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


It was Father Jim Mason's day off.  He had just finished reading his evening Office and sat back in an easy chair when the landline on his side table rang.  He glanced at the caller ID before answering it and saw that the call was from Kevin Stoltz.

"Hi, Kevin, what's going on?"

"Hey, Father.  It's been a while since we talked.  How are you?"

"I'm good.  Today was my day off, and I went to see Star Trek Into Darkness this afternoon."

"You're so 'with it!'" Kevin chuckled.  "I hear Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto are really good in it.  We haven't seen it yet."

"They are.  The movie was really excellent.  It reminded me how much I liked the Star Trek movies when they first came out."

"You recommend it, huh?  Cam and Carl and I will have to go see it before it disappears from the theaters."

"I would.  Now, to the important things.  How are Cam and Casey and Carl doing?"

"They're fine.  Casey has started teething, so he's a little out of sorts right now.  We got some stuff to rub on his gums to kill the pain, though, so that helps.  He's walking better all the time.  He's sitting on the floor here in the study right now.  As for Cam and Carl, they're good.  But they're lazier in the gym than they should be, as usual, so my work is never done.  We're running eight miles every morning now instead of seven."  Kevin laughed.  "I hope that won't present too much of a problem for you when we see you down here next time."

"Dream on, pal.  I can still leave you guys in a puddle of sweat when we run."

"Big talk, priest!  We'll just have to see about that!  And speaking of seeing you, have you talked to Ian lately?"

"Not for a couple of days.  He and Mary are in Chicago for a legal conference, so it's a good bet Mary is shopping big time on Michigan Avenue right about now.  Why, what's going on?"

"Ian is chartering a plane so the family to come down to L.A. for Thanksgiving week, or so Cam tells me.  You're on the 'must be here' list.  Do you think you can get off that week?"

"I'll have to talk to Father Blackburn about it, of course, but I think that might work.  He knows I have to go down to L.A. periodically to spend some time with my mother, and he's been really generous with vacation time.  Anyway, thanks for the invitation."

"You know our family get-togethers aren't complete without you.  So don't take offense when I tell you to get your ass down here and have some fun."

"Don't you know that when you use bad language around a priest, your hand will stick out of the grave?"

"No, that's not right.  You told me that if you hit a priest, your hand sticks out of the grave.  And believe me, I've been tempted."

"Well, bad language is like a verbal slap, so the same thing applies."

"Do you just make up this stuff as you go along?"

Jim Mason laughed.  "No, and you're supposed to listen to everything I say.  I'm only trying to convey the collective wisdom of the ages."

"Yeah, right!  When it comes to my hand sticking out of the grave, all I have to do is go see Father Ryan at St. Dunstan's and tell him what I said to you, and he'll say, 'Good job, Kevin!  Keep up the good work!' and he'll give me absolution whether I need it or not.  That'll take care of the hand problem."

"You're too smart for your own good."

"Hey, you're more like a big brother to me by now, so I get to push the boundaries.  Now, on another subject.  How's your mother doing."

Mason sighed.  "Not very well.  It's been a long, slow decline.  Alzheimer's is sent from the devil.  I think we're getting close to the time that I'll have to relocate to L.A.  My sisters need help with her, at least until she has to go into a nursing home.  And that may not be long."

"I'm sorry to hear she's not doing well, Father.  When you do have to move down here, I hope you know you have a place to stay with us as long as you need it.  We'd love to have you here.  We really miss you."

"Thanks, Kevin.  You don't know how much that means to me.  I miss you guys, too."

"Just get down here for Thanksgiving week.  Among other benefits, we'll send you home in better shape physically than when you got here."

"It isn't possible to be in better shape than I am right now, but I'll do my best to get down there," the priest said, grinning.

"Well, I should let you go," Kevin said.  "Cam just came in, and he doesn't like me to talk to anybody unless he's here to monitor the conversation."

"Who is that, you lyin' sack o' shit," Mason heard Cam say before Kevin could cover the phone.

Kevin laughed.  "Now the trouble begins," he told the priest.  "I hope I'll see you soon, Father.  Laters."  He ended the call.

"'Father' who?" Cam demanded of his partner.

"Father Mason, and he heard what you said just before I hung up.  And I heard him gasp when he heard it."

Cam went over to where Kevin was sitting on the couch in the study, and sat down facing him, straddling his partner's legs.  Holding Kevin's head in both hands, he planted a deep, juicy, lingering kiss on Kevin's lips.

"You make me crazy," Cam told his partner when they came up for air. "And I'm gonna make you pay for it."

"Don't you always?"

Knowing where the good stuff was, Kevin reached down and groped the crotch of Cam's widely stretched Levi's.  He could feel Cam's big cock start to respond right away.

"You're asking for trouble," Cam said.  "I hope you know that."

"That's the kind of trouble I like," Kevin said.

Kevin's phone rang just then, and he answered it.  It was William Carson.

"I'm glad I caught you," William said.  "There's a problem up here."

"You're the problem up there," Kevin said.

"No, seriously!  Mom and Dad are in Chicago right now at a legal conference, and Rosa just got a call at the house from the San Rafael EMT's that Catherine is on her way by ambulance to San Francisco General Hospital from St. Francis University.  They didn't tell Rosa much, but the EMT's think she may possibly have appendicitis.  I'm still at school, but Rosa called me right away.  I'm going to leave football practice early and get home."

"You better not be screwin' with me, dude," Kevin said

"Listen up, asshole, I'm not kidding.  Catherine's on her way to San Francisco.  Is Cam there?"

"More or less sitting on my lap.  Do you wanna talk to him?"

"Yes, please."

Kevin passed his phone to Cam, mouthing the word "William" to him.

Cam took the phone.  "We gotta stop meeting like this," Cam told William.

"Tell me about it.  Listen, I have some bad news.  Rosa just called me from the house.  She got a phone call from the San Rafael EMT's.  They were called to the university this afternoon, and after conferring with a doctor by radio, they're taking Catherine by ambulance to San Francisco General.  They won't diagnose, but off the record they speculate she has appendicitis, and they're not taking any chances."

"Oh, crap!" Cam managed to get out before his throat closed up on him.

"Oh, crap," Casey said from his vantage point on the floor.

Cam and Kevin looked down at Casey and grimaced at each other.  Little pitchers certainly did have big ears when it came to bad language.

"Cam," William said.  "I think you should come up here.  I mean tonight.  Kevin, too, if you can both come.  Appendicitis is nothing to fuck with.  Call right now and get some plane reservations.  It doesn't matter how late, I'll come get you at the airport.  We can stay at the apartment in San Francisco tonight, and I'll take you to the hospital first thing in the morning.  If things don't look too bad at that point, maybe I'll head back to San Rafael for school tomorrow.  Or not.  But if it's really serious, I'll stay in town and keep you company.  Mom and Dad are in Chicago, so I'm kinda holding down the fort."

"All right.  Thanks.  First thing, though, call Father Mason.  Kevin just talked to him, so I know he's at his apartment.  Let him know what's going on so maybe he can go to the hospital.  I'll be back with ya in ten minutes about the plane reservations," Cam said, and ended the call.

*  *  *

Father Mason was still sitting in his living room with a big smile on his face after talking to Kevin.  He wasn't kidding when he'd told him he missed the guys in Santa Monica, although the rest of the family in San Rafael helped keep his loneliness within bounds.

His telephone rang, and he saw William Carson's name on the screen.

"To what do I owe the honor of this call?" Mason asked.

"Father!  It's William.  Bad news.  Rosa just called me from the house to let me know Catherine MacKenzie is on her way by ambulance to San Francisco General.  The EMT's were called to St. Francis this afternoon, and after conferring with a physician by radio, they think she has appendicitis.  Cam wanted me to let you know."

"Thank you, William.  If you're going to talk to Cam again, tell him I'm going to be on my way to the city right away."

"Thanks, Father.  I'll tell him.  Either Cam, or both Cam and Kevin, will fly up here tonight, depending on how many seats may be available on a late flight.  We're probably going to stay at the apartment in town tonight, I think."

"Good.  I'll talk to you later," the priest said as he stood up.  He snagged his black suit coat from the back of a dining room chair and put it on, checking to see he had the holy oils, a pyx with Holy Communion in it, and a priest's stole in his pocket.  Then he was out the door and heading for his car.

*  *  *

Cam pushed himself off of Kevin's legs, and stood there looking down at his partner.

"How does your schedule look for the next couple of days?" he asked.

"I have a physics midterm exam tomorrow morning, and an English midterm the day after.  But I can cut them and explain to my professors later."

"No, I don't think you should do that," Cam said.

"It won't be a problem," Kevin said.  "I'm carrying an 'A' average in both classes, and the profs know I wouldn't miss an exam unless it was important."

"I'll call you from San Francisco and ask you to come only if things look really bad when I get there," Cam said.  "Besides not having you miss the midterms, one of us needs to be here with Casey while he's teething, especially in the evening.  I don't want to saddle Carl with a cranky baby if he cries all night.  Not that Carl wouldn't do a good job..."

Kevin looked at Cam and considered the matter for a minute.

"I guess you're right," he said.  "But promise me you'll call right away, and if things are bad, I'll come up first thing in the morning.  Deal?"

"Yep," Cam said as he walked over to the desk and opened his laptop.  Firing it up, he found the reservations page on Kayak, and started looking at flights to San Francisco.  There was one seat left on a 9:00 p.m. flight, and he grabbed the reservation before somebody else got it.

Using the land line this time, Cam called William back and told him his flight number, when the plane would leave L.A., and when it was scheduled to land in San Francisco.  William promised to pick him up at the airport.

Cam sat there for a minute after hanging up, watching Casey as the little guy started to cry.

Kevin stood and went over and scooped Casey up in his arms off the floor.  Carrying him back to the couch, he grabbed the unguent for the baby's mouth, opened the tube, and rubbed the stuff on the little guy's gums.  Casey stopped crying almost right away.

"I'd better tell Maria what's going on and throw some stuff in a bag," Cam said, heading for the kitchen.

*  *  *

About 7:00 that night, Kevin put Casey in his car seat
, and he and Carl drove Cam to the airport.  Cam kissed the baby and Carl good-bye, and then took an extra minute to say good-bye to Kevin.

"I don't like leaving you and Casey," Cam told his partner, holding him in an extended hug and looking into his eyes.

"What about me?" Carl asked.

"All right, I hate leaving you, too," Cam said with a grin.

"I know you don't want to, but you do have to go," Kevin said.  "Mom needs one of us to be there for her right now."  Kevin nuzzled Cameron's face, ignoring the sparse crowd around them.  "We haven't been apart in a long time.  I don't think I'll sleep too well tonight without you beside me in bed."

"I know," Cam said.  "Me either.  I'll call you when I get into town."

"Say 'hi' to Mom and William and Father Mason, and tell Mom I'll say a prayer for her tonight.  Tell her she has to be better by Thanksgiving week so she can travel down here," Kevin said.

"I will.  Love ya, Kev.  So much."

"Back atcha, Cameron."

Cam kissed Carl's cheek again, and then Kevin gave Cam a long final hug and a last kiss.  Cam picked up his overnight bag and headed for the gate.  After he passed through security, Kevin and Carl soon lost sight of him.  They headed for the short-term parking lot to go home.  Casey was fussing, and Kevin rubbed some more pain killer on his gums after they got in the car.

*  *  *

The plane trip was uneventful, and Cam dozed in his seat most of the way to San Francisco.  When it was time to deplane, he grabbed his one bag out of the overhead bin, slung the strap over his shoulder, and made his way off the plane.

Once in the terminal and on the escalator down to arrivals/baggage claim, Cam spotted William in an instant.  He was surprised at the emotions that surged through him when he saw his bro waiting for him.  He had missed him far more than he had realized.

In the relatively short time since Cam had seen the boy, William appeared to have grown at least another inch, Cam estimated, making him a little taller than he himself was.  The kid had also gained some muscle, and he was even more exceptionally, stunningly handsome than ever.  William was still wearing his black hair in a crew cut, but now his side burns ran down his cheeks in a stubble to a short goatee on his chin.  He was wearing a polo shirt that emphasized the outline of his pecs and put his guns on display, along with a pair of form-fitting Levi's that looked as if they'd been designed just for his body. 
He had a pair of flip-flops on his big feet.

He was one sexy guy, and Cam felt a stirring in his groin when he looked at him.

They hugged each other when Cam reached the lower level of the terminal and exchanged a kiss on the cheek.

"You've bulked up, man," Cam told him, holding on to him a little longer than he thought he should.

"Had to," William responded,  "The ground is hard when some fucking 250 pound lineman has tackled you and is sitting on your chest.  Ya gotta be in good shape for that shit."

Cam laughed.  "I guess!"

William looked at Cam solemnly.  "Y'know, I miss you guys, and I miss playtime with Casey."

"Well, Kevin and Carl send their love.  And Casey asked me, 'Where's William?' when the guys dropped me off at LAX."

William chuckled.

"How's Alicia?" Cam asked.

"She's great!  She's a real sweetheart, and I love her to death."

"Sounds good," Cam said, "even if you ain't gettin' any pussy."

"I'm horny as hell, but all in good time, my man.  You got any bags to claim?"

"Nope.  Let's book.  I guess you called Father Mason about Mom, so we might possibly see him at the hospital."

"Yes," William said.  "I also called admitting at the hospital a little while ago.  I said I was Catherine's son.  That wasn't exactly a lie, was it?"

"Nope.  We have a parent-sharing program."

"Well, they finally, grudgingly, told me they had admitted her."

"Good to know."

"Let's head over there, then," William said.  He glanced at his phone.  11:30 p.m.  "I doubt if they'll let us see her tonight, but let's check it out before we go to the apartment."

"Sounds good.  Thanks for picking me up, by the way."

"I wanted to."

"Did you let your mom and dad know what's going on?"

"Yeah.  I called them in Chicago at supper time.  They're upset about your mom."

"When will they be home?"

"They'll be back this weekend.  Earlier if there's an emergency.  They're  gonna try to talk to Catherine by phone at the hospital."

"Cool.  How are Berto and the other guys doing?"

"Excellent.  They're hoping to see you before you go back."

"Me, too, but I don't know..."

On the way to the parking lot, Cam called Kevin to let him know he'd arrived in San Francisco with no problem, that William had met him as promised, and that they were heading for the hospital.  Kevin told him to say hello to William and to give Catherine his love when he saw her.

William had Ian's big Navigator.  They drove to San Francisco General, talking along the way about sports in general and San Rafael High's football team in particular.  The traffic was light, and they arrived at the stroke of midnight at their destination.

They met Father Mason coming out through the after-hours emergency room entrance as they went in, and exchanged hugs with him.

"Father, thanks for coming into town for Mom.  Is there any news?" Cam asked.

"They've confirmed that she has appendicitis," Mason said.  "She's scheduled for surgery at 6 a.m.  They don't expect any complications."

"Thank the Lord for that," Cam said, giving a quick look toward heaven.

"I anointed her and gave her Holy Communion," the priest said.  "She's in good hands."

"Thank you so much," Cam said.

"Do you suppose they'll let us see her tonight?" William asked.

"They were making her comfortable and giving her a sleeping pill to knock her out for the night as I was leaving," Father Mason said.  "So I doubt it."

"That's alright!" Cam said.  "I'm feeling relieved about things even though we can't see her tonight.  We'll see her in the morning."

"Father, we're staying in town tonight at the apartment," William said.  "You're welcome to stay over with us if you like."

"Thanks," Mason said.  "But I have the early Mass tomorrow morning at St. Andrew's, so I need to go on back to San Rafael."

"As soon as I know how things go tomorrow, I'll call you, Father," Cam told him.

"I'll appreciate it," Mason said.

William and Cam hugged the priest again and said goodnight to him, and they headed for their cars.  Cam called Kevin again to let him know that even though they didn't get to see Catherine, they had met Father Mason when he left for home, and that the doctors weren't expecting any complications.

"You tired?" William asked after Cam was off the phone.

"A little.  But I'm feeling more relaxed now that I know things are looking positive," Cam said.

"We'll get a good night's sleep.  I've hardly been to the apartment since we moved in with your mom in San Rafael.  But Dad stays there sometimes when he has an early morning court date," William said as they reached the SUV and drove out of the parking lot.

"We need to stay over in the city with all the guys some weekend when Kevin and Carl and I are up here," Cam suggested.

"Yep," William agreed.  "I could show you guys all the hot gay spots here in town."

"Like you'd know!"

"You'd be surprised what I know."

"Yeah, right!" Cam said dismissively.

They arrived at the apartment building and William punched a button on the overhead instrument cluster of the Navigator to open the gate to the underground garage.  They went down the ramp and parked in one of the spaces marked "P" for penthouse, right near the elevator which was exclusive to the top floor.

"Handy," Cam commented.

"Yeah.  You wouldn't believe how much these parking spaces cost."

"How much?"

"Dad says seventy-five grand each."

"And you guys have four spaces?" Cam asked incredulously.


"Holy shit!  That's a lot of shekels."

"Yep," William agreed.

Cam grabbed his bag out of the back seat, and they got on the elevator.  Cam's ears hurt as they ascended quickly toward the top floor, and he swallowed hard to relieve the pressure in his ears.

"Ow," William said, having the same problem.

They walked off the elevator into the apartment foyer, and William started hitting light switches as they walked back toward the bedrooms.

"There's no food here, so maybe we can eat at the hospital when we go over there in the morning," William said.

"That's cool."

"Any preference on a bedroom?" William asked.


"OK, here's good," William said, pointing toward a room with a double bed in it.  He looked at Cam.  "Uh, can I sleep with you?"

Cam stopped walking and looked at William inquisitively.  "As long as you mean 'sleep,' that's all right.  I know you're not gay."

"That's true," William said, not looking directly at Cam.  He hesitated.  "But if I were, you and Kevin be the ones."

Cam put his bag down on the bed, and sat down beside it, staring at William.  "You're hot as hell, William, and I'm really attracted to you.  But you're straight, or at least mostly straight, and I'm not going to do anything sexual with you.  I can't do anything that would let Kevin down and put my relationship with him at risk."

William sighed and finally looked Cam in the eye.  "I respect that.  I just want to sleep close to you and maybe hold you, that's all.  I know that's kind of pushing it, but I'd really like to do that."

After a long moment of silence, Cam finally spoke.

"I can't say 'no' to that."  He paused.  "Or at least I don't want to say 'no' to that."

"That's all I'm asking," William said, looking a little embarrassed.  "Well," he clarified, "it's not all I want, but I won't ask for anything more."

"All right."  Cam unzipped his bag.  "I'm gonna brush my teeth and take a shower."

"Go ahead," William said.  "There are towels in the linen closet in there."

Without looking at William, Cam stripped naked, took his toothbrush and toothpaste out of his bag, and went into the bathroom.  He didn't look behind him, but he thought he felt William's eyes on his back and ass as he walked into the bathroom.  He took a leak first, brushed his teeth and rinsed, and then slid open the beautifully engraved glass door to the shower.  He turned on the water and adjusted the temperature.  When the temperature was right, he stepped inside and closed the glass door.  He stood directly under the streaming hot water, letting it pound on his tense neck and shoulder muscles before he started to soap himself up.

As he washed he heard William come into the bathroom, open the mirror over the sink, take something out and tear open some cellophane.  A new toothbrush, no doubt.

"Can I use some of your toothpaste?" William shouted over the noise of the shower.

"Help yourself," Cam said.

When Cam came out of the shower, the bathroom was empty.  He toweled off, hung up the towel, and went back into the bedroom.

Cam noticed that William's clothes, including his boxers, were lying in a pile on an easy chair.  He was in bed on his back, head on a pillow, with the sheet and bedspread pulled up to his chest.

Cam sat on the end of the bed, and retrieving his phone from his pants, texted Kevin that he loved him and missed him.  He reiterated that he and William were staying at the downtown apartment, and that William would take him back to the hospital after Catherine's surgery the next morning.

When he finished texting, Cam turned off the overhead light and walked to his side of the bed, cock swinging, with William unabashedly taking a good look at Cam's body as he walked.

"Well, whaddaya think?" Cam asked William.

"You're in great shape," William admitted.

Cam pulled down the sheet on his side of the bed, climbed in without putting on any boxers, and pulled the covers up to his own chest in the dim light of a bedside lamp.

"I hope you don't mind," William said.  "I sleep naked."

"I remember.  You're not making this easy for me, are you?" Cam said.  "I'm sure you remember I sleep naked, too."

"Can I at least sleep close to you without fucking up our relationship?" William asked.

"Are you sure you want to take a chance like that, straight boy?"

"If not now, when?"

"All right," Cam said, shaking his head resignedly.  "You're a gambler!"

William turned on his side toward Cam and pulled him close to his own body.  He sniffed Cam's skin, and kissed him on his shoulder.

"I love ya, man.  That's all I'm gonna say.  And that's all I'm gonna do."

They drifted off to sleep in each other's arms.

The next thing Cam knew, he was spooning William in the darkness.   His own penis was rigid and was nestled into William's crack, and he had his free hand around the boy's long, thick, hard cock.  Cam jacked him, and suddenly it was slick and wet from an eruption of cum.  A lot of cum.  Cam stopped counting William's shots of ejaculate when they reached nine.  Withdrawing his hand, he gave it a lick, and liked what he tasted.

William was awake and turned his head to look back at his bed mate.

"Don't stop now," William said.  "That felt great!"

"I'll bet it did."

Turnabout was fair play.  William rolled toward Cam and reached for his dick.

"No, man!" Cam said, warding him off.

Cam awakened later with a start and glanced at the luminous face of his watch.  It was about 5 a.m.  William was lying quietly beside him, breathing peacefully.  Had jacking William off been a dream or not?  Cam's own cock was hard as a rock and leaking.  Could all of it really have been a dream?

William woke up, stretched and got out of bed to urinate just about then, and Cam looked over in the dim light from around the window shade to where his bedmate had been sleeping.  The bottom sheet had a huge wet spot on it.  Dream or no dream, at least this much was true:  William had gotten off bigtime, with or without Cam's assistance.

When William came back to bed, he brought a hand towel from the bathroom and put it down over the wet spot before lying down in bed again.

They slept another hour and a half before getting up, showering separately, and heading for the hospital.  There was no discussion of who had done, or not done, what had happened during the previous night.  In any event, William had obviously received some much needed relief, no matter who was responsible for it.

*  *  *

William pulled into a parking space at San Francisco General shortly after 7 a.m. and shut the SUV off.  He looked over at Cam.

"Are we all right?" he asked.  He was as direct as ever.  No bullshit.

Cam looked at him.



"I'm not sure how and what actually happened last night," Cam said.

William nodded.  "That's just as well."

"I didn't mean for anything to happen."

William shrugged.

They got out of the Navigator and headed for the hospital entrance.  A receptionist at a desk inside the front doors looked up Catherine's location, and explained how to get to the surgical waiting room.

"Let's grab some coffee first," Cam suggested, and they followed the signs to the hospital cafeteria.  Once there, they got some scrambled eggs and toast to go with the coffee, and ate together at a table before heading upstairs.  There wasn't much conversation.  Then they sought out the family surgical lounge.

A volunteer at the front desk of the lounge, an elderly man in street clothes, had them sign in, and then he used the telephone.  He found out that Catherine's surgery had gone well, and that she was in the recovery room as they spoke.

"I can take you to recovery once Mrs. MacKenzie is awake and doing well," the man said.

Cam thanked him, and he and William sat down beside each other off in a corner of the large room.

After five minutes of silence, William looked at his friend.

"Talk to me," he said to Cam.

Cam cleared his throat.  "I was just thinking that you and I are living proof about what a mystery human beings are."

"Whaddaya mean?"

"Well, you're a straight guy who in the course of twelve months last year fucked more pussy than most guys get in a lifetime," Cam said.  "And yet I keep getting vibes that you would have liked to have done more than just hold me in bed last night.  Was I wrong?"


"Have you ever done anything with another guy?"

"Nope.  The only thing I've ever done with another guy, or in this case, guys, was when I jacked off with you and Kevin in bed last year.  Does mutual masturbation count?"

"Have you ever wanted to do more than that with another guy?"

"Well...  I know a good looking guy when I see one.  I have to admit that I'd do you or Kevin in an instant, given the chance, and let you do me.  I think that after I did it with one or both of you, I probably would never do another guy in my life."

"Why us?"

"I don't know exactly what to say except that you and Kevin are the 'real deal' in my opinion."  He smiled.  "I love those devious minds of yours and admire your attitudes, and of course, you're jocks with great bodies."  He paused.  "I'm really attracted to your bodies," he admitted.  "And above all I feel safe with you both when it comes to my reputation."

"Do you think that doing something sexual with us would be a betrayal of Alicia?"

William sighed.  "Maybe.  I'd have to think about it.  If anything like that ever happened, I might have to go to Confession again.  I don't know."

"So you do have a conscience, then?"

William frowned and looked annoyed.  "Fuck, yes.  Why would you think different?"

"Haven't you heard that 'A stiff prick has no conscience'?  I'm not putting you down," Cam said, "so don't get all pissed off at me.  I think we're really just getting to know each other.  Maybe more than most straight guys like you usually get to know a gay guy like me when it comes to sex."

"Maybe so.  I'm not always proud of where my thoughts take me sometimes, but I'm not ashamed, either."

"Bro, I love ya and admire you, and so does Kevin.   I have to tell you I'm flattered that you like us 'that way.'  You have my word I'll never talk about what you've told me with anyone--except to Kevin--and believe me, he's really close mouthed."

Cam reached over and hugged William across the shoulders and kissed his cheek just as the volunteer receptionist approached them.  The man gave no sign that he'd seen anything untoward.  It was San Francisco, after all.

"The recovery room nurse just called to say that you can see Mrs. MacKenzie in recovery before they take her up to her room," he said.

Cam and William stood up.

"Only one of you can go back to recovery, though," the man said.

The guys looked at each other.

"You go," William said.  "I'll wait here."

"Okay," Cam said.  "Do me a favor and call Kevin to let him know Mom's all right, will ya?  And call Father Mason.  And Rosa, too."

William pulled his phone out of his pocket and nodded, and Cam followed the volunteer out of the lounge and down the hall.  Fifty feet later they reached a double doorway, and the man pressed a round silver plate on the wall.  The double doors whisked open with a pneumatic sigh.

Cam saw that there were thirty or so cubicles in the recovery room, some closed to view with curtains and some not.  Staffers in blue scrubs, several wearing masks, were moving around the room taking care of patients.  A female nurse approached them.

"This is Mr. MacKenzie," the volunteer told her, "to see his mother."

The nurse smiled and bid Cam good morning.  "Right this way," she said.  "Your mother is still a little groggy, but she's doing well."

Cam turned to the volunteer and told him, "Thank you, sir," before the man walked away, and Cam followed the nurse to a cubicle.  There was Catherine MacKenzie, gowned and in bed, looking surprisingly like herself.  Even her hair was still well coifed.  Tears of relief sprang to Cam's eyes, and he quickly dashed them away.

"Mom," he said.  His voice was husky.

"Sweetheart!" she said, smiling.  "What are you doing here?"

"Where else would I be?  If I were lying in that bed instead of you, you'd be standing right here."  He went to her and kissed her on the cheek, and embraced her very carefully so as not to jostle the IV's in her arms.

"How did you know I had a problem?"

"William called me yesterday afternoon and told me you were on the way here, and then he picked me up at the airport last night after I flew into town.  He and I stayed at the apartment last night.  He's in the waiting room right now.  Kevin wanted to come up here with me, but he had a mid-term exam this morning and one tomorrow, and I didn't want him to miss them.  And Casey is teething right now, so...
By the way, we saw Father Mason downstairs about midnight last night just as he was leaving the hospital to go back to San Rafael."

"What a wonderful, hard working, compassionate priest Father Mason is!" Catherine commented.  "Well, I'd be lying if I didn't say I'm glad you flew up here.  But I'm glad Kevin stayed in Santa Monica to take care of his exams and of Casey."

"Me, too.  Any idea about how long they'll keep you here?"

"No.  But I doubt if it will be more than a couple of days at the outside."

"That's good news!  I'll stay in town over at Ian's apartment again tonight, and probably go home tomorrow morning."

"Thank you for coming up here, Cameron.  I love you so much.  I miss you and Kevin and Carl.  And that baby!  You say he's teething?"

"Yes.  The pediatrician recommended some stuff to rub on his gums, and it seems to work pretty well.  But the little guy is pretty uncomfortable right now."

"I can imagine.  But it will be over before long."

"Yeah.  You'll see him soon, but meanwhile..."  Cam took his phone out of his pocket and brought up a picture of Casey looking happy, holding a tennis ball and grinning.  He handed her the phone.

"He's darling," Catherine said enthusiastically.  "I can't wait to see him."

"Of course.  We have a lot of pics waiting for you.  You should be well enough to come down to L.A. for Thanksgiving week, don't you think?  You did know that Ian is chartering a plane to take everybody down there, didn't you?"

"I knew he was thinking about it, but I didn't know it was a done deal.  I'm glad.  It's something to look forward to.  William and the other boys here in San Rafael have been pushing Ian pretty hard to make that happen."

"Kevin and Carl and I are looking forward to seeing everybody."

"It won't be long."

"Listen, Mom, I want to tell you something I should have said a long time ago."

"What's that?"

"I need to tell you how much I appreciate everything you've done for me.  You've been a great mother to me and Kevin, and a wonderful grandmother to Casey, and we're always going to think of you that way.  If we ever accomplish anything in our lives, it will be because of the way you raised us.  And did it alone for many years, and that wasn't easy.  Then you stepped up to help the Carsons when we hardly knew them.  Now that's generosity!  And you've accepted Kevin and me for what we are, gay men, and we're stronger people because of you.  Thank you for who you are and what you've done."

Much to Cam's surprise, his mother began weeping, the tears coursing down her cheeks.  Cam snatched a couple of tissues out of a box on the bedside table, and gently dried her cheeks.

"I'm sorry.  I didn't mean to make you cry."

"You caught me by surprise, that's all.  Thank you for what you said, Cam."

They continued talking for about ten minutes, and then the nurse Cam had just met came over to the bed.

"Mrs. MacKenzie," she said, "I think you're stable now and ready to go up to your room."

"Good," Catherine said.  "Cam, you'll come up with me, won't you?"

"Yes.  I'll get William from the family surgical lounge, and we'll come up.  William wants to see you, but he has to go back to school pretty soon and then to football practice this afternoon."

"I want to see him," Catherine said.

"What room will my mom be in?" Cam inquired of the nurse.

"Come over to the desk, and I'll check for you," the nurse said.  She led Cam over to the counter, picked up a list of names and room numbers, and gave him Catherine's room number.

"Thank you, m'am," Cam said.

"You're welcome."

He walked back over to his mother, and told her that he and William would be up to see her as soon as they were sure she was settled into her room.

"Thank you, sweetheart," she said.  "Thank you for being here.  Thank you for being so kind.  Thank you for being such a good son."

Cam leaned down and kissed her again, and then headed back to the surgical lounge to get William.  William looked up when Cam came in.

"How is she?" he asked.

"She's doing well," Cam said.  "She doesn't seem to be in too much pain, and they're just now moving her upstairs.  I have her room number.  Let's give them a few minutes to get her settled, and then go on up.  Mom said she wants to see you."

They sat down in their chairs again.

William leaned down in his chair, looking at the floor, and said, "I just hope your mom knows how much all of us guys love her and how much we appreciate everything she's done for us."

"This is probably a good time for you to tell her that.  I more or less just told her the same thing in the recovery room.  I'm sure she'll be glad to hear it from you, though."

William nodded his head.  "When you're right, you're right.  I'll tell her.  It'll be my pleasure to tell her that because it's so true."

"Were you able to get hold of Kevin?"

"No, but I left him a voicemail," William said.  "He's probably in class."

"How about Father Mason and Rosa?"

"I left a voicemail for Father, and talked with Rosa.  She's relieved, and she'll give the boys the good news when they get home from school."

"Thanks, man," Cam said.

"Let's head upstairs," William suggested.  "I have to get on the road to school myself pretty soon."

By the time they found Catherine's private room, she was already settled in bed with the TV on.  Cam was surprised to see that William's eyes were damp when they walked in the door to her room and saw her.

"Hey!" William said as he walked over to Catherine and carefully bent down to hug her and kiss her cheek.  "You gave us all a scare."

"I gave myself a scare," Catherine said.

Cam and William pulled up chairs and sat down.

"Thank you for picking Cam up last night, William," Catherine said.  "I don't want my problems to interfere with school and football practice for you, though."

"I'm in pretty good shape at school," William said.  "No worries.  I wanted to be here.  It's little enough to do after everything you've done for me and the other boys and for my mom and dad.  I hope you know how much we've appreciated everything, Catherine."

"Well..." Catherine said, obviously moved.  "I love you boys and your parents, William.  There's nothing I wouldn't do for any of you."

The three of them talked about generalities for about fifteen minutes, when William finally glanced at his phone and saw the time.

"I think I'd better head out," he told Catherine and Cam.  "School awaits."

William bent down again and kissed Catherine good-bye.  "I love you, and I'll see you soon."

"Thank you, William.  I love you back."

William turned to Cam and took him into his arms.  "Are you going to stay at the apartment again tonight?" he asked in his ear.

"Well, I'd like to.  But how will I get in?" Cam asked.

"I'll call the doorman and let him know you're coming."

"Thanks," Cam said.  "Will I see you again before I leave town?"

"I can come back into town after football practice if you want me to."

"I'd like that."

"You'll grab a cab back to the apartment when you leave here?" William asked.


"Okay.  Don't eat supper until I get back into town.  It might be a little late, but we'll order something in."

"Sounds good," Cam said.

Shaking Cam's hand and pulling him into a hug again, William kissed his cheek, and with a final smile and wave at Catherine, walked out.

Catherine looked at Cam thoughtfully.

"You're very lucky to have a a good friend like William and a great partner like Kevin," she said.

"Don't I know it!!"

Catherine gave him an impish look, and quoted Aristotle: 
"Wishing to be friends is quick work, but friendship is a slow-ripening fruit."

"Hmmm.  I can't argue with that," Cam admitted with a chuckle.  "I'm guess I am a slow-ripening fruit, colloquially speaking."

"Stop it!" Catherine said, smiling.

"Well anyway, you're pretty smart, Mom.  And well read.  How do you remember all these quotes you come up with?"  He'd almost said "How do you remember all this shit," but quickly amended what he said.

Catherine laughed.  "It's a gift," she said.

Cam sat down, and for the moment they turned their attention to the wasteland of daytime television.  Finding nothing of interest after cycling through the channels, they turned the TV off.

Cam looked at his mother quizzically.  "Mom, if it wouldn't upset you, would you tell me what Dad was like when you were first married," he asked.  "I'm not sure I ever got to really know him well enough before he was killed, and I'd like to know more."

"It's not upsetting to talk about him at all," Catherine said, pausing to gather her thoughts.

"As you might expect, in the beginning," she said, "we were very much in love.  Alex used to call me on the telephone from work, sometimes several times a day, to ask me what I was doing and tell me he loved me.  At that time he was working on documentary films on various subjects for elementary and secondary school children, and he was very invested in his work.  Sometimes after supper, before you were born, we would sit around at home holding hands, and he would tell me what he was working on.

"We had a lot of friends in common back then, and we often invited people over for supper, especially on weekends.    He would help me in the kitchen, and we'd enjoy just sitting around with our guests drinking wine, at least before I was pregnant.  We had some good times back then.  He was always sweet and kind and good."

"So things started off well."

"Yes," Catherine said.

"When did things start to go downhill?"

"I don't think I can give you an exact date.  But after several years, he began to seem tense all the time and a lot less demonstrative in our relationship.  You had been born by then, and I knew things were cooling off in Alex's and my relationship, but I thought it was just the natural order of things.  I had no idea that he was fighting internally about whether he was gay or not.  We still had sexual relations, but it seemed more and more perfunctory as time progressed.  About that time he really began to encourage me to go back to school for an advanced degree.

"I never had a clue about what was really troubling him until he wanted a separation, and he entered therapy.  After being in therapy for awhile he finally sat down and told me he was gay.  As you might expect, I was devastated and relieved all at the same time.  I was devastated because I loved him so much--and continued to love him after we were divorced--and relieved because I began to understand that what had happened to us was not my fault.

"I began to do a lot of research on homosexuality, and discovered that being gay is no one's fault.  I'm sure you know that most gays,  male or female, are born with that orientation, although in some few cases being gay is situational and sometimes has to do with relationships with one or both parents.  Many of those latter individuals can achieve postive and long-lasting heterosexual relationships with a little help.  Those who are born gay mostly remain so during their lifetimes.

"The knowledge I had gained from studying material on sexual orientation helped me greatly when you and Kevin admitted you were having sex.  The source material I read didn't lead me to believe that Alex and I were at fault for "making you gay."  I wasn't so sure about what had caused Kevin to bond with you in light of his having already fathered a child.  But over time I became satisfied that he is gay and not a heterosexual who was merely dabbling in gay sex with you.  He truly loves you, and he loves you deeply because you are a man, and not as a passing fancy just to test the boundaries of human behavior.

"Anyway, as I said before, I really never stopped loving your father, and I don't think he ever stopped loving me, either.  That's part of the reason, I'm sure, that my dating life after Alex and I divorced was never very satisfactory.  I was very pleased when I finally met John Kelley, and knew that he and Alex were deeply fulfilled with one another and deeply in love.  I was also very grateful that Alex and I could forgive each other for what had happened in our marriage, and make you, and Kevin as well, feel that both of us loved you two very much."

"Wow!  Thank you, Mom, for being so forthright about Dad and you, and what you both went through.  It really helps me understand what went on.  I held a grudge against Dad for years before I finally began to understand what really transpired.  That happened partly because of my own growing experience as a gay person.  But what you've told me is really the last piece of the puzzle."

"Well, you're old enough now that we don't need to have any secrets from each other."

"Thank you, Mom."  Cam stood up, and bending down over the bed, he kissed his mother on the forehead.

Sitting back down, he studied his mother's face.

"Did I tell you that I had a call a few days ago from George Eisner, the CEO at Magnum Studios?"

"No, you didn't.  But you told Ian, and he passed it on to me.  Mr. Eisner was a good friend of your father's.  What exactly did he say?"

"Apparently the last film that Alex and John shot has been edited at long last, and he invited Kevin and Carl and me to have lunch at the studio with him and the producers, and then preview the movie.  He's says he's very proud of it, and thinks it's going to a 'blockbuster,' to use his word.  He sees it as a contender for an Academy Award for best picture, in fact.  I should be getting back to L.A. just in time for that lunch, and I'm pretty excited about it."

Catherine's face lit up with a huge smile.

"Oh, sweetheart, I'm so happy for you!"

They continued talking for several hours about the members of their extended family, and about what Catherine was looking forward to when she began teaching at Stanford Univesity in the fall.  Finally, at one point, Catherine began yawning.

"Why don't you take a nap, Mom?" Cam asked.

"You won't leave without saying good-bye, will you?"

"No, I'll be right here when you wake up.  I'm staying in town again tonight at the apartment, and William probably won't get back into town until late--after football practice.  We're going to order in and have a late supper together."

"When is your flight back to L.A.?" Catherine asked.

"Thanks for reminding me.  I haven't made a reservation yet."

Cam pulled out his telephone and did just that, getting a seat for a 10 a.m. flight the following morning.

Catherine fell asleep about then, and Cam dozed right along with her.  Whenever she woke up periodically, Cam did so as well, and they continued to visit off and on all day.  Food service brought Cam lunch right along with Catherine's meal, so he didn't even leave to make a trip to the cafeteria.  To his surprise, the food wasn't bad.  He stayed until after Catherine's supper arrived, turning down another hospital meal so he could eat with William when he arrived back in the city.

After Catherine had eaten, he finally took his leave, holding on to his mother and kissing her repeatedly before walking out the door.  They were both weeping when he left, but on the way to the elevator Cam offered a silent prayer of thanks that Catherine had come through her emergency surgery so successfully.  He looked forward to seeing her and the rest of the family in Malibu during Thanksgiving week.

He was lucky enough to catch a cab which had stopped at the front entrance to let off another visitor, and was soon on the way to the Carsons' apartment.

His phone rang on the way, and it was William.

"Hey, where are ya?" William asked.

"In a cab on the way to the apartment.  Did you call the doorman so I can get in?"

"Is Casey the cutest little guy in the world?  Is Kevin your sexy partner?  Of course I called the doorman."

"You da man!!" Cam said.  "Where are you?"

"Just crossing the bridge into town.  Did you eat yet?"

"No.  You told me not to."

"You take directions well.  See ya in a few," William said.


They ended the call, and the cab soon dropped him off at Ian and Mary's apartment.  Cam pulled out a wad of currency, paid the cabbie and gave him a good tip, and walked into the lobby.

"Hello.  I'm Cam MacKenzie," he told the uniformed doorman.  "I think William Carson called so you can let me into the Carsons' apartment."

"Yes, sir," the doorman said.  "He did.  Just step down to the last elevator."

"Thank you," Cam said, and the door of the elevator opened as he approached it.  He got on, and was whisked to the top floor, experiencing the usual problem with the pressure in his ears.  He walked into the foyer and then into the huge living room, turning on a table lamp at its lowest setting as he went.  He sat down in a comfortable chair, and put his feet up on a footstool and let the silence envelop him.  It was a welcome change from the continuous hubbub at San Francisco General Hospital.

He dozed off until he heard the elevator door open.  It was William.  Have mercy, Cam thought to himself as William walked into the living room.  The kid is so fucking handsome he's beautiful  So hot!.  Cam wondered if girls could appreciate this boy's body as much as he did.  He stared at the bulge in the crotch of William's Levi's before averting his eyes.

William was wearing a different polo shirt than he had been that morning, and had a small leather carryall in one hand.

"You went home after football practice?" Cam asked.

"Yeah, my boxers were getting a little ripe  I brought a change."

"Thank God for small favors," Cam laughed.

William threw his bag to the floor and collapsed in a matching chair to the one Cam was sitting in.

"How was football practice?" Cam asked.

"Fucking brutal, just like usual."

"I don't know how you do it."

"Me either.  I'm just too stubborn to quit."

"That's you, all right!" Cam said.

"You hungry?"


"Let's have a drink before we order in."

"Kevin and I don't drink."

"I usually don't either.  But I'm pretty sure my dad didn't clean out the bar here when we moved to San Rafael.  We need to have a drink to celebrate your mom's coming through surgery in good shape.
  Let's take a look."

"Oh, shit," Cam said as he and William stood up to look for the booze in the little bar off the family room.

And there it was, the good stuff, just where Ian had left it.  Anything one desired, quality stuff, and in quantity.

"What do you have a taste for?" William asked.

"Oh, shit," Cam said again.  "Well, if there's any tonic, I'll have a vodka tonic, I guess."

William opened the door of the little refrigerator under the bar, and there was half a shelf of little bottles of tonic water.

"You're in luck," William said, grabbing two bottles of tonic and a handful of ice cubes out of a plastic container.  Placing two glasses on the bar, he put the ice cubes in the glasses and added generous amounts of vodka without measuring it, topping the glasses off with tonic.  He stirred them with his finger, and handed a glass to Cam.

"To Catherine and successful surgery!" William said.

"To Catherine," Cam echoed.

They clinked glasses, and took a good healthy sip.  To Cam it tasted like straight vodka and no tonic.  The two guys sat down on the stools in front of the bar.

"This is strong," Cam said.

"I know it," William agreed.  "My bad."  They each took another sip, and William swiveled to the side to look at Cam.

"What did you and Catherine talk about all day today?"

"You, mostly," Cam said, trying to keep a straight face.  "We tried to figure out how God could have created anybody as perfect as you are."

William snorted.  "Are you drunk already?"  He put his drink down on the bar, threw his arms wide, and sang the first line a Negro spiritual, "Nobody knows the trouble I've seen..." in a surprisingly good baritone voice.  Then he added in his normal voice, "I gots me lots of troubles, dude."

Cam stared at him.  Aided by a little alcohol, this was a spontaneous side of William's personality he hadn't seen before, probably a side of him that his girlfriend Alicia got to see all the time.  And Cam felt a pang of jealousy about that.

"Seriously," William followed up, "what did you talk about?"

"We talked about my dad.  I don't feel I ever got to know him as well as I should have.  Mom told me about the early years of their marriage, and how things went downhill before they finally divorced."

"I wish I could have known him, and not just met him," William said.  "He was a great director."  He slugged the rest of his drink down and looked at Cam.  "Drink up, and let's have one more."

"Well..." Cam said doubtfully, but he drank up and William took his glass out of his hand and made two more drinks.

The second drink was as strong as the first, and feeling no pain, Cam vowed just to sip it slowly.

William asked Cam about how his relationship with Kevin was going, and Cam shared with William at length why he loved Kevin so much--because of the love and care Kevin gave Casey, for his great personality, for his patience, for his self-confidence, for his loyalty, especially when Cam was recovering from being assaulted down the beach, for his general kindness to the members of their extended family and people they knew and even to their dogs Alice and Samantha, for his quirky sense of humor, for his toughness on himself and on his companions in the gym and in their running regimen, for his dedication to his studies, and last but not least, for being a great sexual partner who made sure that both of them were satisfied in bed no matter who was doing what to whom.

"To sum it up," Cam said, "Kevin has a tough mind and a soft, soft heart.  I'm just grateful he's my partner.  I know he loves me.  I miss him every minute I'm away from him.  I can't wait until the day we can get married."

"You're one lucky duck, man," William told him, and Cam knew that he meant that.  "But you have all those great qualities you mentioned about Kevin in yourself, ya know.  That makes Kevin lucky, too."


They continued talking and drinking, making less and less sense as the conversation continued.  Two drinks later and no food in sight, Cam told William that he had to go to bed, slurring his words badly.  Most of the vodka in their bottle had miraculously disappeared.

William thought bed was a good idea, and arm in arm, holding each other up, they staggered into the bedroom they had used the night before, and Cam fell face down on the unmade bed.  He was out like a light.  Staggering around, William stripped off all his own clothes, and then turned Cam over.  After removing Cam's shoes and socks, he loosened his belt and pulled his pants off, followed by his polo shirt.  Good chest, nice pecs, and great abs on this boy, William observed to himself.  He was tempted to pull off Cam's boxers to get a good, up close look at his package, but didn't.  Picking Cam up in one arm, he pulled down the sheet and bedspread and laid Cam down gently, head on his pillow, and covered him up.  Then he went around to his side of the bed and climbed in.  Staring at the ceiling for a minute, he soon turned on his side and moved over to Cam and held him, breathing in his adoptive brother's masculine scent.

"Love ya, dude," William slurred to Cam, who was dead to the world.

Then it was lights out for him, too.

© 2013 Don Hanratty

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