My Belovèd is mine, and I am his.
Song of Songs 2:16
Kevin, Carl and Cam sat in the breakfast nook watching
Jeff Miller eat some of the soup Cam had fixed for him. The young
man wasn't able to eat the whole bowl because his stomach was unaccustomed to food,
but he did manage to down some aspirin and Benedryl, hopefully to calm his
nerves. Cam suggested they all sit out on the deck for a while,
and Kevin went upstairs, put a sleeping Casey in a sling and brought
him down to the first floor deck, too. They all sat watching the
sun move into the western sky. It was beautiful out on the deck.
"Is this your baby?" Jeff asked Kevin.
"Mine and Cam's," Kevin said.
"How does that work?" Jeff asked, looking puzzled.
"My former girlfriend had my baby, and I was given custody," Kevin
said. "Cam and I are partners now, so we're Casey's daddies."
"Partners? You mean...?"
"Yeah, we're gay," Kevin said, never missing a beat. "We're going
to be married as soon as we're both eighteen, and then Cam can adopt
Casey and we'll share custody."
"Oh," Jeff said, lapsing into momentary silence. He studied his
feet. "I never had a clue that you guys were gay when you were
down here before."
"We didn't know it then, or at least hadn't admitted it to each other,"
Cam said. "We didn't find out we loved each other more than two guys
usually do until after we went back to San Rafael."
"Oh," Jeff said again. He looked out at the beach, then back at Cam. "Well,
that's cool with me. I already told Kevin, so I may as well tell you, that I've been turning
tricks with guys in West Hollywood to get money for drugs. I don't think I'm
gay, but I guess you'd say I've been whatever I needed to be to get drugs."
"Given what I know about drugs," Carl interjected, "that doesn't surprise me."
Jeff twisted in his chair nervously, wanting a fix. "Are you gay?" he asked Carl.
"Do you have a boyfriend?"
"Yes. Back in San Rafael."
"You won't be able to get married in California," Jeff told Cam and Kevin what they already knew.
"When we're ready, we'll go east for a civil ceremony, and then have a church wedding here," Kevin said.
"A church wedding?" Jeff asked incredulously. "I didn't know that was done."
"It happens," Kevin said. "Our priest at home says he'll do it."
"A Catholic priest?" Jeff asked.
"An Episcopal priest," Kevin said.
Carl, Kevin and Jeff carried on with the conversation while Cam sat in
silence, his hands folded over his stomach, listening to the boys and
watching the shadows start to lengthen as the sun descended.
minutes, though, Cam had tuned the guys out and was thinking at length
situation with Jeff. Forty-five minutes passed, and Cam didn't
like his conclusions. He kept thinking until, looking over at
Jeff and Kevin and Carl, he broke
"I think we're in way over our heads with you, Jeff," he said.
Jeff looked unhappy.
"Don't get upset, buddy," Cam told him, "but I think you need to get
into detox and get some meds in you to ease your pain, and sooner rather
than later. I think I made the wrong call putting that off.
You're in worse shape than I thought. I don't have any experience
with addicts or addictions. If I knew where to take you tonight,
I'd do it."
"You're not gonna kick me out, are you?"
"No. But I'm worried as hell about you and how you're gonna get
through the night tonight. We'll get you through it somehow, but
gotta start making some telephone calls tomorrow, early."
"Who are you going to call?" Kevin asked.
"First of all, Ian. He can talk to his friend Dr. Suthon and
some recommendations for doctors and facilities down here. They
might even make some calls to doctors here to pave the way for us."
Kevin nodded approvingly.
"And I think I owe John Kelley a call. He told us not to have
Jeff in the house, and I want him to know why I thought we should to do
"Will he be mad?" Carl asked.
"I don't know," Cam said. "Maybe he ought to be." He looked
over at Jeff. "Do you feel up to seeing your parents tonight?"
Jeff grimaced and groaned. "Shit, I don't know."
"If you see them, they can call the sheriff's office and take you off
the missing list, so you won't have to go downtown in a cruiser and sit
around half the day. That'll save some time getting you into detox and
"Where are we gonna get Jeff the money for detox and treatment?" Kevin asked.
"I don't have a clue," Cam said, looking unhappy. "I'll talk to
Ian about that. I suppose there's always an outside
chance that Jeff's mom and dad might agree to support him when and if he
agrees to see them
"I'm not counting on that, and as I said before, I don't blame them if they don't ante up," Jeff said.
"Yeah," Cam said. "Listen, Jeff, do you feel up to a walk on the
beach? I'd like to wear you out a little bit so you'll sleep
"I'm pretty tired," Jeff said, trying to get out of it.
"I know, but you're hyper, too." Cam said. "So let's do it anyway." He looked
over at Carl. "Would you go to a drug store and get us a couple boxes of
Sominex or something like that for Jeff, and some more Benedryl? You can start getting
used to driving the Highlander," he said, trying to sweeten the pot.
"Yeah, I can do that," Carl said.
Cam pulled some money out of his cargo shorts pocket. "Here, take this. Do we need anything else?" he asked Kevin.
"Nope. Not that I can think of," Kevin said.
"Okay. Let's walk, Jeff," Cam said.
"Do I have to?" Jeff asked.
Jeff stood up reluctantly, and he and Cam headed toward the beach.
"Hey, Cam," Kevin called after them. "Don't you be lookin' at any boys."
"I'll try to do what you'd do," Cam called back, opening the gate to the beach for him and Jeff.
On the beach, Cam and Jeff took a left, away from the Miller house,
parents wouldn't see him before Cam went over to invite them to Alex's
house after supper. The two guys went down to the hard
packed sand at the surf line and walked along for a few minutes in
Finally, Cam turned his head and looked at his companion. "How did you get hooked so bad, Jeff?" he asked.
Jeff looked back at Cam. "I'm not sure I have the answer to
that." They walked along. "By the time I partied with
you and Kevin last year when you were down here, I'd been partyin'
hearty for three years already. I started with alcohol and bud during my
sophomore year in high school, and had just started taking a bump of
coke every now and then. I met you guys, and I knew right away
that you two were pretty much drug virgins, so I didn't bring out my
full arsenal and let you guys really trip out. Your dad would really have killed me if I had gotten you high on coke.
"Given my state of mind even at that point, my story was pretty
much written." Jeff looked up at the sky. "Pretty much
written in the stars. Or in hell, depending on how you look at
"When did your folks find out what was going on with you?" Cam asked.
"When I flunked out of UCLA after my first year. I was in a fucking
coma that whole year. I never went to class"--Jeff
laughed--"and eventually I even lost interest in trying to get
laid. My parents were shocked when they found out how many drugs
I was into and how much I was using, and they sent me to a rehab in Santa Monica the
first time. That place was a joke as far as I was
concerned. I detoxed and went to all the classes and gave all the
right answers in therapy sessions and group sessions, but I was just
gaming those people. I knew that the minute I walked out of
there, I'd smoke some crack or snort some coke, and enjoy the hell out of it.
"It wasn't my parents' fault, really. My dad is a hard working actor,
and does a good job at what he does. He was gone a lot, working
here and around the world. And Mom was involved in a lot of
volunteer work, doing good for people. Clueless. They were clueless. And I was
a master at keeping both of them that way. If you didn't know the
signs to look for, you'd never have suspected a thing. And they
didn't know until it was way too late.
"I went downhill fast after I got outta the first rehab, and started
selling my own electronics and games and stuff, and stealing my
parents' shit out of their house. I didn't want to go back to
rehab after all that caught up with me, and so my dad had me charged
burglary. I was found guilty, and if I wanted parole instead of
jail, I had to agree to go back to rehab. My folks sent me
back--to a different place, this time. This time for two
months. Same deal, though. I wasn't ready to kick my
habit. I knew that. But my conviction would be expunged if
I finished rehab.
"I began to understand back then that everybody hates a drug
addict. It doesn't matter how much the counselors tell you that
it's a sickness of the brain, down in their gut everybody you meet on
the street hates you for being weak. They don't hate cancer
patients, they don't hate you if you have appendicitis, but if you're
addicted to drugs, you might as well be dead. Even some people
who know intellectually it's a sickness, in their gut they hate
you. I get that. People are afraid of us, and
probably rightly so.
"Anyway, I got out of rehab the second time, starting using again, and had discovered meth in a big
way. Mom and Dad threw me out, and I've been on the street ever
since, mostly living in West Hollywood because the gay guys think I'm
good looking, and you'd be surprised what some guys will pay for a
blowjob or a good fuck. Whenever I'd got tired of living in town, I'd come back to Malibu
and hide out. That's how I ended up under your dad's deck.
"To go back to your original question about how I got hooked, a
counselor at the second rehab facility told me one time that a lot of addictions
begin because of depression. I didn't know at the time I started
using that I was depressed, but as I look back, I probably was."
They walked in silence for a few minutes as Cam digested what he'd heard.
"You know, there's one good thing about crystal meth," Jeff told Cam.
"It got me off cocaine. It's cheaper, and the high lasts longer."
Instead of laughing as Jeff had expected, Cam stopped walking, and the two guys faced each other on the darkening beach.
"All right, tell me something, Jeff. Long story short, where are
you now when it comes to wanting to get clean?" Cam put his hands
on Jeff's shoulders and looked him in the face.
Jeff didn't say anything at first.
"I knew you'd get around to asking me that." He paused. "I
know that if I don't get clean, you may as well put me in a coffin
right now. Why wait? But the truth is, I don't think I'm
strong enough to kick it. I'm thinking about tweakin' right
now. Right this minute. I told you before that I think I'm done for, and I'm pretty sure
Cam sighed, and said, "Well, fuck!"
"You wanted the truth," Jeff said.
"It's only true if that's your decision, buddy. If you
believe you can't get clean, and it's not your first priority, then you're not gonna get clean."
"I want to get clean, but I just don't think I have what it takes to do it. I've failed twice already."
"Most addicts fail before they succeed at kickin' it, or so I read. By the way,
I hope you don't have a meth pipe in the house," Cam said, suddenly
"I had one in my coat pocket, but I guess it's in the garbage now with my clothes."
"Good. I don't want any paraphernalia in the house because we
don't want anything like that around Casey. Or around us. Or around you,
for that matter."
"I get it," Jeff said.
They walked in silence for a few minutes.
"I wanna tell you something," Cam finally said. "A story. I
fucking hate it when people do this to me, but I'm gonna do it
to you anyway."
Jeff looked at him curiously.
"When Kevin and I were sophomores in high school,
on the varsity soccer team. We were playing one of our biggest
rivals one afternoon, and we were down 3-zip in the last quarter with about five
minutes to go. Our coach called a time out. We huddled up, and he looked
us, and we thought for
sure we were gonna get yelled at. But all he did was to point out the score and the time we had
left in the match. Then he told us something I've never
forgotten: 'Sometimes,' he said, 'when you want a miracle, you gotta be
"That's all the coach said to us," Cam continued. "Not your usual
jock pep talk, fer sure. It was the only inspirational thing any coach ever
said to us in four years. Then Coach sent us back on the field."
Jeff turned his head and stared at Cam, eyes wide. "Did you win?"
"Oh, hell no. We lost 3-2. Actually, getting those two points was
kind of miraculous, given the shape we were in that afternoon.
Bad afternoon. But that's what we all have to do sometimes when
backs are against the wall. We hafta be the miracle to make the
There aren't any shortcuts. We hafta go
out there and just fucking do it, win, lose or draw. I'm dead
serious. I believe that. It's one thing I learned from
being a jock. Maybe the only worthwhile thing, I don't know."
Cam paused and looked at Jeff. "You said earlier you didn't
have anybody to stick by you. That's not true. I'm gonna
stick by you, and I
think after I talk to Kevin and Carl, they will, too."
There was a long silence.
Jeff swallowed hard. "Y'know, at this point I didn't think I'd ever, ever hear another human being say that
to me again," he said. "At least not someone who wasn't being paid
to say it. Not with my record."
"Well, you've heard it now."
After a moment, Jeff began to weep silently, tears running down his
cheeks. Cam turned them around, put an arm over Jeff's shoulders, and they began to retrace their steps. Not another word was spoken as they trudged back to the house in the gathering darkness.
* * *
When Cam and Jeff reached the house, they saw Kevin standing at Alex's
grill, cooking under floodlights illuminating the back deck. The
wind off the ocean had died at sunset, and a plume of smoke rose straight up into the sky.
Cam and Jeff ascended the steps to the deck, and Cam walked over to his
partner, patted Kevin's butt, and kissed him on the cheek. "Is this a cute chef or not?" Cam asked Jeff.
"Uh, yeah," Jeff stuttered, not knowing exactly what to say.
Kevin saw that Jeff's eyes were red and knew their guest been crying, but he didn't comment.
"Where's your chef's hat, dude?" Cam asked Kevin.
"I don't need no freaking chef's hat," Kevin said, smiling at Cam. "I can work my magic without it."
"All righty, then," Cam said. "What are you heatin' up? Five dollar footlongs?"
"Shutup!" Kevin smirked and grabbed his own crotch. "I got your footlong right here!"
Cam grinned and looked at Jeff. "The thing is, he's not exaggerating all that
much," he said. Cam lifted the lid of the grill, the smoke
billowed, and he saw four big pieces of blackened salmon cooking.
good," he said, closing the grill.
"Yep. Oh, good," Kevin parroted.
"What can we do to help?" Cam asked.
"Check on Carl in the kitchen," Kevin said. "He's supposed to be
making a salad, microwaving some potato nuggets, and cooking some
string beans. That's three jobs, and I don't know if he can
handle that all at once, being a wrestler wimp and all. If by
some miracle he's on track, you and Jeff can set the table. We're
gonna eat in
the dining room tonight. The salmon will be done in about ten
"Got it," Cam said. "Where's Casey?"
"He's in the kitchen with Carl."
"Okay. Co'mon, Jeff."
The two guys strolled into the kitchen. A big bowl of salad sat
on the table, surrounded by bottles of various dressings. Carl
was stirring a pot
full of green beans, watching the microwave carousel turn around with
already-browned potato nuggets on it, and stealing an occasional glance
The little boy was snoozing with a pacifier stuck in his mouth.
"Everything under control?" Cam asked Carl.
"How could they not be?" Carl said.
"Let me count the ways," Cam quipped. "We'll set the table,
then. Kevin has decreed we're eating in the dining room tonight."
"Cool. Make yourselves useful."
Cam and Jeff walked into the dining room. Cam looked at the long table.
"Let's take some leaves out of the table," he told Jeff. "It can seat twenty people right now."
Cam pulled on one side of the table, and Jeff, the other, and they removed four of
the leaves and set sixteen of the chairs over to one side of the
room.. The table was now the perfect size to seat four, with a little extra room to
accommodate a high chair for the baby.
"Your dad's house is beautiful," Jeff said. "Nice furniture, too."
"Yeah. Too bad we had to promise Alex and John we wouldn't have any parties."
"I know all there is to know about parties," Jeff said.
"I remember," Cam said. He started rummaging through a
breakfront, and found place mats, napkins and silverware. Jeff put the
place mats and napkins around, and Cam started laying out the silverware.
Fifteen minutes later, the food was on the table, and Casey, still
dozing, was now in a highchair. Carl, Kevin and Cam held hands before
grace, and after doing a double take, Jeff closed the circle.
"Father," Kevin said, "we offer you thanks for your many kindnesses to
us: safe travel, the love of family and one another, allowing us
to renew our friendship with Jeff, and this food. We ask your
blessing upon us and upon the food we are about to receive from your
bounty. Bless it to our use, and us to your service, and make us
always mindful of the needs of others, through Jesus Christ our Lord."
"Amen," Carl, Cam and Kevin said as they crossed themselves.
"Good prayer, Kev," Cam complimented his partner.
The guys sat down and began passing the food around. To Jeff's
surprise, the aroma made his mouth water, and he helped himself to
more food than he had eaten in a long time. They all drank
glasses of orange juice poured from a pitcher that Carl had put on the
"I didn't get the impression you guys were all that religious when you
were down here before," Jeff said to Cam and Kevin as they ate.
"Cam and I went through some challenges this last year that kind of woke us up about that," Kevin said. "So did Carl."
"Oh," Jeff said. "I don't even know anybody our age who's really religious. Except for you guys," he added.
"We have a pretty active youth group in our parish at home," Cam
said. "Our group even traveled down to New Orleans to help work
on houses down there after Katrina. That's how Carl met his
The four guys continued talking as they ate, and Jeff began to get a
better sense about how much Cam and Kevin and Carl cared about one
another despite the sometimes edgy banter they carried on. Jeff ate
everything on his plate, trying to control the occasional tremor in his hands
which marked his withdrawal symptoms. It was his first full meal
in months, and his companions seemed pleased to see him eating.
Cam cleared the table when they were finished, and returned with bowls
of ice cream--butter pecan, his favorite--and peanut butter cookies.
When they all had consumed the ice cream and cookies to the last bite, Cam looked across the table at Kevin and Carl.
"Jeff and I talked on the beach earlier," he said. "I've told him
that if he really wants to get clean, I'll stick by him. Are
you guys with me on that? I told him I'd ask you."
Carl looked Cam in the eye. "I know that if you and Kevin hadn't
stuck by me when I needed it, I'd be in deep trouble today," he said
immediately. "Or maybe I'd be dead. If you say that we
should do for Jeff what you guys did for me, I'm with you all the way."
Cam nodded and looked at Kevin. "What about you, Kev?"
Kevin stared back. "Well..." He looked down at the
table. "I'm scared about Jeff and what he might do.
Particularly with Casey around. But if that's your decision, I'll
back you up one hundred per cent. I think that's what Catherine
and Ian and Mary and Father Jim would want us to do, to be
honest. Jeff, you don't know this, but I almost died after we
went home last year when a couple of guys beat me up real bad. I
was in a coma for a while. I think I survived because Cam stuck
by me and kept talking to me when I was off in another world. And
he prayed for me. Now it's time for me to pay up, and I want to
do that. Count me in."
Cam reached across the table and dapped his partner and then Carl. "Thank you. That means a lot to me," he said
"Thank you," Jeff said quietly to them all.
Cam looked at Jeff.
"Well, you ready?" he asked him.
"Yeah. To see your parents. I'm gonna go next door and see
if they're home. If they are, I'm gonna ask them to come over here and
"If you think that's the thing to do, okay," Jeff responded after a long pause. "I'm nervous about seeing them."
"I think you need to see them face to face, Jeff," Cam said, studying
the boy. "You're looking pretty good. Just run a comb
through your hair, and I'll be right back."
"All right," Jeff said.
"Carl, do me a favor while I go over to the Millers', willya?" Cam
asked. "Check the medicine cabinets in all the bathrooms upstairs
right now, and collect any prescription medicine you find. I'm
gonna hide it." There was no hint of apology in his voice when
it came to Jeff. The kid couldn't be trusted in his current
condition, and that was just a fact.
"Yep," Carl said.
They all stood up and pushed their chairs back under the table.
Cam headed for the beachside door while the three guys collected the ice cream bowls and spoons.
"Come on, buddy, and I'll find you a comb," Kevin told Jeff after they filled the dishwasher. Kevin picked up Casey
in passing, and then he and Jeff walked up the stairs while Carl
checked the kitchen for a paper bag
to collect any pills he might find. Kevin put Casey in his crib,
and he and Jeff went into Alex and John's bathroom and found a
comb and a brush in the bathroom vanity. Jeff combed and then
brushed his blond, shoulder-length hair before they went downstairs to the
living room to
see if Jeff's mom and dad showed up. The glass tables and soft
leather couches and chairs gleamed in the lamplight when Kevin hit the
"Nice room," Jeff said nervously. "I'd forgotten how nice it was."
"Yeah," Kevin said as they sat down. "Do you want some water or soda or anything while we wait?"
"No, thanks." They sat there in silence until Carl joined them several minutes later with a bag with some meds in it.
"You found some pills?" Kevin asked.
"Yeah," Carl said. "I'll give 'em to Cam."
* * *
Cam walked up to the Millers' sliding door, which was emitting some
light from the study out on to the deck. Peering inside, he saw Sean and Susan
Miller watching television. He knocked softly, and Sean Miller
came to the door.
"Hi, Mr. Miller," Cam said. "I wanted to let you and Mrs. Miller
know that we have Jeff over at our house. I'd like to invite you over to see
Sean Miller's face betrayed surprise and uncertainty, and he looked
back into the room at his wife. He walked over to her chair.
"Susan, Jeff is over at Alex's house."
"Oh, thank God," Cam heard the woman say. She began to cry and
wiped her eyes with her handkerchief. She stood up and walked
over to where Cam waited in the doorway. "Is he all right?" she
"Under the circumstances, not too bad," Cam answered. "I hope you'll both come over to see him."
"Does he want to see us?" Sean Miller asked a little plaintively.
"He's ashamed," Cam said gravely. "But yes, he wants to see you."
"Let me get your sweater, Mother," Sean said, and walked out of the
room and then returned with a sweater. He draped it over his
wife's shoulders, kissing her cheek as he did so. "Let's do
this," he said.
"Good," Cam said.
The three of them walked next door and went inside, and Cam ushered
them into the living room. The three boys in the room stood.
"Oh, Jeff," Susan Miller said, and followed by her husband, went to
son. She threw her arms around the boy, and stood there weeping
as Sean Miller put his arms around them both. He was crying, too,
and that got Jeff started. The Millers clung together for several
When they released one another, Cam introduced Mr. and Mrs. Miller to
Carl and Kevin, and everyone sat down. The Millers sat on a
couch with Jeff between them, and Susan Miller took Jeff's hand and
"Where's Casey?" Cam asked.
"Upstairs, sleeping," Kevin said.
Cam nodded. "Can I get you folks anything to drink?" Cam asked
Mr. and Mrs. Miller. "Water, tea, coffee?" They declined.
Sean Miller looked at his son. "I'm not going to yell at you,
Jeff," he said. "We've been sick with worry,
but I'm not going to beat you up about it."
"I know you're upset, Dad," Jeff said. "I'm sorry."
"Are you all right, Jeff?" Mrs. Miller said.
"No, Mom, I'm sick. I'm an addict. I know that. I'm
really admitting that to myself and meaning it for the first time."
"Where have you been, son?" Mr. Miller asked.
"In the city," Jeff said. "Mostly in West Hollywood. I came back to Malibu from time to time and lived under Mr.
MacKenzie's deck because he and his partner aren't home very much.
That's where Kevin found me earlier today."
"Why didn't you come home?" Mrs. Miller asked.
"It just would have been a repeat performance of before, Mom," Jeff said.
"A bad scene. Even if you'd have let me in the house, I'd have robbed
you blind, sold your stuff, and then bought more drugs."
"What are you using?" Mr. Miller asked grimly.
"Crystal meth, mostly."
Mr. Miller grimaced and looked at Cam, Kevin and Carl. "I don't know what to do for him," he said sadly.
"We don't either, Mr. Miller, not exactly, anyway," Kevin said. "But we're gonna stick with him and find out."
Cam stood up, and leaving the Millers and the guys talking, went
upstairs to check on Casey. The baby was sleeping on his back,
head turned to the side, breathing softly and regularly, his body
covered with a light blanket. The skin of his face was perfect,
almost glowing, and Cam's throat got a lump in it because he loved this
child so much. Before leaving, he reached down and felt Casey's
diaper. It was dry. He thought about taking Casey
downstairs with him, but decided not to do so because that would
detract from the talk Sean and Susan Miller needed to have with Jeff.
Cam walked into the living room just in time to hear Sean Miller ask his son what he was going to do.
"These guys--" Jeff nodded at Carl, Kevin and Cam--"say that I need to
get back into detox and rehab if I'm going to get clean. I know
Cam spoke up. "I guess the crucial question at this point is,
where is the money to send Jeff back into detox and treatment going to
come from?" He looked at Mr. Miller, who was looking at the floor.
"If we put up more money, how do we know that it will work this time?" Sean Miller asked the guys.
"There aren't any guarantees," Carl said. "I was hospitalized
earlier this year for some problems--not drugs--and I didn't know until
I went through the experience whether I was going to have what it took to
work through my challenges and free myself from my demons, if I can put
it that way. Only the Lord knows what the outcome will be for
"We love Jeff," Mr. Miller said. "But the odds just aren't good
enough to waste another fifty or hundred thousand dollars if things don't go
Jeff looked sad. Susan Miller looked upset with her husband, but didn't say anything.
Rather than put more pressure on the Millers right then, Cam took a conciliatory tone.
"I understand your reluctance, Mr. Miller," he said. "We'll see
what we can work out at our end to get Jeff the services he needs."
"Why would you do that?" Sean Miller asked.
"Because we told Jeff we have his back," Cam said. "And that's part of the deal."
Sean Miller looked confused, upset, and a little ashamed. He stared down at the carpet.
"Where will you be staying tonight, Jeff?" Susan Miller asked, looking as if she might burst into tears again.
Jeff looked at the guys, not knowing what to say.
"He's going to stay with us tonight," Cam said. "He'll be here until we get him admitted to rehab."
"Thank you for looking after him," Mrs. Miller said.
"We should probably go, Susan," Sean said. "I'm making a movie,"
he told the boys, "and I need to be on the set tomorrow at four a.m."
"Before you leave, will you call the sheriff's office and tell them
that Jeff has been located?" Kevin suggested. "That way if they
see him, they won't be pulling him off the street and holding him until
you identify him."
"Yes," Mr. Miller said. "Do you have the sheriff's number available, by chance, and a phone I can use?"
"Yes, sir," Kevin said. He got up, went to the kitchen and came
back with the flyer with Jeff's picture and the sheriff's number on
it. Kevin handed the man a phone off of a nearby table.
Susan Miller and the boys watched silently as Sean Miller punched in
the number from the flyer, and then told the switchboard operator, "I'd
like to talk to your watch commander, please." He added, "My name
is Sean Miller."
There was a pause, and then Miller said, "Major Norman, this is Sean
Miller in Malibu. Your department has a 'Missing' flyer out on my
son, Jeff Miller. I want to report that we have located our son,
and ask you to remove his name from your search list."
He listened for a moment. "Thank you very much for your
department's efforts on behalf of my family, sir. If I'm ever in
a position to repay the department in any way, please just let me know."
He listened again, and said, "Good night, Major."
Miller hit the disconnect button on the phone and stood up, prompting everyone else in the room to stand up as well.
Mrs. Miller went to Cam, Kevin and Carl, and taking the hand of each of
them, thanked them for taking care of Jeff. Sean Miller did the
same. Then they both hugged Jeff, and Mrs. Miller kissed him,
"Will we see you tomorrow?" Sean asked his son.
Jeff looked at Cam, eyebrows raised questioningly.
"He'll be here, Mr. Miller," Cam said.
They all walked the Millers to the beach door, and Cam walked with them
on out to the gate. They stopped, and Mr. Miller looked at Cam.
"I heard you mention someone named 'Casey.' Just out of curiosity, do you have another person staying with you?"
"Yes, actually. A baby. Kevin's baby. And mine."
"Uh, what?" Miller said.
"Kevin and I are partners. We're going to have a civil ceremony
back east as soon as we turn eighteen, and then we'll be married in an
Episcopal church back here. I'll adopt Casey at that point."
"Oh," Sean Miller said. "Well, it's a new world," he added with a smile. "More power to you."
Cam smiled back at him, glad that their neighbor wasn't homophobic.
The Millers thanked Cam again, and walked slowly back across the sand to their house, Mr. Miller's arm around his wife.
Cam went back inside, and found the three guys still sitting in the living room, glum and silent.
"Wake up, you yokels, and get out some cards," Cam told them. "I
wanna take some money off you before we go to bed. Or at least
some poker chips."
The guys perked up right away. Carl found some cards in a table
in the den and some poker chips, and they all went into the dining room and sat around the
Carl dealt the first hand, and they had just ante'd up for a game
of five card stud when they heard a knock on the beachside sliding door.
"Don't look at my cards," Cam said, staring right at Kevin, who gave him the finger. Cam went to
the door, and was startled to see Sean Miller standing there.
"Yes, sir," Cam said, opening the door and beckoning the man inside.
"I need to tell you all something," Miller said.
"Come on in."
The two of them walked into the dining room, and the guys looked up, surprised.
"I want you all to know that Susan and I will take care of the detox and rehab expenses for Jeff," Sean said.
Jeff looked down at the table at first, stunned, and then stood up and
walked over to his father. He put his arms around him and held
him in silence.
"Thank you, Dad," he said finally, pulling back to look him in the
face. "I'm sorry for what I've done, and I promise you that I'm
gonna get clean. I promise you."
"All right, son. I'll see you sometime tomorrow."
Cam walked Miller out of the house again and down to the gate to the beach.
"Mr. Miller, can I ask you why you changed your mind?"
"Well, it's the right thing to do. Besides, you don't know my wife very well, but she has a spine of steel. And I didn't feel like sleeping on the beach tonight."
Cam grinned. "Well, whatever the reason, thank you for doing
this. My feeling is that Jeff is gonna make it this time."
"I hope so. Cam, thanks again for helping make this happen."
They shook hands, and Mr. Miller walked away.
Before going back into the dining room, Cam went into the kitchen and
filled a bowl with cookies, poured four glasses of milk, and brought everything back to
the table on a tray. The guys ate the cookies and drank up the milk in no time, but Cam noticed that
Jeff's hands were still shaking from not having a recent fix.
They went back to
the game, and Carl won hand after hand, gleefully piling the chips up in front of him.
"You little prick!" Kevin finally told Carl. "You've cleaned me out! I'm goin' to bed."
The guys threw in their cards, and Jeff looked at Cam.
"Thanks for letting me stay here tonight," he said. "Where do I sleep."
"I think we'll put you in with Kevin and me," Cam said.
"Wa-a-a-y, wa-a-ay over on one side of our king size bed, and we'll be
on the other side."
"We won't molest you unless you really, really provoke us," Kevin added with a smirk.
"I could sleep in another bedroom," Jeff suggested hesitantly.
"You could," Cam said, "but until we get you into detox, there's no way
we're gonna take a chance you'll take a hike. If that's
insulting, tough shit. You're an addict, and we're not taking any
Jeff couldn't help smiling. "You know me pretty well," he said.
Cam hit the button to close the garage door and then set the alarm, and
they all headed for the stairs, Cam turning out lights as they went.
"'Night, guys," Carl said when they reached the upper hallway.
"Night, buddy," Kevin said, putting his hand on Carl's shoulder and
kissing him on top of the head. "Sleep well. We running
tomorrow?" he asked.
"Yep," Carl said. "Wake me up."
" 'K," Kevin said. "By the way, we're gonna get back into our gym
workout routine starting tomorrow," he told Cam and Carl.
The two guys groaned.
Cam, Kevin and Jeff went into their bedroom, and Cam shut the door.
"You guys mind if I take another shower?" Jeff asked. "You don't know how good it feels to wash."
"Have at it," Kevin said.
"Let me give you a clean pair of boxers," Cam said, going to his
dresser. He handed Jeff a pair covered with Golden State Warriors
"Don't you have a Lakers pair?" Jeff asked. "I feel disloyal."
"You're outta luck," Cam said. "You're lucky I don't give you a pair with the Clippers emblem on it."
"You should probably use the medicinal powder and the ointment again
after you shower," Kevin suggested to Jeff. "And take some
Sominex and Benedryl. Let's see if we can't knock your ass out for
"Okay," Jeff said.
Jeff went into Cam and Kevin's bathroom and stripped, found a clean
towel, and got into their shower. Cam and Kevin followed him
into the bathroom, cleaned their teeth, and climbed into bed after
checking Casey. His diaper was dry.
Fifteen minutes later, Jeff peered around the bathroom
door at the bed, where Cam and Kevin were on their sides, holding each other face to
face. "Can one of you guys help me with the ointment and the
powder for my back again?" he asked, blushing a little.
"You're up, big guy," Kevin told Cam. "Your turn."
Cam kissed him, rolled out of bed and went into the bathroom.
Jeff was standing naked in front of the vanity, peering into the
mirror. He had already powdered and anointed the front of his
body, and Cam reached for the powder and the tube of ointment on the
inspected and admired Jeff's backside. The guy had good, broad
shoulders, a nice, muscular back and a bubble butt. Handsome kid,
smooth body. He had the remnants of what had once been good
pecs and abs. He had a big dick, too, Cam couldn't help noticing in
the mirror. Why was it that he and Kevin always seemed to attract
friends who were really hung? All his "brothers" back in San
Rafael were generously endowed. He couldn't think of one friend
of theirs who had a small dick. Not one. Not that he was
"Your rash is looking better, dude," Cam said as he shook powder into his
hand and rubbed it on the boy's back and ass, followed by ointment on the
sores. "I think the sores are better, too," he said, looking closely.
"Thanks for everything, Cam," Jeff said. "I really appreciate it."
"That's all right," Cam said, moving Jeff over and washing his hands. "Listen, your
toothbrush is in
Alex's bathroom. Bring it back here and leave it in this
bathroom. We'll keep it for you 'til you come home from
rehab. And don't
forget to take some pills so you can sleep."
"Will do," Jeff said. Home, he thought to
himself. Now there's a concept he hadn't thought about in a long
time. He couldn't say it to his hosts, but he was very
touched that someone would actually care about him and take care of him
the way these guys had been doing. It seemed like forever since
he'd had a home or any real friends. Being high on meth all the
time wasn't conducive to good relationships.
By the time Jeff returned to the room from Alex's bathroom with his toothbrush and had
cleaned his teeth, Cam was back in bed intertwined with Kevin. The
two of them were starting to drift off to sleep. Now wearing the boxers he'd borrowed, Jeff pulled down
the covers on the other side of the huge bed and climbed in. He
reveled in the smell and feel of clean sheets. What a difference
this day had made in his life already!
* * *
The alarm on Cam and Kevin's side of the bed went off at 6:30 a.m., and
Jeff Miller wasn't sure where he was at first. He had slept all
the way through the night, something he hadn't managed to do in
almost a year. He hadn't even awakened when Kevin had gotten up
in the middle of the night to feed Casey and change his diaper.
Cam groaned and turned off the alarm. The three of them lay silently in
bed for ten minutes, gathering their wits. Cam rolled out of bed
with a huge boner, and went next door to wake up Carl.
"Get out!!" Jeff and Kevin heard Carl yell at Cam seconds later. Cam returned chuckling
on his way into the bathroom. He emptied his bladder and came
back into the bedroom.
"Getcher asses up," he told Kevin and Jeff. "Time's wasting! We've got a lot of shit to do today."
"You don't expect me to run, do you?" Jeff asked him with a yawn. "I'm way outta shape."
"Tough fucking luck!" Cam said. He paused for a second.
"Well, maybe we'll let you run some and walk some, how about
that? Never say I'm not compassionate!"
"You're all heart, Cameron, and that's a fact," Kevin said, pulling the covers over his face.
"Yeah, like you are in the gym," Cam responded. He went over to
his dresser and rummaged through a drawer, coming up with jocks, running shorts, and T-shirts for Jeff and himself.
Cam ragged on Kevin and Jeff until they finally got out of bed, went to
the bathroom, and then suited up for their run. They met Carl in
"Are you in a better mood?" Cam asked him.
Carl ignored the question. "Where'd you put our new pedometers?" he asked Cam.
"They're in the kitchen. I'll get 'em on the way out," Cam said.
They did their stretches out on the deck, and then Kevin went back in
and got Casey, putting him in a sling around his neck. Casey, in
his usual good mood, gurgled at his father. The sun was just
to burn its way through some early morning fog when they all walked out
"I'll walk with Jeff for awhile," Kevin told Cam and
Carl. "When you guys pass us coming back, one of you can take
over and make this boy run."
Carl gave Kevin a thumbs-up, and he and Cam started running west on the beach at their usual fast pace.
"Come on, buddy," Kevin told Jeff. "We'll start off with a nice fast walk."
"Okay," Jeff said, and he and Kevin began striding quickly along in the same direction as Cam and Carl.
It wasn't even ten minutes before Jeff was panting and bathed in sweat.
"Let's slow down now," Kevin said, looking over at him. "You all right?"
"I'm dyin'," Jeff said, stopping, bending over at the waist and trying to catch his breath. "Sorry to slow you down."
"That's okay," Kevin said, grinning. "I like it when I can
conserve my energy and Cam is wearing himself out. He's easier to
handle when he's
tired. And he requires a lot of handling."
Jeff smiled as he continued recuperating. Five minutes later, and
they were again following the same path down the beach that Carl and Cam had taken, albeit at a much slower pace.
"I've never had any gay friends before," Jeff blurted out to Kevin as they walked along.
"Really? Whaddaya think?"
"I would never have known you guys were gay at all if you hadn't told me," Jeff
said. "You seem, uh, so normal. All three of you."
"Jeff, we are normal. Normal for us."
"Well, you and Cam really
love each other. I can tell that. To be honest, I'd always thought the gay thing was mostly
"Sex is an important part of Cam's and my relationship, that's no
lie. We aren't monks," Kevin said, grinning. "Not at
all. But there's a lot more to it than sex." He looked
down at the baby in the sling around his neck. "For instance,
this little guy
figures into every decision we make as a couple now." Kevin
over at Jeff. "Let me ask you this. Have you ever been in
"Yeah. With my next fix."
"That's honest. But when you get clean, and you will get clean, one of my goals is going to be to set you up to fall in love. Boy or girl, I don't care."
"I hope I can do that. It'll be a girl, though, I can assure you of that."
"If you say so. I just want you to have the chance to really fall
in love with somebody the way I'm in love with Cam. Everything
about him fires me up. He turns me on totally,
and not just physically." Uncharacteristically, Kevin
blushed. "I don't usually talk like this with people," he
said. "But having the capacity to fall in love makes a big statement about a person's life, and I want you to have that."
"Thanks, Kevin," Jeff said sincerely, wondering how he had been lucky
enough to fall in with these guys when his own life was so fucked up.
* * *
When the four guys had finished their run/walk on the beach, and had
showered, Cam knew it was time to get on the phone with Ian Carson to
start tracking down a good rehab facility in the L.A. area. Then he had to talk
with John Kelley to let him know that Jeff was living with them and
would be going into rehab as soon as arrangements could be made.
Kevin finished dressing first, and sat on the bed watching Cam and Jeff do the same.
"Jeff," Kevin said.
"What would you think about letting us cut your hair?"
Jeff looked at Kevin dubiously.
"Because it will be the first step in changing your lifestyle. It
tells everybody, including yourself, that the old Jeff has moved on."
"What's this 'change' bullshit you keep talking about?" Jeff asked, flashing him a smile.
"The more you resist, the shorter the crew cut's gonna be," Kevin threatened.
"Oh, man," Jeff said. "Well, all right, if you say so."
"Let's use Alex and John's bathroom," Kevin suggested. "The
lighting's better. And there's a pair of electric clippers in
one of the drawers."
"You guys get started, and I'll get on the phone," Cam said.
Carl came in, and Cam went downstairs to the study and made
himself comfortable in one of his dad's swiveling leather easy chairs
before picking up the phone. He dialed Ian Carson's cell number
and waited. He heard the man's baritone voice on the third ring.
"Carson," Ian said, looking at his phone ID. "Is this some southern California hippie on the phone?"
"I'm not that old. What's a hippie?"
"That's right. I forgot you're still wet behind the ears."
"I just can't sneak anything past you, can I?"
"You know that's true, boy," Ian said, laughing.
"Sorry to bother you on a Saturday, Ian, but we have an unanticipated problem down here, and I need your help."
"What's going on?" Ian asked, suddenly serious.
Cam went on to explain at some length about who Jeff Miller was, and
about his problem and circumstances, including the question, when push came to shove, about
whether his parents would actually shell out any more money given what they had
"Leaving the money issue aside for the moment, what we really need is a
recommendation, maybe from Dr. Suthon, for a good detox and rehab
facility down here. Carl and Kevin and I told Jeff that
we're sticking with him, and we're gonna do that. But he really
needs to get into detox sooner rather than later because it's gonna get
tougher over time for us to watch him 24/7 so he doesn't bail on
us. He's really hyper from not have a fix, and needs some meds."
"I admire you for doing this, Cam. I'll get on it right away and get back to you."
"Thanks, Ian. I really appreciate this." Cam got a lump in his
throat. "Is everybody okay?" he asked, missing the Carsons,
Catherine, Rosa, Yolanda and the boys.
"Yes. Everybody's good. Mary's standing right beside me if you want to say hello."
"Please put her on," A moment later he heard Mary Carson's calm, sweet voice.
"Cam!" she said. "We've been thinking about you boys! And about Casey. You're missed. A lot."
"Same here," Cam said. "We miss all of you. Where are you guys right now?"
"We're in San Rafael with your mother. She drove over to the
university a few minutes ago with Mark to get something out of her office, or I'd put her
on the phone."
"I'll try to call her later. I owe you bigtime for sticking with her." Cam coughed to hide his emotions.
"Now, two things," Cam continued. "First, thank all
the guys for their emails we got on our way down here. It meant a lot to
hear from them. Second, I'll mention this to Ian, but will you
try to talk him into bringing everybody down here for a few days before
school starts? It'll really give us a boost to see you all.
It's gonna be lonely down here without the big family, y'know."
"That's a great idea," Mary said. "I'll put in a word with the boss and see what he says."
"Thanks, Mary. Love ya!"
"Love you, sweetheart. Give my love to Kevin and Carl,
please. And Casey. I hope we'll see you soon. Let me
give you back to Ian."
"Okay, bud," Ian told him. "I'll get back to you right away about a place for Jeff."
"Thanks, Ian," Cam said. "One more thing. I just mentioned
to Mary that it would be great if the whole family could come down
here before school starts. It's gonna be lonely if we don't see
all before things get crazy at school. Bring
Yolanda and Rosa and the dogs, too. And Andy Helder. Carl
would never forgive us if he wasn't invited. The family's just
without all of you."
"Anything else on your want list?" Ian said wryly.
"No, not at the moment."
"Well, I'll give it some thought."
"You are a prince among men," Cam said.
"That's definitely a minority view," Ian said, laughing. "Talk to you soon. Love you guys."
"Love you, too." Cam disconnected, and punched in the number for John Kelley's cell in London.
"This is John," the man said.
"Can you talk?" Cam asked.
"Cameron! Believe it or not, I was just thinking about you.
I can talk. We're just knocking off for the afternoon."
"Good deal. Are you and Dad okay?"
"We're great. This is the second day of shooting at our first
location, and things are smooth so far. As our English cousins would
say, things are going 'swimmingly.' We miss you guys,
though. Is Casey doing well?"
"We're all fine, including Casey. I'm glad the filming is going
well so you'll be in a good mood when I tell you something you won't
want to hear."
"Oh, oh. Let's have it," John said.
"We found Jeff Miller living under the front deck yesterday, and he's
staying with us until we can get him into detox and rehab."
"I see." John didn't sound pleased.
"Mr. and Mrs. Miller came over last night, and they eventually agreed
to pick up the freight on whichever facility Jeff goes into. We hope they mean it. Ian
Carson is getting some recommendations on the best places down here
from some doctors."
"That's good," John said. "What precautions are you taking with Jeff?"
"One of us is with him 24/7. He's never alone here, John.
Taking him in was something that Kevin, Carl and I decided we had to
do. He's an addict, but he's a good guy, and he's going to be a
recovering addict and a good guy by the time we're done with him.
I think he has what it takes to get clean this time."
John sighed. "I hope so."
"If it hadn't been for your faith in Dad, he'd probably be an addict
and a bum to this day," Cam reminded John. "So people do get clean, and we want that to happen for Jeff."
"I hear you, Cam. I'm glad you did the responsible thing and
called me about this, though. Alex and I will pray for the
kid. You say hello to Kevin and Carl, and give that Casey a kiss
for Alex and me, will ya?"
"Yep, will do. You're not mad, are you?"
"Nope. Hang in there with the boy, and let us know how this comes out."
"Love ya, John."
"Same here, bud. Let's talk soon."
They hung up, and Cam stood, stretched, and exuberantly ran up the
stairs to the second floor, taking two at a time. He went into
the master bath, temporarily a barber shop, where Kevin and Carl were
putting the finishing touches on Jeff. He looked good.The kid now sported a
short, short crew cut as he sat in a wooden chair naked to the waist,
surrounded by what looked like a ton of curly blond hair on the floor.
"Don't throw the hair away," Carl suggested. "If it's all right
with you, Jeff, we'll give it to one of those places that makes wigs
for people with cancer."
"That's cool," Jeff said.
Kevin high fived Carl. "I like the way you think, buddy," Kevin told him.
"Me, too," Cam said, running his hand over Jeff's newly
shorn head. "Co'mon, Jeff. Let's go next door and show your mommy your
new haircut. She'll like it. We'll pack you some
clothes for rehab. And get you something nice to wear to church tomorrow."
"Church! You gotta be kidding."
Cam looked at him without the hint of a smile. "Do I look like I'm kidding?"
"That's your answer, then."
Carl used a soft brush to clean Jeff off before the latter put one
of Cam's T-shirts back on. After taking a last look at his image in the
mirror, Jeff thanked Kevin and Carl, and he and Cam took off for next door.
© 2009 Don Hanratty
Many thanks, as always, to Dan and Mike G. for their excellent proofreading!