My Belovèd is mine, and I am his.
Song of Songs 2:16
Carl, Cam, Kevin and Cam's friend Art Smith
together in a little clump at LAX baggage claim late on Friday
afternoon. Cam was holding Casey, who was looking around with
interest at the crowd of people milling about in the arrivals
area. The little boy was babbling at anyone who would listen.
The four guys were waiting for Andy Helder to debark from his San
Francisco to L.A. flight for his usual weekend visit to Carl.
Kevin always kidded Carl that Andy's Friday trips were their
conjugal visits, but for some reason Carl wasn't amused by that
Art Smith was there with them because Cam had instructed Kevin to have
Art follow him home in his own car from the UCLA campus for supper that
done that. Art wasn't Kevin's favorite person because of Art's
former friendship with Eric Clymer and his two scumbag pals who had
sexually assaulted Cam. But
Kevin was starting to warm up to Art because the young man, when he was
around, had begun to
work out in
the gym with him and Cam and Carl. And also because Cam liked the
Carl's eyes were glued to the escalator when he spotted Andy, carrying
a leather duffel bag by a strap over his shoulder, gliding down from
above. The new arrival was
wearing a pair of dark blue board shorts with a form-fitting T-shirt
from his martial arts school at home. The shirt depicted a
Samurai warrior with his knee on the throat of a vanquished adversary,
and was captioned, "HAI!".
Carl's throat tightened up and he swallowed
hard. Andy's physique and handsome face literally took his breath
away sometimes. Every time Andy showed up, it seemed to him that
the longish, curly bronze-blond hair who stood over six feet tall, was
and developed than the week before. Not even Kevin thought he
could do much to further develop Andy in the gym.
Andy walked over to the boys, and dropping his bag to the floor,
enveloped Carl in a long embrace, kissing him on the lips.
"Lord, I'm glad to see you," he told Carl. Then he gave Cam and
Kevin each a hug and a kiss on the cheek.
"Hey, Baby Boy," Andy said to Casey, bending down to kiss him on top of
head. The baby reached up and grabbed Andy's nose, and Andy
"Andy, this is our friend Art Smith," Cam said, and the two of them
exchanged a slip and slide handshake.
"Hey," Art told Andy. "I met you at Alex and John's funeral, but
think we saw each other last year at
Disneyland when you knocked Eric Clymer on his ass."
"Oh," Andy said. "You were at Disneyland?"
"Yes, I was. How ya doin'?"
"Good. I'm surprised to see ya here with these guys if you hung
around with Clymer," Andy
"I crossed Clymer and his asshole friends off my friendship list long
ago. Before they fucked Cam up," Art said.
"You have good taste, then," Andy said.
"Yeah, I do," Art agreed.
"Andy, you have any more luggage?" Kevin asked.
"Nope, this is it," Andy said, picking up his bag off the floor and
putting the strap over his shoulder. In anticipation of moving to
Santa Monica in the spring, he had started bringing a few extra clothes
at each visit.
"Let's book, then," Kevin said, and they moved toward the exit and
headed for the Highlander in short-term parking. Carl held his
partner's hand as they walked.
"Good flight?" Carl asked his boy.
"They're all good when I'm coming to see you," Andy responded.
"Miss ya all the fucking time."
"Same here," Carl said. "You see the family lately?"
"As a matter of fact, I had supper with 'em at the house last night at
invitation. I saw her on campus at St. Francis, and she invited
Father Jim was there, too. Anyway, everybody's good, and the boys
are all as buff as ever," Andy said. "And by the way, William
told me he's dating Alicia McCaskill again."
"No way!" Carl said. "I thought she was forbidden fruit."
"Me, too," Andy said. "But you know William. He doesn't
take 'no' for an answer, and he persuaded his dad and Mr. McCaskill
that there wouldn't be any sex involved if he and Alicia were allowed
"Hmmm. Well, I know she's been on his mind. We'll see if he
can stick to that promise," Cam commented.
"Yeah, I know," Andy agreed. "But he says he really loves her, so
maybe he can do it."
"I hope things go well for him," Kevin said seriously. "Even when
he had his harem and was fucking all of 'em, he always said Alicia
stood out in the crowd. Who knows? Maybe she's THE
ONE. You know, like you and Carl, and me and Cam." He
wasn't kidding, and put an arm around Cam, who was still carrying Casey
as they walked toward the parking lot.
"Maybe she is," Andy agreed.
They continued talking until they reached the SUV. Carl and Andy
got in the front seats, and Kevin secured Casey in the car seat in the
then climbed in with Cam and Art.
They reached the house, and they were all hungry. Andy stashed
his bag in the study, and they all sat around in the kitchen shooting'
the breeze while Kevin and Cam heated up the mashed potatoes, gravy,
and fried chicken that Maria had left for them, and took a big bowl of
salad out of the refrigerator. Carl fed Casey some baby food
while supper was heating up, and
his diaper, put him in his downstairs crib. The little boy closed
Carl then washed his hands and set the table, and when everything was
ready, Cam offered
thanks. They all made the sign of the cross except Art and sat
"So you saw Father Mason at supper, huh?" Kevin said to Andy.
"How's he doing?"
"I think he's all right, but he mentioned that his mother isn't doing
too well. She has Alzheimer's, right?"
"Yeah," Cam said. "He worries about her a lot. He
told me when he was down here for Alex's and John's funeral that her
condition is deteriorating all the time I think he has two
sisters down here looking after his mom, but I'd sure love it if he
moved back to Southern
California. Father Ryan is great, but I'd like to see more of
Andy nodded. "He said at supper that he may have to move back
here when and if she gets really bad."
"I wish his mom well, but I'm with Cam on this. I do wish he'd
here," Kevin said.
They kept visiting while they ate every bit of food on the table and
off their meal with bowls of butter pecan ice cream. When they
were finished, everybody pitched in to scrape and rinse the plates and
dishes and put them in the dishwasher. Cam led the dogs out on to
the front deck, chained them up, and gave them some dog food and fresh
Then the guys all gathered in the study, and sat down.
Carl and Andy sat close together on one of the big leather couches, and
put his arm across Carl's shoulders.
"Uh, guys," Andy said, "I just wanted to tell you how grateful I am for
the inheritance from John and Alex. I was really surprised.
I never expected anything like that."
"Well," Kevin said, "Don't thank us. I'm glad it happened, but we
didn't have anything to do with it."
Cam looked at the two boys. "If you want to thank 'em, just say a
prayer for their souls. That's all any of us can do for them
now." It was pretty obvious that Cam was still hurting.
"I know," Carl said, "but we're all really thankful for what they
did. What Alex
and John did
in their wills is a perfect example of how generous this family is."
'You're right about that, fer sure," Kevin said.
Looking at Kevin, Cam watched Carl and Andy out of the corner of his
eye where they were
sitting as close together as they could get. He changed the
subject. "Y'know, if
nobody has special plans for this evening, I have a great idea," he
"Why don't we stay up all night and watch movies on the big screen
Carl and Andy looked at each other unhappily at that idea, and Cam and
Kevin started to laugh, which mystified Art Smith.
"What??" Art asked, not getting it.
Cam stared over at Carl and Andy when they didn't respond right
away. "Oh, did you two have something
else you wanted to do tonight?"
"Yeah, well, it won't be the same if we're not all here together
movies," Kevin interjected. "We could all take a break between
and work out
Carl shook his head mournfully. "You two assholes really know how
to hurt a guy, doncha?"
"What?" Cam said, echoing Art and trying to look confused, but then
laughing again. "Oooh! I get it. I s'pose you two
horndogs want some alone time. That's kinda selfish of ya, doncha
"Yeah," Kevin said. "Selfish."
Cam looked at Art. "I guess you know Andy and Carl are
explained. "They only get to
other on weekends, so they're horny as fuck. And that's what they
do at every opportunity on weekends--fuck."
Art laughed. "Well, I thought they were kinda friendly with each
"Art, my man, 'friendly' doesn't cover it," Kevin said, laughing.
"Look at Carl's eyes. They glow red whenever Andy's around."
"That's true," Cam said. "Listen, you two guys can take off
anytime you want to. I was only kidding about watching
movies. But I did want to ask you one favor for real this
weekend. Kevin and I needs to start cleaning out Alex's and
closets in the master bedroom and donating their clothes to charity,
was going to ask you to help us sort things out so we can move into the
Kevin studied Cam's face. "We're gonna clean out closets this
weekend? You never mentioned that to me."
"You work more efficiently when you don't have time to dwell too long
the unpleasant jobs," Cam said.
"You're just full of tricks, aren't ya?" Kevin said, smiling.
"L-o-t-s of tricks."
"That's why you love me," Cam responded, leaning over and kissing his
partner on the
"We'll help sort out the clothes," Carl said. "But I think we'll
go upstairs right now and get Andy unpacked."
"'Unpacked,' huh? Is that what you call it? Well, okay
then, if you have to,"
Kevin said. "Will we see you again before we go to bed?"
"Maybe," Andy said. "For a snack before it's time to sleep."
"I'm glad you didn't say it would be a snack 'before bed,' cause that
would be a split second from now," Cam said. "If that long."
"Laters," Andy grinned as he stood, bending down to pick up his bag off
the floor. He and Carl walked to the door with Andy's muscular
arm around Carl's waist as they disappeared into the hall and went
Cam watched Art's face as Carl and Andy left the room, and saw that the
man was clearly checking out their well muscled butts as they walked
out of the room.
"Art?" Cam said, looking over at his friend.
"You don't have to answer this question if you don't want to," Cam
said. "But are you gay?"
"Cameron, for gosh sakes!" Kevin said disapprovingly, surprised at how
brash his partner was.
"Shut up, Kevin," Cam said. "There's nothing wrong with that
question. It's either 'yes' or 'no.'"
"There's a third option," Kevin said. "'None of your damn
Art leaned back in his chair, a little stunned by Cam's question,
for a long minute.
"Yes, I am," he finally admitted, breaking his silence and coming back
life. "But I'm not
out to anyone. You're the first people I've ever said those words
"We won't say anything to anybody," Kevin assured him, relieved that
hadn't freaked out and walked out. "At least not
until you tell us we can. Your parents don't know?"
"No, they don't. And I'm having a hard time coming to grips with
it myself," Art said
quietly. "Sometimes I feel like a fucking
freak. Here I am
in college, and I've never even been with a guy or a girl. I've never had sex
with anyone. It's been my right hand all the way."
"Listen, Art, you're no freak, and there's no shame in being gay, or in
having had sex with anyone yet," Kevin
said seriously. "I'm telling you the truth. Take it from
someone who's a sex
expert by now." He grinned. No modesty was required on that
topic, in his opinion.
"Listen, Art, I'm sorry I've more or less been an asshole to you up
'til now," Kevin continued.
"I know you and Cam are friends, and I haven't been that nice to
you. I just haven't known who you are or where you're coming
from. Now I'm starting to get it. So I promise I'm gonna do
"I'll appreciate that," Art said. He put his hands down on his
jean-clad legs. "You don't know how much I envy you two.
And Carl and Andy, now that I know for sure about them. You're
all 'out' and
proud, but I don't think I have the guts to do that."
"You can only take one step at a time, Art," Cam said. "Believe
me, after Kev and I came out to each other and finally had sex, we
didn't run out into the street and start proclaiming we were gay.
We were in love with each other for a long time before we admitted it
to anyone. We were living
with my mother--she was Kevin's guardian after his dad moved to New
York City because of work--and we didn't even tell her. She
finally sleuthed it out when she noticed that only one of our beds was
being slept in every night. We had adjoining bedrooms, and we'd
trade off which bed we slept in. We thought we were being so
clever, but she was too smart for us."
"What happened after she found out?" Art asked.
"She confronted us one night at supper, and asked if we were sleeping
together," Kevin said. He laughed. "We didn't know whether
to shit or go blind right then!"
"But we 'fessed up," Cam said. "Mom was very upset. Not
we are gay per se, but
because she knew how challenging it can be sometimes to make your way
world when you're gay and out."
"It's getting better for gays all the time, but there's still a long
way to go," Kevin said.
"Yeah," Art agreed. "I've been scared and in the closet for so
long, I really don't know what to do next."
"Well, now you have two friends who know your deal," Cam said.
a chance to think about how you want to come out." He
paused. "You do want to
come out, don't you?"
"I don't know." Art looked extremely uncomfortable.
"Lemme share something with you that Carl told me when we were living
in San Rafael," Cam said. "Carl was seeing a shrink at the time,
and she was really helping him accept the fact he was probably
gay at the same time he was getting treatment for being assaulted by
his father. He was starting to feel pretty good about himself,
the way home from one of his sessions he stopped at our Episcopal
parish church to talk to Father Jim Mason. You met Father at
Alex's funeral at St. Dunstan's, I'm sure. Carl was raised a
Roman Catholic, like us, and he asked Father Jim if there was a place
Episcopal Church for a gay person. Father told him there
was. He said something along the lines of, 'Don't be afraid to
find out who you
are, because God wants us to be who we really are, and loves us just as
we are.' When Carl told me that, it just reinforced me in feeling
good about my relationship with Kevin and with the Church. And
Father's words really helped Carl be who he is. I think Father
Jim gave Carl some good advice.
"And I want to pass that on to you," Cam concluded. "That doesn't
mean you have to run around telling everybody you're gay, but just mull
it over for awhile. Get used to the idea that being gay
may really be your sexual identity, and if it is, it's not a terrible
thing, it's a good thing. Then make coming out to the important
people in your life
at some point your goal. You'll
feel better about yourself, fer sure."
"Have you ever read any of the stories on the Nifty gay story site?"
"Yes," Art said, blushing.
"Well, the writer of a story I read recently had one of the characters
say in so many words, 'We're only as sick as our secrets.'
like that. And that's so true," Kevin said. "We pay dearly
for our secrets, don't think we don't. But the time and the place
and the people you come out to have to be your decision, not anybody
else's. Totally yours. Please don't think we're pressuring
you at all to come out, 'cause we're not." He frowned at
Cam. "At least I'm not."
"Art, could I ask you how things are at home for you?" Cam inquired,
ignoring Kevin's disapproval.
"Not too good, really. They've never been really, really good
from my perspective. We're not a close family. There's not
a lot of love there--not for me, anyway. My parents compliment my
younger brother all the time, but I don't think I've ever gotten a
compliment from them. Nothing I've ever done has ever pleased
them much, I guess. I don't know whether they suspect I'm gay or
not. I guess that not feeling close to them is why I'm so scared
to admit to them I'm probably gay."
"Well, thanks for coming out to Kevin and me," Cam said.
"We'll never say anything to anybody until you tell us we can. No
"I appreciate that," Art said. "It's a relief to talk about it,
to be honest."
"Why don't you stay here tonight, Art?" Kevin suggested. "We have
plenty of bedrooms, and we can all run together tomorrow morning and
work out. Maria will be here to watch Casey."
"I don't have a change of clothes," Art said.
"Cam has some shorts, and a t-shirt and a jock that will probably fit
you," Kevin said, glancing over at Art. "You're about the same
"Yeah, stay," Cam said. "Do you need to call your parents."
Art shook his head in the negative. "They don't care what I
do. I won't even be missed."
"Perfect, then!" Cam said.
At that point, they fired up the big screen TV and played some Wii, a
newly improved version that Kevin had picked up the previous day on a
shopping spree. They each won a game apiece before deciding to
quit for the night after a couple hours.
Hearing footsteps in the hall, they looked up as Carl and Andy stuck
their heads into the room. The two guys had "the glow" on their
faces, and Cam and Kevin knew exactly what they'd been doing up in the
bedroom. They were barefoot and naked except for shorts.
"We're gonna have some more ice cream," Carl said. "You guys want
"Excellent idea!" Cam said.
"Well, let's get to the freezer right
away, then," Andy said mockingly.
"You assholes think you're really funny, doncha?" Kevin said, smiling
in spite of himself.
Carl and Andy just laughed, and they all headed for the kitchen.
While Kevin dished up the ice cream, Art had to work not to get
caught perving on the bodies of the nearly naked Carl and Andy. Fucking buff and so-o-o beautiful! he
thought to himself.
After the four of them shot the shit for awhile and finished their ice
cream, they all went upstairs except for Cam, who let the dogs
in. Kevin carried a sleeping Casey upstairs. When he got
Art to a
bedroom, making sure he had a
fresh toothbrush, toothpaste, soap and towels. Everything was
there. As usual, Maria had been right on top of things.
went back to his room and picked out a pair of shorts, a jock, sweat
T-shirt for Art so he could run in the morning and took them down to
After he put the baby down, Kevin came back out of his room and walked
down to Carl and Andy's
knocking and opening it just as Andy and Carl had stripped down to head
bathroom to clean their teeth. They were both already at
Impressive, Kevin thought to
himself as he scoped them out.
"Art's right next door and needs his sleep," he informed them.
banging the headboard of the bed against the wall all night."
"Get the fuck out!" Carl suggested to Kevin as Andy gave him
the finger. Kevin grinned and shut their door.
Cam came out of Art's room and followed Kevin back into their own
room. They stripped off
their clothes before stopping at the crib and watching Casey
sleep. Both thought about what a beautiful baby the little guy
was. Kevin checked Casey's diaper--it was dry--and they went into
the bathroom to brush their teeth. As they brushed, they
playfully poked each other with their elbows and bumped each other.
"Ow!" Kevin said. "Now you hurt me," he lied.
"I'll kiss it and make it well," Cam promised.
After they finished and put their toothbrushes in their holders, they
turned and looked at each other hungrily. Kevin cupped Cam's
package with one hand and pulled him into a kiss with the other hand on
his neck. They each started to firm up right away.
"I love your equipment, boy," Kevin said. "I love all of you, but
I have to tell you I'm very partial to how well you're hung."
"Spoken like a true lover of dick," Cam said. "Ditto." He
reached out and took hold of Kevin's cock, simultaneously giving it a
"I wanna get up close and personal with this bad boy," Kevin said,
giving Cam's penis a stroke right back.
They turned out the bathroom light and walked to the bed, each with a
hand on the other's ass, and fell into bed, immediately moving into a
Kevin took hold of Cam's penis, pushing down gently on the head with
his thumb and forefinger to open the slit and licked it with his
he took the head into
his mouth, running his tongue up and down the slit a few more
before taking the whole appendage into his mouth and down his throat
without any problem. He felt Cam doing the same thing to
him. Their time as lovers had schooled them well in the art of
They lay there without moving as their dicks made themselves right at
home, their throats squeezing and caressing the welcome
intruders. Eventually they began to move their mouths up and down
each other's dicks, and over a period of minutes began to increase and
then vary the pace and the friction. The sweet pre-cum began to
flow into one another's mouth.
They managed to keep from ejaculating for all of fifteen minutes, and
dam burst for both of them. Cam came first, groaning deep in his
chest as his
load rocketed into Kevin's mouth. Kevin followed suit almost
immediately, grunting as he did so. He pulled back so only the
head of Cam's cock was in his mouth, taking the full load in his mouth
and not down his throat.
They lay there as if they had been poleaxed for several minutes before
pulling off each other, making sure that their mouths maintained the
swallowing. Kevin moved around so they were face to face, and
they gave one another a long-lasting soul kiss, tasting themselves in
the gift they had given each other. Drawing back then, they
had been so bountifully provided.
"I love doing that with you," Cam said, smiling. "You
taste like pure Kevin. No surprise there."
"Same, dude. You don't know how much I love you and appreciate
how sexy you are." They studied each other. "I need to tell
something before we go to sleep, though. Don't get mad."
"What?" Cam asked.
"I thought you were kind of a badass tonight when you made Art
come out to us."
"I didn't mean to be."
"I know. But this is my motto: 'It's better to love
dick than to be one.'"
Cam chuckled. "I can't argue with that. Do you think I
should apologize to him tomorrow?"
"Not necessarily. But when someone's that deep in the closet,
it's better to
"And everybody thinks I'm the
sensitive one," Cam laughed. "But I hear what you're saying."
They slid under the sheets and held each
"I love ya, Cameron," Kevin said, nuzzling his partner's face.
"I loves ya back, Kev."
Nothing else was said, and within
two minutes they were fast asleep in each other's arms.
* * *
Kevin roused everybody about 8:00 the next morning, and they dressed
for their run.
It was Saturday, so they'd all slept a couple hours later than
Andy and Carl looked relaxed, but not particularly
rested. They'd obviously been busy during the night.
The boys greeted Maria in the downstairs hall, and Kevin passed a
freshly diapered Casey to her.
"Thanks, Maria," Kevin said. "He's cleaned up and ready for
"Good morning, sweetheart," Maria said to the little guy, kissing him
on the forehead. Casey gurgled at her and pointed toward the
kitchen where he knew food awaited him.
Kevin re-introduced Art to Maria--they'd met before, but just in
"Maria, Art slept in the bedroom next to Carl's," Cam said. "He's
probably going to stay with us off and on for awhile, so you don't have
to change the sheets in his room every day."
"Thanks for telling me," Maria said.
Cam kissed her on the cheek as he headed for the door to the beach with
and she gave him a big smile before turning and heading for the kitchen
with the baby. The little guy was trying to talk a blue streak.
The guys did their stretches on the deck as Alice and Samantha milled
anxious to get started, and then they all walked down to the hard pack.
"Art, we usually run seven miles," Kevin told him. "Are you a
runner at all?"
"I don't run very often, and when I do, it's not very fast and usually
only a couple of
"I'll stick with you," Kevin offered. "When you get tired, we'll
walk for a while, and then we can turn around and head back to the
"I don't want to cut your run short," Art told Kevin.
"Don't worry about it," Kevin responded. "Just set your pace, and
I'll be right there with ya."
Cam, Carl and Andy took off at their usual fast pace, the dogs running
ahead, with Kevin and Art following behind more slowly The gap
soon widened as Kevin and Art ran only at a fast jog.
"You sleep well?" Kevin asked.
"Great. The sound of the waves put me right to sleep."
"They do that, don't they?" Kevin agreed. "We feel lucky we live
right on the beach."
"It's perfect for you guys," Art said.
They ran in silence for a few minutes.
"Thanks for coming out to us last night, Art," Kevin said. "It's
not easy to do that, but you had the guts to do it. You won't be
"It was time," Art said. "Not being able to talk about being gay
with anyone else was bringin' me down."
"Yeah. I remember how it was with me."
Art looked over at him. "What you said last night--what was
it? 'We're only as sick as our secrets.' I can see how true
that is now that I think about it. It's such a relief to be able
to talk about it."
"Why don't you think about spending more time at the house with Cam and
Carl and me,"
Kevin suggested. "Don't feel under any obligation to do that, but
just know you're welcome anytime." He grinned. "Once
you get to working out in the gym and running with us, you'll be so
tired you won't even
think about being gay."
Art chuckled. "Well, aren't you the optimist! With you and
Cam and Carl around to look at, I'll be thinking about being gay all
Kevin laughed out loud. "Isn't there any eye candy at school
"Oh, yeah! And all of it straight, I'm sure."
"Well, that's just it. You just don't know until you know," Kevin
said. "If you want Cam and me to go with you to some of the
programs at the Gay-Straight Alliance, we can do that. You'll
know in a
hurry who's straight and who's gay then. In that group, at least."
"I've thought about going to a meeting, but I've just been too
chickenshit to do it," Art said.
"Well, you shouldn't go until you're comfortable with it. Cam
and I don't belong to the Alliance, and we've never even gone to one of
programs, but it won't kill us to give you some support while you're
"I appreciate that, Kevin. Thank you. I'll think about it."
"Your situation has made me realize how little I've done for our gay
brothers and sisters out there in the world. I'm sure Cam would
me. If we can help you in your process, we need to do that.
Especially since we've had so much support from our family."
The two guys continued to talk until Art finally had to stop
jogging. He bent over, gasping to get his breath.
Eventually they turned around and began a fast walk back toward the
a long while, and then resumed a slower jog in that direction.
three guys and the
dogs passed them at almost a dead run just before they all reached the
house. They did their cool downs on the deck before going inside
hitting the showers.
In their room, Cam stripped and stepped into
the shower with Kevin.
Kevin pulled him into a hug under the streaming water, holding his
next to Cam's.
"Art did all right?" Cam asked his partner.
"Yeah. He'll be able to do seven miles with us in no time."
"He wasn't pissed about our conversation last night, was he?"
"No," Kevin said. "And I thanked him for trusting us enough to
come out to us."
"Good deal. Thanks for running with him," Cam said.
"Y'know, I'm starting to realize how selfish I've been when it comes to
supporting our bros who are gay."
"What brought this on?"
"Well, while we were running, I was just thinking about how tough it
for Art to come out, and it's not always easy to find someone to care
about once you are out.
Someone who's gay. I haven't been
very generous with my time, I don't think," Kevin said. "All
things considered, we had it pretty easy when we came out. And we
had each other to come out for."
"Are you saying you've been selfish, my Kevin?"
"Art and I were talking, and I suggested that he go to some meetings of
the Gay-Straight Alliance at school. I told him we'd go with
I've never offered any of my time to anyone who's struggling with their
orientation. Except for Mark Carson, that is, and that's just
been to give him some advice about being patient in finding
himself. He's young, yet."
"When it comes to being selfish, what about me? Neither of us has
much to brag about, I guess,"
Cam said. "At least you're carrying a full schedule at
school. I have no excuse."
"Well, you've still had a lot on your plate after what happened down
the beach. But maybe we can do
Cam stepped back and looked his partner in the face. "No wonder I
much, Kevin. You're right. Anything you want to do to
help Art, I'll
do it with you. Count on it!"
Kevin pulled his partner to him and gave him a long, sweet kiss.
"Love ya back so much, Cameron. I'd be lost and
lonely without ya, dude."
They finished up their shower, and after they toweled one another off
and dressed, they went down to the kitchen. Art, Carl and
Andy joined them a couple minutes later, and by popular demand, Maria
started cooking them Huevos rancheros
with toast and
crisp bacon while they sipped big glasses of orange juice.
After they ate and cleared the table, the boys sat around talking after
breakfast, letting their food
before Kevin decided it was time to work out.
all warmed up in the gym, Kevin pretty much left Cam, Carl and Andy
alone to do their
exercises of choice, and started helping Art learn some basic
techniques on the gym equipment. He wasn't too brutal with the
kid, who was well built but a little underdeveloped. Some work in
the gym would remedy that.
They spent early Sunday morning together before Art, having declined an
invitation to go to church with the guys, reluctantly went
It wasn't until Cam and Kevin were in bed that night that Cam realized
that they hadn't begun to sort through Alex's and John's clothes as
he'd wanted them to do.
* * *
The call Cam had been dreading from the District Attorney's office came
on Monday. Cam was studying his cinematography text at the desk
in the den when Maria buzzed him on the phone to say that ADA Aaron
"Mr. MacKenzie, this is Assistant District Attorney Aaron Petrie," the
voice said. "DA Jim Nolan has assigned me to prosecute the case
against Eric Clymer, Peter Murtha and Rory Lomer for what they did to
you in Malibu."
"Yes, sir," Cam said.
"The trial date is coming up, and I want to spend some time with you
going over the facts of the case as our office understands them.
What we know is based on what Detectives Simon Roker and Emilio Suarez
have provided us in their official reports. We need to dot every
'i' and cross every 't' before we face a judge and jury. When can
we get together?"
"I'll be down on the UCLA campus in class tomorrow," Cam said.
"But I'm free on Wednesday pretty much all day."
"Can you come downtown to my office?"
"Good!" Petrie said. "If you have a pen and paper, I'll give you
"One second," Cam said, opening his notebook and picking up a pen.
Petrie gave him the address.
"The receptionist on the main floor will direct you to my office
What's a good time for you?" he asked.
"Anytime after 10 o'clock," Cam said.
"Let's make it 10:30," Petrie suggested. "I'll look forward to
seeing you then."
'Yes, sir," Cam said, and broke the connection. He picked up
his cell phone to look up Ian Carson's office number, and called him on
The switchboard at Ian's law firm put him right through to Ian's
secretary, who buzzed her boss immediately.
"Cam MacKenzie on 44," she said.
"Thank you, Beverly," Ian said, and pressed the flashing button.
"I've been thinking about you, Cameron," Ian said by way of
greeting. "Are Kevin and
Carl and Casey all right?"
"Everybody's good," Cam said. "Andy Helder was down here this
weekend to see Carl. Kevin is doing well, and watching Casey
grow up is a real treat for both of us. He's starting to talk
won't be long before he'll be sassing us back like all us guys do to
you and Mary and Mom."
Ian chuckled. "Isn't that
"Listen, I just wanted to let you know that the DA's office called a
few minutes ago. An ADA named Aaron Petrie. He's been
assigned to prosecute my case, and I'm going downtown to his office at
10:30 Wednesday morning to start going over the facts of the case and
"I knew the DA had tapped Petrie to handle the case. And we knew
the first interview would be coming up," Ian said. "How are you
about the trial at this point?"
"I'm dreading it. Getting on the stand and telling a jury of
total strangers what those guys did to me is going to be horrible and
humiliating. I don't want to relive it by talking about it."
"Do you want me to come down and stay with you for a few days? I
will if you need me."
"That means a lot to me, Ian. Thank you. Why don't I let
you know how the interview goes before you make plans to come
down. I don't even know the exact court date yet. And you
have a busy law practice to take care of."
"'Family first,' pal," Ian said. "Call me and let me know."
"I will. How's everybody at home?"
"Everyone is doing well. The guys all miss you and Kevin and the
baby, I know that. Maybe we can all get together over
"That would be great!" Cam said. "It's probably our turn to come
up to San Francisco."
"Probably," Ian admitted. "But I don't want you to have to travel
during flu season with the baby. Did you all have your flu shots
this Fall, by the way?"
"Yes. In September. But I hear what you're saying.
We'd love to have you all come down here, you know that. Don't
leave Yolanda home alone, either. She's part of the family, and
Rosa has her own husband and kids to celebrate with."
"Well, thanks for thinking about Yolanda, Cam. You're a good guy,
and given what's coming up in court before long, I don't want you to
forget that fact."
Cam sighed. "I'll try not to. I'll let you know what
happens with Mr. Petrie. And thanks for offering to come down for
moral support. Give Mom and Mary and all the guys our love."
The line went dead. Cam hung up, and marking his place in his
cinematography text, he stood up and walked to the sliding doors to
the beach and looked out at the Pacific. The sun was beaming down
sand, and people were running up and down on it, exercising next to the
water. They didn't look like they had a care in the world, but he
felt restless and tormented by thoughts of the upcoming
Toughen me up, Lord, he
thought to himself. It's
crunch time, and it's time to man up!
* * *
On Tuesday night that
week, Carl was upstairs studying in his room, and Cam left Kevin
working on some physics problems in the study and went out to the
garage. He uncovered Alex's, now his, Porsche, and sat down on
the steps just looking at it. That was a trigger, because
suddenly the events and consequences surrounding Alex's and John's
deaths rushed back into his mind, and he sat there paralyzed with
grief. Tears flooded his eyes without warning and began to run
down his cheeks, dropping on his T-shirt and board shorts.
He'd thought he had begun to put what had happened to his father and
Kelly behind him, but obviously that wasn't true. Even
after he stopped weeping, Cam sat there for a good half-hour staring at
the car, unable to move, thoughts about his loss cascading through his
He eventually heard the door to the kitchen behind him open, and
footfalls as Kevin came down the short flight of stairs and sat down
beside him and put an arm around him.
"Here you are. What's the matter?" Kevin asked.
Cam turned his head, his cheeks still red and wet from tears, and
looked at his partner.
"I don't know," he choked out before turning his face away.
Kevin moved closer to Cam and hugged him, not saying anything, and put
his face next to Cam's.
"I thought I had put all this shit behind me. But looking at
Dad's car just brought everything back," Cam said.
"Everybody heals at his own pace," Kevin responded gently and
reasonably after a moment. "The pain takes time to go away.
Please don't be upset that you're still grieving. It's gonna get
better. I'm here for ya, and so is everybody in the family."
"I know," Cam said. He put an arm around Kevin and hugged him
back. "Sometimes I don't think I'd want to live if it weren't for
you and Casey, Kev."
"That scares me." Kevin kissed Cam on the side of his head.
"Do you think you need to spend some time with Dr. Owens again?"
"I don't know," Cam said. "I haven't thought so up until
now. I thought I was handling things pretty well."
"I think you have been, but why don't you take a few days and think
about it?" Kevin suggested. "You liked working with Dr. Owens
after you were attacked on the beach, and she knows you and cares about
you. She offered to spend some time with you when she called
about Alex's and John's deaths, didn't she?"
"Yes, she did. And I'll think about it."
"Good. Listen, why don't we hit the bed early tonight? You
Cam's face looked more cheerful. "Y'know, I think that's an
excellent idea. I always like to hear the words 'we' and 'bed' in
the same sentence."
Kevin kissed Cam on the side of the head again, and
they stood up and covered up the Porsche again.
They took Casey upstairs, bathed him, put a fresh diaper on him, and
put him in his bed. The little boy had been active and exuberant
during his bath in the bassinet, and Cam and Kevin were dripping wet by
the time they
had finished bathing him.
They stripped each other down, toweled each other dry, brushed their
teeth, and got in bed.
But they didn't have sex. Kevin pulled Cam into his arms and
kissed him and just held him. Cam began to relax in his partner's
and was soon asleep. Kevin seldom said any prayers at bedtime,
but this particular night was an exception. He thanked God for
partner in his life, and prayed that Cam's grief would continue to heal
quickly and fully. He added a Hail Mary, and then fell asleep
gently holding the young man he loved more than life itself..
* * *
Wednesday morning rolled around all too quickly, and just to keep the
charged up, Cam drove the Porsche downtown that day to the
address ADA Petrie had given him. He parked in a lot near the
District Attorney's offices, and made his way to the building. It
was 10:20 a.m. when he walked in.
A middle-aged Hispanic lady behind a reception desk in the foyer
greeted him with a
smile, and asked who he was there to see.
"Mr. Aaron Petrie," he told her.
"What is your name, please?" she asked.
"One moment, sir," she said, consulting a directory and punching a
number into the telephone.
She gave someone Cam's name, and a moment later he was directed to a
bank of elevators after passing successfully through security. He
went to the fifth floor and was met at the elevator door by a well
dressed, well coifed Afro-American lady.
She introduced herself as "Mrs. Maxwell," and escorted him to a door
labeled "Aaron Petrie, ADA."
Mrs. Maxwell invited Cam to be seated in a row of chairs along one
wall. He did so, and looked around the office as she went behind
her desk, picked up her telephone, and punched in a number. She
told her boss that "Mr. MacKenzie"
"Mr. Petrie will be with you shortly," Mrs. Maxwell said after she hung
up the phone.
Cam looked around the room. There were a few pictures on the
wall, some of them copies of well known prints by famous artists.
It was a busy place. Mrs. Maxwell answered the telephone
periodically, handling the phone calls quickly and
professionally. One party who asked for Mr. Petrie was told that
the ADA was just going into a conference, taking down information so
that Petrie could return the call.
A little dust-up Cam had had with Kevin earlier that morning ran
through his mind. At breakfast after their run, Kevin told him
that he was going downtown with Cam to see the ADA.
"You don't need to do that," Cam had said. "I'll be all right."
"I know I don't need to go, but I want to go," Kevin had insisted.
"Go to class," Cam had said. "If I can't handle this interview,
I'll never be able to handle the trial."
"I know you can handle anything the DA's office throws at you, but I
just want to keep you company."
Carl Emrick had looked at them curiously, as had Maria. Cam and
hardly ever fought, particularly not in front of others.
"I know, Kev," Cam had said. "But I'll be all right." He'd
stood up from the table and put his dishes in the dishwasher, as did
Cam had pulled his partner into his arms and held him for a long
minute, then kissed him.
"You're so stubborn," Kevin had said.
"It's from being with you," Cam had said. "You know I appreciate
They had both parted on good terms when Kevin and Carl left for school
Cam emerged from his reverie about Kevin when Mrs. Maxwell's phone
She answered it and then looked up at Cam.
"Mr. Petrie is free now," she said. "Please go right in
that door," she said, pointing at it.
Cam knocked and went right in. A balding
white guy who appeared to be in his mid thirties, dressed in
shirtsleeves and a tie rose
behind his desk and walked toward Cam. He held
"Mr. MacKenzie? Aaron Petrie. Please come in."
They shook hands, and Petrie asked if he wanted anything to
drink. Cam declined, and Petrie thanked his secretary and shut
For his part, Petrie saw a handsome, well built
young man with short,
light colored hair, wearing a blue, open-necked sport shirt under a
brown tweed sport coat, and a pair
of Levi's, along with polished brown loafers. The kid looked
alert and intelligent. Very presentable looking. So far as
appearances were concerned, he'd make a good witness in the upcoming
"Thank you for coming in today," Petrie said after directing Cam to a
seat at a small conference room table at the side of his office.
Cam noticed the man's wedding ring on
his left hand.
"Yes, sir," Cam responded. He couldn't help wondering whether a
married, presumably heterosexual guy could and would have any sympathy
for him and what he had suffered as a gay male down on the beach.
"As I explained on the telephone," Petrie said, "my purpose of
meeting with you today is to go over the arrest reports that Detectives
Suarez and Roker submitted after you were assaulted on the beach over
Malibu. I hope our discussion will prepare you for your testimony
the trial, as well as help you be ready for cross examination by the
"All right," Cam said.
"Have you recovered from your injuries?" Petrie asked before they got
"Physically, yes," Cam said. "Mentally, I guess for the most
part I have. Probably not completely, though."
Petrie studied Cam's face, and said, "I'm sorry about what
you. I know this this can't be easy for you, and I want to make
this process today and the trial itself as easy for you as possible."
Somehow Cam knew sensed that what Petrie had said was sincere.
His words weren't just pro
"Thank you," Cam said.
"May I call you 'Cam'?" Petrie asked.
"Cam, I think the easiest way to get into this is for you to read
dectectives' reports, and then let me know of there are any
discrepancies between what they wrote and your recollection about what
happened. Those reports includes the questioning of the guys
charged with this crime."
"All right," Cam said. His hand was trembling as he reached
across the table and took the papers Petrie proffered.
The two of them sat there in silence for thirty minutes as Cam
carefully perused what Suarez and Roker had written. He looked up
"What do you think?" Petrie said.
"The report on the investigation of what happened is accurate so far as
I can see," Cam said. "But what Clymer, Murtha and Lomer said
when they were questioned is bullshit."
"All right," Petrie said. "Now let's go over the detectives'
page by page."
They did so for the next hour, with Cam faltering only when they
reached the point in the report at which his own account, a graphic
description of what
Eric Clymer, Peter Murtha and Rory Lomer had done to him, how they
had done it, and what implements they had used, came up.
Petrie broke in at that point. "Cam, I know how painful this must
be for you The reason we have to go over this in such detail is
that the defense attorney, or attorneys, will be questioning you very
closely about what we're alleging the perpetrators did to you.
They'll be trying to trip you up in any way that they can. If
there are any discrepancies between what we're alleging and what you
will say on the stand, they'll use it to impeach your testimony.
So we need you to be accurate in what you say, and to be sure and
confident in the way you say it, if we're to get a conviction. I
want a conviction so bad because I have no doubt they're guilty as
"I understand," Cam said.
So they dived back into the report, with Cam making a special effort to
control his emotions.
When he left Aaron Petrie's office an hour and a half after they had
despite his discomfort with reviewing what he had suffered on the
Cam was feeling more more hopeful about how well he would respond
to questions on the witness stand.
* * *
He walked back to the parking lot and handed a young attendant with a
nice ass and cute face his ticket
for the car. The kid trotted off to retrieve the car, and the
Porsche was driven up beside him. The young
guy got out and held the door open for Cam.
"Nice ride," the kid told him.
"Thanks," Cam said, handing the guy a nice tip. He sat down
behind the wheel and adjusted the seat before
pulling out on to the street. He drove a block, and then pulled
into an empty spot on the side of the street and shut off the
motor. Despite his
newfound hopefulness about his competence at the trial, the strain of
his meeting with Allan Petrie had hit him hard. He rested his
the steering wheel for a good five minutes before firing up the engine
again and maneuvering his way back into the tangled L.A. traffic and
his way back to
When he arrived home, he
changed into shorts and a T-shirt, ate a late lunch prepared by
Maria, and then
for a walk on the beach. The little guy was walking more
and more confidently with every day that passed, and talked a blue
streak. When they went
inside, Cam put the baby down for a nap.
He gave Ian Carson a quick call before opening
his cinematography text and getting down to some
"How did it go with Mr. Petrie?" Ian asked him as soon as he answered
"Better than I thought it would," Cam said.
"What did you think of this guy?"
"He seems very competent and very sympathetic about what happened to
me. I think he believes in the case. We spent about an hour
and a half going over the detectives' reports, and toward the end he
posed some questions the defense attorneys might ask me. You
know, tricky questions, like all you defense attorneys pose to poor,
stupefied and bewildered witnesses."
"You're right about that," he said. "The questions can be
tricky. So how'd you do with them?"
"I did all right, I think. At least Mr. Petrie thought so."
"Good. Will you be getting together with him again before the
"We left that open. But I wouldn't doubt it."
"Well, you know my offer to come down to L.A. still stands," Ian
said. "Just let me know."
"I will. Thanks, Ian. I'd sure like to see you, but I don't
want you to make the trip if it's not necessary. I miss everybody
so much, though."
"We miss you guys, too, Cameron."
They talked for another minute, and then hung up.
Ian put down the phone feeling better about how Cam would do at the
When Kevin and Carl arrived home from school, Kevin found Cam in the
study sitting on the couch. He took one look at Cam's face, and
knew that the interview with the ADA had taken its toll. He saw
the strain, and dumping his book bag on the floor, sat down beside his
lover. Without saying a word, put his arms around him, and just
held him for a while.
"You wanna talk about it?" Kevin finally asked.
"Not really," Cam said. "It wasn't terrible. Just
stressful. I'm more confident now that I'll get through it when
the time comes, though."
* * *
Art Smith stayed over at the Malibu house again on Saturday night that
week, and Cam
again invited him to go to church at St. Dunstan's with him, Kevin,
and Andy the next day.
"Were you raised going to church?" Cam inquired.
"Yeah. My family was Missouri Synod Lutheran, but none of
us goes to
"Well, our service may seem somewhat familiar to you," Cam
said. "Episcopalians are pretty traditional liturgically, but
liberal in our
social views. We try to love all God's children, even gays and
Lutherans. You know, like Jesus." Cam laughed, but only got
a wan smile back from Art.
"I don't have any decent clothes to wear for church," Art said, not all
anxious to go.
"Don't sweat the clothes. You could even wear your board shorts
and T-shirt if you wanted to, and nobody would pay that much attention."
"You guys wear nice clothes to church, though, doncha?" Art asked.
"Semi nice. Dockers and sports shirts. This is fucking
"I'll lend you a pair of Dockers and a shirt. They'll fit
you, and you'll fit
Art sighed and reluctantly acquiesced.
The guys ran early the next morning, as usual. Well, most of
them. Maria rarely worked on Sundays, so Kevin stayed behind to
with Casey, and Cam ran a truncated route with Art at a slower
pace. That left Carl and Andy, who had come down to L.A. for the
weekend as usual, to
their customary seven mile
course at a fast pace. But Cam and Art did run farther and faster
Art had run together the week before.
The guys showered when they returned. Cam gave Art a pair of
khaki pants, some clean boxers and a sport shirt for church, and after
dressed, they ate toasted English muffins and drank some orange juice
quick breakfast before leaving the house in the Highlander.
They arrived at St. Dunstan's about ten minutes before Mass,
as usual, and were greeted by Father Ryan in the narthex. Cam
Art Smith to the priest, who shook hands and welcomed Art to the
church and then greeted Andy by name. Father blessed Casey,
tracing a cross on the
sleeping baby's forehead as he always did.
The guys went in and found a pew with enough room to accommodate all of
them along with Casey's carrier. As usual, this particular Mass
packed. Everyone stood for the opening hymn as the thurifer and
crucifer led the altar party down the center aisle to the altar.
Casey was still fast asleep, and would likely stay that way.
Father Ryan's homily was good, as always, emphasizing the final days of
the Pentecost season's message before the Church shifted into the
Advent mode. But Cam had a difficult time
keeping his mind focused on the sermon. Thoughts about the
upcoming trial kept
impinging on his concentration. When the Peace was passed later,
Cam and Kevin kissed each other on the lips without any observers being
scandalized, and the other guys gave and received handshakes with one
another and nearby congregants.
During the announcements, Father Ryan once again noted that
any visitors who were baptized were welcome to receive Holy
Communion. Cam looked at Art and nodded his head to indicate he
should go forward when it was time for communion.
Cam, Andy, Carl and Art went up for communion first, leaving Kevin with
Casey. Kevin went to the altar rail when the others returned.
Art tried not to show it, but receiving communion after so many years
of not attending church moved him, and when he
to the pew he actually prayed for his own
family and for the guys who had brought him to church.
The boys made a quick foray into the parish house after the dismissal
at the end of Mass because they knew a lot of the members of the parish
liked to see Casey. The child woke up, and ate up all the
attention he received, especially from some of the young ladies in the
parish who thought the guys who brought Casey to church were awfully
cute, even if they were gay. The girls seemed to enjoy flirting
with these boys, gay or not.
After they finally got away from the crowd and went home, the guys
changed into their swim trunks (Art into shorts) and went next door to
the Millers' pool to swim and lie in the sun. The rest of the day
was spent working out in the gym, playing cards and playing Wii, and a
little studying for school.
That evening they took Andy Helder to the
airport for an eight o'clock flight back to San Francisco. Seeing
Andy off was never easy for Carl, even after all the weekends they had
spent together. Carl was feeling down, didn't say a word on the
drive back to Malibu.
Art Smith left for home about 11 o'clock that night, full of thanks for
the hospitality he had enjoyed.
"Why don't you bring some clothes over here and stay more often," Kevin
told Art just before he left.
Those words meant a lot to Art, and
he drove home feeling more cheerful than he had in a long time.
© 2013 Don Hanratty
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