Don Hanratty
My Belovèd is mine, and I am his.
  Song of Songs 2:16


Cam was standing at the sliding door to the front deck when Kevin tracked him down.

Kevin had been visiting with the guys in the living room when he broke away to look for his partner.  He found Cam morosely staring out at Santa Monica Bay, watching the waves hit the beach and spend themselves in the sand before they retreated into the ocean.  It was late afternoon.

"Hey," Kevin said, putting his arm around his lover and kissing him on the cheek.  "'Sup?" he inquired.

"Just thinking," Cam responded.  "It breaks your heart sometimes, wondering why things happen the way they do."

Kevin nodded silently.  I wish to fuck I knew the answer to that question, he thought to himself.

He rubbed Cam's back for a moment and kissed him on the cheek again, then rested his forehead on his partner's shoulder, not knowing how to comfort him.  Or himself.

"Let's go out and sit on the beach for a few minutes," Kevin suggested.

"All right," Cam agreed, reaching for the handle and sliding the door open.  They held hands as they walked off the deck together and down to the edge of the hard pack.  They sat down in the dry sand, just out of reach of the more ambitious breakers.

Kevin's arm encircled Cam as they sat there, and he hugged his partner to him tightly for a moment before slacking his grip.

"I don't think we're ever going to know why terrible things happen," Kevin said, picking up the conversation where they had left off.  He sighed.  "Not in this life, anyway..."

Cam stared out at the water, watching the sun as it prepared to set.  He knew he could totally be himself with Kevin, and the tears he'd been holding back most of the afternoon began to slip down his cheeks.  Kevin's eyes teared up, too.  They sat there, pressed against each other for a long time, just grieving together about Alex and John.

Hearing a noise behind them, they looked up at the house.  Ian Carson, wearing a big, white apron, had emerged on to the deck and was firing up the grills to cook hamburgers.  Aromatic smoke from the stubborn residue from past meals last cooked on the grills soon began floating out toward the water.

The door to the deck slid opened again, and Father Mason, now dressed in khaki shorts, a polo shirt and sandals, came out and stood there talking with Ian for a few minutes.  The priest studied Cam and Kevin down on the beach as he and Ian chatted on the deck before he made a decision and walked out to where the guys were sitting.

"Hey," Mason said as he stood behind them.  The young men turned and looked up at him.

"Hey, Father," they said.

"Please tell me if I'm intruding," the priest said.  "I just want to talk to you for a minute if it's OK."

The guys nodded their heads, and Kevin said, "Sit down, Father."

Kevin and Cam moved apart and let the man sit between them so they could both hear him over the breakers.  Mason looked into their faces as he sat down and saw that they'd been weeping.  He spontaneously put his arms around them and hugged them before turning them loose.

"I was watching you hold each other while you sat out here," Mason said.  He hesitated and then said, "I saw love at work.  I think about your love for each other every time I look at you two.  You're such great examples to all of us of what it means to be in a respectful, loving relationship with somebody.  Offhand, you two, and Ian and Mary, are the some of the best examples I know."  He paused.  "I'm just mentioning this because that kind of relationship is one ingredient for getting through a serious loss like yours.

"Being in a loving relationship isn't the only answer to grief in this world, but it's an important one," the priest continued.  "I know how much you both cared about Alex and John.  I'm not going to sit here and preach to you, I promise.  Father Ryan will do a better job of that at the Memorial Mass than I can right now--because I'm grieving, too.  Just let me say that we really do heal faster when we cling to God and to each other.  Cam, you've already proved that with Kevin's help you know how to get through tough times like what happened to you down the beach.  I hope both of you will let your faith and your love for each other and the love in this family help you through this.  This is a real time of trial."

Kevin looked over at the man.  "Thank you, Father," he said.  "I know you're right."  He cleared his throat, a little embarrassed, and not used to being so evocative.  "Without our faith and each other and our family, what would would we be?  I don't know the answer to that."  He paused.  "Father Jim, I'm really grateful to have you in our lives.  As a friend and as a priest."  He rubbed the remaining tears from his eyes.  "The family really is the heart of who we are, and you're a part of it.  So, thanks for a good reminder of what's important when we're hurting so bad.  We need to hear these things right now.  We love ya, man."

"Thank you," Mason said quietly.  The priest rubbed away the moisture in his own eyes as he stood up, followed by the two boys.  Mason hugged the guys and kissed them each on the cheek before turning around to go back to the house.

"Hey, be sure to call us when supper is ready," Kevin told the priest as the latter started walking away.  He laughed.  "If we don't get a heads-up, the guys will eat up every hamburger on the grill real quick before we have a chance to get any."

Mason looked back and chuckled.  "You're right," he said.  "I'll give you a shout."

Cam and Kevin sat down again in the sand.  Kevin moved as close to Cam as he could get, and reached over and took his hand.  That surprised Cam, because Kevin wasn't usually as demonstrative as he was being right then, especially if someone might be watching.

"Cameron," Kevin said, "I just love you to death.  You and Casey mean everything to me.  I know you're feeling real bad right now, and so am I.  You've had more than your share of bad breaks this year.  But I'm here for ya.  I hope you know that."  He looked at Cam.  "If you and I and Casey have to give up this house now because Alex and John are gone, we can move someplace cheaper we can afford.  Maybe we can get jobs.  Whatever happens, I'm right there with you.  You can be sure of that."

"I know.  But I hope we won't have to move," Cam said.

"Me, too.  But whatever happens, we're gonna face it together.  Period.  End of story."

Tears began running down Cam's cheeks again as he leaned into Kevin and rested his face against Kevin's scruffy cheek.  That beard required shaving more than once a day.

They continued to sit on the beach silently watching the waves until a piercing whistle from Father Mason up on the deck told them supper was ready.

Kevin stood up and pulled Cam to his feet.  The two of them brushed the sand off their butts and then embraced, kissing each other tenderly on the lips until finally breaking to go get some burgers before those boys, those bottomless pits in the family, emptied the plates and platters of everything in sight.

Supper was great.  And plentiful.  Despite the sadness that was affecting everyone, the boys and the adults consumed everything.  Most of the guys joined up for a card game in the dining room once the table was cleared.  Cam and Kevin checked on Casey.  He was happy, being monopolized by Catherine and Mary in the living room.  The little guy was soaking up all the attention he was getting from the family.

Still feeling the need for some alone time together, Cam and Kevin went out on the deck and moved toward the beach to take a walk with the dogs.  William Carson followed them.

"You guys gonna take a walk?" he asked.

"Yeah," Kevin said.

"Can I go with you?" William asked.

"We kinda want to be alone," Kevin said as he and Cam started to walk away.

After a few steps, Cam turned around and looked at William, who was looking uncharacteristically forlorn from the refusal.  Cam motioned with his head that William should come along, and he bounded down the steps of the deck and joined them.

Cam put an arm around William.  "You're too cute to say 'no' to, bud."

"Hey, thanks!" William said, seldom at a loss for words.

The three of them walked in silence down the beach for a few minutes.

"We've just been thinking about what we'll do if we have to move out of Alex's house," Kevin finally said.

William snorted derisively.  "Well, it's stupid to wonder about that," he said with his usual candor.  "You really don't think for a second that Alex and John would leave you two and Casey unprovided for, do ya?  That's ridiculous!"

"We don't know," Kevin said.  "We don't even know who the executors of Alex's and John's wills are."

"Well, you're not gonna have any money worries," William said decisively.  "You know your mom and the rest of this family will never let you want for anything."

"You're probably right," Cam said, wanting to talk about something else.  "Don't you have any good news from up north to tell us?"

"Here's something," William said.  "Berto found out yesterday that Stanford has accepted him.  He'll probably be moving into the condo in San Francisco with your mom next fall.  Unless he wants to live in the dorms, that is.  But don't let on to him that I told you.  Just casually ask him if he's heard anything from Stanford's admissions."

"Wow!" Kevin said.  "That's great news!  What's he gonna study, has he said?"

"Pre-law will be his major, eventually.  But Dad wants him to take a lot of liberal arts courses so he'll be good at speaking and writing," William said.  "Berto's smart as a fuckin' whip.  And a hard worker.  He'll really do well."

"Yeah," Cam agreed.  "Have you heard anything about your own application to Stanford for year after next?"


"If getting in there were based on all the pussy you got this last school year, you'd be in like Flynn," Kevin said with a grin.

"Without a doubt," William admitted.

"Speaking of pussy, have you started dating again?" Cam asked.

"No.  But when I do, I really want to date Alicia McCaskill again.  Maybe exclusively."

"How the heck are you gonna manage that?" Kevin asked.  "I thought you were in deep shit with all the parental units because you and she had had a relationship with benefits."

"That's true."

"Well?" Kevin said.

"Well, what?"

"How are you going to make that relationship happen?" Kevin asked.

"I'm gonna go to my dad and explain what I want to do.  Then I'm gonna go to Mr. McCaskill and explain I want to date Alicia and get his permission."

"Good luck with that!  What if he says 'no'?" Cam asked.

"I'll ask him again, and assure him there won't be any sex, and keep asking until he says 'yes.'"

Cam looked at William.  "Does Alicia want to date you?"


"How do you know?" Kevin asked.

"She told me at school the other day.  We eat lunch together in the cafeteria almost every day."

"If you agree to no sex, will you stick to that?" Kevin asked dubiously.


Cam put his arm around William again.  "I think that'll be true, then. Once you give your word, you stick to it."

"I will stick to it.  I like her a lot and want to hang with her.  If that means no sex, so be it."

"That right hand of yours will be busy," Kevin predicted.

"You got that shit right!" William agreed.

The guys continued to stroll down the beach, thinking about the future and talking about what they were going to do when summer eventually rolled around.  Finally they turned around and headed back toward the house.  When they got back, Carl and Andy Helder and Dan and Berto had quit playing cards and were playing four-way catch on the beach with a baseball in the dying light.  Then they all went inside to shoot the shit for awhile and play with Casey.  The little guy was walking around and talking up a storm, some of it gibberish and some not.  Everybody just loved spending time with Casey.  It was like watching the petals of a flower unfold as day by day he was becoming a little human being right before their eyes.

Cam pulled Berto aside.  "Hey, dude, you heard anything from Stanford yet?"

"Well, yeah, I have," Berto admitted, white teeth gleaming in his dark face as he gave Cam a big smile.  "I got in."

"Dude!  Congrats!!"  Cam gave his bro a huge hug and a kiss on the cheek, holding him in his arms and looking into his face.  "Why didn't you tell us?"

Berto hugged him back.  "Well...I just didn't want to make too much of it..."

Letting go of Berto, Cam turned to the other guys.  "Guys, did you know that Berto got a thumbs-up from Stanfard?"

Except for William, the boys didn't know, and they gathered around Berto bumping fists and giving him high fives.  Despite trying to pass it off as no big thing, Berto was obviously pleased with the accolades from his peers.

At bedtime, the adults, Catherine carrying a sleeping Casey, headed upstairs while the boys moved the furniture around in the living room, making space for the sleeping pads, pillows and light blankets for all of them.  Cam made sure that Mark Carson would get to sleep next to Kevin on one side, and the kid beamed.  Mark still had a thing for Kevin, but nobody said anything about it or ragged on him, and that was a good thing.

Cam took the dogs out to relieve themselves just before bed, and then headed back into the house.

All the guys had stripped to their boxers and were lying on their sleeping pads under sheets and blankets when Dan Emrick blasted a humongous fart.  There was one in every crowd.  After the snickers and complaints from the long line of guys on the floor died down, everybody drifted off to sleep in no time.

Almost everybody, that is.  Kevin, with Mark Carson on one side of him and Cam on the other, moved closer to Cam after a few minutes, reaching out and clasping his partner's hand.  He knew Cam was again weeping silently about Alex and John.  Kevin moved his head over and kissed Cam's hand, and Cam fell asleep hand in hand with Kevin despite being horny as hell for him and unable to do anything about it.  After Cam was asleep, Kevin put his hand on Cam's chest, on his heart.  The strong, steady beat made Kevin think of the strong, steady love Cam gave his partner.  No holding back there.

After falling asleep himself, Kevin awakened an hour later.  All was quiet in the living room full of sleeping guys except for breathing and an occasional snore.  Kevin moved over closer yet to Cam, who didn't wake up when Kevin pulled him into his arms and held him.  We'll get through all the shit, Cameron MacKenzie, Kevin thought to himself.  I love you so much.  You're my heart.  You're my life.

*  *  *

Cam and Kevin had notified their professors and the dean of arts and sciences that they would be missing classes, and the next few days at home went by quickly.  The guys all paid special attention to Cam and Kevin and Catherine, letting them know through their presence they were there for them in their grief without intruding on their sadness.

Everyone, adults and youngsters alike, stuck to their usual regimen of rising early and running on the beach every morning.  The San Rafael contingent especially appreciated running in the sand, a great improvement over the partially concrete route they took every day when they were home.  Kevin decided, as he had on one occasion a few days ago, that they were going to start running eight miles every day instead of their usual seven.  Ian gave him a look the first day, but there were no complaints.

On Sunday morning they all went to the late Mass, and Father Ryan greeted them with quiet solicitude at the front door of the church.  He knew that they were all down in the dumps.  The family all got to sit together toward the front, almost the last spaces to be had that morning in the crowded nave.  Sweet smelling incense rose into the rafters above the sanctuary when the thurifer brought the thurible to the celebrant and he censed the altar following the procession.

The priest's homily emphasized the Christian testimony to the hope for eternal life which had been highlighted in the Gospel for the day by Jesus' teaching and ministry of healing.   When the peace was passed after the general confession and absolution, Cam and Kevin kissed one another squarely on the lips, not holding back, not caring who saw them.

Among other announcements, Father Ryan informed the congregation that visitation for Alex MacKenzie and John Kelley would be Monday afternoon from 1:00 to 6:00.  The Memorial Mass for them would be celebrated on Tuesday at 10 a.m., followed by a brunch in the parish house.  All parishioners were welcome to attend, he said, to offer thanks to God with the family for the lives of the two men.

After the Eucharist was over, the family made their way to the front door of the church to return home rather than opting to go into the parish house for coffee.  They weren't feeling all that sociable right then, especially Cam.  Casey fussed a little bit when they didn't go into the parish hall, because he loved all the attention he always received there after Mass.  But William soon had the little guy cheered up by showing him special attention.  Not for the first time, Kevin thought about what a good father William would be when his time to have kids of his own came along.

When they arrived back in Malibu, the boys changed out of their suits and ties into shorts and T's, hanging up their church clothes.  Later Catherine and Mary went through the closets where all the guys' dark suits were hanging, making sure that they had no wrinkles and would be ready to wear on Monday for the wake and Tuesday at the Memorial Mass.

The Millers had invited everyone over for a swim in their pool after church, and the guys were eager to do that.  With everyone headed next door, Kevin told Cam he wanted to take a walk with Mark Carson on the beach before swimming.  Kissing Kevin's cheek, Cam told him, "No problem," and when Mark came along in the line for the pool, Kevin wordlessly nodded his head toward the beach.  Mark and Kevin walked toward the water, and Kevin patted the younger boy on the back as they walked along the hard pack, and put his arm around him.

"I haven't had a chance to talk to you this trip," Kevin said.  "How are things going for ya up north?"

"Good," Mark said.  "I'm getting good enough grades to be on the Dean's list at school, so that keeps Mom and Dad off my butt."

"That's excellent.   You're really buff, so I take it you're running and working out every day?"

"Yeah.  Never miss."

"Berto work you hard in the gym?"

"He's tough on us," Mark said.  "But he's nicer about it than you and William were."

Kevin laughed.  "Surely you jest!  William and I were always the souls of kindness."

"In your dreams."

"Well, I can't believe Berto is that easy on ya, because you're all buffed up, dude, and looking fit!  I'll bet the girls like that."

Mark tried not to let on how pleased he was to hear some praise, especially from Kevin, because sometimes he felt overshadowed by his big brother William's accomplishments.

"Thanks," the boy said.  "I try to push myself."

"I heard you're doing some dating."

"Yeah?  Who told you that?"

"William, I think," Kevin said.

"Well, that's true."

"Anyone special?"

"Not really."

"Are you gettin' any?"

Mark's face turned red.

"No," he said quietly.

"Your time will come, bud.  Don't mind me saying this, but please use protection.  Don't make the mistake I made and get some girl pregnant.  I'm not saying that Casey was a mistake.  No way.  He's a blessing.  But if Catherine hadn't been understanding and supportive, getting Heather pregnant would have been a much worse mess for me than it was.  And for Cam, too.  We probably wouldn't even have custody of Casey if it weren't for Catherine.  My dad was no help at all.  He tried to make me marry Heather, or else put the little guy up for adoption.  The whole thing wasn't fair to Heather, either, even though she wanted sex as much as I did.  So, just be careful when you have sex, that's all I'm saying."

"I hear that," Mark said.  "I will."

They walked in silence for a few minutes.

"Can I talk to you about something?" Mark asked.

"Anything.  You know that."

Mark's face turned red again, and he looked down at the sand before speaking.

"Kevin, I don't know whether I'm gay or straight."

"Why do you think you might be gay?"

"Because I like to look at guys.  You know..."

"What about girls?"

"Them too."

"Hey, straight guys are always checking out the male competition.  Don't think they aren't.  Which do you think about in bed, boys or girls?"


They walked in silence again before Kevin responded, choosing his words carefully.  He stopped walking, and Mark stopped, and they turned to look at each other.

"This might be hard advice to follow," Kevin said.  "But I don't want you to worry about this right now, Mark.  Your preference for girls or for boys is going to work itself out, believe me.  As time passes, it's going to be very plain to you what your sexual identity is.  So there's no use sweating it until the answer is clear in your own mind."  Kevin reached over and pulled his friend into a hug.  "Can you do that for me?  Will you do that for yourself?"

Mark choked up, not used to having anybody other than his mom and dad be so demonstrative.  He finally whispered to Kevin, "I'll try."

Kevin didn't turn him loose right away.  "I hope you know, growing up in this family and being a member of the church we belong to, that whatever you find out you are, gay or straight, everybody in this family loves you no matter what.  And the Lord loves you.  I want you to hang on to that knowledge while you find out what your personal truth is."

Kevin leaned down and kissed the shorter boy on top of his head, and then they swung around and headed back toward the house.

"You're my brother, Mark, and I'll always be there for you when you need me," Kevin added.  "What you've told me is confidential, and I'll never talk about it to anyone, not even Cam.  OK?"

"Thanks," Mark said.  "I appreciate it."

The two of them headed back to the Millers' swimming pool, and got involved in the horseplay there right away.  All guys were in high spirits, as least temporarily.  Eventually Kevin organized a water volleyball game which the guys in the shallow end won.  After drying off, Cam and Kevin applied sunscreen to each other, and then Cam did William.  William and Kevin have a build on them that just won't quit, Cam thought to himself lasciviously.  And the younger guys aren't far behind.  Cam laid himself out on a beach chair as the sun beamed down, trying to keep his dick from getting hard.  This is one sweet scene. 

*  *  *

On Monday afternoon, after running first thing that morning and then one after another working out in the little gym under Kevin's not-so-gentle tutelage, the guys spruced up and headed for St. Dunstan's.  This was the day the family had selected for a visitation in honor of Alex and John for those who could not or would not attend the memorial Mass the following day.  Cam noticed that there was not one complaint or cross word from any of the boys about having to get dressed up and spend from 1:00 to 6:00 in a receiving line shaking hands with people they didn't know and probably never would know.  Cam knew that this was their brothers' gift to him and Kevin and Catherine, and he appreciated it.

Tables in the parish house were covered with food and drink, and replenished often enough to accommodate what Cam estimated were over a thousand people who stopped by to offer their condolences and enjoy the refreshments.   Mementos of Alex's and John's careers lined the walls, and many of the visitors were circulating around the room to refresh their memories about what the two men had offered to a public hungry for quality entertainment. 
The movie studio with which Alex and John had been associated had really come through with a flood of mementos from the two men's movie making careers.  The walls of two sides of the huge room were lined with photographs, mounted letters, placards of their movie hits, and other memorabilia which evidenced the two men's success in turning myriad stories and scripts into celluloid hits which had been acclaimed and swept the nation and the world.  Alex had been a genius, and John was right up there with him. 

Then the day of the memorial Mass, Tuesday, was upon them.  The Malibu house was a madhouse as everybody showered after running early that morning and then enjoying one of Maria's great breakfasts.  With help from Mary and Catherine and Ian, Maria cleaned up the kitchen in short order after everyone had eaten.  Catherine had made sure that Maria knew she was invited to come to the Memorial Mass at St. Dunstan's with the family.  And she had accepted the invitation, changing out of her maid's uniform into a dark blue dress and high heels.

Alex's and John's obituaries announcing the visitation and the memorial Mass had been in the papers, and when the stretch limousine that Ian had ordered up to transport the family rolled up to the church, the huge car was only one of scores of limos pulling up to the front door carrying Hollywood's elite to pay their final respects in worship.

Two rows of pews in the center front of the church were cordoned off, reserved for the family.  Sean and Susan Miller, with Jeff, were to be seated with them.  They joined the many mourners who wended their way through the nave of the church and found their seats.

Father Mason was also with the family, having elected to worship as part of the congregation rather than officiate with the other clergy at the altar.  The Episcopal Bishop of Los Angeles had requested that he be the celebrant of the Mass, and the family had agreed.  Father Ryan was still to preach, but any additional eulogies had been eliminated due to the time factor.

St. Dunstan's and the studio had gone had gone all out to honor the memory or Alex and John.  St. Dunstan's choir had been joined in the rear balcony by the city's Opera Chorus and instrumentalists from the L.A. Symphony to sing and play.  When the organ, singers and orchestra began to render "Surely He has borne our griefs" from Handel's Messiah several minutes before the service was scheduled to begin, stragglers began to seat themselves.  The music sounded perfect to Catherine, who was an aficionado of classical music, and was especially fond of Handel.

The church was packed, and ushers began setting up folding chairs in the rear and sides of the church as those attending the Memorial Mass continued arriving.  Eventually there were standees left in the narthex without a place to sit.  Cam noticed in reading the bulletin before the ceremony the family's wishes that any memorials to honor Alex and John be given as scholarships for students at St. Dunstan's parish school.

Glancing toward the back of the packed church, Cam saw his friend Art Smith standing in the narthex, all dressed up in a dark suit and white shirt and tie.  Their eyes connected, and Cam motioned for him to come down and sit with the family, and Art walked down as Cam made room for him, moving people over in the pew.  The two young man shook hands silently as Art sat down.  Kevin looked at the newcomer and gave him a slight smile and a nod.

At the entry to the nave, the sound of a thurible's cover being raised on its chains signaled that the service was to be underway shortly, and when a bell pealed, the congregation rose as the altar party moved into position to process.

Cam and Kevin watched the thurifer as he headed the procession down the center aisle through the congregation toward the altar, swinging the censer in complete 360° circles as he went.  The handsome young man was the regular thurifer at St. Dunstan's high Mass on Sunday, and obviously knew what he was doing.  The family testified to their training in the Church by bowing their heads as the processional cross passed by, following the thurifer.  The bishop, in chasuble and mitre and walking behind his chaplain carrying a wooden shepherd's staff, was at the end of the procession.  The bishop began reading from the Book of Common Prayer as they walked:  "I am the Resurrection and I am Life, says the Lord..."

The bishop censed the altar upon reaching it, and then the service proceeded with opening prayers and readings from Scripture.   Following the singing of the Gospel selection by the Deacon of the Mass, Father Ryan ascended the steps into the pulpit and greeted all the worshippers on behalf of the bishop and of St. Dunstan's parish and the extended MacKenzie family.

Father Ryan began his message by testifying to the faithfulness of Alex and John in prayer and worship and service to their parish and to the community at large, as well as their faithfulness to each other.

He then reminded the listeners that the Gospel for the day told the story of Christ raising of Lazarus from the dead, setting forth the dominical command, "Lazarus, come out" as the linchpin of his homily.  First he spoke of the scene surrounding Lazarus's family on the day Jesus arrived, late, to be with them--the confusion, the sorrow, the soul-searching as to whether they could have done more for the dead man than they had done.  Ryan spoke about the unwarranted guilt which can sometimes torture those who grieve when someone dies. 

You could have heard a pin drop as the congregation was drawn into the Biblical story, feeling the emotions of that long ago family.

"The Gospel of John tells us that Jesus wept for His friend Lazarus.  But what He did not do was give in to feelings of sadness and hopelessness.  He had to argue with the family to open the tomb because Lazarus had been dead three days.  But when our Lord prevailed and the tomb was opened, Jesus said to Lazarus, 'Come out!'  And come out he did, to the joy and initial disbelief of the family.

"COME OUT!  This is exactly what He is saying to our bereaved family members today and to all of us present here this morning:  'Come out!'  Come out of sadness, come out of mourning, come out of shock, come out of depression, come out of any sense of deprivation.  Come out and embrace hope!"

Ryan assured the worshippers that on the last day, "Our brothers Alex and John will be in the midst of all the faithful with us, greeting our Lord at the general resurrection from the dead," and he reiterated the scriptural witness that even at the edge of the grave, Christians can still raise their voices confidently to God two thousand years after the Lord walked the face of the earth--by singing Alleluias to the Father at the time final prayers are said for the departed.  Because in reality, they are not final prayers at all.

When Father Ryan completed his homily and walked back into the sanctuary and took his seat, not a sound was heard in the church as the powerful message was contemplated.  After a few minutes, the bishop along with the congregation rose and the Apostles Creed was said.

At the time of communion, Father Mason took a small white stole out of his suit pocket and put it around his neck.  Leaving the family, he joined the clergy and the appointed laypersons in distributing communion, first to the family, and then to members of the congregation who came forward in long lines to receive it.

As the service concluded, the bishop blessed the congregation, and the organ and orchestra began the introductory notes of the closing hymn
from the Episcopal hymnal, "Christ the Victorious."  A resounding first of four verses reflected the tone of the homily and the Mass:

                                           "Christ the Victorious, give to your servants
                                            rest with your saints in the regions of light.
                                            Grief and pain ended, and sighing no longer,
                                            there may they find everlasting life..."

On the last verse of the hymn the choir sang a descant which was so beautiful it brought tears to Catherine's eyes.

Cam didn't sing, but as he listened to the hymn, he realized that despite his expectations to the contrary, he did feel comforted by the service.  He felt at peace, at least for the moment, as he continued to reflect on Father Ryan's message.

The extended family went immediately to the parish house, where a receiving line was formed to accept condolences from the many mourners who had obviously admired Alex and John and wanted to pay their respects.  Cam and Kevin took turns holding Casey as the crowd filed past them, introducing the little boy as Alex's and John's grandson.

Once again Cam noticed with gratitude the attitude of his brothers, all of them polite and cheerful as they greeted the mourners who had joined the family in the parish hall.  All of the young men acted as if this crowd were their one and only priority that morning.

After the visitors left, the family greeted and thanked the bishop and other clergy in the room, with Ian unobtrusively handing each of them an envelope containing a thank offering.  Catherine made sure that Father Ryan, especially, knew how grateful they all were for his hard work in planning the Memorial Mass and seeing it carried out so beautifully.

*  *  *

Once back at the house, everyone changed into more comfortable clothes, and Ian gathered them all in the living room, some of the boys sitting on the floor.  Maria served the adults coffee and iced tea, and Cam and Kevin helped by getting the boys soft drinks.  Ian had Maria sit down with the family, and then announced to them all that he had been appointed by Alex and John to be the executor of each of their wills.  No one was greatly surprised about that, including Cam and Kevin.

"Unless anyone has any objections, I intend to read the wills at this time," Ian said.  "I should add that each of the wills is identical with respect to the beneficiaries who are designated."

"I don't think it's appropriate for all of us guys to be here, is it, Dad?" William questioned.

"Thank you for raising the question, William," Ian said.  "But it is appropriate because everyone present in this room is a designated beneficiary, plus at least several persons who are not present."  Everyone looked surprised, especially Andy Helder.  Dan Emrick gasped, and Jeff Miller and Maria Romero looked stunned.

"Are their any other questions before I begin?" Ian asked.  No one said anything, and Ian began reading the standard words used in California to preface last wills and testaments in which assets were bequeathed to the survivors of Alex and John, and with the provisions that if both testators were deceased simultaneously, the assets would be distributed as designated in the subsequent body of their wills. 

Less expenses attendant to administering the wills and for clearing any existing debt incurred by the two men, Alex's liquid net assets were roughly $780 million, John's were $256 million.  The Malibu house and land were assessed at $40 million, the Big Sur cabin and land were assessed at $10 million, and the worth of the Porsche and the Highlander was unspecified.

That's what a raft of smash hits in movie theaters will earn for you, Kevin thought to himself, thinking about the deceased men's assets.

Of the aggregate assets, William and Mark Carson, Berto Hernandez, and Carl and Dan Emrick were each bequeathed $1 million each.  Mary Carson was to receive $1 million.  Catherine MacKenzie was to receive $20 million.  Rosa Mendez, the family maid in San Rafael, was bequeathed $500 thousand, which would certainly guarantee a college education for her and her husband's children.  Yolanda Vega, the Carsons' maid now working in the San Rafael house with Rosa, was designated to receive $50 thousand.  Maria Romero was to receive $50 thousand.  Andy Helder was to receive $200 thousand.  Jeff Miller was to receive $100 thousand, with the stipulation that prior to Jeff's 40th birthday, expenditures made by him had to be approved by Cameron and Kevin.  Father Mason was to receive $1 million, and Father Ryan, $500 thousand.  St. Dunstan's was to receive $1 million for their endowment fund.

The residue of the joint estate of something under $1 billion in liquid assets, less the inheritance taxes but including both real properties and cars, were to be divided equally between Cameron MacKenzie and Kevin Stoltz.

The designated trustees for all the boys except Jeff Miller were Catherine MacKenzie and Ian and Mary Carson.

Ian concluded by reading the wishes of the departed that all monies bequeathed to minors be held in trust until those minor beneficiaries reached the age of 21 unless the trustees made an exception, and that Cam's and Kevin's liquid funds were to be held in trust until the age of 25 except for $1 million each to be placed in their control annually beginning at once.  The real properties and automobiles would become theirs immediately after the wills were probated.

When Ian's voice went silent, everyone in the room was speechless, struggling to take in the news they had just heard.  Stony faced, Cam, seated on the floor beside Kevin, got up and left the room and went out on to the front deck, followed closely by Kevin and then by Carl.

Kevin put his arm around his partner as Carl walked up and looked at Cam.  "Dude, are you mad that so many people got some money in the wills?" Carl asked.

Cam stared at his friend a little balefully.

"Fuck, no," he told Carl.  "How could you even think that?  There's plenty to go around."

"Well, what then?  You're acting all pissed off about something."

"I am pissed off.  That my dad and John had to die in the prime of their lives.  I'll never use a dime of their money without thinking about that."  He looked at Kevin.  "And I doubt if you will, either."

"You're right about that," Kevin responded quietly.

Carl breathed a sigh of relief.  "Thank goodness!" he said.  "I'd rather give the fucking money back than have you mad at me, bro!  Or feeling ripped off!"

Cam stepped over to Carl and gave him a hug, followed by a kiss on the cheek.

"I'm so happy that dad and John took care of the people Kevin and I care about the most," Cam told him.  "That was the way they lived, y'know.  Always kind.  Always generous.  I hope to God that Kev and I will always be as kindhearted as they were.  They weren't spendthrifts, but they didn't live for their money or live just to make more of it.   Dad used to say, 'You don't need big bucks to be happy, and you shouldn't ever fixate on it or let it get in your way when it comes to being a genuine human being.  How much money do people really need to live a good life?  Never be greedy!' he told Kevin and me one time.  And he was right.  They were never believers in kicking the economic shit out of the middle class and the poor in our tax policies just to feather their own nest like some in this country do.  He and John were rich, and they expected to pay taxes in proportion to what they had."

William had joined them on the deck, listening to what Cam had to say.

"We're all good, then, with the wills?" he asked Cam.

"Better than good, dude!" Cam said, beckoning William over and hugging and kissing him as he had done to Carl.

William picked Cam up a few inches off the deck and swung him around in a circle.

"Excellent!" William said, relieved.

*  *  *

When he had nothing to do, Eric Clymer frequently sat on his bunk in jail and thought about his two partners in the torture and rape of Cameron MacKenzie.  He had been housed in a separate cell block from Pete Murtha and Rory Lomer by design, and he often wondered about how they were doing.  He had heard from his public defender that Rory Lomer had been placed in solitary confinement at his own request after being sexually brutalized.  What a wimp, Eric thought to himself.  Pete Murtha was made of tougher stuff, and was doing all right, wherever he was, so far as Eric knew.

God, what a mess we're in, though.  Eric's attorney was working on a strategy which would influence the judge to mitigate his probable sentence to some degree, but it was pretty clear to all concerned that all three of them were going to do some time and register as sex offenders.  Meanwhile, Clymer's mother and father only visited him when their consciences bothered them, which wasn't too often.

Clymer watched the western light fade in the windows high above the jail tier in which he was incarcerated.  When he was first jailed, he had watched sunset come with trepidation because he knew what would happen to him once the lights in the cell block flickered off for the night.

Clymer was housed in one of the few, tiny two man cells in an L.A. county jail facility which was packed beyond belief with a third more prisoners than it had been constructed to hold.  The state of California was working to reform its pardon and parole programs to reduce the pressure on the jail and state prison systems.  But in the meanwhile there were far too few guards to manage too many prisoners, and the surveillance cameras were few and far between.  So what happened in the cells after dark, for the most part, went unaddressed and unmonitored.

Eric Clymer's cellmate was a huge, muscular Latino of Mexican extraction who was awaiting trial for a murder allegedly committed in the course of an armed robbery.  The wheels of justice were grinding slowly toward a trial date for Jesus Garcia, who unlike Eric was represented by a harassed and overloaded public defender.   Meanwhile, Jesus had needs...and the tall, handsome, athletically built young man with whom he was housed had learned quickly enough what it took to reduce the big man's tensions and take his mind off his troubles.  It was sex, of course, with Jesus being on the giving end of things and Eric the receiver.

Once lights-out arrived and the cell block settled down, Clymer was ordered every night by Garcia to strip and lie down on the bottom bunk, legs spread wide, sometimes on his back. and sometimes on his stomach.  First, however, Eric had to take his well endowed cellmate's cock into his mouth and get the man's phallus good and hard for the activity to come.  Clymer was required to lick Garcia's balls and explore the man's hole with his tongue before assuming a prone position on the bed for a vigorous and prolonged fucking.  And sometimes Jesus even wanted a second session before kicking Eric out of the narrow bunk to climb up on to his own mattress, with his asshole stretched and leaking semen. 

The first time Jesus had "requested" Eric's services, the young man had protested, and had promptly been pummeled into submission before he'd given it up to his dominant cellmate.  It had taken weeks for his bruises from that beating to disappear.  When asked by a guard where those bruises had come from, Clymer had said he had fallen out of bed--several times.

This particular night, his cellmate was naked and seated on the edge of the lower bunk with Eric on his knees, and Clymer worked Garcia's dick until the man's salty-sweet pre-cum had coated his tongue and mouth.  To add to the young man's humiliation, Garcia sometimes used his cock to smear pre-cum on Eric's face.

If he slacked off during these preliminaries, Garcia slapped Eric's head repeatedly until his ministrations to the man's crotch displayed more vigor.  So Clymer kept up the pace until ordered on to the bunk, face-up this time.  Garcia reached down and pinched Clymer's nipples hard, digging in with his fingernails, causing the kid to gasp in pain.  Then he squeezed his balls and his pecs hard several times after warning him not to yell.

The man finally climbed on top of his cellmate.  But before forcing Eric's legs up around his ears and spreading them, he leaned down and explored the young man's mouth with his tongue, tasting his own juices there.

"You like the way I taste, boy?" Garcia demanded.

"Yes," Eric told him, not wanting to provoke him.

"¡Bueno!" the man said.  "Now, pull your legs up so I can get in your tight little pussy."

Clymer complied, and Garcia put the huge head of his dick against his hole and then speared him, going all the way home in one swift motion.  Garcia covered Eric's scream of pain with a hand on his mouth, waiting several moments before uncovering Clymer's mouth and beginning to pull out and plunge back into his victim's ass, deliberately giving him as rough a ride as he could.  Feeling in total control, as usual, he long-dicked him for nearly thirty minutes, gradually increasing the pace until he finally ejaculated, grunting with each spurt of his spunk into the young man's tight, resilient hole.

Garcia lay there on top of Clymer until his senses returned, and then contemptuously dumped the kid on the floor to climb up into his own bed.  Always aroused by this time despite the discomfort of being fucked so vigorously, Eric would always lie on his mattress and fantasize about what he, Pete Murtha and Rory Lomer had done to Cameron MacKenzie in that house on the beach.  It had been a sexual high point for Clymer.  Those thoughts inevitably led him to jack himself off and then eat his own cum before falling asleep.

What concerned Clymer most of all, whenever he allowed himself to think about it, was that these nightly, often brutal sessions with Garcia were bothering him less and less as time passed.  Sometimes he even looked forward to being dominated by the burly, muscular man and then himself getting off.  If he couldn't pick his partner, Garcia would have to do.

What am I becoming, Eric wondered, sucking dick and taking it up the ass like this?  Am I really turning gay after hating homo's so much for so long?  Or have I been a queer all along?

He didn't know it, but that was the opinion that Kevin Stoltz had arrived at long ago.

*  *  *

Every one of the boys had talked with Cam and Kevin privately before the night was over about what the guys had received in the wills.  Like Carl and William, they wanted to know whether Cam and Kevin were upset because of the bequests they had received.  The two of them reassured their brothers that they were pleased with the distribution of Alex's and John's assets, and that there were no hard feelings about it.  So everybody was happy when they crashed for the evening, or at least as happy as they could be under the recent pall of death.  Cam noticed that there was no horseplay or joking around before they all went to sleep.  Everyone was still somber, if not a little depressed, about the death of John and Alex.

They were all up early the next morning, as usual, to run their eight miles up the beach.  Cam and Kevin couldn't help scoping out a lot of major wood on display when the guys pulled off their boxers to put on their running clothes.  Horny as hell, Cam and Kevin looked at each other and smiled when they saw all the cock.  But they weren't alone in taking in the naked scenery.  William and Berto were looking around as well as the younger guys.

When they all returned from their run and had showered, Ian and Mary and Catherine had the San Rafael contingent pack to return home.  Ian was determined that no one would miss any more school.  He told Cam and Kevin that he would be in touch with them with respect to processing the wills through probate and seeing to it that the provisions in them were implemented in a timely manner, and he invited them to call him should they have any questions along the way.

There was the usual sadness when the limousine arrived to take the visitors to the airport, of course.  Nothing was said, but everyone was reluctant to leave Cam and Kevin alone with their sorrow over John's and Alex's demise.

Catherine and Mary cried and hugged and kissed the two boys before getting into the car, and William was slow in releasing them when it was his turn to say good-bye to Cam and Kevin, also with a hug and kiss.

"I'll call you guys every night for awhile," William promised before getting into the limo.  For a tough, hetero guy, William could be a totally sweet person.

"Thanks, dude," Kevin told him.

Then the family was gone, and Kevin and Cam were left alone with Casey, their two dogs, and the remnants of their grief.  Thank God Maria is sticking with us, Kevin thought to himself.  Carrying Casey, he took Cam's hand and they walked into the house together.

Maria fixed them a good lunch, fed Casey, and then the two took Casey upstairs for his mid-day nap.  They told Maria that they would strip the sheets off the bed in their room where their mother had slept, and put fresh sheets on it out of the linen closet.

After they changed Casey's diaper and put him down, before they changed the sheets, they stripped each other down and were instantly hard.

"You can't believe how horny I am for you," Cam said, gently stroking his own engorged pole.

"Oh yes I can," Kevin said, doing the same to his own equipment..

Cam fell to his knees in front of his partner, grasped and kissed the beautiful cock in front of him, and then began sucking on it, taking it all the way down several times.  Minutes later, once he tasted pre-cum, he stood and walked Kevin backward until the latter sat down on the end of their bed.  Following the lead of his own huge erection, Cam walked over to their bedside table and retrieved the lube where it was hidden in the back of the drawer so Catherine wouldn't find it.  He greased his boy up and opened him up three fingers worth, and pressed the head of his rigid cock on his hole until it popped inside.

Their eyes locked together, Kevin's muscular legs on his shoulders, Cam moved up inside Kevin's tight ass until he could go no farther, and then lay down on top of his partner.

"Loving you so much, Kev!" he said, his feelings overwhelming him as he lay there on the body of the man who owned his heart.  Their eyes still focused on one another, Cam began moving slowly in and out of his partner, hitting his sweet spot repeatedly.  It was heaven on earth for both of them.

A good twenty minutes passed before Cam spent himself.  Kevin was leaking copiously from his dick, but had not yet come.  Cam took the hard cock in front of him in hand, kissed it, gave it a stroke, and then swallowed it down.  Kevin came almost immediately, flooding Cam's mouth with his seed.

Cam pulled off, and without swallowing, soul-kissed his lover, their tongues reveling in Kevin's thick, copious essence.

His dick huge and glistening, Cam pulled out of Kevin's body.  Still staring into one another's eyes before they passed out, Kevin said, "Let's think about getting married.  Soon.  After this semester is over.  If we can't do it in California, let's go east and get it done.  I love you, Cameron."

Tears rolled down Cam's cheeks as he nestled into Kevin and they fell asleep.

© 2012 Don Hanratty

As usual, my apologies for being so slow in posting a new chapter.