My Belovèd is mine, and I am his.
Song of Songs 2:16
The landline at the Malibu house rang about ten o'clock on
Monday morning, and Kevin answered it. It was Susan Miller,
mother, calling from next door to say that Assurances had contacted
her. The facility had a bed for Jeff to start his rehab.
Kevin hung up and went to find Jeff. He was playing Wii
in the study, bowling against Mark Carson and doing very well.
They were bowling the last frame when Kevin walked in, and Jeff put the
kid away with a strike.
"Nice game, dude," Mark told his opponent. "You ready to lose the
"Dream on!" Jeff said.
"Jeff, can you hit 'pause' for a minute and come talk to me?" Kevin
asked. Jeff nodded and followed Kevin into the hall with an
inquiring look on his face.
"That was your mom on the phone," Kevin told him. "Assurances
called, and they have a bed for you. They'd like you to report in
no later than tomorrow."
"Oh, man!" Jeff responded, obviously not overjoyed at the prospect.
Kevin put his hand on the young man's shoulder and looked into his
face. "Come on now, we've talked about this," he said.
"You know you're ready, and it's time to man up and get it done."
"I know," Jeff sighed. "It's just that past few weeks have been
the most normal life I've had for the last couple years. I hate
give it up."
"I understand that," Kevin said. "Consider the life you've had
here as a preview of the way things can be for you in the future.
Right now you
have some tough work to do. How you spend your time in rehab will
you live the rest of your life."
"I want to get clean and stay clean. But I just don't know if I
can make it or not."
"You can make it,
Jeff." Kevin grinned. "Just to keep your motivation high, I
promise you that if you slack off, Carl and Cam and I will hunt you
down and kick your
ass royally. And then we'll fly in some of the San
Rafael contingent of the family to do the same."
"All right," Jeff said, smiling. "And I know you'd probably do
"Count on it. When do you want to go in?"
"Well, there's no time like the present, I guess. Is this
afternoon too soon?"
"Nope. Sounds good," Kevin said approvingly. "Why don't you
your mom and see if she can go into Santa Monica with us to drop you
off. And your dad, if he's available. I know Cam and Carl
will want to come along. And maybe some of the other guys."
"All right," Jeff said. "I appreciate the support."
"Good deal, bud." Kevin pulled Jeff into a hug and held him for a
minute before patting him on the back and releasing him.
"I guess I better go pack," Jeff said, heading for the stairs.
"I'll call my mom and let her know that today's the day."
"OK. Tell her she can ride with us," Kevin said. "Ask her
to get on
the phone to Assurances, and let them know you'll be reporting in
wandered around the house letting family members know that Jeff would
be leaving for rehab. He was a little surprised, but shouldn't
have been, that the entire family wanted to go support Jeff when he
checked into the facility, including Rosa, Yolanda and Maria. Ian
offered to take everybody to lunch in Santa Monica before they went
over to Assurances.
Cam grinned and threw an arm over Ian's shoulders. "Mister
Generosity!" he mocked him gently.
"No 'Mister Generosity' here, Cameron. I'm keeping track of every
cent I spend on you, and if anybody ever makes a mistake and gives you
a job, you're going to pay me back every penny. With interest."
"Uh huh. You're gonna need a better lawyer than you are to get
one thin dime outta me," Cam promised.
Ian laughed. "I'll get you in court, and you won't know what hit
The phone rang. Cam picked up the
phone this time, and it was Susan Miller again. Mrs. Miller said she definitely wanted to go
into town with Jeff when he checked into Assurances. Sean Miller
was at the studio doing some
voice-overs for his latest movie, but had told his wife he wanted to
at the rehab center when Jeff reported in. Susan Miller asked if
Juanita Fuentes, the Millers'
longtime maid, Maria Romero's sister, who had known Jeff since he
baby, could ride along to Santa Monica as
well. Cam assented, and after explaining their lunch plans,
asked Mrs. Miller to invite Sean and Juanita to lunch with the family
at a little
hole-in-the-wall restaurant he and Kevin liked in town. Mrs.
said she'd try to spring Sean for lunch, and they hung up.
Ian had been listening to the conversation. "Now who's 'Mister
Generosity,'" he asked. "And with my money."
"Take it out of William's allowance," Cam suggested. "He'll just
lose it at poker anyway."
When they arrived in town in numerous vehicles, the extended
family piled into
the crowded little
restaurant in downtown Santa Monica. There was one vacant seat
the place when they all sat down, and they saved it for Sean Miller,
arrived a few minutes later. The food was good and plentiful, and
Father Jim offered a grace for them all when it was served. The
guys all ate
like pigs while Cam, Kevin and Carl took turns feeding Casey.
They all sat around talking for a few minutes after eating, and then
Ian paid the bill, and they headed for Assurances. They parked
their vehicles in the facility's parking lot, and gathered in
a little courtyard near the front entrance to say good-bye to
Jeff. He was very moved that the whole family had shown up to
wish him well, and went from person to person getting hugs and
Jeff had a private word with Kevin, Cam and Carl before heading inside.
"You guys saved my freaking life," Jeff told them quietly. "No
question about that. I'm hoping I can do rehab right this time
and make your investment in me worth something."
"You can do this, and I'm glad you know that it was
and is an investment," Kevin
him. "Call us when they start allowing you some contact with the
outside world, will ya? The family isn't complete without you."
Jeff nodded, and eyes moist, gave the three of them each a hug followed
kiss on the cheek. He bent down and kissed Casey in his carrier
before picking up his bag and starting to walk toward the front door
with his mom and dad in tow. Sean Miller turned around at the
last minute and beckoned to Ian Carson.
"Ian, come on inside with us, will you? Maybe you could take a
quick look at the paperwork."
"Yes," Ian said and followed them inside.
Anita Fowler, the lady who had interviewed Jeff for admission, met them
at the front desk, and the four of them went into her office.
Susan Miller introduced her to Ian, and she recognized the attorney's
name immediately. Ian looked over the admission papers.
"These look fine," Ian told the Millers after a few minutes. Jeff
and the Millers signed the forms.
"Good. Welcome, Jeff," Mrs. Fowler said, and then turned to Susan
and Sean Miller. "Thank you for supporting your son," she told
the parents. "Sometimes we don't start off with that
advantage. And I'm not just talking about the financial support."
"We're here for Jeff in every way we can be," Sean said, earning a
grateful look from Jeff. "Just let us know if he needs anything."
The four of them sat and talked for a few minutes, with Mrs. Fowler
informing Jeff about some of the basic rules and regulations, and
giving him some supplementary materials to read. Kevin had been
right about the facility's policy of limiting initial contact with the
outside world for new patients until their commitment to the recovery
process had been verified and counseling was
off to a good start.
Jeff said good-bye to his parents and to Ian in Mrs. Fowler's
mother held him, teary eyed, murmuring encouraging words and kissing
him. His father embraced him as well.
"I told you a few days ago that I love you, Jeff," Sean said.
"That's not going to change, no matter what. I hope you'll dig
deep and get this rehab done, son. Call us when you can."
Sean kissed his boy on the cheek and turned away before Jeff could see
his dad was weeping.
Jeff was surprised when Ian hugged him after shaking hands. Ian
him quietly to stick with the process and not to give up on himself, no
what. "I'll be checking on you, Jeff," the man informed him with
Anita Fowler pressed a button on her desk, and a young male aide
dressed in a
short, white lab coat knocked and came into the office. She
introduced the young man to Jeff and the others, and after picking up
his bag, Jeff
followed the guy down the hall into the interior of the building with
his bag, not
looking back. The young man, joined by another male aide, took
him into a small treatment room,
where Jeff stripped and was body searched, and his suitcase was
Jeff and his possessions were clean, and after he dressed, the aide
showed him to his room, leaving him to
unpack. Jeff's roommate, whoever that was to be, was out.
Meanwhile, outside in the courtyard, the family had broken up
into twos and threes and were standing around conversing while waiting
for Ian and the Millers to rejoin them. Cam had been talking with
Carl Emrick and Mark Carson, and turned around to see Kevin and William
sitting together in the sunshine on a bench together against a brick
wall. Kevin was holding Casey
to his breast in a sling, and was looking down at the little boy and
talking to him.
Cam's eyes roamed over Kevin's face and body, and the sight of him gave
him a sudden pang. The intensity of his feelings at that moment
stunned him, so strong that his
throat tightened. He could feel his heart beating in his
chest, and it was momentarily hard for him to breathe. Cam was
hungry for his
so much for overt sex, although that was a driving force in their lives
almost all the time. But hungry just to hold him. To inhale
of him. To
his face. To press against him and run his hands down his
strong back and grab that beautiful ass and pull him tight against his
own body. Flesh to flesh. Soul to soul. Cam swallowed
hard and sought to turn his eyes away from his boyfriend, but he
Kevin looked up and found him, and their eyes locked. The corners
eyes crinkled, an unfailing harbinger of the cute smile that soon
curled his lips. A smile that signaled he knew what Cam was
and liked it a lot. Damn,
Cam thought, the boy's psychic.
William watched the two
of them study one another and looked over at Kevin. "I'd give
to have someone in this world look at me the way you and Cam look at
each other," he told him quietly.
"You will," Kevin said.
Just then, Ian and Mr. and Mrs. Miller came out of the front door of
into the courtyard. Ian gave the group a thumbs-up. Sean
thanked Ian again for lunch and said good-bye to everyone, heading back
to the parking lot so he could go finish his
voice-over work for the studio. The family got into their cars,
the caravan pulled out of the lot and made a beeline for Malibu.
It was a quiet ride in each of the cars on the way home.
were on Jeff, now alone to face his demons.
* * *
When they got home, Maria Romero took Casey and put him down for a nap
upstairs while Kevin gave the guys the afternoon schedule for the
gym. Groaning ensued, to no avail. Workouts were to begin
as soon as the first contingent changed clothes.
The adults went into the study, and the guys stripped down in the
living room and put on their workout togs. William was scheduled
in the first group, and seemed happy to have a chance to work out with
and Kevin and Carl. Andy Helder joined them, and Carl perked
right up just being around his lover.
William Carson started his warm-up with some leg stretches and then
grabbed a couple of light free weights, holding them out parallel to
and making slow, tight circles with them. "I'm glad to have a
chance to show you wieners how a real jock works out," he told
Kevin. "I'm not sure just how faithful you guys have been to your
"Me?!" Kevin said. "You're the one who's got a little paunch,
dude! You eat like a fucking pig, and Mark told us how you've
been neglecting the gym at home," he lied.
"Mark didn't tell you shit," William shot back.
"Oh, yeah, he did," Carl interjected. "And you know Mark doesn't
"He lies like a rug when he's around you guys!" William said.
"I don't mean you, Andy. You three southern California assholes
corrupting influence on Mark. Especially you, Kevin. It's
gonna take me weeks when we get home to get Mark back to being the
and truthful little brother he should be."
Cam smirked. "Dream on," he said to William.
"Obedient? One of these
days Mark is gonna knock you on your wimpy ass, and you won't get up
"You dream on!" William said. "I've always been the boss, and
that's not gonna change." He threw the two weights down to the
mat, moved over
to one of the machines, sat down and adjusted the seat height, and
began to crank out some shoulder presses. "You assholes shut up
now," he said. "I have important work to do, and I don't wanna be
Cam, Kevin and Carl gave him the finger, and along with Andy, started
their own exercises.
As usual, as he did his own workout, Kevin kept an eye on the other
guys for any guidance they might need. He noticed that Andy
Helder's physique had improved even in the short time since he had seen
him in San Rafael, and complimented him on his workout technique.
"Lookin' good, Andy," he told him. "You and Carl are both looking
great. You're buff, and you've used all the right exercises to
get there. I'm proud of ya."
The two guys' faces reddened a little, and they smiled. Kevin had
always been consistently encouraging and supportive of others' efforts
in the gym, but out and out compliments like that were rare.
"Hey! What about me?" Cam demanded.
"The muscle that counts most in your case is in perfect shape," Kevin
William groaned. "I didn't need to hear that, dude," he said.
Kevin, Cam, William, Carl and Andy finished up their workout in a
little over an
hour. Carl and Andy took off to shower (together) upstairs, and
William showered in the garage, but
Cam stayed on to help Kevin as the next contingent of boys came into
the gym to exercise.
Eventually Cam and Kevin went upstairs to shower themselves after
everyone had finished
working out. Kevin shut the door to Catherine's room behind them,
and he and Cam walked over to the crib to check on Casey. The
little guy was sound asleep on his back, head turned to one side, with
the pacifier he'd had in his mouth when Maria put him down now
discarded and lying on the sheet in front of his face. The sight
of Casey always brought out Cam's gentle side. He
reached down and softly stroked the fine black hair on the little boy's
"Thanks, man," Cam told Kevin.
"Thanks for what?"
"Thanks for letting me help raise this baby. He's so perfect, he
takes my breath away sometimes."
Kevin turned and pulled Cam into his arms. They looked into each
other's eyes, and Cam dipped his head and smelled the shoulder of the
sweaty T-shirt Kevin was wearing, breathing deeply.
"I saw you looking at me in the courtyard at Assurances," Kevin
observed seriously, no banter in his voice.
"I look at you all the time."
"This look was a little different."
"You're right," Cam said after a long pause. "Sometimes I want to
hold you so bad I can hardly stand it. It's not just
sexual. That's powerful, but it's more than that--and you know how much I love sex." He
stopped talking and looked into Kevin's eyes again. "You've heard
at weddings how the priests sometimes talk about the people who are
married becoming one flesh? That's why I look at you the way I do
sometimes, Kev. You and I are as close to being one flesh as
anybody can be. But sex is the gateway, not the final
destination. That's the way I think about our relationship.
Does that make any sense?"
Tough guy Kevin was moved, and his eyes misted up.
"Perfect sense," he said, swallowing hard. "Sometimes you blow me
away, man." He nuzzled Cam's face, one hand behind his partner's
head. "I hope that when you start making movies in the
not-too-distant future, those movies will show everybody who sees them
what love between
two people, sometimes two guys, is really all about. You'll be
able to do that,
because you don't just understand it. You live it."
They kissed deeply and went into the bathroom, where they stripped each
other down slowly and stepped into the shower together. They
one another thoroughly, and inevitably got hard, as they usually
did. But they didn't do anything about it this time. When
they were finished washing, they just held each other for a long time
under the warm spray of water, their erections trapped between those
hard abs they had worked so diligently to develop.
* * *
At about four o'clock, the young guys were all involved in playing
games downstairs, Wii in the study and cards in the dining room, while
the adults talked in the living room/dorm room. Ian sought out
Cam, Kevin, and Carl when they took a break from what they were doing,
and invited them to take a walk on the beach with him.
The beach front was bathed in the light of the slowly reddening sun,
would be dipping below the western horizon within an hour or so.
The four of them went down to the hardpacked sand where the surf was
gently on to the shore, and following Ian's lead, began to stroll
southeast along the bay. They walked in silence for the first ten
minutes or so, waiting for Ian to start the conversation.
"I want to thank you guys for your hospitality on this trip," Ian
finally broke the silence. "It's meant so much to Mary and me and
Kevin cut his eyes over to where Ian was walking beside him.
"Ian, you have to be kidding. After all that your family has done
for us..." He chuckled. "You were kinda sandbagged by Cam's
silver tongue into
bringing everybody down here, I know that. So we're the ones who
should be thanking you."
"I don't think you know what a big hole you three--or should I include
Casey, and say 'you four'?--have left in our lives in San Rafael," Ian
"And I don't mean just Catherine's life. I mean all of us."
continued walking. "I'm not implying that Los Angeles isn't
where you guys should be right now. But I want you to know how
you're missed up north. So if a favor was done for anyone, you
did one for us by inviting us down here."
"Kevin's right about the thanks we owe you, though, Ian," Cam
said. "Seeing the family here has given me just the jump start I
needed for school."
"Good," Ian said.
"But there's more to it than just a visit," Cam added. "We
only a phone call away if we ever need you. We talk to Alex and
John a lot for their input on things, but London
is pretty far away."
"Thanks for saying that," Ian said. "I admit I feel a little like
father to you and Kevin, especially while Alex and John are away."
They walked in silence a little way further.
"Carl, are you going to be all right when Andy leaves?" Ian asked.
Carl stared over at him. "Uh..."
"If you don't want to talk about it in front of Kevin and Cam, I
apologize for bringing it up," Ian said.
Carl laughed. "No, I was just surprised you asked. Kevin
probably know more about me than I know about myself."
"Knowing how observant they are, I don't doubt they know you pretty
well," Ian said, grinning.
Carl looked down at the sand as they walked in silence for several
moments. "To answer your question, it's going to hurt me when
Andy leaves. I think it's going to hurt Andy when he
leaves." Another pause. "I love him," he said simply.
"I know you do. You'll be glad to know I've heard Andy talking to
Catherine about which courses at St. Francis will be most easily
transferable to UCLA next year, or even next semester," Ian said.
"So if you get to feeling down, remember he's working on getting things
set up so he can be down
here with you. I hope that makes you feel better during the
next few months."
Carl beamed. "It really does! Andy's hinted about
transferring, but thanks for letting me know he's serious about
thank you for everything you and Mary have done for me
and Dan. If it weren't for you two, and for Cam and Kevin, I know
I'd be in my grave right now. Literally. And maybe Dan
would be dead, too."
"I agree with you about Cam and Kevin's role in the way things worked
out." Ian said. "The challenges you faced sort of opens up
another subject I
wanted to talk to you three about."
The three young men looked at him curiously.
"This is delicate and a little controversial," Ian began. "Feel
disagree with me about my opinion. But I just want to suggest
you all need to be a little restrained when it comes to any public
"Oh, shit!" Kevin said disdainfully.
"I said this would be a delicate subject," Ian said a little
defensively. "Don't kill the messenger. You know I fully
support the civil rights of gay people, and I'll do anything it takes
to make equality for gays under the law happen. But we're not
there yet when it comes to PDA's. And there are some very hostile
and violent people who
are threatened by any public signs of equality."
"It's funny you should mention that," Cam responded. "I kissed
Kevin on the cheek when we were at Disneyland, and four guys who were
right behind us on the fairway took exception and started giving us
crap about it. We didn't want to tell you, but Andy knocked the
biggest guy, a kid named Eric, on his ass when he started getting
aggressive. That ended things for the moment. But come to
find out, the four of them apparently live somewhere here in Malibu,
because we've seen them out running on the beach. Eric
never fails to give us the finger and mouth something nasty when we
"Guys, the reason I mention this is because L.A. isn't as quite as
liberal on gay issues as the San Francisco area is," Ian said.
"PDA's between same-sex couples that wouldn't be noticed at home can be
more a red flag down here. I'm not asking you to be something you
aren't. I just don't want you to be physically assaulted and
hurt, that's all. I'm asking you to assess where you are and the
kind of people who are around you before you openly show affection in
"Even if we'd looked around at Disneyland, who would have guessed that
four guys around our own age who saw us would have resented what we did
so much?" Kevin commented. "The majority of young people our age
are much more accepting of homosexuality today, no matter what their
own orientation is."
"And don't you think we need to push the boundaries a little bit from
time to time?" Carl asked. "How will be people become more
accepting of gays if they don't see us in what are obviously loving
"You're both right," Ian admitted. "But unfortunately there are
still a lot of people of all ages around who hate gays. Many of
them simply aren't persuadable. I know I speak for Catherine and
Mary and for all your brothers when I say it would break our hearts if
you guys were victims of violence because you showed one another
affection at the
wrong time in the wrong place."
They walked on in silence for a few minutes.
"Well, thanks for caring about us enough to talk about it with us,
Ian." Cam finally said. He smiled. "We take what you tell
us seriously, believe it or not, so we'll watch it a little."
"That's all I ask," Ian said. "Let's head back. Carl, I
need to get together with you and Dan to talk about your dad's estate,
Cadillac in particular. I've been duking it out with the executor
of your dad's
will, and we've finally resolved some issues. I need to get some
input from you guys before we proceed further with things."
"OK," Carl said, looking surprised. "I haven't given my dad's
"I have some good news for you, I think," Ian said. "We'll talk
about it back at the house."
The four of them turned around and headed home.
* * *
Ian collected Dan when they arrived back at Alex's house, and he and
Carl and Dan went out on to the front deck and Ian pulled chairs into a
little circle. They sat down and looked at one another.
"'Sup?" Dan asked.
"I want to bring you two guys up to date on what's going on with your
dad's will," Ian said. "I can tell you that your dad's
executor, an attorney in Monterey, hasn't been easy to deal with,
at least according to the guy in my law firm who's been trying to work
him. You two guys are the sole heirs, and you're entitled to
information about what's going on with the estate, but we finally had
to threaten to sue him before he'd let us know where we are on probate
and other matters.
"Even before your dad's lawyer sent us any paperwork, I had an
appraisal done on your house and the Cadillac dealership. The
house and the land it sits on is worth $4 million, and the dealer
currently worth $200 million. That's even given General
state of affairs as a result of the recession. I'm told that
sales at Emrick Cadillac have continued to be brisk under a new
general manager, and earnings are good.
The property that the dealership sits on is worth another $15
million. There are also some investments in stocks which have
modestly regained value since the recovery has started, and are
$50 million as of this date. The upshot is that the two of you
are going to be very wealthy
young men once the estate is settled."
Carl and Dan looked at each other, stunned.
"I had no idea we were talking about that kind of money..." Carl gasped.
"Me, either," Dan said.
"You don't have any important decisions to make right now, but
eventually you're going to have to decide what you want to sell and
what you want to keep. And what you want to invest in if you do
sell the dealership and liquidate your other holdings. When the
estate is settled, I think you'll
need to hire a money manager to advise you and to look after your
assets. I don't have the expertise to manage your
money, to be honest, and I don't want the money manger role to get
confused with my role as your father." Ian paused and looked out
at the ocean. "My role as your father is very important to
me. Mary and I love you boys. I hope you know that."
The boys teared up a little bit.
"Well, please don't desert us just because we're going to be rich," Dan
"Never, guys," Ian said with a catch in his voice. "That's never
going to happen." He smiled. "You're never going to get rid
After a moment's silence, the three of them stood up, and Ian hugged
the two boys and gave them a kiss on
Carl looked Ian in the eye. "You and Mary have told us so often
that you love us, but I don't think we've told you often enough how
much we appreciate everything you've done for us. And how much we
love you two and William and Mark. And all the guys. We're
than we have any right to be." The little jock pulled Ian back
into a hug and held him for a long for a long minute, tilting his face
kissing him on the cheek before letting him go.
Dan wordlessly did the same.
Then they went back inside. Carl and Dan joined a card game in
progress in the dining room, and Ian sat down with Mary in the study,
silently taking her hand and holding it.
"You talked to Carl and Dan?" Mary asked.
Ian nodded. "Yes," he said.
"How'd they take the news?"
"They were surprised. When I suggested that they needed a money
manager down the road to handle their affairs, they were afraid we were
going to leave them on their own."
"I hope you set them straight about that," Mary said.
"Yes. I reassured them that we love them, and that they're always
going to be part of our family. I think they get it."
"Good, sweetheart." Mary pulled his face down and kissed
him. "You're a good father, Ian."
They smiled into one another's eyes and just sat there holding hands
and enjoying each
* * *
Eric Clymer, who had been Cam and Kevin's most voluble tormentor at
in the dwindling sunshine with his three best buddies on Eric's
parent's front deck in Malibu. They were just starting on their
third sixpack of Budweiser.
Peter Murtha, Art Smith, and Rory Lomer had
been friends with Eric since they were all in grade school. All
of them were tall, good looking and muscular, but Eric was the tallest,
most muscular and meanest of the four, and had always been the alpha
male of what their high school classmates had always called the "Four
horsemen of the Apocalypse." They weren't shining examples of
young manhood in the estimation of those who knew them well. The
were in general arrogant, unfriendly, mean spirited, judgmental of
womanizers, and above all, totally homophobic to schoolmates
they identified as gay. Thanks to their
size and physical strength, they had always tried and often
succeeded in dominating most of their peers in everyday life.
almost universally hated for that, even among their jock teammates on
their high school football team. They were now preparing to take
their abundant negative social talents to UCLA as freshmen.
Eric had been in trouble with the law several times, but had never been
charged because his father was an influential businessman and a heavy
contributor to the campaign funds of many local officials. His
had warned him the last time he'd been in trouble for retail theft at a
local Best Buy store that if there were any further incidents involving
the law, he wouldn't be moving heaven and earth to get charges
dropped. Eric had meekly told his dad he understood.
"Dudes!" Eric Clymer said.
His three companions looked at him curiously.
"I've been thinkin' we should teach the two faggots we saw kiss at
Disneyland a lesson."
The three continued staring appraisingly at Eric.
The four of them knew exactly where Cam and
Kevin lived, thanks to
Eric's having spotted them sitting on Alex's front deck with the rest
of the guys the day after the encounter at Disneyland. Cam had
seen Eric looking at the house, but the latter had trotted off after
identifying who was there. Alex's and John's house was a mere two
miles down the beach from the Clymer abode.
"Whaddaya have in mind?" Rory Lomer asked their leader.
"I don't know exactly," Eric said. "I just want to fuck 'em up
bad in some way. Something they won't forget. Guys
shouldn't be allowed to suck face with other guys in public the way
did. It was sickening."
"How are we gonna accomplish that? There are too many in
their posse," Peter Murtha observed.
They sat in silence.
"We'd have to catch the two of them alone," Eric
said. "Or maybe we can catch one of them out running on the
beach. Alone, preferably at night. We can watch for him
with night binoculars."
"I don't know," Art Smith said a little disapprovingly.
Eric ignored him and looked thoughtful. "Y'know, there's an empty
house two doors down," he said. "The bank foreclosed on the
losers who used to
live there because 'daddy' lost his job." Eric chuckled. "I
don't think we'd have any trouble breaking in, and we could drag one or
faggots in there and give them a little tune up. They both
guys up for that?"
Peter and Rory didn't say anything, but Art Smith looked skeptical, and
"What!!?" Eric demanded, looking at him balefully.
"Punching them out a little bit is one thing," Art said. "But I'm
not gonna do anything that's gonna land me in jail, I can promise you
"You fucking pussy!" Eric spat out angrily. "This isn't anything
we haven't done before! Are you with me or
"We've never dragged anybody into an empty house and beat the shit out
of 'em!" Art shot back. "They're sure to report it, and I don't
want my picture in the paper wearing cuffs!"
"Jesus, Art!" Eric said. "That's not gonna happen. The
queers will be too ashamed of what we do to them to report it if we
handle it right!"
"What exactly are you planning to do to them to make them that
ashamed?" Art asked.
"You don't have to worry about that. Have I ever let ya
down? Just take my word for it. They'll be too ashamed to
go to the cops by the time we're done."
Smith sat still, looking Eric Clymer in the eye. After a minute,
he shook his head, stood up, and took off for home.
"That motherfucker doesn't have the balls he was born with!" Eric said,
exasperated, staring at Art Smith's
retreating back. "This might change things a little. With
only three of us, we may
not be able to do anything unless we get one of the faggots
alone. But we can still get the job done."
Peter and Rory nodded their heads in the affirmative.
"Yep," Rory said.
Eric stood up. "C'mon, let's go check out the empty house."
The three boys stepped off the deck and walked across the beach to the
house. There was a realtor's sign stuck in the sand. Some
broken tree branches of various sizes blown on to the beach during the
last storm littered the yard. Entering through the little gate
from the beach, they went up
the deck and tried to peer in through the sliding glass doors.
They couldn't see in, though, due to draperies left behind in the
move, shrouding the
view. Eric tried sliding the door open, but it didn't
give. It was latched.
"Not a problem," Eric said, glancing out at the empty beach to make
sure they weren't being watched.
He reached into the pocket of his cargo shorts and took out a
knife. Opening the blade, he wedged it up into the locking
mechanism, and they heard heard a click. The lock was off.
Eric tried to slide the door again. But even though there was
to it this time, the door still didn't slide open.
Peter Murtha squatted and looked at the base of the door through the
"There's a little board holding it shut," he said.
"Not a problem," Eric said again. Standing sideways and bracing
his shoulder against the door frame, he began banging the door against
"Keep it up," Murtha told Eric. "It's bowing up a little more
every time you hit it."
Taking heart, Eric keep mashing against the door until they heard a
crack, and the board broke in the middle. The door slid open
enough to let Eric through it to dodge around the drapes and clear the
door track. Opening the
door wide, the other two guys joined Eric inside in what had probably
been a family
room. Making sure the draperies were
closed, Eric flicked a light switch. The electricity was still
on, and an overhead chandelier
bathed the room in light.
The room was empty
all right, with only some same paper debris remaining on the carpeted
inside. The fifteen foot ceiling was crossed by heavy wooden
"How cozy," Eric said sarcastically. "This
should be perfect for
our little party. All we need is some rope to tie a faggot to a
beam. And let the party begin."
The guys cased the rest of the house, finding nothing of particular
interest before they left. They slid the door to the deck shut behind
them, leaving it unlocked.
"All we have to do is wait for the opportune moment," Eric told his
* * *
Cam was feeling a little melancholy as the time drew closer for
the San Rafael contingent to leave for home. They were to fly out
the following afternoon. Father Mason found him sitting silently
on a couch in the den watching William and Berto bowling on Wii and
talking trash to each other. The priest sat on the couch next to
"Why so glum, bud?" Mason asked.
"I'm gonna miss everybody when you go," Cam said.
"I know," the priest said. "We're all going to miss you guys," he
added. "When do your classes start?"
"Wednesday," Cam said laconically.
"Once school starts, you'll feel more upbeat about things," Mason
said. "You'll be busy. I'm just so thankful we all had a
chance to spend some time together here, despite the fact that my dad's
death was what brought me down to L.A. Aren't you happy that
everybody got together?"
"You're right," Cam admitted. "I am happy about that." He
and looked at Father Mason. "But I'm not sure you know how much I
love everybody. I'm not ashamed to say that. It's been so
good having this time
together. I don't want to give it up."
"I knew how much you care about everybody after being around you all at
your mom's house,"
Mason reflected. "I'm not preaching at you when I tell
you that sometimes accepting a loss helps us grow
emotionally. And saying good-bye to your family for a few months
is just temporary--it's not a permanent loss by any matter of
means. We'll all see each
other soon. Until we do, we can talk as often as we
want. That's what cellphones are for. Speaking of that, I
want to hear from you and
Kevin and Carl frequently about how things are going for you all down
want you to promise you'll call me."
Cam smiled. "I promise."
Just then William Carson began rejoicing loudly about a Wii bowling
"'I love the smell of napalm in the morning,'" William chortled,
quoting his oft watched tape
of Apocalypse Now.
"Your attitude stinks," Berto
told him solemnly.
William suddenly grabbed his San Rafael roommate, swept the tall boy's
from under him, and put him down on the floor on his back.
William sat on Berto's chest, pinning his arms, and leaned down over
"Au contraire. My
attitude smells great, my
little Chicano," he said. "I won!"
"Humph!" Berto said, staring up at William. "Then why do I have
most of your spending money in my pocket from poker?"
"Mere luck," William said. "Your temporary luck is over."
"I can say the same about your insignificant little victory at
Wii," Berto said. "Mere luck. And we didn't even have any
money on it."
Back on the couch, Cam grinned at Father Mason. "You can
hardly find entertainment like this anywhere else!" he observed,
the two guys on the floor. "This is what I'm gonna miss."
"I get it," Mason said. "And I'll leave you guys to it."
The priest stood up and exited the den for less vigorous adult
in the living room. He passed Carl Emrick on his way in.
the priest leave and spotted the new arrival. He appealed to Carl.
"Get this freaking load of shit off me!" Berto pleaded with Carl.
Carl, who had been a top wrestler in the 145 pound class at Seaside
High School, assessed the scene and pulled William off Berto.
"Free! Free at last!" Berto said, getting up and leaving the room
leaving was good.
Carl began to put some wrestling moves on William, and despite
William's greater weight and size, soon had the boy subdued.
William momentarily stopped struggling.
"Don't break my dad's shit," Cam warned the combatants, moving a chrome
and glass coffee
table further away from the action.
"Wait 'til I get you in the gym next time," William threatened Carl.
"You'll have to work fast," Carl said. "You're leaving
tomorrow. But it
wouldn't make any difference. It's not your size, it's what you
do with it that counts."
William snickered. "That's true in bed, too. Or so I've
told. Anyway, get off
me, you little fuck! You're
clever, but you don't have any staying power."
"Just keep talkin'," Carl said. "You'll end up a
big, hurting pile of shit on the floor by the time I'm done with ya."
The two continued wrestling for a few more minutes, but William never
get the upper hand.
Carl eventually released him. William grabbed Carl, but instead
of continuing the struggle, hugged the boy.
"You don't know how much I'm gonna miss ya, dude," William told him,
his head down, forehead to forehead with the shorter
boy. Carl tried not to let William and Cam see that his eyes
misted over when he heard what William said. They did see it,
but didn't comment.
Ian walked into the den just then, trailed by Alice and Samantha.
The two dogs went right over to Cam on the couch and starting nuzzling
his legs so he'd pet them. Cam obliged and looked up at Ian.
"I don't 'spose you'd consider leaving the dogs here in L.A. with us
for a few months, would ya?" he asked, scratching the two animals
behind the ears. The dogs loved it.
"You'll have to talk to Mary about leaving Alice," Ian said. "And
if you were smart, you'd ask your mom about keeping Samantha
here. Catherine's gotten awfully attached to her. And to
Alice, for that matter."
"Well, we can't split 'em up," Cam said. "They're a matched
set. It's both or neither of 'em."
"I agree," Ian said. "Go negotiate. Mary and Catherine are
in the living room with Father Mason."
Cam stood up from the couch and, trailed by the dogs, went into the
living room. Catherine was holding Casey in a standing position
on her lap talking to him as the little guy pinched her nose and
her face. Mary Carson sat beside them on the couch.
"Mommy," Cam said. "Are you and Mary in a generous mood?"
"That depends," Catherine said, looking a little uneasily at
Mary. "What's on your mind?"
"Ian said I should ask you two if we can keep the dogs with us for a
couple months." Cam smiled. "It would be good for Casey if they
stayed with us for a while."
"Good for Casey, huh," Catherine said, laughing. "I know you so
well, Cameron. Aren't you boys going to be too busy to take care
"We'll be busy," Cam conceded. "But Maria Romero will help us out
"You know that for a fact?" Catherine asked.
"The Romeros have dogs at home," Cam said. "All I can do is ask
Catherine looked at Mary. "What do you think about this?" she
"I don't know. How long will you keep them?"
"We'll be home for Thanksgiving," Cam said. "We'll bring
'em back to you then."
"Well..." Mary said reluctantly. "I guess it'll be all right if
it's all right with you, Catherine."
"I guess so," Catherine said. "You better give them a lot
of love and attention, though--like Casey gets--or the deal's off!"
"Thank you, thank you, thank you," Cam said, bending down to kiss each
two women on the cheek. "We won't be so lonesome now. And
we'll make sure they get plenty of exercise on the beach."
Kevin came in off the deck and stood in the doorway into the living
"We get to keep the dogs until Thanksgiving," Cam told his partner.
"Cool!" Kevin said, looking pleased, and then changed the
subject. "Uh, what are we gonna do
for supper?" he asked.
"We have some swordfish steaks in the freezer," Mary said. "Do
you want me to cook tonight?"
"No," Kevin said. "You're on vacation. Cam and I will
cook. Won't we, Cameroni?"
"Cameroni?" Cam said. "How'd you come up that name, dufus?"
"I was thinking about macaroni for a side dish, and it just came to
me," Kevin said, face full of mischief. "It recognizes your
"I don't have any freaking Italian heritage!"
looked at the two women. "I've changed my
mind about staying here," he said. "I'm not taking this kind of
abuse. I'm going home with you all and the dogs tomorrow."
"No, Cam-boy," Kevin said solemnly. "Your fate is to stay here
with me and Carl and become a better person." He walked on into
the living room and put his arm around Cam's neck, kissing him on the
side of the head.
"A better person? That's an impossibility. Even if it were, with
you two as role models, it would be all down hill," Cam shot back.
"Come on," Kevin said. "Let's go start the swordfish thawing and
Cam faked a sigh. "If I have to." He looked at Kevin.
"Who do we trust to help Maria cook the rest of the meal?"
'How about William and Carl and Andy?" Kevin asked.
Cam put his hand to his throat and made a choking sound.
Kevin laughed and dragged him out of the room, the dogs following
That night after a good meal and an evening of Wii, card games and good
conversations, Cam watched the guys in the living room stripping down
to their boxers for bed. They all looked happy and healthy, their
bodies glowing from the physical regimen that they would hopefully
continue at home without Kevin on their asses about it.
The living room furniture was pushed back and the sleeping mats were
for the last time, at least for this visit, and the boys lay down and
pulled their sheets and blankets over them. Cam gave in
gracefully when Mark Carson wedged himself between Kevin and him,
knowing that starting the next evening he and Kevin would be back in
their own bedroom in their own bed. Cam chubbed up just thinking
Cam was drifting off to sleep when he heard the adults turn off the
lights in the den and head upstairs to bed, where Carl and Andy Helder
had gone long before to do whatever they did together up there.
He was pretty sure he knew what that was.
* * *
The following morning arrived right on schedule, much to Cam's, Kevin's
Kevin let the troops sleep later than usual that morning, and
rallied everybody about 9 a.m. for a final run on the beach before the
family had to pack up for their flight back to San Francisco. The
weather, as usual, was perfect, with a breeze off the bay cooling
everybody as they ran along under the mid-morning sun. The two
dogs were in their glory as they circled the runners and
chased each other into the surf as the family moved along at a brisk
They had completed several miles when they spotted three young guys
running toward them in the opposite direction. Cam immediately
knew who they were, and wondered idly
where the fourth guy in their posse was.
As usual, Eric Clymer scowled at Cam and Kevin, and gave them the
as his group passed them.
The young guys all saw them do so, but because of the adults, didn't
react. Ian saw it, too, and
uncharacteristically, it made him angry. He wheeled around and
shouted at Eric.
"Hey, kid! What's your problem?"
Eric stopped and turned around, as did Peter and Rory. "No
problem," Eric said. "What's your problem?"
"You're pretty free with giving people the finger," Ian observed.
"Do I need to have a little chat with the sheriff's office about you?"
That was the last thing Eric wanted.
"No, sir," he said meekly, faking it perfectly. "Sorry for any
misunderstanding." He signaled his two friends, and they resumed
running away from the family.
"Let's go," Ian said, and the family began running again and finally
got back up to speed. "I don't like that kid," Ian muttered under
The boys silently agreed with him, saying nothing.
Fueled now by anger, Ian rather than Kevin set the pace starting then,
and it was faster than usual. Kevin grinned when he checked his
watch as they turned around at three and half miles, and headed back
toward the house. If they kept up that pace, they would set a new
seven mile record for themselves.
That's what happened, and Kevin high-fived Ian when they stepped back
"You're pretty spry for an old guy," Kevin told him.
"And don't you forget it!" Ian told him, giving the boy a brief
hug. "I don't know whether I can keep up that pace at home when
you're not there to push me, though."
"I can always call you on the phone before you run and annoy you,"
Kevin told him. "That should do it."
Ian laughed, and after the family did their cool down, they piled
indoors and began showering in shifts and packing their bags. The
two big hot water tanks in Alex's garage did their job, and the water
was still hot when the last shower was finally taken.
After Catherine had come down from her shower, Kevin and Cam had gone
their room and stripped down for their own shower. Kevin had
his boy as Cam shed his clothes, leaving them in a pile on the floor of
the bathroom. Kevin had reached down and picked up Cam's jock,
it to his nose.
"You horny?" Cam had asked, chuckling.
"You know it!"
"Hold that thought," Cam had said. "I want you nice and juicy for
"Tonight?" Kevin had said with an innocent look on his face.
gonna happen tonight?"
"Getcher cute little ass in the shower, and I'll whisper in your ear
"Hmmm. Can't wait," Kevin had said, slapping Cam's ass as the
stepped into the shower.
They had washed one another, but didn't do anything to get off, in
anticipation of bedtime. After drying each other thoroughly, they
had dressed and carried Catherine's suitcases downstairs and put them
the back hall for when the limousines arrived.
That morning Maria had put on a huge pot of paella for lunch, and
in the dining room after Mary and Catherine set the table and Cam
carried the pot of paella and Carl several heaping platters of garlic
the kitchen to the dining room table. The aroma had everyone's
mouth watering. Kevin put Casey in his highchair next to his own
seat, making sure there were places for Maria, Rosa and Yolanda to join
them for the meal. The family stood around the table for the last
time that visit for Father Mason to offer thanks.
"In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit," the
priest said as they all made the sign of the cross and then held hands
with their neighbors.
"Heavenly Father, we lift our hearts in thanksgiving for the
opportunity we've enjoyed to be together these last days," the priest
said. "We see Christ in the face of those around us today,
Lord. Our love for one another reflects your love for all of us,
and we are truly grateful. We are grateful, too, for this food
now set before us. We ask you to bless it to our use as we bless
you and one another, through the same Jesus Christ our Lord.
The men seated the women as Ian stood at the steaming pot of paella and
began ladling the rich smelling liquid and its contents into
bowls. Mary Carson stood up, and going to the sideboard for a
large carafe, began pouring full glasses of chardonnay for the adults
and splashes of wine into glasses for the boys.
"What's the occasion?" Mark Carson asked, picking up his glass and
taking a sip.
"It's our good-bye meal," Mary answered, and nothing more was said.
When Ian was finished and sat down, the family picked up their spoons,
dipped into the bowls, blew a cooling breath on the spoonful, and
tasted what was in it.
"Oh my goodness!" Mary Carson said. "Maria, this paella is
"Gracias," Maria said.
"Rosa and Yolanda helped me, of course. Don't forget them."
"Great job, ladies," William said, beaming as he lifted his spoon in
tribute to the cooks.
Cam dipped a piece of garlic toast into his steaming bowl and popped it
into his mouth. "This is heaven," he said. He looked at
Catherine. "I don't think you have to worry about us starving to
death down here, Mom."
The boys practically inhaled their first bowls of the delicious soup,
and were quickly back for seconds.
The adults all had second helpings, and the guys had thirds. When
the meal was finished, the pot of paella was empty and the platters of
toast were bare except for crumbs. Carl even wet a finger and
cleaned up the crumbs of toast from the platter nearest him.
"Nice manners!" Dan Emrick told his brother.
"We do what we gotta do," Carl said with a grin as he drained his glass
of chardonnay to the last drop.
After the meal, the guys cleaned off the table and carried the dirty
dishes to the kitchen. Away from the adults, the boys celebrated
the meal with some deep, satisfying belches.
The two super sized stretch limos arrived twenty minutes later, and the
family began carrying luggage out to the driveway. Maria took
Casey after everybody leaving had said good-bye to the infant so Cam
and Kevin would be free to circulate around in the driveway.
Carl and Andy Helder took Andy's bags out to the cars, and then
retreated back into the garage for a last few minutes alone.
Andy's eyes were red when he emerged to say good-bye to Kevin and Cam.
"Take care of my boy," Andy told them as he gave them a slip and slide
handshake and a shoulder bump.
"We'll watch him like a hawk," Kevin told him.
Carl hung his head as he watched Andy get into the second limo, but he
didn't shed tears.
"Dudes!" William Carson said to the three boys. "Don't fuck up
while I'm away, but have a good time," he told them quietly. He
hugged them and kissed all three on the cheek before walking away
toward the limos.
Catherine cried when she said good-bye to Cam and Kevin, and Mary did
the same when she said good-bye to Carl. Again, long hugs and
many kisses. Rosa and Yolanda hugged the three boys, with Rosa
shedding some tears.
"Call me," Jim Mason told the boys and shook hands on the way to a
limo. And they got
the same message from Ian when he hugged them and kissed them good-bye.
The rest of the boys hugged the three guys and thanked them for their
hospitality before getting into the limos. Mark Carson held on to
Kevin for a long time before walking away, looking downcast.
The dogs were confused, circling around in the driveway when they
weren't invited into the cars.
Cam went down on one knee and the dogs came to him. "Ladies,
you're staying with us," he told them. The two border collies,
smart as whips, got the message right away and calmed right down.
Cam, Kevin and Carl stood with the two canines at the end of the
driveway, hands aloft in farewell, as the limos turned around and
headed toward the
Pacific Coast Highway.
© 2010 Don Hanratty