My Belovèd is mine, and I am his.
Song of Songs 2:16
Contrary to what he had expected, Cam
was in a great mood when he drove to UCLA for his first appointment
with his therapist, Dr. Martha Owens. The reasons for that
First of all, telephone calls from his extended family the
previous evening after he and Kevin and Carl had returned home from
Berto and Andy to the
airport, and even that morning, had given him a tremendous boost.
He had received individual calls from San Rafael from
Catherine, Ian and Mary Carson, Father Jim Mason, and from each one of
brothers, including Berto and Andy once they hit San Francisco
International on the way home from L.A. And from his
and John Kelley in
London and Sean Miller in Manhattan. Susan Miller from next door
had also called, along with Father John Ryan and his wife Lisa from St.
in L.A. And then, that morning before he left for school, he
heard from Jeff Miller at Assurances.
Every call had been different, as individual in
character as the caller. But the calls all had one thing is
common. They were expressions of love and support as he entered
therapy to deal with the horrible things that had happened to him in
that house down the beach. Most surprising to Cam was how
explicit the boys had been in expressing their love for him, something
he hadn't really been expecting from teenage peers. He hadn't
been prepared for it. He hadn't cried, but had been
right on the verge of doing so by the
time he had finally talked to everyone.
After Cam had fielded all the evening phone calls which had come in one
another, he and Kevin had eventually made it upstairs to their bedroom
with Casey for
the night. Their routine up there had been nothing out of the
They'd stripped down to their boxers, used the toilet, and brushed
their teeth. Then they'd checked out Casey, whose diaper
was dry. Bending down over the crib, they'd loved on the little
guy a bit, stroking the curls on his head gently, and kissing
him. The baby had blissfully slept through it all. His
stomach had been full and his diaper dry. For him, that had been
heaven on earth
just like usual, and all was right with the world.
But the second big boost to Cam's spirits, after the phone calls, had
happened when Cam and Kevin had finally
crawled into bed together. They hadn't been looking to have
sex. They had just lain on their sides, facing one another.
Kevin had been so tender to his partner, caressing his face silently,
hugging and kissing him gently and repeatedly.
"Almost everybody has called me," Cam had
whispered to him, sharing his surprise and gratitude for all the
telephone calls he'd received.
Kevin had rubbed noses with him, and then kissed him on the nose.
"Why wouldn't they?" he'd asked, looking into his partner's green
eyes. "Don't you know how much everybody loves you?"
"Cameron, you're the best person I've ever known," Kevin had said
quietly, matter-of-factly. "And I'm obviously not the only one
who thinks that about you. The only difference between them and
me is that I get to lie here in bed with you in my arms when I tell you
much I love you."
Cam had swallowed hard and tried not to tear up. Recovering, he
"You're prejudiced!" he'd said.
"I know," Kevin had agreed. "But who and what you are pretty much
speak for themselves."
"I'm the lucky one." Cam had pulled Kevin's face over to his and
kissed him on the lips.
"Will you marry me?"
Cam had been so stunned by the question he'd stopped breathing for a
long moment, unable to speak.
"We've talked about it, but haven't really made a final decision about
it," Kevin filled the silence. "We'll both be 18 in a couple of
months. I know my life won't be worth a damn without you in
it, no matter how well everything else goes. I love you totally
and completely. I need you, and Casey needs you. We can go
out east and have a civil ceremony, and then come back here and ask
Father Ryan or Father Mason to bless our marriage in church.
Maybe both of them can be involved. I know we're young, but
getting married has kind of been in the background of our relationship
ever since we admitted we love each other. Please don't turn me
Cam had hardly been able to talk because his throat had closed
up. "Of course
I'll marry you," he'd whispered, and then smiled. "I've been
counting on it. You really
shit together, dude. I'd have eventually gotten around to asking
you're always one step ahead of me. You make me so happy, Kev."
Tough ol' Kevin had teared up at that point, and pulled Cam tight
against his body. "Thanks for agreeing. You're in my
heart. You are my
heart, man. And you always will be. I know you don't think
pray enough, and you're right, but I've been praying about this for a
while now." He had kissed his partner on the lips again, looked
into his eyes, and then looked up at the ceiling. "Thank you,
Lord," he said out loud.
Clinging to one another in pure happiness about the present and their
for the future, they'd lain awake cuddling for a long time
before eventually drifting off to sleep, totally satisfied
with the life they were making for each other and their baby.
* * *
A benevolent Kevin had let Cam sleep late the
following morning without hassling him about running. Kevin and
Carl had run on the beach with the
dogs at the
usual time and then had come back to
the house and showered. Despite feeling a little guilty about not
exercising, Cam had enjoyed luxuriating under the covers as long as he
After Kevin had kissed him good-bye and left for school, he'd fallen
right back to sleep.
He showered after he finally climbed out of
bed, putting on a white T-shirt and a
short-sleeve dress shirt and tie, and a pair of dark slacks. Then
a pair of black shoes to wear. It
won't hurt to look nice for the doc, he'd
thought to himself. When he had gone downstairs for breakfast after
was just finishing up with feeding Casey. She had looked him
over, smiling at how snappy he looked.
"Sharp! Are you all right?" she'd asked, used to seeing him in
more casual clothes for campus.
He'd beamed at her. "Couldn't be better!" Cam
"Good," Maria had said. "I can relax a little then."
"You can relax all the way. I'm looking forward to seeing the
doctor. And I'm gonna be fine."
Maria had hugged him then, some of that unmistakable mother-love that
she lavished on her own kids at home coming through in their
she'd let go of him and fixed him some poached eggs on toast with
homemade Hollandaise sauce for breakfast, with American fried
potatoes, and gave him a huge glass of orange juice.
Jeff Miller's encouraging call from Assurances had come in just after
eaten. It gave him just one more reason to feel good about his
day so far.
Cam had just walked out to the Camaro, rolled down the windows and
started the car when Maria came out of the door with an envelope in her
"I went into the study to start dusting and found this envelope on your
dad's desk." She handed it to him.
The maid nodded, smiled, and went back inside.
The Camaro's muffler rumbled pleasantly in the driveway while Cam
looked at the
envelope. It was one of Alex's envelopes, business size, with his
printed return address on it crossed out and "Berto" written in the
left hand corner. Cam's name was hand-printed in the spot for the
Cam tore the envelope open and took out a short note in Berto's neat
mom gave me this a month before she died.
"I want you to wear it until you're over the bump in
road you're facing right now. I'd like to have it back
Cam looked inside the envelope again, and nestled in the bottom was a
small silver crucifix on a silver chain. Cam had never known
Berto not to be wearing that crucifix around his neck, whether he was
playing basketball, swimming, playing soccer, working out, studying,
sleeping, showering--whatever he was doing. Presumably even when
he was making love to a girl. It had always been a
part of the boy, 24/7, as long as Cam had known him.
Cam's eyes had teared up as he took it out of the envelope, opened the
catch, and fastened it around his own neck, adding it to the chain
holding the MacKenzie medallion he already wore that Kevin had given
Christmas the previous year. He would put the medallion and
crucifix on a single chain later. He loosened his tie
and unbuttoned his shirt, letting the crucifix fall
down on his chest under his T-shirt. Then he re-buttoned his
and pulled up his tie.
What a beautiful, loving thing for
Berto to do,
Cam had thought to himself.
He'd pulled out his cell and texted Berto: "Thanx dont cover
it, man. Luv ya 4sure. C."
* * *
The trip to UCLA was reasonably quick and totally uneventful.
Cam smiled with satisfaction as
he stopped at the traffic light
before turning into the medical school parking lot. He
was early for his 11:00 appointment with Dr. Owens. He pulled
the Camaro into a vacant
parking place well away from other cars and turned off the
Resting his head on the steering wheel for a minute, he began to
relive the previous evening he had spent
hearing encouragement from everybody in his extended family, and having
When he finally opened the car door and walked into the large building,
he was totally pumped. It was time to man up to what was coming,
and he was more
than ready to do that.
He found the building directory, noted the suite number for Dr. Owens'
office, and caught an elevator to the fifth floor. Walking into
the waiting room, he introduced himself to a smiling receptionist,
and she had him fill out a couple pages of paper work. When he
was finished he turned them in, and sat down again to wait for the
doctor. The waiting room was painted a relaxing light green color
with nice, medium tan leather furniture, neutral beige carpet, and an
mixture of traditional and modern paintings and other art work
scattered around. Cam felt comfortable there.
Dr. Owens came out of her office door not five minutes later and
introduced herself. Standing about 5'7", she appeared to be about
55 years old with
graying hair tied back in a pony tail, and a pleasant, unlined face,
wearing a white blouse and a dark skirt. She looked like a
pleasant, happy person. She and Cam shook
hands. She had a good grip without squeezing too hard or being
As she always did with new patients, Martha Owens looked Cam over
quickly without appearing to study him too closely. A handsome
young man, clean shaven except for a hardly visible goatee, roughly 6
feet tall, sandy hair in a
grown out, messy burr cut,
green eyes. Good body, good posture, well built. Big hands
and feet. Obviously an athlete. Healthy looking, good
skin. Somewhat surprisingly, given his reason for being in her
office, his affect was positive, although there
subtle, residual pain lines around his eyes. He looked alert and
somewhat wary. A little stressed, but that was normal under the
circumstances. She liked the way he looked, and not just because
he was neatly dressed. He reminded her of her own son.
"It's nice to meet you," the doctor said in a mellifluous
"Hello," Cam said.
"Please come in."
She ushered him through an open door into a spacious office, light and
being overly bright. There was an ancient rolltop desk standing
closed in one corner of the room, with a high back leather chair in
front of it and a table beside it with a notebook computer on it.
An office-sized little refrigerator sat near the rolltop. The
other furnishings were comfortable leather
chairs arranged in groups around the room, more beige carpet, and
art on the walls and on tables here and there--artwork for every
taste. There was a therapeutic couch
against one wall with a straight backed chair next to it.
"Pick a spot, and let's sit," Dr. Owens said. Cam did, and they
sat down in a corner of the room, with Cam with his back
to the wall. The group of chairs where they sat was lighted by
spotlights recessed into the ceiling, not too bright and not too dim.
"How do you like to be called?" the doctor asked.
"'Cam.' Or 'Cameron,' if you prefer."
"All right, Cam."
"How do you like to be
called," Cam asked, curious as to what she'd say.
"Martha, or Doctor Owens, or just plain Doctor." She
smiled. "Anything will do except 'Hey, you!'"
Cam smiled back at her, knowing that this woman was going to be easy to
"Would you like something to drink?" Dr. Owens asked.
"Some water would be great."
The doctor stood up and went over to the little refrigerator.
Pulling out a
bottle of water, she brought it to Cam.
"Thanks," Cam said, twisting off the cap and taking a swig.
"Why don't you tell me a little bit about
Cam took a breath, deciding to give her the whole shot right off the
"I'm 17 years old, a transplant from San Rafael for school at UCLA in
the School of Film and Television. I just
started classes this fall. I'm gay, and I
have a partner, Kevin, who's my age. We're raising a baby
"Are you Casey's father, or is Kevin?"
"Does Kevin like women?" she asked out of the blue.
"I think he does. I can tell by how he looks at them
sometimes. But he loves
me. So that's never been a problem for us. Heck, I even
like to look at women if they're pretty. But I'd rather look at
guys. They turn me on."
"I see. That's interesting. Well, labels like 'gay' and
'straight' aren't very definitive or informative, are they?"
"I guess not. I haven't given it that much
thought." Cam smiled. "All I know is, Kevin holds my
attention. And that's an understatement."
"Tell me more about yourselves."
"Kevin and I grew up next door to each
other in San Rafael, and I've always been in love with him. When
we came out to each other, Kevin told me that he's always loved me,
even when he was dating girls. We've been partners for well over
We're sexually active, and we're going to be married out east somewhere
when we're 18, and then have our marriage blessed back here in
church. We're both religious, I guess you'd say."
"Being religious is a little unusual for young men your age," Dr. Owens
"I guess," Cam agreed.
"May I ask what church?"
"The Episcopal Church. Our parish back home and the parish we
attend here have been been very affirming and supportive of gay
parishioners. So has our family."
"That's been a blessing for you and Kevin, and your family, too, hasn't
"When you say, 'our family' with reference to you and Kevin, does that
include Kevin's natural family?"
"No. His mother is dead, and his dad is homophobic, and the man
even tried to kidnap Casey at one time so the boy wouldn't be raised by
two queers. His dad is in jail now for kidnapping."
The doctor digested that information as Cam studied her for a
moment. "I don't mean to pry, but are you religious?" he finally
Dr. Owens hesitated because therapists don't usually discuss their
personal lives with their patients. "Well, yes," she finally said.
"May I ask what your affiliation is?"
"I'm an Episcopalian, too. But I didn't know you were when I
accepted you as a patient."
Cam grinned. "Not too many psychiatrists are religious, are they?"
"Perhaps not. I'm a psychiatrist, but I tend to follow principles
of psychology more than psychiatric ones in doing therapy."
"What does that mean?"
"For one thing, I'm less likely to use medications in the therapeutic
process than many of my colleagues. I do so sometimes in a crisis
or in order to make therapy
medications can also sometimes cover up problems that need to see the
of day." She stopped. "I'm not as dogmatic, I guess
you'd say, as some psychiatrists are in talk therapy. There are
other distinctions, but
let's get back to you."
"Well, Kevin and I have
an extended family of adults and
mostly young guys. My mom--I think you've
talked to her on the phone--is
a professor of English at St. Francis University in San Rafael.
and my dad are divorced. My dad is a movie director, and has a
partner who's also a movie director. My dad's a great
guy, and so is his partner. They're in England right now making a
movie. Kevin and I live in my dad's
house in Malibu with our foster 'brother' Carl, also a student at
UCLA. He's gay, too. Ian
Carson--he's a well known attorney you may have heard of--and his wife
live in San Rafael with my mom. We all consider ourselves one
family. My 'brothers' are all awesome."
Martha Owens looked Cam in the eye. "It sounds as
if you and Kevin are in a good situation when it comes to family, then."
"We are. We've really been accepted as partners, and loved
we are. We have a lot of support."
"That's good. Well, tell me in your own words what brings you to
"I'm here because I was attacked on Malibu Beach three weeks ago by
three guys who hate gays. I was dragged into a vacant house
was tortured and sexually assaulted for many hours."
"Were you singled out on the beach, or were you a random victim?"
"I was singled out," Cam said. "My whole family was at Disneyland
before school started. Kevin and I were walking together with our
brothers, and I kissed Kevin on the cheek as we were walking
along. There were four guys walking behind us in a group, and one
of them started giving us a hard time about the kiss and getting
aggressive about it. One of our brothers, Andy, is a karate
when their leader threatened to get physical, Andy gave
him a kick to the chest that put the guy down on his back. That's
when the animosity really started. And it continued whenever we
and his cohorts on the beach in Malibu. They'd call us faggots
and give us
a lot of
"Anyway, what they did to me in that house really messed me
"How has it messed you up?"
"Aside from being physically damaged, when I think about what happened
to me sexually gets me all upset and makes it difficult for me to
study or carry
out everyday tasks. I was running on the beach the other day with
Kevin and Carl and a couple of brothers who were visiting us from San
Rafael. When I glanced over
at the house where I had been taken and tortured, I passed out in the
sand. The guys revived me, but I
really need help if I'm going to function in the future the way I used
I want to. I need your help."
Dr. Owens studied him for a moment in silence. "I think I can
help you," she said.
Cam breathed a pent up sigh of relief.
"Do you know what Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is?" Martha Owens
asked. "It's called PTSD for short."
"Yes. I heard my mother talking about it when she was down here
just after I was attacked. And I googled it."
"What did you learn?"
"Well, it seems as if it's pretty common in war veterans who've been
badly injured, or seen or experienced terrible things in the
fighting. But I
guess other people can get it, too."
"You're exactly right. We've made a lot of advances in treating
PTSD victims coming out of Iraq and Afghanistan, and now we understand
better what happened to some of our Vietnam and even Korean war
veterans. The Pentagon has begun contracting with selected
to deal with the problem, and with great success, I might add. I
went to Pennsylvania to study for a time with a professor there who
developed the most successful therapeutic model currently in use to
veteran, of course, but you went through a terrible and hurtful
experience. And a humiliating one. Obviously, the trauma
you suffered is negatively
affecting your level of
"Yes, it is. How does this treatment work?" Cam asked.
"We work together to help you embrace your life experiences in general,
the ones that are good and even those that are terrible--like this
one--so that you can function well. That doesn't mean you'll have
to like the bad experiences,
but you can't just tuck them away or they will cripple you.
You're going to hate that aspect of the therapy, and you may even hate
I'll be asking you to face a lot of painful memories, but the outcome
will be that
you'll be freed to live and love and be creative again. This
is called 'prolonged exposure.' It will tear your heart out--and
put it back inside you, healed. I can
promise you that.
"But after today we'll add another element to recalling and reliving
the events that have brought you here. It's called EMDR, which is
short for eye movement desensitization and reprocessing therapy.
If you asked me to tell you exactly how it works, I couldn't except to
say that it seems to stimulate parts of the brain which are
not directly involved in maintaining and accessing memory. But
use of it during the course of treating PTSD clearly mitigates the
effects of the memories that stress us. The outward aspects of
the treatment are asking the patient to follow a therapist's hand or
finger with his or her eyes as the therapist moves them back and forth."
"That sounds ridiculous," Cam said.
"I agree," Owens said. "The only thing is, it works."
"Is this where you ask me to trust you?"
Cam stared at Owens in silence for a long moment.
"I have to trust you. I do trust you. When can we
The doctor checked her watch.
"We can start today, if you like. I think you're a good candidate
for this therapy, Cam. Before we begin, though, I want you to
you tell me in our sessions is absolutely confidential. I will
never give up any
information in your file, or discuss your case with anyone, even
family, without your permission."
"All right. What do we have to do?" Cam asked, sinking down a
little in his chair.
"I'm going to ask you to relax in your chair as you describe to me in
detail what happened to you
on the night you were molested, from the moment you left your house and
assailants on the beach to the moment you were found and rescued.
As we move through our sessions, we're
going to go
through that process again and again and again until there is no pain
left in those terrible memories for you. The EMDR we'll start in
next session is going to aid
in that process."
Cam blanched at the prospect of the pain he would suffer in sharing
"Oh, shit!" he said.
"Yes, exactly. Why don't you tell me your story."
"'It was a dark and stormy night...'" Cam grimaced and then
I couldn't resist."
"Keep that smile and your good mood," Martha Owens said. "You're
to need them."
Cam began to tell his story, starting with his decision to run on the
beach by himself and not take the dogs or a human companion with
him. Within ten minutes of beginning, he was
sweating profusely and his hands were trembling as Martha Owens kept
asking for specifics about his ordeal.
* * *
"I wonder why we haven't heard from Cam," Carl said to Kevin, giving
him a worried look as the two of them sat in the student union at noon
burger and fries.
"Me, too," Kevin said, checking his phone to make sure it was on and he
The clock on the screen said 12:00 exactly. "Maybe he's not quite
done. His appointment was for 11:00."
"Yeah," Carl said.
"Let's give him another fifteen or twenty minutes, and then I'll call
" 'K," Carl said. "I'm a little worried."
Art Smith, formerly one of Eric Clymer's minions, passed by with a tray
full of food. He looked inquiringly at Kevin and Carl to see if
he could sit with them at their table. Carl shoved a vacant chair
out from the table with his foot, and Smith sat down.
"Where's Cam?" he asked.
"He had a doctor's appointment," Kevin said. "He's getting
therapy to get over what your buddies did to him."
Art Smith looked Kevin right in the eye and started to stand up
again. "Listen, they aren't my buddies. I've already said
I'm sorry for what they did to Cam, but I didn't do anything to
him. You hafta stop giving me shit for something I didn't do."
Kevin sighed. "Sit down, Art. I know you didn't. My
bad. You're just a handy victim because I'm upset about my
partner. I'm gonna stop crappin' on ya, I promise."
Art nodded after a long minute, and sat down again. He started
eating in silence.
"Have you heard anything about Clymer, Murtha or Lomer?" Carl asked.
"Not directly," Smith said. "But Mrs. Clymer told my mom that Dr.
Clymer is finished providing lawyers for Eric after the upcoming
trial. That doesn't say much, because Eric and his crew are
probably goin' away for a long time anyway." He popped a nacho in
his mouth and chewed it. "The parents are all fucking
devastated. I don't think they'll ever get over it."
"Well, Cam may not get over it either," Carl commented.
"I hope that's not true," Art said. "I mean it. I hope you
"There's plenty of hurt to go around," Kevin said. "As for
Clymer's parents, my understanding is that they've bailed Eric
out--literally and figuratively--every time he's ever gotten in
trouble. It's no wonder the guy thought he was immune from
repercussions every time he fucked up. I blame them as much as I
do Eric for what happened to Cam."
"There's some truth to that," Art said slowly. He took a forkful
of his beef stew and
chewed it. "Is Cam coming back to classes at all?"
"He dropped everything but Cinematograpy," Kevin told him.
"I'll see him in that class, then, I guess," Art said. "I'm in
Honoring his word to the boy, Kevin bit his tongue instead of wondering
out loud why Cam would want to see Art.
"Are you gonna have to testify at the trial, do you think?" Carl asked.
"It's possible," Art said. "The DA's office questioned me, and I
told them what I knew. But I'm not sure whether they'll call me
to the stand.
If I do have to testify, I'll tell the truth.
I wasn't in on their plans, and I'm not goin'
jail for those assholes. "
"I don't blame you for that!" Kevin said.
The three of them finished up their lunches without too much more to
say. When he was finished, Art Smith stood up to go.
Kevin looked up at him. "If you hear anything worth knowing about
Clymer and his crew, call
us, will ya?"
"Yep." Smith looked at them. "I know you don't like me, but
I'd really like to know how Cam's doing. Will you call me?"
Kevin pulled out his phone. "Give me your number..."
Art did, and Kevin added it to his phone directory. Art took
Kevin's number, too.
"Take it easy," Kevin told the guy, and held out his hand for a fist
bump. They did, and then Art walked off looking sad.
"He's kinda between a rock and a hard place," Carl commented.
"I know," Kevin admitted. "I'll call him when we find out about
Cam. Which is right now." He was reaching for his phone to
call Cam when it rang, and it was his boy.
"Hey," Kevin said. "Talk to me."
"It was terrible!" Cam said, talking fast and sounding a little out of
control. "Martha's great, but the therapy's
god-awful. It's like having your balls ripped off by wild
dogs. It's tearing my
guts out, and I have to go back on Thursday..."
"I'm sorry, man," Kevin said quietly, his face all crunched up and
looking distressed. "Are you going home?"
"Do you want me to meetcha there?"
"You know I'd love that. But you should go to class. I'll
see ya when I see ya."
"Awright," Kevin said. "Hang in, dude. I love ya."
"Thanks, Kev. I need it, believe me. Love you, too.
Kevin rang off, and then called Art Smith, who had just disposed of his
tray and walked out of the Student Union.
"I just heard from Cam, Art. The therapy was brutal, and he's
headed for home. That's all I know right now."
"Thanks for the call, Kevin. Talk to you later."
* * *
Academically speaking, the afternoon was kind of a loss for
Kevin. The intense concentration which he normally brought to
class lectures had gone by the boards. His thoughts were focused
Cam. Only on Cam. His gut was twisting and turning in
sympathy for his partner as he reflected on Cam's pained reaction to
therapy. Kevin understood his feelings as a confirmation of
deep love for his boy. Sometimes
it takes misfortune to make us realize how much of our soul belongs to
someone else, he thought to himself.
His stomach was so upset that between classes he had to hit the nearest
men's room, relieving himself of a bad case of diarrhea. Eventually he blew
off his last class and texted Carl:
"Dude," he told his friend. "My stomach's all f'd up.
I'm heading for home."
Kevin's phone beeped at him on his way out to the Mustang. "Know
whatcha mean. See you at home," Carl's text said.
Kevin made it to Malibu in record time. Maria was in the kitchen.
"You're home early," she said.
"I know. I wanted to see Cam. Where is he?"
"In your room with Casey. He didn't look so good when he came in,
"Yeah. He called me." He looked at Maria. "Listen,
since I'm home early, why don't you take off for home yourself if
you're done with things here. I know your kids would enjoy a
little extra time with their mom."
"Thanks, Kevin. I think I will. Supper is in the fridge."
Kevin stepped over to her and gave her a hug. "Appreciate it,
Maria. See ya tomorrow."
He went upstairs to find a fully dressed Cam lying on his left side in
the middle of his bed, spooning
Casey. Both of them were sound asleep, but Kevin could see a
residue of tears on Cam's face.. Kevin stripped off his school
clothes down to his boxers and joined them on the bed, pulling a quilt
over the three of them. He spooned Cam, who awakened. Casey
continued to sleep.
"Oh, shit," Cam yawned. "I dropped off." He turned his head
and looked at Kevin. "You're home early."
"Yeah. Are you all right?"
"Have to be," Cam said. "But this next two months or so is gonna
be a bitch. I hope I can make it."
Kevin pulled him close, holding him in his arms, and gave him a kiss on
the neck. "There's no doubt about that, bud."
Cam picked up Kevin's hand that was caressing his chest and holding
kissed the palm of it. Kevin smiled.
"Kev, you're one of the big reasons I know there's a God. That's
"I love you so much, man," Kevin said. "How can I not?"
There was a light knock at their open door, and it was Carl, home from
school. He looked at the three of them and came over to the bed,
lying down on his right side facing Casey. Kevin flipped the
quilt so it covered
Carl, too, and the three big guys and the little guy lay there
together for a while, just
chillin'. Not a word was spoken as they lay close to one another
experiencing the kindness and calmness of being together. It felt
healing for all of them, especially for Cam.
They napped briefly, and when they awakened Cam rolled on to his back
and pulled out from under his T-shirt the crucifix Berto had left for
him. He showed it to Kevin and Carl.
"Where'd you get that?" Carl asked.
"It's Berto's. He left it for me in Alex's study, and Maria found
it and brought it to me before I left for school. He wants me to
wear it while I go through therapy."
"Wow. He wears that all the time," Kevin said, reaching out to
touch it. "He never takes it off. That's really generous."
"Fer sure," Cam said. "His mom gave it to him before she
died. It means the world to him." He turned his head to
look at Kevin. "That's love."
"You deserve it," Kevin said.
* * *
After supper that night, Carl called Andy Helder to see what his plans
for the weekend were.
"I wanna see you so bad," Carl told Andy. "Do you think you can
come down here?"
"You know I want to," Andy said. "But I was just down there, and
money's a little tight
"Will you be mad if I give you the money? I don't want you to get
bent outta shape about taking it, but you know I have it, and you're
the one doing me a favor by coming down."
"Well, let's get something straight right now," Andy said. Carl
braced himself to get yelled at.
"I wouldn't be doing you any favor by coming down there," Andy
continued. "It would be a favor to me--a big favor to me--to see you and
spend some time with ya. I'm not talking about just gettin'
laid. It's more than that, although you know I love having
sex with you." He paused. "You feed my soul, man. You
lift me up. I'm not myself anymore when I'm not around you.
Carl was moved, and fell silent.
"Does that mean you'll come down?" Carl finally asked.
"You know I will."
"I love ya, Andy," Carl said. "Dan and Mark are supposed to be
coming down here on Friday, so I'll check with them to see what flight
they're taking and make reservations for you on the same flight.
That way your ride to the airport will be all taken care of. I'll
call you back and let you know the flight."
"Thanks, man. I can't wait to see you."
"Same here. I'll be talking to you in a little while."
Carl went to give Kevin and Cam the good news.
* * *
Father Jim Mason stripped down at his gym locker after putting himself
through a brutal workout on Friday night. Grabbing a towel from a
for the shower. It was several years since he'd finished
seminary, but he was still in great shape, including those corrugated
abs. The almost daily
sometimes with the whole crew from Catherine's house and sometimes
alone, along with trips
to his gym several times a week, was doing a good job holding off the
depredations of time. He was now closer to 30 years old than to
25. Just barely, but still...It took work.
Of late he had begun to notice some of the regulars at the gym giving
his physique admiring looks. Maybe they always had done so and he
was just starting to notice it. But they were. He took it
compliment. It didn't make him uncomfortable or anything.
Maybe one reason it didn't make him uncomfortable was that he was
looking back at them. He was starting to notice guys in the
as much as he was noticing women out on the floor of the gym and on the
more. And he was beginning to wonder why that was. But he
was pretty sure he knew why.
After fighting off thinking about his sexuality during the previous six
months or so, about a week previous he had finally admitted to himself
the possibility that he was either
or gay. And maybe more gay than bi. He didn't know for
sure. He had always thoroughly enjoyed sex with women back in
college, especially with the girl he'd thought he would marry.
He'd even had sex with girls twice during his senior year in high
school, but had never had a homosexual experience with any guys.
But the casual sex with women at UC--Santa Barbara had stopped once he
had become a postulant for
the priesthood late in college. He'd successfully tamped down his
sexual desires through ongoing, rigorous exercise ever since
then. He'd finally concluded that opting not to date eligible
women parishioners at St. Andrew's
hadn't been the best decision he'd ever made. But he didn't think
that his developing habit of looking at guys' bodies had anything to do
with that decision.
He wasn't disgusted with himself or scared about his apparent changing,
orientation, but he certainly wasn't
ecstatic about it, either. He'd been considering going to L.A.
and talking face to face with his friend John Ryan about the
completely, and not just because John was a priest, but because of the
person Ryan was. Mason had thought about telephoning his friend
appointment to see him, but hadn't made a final decision about that
First, though, he had to find out if Father Blackburn would give him
the time off to go out of town. He was pretty sure he
Fourteen and fifteen hour days were not uncommon for either of them
because Ed Blackburn set a high standard for pastoral care of his
people and for prayer and study. Jim Mason thrived on that, and
St. Andrew's parish was growing like crazy because of good pastoral
stewardship by its priests. But because of the long hours they
put in, Blackburn
was always generous to Mason with time off.
He had another reason for going down L.A. Actually,
several reasons other than talking to Father Ryan. One was
that he wanted to see his mother, and
secondly he wanted to see Cam MacKenzie. Mason knew that both his
mother and Cam were going
through a hard time right now. His mother was in the beginning
stages of Alzheimer's, and he wanted to spend some time with her
before the disease progressed any farther than it already had.
And he was also well aware that Cam was undergoing difficult
therapy in response to being
attacked and sexually molested in Malibu several weeks ago. He
had talked to Cam on the telephone before his first session.
Mason knew there was nothing concrete he could do for his mother other
than to be
with her for a few days. But for Cam--well, maybe his
could lift the young man's spirits a little bit. He hoped it
Mason walked down to the huge, open shower area as he continued to mull
over his own orientation issues. Selecting a vacant shower head,
he hung his towel on a hook, adjusted the water and stepped under the
spray. The hot water
began to alleviate some of the workout pain in his body. He
soaped himself up thoroughly, rinsed off, and then washed his
hair. He finally shut the water off, and grabbing his towel off
nearby hook, dried his eyes and his hair, and then the rest of his
body. When he finished up and looked around, he saw a well set-up
blond guy about his age showering several shower stations down from
him. The guy turned away once he'd been caught checking Mason
out. Nice ass, Mason
thought to himself as he took a prolonged look, liking what he
saw. He'd been ignoring sexual fantasies about males, but they
were definitely starting to knock on his mental door.
The priest flipped his towel over his
shoulder, and walked back to his locker to pull on his boxers,
T-shirt and Levi's. After sitting on the bench to re-tie his
Nike's, he put on his favorite
49ers cap, and left the gym.
Mason stopped at a Subway on the way home and picked up a footlong for
supper. After he arrived home, he said his evening Office, ate
supper, and did some reading before turning in for the night. As
usual, he slept straight through the night and got up at five a.m. to
run. After showering, it was time to go to
St. Andrew's for the Saturday morning Office and Mass. When he
Father Blackburn after services for some time off to go to L.A. after
services were over on Sunday, there
was no hesitation on his boss' part to give him a well deserved break.
After Mason went to his desk, first he called Kevin on the boy's cell
to see if Cam
was in good enough shape for his visit to L.A.
eager for him to come down.
"Cam's is only starting with his therapy, Father, but he's having a
rough time," Kevin
said. "I think he needs to see you right now. For that
matter, Carl and I do, too."
"I heard from your family that he was facing a challenge," Mason
said. "I don't have
any magic words for him. But if I can just give him some small
reminder about how much he's loved--by God and his family--while he's going
through this, the trip will be worth it. And I want to remind
him, too, that this therapy isn't going to last forever."
"If anybody can get those thing across to him, you can, Father. I
need to hear those things myself, to tell you the truth. Knowing
Cam's in so much
mental pain is killing me."
"We'll work on that, Kev," the priest said.
"You'll be staying with us, won't you?" Kevin asked.
"If it's not an imposition."
Kevin snorted. "You know better than that. Please don't
ever say that again. You're family. You know that."
"That makes me feel good. Thanks."
"How long can you stay?"
"I'll be coming tomorrow afternoon after services at St. Andrew's and
"Good," Kevin said. "Dan and Mark and Andy are down here now, and
they'll be leaving Sunday night. We're all going to St. Dunstan's
"Good. Maybe I'll meet up with the the three of them en route,
knows," Mason said. "Anyway, I'm looking
seeing you guys."
"Same here, Father. Let us know when to pick you up at the
"I can get a cab."
"Let us know when we can pick you up," Kevin said insistently.
Mason chuckled. "All right. Blessings, bud. Laters."
"Yep. And thanks."
They broke the connection.
Father Ryan was next on the list for a call, and Mason made an
appointment to see him at St. Dunstan's on the following Monday
didn't question Mason's reasons for being in L.A. at all. He just
said he'd be glad to see him.
Father Jim visited with the MacKenzie-Carson family at Catherine's
house on Sunday after
Mass, and told them that he would be going down to L.A. late that
see his mother and spend some time with Cam.
"You'll just miss Mark and Dan and Andy Helder," Mary Carson
said. "They're coming back from L.A. tonight."
"Kevin told me they were in L.A."
"Yes. The guys all miss each other. They're all
"I know they are," the priest said. "What are they telling you
about how Cam's doing?" the priest
"I talked to Mark about that on the phone yesterday." Mary looked
Catherine. "He said Cam is hanging in, but it hasn't been easy."
"As I said, I'm going to see my mother while I'm down there, but I want
some quality time with Cam, too."
"He'll appreciate that," Catherine said. "He thinks the world of
"That's mutual," Mason said. He wondered idly whether the
opinions of him would change if and when he eventually came
out as gay. Probably not, but you never know on matters like that.
* * *
Carl and Andy Helder held each other in Carl's bed after they had made
love late Friday night. This was soon after he and Mark and Dan
arrived from San
Rafael. They hadn't wasted much time getting to bed.
Carl rubbed his nose on Andy's nose, kissed him softly
and then lowered his head and gave Andy's nearest nipple a lick.
He breathed in the smell of the boy's body, and knew he could pick Andy
out a lineup of guys while blindfolded by smell alone.
Masculine. Clean. Potent. That was Andy's smell, and
Carl reveled in it.
"It's killing me to be away from you so much," Carl said when he pulled
back. "Seriously, I don't know whether I can make it until you
move down here next fall. I think about you so much I've been
trouble studying." He looked into Andy's eyes. "I don't
suppose you'd consider transferring down here to UCLA between
semesters, would ya?"
Andy laughed. "I'd love to do that. But we'd be in bed
having sex all the damn time, and we'd both flunk outta school, dude."
"No, we wouldn't. We could help each other learn how to balance
screwing and studying. You could teach me some self-control."
They laughed together about how ridiculous that thought was.
"Anything I know about self-control goes right out the window when I
lay eyes on you." Andy sighed. "You've corrupted the hell
outta me, boy! Although, now that I think about it, maybe we
could learn to read textbooks while
we pork each other."
"Elegantly put! See how creative you are!" Carl said with a grin.
"I know." Andy moved his head cheek to cheek with Carl's.
"Thanks for paying for my trip down here. But I don't want to get
into the habit of having you carry me financially. I know you
have money, but I don't want to live off you."
"I love you, Andy. That makes me want to share whatever I have
"I know, but...just how rich are you, anyway?" Andy asked.
"Well, on paper, I have a lot. I don't know exactly. I'd
"Don't you think about it?"
"Not very often. Most of the money is in the Cadillac dealership
in Monterey and the land
it sits on. Ian and the business manager he hired are looking
into whether it would pay to sell it or not. The dealership is
making good money, though, I guess. Rich people pretty much just
buying Cadillacs right through the recession, according to Ian.
Those who didn't want a Mercedes or Bentley or Rolls, that is."
"I don't wanna live off you, Carl," Andy repeated. "I wanna make
my own way in life."
"I respect you for that," Carl said. "I'm not going to shove my
money down your throat in any way, but please let me be a little
generous with you, too, sometimes. I can't enjoy life unless
you're enjoying it with me. I love you so much, Andy, and I need
to show you love once in awhile in ways that don't involve being
"I prefer the bed thing. But we'll work out the money issue,"
Andy said. He studied Carl's face.
"Out of curiosity, when did you know you loved me?" Carl asked.
There was no hesitation. "It was a gradual thing, I guess, but
something about you really hit me the
first time I saw you at St. Andrew's. When we were all there for
that meeting about the trip to New Orleans. I tried to hide it,
but I couldn't keep my eyes off you. But once we started
working together gutting houses in New Orleans, I really started to
feel it. And when we slept together after we met in that gay bar
in the Franch Quarter, that's all she wrote. I knew you were the
one. What about you?"
"I was really attracted to you at that meeting at St. Andrew's,
too. But I knew for sure when you saved my ass in the bar by
kicking Duke's knife away when I wouldn't go into a booth and have sex
with him. You
probably saved my life that night."
"I don't know about that. You clocked Duke a good one
in the nose, and even if I hadn't been there, you'd have mopped the
floor with him before long."
"I doubt that," Carl said. He raised his head and gently kissed
Andy on the lips. "I wanna asked you something. Just what
is it that you love about me?"
Andy rolled over on top of his lover and stared down into his
eyes. Then he moved his nose down onto his face and smelled
it. "I wanna answer that. I love your skin. I love
your hair, I love your
ears, I love your lips, I love your eyes, I love your mouth, I love
your face, I love
your neck and your chest and your pecs and your nips and your
hips. I love your
I love your big dick and balls." Andy took a breath. "I
love your thighs, I love your calves, I love your
big feet, and man, I love that cute little ass of yours so much that
sometimes I almost come in my pants just lookin' at it. I love
that sweet little hole that welcomes me inside you. Those are the
things that keep my dick hard and, when I'm not around you, keep my
right hand busy.
"And those are
just the outward things. But there's more." Another breath,
a serious look.
"I don't just
love you physically, even though what we do with each other puts me
moon. I love your mind and your spirit
heart. I love your kindness. I love the way you love
Casey. I love the way you love me back.
I love you 'cause we're one person in two bodies."
Yet another breath. "In my opinion, God made you perfect, and
what the hell
good am I if I don't give perfection its due?"
Carl looked stunned, his eyes watering.
"So, meanwhile..." Andy slid down
Carl's body, grasping his boyfriend's cock. He put it
in his mouth, and it hardened and slid down his throat.
"Oh!!!!!" Carl said.
Round 2 was underway.
* * *
After supper Sunday night, William drove into San Francisco
International to pick up
Dan and Mark and Andy.
The guys were in a good mood, especially Andy, and on the way home
they filled William in on what a good time
they'd had in Malibu.
"How is Cam doing?" William asked.
"Kevin thinks he's a little better than when he started therapy," Mark
said. "But I guess he has a long way to go. You know Cam,
though. He went out of his way to make sure we had a good time
even when he didn't feel like it."
"Yeah, that's Cam," William said thoughtfully. He missed that boy.
* * *
After supper Catherine and Ian and Mary took
their coffee and went
into the smaller of the two sitting rooms in the big old house.
Catherine closed the sliding doors so they could talk in private.
"I have some news about my job search," she began. "And I think
its going to require some changes in our living arrangements..."
© 2011 Don Hanratty