My Belovèd is mine, and I am his.
Song of Songs 2:16
The limousine lurched as the driver jerked
the steering wheel in reaction to the gunfire. Two of the three
on motorcycles in front of the car pulled to the side of the road,
dismounted and drew their weapons, leaving the limousine a clear path
to escape behind a third motorcycle officer. The officers on foot
at the gate hit the ground and begun firing into a copse of trees
across the road
from the cemetery entrance. At first there was return fire, but
that stopped after a few shots. The policemen kept firing into
the trees for at least five minutes. When they stopped, all was
quiet. One of their number got on his shoulder radio and reported
what had happened, and in the distance sirens could be heard as squad
cars began speeding toward the cemetery.
Inside the limousine, everyone had sought the floor after the first shock
wore off. Mary Carson crawled over to Mark and turned him face up
in her lap, cradling his head. There was an ugly crease in the side of his head
which was seeping blood. It ran down Mark's face and fell on his mother's
dress. She held the unconscious boy in her lap, kissing his
forehead and paying no attention to the mess.
"Anybody hurt badly?" Ian queried the crowd. No one responded in
the affirmative, although blood was still seeping from many faces from
the glass cuts from the safety glass which had been forcefully propelled into the interior
of the car.
"Mark is," Mary said.
Ian pushed the button to roll down the window separating the driver
from the passenger compartment. Miraculously, it was still
"Driver, head for San Francisco."
"Are you all right?" Ian asked the man.
"Good," Ian said. "Get us out of here fast. We have a
seriously wounded boy back here. Is your radio still working?"
"I'll have to try it."
"If it is, call your dispatcher and have another car meet us at the
city line," Ian said. "Glass is still flying into the car from
"Yes, sir." The man picked up his mike and clicked it, then said, "Dispatch?"
"Dispatch," a disembodied voice came back. The driver gave Ian a thumbs up, and then relayed Ian's instructions.
"Driver, honk your horn and get the motorcycle officer to stop," Ian
said. "We need to give him directions." They were still
moving east down one of Monterey's main streets.
At the sound of the horn as the limo came to a stop, the officer pulled over. He dismounted and came back to the car.
"How many are hurt?" the officer asked, peering through broken windows.
"All of us slightly, one seriously," Ian responded.
Ian had the officer get on his radio to the Monterey police
headquarters, and they
cleared the officer to continue the escort. The Monterey department would
arrange for a San Francisco police squad to meet them at the city line.
The car surged forward as Ian crouched down and pulled
telephone, locating his old friend Dr. George Suthon's number in his
phone address book. Suthon was a senior physician on staff at San
Francisco General who had helped treat Carl Emrick after he had been
raped and beaten. The physician answered his cell phone
"Suthon." the doctor said.
"George, this is Ian Carson. I'm in a car in Monterey with my son Mark, who's
been shot in the head. We're on our way into town to the hospital.
Will you meet us at the Emergency entrance?"
The man betrayed no surprise and asked no questions. "Of
course, Ian. I just finished rounds. But I want the EMT's
to meet you and bring your boy in. Where would be a good place to meet them?"
"I'm having our limo driver contact his dispatcher to send another car for us at the city line. What about there?"
"That'll be good," Suthon said. "I'll contact the police and fire departments."
"We should be there in about ten minutes. We're still in Monterey and rolling behind a motorcycle cop."
"Good. See you soon."
They rang off and Ian looked around. It looked like a war
zone. No one seemed worried about himself. All eyes were focused
on Mark. The boy was not moving except to breathe. Ian moved over beside his
wife and gave Mary a clean, folded handkerchief. She pressed it
down into Mark's wound, and it slowly turned red as it soaked up the
oozing blood. Tears were running silently down Mary's face, mingling with the blood which had already fallen on her dress.
Ian kissed the side of his wife's head.
Catherine got up from the floor of the car, and brushing glass off the
back seat, sat down. Retrieving her purse, she pulled out her
cell phone and called San Rafael information for St. Andrew's
Church. Punching in the number she received, she called and asked
for Fr. Jim Mason.
"Father Mason," the priest said.
"Father, this is Catherine MacKenzie."
"Hello, Dr. MacKenzie."
"Father, we need your help. We're in Monterey heading for San
Francisco General with a police escort. Mark Carson has been shot
and is unconscious. Would it be possible for you to meet us at the hospital to anoint him?"
"The hospital's on Potrero, right?"
"I'm leaving now." The telephone went dead.
"Thank you, Catherine," Ian said, nodding gratefully.
The boys followed Catherine's example, brushing glass off the leather
seats around the perimeter of the limo and down on to the floor so they could sit down, except for
William, who stayed down and crawled over to his mother, putting an arm
"Mom, do you want me to hold Mark?" William asked.
"No, honey. Thank you. I'm fine. Are you all right?"
"Yes. Just a scratch."
"Good. Go around and check the other boys for me, will you?"
The boys were mostly all right, as they had told Ian, but Berto had an
especially large gash on his right cheek. William pulled out his own clean
handkerchief and pressed it to Berto's face.
"Here, dude, hold this," William said.
Without knowing what the others were doing, they all began to
pray for Mark as the limousine surged forward and the wind whistled through the
broken windows. Mary continued to hold an unconscious Mark, rocking
him gently and whispering to him.
After her call to Father Mason, Catherine returned to the spacious,
glass covered floor of the
Mary, and took one of Mark's hands in hers and held it. The
boy's hands and feet were big, like a puppy's paws just before a growth
spurt. Mark would be a big boy when he finishes
growing, Catherine thought to
herself as she stared at his pale, handsome face. His young face. It broke her heart to see him like this.
rejoined Catherine down on the floor, putting an arm around Mary as she
continued to weep, holding her son. Soon all the boys, along with Rosa and Yolanda, had
forsaken their seats again and joined the adults in the glass strewn
center of the car, circled around young Mark as if they could heal him,
or at least protect him, by their presence.
Ian felt a stab of guilt as he contemplated his wounded son. Why
had he let his own penchant for living life on the edge overrule reason,
and decide to let the boys come to the funeral? Never had he been
more conscious of his responsibilities for these young lives than now, the
boys in this car sitting around the adults, blood on their faces. They
might never blame him. And Mark, if he recovered, might never blame
him. And Mary might never blame him. But he would most certainly blame
himself. Ian's pain about what had happened reminded him anew of
how hard it is to be a good parent, balancing young people's needs for
new experiences and adventure with their need to be protected against
the unspeakable evil in the world. Had a good example of
fortitude not been required right then, he would have broken
Not many minutes later, the motorcycle siren went silent, and the
limousine slowed and pulled over to the side of the road at the San Francisco line. Even
sitting on the floor, occupants of the limo could see the reflection of
flashing mars lights from outside the vehicle. Ian slid back from the group,
opened a door and exited the car. A lady EMT was standing there
holding her medical bag.
"Thank you for coming so quickly," Ian said.
"Yes, sir. Where's the patient?"
"We're all slightly hurt from flying glass, but one boy has taken a bullet to the head," Ian said.
The woman nodded. "Let me get in there," she said, and Mark's crowd of protectors
moved back away from the boy. The EMT checked the boy's vitals and
visually checked his head wound before gently affixing a brace around
Mark's neck. She spoke to two other EMT's standing with a rolling stretcher at the back
door of the limo.
"Give me the board."
She slid the board under Mark with Mary's help, and laid the boy down
on it, affixing velcro straps to hold his body as they maneuvered him out of
the vehicle and onto the stretcher. Ian and Mary followed the
stretcher to the ambulance.
"You're the parents?" one of the men asked.
"Yes," Mary said.
"One of you can come with us," the senior EMT said. "I'm calling for another unit to come and treat the rest of you."
Ian and Mary looked at each other silently, and then Mary got in the
ambulance. Ian wept for a moment as the unit pulled away, lights
flashing and siren screaming, preceded by a San Francisco police car
lit up. Ian walked over and thanked the motorcycle officer who had
led them out of Monterey. The officer said he would stay with
them until everyone left. Catherine got out of the car and went
to Ian, embracing him and holding him without a word.
A second EMT ambulance arrived, and the three medics began giving those
who were bleeding emergency treatment. Ian had a scalp wound that
he wasn't even aware of on the back of his head, and they
bandaged it up. The cut on Berto's cheek was the most
serious of any of the minor wounds.
Another stretch limo arrived within minutes, and Ian, Catherine,
Yolanda and Rosa and the
boys transferred into the new vehicle. The driver of the second
limo gaped at his colleague's bullet riddled car as the newly arrived
limousine pulled into traffic and moved toward San Francisco General
The new driver couldn't help thinking that he wasn't being paid enough
for this job. "It's amazing any of you is alive," he told his
passengers over his shoulder.
"You're right," Ian said, but not wanting to discuss the obvious,
closed the window between the front seat and passenger compartment,
leaving the man to his driving.
Catherine sat beside Berto and gently put her arm around him.
"We'll all get through this day," she told the boy quietly.
Berto turned and looked at her solemnly. He nodded, and took her
hand. It was the first sign of overt affection for her that he had
"I hope so," the boy said.
* * *
Kevin woke up first from his and Cam's little nap. Casey was
still sleeping quietly in his crib nearby, and Cam by his side.
Oh, he loved these two boys, Kevin thought to
himself. One was cute and helpless and needed constant attention
and nurture to become the human being he was meant to be. The other was
strong and vital, someone to lean on in life. Cam was steadfast in his love for the people he
cared about, beautiful and strong in his physical presence, and focused on those he loved. And yet, with all that
strength, there was a sweetness to the boy that was both beguiling and
comforting. A very special person, Kevin knew. As he had done many times, Kevin counted his blessings
right then and there.
Moving carefully so as not to startle his partner awake, Kevin rolled on to his
side and gently embraced Cam's naked chest with his left hand and
arm. Cam's pecs had a healthy prominence to them, much more
pronounced as time had passed thanks to the exercises that Kevin demanded
from all the boys in the house, including his partner. Looking
good, Kevin thought to himself, as he admired Cam's physique.
Kevin put his face close to Cam's chest and smelled the boy's
skin. As usual, an odor of masculinity and virility filled his
nostrils. Kevin's dick lurched in his boxers when he was
"up close and personal" with Cam like this. Moving his head
kissed Cam's nearest nipple, and then licked it.
Cam's eyes stayed closed, but his lips formed a smile as he awakened slowly.
"Teri, that feels so good," he whispered.
Kevin reapplied his mouth to Cam's nipple, this time giving him a gentle bite. Cam jumped.
"I'll give you a 'Teri,' you little shit," Kevin said softly, grinning as he hovered over his lover's chest.
"Oh, it's you, Kevin," Cam said quietly, still smiling. "Sorry, it was a case of mistaken identity."
Kevin chuckled. "Yeah, right!" he whispered. "You'll pay for that."
"I pay every day I'm with you," Cam responded. He turned his head
and looked over at the crib. "Casey's still down," he said, stating the
"For how long, I wonder?"
"I don't know." Kevin ran his hand over Cam's abs and down
the outside of his boxers, cupping Cam's package. There was
an immediate reaction down there.
"Oh." Cam's eyes widened.
Kevin's hand fumbled at the fly, moving in to grasp Cam's penis with his hand, and gave it a little stroke.
"You're awfully bold, doncha think?" Cam rolled over on top of Kevin, pushing him down flat on his back in the bed.
"Well, yeah! That's my job. You know that."
"I do know that." Cam lowered his face and gently pressed his
lips to Kevin's lips, holding perfectly still, smelling Kevin's
clean, healthy breath streaming in and out of his nose. Lying on Kevin,
Cam raised his hips and shed his own boxers, pushing them down and then
kicking them off on the floor.
"You're naked!" Kevin gasped as if he were surprised. "Is this a seduction?"
"Affirmative. One of thousands."
Kevin put his hands on Cam's face and held his head still, looking
deeply into his eyes. "This is love, man. If I'd known it
could be like this, I'd have seduced you when we were thirteen."
"You'd have scared the living shit out of me," Cam said. "We weren't ready 'til we were ready."
"I know. I'm kidding. But you make me so happy now, it's scary."
Cam put his lips back on Kevin's without replying as he felt Kevin's
own arousal poking him in the crotch. Kneeling up, Cam grasped
Kevin's boxers and peeled them off. They joined Cam's underwear
on the floor. Cam looked down and took Kevin's now-hard penis in
his hand, pulling it away from his abs where it was throbbing a bit with each heartbeat. Leaning down, he
licked the head of it and then plunged down on it all the way. Kevin
squeaked and scrunched up his face from the sudden onslaught of pleasure.
Cam pulled off. "Hold down the noise, now, or we'll wake up the
baby," he said. The he went down on his partner again, holding
Kevin's balls in his hand and gently rolling them around.
"Have mercy," Kevin said, his body flooded with ecstasy at the hands of
a boy who knew what he himself liked and therefore knew exactly what to
Cam alternated between slowly mouth stroking his partner, taking him
deep into his throat, and then pulling off to hold just the head of Kevin's
cock in his mouth and running his tongue around the corona of it.
He tasted sweet precum.
"Wait, man," Kevin gasped at that point. "Turn around on the bed so I can do you."
No sooner said than done. Kevin took his partner's cock in his
mouth, and worked it until Cam was well aroused and leaking sweetness.
Wordlessly the two boys took one another to the edge, and then backed
off, only to go to the heights again. Fifteen minutes later, both
panting as they pleased each other, they took one another to heaven,
coming almost simultaneously. They lay there with the heads of
their dicks still in each other's mouth, unable to move, for at least
five minutes. Then Cam moved, cleaning off Kevin's
instrument of pleasure. Kevin squirmed because his dickhead was sensitive by then, but followed suit on Cam a
Cam turned himself around on the bed and hugged Kevin to him, giving him a soul
kiss. They slept for ten minutes.
Kevin kissed Cam's cheek when he woke up. "Outstanding," he told his partner,
well satisfied with how they had given each other such pleasure. "You're definitely my green-eyed boy," he said softly.
"I know it." Cam paused, grinning at Kevin. "When I swallowed, I think you made me pregnant. I felt it."
"Uh huh," Kevin said, pretending to be taken aback at the unexpected news.
"I mean it," Cam insisted. "Twins. One will look like me, and one will look like you."
"I think you're a little mixed up. Where were you when we had anatomy class?"
"I was there. Sitting right behind you thinking about your anatomy."
"You're talking like an idiot," Kevin said.
"That's harsh, doncha think?"
"But you're an idiot with great powers
of observation, I'll give you that. I hafta love ya for that,
"Yep." Cam's grin faded. "Can we talk about Teri and the prom for a minute?"
Kevin sighed. "Yeah. But I hope this has nothing to do with pregnancy."
"No. But I've been thinking about what Teri and I are going to do after the dance."
"I bet you have."
"The soccer team reserved a block of rooms at the hotel," Cam said.
"I can do one of three things," Cam said slowly.
"One, I can put some
rubbers in the sporran (pouch) I'm wearing with my kilt, and use them to do
Teri. Maybe not just once, but a couple times. She wouldn't
"I know she wouldn't."
"Or two, we can strip down when we get to the room and do everything but
the real deed. I could probably get her to come without ever
putting it in. Like I do with you sometimes, y'know," he said, looking at the middle finger of his right
hand and wiggling it.
"Uh huh," Kevin said. "You are pretty sexy. Sometimes I almost come in my pants just lookin' atcha."
Cam grinned and moved on.
"Or, three, I could just refuse to go to the hotel room with her at all, and
tell her that I'm in love with someone else. And that's no
lie." Cam paused. "And maybe that's the fairest thing to
Teri. I don't want to give her the wrong idea by getting her all
horned up, so she'll think there's hope that we may be a couple.
You and I know that's not gonna happen. I like her a lot, but I
don't love her."
"I want you to experience having sex with a girl if you want to," Kevin said. "I won't be pissed off about it."
"I know. And I love you for it. It's tempting. But
I'm not gonna feel good afterward if I do her just because I want to have an experience
that I may not otherwise have in my life. That's not right. And that's the bottom line."
"You don't want her to lose face with her friends though, either,"
Kevin said. "You know, by not taking her to your room at all."
Cam thought that over. "You're right. I'll probably have to
take her to my room. But I give you my word, I'm not gonna do
The two boys looked at each other in silence for a minute.
"You're a much better person than I am, Cameron," Kevin said, putting his
hand on his partner's forehead and gently stroking back his
crewcut. "Seriously. I've always known that."
"Not necessarily. But I've decided on Plan Number 2-B."
"I'll take her to my room, but I won't do anything sexual with
her. Not even with my finger. Maybe just get drunk with
"I'll back you up whatever you do, you know that," Kevin said, snuggling up to his boy
again and kissing him.
That didn't last long, as Casey awakened and began moving
his arms and legs in the crib.
Getting up after giving Cam a final kiss to end their discussion about
prom night, at least for the moment, Kevin went over to the crib
and peered down at their son. Gently scooping the child up into his
arms, he took him to Cam in the bed.
"I'll be right back," he said.
Kevin went into the bathroom and splashed water on his face
and wiped his crotch with a damp wash cloth. Then, retrieving his boxers
from the floor in the bedroom, he put them on and went to the little
refrigerator. Taking out a bottle of formula, he put it into a pan of
water on the hot plate and powered the hot plate up. The coils turned red as
they began to heat the pan.
Cam watched from the bed holding Casey, saying nothing, feeling his love for Kevin
and for the little boy in his arms welling up yet again inside him.
Kevin went over to the bed. "Hey, sweet boy," he crooned to
Casey, telling the little guy that food was on the way. The child
looked up at his father, probably still unable to focus on him, but hearing a
familiar voice that had always meant good things were on the way.
Cam continued to cradle the little boy, looking down on him, fascinated as always by the child's
"Hey, little guy," Cam said, taking a finger and gently rubbing the baby's nose and cheeks. "We love you," he said.
"Arglussh," Casey responded, kicking his legs and moving his arms.
"I agree," Cam said. "I tell Daddy that all the time."
Kevin laughed and shook his head, still waiting for the pan of water to start steaming.
"Well, I do," Cam told Kevin. "But you only listen to half of what I say."
"No, I listen to all of it. What choice do I have?"
"You might learn something if you did."
Kevin ignored him, watching the water with the bottle in it.
Cam turned his attention back to Casey. "We have to start thinking about your career," Cam told the infant.
"It's never too early to get ready. I want you to be good at the
arts, not at physics and mathematics like your Daddy. You need to
stay in touch with your inner self."
Kevin started to laugh. "You're such a dipstick, dude. I
don't think you're gonna be a very good influence on Casey."
"The best," Cam contradicted. "All the physics and mathematics jobs
will be in India and China by the time you're finished with school, so
you'll have to go over there. But Casey and I will be going
strong in the arts right here in the good ol' US of A. Too bad
"If I weren't busy at the moment, I'd come over there!" Kevin said threateningly.
"Don't worry, he'll be a jock, too, even if he's in the arts. Casey knows I'm not lying," Cam crooned to the baby.
"Shutup," Kevin said. The hot water bubbled at last. After
a few minutes, Kevin tested the temperature of the formula on his wrist.
"Perfect," he said. He went over and took the baby from Cam, and
sat down in a rocking chair that Catherine had bought for them.
Cam sat on the side of the bed watching Kevin do his thing. Life can be
so good, Cam thought to himself.
When Casey finished the bottle, Kevin put it on the floor and began
rocking the child, who clearly liked it, holding the baby upright and
patting his back. The little boy burped, and then his eyes
began to close after a few minutes.
The telephone rang.
"Hello," Cam said cheerfully.
"Sweetheart," Catherine's voice said, "I have some bad news."
The police officers at the cemetery
gate left one of their number in position in front of the copse of
trees from which the gunshots had come, and the rest of them, using
broken field running tactics, flanked the trees on the right and
left. When the two contingents met on the other side, they found
a large rock there on which the gunman may have rested his automatic
rifle, but the gunman himself was long gone. The only signs
remaining were some blood spatters on the rock and drops of blood
leading to tire tracks in the dirt of a service road down which the
person had escaped.
A sergeant called in what they had found, and his lieutenant told him
to cordon off the scene and that he was sending out forensics
people to obtain blood samples and do plaster casts of the tire prints
for future reference. Squad cars were also dispatched to the head
of the cemetery service road to block any escape, but they were too
The EMT ambulance was immediately
surrounded by medical personnel when it arrived at the entrance to
Emergency, and Mark Carson, still unconscious, was whisked away inside
with his mother following closely behind. She was diverted from
Mark's examination room, however, and was taken to her own treatment
room to have her own head wound looked at by the time Ian, Catherine, Rosa, Yolanda, and the other boys had arrived.
All of them, with injuries of varying seriousness from flying glass, were
taken to separate treatment rooms to have the wounds which had been dressed by the EMT
personnel looked at again. Ian signed permission forms
for all the boys to be treated before being taken to a room to have his
own scalp wound looked at a second time and bandaged. He went out to the
room when they were finished with him, where one by one the boys and
Yolanda, Rosa, Mary and Catherine joined him except for Berto.
The wound in Berto's right cheek was deep, the most serious of any of
the wounds sustained by those in the car except for Mark. Dr. Suthon paged the
head of plastic surgery, who was on the premises, and he came down to
the Emergency department right away. The surgeon numbed up the
right side of Berto's face completely, and then spreading the deep cut wide,
put several sutures which would dissolve in time deep inside the
wound. That done, he used a new tape which had been developed
on the battlefields of Iraq to hold the surface edges of the cut
"We'll see how this heals," the surgeon, Dr. Merlo, told Berto and Dr. Suthon.
The two of them thanked the surgeon, and Berto went back out to the
waiting room. The right side of his face was so numb that without
knowing it, he began to drool from the corner of his mouth.
Catherine saw it, and retrieving some kleenex from her purse, folded
several sheets over to make a pad and gave it to the boy.
"Sweetheart, hold this at the corner of your mouth until the numbness wears off."
Berto, seeing the saliva on his shirt, flashed her an appreciative look, and did as she said.
Ten minutes later,
Mason arrived, moving fast as he came in. The adults and boys
surrounded him when they saw him.
"Thank you for coming so quickly, Father," Catherine said.
"What's the news?" the priest asked.
"Nothing yet," Ian said. "We've all been treated for our cuts,
and we're just waiting." Ian looked sad and upset.
"Well, let's have a prayer for Mark right now," Mason said.
They expanded their circle to include the priest, and they all held hands.
"Heavenly Father," the priest said, "we ask you to look upon us,
children, who are
gathered here in sorrow and pain, but also in faith. We know that
the great healer. This is your
world, and your Spirit is at work to save and bless us all. We
especially ask you, Lord, to let your Holy Spirit rest upon and comfort
your servant Mark. Save him from the evil that has been visited
upon him. Confirm our faith in you and your love, and surround
Mark with your angels to comfort him and heal him and bear him up in
his hour of need. Keep him safe in your heart, Lord.
Restore him whole to us who love him, Father, as you love him and love
us. We ask all these things through Jesus Christ our Lord."
When Father Mason opened his eyes and looked around, everyone's face looked a little brighter, a little less sad and fearful.
"Thank you, Father," Ian said.
"I'm glad I'm here with you," Mason said. He looked at Ian.
"Do you think I could see Mark for a minute and anoint him for healing?"
"Come on, let's find out."
The two of them walked back toward the treatment rooms as Mary, Catherine, Rosa and Yolanda and the boys sat down.
Dr. Suthon was coming out of Mark's treatment room as Ian and Father
Mason came down the corridor. Through the window they could see
a crowd of doctors, nurses and technicians working on the boy.
Suthon motioned them into an empty treatment room across the hall to
Ian introduced Suthon to the priest, and they looked at the doctor.
"Well?" Ian said.
"Here's the deal," George Suthon said. "There was a shallow
penetration of the right temporal lobe of Mark's brain, just above his
right ear. But what was presumably a bullet didn't lodge
there, it exited. There's not a lot of trauma, but fortunately, even if
there had been, a right temporal lobe injury tends to be less severe
than trauma to the left
lobe, for a number of reasons. Anyway, there appears to be
minimal damage, and he's a lucky boy."
"Thank God!" Ian said, and overcome with emotion, he embraced the priest.
"Why isn't he awake?" Ian asked when he stepped back from Father Mason.
"He'll wake up, but he's still in shock," Dr. Suthon said. "We're going to send
him upstairs for MRI and CT scans right now to make sure we haven't missed anything, and then minor surgery
just to make sure we clean the wound properly. I'm not sure the dura was even penetrated. I'm reasonably
confident that the scans will confirm what the x-rays tell us and what we've already observed."
"Thank you, George," Ian said.
"I'm going to need you or Mary to
sign papers giving us permission to operate," Suthon said. "Just to clean up the wound," he added.
"Who's going to operate?" Ian asked.
"I have a call in to the chief of neurosurgery here, Dr.
He ranks right up there with the best neurosurgeons in the
country. Even though this is a relatively minor wound, I want you
to have the best. When he gets here, he'll look at the x-rays and
"All right," Ian said. "Will you get Father Mason into the treatment room to anoint Mark
before he goes upstairs?"
"Absolutely. Let me have a nurse bring in the papers you need to
sign, Ian. Father, hang tight here for a minute, and then you can go
"Thank you," the priest said. He looked at Ian. "This is wonderful news, Ian. A well deserved blessing."
"I'm thankful," Ian said, and then fell silent.
A nurse came in with the papers to authorize surgery, and Ian signed
them. Then they all went back into the corridor, and the nurse
took the priest into the treatment room after putting a gown on
him. Ian watched through the window as the medical team stepped
back from their patient to give the priest room to work.
Mark lay unmoving on the table under bright lights and a blue sheet, his face white under
his tan. He was breathing regularly, but a dressing on the right
side of his head was bloodstained. Jim Mason put a short purple
stole around his own neck, pulling his holy oil stock and a priest's
handbook out of his suit coat. One of Mark's arms was exposed. Mason took Mark's hand in his own and just held it as he began the prayers.
Opening the oil stock, Mason dipped his thumb in it and anointed
the boy's forehead with oil, offered a prayer for healing, and
concluded with the Our
Father and Hail Mary in which several members of the medical team
joined. He concluded with a blessing.
When he was finished, the priest thanked the medical personnel and went
back into the corridor, removing his sterile gown and placing it into a
receptacle. He and Ian walked back into the waiting room
big smiles on their faces. They were immediately surrounded by the
adults and the boys.
"Good news!" Ian told them. "Shallow wound, no significant
damage. They're taking him upstairs for some scans before
cleaning up the wound some more. But Dr. Suthon thinks he's going to
be all right."
Yolanda and Rosa clasped each other as Mary and Catherine began crying in relief, and Ian hugged them to
himself. Normally Mr. Cool, tears began running down William Carson's face as the
boys high fived him and one another joyfully.
When things had calmed down a little, Catherine used her cell phone to
call Cam and Kevin. They were ecstatic, so much so that they woke
up Casey when they whooped and jumped around.
"Let's decide where we're going to spend the night," Ian said, looking at the group. "I
know Mark is going to have to stay here, probably for several days at
"I want these boys back out of town," Mary said firmly. "We don't know where that maniac may strike next."
"I'll ask for a police guard on Mark here at the hospital," Ian was quick to say.
"Let me take Rosa and the boys back to San Rafael," Catherine suggested
to Mary. "I know you and Ian will want to stay in town to be near
Mark. And Yolanda, if you want to, you should certainly stay and
take care of them at the condo."
Yolanda looked at Rosa. "Is all right?" she asked. "You be too busy again at the house."
"Si, you stay," Rosa agreed immediately. She smiled. "I make these boys work now!"
"Can I stay?" William asked his mother and father.
Ian and Mary looked at each other.
"No, honey, you have to go back to San Rafael," Mary said. "We'll
be on the phone with you about Mark every chance we get, I promise."
So it was arranged. The good-byes were restrained from all
appearances, but all of them were conscious of the deepened bond among
them resulting from a shared terrible experience. An experience that fortunately was turning out
well. Father Mason, who would be leaving soon for San Rafael himself, went to every member of
the family and traced a cross on each forehead. Catherine, Rosa
and all the boys headed for the limousine. Ian accompanied the
group to the car while Mary and Yolanda sat down again in the waiting
Ian retraced his steps back into the hospital after the car left, stopping to stare at an extra edition of the San Francisco Chronicle in a newspaper box. A huge, black headline screamed: AMBUSH. The article went on to tell the story that the family knew all too well,
having just lived through it. Ian bought a paper and took it
inside for Mary and Yolanda.
After an hour had passed, a nurse's assistant came out and said that
Mark had been taken upstairs for scans and then surgery, and that Ian, Mary and
Yolanda should move upstairs to the waiting room for families of
surgical patients. They did so.
Mark was out of surgery within an hour, and Dr. Anson, the surgeon, came out to see them.
"Things were pretty much as we had thought with Mark," he told
them. "There was no significant damage, and he'll heal up
well. Had the projectile entered his head another milimeter or so
to the left, we'd have had some problems. I want to
keep him here for observation for a couple of days, but then he'll be
good to go."
Ian and Mary thanked the doctor profusely, and then Ian, Mary and
Yolanda were allowed to go to the post-surgical ward to see him.
boy was awake but groggy, and was awfully glad to see three familiar
"What happened?" Mark asked after they had all kissed the portion of his face which was not bandaged. Mary wept.
"Berto's uncle shot up the car," Ian said succinctly. "Everybody
was wounded. But everybody's going to be fine.
Especially you. You got the worst of it." Ian smiled.
"Didn't I teach you how to duck, buddy?"
"I guess not," Mark said, trying hard to smile with so much of his face encased in bandages.
"How do you feel, sweetheart?" Mary asked.
"Tired," Mark admitted. "But I'm not hurting. Honest. I wanna go home!"
"Maybe in a few days," Ian said.
"Where is everybody?"
"Everyone except for us just left for San Rafael," Mary said.
"They didn't want to, but it's safest for them. The hospital
wouldn't let all them up here anyway. But we're going to take
turns staying with you until you're ready to leave for Catherine's house."
They continued to talk until a nurse came in and kicked them out so Mark could rest.
Between them, Ian and Mary decided that Mary would take the first shift
at the hospital, and that Ian and Yolanda should go to the condo and
rest. That being agreed, the two of them caught a cab outside the
Yolanda went to her little apartment at the condo to lie down for a few
minutes, but Ian went to his study. He fired up the computer, googling "temporal lobe injuries." Many medical
sites popped up, and picking one, he began studying problems resulting from such an injury. He read:
"Trauma to Temporal Lobes: side of head above ears
When he was finished, Ian put his hands over his face
and began to weep in relief that Mark had not been more severely
injured. Ian knew that he was widely viewed in the legal
community as "king of the hill." He was tough, focused,
self-confident, well educated, and dedicated. When it came to his
family, he was fiercely protective. The injury to Mark had
reminded him in no uncertain terms that, despite a person's gifts and
abilities, sometimes we don't control our own fate.
- Difficulty in recognizing faces (Prosopagnosia).
- Difficulty in understanding spoken words (Wernicke's Aphasia).
- Disturbance with selective attention to what we see and hear.
- Difficulty with identification of, and verbalization about objects.
- Short term memory loss.
- Interference with long term memory.
- Increased and decreased interest in sexual behavior.
- Inability to categorize objects (Categorization).
- Right lobe damage can cause persistent talking.
- Increased aggressive behavior."
After she had fixed supper for the two of them, Yolanda went and found
Ian, still in his study and asleep face down on his arms on his desk.
They ate, and then Ian freshened up, changed into casual clothes, and went to the hospital to relieve
Mary. He was looking forward to spending some time with Mark.
* * *
Kevin and Cam were watching TV downstairs. Casey was asleep in
rocking cradle they had taken from the kitchen. When the two boys
driveway gate open, they did a quick check on the baby to see that he
was positioned properly in his crib and still asleep. Then they
ran through the house, out the back door and
down the steps two at a time, and were waiting when the limo doors
opened and the family began emerging. Everyone getting out of the
car had his or her face,
or neck or head bandaged somewhere or other.
When Catherine emerged from the car, Cam and Kevin gently surrounded her with a joint hug and kissed her.
"Mom." Kevin stopped talking and choked up a little.
"Mama, thank goodness you're all right," Cam breathed in her ear.
"I guess you were right to be afraid for all of us," he whispered.
Catherine kissed the two of them, saying nothing.
Then Cam and Kevin made the rounds of the boys with a sliding handshake and shoulder bump.
"What about Mark?" Kevin asked.
"Dad called us on the way home," William said. "A bullet hit him
here"--William pointed over his right ear--"and gouged pretty
deep. But he wasn't as seriously wounded as he could have
been. They took him to surgery to clean up the wound, and he's
awake and back down in the post surgery ward. They don't think
there will be any lasting damage."
"Thank God," Kevin said.
Cam raised his hands silently and looked up.
Kevin touched Berto's chin and turned his head gently, looking at the bandage on his cheek.
"Is it bad?" Kevin asked, nodding at the wound.
"Not as bad as Mark's," Berto said.
"Was the service for your parents what you wanted?" Cam asked him.
"Yes," Berto said. "It was good." He handed Cam leaflets
from the church and from the cemetery to look at. Then he looked
around at the group. "I want to apologize to every one of you for
what my uncle did. I'm ashamed."
"That's such bullshit!" Kevin said vehemently, and then looked down at the
ground. "Sorry, ladies." he said to Rosa and Catherine.
"But you had nothing to do with what happened, Berto, and you should be ashamed--for thinking your family here would think you're to blame in any way."
Catherine hugged Berto. "Kevin's right, sweetheart. Don't feel bad for us. We love you so much, and there are no negative feelings on our part. We're glad we were with you today."
At that point the weight of the day was too much for him, and Berto lowered his head and began to cry.
"You boys go in now and change clothes," Rosa told them softly. "I see if I can get blood from them."
All of the funeral goers climbed the stairs to the back deck slowly,
and went inside to shed their dressy clothes and begin to shed some awful
memories of a terrible day.
* * *
The household spent the next day just taking it easy for the most part,
although Mr. Montgomery, the boys' tutor, did come by for an hour
mid-morning to finish up his review for the final exam he would
administer to them the next morning. When he saw his pupils' bandages
and heard their story, he took it easy on them and left early.
Rosa's husband had been very unhappy when he had seen his wife's wound
and heard the story of what had happened after the funeral. He
didn't want her to go to work at the MacKenzies' that day, but she just
told him she was going, and that was that.
William or Catherine talked with Ian or Mary practically once every
hour that Thursday. The news was all good. To maintain a
constant vigil with Mark at San Francisco General, the Carsons had
split up each 24 hour period into 8
hour shifts: Mary was on in the morning, Yolanda (for all
practical purposes, a member of the family) in the afternoon, and Ian
in the evening. Except when the staff was changing the bed or
washing Mark, or the doctors were checking his condition, a family
member was with him every minute. A police officer was at the door around the clock. Watching television, Mark and
Mary and Yolanda learned more about the convoluted plots of the soaps
than they had ever wanted to know. Ian was spared that fate
because he was on duty at night.
As long as he was stuck in town until Mark was released, Ian did go
into the office for a few hours, met briefly with his partners, and
made a stab at cleaning up his desk. That made him feel a little
better about having been away so much.
In San Rafael, Catherine and Rosa checked the boys' wounds just to see if everything
looked all right, and they were. Then Kevin checked Catherine's and
Rosa's cuts. None of them was a professional, but they didn't see
anything to worry about. Even Berto's more severe wound looked
After the cursory medical exam, the boys gravitated down to the pool house
in the late morning, where they played foozball, pool, cards, and just
generally heckled one another. They couldn't swim yet because of their cuts.
"So, Cam," Carl said as they sat at the card table. "You have a prom date with Teri tomorrow night, is that right?"
Suspecting what was coming, Cam reluctantly said, "Yes."
"What's your schedule of activities going to be?" Carl asked.
"Whadda you care?" Cam asked.
"We're your brothers, dude," Carl said. "We only have your best interests at heart."
"Yeah, right," Cam said skeptically. They were playing poker. "Give me your money and drop out right now. That
would really be in my best interests. Yours, too, actually."
"That would be unsportsmanlike on my part, doncha think?"
"No, just an admission that I'm gonna kick your ass."
"Bullshit!" Carl said. "Let's not stray from the topic, and you and Teri are the topic right now."
Cam laid down his hand at that point with a king high straight, and took the pot.
"Told ya," he said to Carl with satisfaction.
"What does Kevin think about you having a date with Teri?" Carl persisted.
"Why don't you ask him, and maybe he'll invite you to swim in the pool? With your clothes on."
"Kevin knows I'm asking for all the right reasons," Carl insisted.
Kevin heard his name from the other side of the room, where he and Berto were playing foozball.
"Sup?" Kevin inquired, stopping the game for a moment.
"Carl's being nosy about my date tomorrow night," Cam said, shuffling the cards.
"Not nice!" Kevin said. "I'm gonna have to kick his ass."
"Can I watch?" William said.
"Can you watch what?" Berto asked. "Kevin kick ass, or whatever Cam is gonna do to his date tomorrow night?"
"What a bunch of pervs," Dan commented. "But I've always known that."
"If you get to have Teri tomorrow night, can I have Kevin?" Carl asked Cam with a grin.
"That's for Kevin to say," Cam responded as he dealt the cards.
Kevin laughed. "Kevin says 'Yes,' but it will only be to make Carl exercise on the machines
until he's just a sweaty little pile of crap on the floor," he
said. "It won't take long."
Carl continued to hassle Cam for information until he had to go get
dressed for his appointment with Dr. Smith, but he got nothing.
When he was dressed, Carl went downstairs to the kitchen. Rosa was
standing at the stove, breaking apart a huge mound of pork chops to thaw
for the evening meal. He walked up behind her and put his arms
around the little woman.
"I'm going out. Do you need anything from the store?"
"No, we all right until next shopping trip." Rosa said, turning around and giving Carl a hug. "Gracias, Carl."
He went out and got in the Navigator, and drove off in a good
mood. He wasn't hating these sessions with Amanda Smith at
all. Far from it.
The following afternoon, late, the
boys all gathered in Cam's room to watch him get dressed for dinner
with Teri, to be followed by the
Prom. They were like a bullfighter's entourage in the dressing
room watching their hero dress, garment by garment, before the main
In this case, the boys in the MacKenzie house wanted to see how Cam was
going to look in Highlander garb, but most importantly, finally, they
would know once and for all what was is worn under a kilt. Used to the locker
room scene, Cam didn't kick the guys out of his and Kevin's room. They
watched Cam strip off his jeans, T-shirt and boxers, and put on his
first item of apparel: a jock strap.
"You stopping off at the gym to get pumped before the dance?" William quipped when Cam put on the jock. "This is a good idea, though," William said, nodding approvingly at Cam in his
jock. "That way it won't be so awkward when Teri gropes you."
"Is that jock clean?" Dan asked. "She won't want to have to wash her hands after she touches you down there."
"You pervs are hilarious," Cam observed.
Damn! Carl thought to himself, his eyes glued to Cam's
bulge. This boy is fine. But Carl already knew
that. Cam was almost hairless above the waist, and other than a
slight treasure trail, there wasn't a lot of body hair anywhere else except for head, armpits and groin.
Cam turned around and went
to his dresser, bending over a drawer for an undershirt to put
on. Now Carl scoped out the boy's ass. It was perfect,
meaty and muscular, and without a blemish. In the manner of a
Helen of Troy, the beauty of this boy's ass could launch a thousand ships filled to capacity with gay
Cam straightened up, and his
body was a V, his shoulders broad and sloping slightly, his back
muscled, his waist narrow, and his legs, thanks to Kevin's merciless
training in the gym, like shapely tree trunks. Carl could
feel himself getting hard. He finally had to look away, but it
was an effort. All he could think was, tonight, lucky Teri.
The rest of the nights, lucky Kevin.
"Don't you horny little shitballs have anything else to do?" Cam asked,
putting on his undershirt and then his pleated, ruffled, fancy dress shirt that he wore with a bow tie. The
kilt, in the MacKenzie tartan, was next. Sitting down on his desk chair, he pulled on knee
length white stockings, followed by pumps with silver buckles. He
put the sporran on next, followed by a sash, also in the Mackenzie tartan, running from his left shoulder to his right waist, decorated with a large silver medallion in the MacKenzie crest.
The final touch was a fake, rubber sgian dubh ("skeen doov," a knife
similar to a dirk) which fit into a sheath hanging from the belt that
also secured the sporran.
Cam also had a cap with a feather in it, but decided not to bother with that.
"You look great, man!" Kevin said, giving him a good hug and
cheek. He went over to their bedside table, opened the drawer,
and took out two rubbers in their packages, rubbers they hadn't been
using since their clean test results at the health department.
Going to Cam, he slid
them into the sporran.
Cam frowned. "What are those for?"
"Just so you have them," Kevin said.
Cam didn't say anything. The guys had him turn in a circle in his finery, giving him lots of compliments.
Downstairs, Catherine and Rosa told him he looked magnificent, and
Catherine took a lot of snapshots. She had all the boys get in
one shot with Cam.
When it was time, Cam walked down the stairs to the driveway with a
corsage and a wrist corsage for Teri that the florist had delivered
earlier. The limousine to take him and Teri to dinner and then to
the dance was
waiting. With a wave to the family on the deck, he was
Kevin went back into the house looking pensive.
© 2006 Don Hanratty.
Many thanks to Craig K and Dan for proofing this chapter.