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

"Cam, where's my car?" Kevin asked one morning, several days after he had come home from the hospital.

"It's in the shop."

"What's wrong with it?"

"It's pretty beat up," Cam said.  "I'm sure you don't remember.  But the Butler boys did a pretty good job on it with their bats after they were finished with you."

"Sheesh!  You'd think they were upset about something!"  Kevin sipped the glass of orange juice Cam had brought him from the kitchen.

"Must have been.  Don't worry about the 'Stang,' though.  It's gonna look good as new when they're finished with it."

"It'd better look good if anybody's gonna buy it.  I gotta get some money for Heather."

"Don't worry about that right now," Cam said.  "We need to concentrate on you."

"I like the way you've been concentrating on me," Kevin leered at his partner, thinking about how innovative and adept Cam had become at getting him off every night so he could sleep.

As Kevin's immediate psychological trauma had subsided, the physical and mental healing process had begun to accelerate.  So, in addition to his evening ritual with Kevin, Cam had set up a strict schedule for himself in the morning as well when it came to his boy.  He had it down to a science.  On school days, he would get up forty-five minutes earlier than he used to, and go in and gently wake Kevin up.  Then he'd let his patient relieve himself in the urinal, and empty the vessel into the toilet.  After washing his hands, Cam would go down to the kitchen and fix his buddy's breakfast.  Sometimes it was hot or cold cereal, or instant waffles, or pop tarts, or bacon and eggs or an omelet with toast.  Orange juice.  He would take the food upstairs on a tray to his charge, and gently re-awaken him if he'd fallen asleep again.  Before Kevin started to eat, Cam would take a knife and cut up anything on his plate that required it, and sitting in a chair beside the hospital bed, see to it that Kevin ate a good meal.

When Kevin was finished, the two of them would talk.  The topics were far ranging, sometimes about school and soccer, or what the teachers or kids at school were doing.  But Cam always made sure that at least part of the conversation focused on the future--how great it was going to be when they moved to Malibu and were at UCLA, how wonderful (and challenging) it was going to be to raise a little boy or girl together, how much they were going to enjoy living with Alex and John and running on the beach with them.  And then, before Kev's nurse arrived for the day, he would sit on the side of the bed for a couple minutes and hug him and kiss him, sort of an abbreviated form of the routine he carried out every night before they conked out.  That little investment of time invariably left his partner happy and glowing and looking forward to the day.  Even at his young age, Cam knew that the best prescription for anyone facing adversity was hope for himself and for the future.

Catherine had hired a middle-aged, licensed practical nurse by the name of Phyllis Paul to stay with Kevin during the day.  Phyllis was very nice, but she had quickly informed her patient that she had three kids of her own, two of them boys, so she wasn't about to put up with any bullshit from him.  She would help him clean his teeth, shave with the electric razor Cam had given him, and give him his bath.  (No, she didn't wash his privates, Cam's kidding about that notwithstanding.  Kevin had to do that himself.)  She stood over him while he exercised his unbroken limbs and she massaged them.  Then she had him up on one crutch, broken arm resting around her neck, for a few passes up and down the MacKenzies' upper hall before she put him into his wheelchair for a few hours.  She also made sure he did some studying, especially on the days when his tutor, Mr. Montgomery, was scheduled to show up.  Kevin liked his tutor and especially loved his nurse, but you'd never have known it from the hard time Kevin and Phyllis gave each other.  When Kevin took his hour nap during the afternoon, Phyllis would go into Cam's room and watch her favorite soap.

Alex called Cam at school one day between his last class and soccer practice.

"Hi, Cam.  It's Dad.  How are you?"

"Good," Cam said.  "You and John ok?"

"Yes.  Things are going well with the shoot, and we'll be wrapping up the movie on schedule and within budget, it looks like.  We're happy about that.  We miss you and Kevin, though.  How's he doing?"

"Really well," Cam said.  "His nurse has him up on one crutch walking around at least once a day while she's with him, and I get him up to walk around for a few minutes every night.  He misses soccer, but he's keeping up with his classes, and he's in good spirits."

"Good.  Anything new on the Butler boys?"

"They were arrested right away, and their dad bonded them out.  So, as far as I know, there're back in class at the junior college."

"Well, I hope Kevin doesn't live to regret having been lenient with them," Alex said.

"Me, too."

"Listen, Cam, the reason I called is, I want to know where they towed Kevin's car."

"It's at the Ford dealer here in town.  Why?"

"Well, I know Kevin's going to sell it to get money for Heather's expenses.  I want him to do that so he understands that sometimes our actions require us to make sacrifices.  But I'm going to buy it back through the dealer so Kevin doesn't know about it, and have it waiting down here for him when you guys move to Malibu.  Don't you tell him, now!  I want to surprise him."

"That's really generous of you, Dad.  That'll make him so-o-o happy!  He loves that car.  He'll never forget you for doing this, and neither will I."

"Well, he's going through a rough time right now.  He's a good boy, and I don't think this will spoil him, so..."

"Thank you so much.  Is there any chance you and John can come up here anytime soon?"

"I don't think so.  Our schedules are pretty tight until the picture's in the can.  But we'll be talking to you guys."

"All right," Cam said.  "I love you, and give John my love."

"I love you, too, son.  Thank you for accepting John the way you have.  It means a lot to me.  And to him."

"Anybody that can make you as happy as he has, is good in my book."

"All right.  Talk to you soon."

The phone went dead.

Alex followed through on his plan, and the Ford dealer in San Rafael called Kevin within a few days and said that a buyer had offered a good price, better than blue book, for the Mustang.  Kevin took 24 hours to think about it, and then called them back to accept the offer.  He signed over the title, counter-signed by Catherine, and it was a done deal.  When the check from the dealer came, Kevin had Catherine put it into a savings account for Heather.

Cam watched Kevin for any signs that giving up his car had depressed him, but he didn't see anything worrisome.  He kept up his "Project Kevin" activities to keep his partner postive about things.

Within three weeks of coming home, though, Kevin began a campaign aimed at Catherine and Cam to let him go back to school.  Catherine thought it was too soon, but she talked to Kevin's doctor about it.  He said that if Kevin could sit up in his wheelchair for four hours with his leg down without incurring any swelling, and could walk using both crutches without hurting his arm, he could go back to classes part time.  Phyllis, his nurse, was charged with checking that out, and began to put Kevin in his chair for extended periods of time and had him walk up and down the hall using both crutches.  Within a week, Kevin had proven to her he could handle it.

Phyllis told Mrs. MacKenzie at that point that she thought her job was done, and a week later the family threw her a little farewell dinner party.  Kevin was really sad to see her go, but he was happy that he had reached another milestone in his recovery.

Rather than take any chances on Kevin stumbling on the stairs at home and falling, Catherine had a medical supply store come and install a chair lift on the front stairs between the first and second floors.

"Piece o' cake," Kevin said after he used the lift for the first time.  All you had to do was sit in the seat, push a button, and up (or down) you went.  Kevin began to get dressed with Cam's help and eat his supper downstairs now with Catherine and Cam and with his soccer buddies, who were still daily visitors.

"I don't think I like all this new mobility you have," Cam kidded Kevin during their love-in on the bed the last night before the latter started back to school.

"Why not?"

"Because you need a lot of supervision, boy," Cam said, grinning.  "I've liked knowing just where you were at all times and what you were doing."

"You're the one who needs supervision, you dick.  That's why I want to get back to school," Kevin said.  "You're not to be trusted on your own, even at school.  No one knows that better than I do."

"Just because you're horny twenty-four hours a day no matter what I do for ya, doesn't mean everybody is.  I'm perfectly trustworthy."

"Yeah, right!"  Kevin reached over and fondled Cam's penis through his Levi's as they lay together on Kevin's bed together, thus waking the beast.  "Who knows what this bad boy is doing when I'm not around to supervise."

"He's saying, 'Where's Kevin?'  That's all he ever says."

Kevin laughed.  "He talks to ya, huh?"

"Yep.  He seems to have a one-track mind, though.  It's sex, sex, sex for him.  He never asks me about my classes or quotes poetry or anything.   'Where's Kevin?'" Cam whined as if imitating his dick's imaginary voice.  "I'm tired of it," he added in his own baritone.

Kevin laughed again.  "You're seriously sick, you know that?"

"I used to be well, until you groped me that first time.  It was an attack, really.  Now I'm warped like you.  Not that I'm complaining or anything."

"Commere, shithead."  Kevin moved his face over and kissed Cam, leaving his lips on his friend's lips for a long moment.  "Why don't you lock up?" he said suggestively, wagging his eyebrows and nodding toward the bedroom door.

"My dick just said, 'Oh, boy!'  Did you hear him?"

"No.  Just hurry up, willya?"

Cam grinned broadly, and sliding off the bed, complied, locking both Kevin's and his own bedroom doors.  Going back over to the bed, he began to help his partner strip off his sneakers and clothes.

"Lift that manly ass of yours," Cam instructed as he gently pulled Kevin's jeans down off his legs, followed by his boxers.

Kevin's dick started to firm up as he watched Cam strip off his own clothes, and naked, climb into bed beside him.

"It's time you gave me real sex, don't you think?" Kevin asked.

"Whaddaya call what we've been doing for each other?"

"I mean I want you in me, man."

"Are you sure, Kev?  I don't want to hurt that cute little ass of yours, let alone your arm or leg.  We don't wanna to be too vigorous, y'know."

"Just do it, stud," Kevin insisted.  "I've been thinking about it for days."

"You don't have to tell me twice," Cam said, getting up and heading to his room for lube and a rubber.  "Don't change your mind while I'm away, willya?"

Kevin grabbed his now rigid dick and held it as he watched Cam's body retreat toward his bedroom.  Cam came back with the stuff, and climbed into bed with his lover.  He began to kiss Kevin with lots of tongue, roll his nips between his fingers and lick them and nibble on them, and gently stroke his boy's entire body until Kevin was on fire with anticipation.  Then Cam licked his partner's hard dick, sucking the head of it only enough to glean the sweet pre-cum which had begun to leak from the slit.  Cam's ultimate foreplay was to bend Kevin's legs back over his body and push his face into Kevin's crack, thrusting hungrily into his hole.  Kevin smelled clean and male.  Cam gave his boy a good reaming before gently lowering his legs.  Kevin's breath was irregular by that time; he was panting.

"I wish we could bareback," Cam said as he opened the lube and squeezed some on to his fingers.  "When are you gonna get tested?"

"That depends on how well you perform tonight," Kevin gasped with an evil grin.

Cam laughed, and bending down, sucked on his nips again.  "I'll be brilliant," he said.  "This is gonna be the best experience of your young life."

"I know it will be," Kevin panted, suddenly serious, "because I love you so much.  Just take it slow, and it'll be good."

Cam raised Kevin's nearest leg, and putting a glob of lube on his partner's hole, tentatively pushed a finger into him.

"You're tight, man.  I don't want to hurt you."

"You won't."  Kevin put his head down on his pillow and smiled.  He was still breathing hard.

Cam began to open him up gradually, eventually adding two additional fingers as he stretched and pleasured his friend.

"Yeah, dude," Kevin encouraged him as Cam's fingers slowly explored new territory.  "That feels so-o-o good.  I'm only gonna have a virgin ass this once, y'know, so enjoy it while you got it."

"Oh yeah," Cam agreed, watching Kevin's face closely for any signs of discomfort as he probed.

Scant moments later, as Kevin watched, Cam lubed his own penis, rolled on the rubber, lubed it, and moved into position at Kevin's butt, the latter's legs up on his shoulders.

"Remember, you can change your mind at any time," Cam said as he put the tip of his dick at Kevin's portal.  He was more excited about what they were preparing to do than he let on.  After a moment of pressure and discomfort for Kevin, the head of Cam's penis was inside.  He could feel Kevin relax.

With Kevin's legs down in the crooks of his arms, Cam stretched down on to his partner and kissed him.

"You ok?" Cam asked.

"Better than ok," Kevin said, looking up into Cam's face.  "Much better."

Patiently, Cam began moving up into his friend with infinitesimal slowness, watching the boy's face intently.  When he was finally home, he relaxed on to Kevin's body without stroking.  They had both begun to sweat.

"Yes!" Kevin told Cam.  "Yeah, man!"  He chuckled.  "Is it good for you?"

"Uh huh," Cam gasped out.  "It's fantastic." That was his only answer.

"I think I was born to bottom for you," Kevin speculated in a broken whisper, reaching up and touching Cam's face, caressing him.


Cam began moving in and out of Kevin with short strokes, deliberately passing over his partner's prostate again and again, causing Kevin's eyes to open wide.

"Holy shit!" Kevin exclaimed, clasping Cam's sweaty back with his good hand and rubbing him.  Kevin's dick was now leaking a pulsing stream of pre-cum.

"Am I hurting you?" Cam demanded, halting what he was doing momentarily.

"No, but you sure have my attention!"

Cam resumed his gentle thrusting, gradually elongating his strokes and changing his angle over several minutes as Kevin began to arch his back and really get into it.  Sweat began dripping off Cam's body and down on to his partner.

"Oh, yeah!" Kevin said, confirming his pleasure at this new experience.  He pulled Cam's head down to his own and kissed him passionately, exploring his mouth as Cam moved his hips more and more vigorously.  As he thrusted into his lover's body, Cam scooped a finger into the puddle of pre-cum now forming on Kevin's abs, and brought it to his own lips.

"Good...stuff," Cam said between breaths.  "!"

"Oh-h-h," Kevin responded.  "You're..."

Before he could finish his words, cum began spurting out of his untouched dick, squirting up between his pecs, the rich stream gradually abating until it was just oozing out of his cockhead on to his treasure trail.  Kevin's sphincter had spasmed around Cam's penis as Kevin had ejaculated, triggering his partner's orgasm as well.

"Oh, fuck yes, Kev!" Cam said as he emptied himself into his lover.  He collapsed down on to Kevin's body then, their sweat and Kevin's splooge commingling.  Neither of them moved for a good ten minutes as they explored that perfect world of spent passion they had created for one another.  Eyes closed, the two boys were oblivious to all else.  Kevin's chest rose and fell as his breathing began to slow, Cam's torso rising and falling with his partner's every breath.

When they finally stirred, the two of them looked deeply into one another's eyes, at first saying nothing.

"I'm spoiled now," Cam whispered into Kevin's ear.  "Totally.  From now on, anything that ever happens to me in life is going to be measured by what we just did."  He kissed his partner's lips and added with a grin,  "You've ruined me for new experiences, you dumb fuck!"

Kevin smiled, and putting his hands on either side of Cam's head, pulled his face down to his for another kiss.

"I sincerely hope so!" Kevin said.

Cam slowly pulled out of Kevin and moved his weight off of him so he could lie on his side beside him in the narrow bed.  He took off his rubber, the reservoir full of thick, white semen, wrapped it in a kleenex, then threw it on the floor.

"Don't go," Kevin protested, thinking Cam was preparing to leave.

"I'm not going anywhere.  I don't ever want to be separated from you again.  Ever!"  He studied his partner's face, and then rubbed noses with him.  "Do you think we can sleep together in my bed tonight without hurting your arm and leg?  I promise not to roll on you.  I've missed having you beside me at night."


"Cool."  Cam continued to look into his partner's face as they lay there together, completely relaxed, lost in their love for one another.

*  *  *

San Rafael High was to be closed the following Friday for a teacher institute day, and Cam had a bright idea.  Alex's cabin in the Big Sur was just begging to be used, so Cam called his mother at St. Francis from home to ask if he and Kevin could plan a long weekend down there.

"It's fine with me, sweetheart," Catherine said, "but you really need to ask your dad.  It's his cabin.  I don't want you to put Kevin at risk, though.  I'll really be angry with you if he gets hurt.  There could be some snow down there."

"That hardly ever happens, but I hope there is.  Don't worry about Kev, Mom.  I'll take go-o-od care of him.  Heh.  If there's any snow at all, I'm gonna put him on skis at the top of a hill and give him a little shove."

"Take that back, or I'm going down there with you," Catherine said, smiling.

"Just kidding, Ma," Cam said.  "You don't need to chaperone."

"All right."

"What are you doing this weekend?" Cam asked.

"I have a Swinburne seminar here at school on Saturday morning.  That'll keep me busy."

"OK.  By the way, when are you going to bring another guy around the house for the special treatment Kevin and I always give your dates?"

"Trial by fire, you mean?"

"We wanna weed out the weak and unworthy.  And the cowardly, of course."

"You're such a good son."

"I know it."

"Humble, too."

"You know me so well."

Catherine laughed.  "When are you guys leaving for the Sur?"

"Thursday after school, if that's OK, and if Dad says it's all right."

"That's fine.  Just remember to call me when you get there."

"We will.  Thanks, Mom.  Love ya."  Cam made a kissing noise into the phone, hung up, and then headed upstairs to talk to Kevin.

He burst into Kevin's room, where he found found his boy on his weight bench doing curls with his good arm, using a baby barbell.


"What?"  Kevin sat up.

"You have cabin fever!"

"I do?"


"And you have the cure, of course?"

"Never doubt me.  We're going down to Alex's cabin in the Big Sur."

"You're taking me to the cabin to cure cabin fever?  You wanna 'splain that to me, Scooby?"  Kevin had been to the cabin before.

"We need some time alone."

"I agree with that, dude.  But make sure we have some playing cards to fill those empty hours, will ya?" Kevin said.  "We don't want to get bored."

"Oh, do I have plans for you!  There won't be any empty hours!  This'll be a trip you'll never forget."

"Will I need clothes?"

"Just those you wear down and back in the car," Cam said.  "We need to let your skin breathe in that pristine air in the Sur as part of the healing process."

"I like the way you think!  You should become a doctor instead of making movies."

"You don't need to be a doctor to play doctor.  I'm gonna prove that to you when we get down there."

"I'm counting on it, bud.  Bring it on!"

Cam called Alex, and received his assent.  Alex said he would telephone Mr. Anderson, caretaker for the approximately thirty cabins in the vicinity of their spacious, wooded enclave in the Sur, and have him get the MacKenzie cabin cleaned up, and stocked with firewood and food.

"Don't let Kevin do anything crazy, now," Alex warned Cam, just as Catherine had.  "He isn't healed up yet."

"Don't you worry about that, Dad, I'm gonna take good care of Kevin."

"All right."  I just know you will, Alex thought to himself, smiling, but he said nothing.

The remainder of the week passed quickly because the guys had something to look forward to, and Thursday after school Cam packed a bag for himself and one for Kevin, and they headed south in the Camaro.  It was slow going once they hit San Francisco, but Cam was a patient driver.  Once they crossed the Golden Gate Bridge, traffic gradually thinned out as time passed, and they racked up the miles.  They stopped and ate at a little diner along the road outside of Seaside, and then continued south.  On the other side of Monterey, Cam put the pedal to the metal, and before long they were driving down a back road headed toward the ocean and pulled up to the MacKenzie cabin.

Mr. Anderson had left the yard light and porch light on for the boys.  Cam made short work of unloading the car and carrying their bags inside as Kevin crutched his way carefully over the gravel where they parked and up the short flight of wooden stairs on to the porch deck.  Cam came back outside and threw his arms around Kevin.

"This was a great idea.  I'm likin' it already," Kevin said as Cam held him and kissed his face.

"Me, too," Cam said.  There was a cold wind blowing off the ocean.  "Come on inside, and let's build a fire and relax."

"Good idea," Kevin said.  "Don't forget to call Catherine."

"Yeah.  Right now, if I can get a signal."  He pulled out his phone and flipped it open.  There were signal bars showing, and he hit speed dial.  The phone at home began to ring.

"Hello," Catherine's voice said.

"Hi, Mom.  We're here.  Kevin can hardly breathe, the air's so pure, but there's no snow."

"Uh, huh," Catherine said.  "Did Mr. Anderson open up the cabin for you."

"Everything's all set for us.  We're just gonna start a fire to take the chill off."

"All right, sweetheart.  Have a good time."

"Love ya, Mom."

"I love you, Cameron.  Tell Kevin I love him.  Bye, dear."  The signal went dead.

"Mom said she loves you," Cam told Kevin as he snapped the phone shut.  "I still don't understand that at all, but that's what she said."

"She recognizes quality when she sees it, you dumb shit.  She's only made one mistake, and that mistake is standing right in front of me.  You're cute, but you're a cute mistake.  She needs my prayers for consolation on that score all the damn time."

"Humph!  You talk a good game on prayer, but you're hardly on speaking terms with You Know Who."  Cam pointed upward.

"'Speaking terms', you say?  We're bosom buddies."

"You better start showing some quick ass respect to Him and to me, Mister," Cam said, grinning, "or this won't be the fun-filled weekend you were hoping for."

"Yeah, right.  Don't you have the fire lighted yet?"


"Well, why not?  Get on it, willya?  The doctor doesn't want me to get chilled."  Kevin grinned.

Cam ground his teeth in mock frustration, and went inside, leaving Kevin to look around appreciatively at the surroundings and listen to the deep silence.  Not even a bird was chirping in the dusk.  The stars that they hardly ever saw in the city were starting to twinkle.  Kevin felt his body relax as he leaned on the porch railing and began to enjoy his new environment.  Finally he crutched his way in the door and into the gigantic main room of the log cabin, filled with comfortable, rustic furniture and the ceiling open to the roof.  He moved toward the huge, stone fireplace.  Cam was on his knees there nurturing a flame, adding little pieces of kindling as the fire caught.

"Did you open the flue?" Kevin demanded just to annoy Cam.  He could already see the smoke going up the chimney.

"Yes, I opened the flue," Cam responded, mimicking Kevin's voice.

"I'm just trying to help!  But do you appreciate that?  No-o-o-o."

"Keep it up," Cam threatened, "and you're gonna go home with more broken bones than you came with.  Or maybe I'll just hide your crutches in the woods and leave you here."

"Your lips are moving, but can your body make it happen?"

"You have good reason to know it can!" Cam said.  "Both in bed, and out of it."  The fire had caught, and he stood up and dusted off his hands, turning to Kevin.

"See, you only have one thing on your mind, boy," Kevin told him.  "I was hoping that this trip would make you more spiritual."

"Speaking of spiritual, we gotta find a place for you to go to Mass on Sunday before the Good Shepherd--you vaguely remember Him, doncha?--comes looking for ya."

"Father Andy?  What would he be doing down here in the Big Sur?"

Cam growled in frustration, and stepped over to Kevin and pulled him into his arms.

"There's only one way to shut you up, I guess!"  He planted a deep, lingering kiss on Kevin's lips.

"I'm really glad to be here with you," Kevin said seriously as he pulled his head back after the kiss and looked into Cam's eyes.  "Coming down here was a great idea."

"I know it.  Whaddaya wanna do?" Cam asked.

"Let's see what kind of snacks we have in the cupboard, and go sit on the deck for a few."

"You got it, dude!" Cam said, and went over to the kitchen, open to the large room, and began opening cupboards and drawers.  Pulling out some crackers, he went over to the refrigerator and found a package of swiss cheese, some salami and a squeeze jar of honey mustard, along with some bottled water.

"Let's go.  I'll get some chairs and a couple of long sleeve shirts for us in a minute."

"OK."  Kevin crutched his way outside.

Cam put the goodies on the porch rail, and then ducked back inside, getting the shirts, turning on a table lamp and turning out the porch light and driveway light.  He brought out two folding lawn chairs and set them up.  Putting on his own flannel shirt, he helped Kevin into his.  It was now windless and totally dark, and silent except for the sound of the ocean breaking softly on to the beach far below them.  He and Kevin sat down and Cam opened the crackers and the cheese and the salami.

"You want one?" Cam asked.

"Yes, please."

Cam put folded slices of cheese and salami on a big cracker, squeezed some mustard on his creation, put another cracker on top, and gave it to Kevin.

"Thanks," Kevin said, taking a huge bite.

Cam fixed himself a cracker sandwich, and the two of them sat there munching away, occasionally sharing some water from the same bottle.

"Kev?"  Crunch, crunch.


"Have you talked to your dad lately?"


"You gonna?"

"Probably."  Kevin adjusted his broken leg further out in front of himself.  "Why?"

"Just wondered.  I know you were disappointed when he didn't come out from New York to see you when you were injured.  But I imagine he'll be showing up out here one of these days."


"How mad at him are you?"

"I think you used the right word--I'm 'disappointed.'"

"Yeah.  I know.  But sometimes we forget that even our parents have lives of their own and problems of their own.  We'd like to be the only things on their minds all the time, but it doesn't always work that way."

"I can't believe you're sticking up for him," Kevin said.

"I'm not, really.  He should have been out here right away, but he wasn't.  Look at how I felt for a long time about Alex and what he did.  But there were reasons for what he did.  I guess what I'm trying to say is, we're probably all gonna have to live a lot of years in this world together, so I hope you try to preserve some kind of relationship with Michael even if your heart isn't in it right now."

"Will you still love me if I don't?" Kevin asked.  Cam could see Kevin's perfect, white teeth grinning at him in the dark.

"When it comes to things you can count on, dude, my love for you would be at the top of the list."

"You don't have to convince me," Kevin said.

They sat there companionably for a while, listening to the deep silence of the night.

"The senior prom's coming up pretty soon," Kevin said.

"Yeah," Cam said.

"Are you still taking Teri?"

"Yes, unless your leg and arm heal up by then."

Kevin laughed.

"Man, would that be a bombshell, or what?" he asked.  "We'd be famous if we went as each others date.  Or would that be 'infamous?'  Or 'notorious.'"

"Yeah, we'd be on everybody's mind for about ten minutes or so," Cam said.  "That'd be about it.  Although the guys on the soccer team might take a little longer to get over it than that."

"Can't you just see their faces if you and I had ourselves a slow dance out on the floor, and then we kissed."

Cam chuckled.  "Oh, yeah.  Vargis"--referring to their goalie--"wouldn't know whether to shit or go blind.  He hates fags, as he says so often.  It makes ya wonder what he's so scared of."

"Don't it just!" Kevin said.  "Is Teri looking forward to the prom?"

"Yes, I think so.  She's bought a new dress and everything."

"Ae you still planning to wear your kilt?"

"Yeah.  Thanks to you making a big thing out of it, I don't have much choice."

"I get to help you dress.  I wanna reach up under that kilt and give you a good fondling."

"Any time you fondle me, it's good," Cam said, smiling.

"Thanks.  How long has it been since you and Teri have been out on a date?" Kevin asked.

"Not since you got beat up."

"Is she pissed about that?"

"She doesn't seem to be.  I just told her that you required a lot of care.  Of course, now that you're back in school, that excuse is blown.  Y'know, I really like her.  She's a very nice person.  A good person.  I just happen to be in love with you, though, and I'm stuck with you now whether I like it or not.  You know, like concrete around my feet."

Kevin laughed, and then cleared his throat.  "Cam, I don't think I've told you how much I appreciate everything you've done for me.  Ever since I've known you, really.  But if it weren't for your love, I don't think I would have made it through what the Butlers did to me.  Seriously.  I really think you brought me out of that coma, and you've made me want to live since then.  I don't say it as often as you do, or as often as I should, but I love you.  Totally.  Totally!  I wish I were better with words so I could tell you."

"Well, if you're gonna get serious on me..."  Cam was silent for a moment.  "You're my heart.  Yeah, sure, to me your body is perfect, and that's part of why I feel about you the way I do.  That's probably what started it, anyway.  But I love everything about you.  I even love the fact that you're such a wise ass."

Kevin chuckled, and they fell silent, staring up at the panoply of stars above them.  There was no moon, and they were awed by the beauty and immensity of what they saw.

Eventually, Cam stretched and yawned.  "Are you ready for bed?"

"Oh, yeah!" Kevin said.

"Let's hit it, then."

Cam stood and pulled Kevin up on his good leg.  Cam took his friend into his arms and just held him for a long minute, feeling his own crotch tighten as he did so.  Kevin gently rubbed noses with him, and then they let go of each other.

Cam gathered up the remnants of their snack from the porch rail, held the screen door open for Kevin, and after visiting the kitchen to drop off the leftovers, eagerly made his way back to their bedroom with his partner.  Cam stripped Kevin and himself down to their boxers, and retrieved their tooth brushes and tooth paste from their bags.  In the bathroom, they stood side by side as they relieved themselves into the toilet, flushed, and then they washed up and cleaned their teeth.

Once they were naked and hit the bed, they didn't make love the usual way.  Kevin merely caressed his lover's face and body gently until they dropped off to sleep.  When they awakened in the morning, having slept through the whole night, they visited the bathroom and then went back to bed.  What began with lazy kissing, caressing and nipple play ended up in a sixty-nine in which they brought one another to the brink again and again until finally they allowed one another to come.  Their orgasms were fierce and powerful, and Cam was so relaxed afterward that he could hardly turn himself around on the bed to kiss his partner and hold him.  They fell back to sleep until mid-morning.

Cam fixed bacon and eggs for Kevin and him, and then they sat around on the porch just talking until noon.  Cam went inside and bagged the garbage, and carried it down the stairs and around the corner of the house to put it in the garbage bin.  That was where he discovered a little border collie bitch sniffing around the bin for food.  She was hungry and looked lost, and she came to Cam right away.  He checked her tags, one of which had a telephone number on it.  Cam coaxed her back up on the porch with Kevin.  He went in and raided the refrigerator for some salami, the only cooked meat they had, and gave it to her with a bowl of water.  While she was eating, Cam used his cell phone, calling the number on the tag, a San Francisco number according to the area code.

A woman answered, and when Cam explained why he was calling, she was overjoyed.  The dog had wandered away from her and her husband's vacation cabin in the Big Sur the week previous, and after looking high and low for her, the couple had returned to San Francisco, afraid that their pet was lost for good.  She said that if Cam would give her his address in the Sur, she would start down from the city immediately to retrieve her.

When Cam looked down, the little collie had finished eating and was sitting in front of Kevin, getting a good petting.

"Her owner's comin' down from San Francisco to get her," Cam said.

"We gotta get ourselves a dog, man!" Kevin told his buddy.  "I really like these border collies.  They say they're probably the smartest of any of the breeds."

"I read that somewhere," Cam said, watching the dog respond to Kevin's petting.  "We might not want to get such an intelligent animal, though."

"Why not?"

"Well, it would be personally embarrassing for you to have a pet that's smarter than you are."

Kevin laughed.  "You miserable piece o' shit, you're lucky I can't get out of this chair and kick your ass."

"You know I speak the truth."

"You're talkin' crazy," Kevin said.

"You make me crazy."

Her immediate need for food, water and some affection taken care of, the dog made herself at home and lay down on the porch deck, promptly falling asleep.  The boys had planned to go over to the ocean that afternoon, driving the car to a road that was close to the water so Kevin wouldn't have to hoof it too far.  That plan now out the window, at least for the moment, Cam sat down in his chair, plopped his feet on the railing, and he and Kevin talked about their expectations for UCLA the next year.

Roughly two hours later, a new, red Mercedes convertible came down the MacKenzies' road, and the driver parked next to Cam's car.  A tall, slim, beautiful woman in her early forties, with long, blonde hair, dressed in cream colored slacks and a white blouse, alighted from her vehicle and walked toward the cabin.  She eyed the two boys on the porch.

"Mr. MacKenzie?" she asked.

The moment the dog heard her owner's voice, she jumped to her feet, bounded down the stairs and ran to the woman.  The lady knelt down, and was promptly rewarded with a lick of the tongue across the face.  The woman petted the dog joyfully.

Cam went down the stairs and walked over to the visitor and her dog.

"I'm Cam MacKenzie.  The guy up there on the porch with the broken leg is Kevin Stoltz.  You made good time getting here."

"Mary Carson," the lady said, extended her hand and shaking with Cam.  "You don't know how relieved I was to hear from you.  My husband and I and our boys love this dog, and we thought we had lost her forever."

"What's her name?" Kevin asked from the porch.

"Alice," Mrs. Carson said.  "Or more precisely, 'Princess Alice Gloucester of Maitland.'"  The dog looked up at her mistress when she heard her name.

"A purebred," Kevin commented on the obvious.

"Yes," Mrs. Carson said.  "We don't show her or anything.  She's just a pet for our kids and us, but we all love her dearly."

"Well, I'm glad we found her," Cam said.

"I want to give you boys a reward."  She pulled a handful of one hundred dollar bills out of her pocket.

"No, m'am," Cam said firmly.

"Please.  I want to."

"Thank you so much, but we didn't do anything," Kevin chimed in from the porch.

"Well..." Mrs. Carson said.

"We'll settle for offering you a cup of coffee or iced tea or a coke before you go back to the city," Cam said.

"I can't turn down an offer like that," Mrs. Carson said.  "Come on, Alice."  The dog scampered back to the stairs and up on the deck, wagging her tail and immediately going to where Kevin was seated.  She shoved her nose into Kevin's crotch, causing him to double over in surprise, wide-eyed.  Cam tried to hide his amusement as Mary Carson blushed.

"I'm sorry, Kevin," she said.  "I'm going to have to take her to the trainer for a little brush up on her manners.  She knows she's not supposed to do that."

Kevin grinned.  "That's all right.  She just caught me by surprise."

Cam turned his face away for a moment so Mary Carson wouldn't see him grinning about Kevin's mishap.

Composure restored, Cam turned to her and asked, "What can I get you to drink?"

"An iced tea sounds good."

"It's instant."

"That fine."


"Yes, please."

"Comin' right up.  Please, sit down.  Kev, anything for you?"

"No thanks."

Mrs. Carson sat down, and Cam went into the cabin.  In a moment there was the sound of ice clinking into a glass.

"Is your cabin near here?" Kevin asked their visitor.

"It's about six miles north of here.  Alice did some walking to get here."

"Yes, she did.  Do you get down here often?"

"We try to come down a couple times a month," Mrs. Carson said.  "But our boys are in high school and have busy schedules, sometimes even on weekends, so we don't always make it.  What about you?"

"This cabin belongs to Cam's dad, who lives in L.A.  We live in San Rafael with Cam's mom.  I've kind of been housebound until recently, so Cam brought me down here for a change of scene.  Cam and I haven't been here for a while."

"I see.  It's beautiful down here, isn't it?  I hope you're enjoying it."  She paused.  "May I ask how you got hurt?".

"Uh, well, a couple of guys pulled me out of my car and beat me up one night."

Mary Carson frowned.  "Did the police catch them?"

"Yes, m'am.  They'll be going on trial soon."

"Good," she said.  "My husband's a defense attorney, so I know a little bit about the criminal justice system.  I hope the guys who did this to you get everything that's coming to them."

"It's pretty much a done deal," Kevin said.  "They're going to cop a plea for a reduced sentence."  He didn't tell her his own role in securing a lesser charge for his assailants.

"I see."

Cam rejoined them at that point, carrying another folding chair under his arm and a tall glass of tea, surrounded by cookies on a plate, in one hand.  Alice stood up and wanted a cookie, but Mary Carson pointed to the floor silently, and she lay down again.

"Cam, Mrs. Carson's husband is an attorney in San Francisco," Kevin said.

"What's his name?" Cam asked.

"Ian Carson."

"THE Ian Carson?"  Cam looked impressed.

"Well, yes."

"Wasn't there was an article about him a couple weeks ago in the San Francisco Chronicle Sunday supplement?  He's taken on cases that other defense attorneys have thought were hopeless and won them."

"He's the guy.  I try not to tell him too often how brilliant he is so that he doesn't get a big head."

"A wise precaution," Kevin said, laughing.  "I follow the same plan with Cam."

Cam grinned and shook his head.

"What about you boys?" Mrs. Carson asked, sipping her iced tea and taking a cookie off the plate.  "Are you in high school or college?"

"We're both seniors at San Rafael High," Kevin said.  "We were off school yesterday for a teacher's institute day, so we decided to come down here."

"Are you going on to college?"

"Yes, we're both going to be going to UCLA in the fall," Cam said.

"What are you interested in studying?"

"I'm going into television and film, and Kevin is studying physics.  He's smarter than he looks," Cam said with a smirk.

"L.A. will be an interesting place to live after northern California," Mrs. Carson said.  "Are you going to live on campus?"

"Not our first year," Kevin said.  "We're going to live with Cam's dad."

"I grew up in L.A.," she said.  "What part of town does your dad live in?"

"Malibu," Cam said.

"Small world," the woman said.  "My parents had a home in Malibu for years.  What's your dad's name?"

"Alex MacKenzie."

"The movie director, by any chance?" Mrs. Carson asked, prepared to be impressed.

"Yes, m'am," Cam admitted.

"I love his work," Mary Carson said.

"Me, too," Cam said.  "I guess that's no surprise."

"In addition to great stories and great acting and great camera work, you know what I like most about his movies?" Mrs. Carson asked.

"What?" Cam asked, interested.

"The fact he uses real film.  The colors are so lush in his movies.  Probably digital will be able to simulate lushness better as the technology continues to improve, but meanwhile..."

"Yeah, Dad is stubborn," Cam admitted.  "Kind of a throwback in his way."

"Kevin, tell me about your family," Mrs. Carson suggested.

"Not much to tell," Kevin said.  "I'm an only child, like Cam.  My mother passed away recently, and my dad lives in Manhattan.  When he moved, Cam's mom became my guardian so I could stay on in school in San Rafael and graduate."

"Please accept my condolences on your mother's death."

"Thank you."

"What does your dad do?"

"He's in insurance."

"Do be so modest, Kev," Cam said.  "Kevin's dad is CEO of Amalgamated Assurance of America."

"And your mother, Cam.  Is she a homemaker?"

"No, she's a professor of literature at St. Francis University in San Rafael."

"Are you a detective?" Kevin asked the woman, laughing.

"No," Mrs. Carson said, smiling.  "I'm just interested in two young men who would take the trouble to call someone about her lost dog, and put their own plans on hold to wait around for that person to drive down here."

"Not a problem.  But turnabout's fair play," Cam said.  "Tell us more about your family."

"Ian and I have two sons, William and Mark.  William is a junior in high school, and Mark is a freshman.  They're good students, both athletes, and we're very proud of them.  They attend a Catholic parochial high school in San Francisco, but I don't think they'll be graduating from there."

"Cam and I both attended parochial grade school before we went to public high school," Kevin said.  "Why do you think you think your sons won't graduate from the school they're attending, if I'm not being too nosy?"

"You're both Roman Catholics?" Mrs. Carson asked.

"Yes," Cam said.

"Well, I don't know how much to get into this," Mary Carson said.  "Let's just put it this way.  Ian and I are increasingly uncomfortable with the 'fortress mentality' and authoritarian attitude that the Roman Church has adopted on certain social issues."

"Such as...?" Cam prompted.

"Uh, birth control and the gay issue, for a couple of things," the woman said.

Cam and Kevin exchanged a look.

"I only see things getting worse in the church in that respect," Mrs. Carson continued.  "We're all children of God, you know, but we're not stupid.  We're supposed to be guided within a mutuality of love and prayer, not threats that if you don't vote in elections the way your local bishop dictates and agree totally with the Pope on everything, you're subject to excommunication.  My husband and I believe there needs to be a continuing dialog on important issues within the church.  We don't think there should be so many matters that aren't open to discussion."

"You'd love my mother!" Cam said.  "You're talking her language, totally!  And my father's, too, actually."

"Ian and I personally know many academicians teaching in Catholic institutions who are getting pretty uncomfortable with their situations, I know that," Mrs. Carson said.

"What are you going to do about it?" Kevin asked.

"We've done it.  Our family is currently attending inquirer's classes in the Episcopal Church at Grace Cathedral, so we can be received," Mary Carson said.  "A lot of people joke about the Episcopal Church being 'Catholic lite,' but we're trying be faithful to the church and to God without turning off our powers of observation and our intellects.  So far we like what we're hearing and experiencing, especially with the strong sacramental orientation in the Episcopal Church.  There are conservative priests and bishops in that church, too, but nobody there says you have to be in perfect sych with the clergy to remain communicants."

"Wow," Cam said.  "Well, you've kind of given us food for thought."

"For sure," Kevin nodded.  "People in our family share a lot of your concerns."

They sat in silence for a moment as Mrs. Carson sipped her tea.

"Can I ask you a question on another subject?" Kevin inquired.


"Where would you recommend that we look for a border collie like Alice?  She wouldn't have to be of show dog quality, or anything.  But we were talking about getting a dog, weren't we, Cam?"


"My sister breeds border collies, if that's what you're interested in," Mary Carson said.  "We got Alice from her.  She lives in Seaside, just up the road.  If you're serious and you want to stop there on your way back to San Rafael, you can pick one out."

"Uh, we may not have enough money with us to buy one," Kevin said.  "And we should check with Cam's mom.  But we can look."

"Good idea," Cam said.

The three of them talked for a few more minutes.  Mrs. Carson gave the boys her home and cell phone numbers and her sister's address and phone number in Seaside, and wrote down the boys' numbers as well.

"If you guys ever want to come into town for a weekend and stay over, give me a call," Mrs. Carson said.  "We have plenty of room, and I think you two and my boys would get along well.  I don't understand what makes any of you youngsters tick these days, so maybe you can give me some tips on my own kids."  She laughed.

Mrs. Carson finished her tea.  Then, with warm and repeated thanks to Cam and Kevin for finding her dog, she collected Alice, climbed into her car and was gone.

© 2005 Don Hanratty.  Special thanks to ChicagoEric for editing and proofing this chapter.

There will be a hiatus between this and the next chapter, because I'm taking a motorcycle trip to Nova Scotia in June.  I'll appreciate your patience.

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