want to get her upset. She might not let us have the baby
if she really gets upset."
"I'm glad you mentioned the baby. We need to talk. Let's sit down for a sec."
They sat on the side of their bed, Kevin looking at his partner curiously. Cam put his arm around Kevin's waist.
"Y'know, neither one of us knows shit about taking care of a new baby, Kev."
"I know it."
"Well, I been thinkin' we should enroll in a class somewhere as soon as
we can. Right away. Heather's due date isn't that far off,
and we better be findin' out what we have to do and how to do it.
I don't want us to make any mistakes."
"Catherine will help us out if we don't know what to do, doncha think?" Kevin asked.
"Yeah, she will. But we need to get some basic skills pretty
quick so we don't fuck up on something important when she's not
around. And besides, I don't want to add to add to her stress
level right now."
"You're right," Kevin admitted, looking down at the floor. "I've
been pushing what we're taking on to the back of my mind. We're
gonna have a lot of responsibility. That's if you still want to
"I oughtta smack you," Cam said. "Have I given you any reason to think I'm not in this for the long haul?"
"No, nothing, you asshole. I'm gonna love this baby and take care
of it like he or she was my own. And it will be my own.
Don't you forget it."
Kevin's face softened as he looked into those green eyes he loved so much.
"I love you so much, man. Being with you outweighs anything bad
that's ever happened to me. And there've been a few bad things."
"We are lucky," Cam said. "Don't think I don't know
it." He kissed Kevin's cheek, buried his nose in the hair on the
side of his head and breathed deeply while simultaneously giving his
boy's crotch a gentle squeeze. "Let's find Mom and talk to her about
"I'm with ya."
They went down the back stairs, searching the house and finding Catherine and Mary Carson still in the study.
"Ladies!" Kevin said enthusiastically by way of greeting as they went in. Cam grinned.
"Watch it, Mary," Catherine warned with a smile. "These two want something."
"Mommy, what a suspicious mind you have," Kevin said, also grinning. "But as always, you're right."
"Uh huh," Catherine said. "Well, sit down and unburden
yourselves." She gestured toward an antique love seat against one
wall. The two boys went over and perched on the edge of the seat
like handsome, well proportioned versions of Humpty Dumpty on a wall.
The two women looked at them expectantly.
"Well, you know that Heather's going to be having the baby soon,
right?" Kevin began. "Cam and I were just talking, and we realize
we don't know anything about how to take care of one. A baby, I
mean. So we were wondering if you could recommend some classes
for us to take so we'll be good at it when the time comes. It won't be long."
Mary and Catherine smiled, Catherine in relief that this was not one of
those nasty, complicated questions teenagers sometimes ask to which there is no
satisfactory answer. At least not one that's acceptable coming from a mother.
"Absolutely," Catherine said. "The community college runs
staggered, back to back classes in the evening for the parents of
newborns. Why don't you call out there on Monday and find out
when you can get enrolled?"
"All right," Cam said. "Thanks for the info."
"Good for you guys," Mary Carson said. "I admire you for wanting to be good at parenting."
"Thanks," Cam said. "We don't want to make any mistakes."
"Well, you will," Mary said. "The information you get in class
will help keep you on the right track. But you'll make
mistakes. Fortunately, babies are tougher than we think. If
they weren't, the human race wouldn't have survived."
"I know it," Cam said. "Kevin was dropped on his head in the delivery room, and look how he turned out."
Kevin laughed and gave his partner an elbow to the ribs.
"Poor impulse control," Cam observed, looking at his partner. "That's what happened to him."
The four of them laughed.
"While you're here, what are we going to do about church tomorrow?" Catherine asked.
The two boys looked at her blankly.
"Can I entice you you all to go to Mass at an Episcopal parish tomorrow?" Mary
asked. "I don't know whether I mentioned this to you, Catherine,
but I did to the boys. Ian and I and our boys are all taking
instructions at Grace Cathedral in the city, and I'd like for you to
see what their Mass is like."
"I've been promising myself I was going to do that very thing," Catherine responded. "How about you two?"
Cam and Kevin looked at each other. "Sure, we're game," Kevin
said. "I s'pose we'll have to pray, and all that stuff," he added slyly.
"I s'pose you will," Catherine said, smiling. "A little more prayer is exactly what you guys need."
"When you're right, you're right," Cam said. "What time is Mass?"
"We'll check the yellow pages," Mary suggested.
The boys said they would go to church anytime and anywhere the women
decided, and went into the TV room to join Ian and the other guys.
Mary looked at Catherine after they left.
"So, I gather that Cam is going to help Kevin with the new baby?" she asked.
"Yes. He'll be a lot of help to Kevin, I know that," Catherine said.
Mary paused for a heartbeat. "Catherine, are Cam and Kevin partners?"
Catherine looked at her friend silently. "I know you and Ian and
the boys are part of the family, but I don't want to answer for Kevin and Cam,"
she finally said. "If you ask them, I think they'll tell you."
"Fair enough," Mary said.
A few hours later, after Mary had taken a quick nap and then freshened
up before going downstairs to start supper, she walked down the
upstairs hall and knocked on the half open door of Cam's bedroom.
Kevin wasn't there, but Cam looked up from where he sat at his computer.
"Hi, Mary. Enter chaos at your own risk," Cam said, laughing. "Be afraid, be very afraid!"
She laughed and walked over to him, putting her hand on his shoulder.
"I've seen worse, believe me." She paused. "You know,
you're really doing a good thing in wanting to help Kevin raise the
baby," she said.
"I hope so."
"That's quite a commitment for you to make, even for a brother," Mary commented.
Cam just looked up at her, not replying.
"Your mother has your back. I want you to know that.
When I asked her if you and Kevin are partners and if that's why you
were going to take a parental role with the baby when it comes, she wouldn't tell
me. She just said to ask you. I'm not trying to be
nosy. We're family now, and I'm asking you so I can give
you guys the love and support all of us need in this life. That's
hard to do if you don't who people are."
Cam studied the computer screen for a minute, and then looked back up at Mary, making an instantaneous decision.
"Yes, we're partners. William and Carl know, but I don't think
Mark and Dan do, and I don't think Ian does. I'm telling you
because I've watched you with your own kids and with Carl and Dan, and
you're a great mother. Like my own mom. So I trust you."
"Thank you for that," Mary said, putting an arm around Cam's neck and
bending down and kissing the side of his head. "What you've told
me is private unless you tell me differently."
"You can tell Ian, but maybe not the younger boys. I don't want to upset them."
"Well, I don't think it would bother Mark. I don't know about Dan. But it's up to you."
Cam looked up at her thoughtfully.
"Just use your best judgment, then," he said.
"All right, sweetheart. Love ya." Mary kissed him on the side of the head again, and left the room.
Cam felt good that he'd told her. That was one fewer person that he and Kevin were hiding from.
When Kevin came back from his own room where he'd been working out with
Dan, breathing hard from his exertions, Cam was still at his
computer. He looked over at his partner, whose T-shirt was
drenched in sweat.
"Commere," Cam said, swiveling around in his chair.
Kevin walked over to him, and Cam put his arms around him, putting his
face in his lover's abs and breathing in his sweat and funk.
"Yeah!" Cam said after he finally let him go.
"You're a sick puppy, but I love it!" Kevin told him as he bent down and kissed the top of Cam's head.
"For some reason, people love to kiss my head," Cam laughed. "I guess my face is more than they can handle."
"Bad breath, ya think?"
"I doubt it. Listen, I need to tell you something," Cam said.
"I told Mary Carson that you and I are partners."
Kevin looked at him in surprise. "Why?"
"She asked Mom why I was so willing to share parenting duties with you
when the baby comes. Mom told her to ask me. So she did."
"And you just had to spill, huh?" Kevin said. But he didn't look angry.
"You OK with it? Mary cares about us, y'know."
"Yeah. I'm chill. But who else is she gonna tell?"
"Nobody outside the family, I'm sure. I mean the big family."
Kevin stared at Cam solemnly, and then smiled.
"Cool, then. Now, on to more serious things. I don't
suppose I could interest you in another shower. You know, an
encore of this morning...?" Kevin waggled his thick, black
eyebrows at his partner.
Cam looked at him for a minute with a growing smile, and then stood up slowly from the computer.
"Now that you mention it, I am feeling a little grimy." He
pulled his T-shirt over his head, dropped it to the floor, and ran for
the bathroom with Kevin hot on his heels.
* * *
It was early Sunday morning, and the MacKenzie house was quiet.
Kevin awakened, and without moving, watched an early morning ray of sun
poke around a window shade in Cam's room. The sunbeam eventually came to
rest on one of Cam's legs, which had somehow freed itself from the
covers toward the foot of their bed. Like most of Cam's body
except for head, armpits and groin, his leg was smooth and bare except
for just a few golden hairs now glinting in the errant ray of sunlight.
The two boys' heads were on a single pillow facing one another, and
Kevin breathed in the sweet scent of his lover's breath as Cam
continued to sleep. Cam's long, sandy eyelashes were at rest, his face in repose looking
completely relaxed and as good good natured as his temperament.
"Lucky, lucky, lucky, lucky." The word sang silently and
repeatedly in Kevin's head as he gazed on his partner's face, loving
him, wanting to kiss those beautiful lips and look into those green
eyes that never failed to give him chills when the two of them were "up
close and personal." Lucky, lucky, lucky me, he thought to
himself. He had so much love for this boy that his chest
tightened up as he continued to study that face, not wanting to wake
him by making even the slightest gesture of affection. None of
the superlatives, none of the laudations, none of the encomiums that he
had grudgingly read in his high school literature classes in the
poetry of love came close to describing his feelings for Cameron
Alexander MacKenzie, his Scots Highlander boy nonpareil.
The joy and satisfaction of being in a relationship with Cam far, far
outweighed the negative things that had happened to him in his
life. And some of those things had indeed been debilitating.
The death of his mother after a long, cruel illness had been terrible. The rocky
and unloving relationship with his natural father had been corrosive. The beating he
had sustained at the hands of Heather's brothers had almost
killed him and drained him of every ounce of strength he had during
recuperation. And the news that Heather was pregnant, requiring
him to step up to the plate and take on the care of their baby
following birth rather than let the girl abort the child, had been more than draining.
It would never have occurred to Kevin, but the events that had happened
to him had helped form his character, and that character was nothing of
which he had to be ashamed.
Who had been at his side through all the challenging events that had
helped, and were helping, to shape his character? The boy's face was
right in front of him. Being honest with himself, Kevin
didn't believe that he would have made it intact without Cam. He
believed he might not even be physically alive without what Cam had done for him at the hospital.
Kevin knew his friendship with Cam had many facets, but respect and
admiration were solidly intertwined with the physical passion for one another which had
only strengthened over time. As a matter of fact, they'd gotten damn good at having sex with each other. That physical
relationship with his partner had helped sustain him, Kevin knew, and
he gave thanks for it every day. Their sex was guiltless, but
there was much more to their bond than that. The world could say what it
would about the physical love of two males for each other, and it could
scorn them, but Kevin knew it was more than right for him and
rejoiced in the spiritual and emotional bond they had together as well. More and more he was feeling
that he wasn't going to go out of his way to hide his sexual orientation
anymore, either. He'd concluded that to some degree it would be an insult to his partner's love for him to do so.
Catherine's reaction when he and Cam had come out to her had further secured
her a place in Kevin's affections, exceeded only by what he felt for
Cam himself. The love and kindness and acceptance she had shown
of them in the midst of their uncertainty about what they could say
back then to a third party about their love for each other and what they couldn't
say, had been phenomenal. Kevin knew there was nothing he would
not do for this person he now considered his mother. He had the
same feelings for Alex and John. They were all now his family,
without a doubt, and the Carsons and Emricks were certainly also on the
verge of being family in the truest sense of the word.
Breaking Kevin's train of thought, Cam stirred a little and his eyes
slowly drifted open. He found himself staring in Kevin's brown
eyes, and a slow smile spread over his face. He inched his head
toward Kevin's and gently put his lips on those of his partner, and
just left them there, unmoving.
A soft knock sounded on their bedroom door, but the two boys didn't move an
inch, still holding their kiss. Carl Emrick opened the door and
looked in, standing there barechested in his boxers.
"Oh, shit!" Carl said when he saw what Cam and Kevin were doing, tame as it was. "Are you guys at it 24/7 or what?"
"Well yeah!!" Kevin said, turning his head to look at Carl. "DUH!"
Carl came in and sat on the edge of the bed, looking at them.
"S'all right," he said. "I'm just jealous I'm not getting laid
every night like you two."
"We'll work on that for ya," Cam said, laughing.
"Cool. But I'm really here on a mission from Catherine," Carl
said. "She says to get your lazy asses up and showered so we can
go to church."
"She said that?" Kevin questioned.
"Well, not exactly. I put it in words I was sure you yokels would understand."
"Get him!" Cam instructed.
Kevin quickly grabbed Carl around the neck and pulled him down into the
bed, where Cam proceeded to tickle the kid until he had
tears in his eyes.
"You assholes!" Carl said as he finally escaped Kevin's grasp and jumped
out of bed with a big bulge in his boxers. He headed for the door.
"Assholes, huh," Kevin said. "You're probably right. But we can make it up to you. You wanna shower with us?"
"Dream on!" Carl said decisively, grinning. He shut the bedroom door behind him
and walked back down the hall toward his and William's room.
The two guys looked at each other.
"Church!" Cam said to his partner. "You really need it."
"I need it! What about you?"
"Moi? That's cheeky of you." Cam grabbed a chunk of Kevin's muscular ass and gave it a squeeze.
"You're too bold for your own good sometimes," Kevin said. "I
don't have time to discipline you now, but expect me to take you in
"I'm counting on it," Cam said, climbing out of bed as clumsily as he
could over Kevin's frame and making a beeline for the bathroom.
Kevin followed, and soon they were in the shower, washing each other, each enjoying the touch of his partner.
The churchgoers all met downstairs when they were ready. The
adults were conservatively dressed, and the boys were all in polo
shirts and khaki pants except for Dan Emrick, who was wearing blue
"Dan, change into some khakis, please," Ian said. Dan went back upstairs without protest and changed.
Thirty minutes later, all nine members of the extended MacKenzie
household were walking into St. Andrew's Episcopal Church. The place was packed. The
ushers gave them Sunday bulletins, and after reverencing the altar the
family occupied a full pew toward the back of the church on the gospel
side after the ushers moved a few people to another pew. The family had just knelt and finished their personal prayers
when the organist finished the prelude and began playing the opening hymn. The choir and altar party
processed down the center aisle behind the thurifer and crucifer.
The celebrant of the Mass was last in the procession moving toward
and Cam looked over curiously as he passed their pew. Dressed in
his alb and green chasuble, the priest was a tall, older man with gray
hair. Walking just in front of him was another priest,
young and handsome, also tall and well built, but with jet black
hair. Cam knew at a glance from the way he moved that the guy was
a jock. The bulletin said he would be
preaching the homily that day.
The service began as the older priest censed the altar and offered the
opening prayers, followed by a reading each from the Old and New
Testaments. Then the Gospel book, bound in a gold cover, was
processed down the middle aisle of the church to its center by the
young priest and acolytes, and the Gospel for the day was sung
there. After the book was returned to its stand in the sanctuary,
the younger priest moved
down to the pulpit when it was time to preach.
Cam and Kevin glanced at each other as the priest began to speak,
preparing to zone out and rest their eyes. That didn't pan
out once the preacher warmed to his topic, because he had an engaging
preaching style and did not read his homily from a manuscript or even
refer to any notes, looking right at the people as he spoke.
The young priest took as his text several of the verses from the Old
Testament lesson which had just been read that morning from Leviticus:
"When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap your field
to its very border, neither shall you gather the gleanings after your
harvest. And you shall not strip your vineyard bare, neither
shall you gather the fallen grapes of your vineyard; you shall leave
them for the poor and for the sojourner: I am the Lord your God."
Coming down from the pulpit and standing at the altar rail to continue,
the priest stated that "the poor" are specifically mentioned 203 times
in the Old and New Testaments, with the preponderance of those
occurrences being admonitions about the responsibilities of those who
are well-off in life to provide for the those in poverty. 203
times. He pointed out that verses in Scripture
about poverty outnumbered instructions on sexual matters by more than twenty to one.
The priest began to outline the well documented concerns of the
Hebrews and early Christians about poverty in the societies of their
compared with current economic policies in the United States. He
mentioned that the Hebrews were required to forgive all debts every
seven years, periodically putting those on the bottom rung of society
back on an even keel. He then contrasted that care for the poor
with our modern-day national policies in the United States, which were
systematically depriving the poor of what
little they had, and further widening the gap between rich and poor in
our country to the peril of democracy itself.
To illustrate his point, the priest went on to discuss the aftermath of
the recent hurricanes along the Gulf Coast, especially in New Orleans,
where the impoverished were so deprived that they did not even have the
wherewithal to flee the wrath of the storms, and were trapped on
overpasses and in sports arenas. He said that the TV pictures
were graphic proof of what government at all levels, and particularly
at the national level, tried to ignore about the depths of poverty in
our country, and the effects of it on the living, breathing human
beings who are creatures of God. He said that the hurricanes had
ripped the scab off a festering wound in our society which many in
power would prefer to keep hidden, and went on to cite economic
statistics in support of his assertions about poverty. He added that it
appeared that the nation was losing ground when it came to meeting its
The young priest eventually concluded his homily with these
questions: "Where are the prophets in our midst who should be
calling God's people to repent concerning this matter of poverty? The
religious community is practically mute on what is happening to the
poor. Many who do consider themselves to be prophets content
themselves with railing about matters of sex and sexual orientation
rather than concerning themselves with whether people have enough food
their stomachs to make it to the next day. Among all those who
love to carry around their
Bibles and glory at being "seen in the temple," as Jesus once
are there none to stand up and be counted on the side of the angels
when it comes to issues of poverty in this nation?
"Brothers and sister, God doesn't care whether we are Republicans or
Democrats or Independents. But we need to answer God's call to us to love our
neighbor as ourselves. We have a duty in the political arena to
support those who will pursue the economic well-being of all
children. If any of us is wondering who our neighbor is, just
think about Jesus' parable of the Good Samaritan, and we will know.
"If we are mandated to be 'pro-life,' we need to be pro-life in all of
its ramifications, not just those which happen to appeal to us.
Let's think about the good of our neighbor, particularly when our neighbor is poor. God expects no less."
The priest crossed himself after speaking his final words, and then returned to the sanctuary and sat down.
Cam and Kevin were both stunned and elated to hear such clarity and honesty coming
from the pulpit. If they had not been strangers in that church
and seated with their extended family, they would have applauded.
Kevin looked down the row at his family, and saw Ian sitting there with
a big smile on his face and Catherine nodding her head in agreement
with what she'd heard. All the boys were awake and looking bright-eyed.
When it was time for communion, all nine of them went up to the altar rail to receive it.
The adults had not planned to stay for the usual coffee hour after Mass, but decided they
would so they could introduce themselves to the clergy and some of the
parishioners. They particularly wanted to thank the young priest
for his homily.
The two priests had removed their vestments within a few minutes and
joined the crowd in the parish house. Eventually, the young
priest circulated by them, and Ian took the opportunity to introduce
himself and the extended family to him.
"We're so glad to have you here," the young priest said with a smile. "I'm Jim Mason, the newest curate on staff."
"Father, your homily was excellent today!" Catherine told him.
"Thank you so much," Father Mason said. "I try not to overdo the
social gospel, but as Christians, we do need to do right by our
"We agree with you on that!" Mary Carson said. "You're absolutely right
about the silence that seems to have gripped the churches and the
electorate when it come to caring for the poor. It was wonderful to
hear the gospel preached on that topic for a change."
They continued talking for a few minutes, and the priest had Catherine
fill out a visitor's card for herself and all the boys. Father
Mason said he would like set up an appointment to call on the family
within the next few days, and Catherine gave him her card and invited
him to call her at the university to set up a time.
The family went back out to the Navigator, which barely held them all,
and with Carl driving, off they went to a greasy spoon for brunch,
courtesy of Ian.
After they ate and went home, Cam found his thoughts returning to how
good looking the young priest at St. Andrew's had been, and hoping he
would get to see him again soon. Little did he know how much the
family would need the young priest's spiritual strength and comfort in
the days to come.
© 2005 Don Hanratty
Thanks for your patience in waiting for Chapter 13. Although
suffered no damage to my condominium from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita,
I was more shaken than I thought I would be by conditions in New
Orleans. If you recall scenes of urban destruction from some of
the World War II vintage movies, you have some idea about what we're
facing down here in some neighborhoods. Oh, by the way, the
adjuster did total out my motorcycle because he believes water got into
the engine through the exhaust pipes where it sat in my underground
parking garage. But my loss is nothing compared to what others
Thanks to ChicagoEric and Dan for editing and proofing this chapter.
Don Hanratty firstname.lastname@example.org.