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

Carl Emrick must have been exhausted.  Kevin and Cam never heard a peep out of him after Cam had coated the welts on the boy's body with a soothing cream, covered him with a sheet, and left him prone in their bed.  They went back out into the living room, and Kevin sat on the couch as Cam added some wood to the fire.  There had been no letup in the rain, which still pounded on the roof with a dull roar.

Cam walked back to the couch and sat down beside Kevin, hugging him around the neck.

"You said something earlier today about counting your blessings," Cam said.  "Considering what Carl's been going through, we all have a lot more to be thankful for than we realize."

"Yep," Kevin agreed, resting his head against Cam's.  "It's hard to believe that one human being could do that to someone else, let alone a father to a son.  I don't even want to think about the sex part.  How does anybody ever get over something like that?"

"I don't know," Cam said.  "If you do recover, it must take a lot of work.  And probably a lot of professional help.  To look at Carl from the outside, you'd think he was just a handsome, happy, well adjusted, assertive jock without a trouble in the world.  You know, an asshole like us."  He grinned wryly.  "On the inside, though, well...I just hurt for the guy, and I hardly know him."

"I don't even want to think about it right now," Kevin said.  "To change the subject, how about a game of chess before we have to call the Carsons?  I'd like to whip your cute little ass again."

"You probably have a lot of subconscious desires when it comes to whipping my ass that I don't know anything about," Cam said deadpan.

"I do," Kevin admitted.  "But most of them center around helping you be a better boy."

"What a waste of time and energy that is," Cam said, sitting further back on the couch with a smug look on his face.  "When you have perfection, don't toy with it.  That's my advice."

"And your advice is worth every penny I'm going to pay you for it--NADA!"

"What a tight ass you are," Cam said.  "In more ways than one!"

"Did you just tell me not to toy with your perfection?" Kevin smirked.  "That'll make things awfully dull for us in bed, won't it?  And I had so many fun things planned for you."

Cam laughed and hugged his partner.  "You win this round.  But you're not gonna win another chess game.  My finely honed mind is simply gonna crush you."  He got up and moved around the coffee table where the chess board was and into a chair opposite the couch.

Kevin picked up a white pawn and a black pawn, juggled them behind his back, and held his fists out to Cam.  Cam tapped Kevin's right hand, and voilà, Kevin was black for the game.  They set up the board, and Cam led with his King's Knight's pawn.

Kevin liked to start his campaign of mental intimidation early in the game.

"What's that, the MacKenzie gambit?" he asked Cam scornfully as he followed suit with the King's Knight's pawn on his side of the board.   Harassment was part of Kevin's psychological game.

"Yeah," Cam said.  "I'm gonna jack you around for awhile before I finish you off.  Soon these lips of mine will be sayin', 'Checkmate.'  Count on it."

"Well, right now these lips of mine are sayin', 'Bullshit.'   Count on that."

They played two games, Cam winning one and Kevin the other.

"I'm still a game up on ya," Kevin said smugly.  "I like that."

"You cheapen yourself when you brag like that," Cam said slyly.

"You oughtta know.  You've had plenty of practice."

Cam was going to let out a shriek of frustration and rough Kevin up a little bit when he remembered Carl was sleeping in the bedroom.  He looked at his watch.  4:45 p.m.

"I better wake up Carl or he'll be groggy when we call the Carsons," Cam said.

"Yeah," Kevin said.

Cam got up went into the bedroom.  Carl was sleeping soundly on his stomach under the sheet, face turned away from the door.  Cam sat down on the side of the bed gently and touched Carl's shoulder.  The boy woke up with a yell.

"Oh, shit!" Carl said.  "You scared me.  I'm a little jumpy."

"I'm sorry, man.  Are you all right?"

The boy moved gingerly on the bed, turning his head toward Cam.  "I don't think so," he said.  "My skin feels like it's starting to crinkle up or something."

"I wish there were something I could do," Cam said.

"Me, too, dude."

Cam bent down to pick up Carl's clothes to put them on a chair when he saw blood in the boy's boxers.

"Carl, did you know your ass is bleeding?  It's not from the welts, either."

"No, I didn't.  My dad fucked me pretty hard last night, though, after he whipped me, so I'm not surprised.  He hurt me so bad."

Cam shook his head somberly.  "If I'd known you were bleeding, we'd have taken you to a doctor right away," he said.  "Anyway, we'll have a doc look at you as soon as we can.  I just woke you up to tell you it's almost time to call the Carsons.  But I'm gonna get you some more pills for pain before we do anything else."


Cam went into the bathroom and once again got a Motrin, an Excedrin and a Tylenol out of their bottles, and ran a glass of water.  He went back into the bedroom where Carl was still huddled under the sheet.

"Do you need some help?"

"Yeah," Carl said.  "Pull back the sheet and help me sit up, willya?"

Cam put the pills and the water down on the beside table, where he was embarrassed to see Kevin's and his pile of unopened condoms still sitting out in plain sight.  He grabbed them up and shoved them into a drawer, but Carl had seen them.  The boy smiled, but didn't say anything.  Cam pulled the sheet down to Carl's butt and helped him get into a sitting position, and then gave him the water and the pills.  Carl threw them back, and drank the water.



"I hate to ask you to do this, but I think we should take some pictures of your wounds before we get you dressed."


"We just don't know what's gonna happen from here on in.  We need to have some evidence of what your dad did to you, just in case anybody down the line tries to play fast and loose with the facts."

Carl sighed.  "All right."

"Kevin, would you come in here for a minute?" Cam called out.

"Comin'," Kevin said.  He crutched his way into the room.  "What?"

"I'm gonna take some digital shots of Carl's backside before we get him dressed," Cam said.  "Will you help him get flat on his stomach again while I dig the camera out of my bag?"

"Yes."  Kevin slowly lowered himself to his knees and leaned his crutches against the side of the bed.  Pulling the sheet from around Carl's body, he helped the boy lie down slowly on his stomach again as Carl groaned.

"I'm sorry, man," Kevin said.  "This sucks so bad..."

"I know," Carl said.  "Please don't desert me and my brother, willya?" he added in a low voice.  "I don't know what's gonna happen to us now."

"I promise you we won't," Kevin said.

Cam came back to the bed.  "I have the camera," he said.  "Kev, hold the table lamp up and tilt the shade so more light falls on Carl's back, will ya?"


The enormity of what Carl's dad had done to him was now more clearly visible in the bright light from the lamp, and the sight almost made Kevin, tough Kevin, physically sick.  He looked away as Cam began snapping flash pictures from different angles, making sure that Carl's face showed in some of them so there would be no doubt of the victim's identity.  When Cam finished up, he put the camera on the bedside table.

"OK, Carl, we gotta get you dressed now," Cam said.

Carl groaned and tried to roll on his side to get up.  Cam bent over the bed and helped him, eventually getting him into a sitting position, feet on the floor.

"I'm gonna stretch out your T-shirt a little so it won't scrape your skin so much going on," Cam told the boy.  He did that, trying not to make the shirt too misshapen, and slipped it over Carl's head and slowly down over his torso.

"Do you want a clean pair of boxers?" Cam asked Carl.  "Carl has blood in his underwear," he explained to Kevin.

"Well..." Carl hesitated.

"Good idea," Kevin said.  "So let's take Carl's boxers with us when we leave in case we need evidence, OK?"

Cam went to his bag and pulled out a gaudy pair of boxers with the Oakland Raiders emblem all over them.  He helped Carl into them, and then tried to help him put on his 501's, but they were too tight to get on him without a lot of discomfort.

"Kev, I think I packed you a pair of carpenter's pants, didn't I?" Cam asked.


"Can Carl borrow them?  They'll go on him real easy 'cause you have such a big butt."

Kevin laughed and shook his head at Cam's remark.  "Go for it," he said.

Cam went to Kevin's bag and brought the baggy pants over, and helped Carl slip them on, rolling the legs up at the bottom because of Kevin's greater height.  Next Cam put Carl's sweat socks and Nike's on him, and Carl was dressed.

"Stylish, dude!" Kevin said, appraising him.  "How you feelin'?"

"Hurtin'," was all Carl said.

"All right, time to make the call," Cam said, standing up.  "Let's all hold a good thought that this will be the answer we're looking for."

"He means he wants us to pray," Kevin said in an aside to Carl.

Carl smiled, and emptied the pockets of his Levi's and put the stuff in the pockets of his borrowed carpenter pants.  The three of them went into the living room.

"Go ahead and call," Carl said, steeling himself.  "I hate this, but it has to be done."

Once in the great room, Cam consulted the piece of paper Mrs. Carson had given him, and picked up the cabin land line and dialed San Francisco.

*  *  *

Ian and Mary Carson had just walked in the door with their two boys after an afternoon visit to Mary's mother, who was in a nursing home in the city.  William and Mark Carson weren't ecstatic about spending their Saturday afternoon like that, but they were pretty good boys who loved their grandmother, and so they didn't bitch about it to their parents.  Only to each other, sotto voce.  Alice greeted the family happily.

The housekeeper answered the telephone in the kitchen, and not knowing that the Carsons were back, started to take a message when Ian Carson picked up the phone in the front hall.

"I have it, Mrs. Vega, thank you," he said.  "This is Ian Carson."

"Mr. Carson, my name is Cameron MacKenzie.  I'm calling from the Big Sur," he said.  "I met your wife yesterday when we found Alice, and she gave me your number."

"Yes, Cameron," Mr. Carson said.  "Mary told me a little about you and your friend, Kevin.  I want to add my thanks to hers.  Alice is special to our whole family, and we're all very grateful to you both."

"I'm glad we could help," Cam said.  "I feel a little embarrassed about calling you with a problem so soon after meeting Mrs. Carson, but we have a serious one.  I need to ask for your help and advice."

"We owe you, and I'm all ears," Carson said.  "Fire away."

"My friend Kevin and I met a new friend, Carl Emrick, from Seaside yesterday afternoon after Mrs. Carson went home, and he came to my dad's cabin this afternoon.  To make a long story short, he was severely beaten and sexually molested by his father last night.  His father is very prominent in Monterey County and has financed a lot of political campaigns in the area, and Carl believes that he can't go to the police or even Child Protection because he thinks his father will use his clout to get Carl committed to a mental institution to escape any punishment for himself.  There's an added complication.  Carl has a brother who's two years younger that he's trying to protect.  Once Carl is out of the picture for any reason, Carl believes that his brother Danny will be his father's next victim."

"My God in heaven!" Ian Carson said.  "What's Carl's father's name?"

"Hold on," Cam said.  "What's your father's name?" he asked Carl.

"Walter.  Walter Emrick."

"Walter Emrick," Cam relayed.

"I know him.  Or I've met him, I should say.  He owns the Cadillac dealership in Monterey," Carson said.

"You're not his lawyer or something, are you?" Cam asked, suddenly apprehensive.

"No.  Don't worry about that."

"Mr. Carson, we need some help.  And Carl needs to see a doctor.  He's had some rectal bleeding and is in a lot of pain from the beating."

The man groaned, and then there was silence.

"Cameron, let me talk to Carl, please," Carson said after thinking for a moment.

Cam passed the telephone to Carl.

"Yes, sir?" Carl said.

"Is what Cameron told me true?"

"Yes, sir, it is."

"Carl, give me ten minutes or so, and I'll call you back.  Give me the phone number there, and you all stay by the phone."

"Yes, sir."

Carl handed the phone back to Cam.  "He needs your phone number," he said.

"Mr. Carson?  Here's the number."  Cam gave him the cabin's land line number.

"Cameron, give me ten or fifteen minutes, and I'll call you back," the lawyer said.

"Yes, sir.  We'll wait to hear from you."

Cam hung up, and the three boys sat and looked at one another.

"I need to check in with Danny," Carl said, pulling out his cell phone and dialing.

Dan answered on the other end.

"Dan, where are you?" Carl asked the boy, and listened to the response.  "Where's Dad?" Carl then asked, again listening.  "All right, Dan, I need for you to do something for me.  Trust me and don't ask a lot of questions.  Leave the meeting now, and go home and pack a bag with clothes for a few days.  Some people and I will be picking you up at home, probably in about an hour.  If Dad gets home before we get there, take the bag and get out of the house so he doesn't see you and go up in the tree house, and stay there until I call you, OK?"

The boy must have protested.

"Dan, I've never needed you to do what I tell you more than right now," Carl said, almost pleading.  "Please do this for me."

Danny must have agreed, because Carl said, "Good!" and snapped his phone shut.

"Is Danny all right?" Kevin asked Carl.

"Yeah.  He's at a Boy Scout meeting and Dad's at work.  At least for right now."

"That's good," Cam said.  "Don't worry now, everything's gonna work out, Carl," he told the boy with more confidence than he himself was feeling at the moment.

Carl nodded as he tapped his fingers nervously on the arm of the rocking chair he was sitting in.

"You guys want something to drink while we wait?" Cam asked.

"Coke for me," Kevin said.

"Me, too," Carl said.  "Need some help?"

"Naw," Cam said.  "Sit and relax."  He got up and headed for the kitchen.

Carl looked down at the coffee table at the chess board.  "You guys play chess, I see."

"Yeah," Kevin said, grinning.  "Well, I play, but Cam only tries to play.  So-o-o-o easy to beat.  He hardly knows one piece from another."

"I heard that!" Cam said from the kitchen.  "Don't be tellin' my secrets, Kevin."

Carl and Kevin smiled at each other in the momentary silence that followed.

"Have you guys been 'together' for a long time?" Carl asked out of the blue.  "You don't have to answer that question if you don't want to, but you seem so comfortable together."

"Not long," Kevin said.  "Not the way you mean.  We lived next door to each other all our lives, and we're on the school soccer team together.  But we've been best buds forever."

"Neither of you acts gay," Carl said.

"You're changin' your story.  You said you knew we were after we met on the beach," Kevin said.

"Yeah, but as I told you before, it was more the way you seemed to care so much about each other, not any particular mannerisms, that clued me in.  Uh, could I ask you, how did you two come out to each other after being friends for so long?"

"I can thank Kevin for that," Cam said, bringing three cans of coke and three glasses of ice back into the living room on a tray just then.  "We've lived together with my mom in our house this year so he could finish school in San Rafael, because Kevin's mom died last year and his dad moved to New York City for his work.  My mom is Kevin's guardian, and that's been tough duty for her, believe me."  Cam smiled.  "Anyway, Kevin came into my room late one night and told me he was horny and not to be denied.  He jumped my bones with no warning, and had his way with me.  Long story short, against my will he made me gay practically overnight, and I've suffered with that--and  with him--ever since."

Carl burst into laughter.

"Untrue, and inappropriate under the circumstances, you dunderhead," Kevin told his partner unsmilingly.  "You have all the finesse of a warthog."

It hit Cam then about what he'd just said in light of Carl's dad's sexual assault on him, and Cam got a stricken look on his face.  "Shit, Carl, I'm sorry I said that.  I'm a real dufus, and I'm really sorry."

"I know you didn't mean anything by it," Carl said.  "Now, what really happened?"

"True story this time," Cam said.  "Kevin came into my room and said he thought he might be gay, and that he loved me.  And he gave me the courage to tell him that I've loved him since I sprouted my first crotch hair.  Being with him in this relationship, with him physically, I mean, fulfilled a longtime dream for me, believe me.  I love everything about him."

"Kevin, I may be out of line here," Carl said, "but you said yesterday on the beach that your former girlfriend is having your baby.  Is that true?"


"What's going to happen with the baby?"

"Cam and I are going to take the baby and raise it together," Kevin said.

"Wow!" Carl said.  "That blows me away.  I admire that so much!"

Cam looked at his watch.  It had been twenty minutes since Ian Carson said he would call back, but it seemed like an hour.  The three boys looked at each other nervously just as the phone rang.  Cam picked it up.


"Cameron?  This is Ian Carson."

"Hello, Mr. Carson.  We were starting to get worried."

"It took a little longer to line things up than I thought it would.  I had to call in a few favors.  Here's what's going to happen.  I'm coming down to pick Carl up as soon as I can get there.  I'll have the Department of Social Services' associate director for Child Protection in northern California with me, along with a physician and an associate attorney general.  The California Highway Patrol captain with jurisdiction in Monterey County will meet us at your cabin.  We should all arrive in about an hour.  I want Dr. Junius to examine Carl when we get there, and Director Reed to talk with him.  If the story as he's told it to you is verified, we'll ring up a judge and head for court right away.  The attorney general's office will ask the judge to issue an arrest warrant for Carl's father, and Director Reed will petition the court for jurisdiction over Carl and his brother and remove them from his father's home.  The only person among the local authorities who will be involved at this point will be the judge, and if he balks for any reason when it comes to doing his job with respect to Walter Emrick, we'll move right on to an appellate court.  Where is Carl's brother right now?"

"Let me put Carl on the phone, and he can tell you," Cam said.  "I--we--can't thank you enough for doing all this, Mr. Carson."

Cam handed the phone to Carl.

"Yes, sir?" Carl said.

"Cameron told me when I talked with him before that you have a brother living at home, is that right?"

"Yes, sir.  A younger brother."

"How old is he, and what's his name?"

"He's 15, and his name is Dan."

"All right.  You understand that you and Dan are a package deal, don't you.  If and when we ask that you be removed from your father's home, Dan is out, too."

"Thank you for that.  I won't go without him," Carl said gravely.

"All right," Ian Carson said.  "I know you must be pretty tense right now, but I want you to trust that everything is going to work out.  You can expect us in a little over an hour."

"Thank you, sir.  I apologize for putting everyone to so much trouble."

"See you soon."

They hung up, and Carl looked over at Cam and Kevin, and put his face in his hands.

"I hope to God I'm doing the right thing," he said.

"You are, man" Kevin said.  "There's just no way you could continue the way you were.  And you're thinking about Danny, just like you should.  Hang in, now.  We won't desert you."

Carl nodded and gave him a small smile of appreciation.  That was all he could manage.

"Carl, how about a game of chess?" Kevin asked, trying to think of a way to get the kid's mind off his troubles for a few minutes.

"Well, I'm not so good at the game," Carl said.

"You're bound to be better than Cam."

"I don't know about that."

"Trust me, I speak the truth," Kevin said.  He moved forward on the couch as Carl pulled his rocking chair up to the coffee table.  Carl picked the hand with the black pawn in it, and after they set up the board, they started the game.  Cam pulled a chair around to the end of the table so he could watch the board action.  But he found himself watching the two boys who were locked in mental battle more than he was watching the game itself.

Kevin had his game face on--intent, focused, expressionless, his brown eyes opaque.  The short, black hair of his crewcut head looked thick and healthy.  The way the light in the room fell on him, Cam could see a few dark whiskers that his partner has missed that morning when he had shaved.  His dark complexioned face was thinner than it had been before he'd been beaten up by the Butler brothers, but his athletic build hadn't changed a bit as a result of being brutalized.  His pecs filled out his t-shirt, and his thighs stretched the denim in his jeans taut.  His crotch gave ample suggestion of what Cam well knew Kevin was packing down there.  Cam's eyes shifted to Kevin's big hands, resting on his knees between chess moves.  When they made love, those hands had made Cam's body come alive in ways that he had never dreamed possible.  To Cam, Kevin was the epitome of everything that was male and beautiful.  Cam couldn't help thinking about how fortunate he was to be partnered with someone of Kevin's mental and physical attributes.  He knew even at that point in his life that if he and Kevin had not become partners, there would have been a void in the depths of his own being that probably never would have been filled.  Yes, there would have been other people in his life, he knew, even other lovers, probably, but they would never have given him the joy, the stimulation, the elation, the love that Kevin did.  He was thankful.

Cam's gaze shifted to Carl.  The angular face under the boy's blond crewcut looked tough and determined, but weary, no doubt as a result of his current anguish.  That face was strikingly handsome, with a medium length nose, blue eyes, and smooth, unblemished, healthy looking skin.  There was a hint of a dark line on his upper lip, indicating that Carl probably had to shave regularly unless he wanted a mustache adding a new look to his face.  An observer, even at a distance, would have immediately and rightly concluded from this boy's body that he, like his two hosts, was a athlete.  His arms were muscular, his stretched-out T-shirt was well filled.  Cam would have known Carl's thighs and calves were thick and developed under the baggy carpenter's pants that Carl had borrowed from Kevin
even if he had not seen him naked on their bed.  Despite the crisis in his family, Carl's overall manner testified to the self-confidence and toughness that comes from repeatedly testing one's body against athletic competitors and experiencing satisfaction and triumph.  Cam hoped that the boy's psycho father hadn't fucked the kid up so badly that he wouldn't be able to live a normal life, at least in time.  He thought about Alex and John and Catherine, their goodness and kindness to him and Kevin, and again was thankful for his own circumstances.

"Checkmate," Cam heard Carl say, and sure enough, Kevin was whipped.

Cam kept his mouth shut.

"Shit," Kevin said.  "You're crafty.  How about another game?"

"OK," Carl said.

Just as they had set up the board for game 2 and Carl made the first move, Cam heard the stones in the driveway crunch as a car pulled in.  He stood up and went to the door, peering out into the rain.  A plain, white Ford sedan parked behind the Camaro, the trunk of the new vehicle sporting a virtual forest of radio antennas, several of which continued waving after the car came to a stop.

The car door opened, and out stepped a tall state trooper, probably 6'4", who looked to be in his mid-forties.  He was in full uniform.  The man put on his smoky bear hat and moved quickly to the steps and up on to the deck of the cabin where he was sheltered from the driving rain.

Cam opened the cabin door wide and stepped outside.  He saw there were captain's bars on the trooper's uniform shirt as the man came closer.

"Good afternoon, sir," Cam said.

"Are you Cameron?" the visitor asked in a deep voice.

"Yes, sir.  Please step inside."

"Thanks."  Once inside the door, the man offered his hand.  "I'm Tom Ridenour," he said.

"Cam MacKenzie, Captain," Cam said as they shook hands.  "That's Kevin Stoltz on the couch, and this is Carl Emrick."  He pointed to Carl.

Carl stood up to shake hands with the trooper, and Kevin struggled to do the same.

"Sit," Ridenour said to Kevin, noticing the crutches leaning again the couch, and went over to shake hands with him.  "I'm the first to arrive, I take it."

"Yes, sir" Cam confirmed.  "Please have a seat.  How about a cup of coffee or a soft drink?"

"Just some water would be fine," the trooper said, sitting down, removing his hat and perching it on one knee.

"I'm sorry you were brought out on a day like this," Carl said, the chess game now abandoned.

"Did you ever try to say 'no' to Ian Carson and the attorney general's office?"  The big trooper laughed.

"The attorney general's office?" Carl asked.

"Yes," the trooper said.  "From what he said, I don't think Ian wants to trust the local prosecutor on this one."

"Oh," Carl said.  "That makes me feel a little better."

Cam went into the kitchen for a bottle of water and came back, handing it to the police officer.

The trooper twisted the cap off the bottle and took a good, deep draught of the cool liquid as they heard the gravel in the driveway crunch with another arriving vehicle.  Cam again stood and went to the cabin door.  A big, cream-colored Lincoln Navigator was parked behind Carl's Escalade.  The doors of the car popped open, and three men and a woman made a run for the deck in the pouring rain.  Cam stepped outside to meet them.

"Cameron?" the man in the lead asked.  He appeared to be in his late 30's or early 40's, tall and thin, clean shaven, with prematurely balding sandy hair worn in a businessman's haircut, clad in a stylish khaki, belted raincoat.  His facial expression was that of an intelligent and vibrant person.  He thrust out his hand.  "Ian Carson," he said.

"Yes, sir.  Cam MacKenzie," the boy answered.

"Let me introduce Associate Director Lauren Reed of Child Protection, Dr. Earl Junius, our physician, and Assistant Attorney General Richard Hanosh."  Carson pointed to the lady and the men as he introduced them, and Cam shook hands with all of them.

"Thank you so much for coming all the way down here," Cam said.  "Come on inside out of the weather."

Carl and Kevin were both standing up when the crowd entered, and Cam, who had always been good with names, introduced all the visitors to Carl and Kevin, and also Captain Ridenour in case he was not known to everyone.  Cam and Carl took the newcomers' rain gear, and hung their coats in a closet by the door.  Cam invited everyone to sit down and offered them something to drink.  Everyone declined.

It was easy to see who was going to be in charge, and he didn't waste any time getting down to business.

"Carl, why don't you tell us what's happened to you and why you need help," Ian Carson said.

Carl's face turned scarlet, and he looked at the floor.

"I know this isn't easy to talk about, and particularly in front on strangers," Carson said, "but you understand that every one of us is here to help you.  So, to do their work, they have to know."

"Why don't Kevin and I excuse ourselves now," Cam said, trying to take some of the pressure off of Carl.

"No, man, don't go," Carl pleaded.  He looked at Ian Carson.  "They know everything already," he said, "and they've seen everything my father did to me, so can they can stay?  Please?"

"All right," Carson said.  "I hate to press you like this, but we have some time constraints if we're going to get this job done today."

"Yes, sir," Carl said, shamefaced.  And he began to talk, telling the strangers surrounding him the story of what had happened to him, leaving nothing out, as Cam and Kevin stared at the floor in embarrassment.  When his monologue was over, Mr. Hanosh, the assistant attorney general, asked a few questions.  There was a long silence.

"Carl," Mrs. Reed said, "Dr. Junius and I are going to have to examine you.  Is that all right?  I'm a nurse," she added.


"Cameron, can you lend us a room?" the doctor asked.

"Yes, sir."  Cam took Carl, the doctor and the social worker/nurse back to a guest bedroom rather than into his and Kevin's room with its disheveled bed, and shut the door behind them.  He went back into the now silent living room, and sat down beside Kevin.  No one spoke.

Dr. Junius and Mrs. Reed emerged from the bedroom a few minutes later, leaving Carl to get dressed.

"That son of a bitch," the doctor muttered to himself about Walter Emrick.  The physician's face was pale.  "They're all bad, but this is one of the worst cases I've seen in a long time."  He held out his hand to Mrs. Reed.  "Give me the papers."

She handed over the medical certification of alleged child abuse form, and the doctor sat down in the rocker, using the surface of the coffee table as backing to write.

"I don't know how you do this work day in and day out," Junius said to Mrs. Reed, signing and handing the papers back to her to sign.  She did so, and handed them on to the assistant attorney general.

Carl came back into the room, re-dressed and downcast, and gingerly sat down on the couch next to Kevin.

"Carl, do you have any relatives in the immediate area that we can place you and your brother with, at least temporarily?" Mrs. Reed asked.

"No, ma'am.  Nobody."

"I'll need to be in touch with the Monterey County child protection office to see what's available," she said.  "We're going to take good care of you and your brother, though, Carl," she said, trying to relieve some of the boy's stress.

Carl said nothing, sitting on the couch with his head down.

"Uh, I don't suppose there's any chance my wife and I could take them, is there, Lauren?" Ian Carson asked.

"Well...I'd have to approve you as foster caregivers on an emergency basis and let our Monterey County office know that," Mrs. Reed said.  "That's not our normal procedure...and of course, you don't reside in Monterey County.  When and if Carl and Dan were needed in court, you'd be responsible for seeing that they got down here from the city."

Kevin put an arm around Carl as tears suddenly sprang into the boy's eyes and began to run down his face.  Carl didn't make a sound as he wept.  The enormity of his and Danny's situation had really, finally hit him.  Cam pulled a clean handkerchief out of his back pocket, and reaching across Kevin, gave it to Carl.  The boy held it over his eyes without unfolding it.

"But you can do it, correct?" Carson persevered.

"Yes," Lauren Reed said.  "I can do it."

"Good.  Unless something totally unexpected happens, let's do it that way, then," Carson said smoothly, smiling at Mrs. Reed.  "Is that all right with you, Carl?  I think you and your brother would get along with my boys just fine."

"Yes, sir," Carl said despondently.

"Are we ready for me to call the judge for a hearing?" Assistant Attorney General Hanosh asked.

The adults looked at one another, and Ian Carson said, "Go for it!"

Hanosh pulled a small black book from the breast pocket of his suit, consulted it, and dialed a number on his cell phone.

"Good afternoon, your honor," he said when the phone was answered.  "This is Richard Hanosh with the San Francisco Attorney General's office.  I'm sorry to bother you at home, sir.  Your honor, we have a child protection case that we need to put before you immediately, and I'm requesting an emergency hearing to be held as quickly as possible this afternoon for that purpose."

The judge must have asked him why the local prosecutor was not the person calling.

"This case is of such gravity that Child Protection and my office didn't want to take a chance that the local prosecutor's schedule might be backed up."  The assistant AG winked at the others in the room.  "My office is assuming direct responsibility for the case at this time."

Hanosh listened for a moment, and then smiled.  "Thank you, Judge.  Again, I'm sorry to bother you on a weekend.  We'll see you shortly."

"Judge McDowell will meet us at the courthouse in an hour and a half," he told the group.

"Excellent!" Ian Carson said.

"I can get an arrest warrant for Walter Emrick from Judge McDowell, then?" Captain Ridenour asked.

"Yes," Hanosh said.  "I'll ask McDowell for it."

"Carl, call your brother and tell him we'll pick him up in, oh, say twenty minutes, OK?"

The boy wiped his eyes with Cam's handkerchief, his eyes red.  He pulled his cell phone out of the side pocket of the jeans Kevin had loaned him.  The phone beeped as he pushed buttons.

"Dan?" Carl said.  "We'll be by to pick you up in twenty minutes.  Is Dad still at work?"  He listened.  "Good, see you in a few."

Ian Carson stood, as did everyone, Kevin struggling with Cam's help to get upright.

"Well, let's do this!" Carson said.  "Cameron, I'm glad you called me, and that I could help.  We'll take good care of Carl and Dan, you can count on that."

"Kevin, I'll wash your pants and send them back to you," Carl said.  "And your boxers, Cam."

"Don't worry about it," Cam said.

When they said good-bye, Carl, Kevin and Cam had themselves a long three-way hug, not the dap and shoulder bump or high five that usually passed for hello or good-bye among jocks.  The boys ignored the adults looking at them.

"Please don't forget about me and Dan," Carl whispered to the boys.

"We'll be into town to see you guys next weekend," Kevin promised.  "Or maybe sooner.  Won't we, Cam?"

"Absolutely!" Cam confirmed.

Cam pulled Ian Carson aside briefly and thanked him personally, and then spoke up and thanked all the adults for taking their personal time to help Carl and his brother with their problem.

After Kevin and Cam shook hands with everybody, the group went to the door, on to the deck, and down to the Navigator and police car.  Carl looked back up at Cam and Kevin standing on the deck before he got into his Escalade to drop it off at home.  Then they were gone.

It was rapidly getting dark, but it had stopped raining.  Cam retrieved a couple of lawn chairs from where they leaned against the cottage on the deck, and they sat down next to each other.

"That was intense," Kevin said, looking at Cam and taking his hand and holding it.  "You did a good thing, though, calling Mr. Carson."

"I hope so."

"You did!  Carl's asshole father would have ended up killing him or his brother before long, you know that!  The kid came to us for help, and he got it.  Why the remorse?"

"It's just hard to see somebody without a place to call home, that's all."

"You mean like I was when my dad moved to New York?" Kevin asked.

"Well, yeah, kinda, I guess.  But now, where I am, that's your home.  And vice versa."

Kevin let go of his partner's hand and put his own hand behind Cam's head, pulling his face over for a kiss.  A gentle kiss that they held for a long time, lips barely touching.

"I love you like there's no tomorrow," Kevin said when they pulled back.  He studied Cam's face.  "Everything in my life that means anything to me at all starts with you."

"What brought this on?" Cam asked, smiling.

"Friend, lover, partner, that's what you are to me, bud," Kevin said seriously.  "I just wanted you to know, that's all."

"I do know it." Cam acknowledged.  "You don't have a clue how good that makes me feel."

"Yes, I do," Kevin said.

"No, you don't," Cam insisted.

"Do too!"

"Do not!!"

"Do too!!!"

"Do not!!!!"

"Arggggggghhhh!!!!!" Kevin screamed in mock frustration into the trees surrounding the cabin.   Alarmed, some birds flew away, squawking and circling the area.

"Don't be a dick, Kev.  You're scaring the wildlife," Cam said.

"You're the only wildlife that needs scaring.  I either had to yell, or put you down on this deck and pork you until you begged for mercy," Kevin said, grinning.

"You're such a horny little fuck!" Cam said.  "Sex is the only thing on your mind!  Not that I'm complaining, you understand."

"I do understand," Kevin said.

"No-o-o-o!  Don't start that shit again!"

Kevin grinned broadly.  "All right.  But only because I love you."

"I've had enough of you for the moment," Cam said.  "I'm gonna change clothes and go for a run up to the highway and back.  Looking at your gut, it wouldn't hurt you to do a few crunches while I'm gone.  I don't want to be slipping and sliding around on your big, fat stomach when we're in bed feeling amorous."

Kevin shook his head sadly.  "You're such a brat.  Have I mentioned that lately?"

"Constantly.  Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to change clothes so I can exercise and maintain my body as a temple to the Lord."

Kevin groaned.  "Get away from me before I...well, just get away!"

Cam leaned over and kissed him, and then got up and went into the cabin.  When he returned, dressed for his run, Kevin called him over to his chair, and holding his friend's butt, shoved his face into Cam's crotch, smooshing around and kissing and nibbling his dick through the filmy running shorts and jock before he let him go.  That's why Cam began his run in a state of semi-arousal.  With a big smile on his face.

*  *  *

It was clear from the moment the hearing began at the courthouse in Monterey that Judge McDowell was dismayed that one of his community's leading citizens was allegedly a child molester, and would likely be subjected to arrest.  McDowell would have tried to stall a bit, but there was just too much fire power on hand in the courtroom to get away with that, particularly in light of the graphic testimony about the sexual abuse.  It was so graphic, in fact, that the judge ordered Danny Emrick removed from the courtroom until testimony was completed.  In the end he had to grant Child Protection's petition for custody of Carl and Daniel Emrick, and issue a warrant for Walter Emrick's arrest for child abuse and aggravated sexual assault of a minor.  The tall, grim captain of the CHP took the warrant when the clerk had completed it and the judge had signed it, and left for the Cadillac dealership.

Ian Carson made himself known to the court, although Judge McDowell had recognized him immediately from meetings of the bar they had both attended in San Francisco. Carson petitioned the court, with the support of Associate Director Reed of Child Protection, to be appointed guardian ad litem for the boys in any subsequent legal action which might occurThe judge granted the petition, and things were pretty well wrapped up in a half-hour.  McDowell gaveled the hearing to a close, and the group walked out together.

Ian Carson took the opportunity to call his wife Mary in town, and informed her that they had just become foster parents of two boys from Monterey County.  Mary was used to the unusual and unexpected, given whom she was married to, and took it all in stride.  She said she'd have their guest room with twin beds ready for Carl and Dan.

Ian Carson then called Captain Ridenour, and finding out that Walter Emrick was in custody and being booked, drove to the Emricks' house to pick up some of Carl's clothes.  Carl put the Escalade into the garage, and Danny got a few more things out of the house, too, now that he knew that they might not be back for a while.  The Navigator was fully loaded with people and luggage as they headed for San Francisco.  Carson dropped off Lauren Reed and Richard Hanosh at their homes with his profuse thanks, and then he and Dr. Junius took Carl and Dan to the 24 hour emergency room at San Francisco General Hospital on Potrero Avenue for a physical examination.
  He produced his court papers showing that he was guardian ad litem for the boys and that they were placed with him by Child Protection, and asked that they be examined by a doctor on the senior staff.  The desk didn't want to page anyone senior to come in because it was the weekend, but the resident in charge finally capitulated to Ian's request.  A half hour later, a grumpy senior staff doctor, George Suthon, showed up, his mood improving fast when he found out it was Ian Carson who had requested him.  They knew each other socially.

Dr. Suthon and Dr. Junius together took Carl and Dan one at a time into an examination room.  Dan was in good shape.  But in addition to his welts and abrasions, the physicians quickly honed in on the bleeding from Carl's rectum.  Dr. Suthon used a sexual assault kit to secure a specimen, and sent it to the lab for testing.  In the doctors' opinions, no surgery would be required on the boy's rectum, certainly not immediately.  They felt that the modest anal tearing involved would likely heal itself in good time.  Dr. Suthon gave Carl a prescription to promote healing by keeping the boy's stools soft, as well as for some suppositories, some antibiotics, pain pills, and an unguent for his welts.

It was 10:30 p.m. by the time Carson dropped Dr. Junius off, and stopped at a pharmacy to fill the scripts.  Then he headed for home, parking the Navigator in the lot in the basement of his condo building.  He helped the boys with their clothes and luggage to the elevator, and up they went to the penthouse.  Carl and Dan were sad and exhausted by then.  Mary was waiting for them at the door, and Ian introduced the boys to his wife.  She welcomed them and shook hands with them, and then, without a word, drew each of them into a hug.  Dan cried.  William and Mark came out of their rooms, met the boys, and then led the way back to their new room.  Ian told Dan and Carl they could either sleep as late as they wanted to, or get up at 10:00 the next morning to get ready to go to church with the family.  The boys said they'd play it by ear, and everybody retired for the evening.

The Emrick boys got ready for bed.  Dan was shocked when he saw what their father had done with his whip to Carl's back and butt and legs.  It blew any thoughts out of his mind about getting on Carl for what he had done to have their dad arrested, especially when Carl told him what else their dad had done.

"Do you think we'll ever get to go home?" Dan asked his brother, voice quavering a little as he sat on the side of his bed.

"I don't know, Dan.  But very honestly, I doubt it.  I think we're pretty much on our own now."

They had their own bathroom.  Nothing more was said as they brushed their teeth and used the toilet.  Carl took his pills, and sitting on the toilet, put a suppository up his butt, which started to give him immediate relief.  Carl washed his hands, and the guys climbed into their freshly made beds in their boxers.  Carl thought about asking Dan to put some cream on his wounds, but he knew Dan was probably too tired, so he let it go.

Carl turned off the light on his bedside table, and put his head on the pillow.

"I made two new friends today," he told Dan, speaking into the darkness.  "Cam MacKenzie and Kevin Stoltz.  I met them the other day on the beach outside of town, and they were the ones who called Mr. Carson for help.  These guys promised they won't desert us, and I believe them.  They live in San Rafael.  And I think the Carsons are our friends.  So,'s been a bad day, but lets stay hopeful, Dan.  We're together, and we have some people who care about us, so let's make the best of things, OK?"

"Yeah, OK."

They both fell into an exhausted sleep.

*  *  *

When Carl woke up the next morning about 11:30, he was alone in the bedroom.  Dan's bed was empty and unmade, with no sign of him anywhere.  The place was silent.  Carl got up and used the bathroom, and climbed back in bed when he saw a note on his bedside table from Mary Carson, saying that the family had gone to church, taking Dan, and that they would be back around noon.  He snuggled down into the bed, intending to crash for a few more minutes.  He went into sort of a half sleep, awakening a half-hour later only when Dan came through the bedroom door.

"Hey," Carl said softly to his brother.

"Hey," Dan said.  "You were really crankin' out the Z's when I got up, so I didn't wake you up to go to church."

"That's OK.  I'm still feeling tired."

"You should have seen this church!  It's HUMONGOUS!  It's the Episcopal cathedral, I think they said.  Grace Cathedral, something like that.  But the Mass was almost the same as ours at St. Michael's, so I knew what was going on."

"That's good," Carl said absently, yawning.  "Did everybody eat breakfast already?"

"No.  Mrs. Vega is just starting to cook some eggs an' stuff."  Dan laughed.  "My mission was to get you up, dude!"

"You're sure feeling better," Carl said, smiling at his brother.

"Just takin' your advice.  Livin' in the moment."

"Do I have time for a shower?"

"No.  Mrs. Carson said there's a robe and slippers in the closet, and you should just come on out to the kitchen."

"OK."  Carl threw back the covers, got out of bed, and went over to the closet.  There were two robes and two pairs of slippers, and Carl picked a robe, put it on, and slid his feet into slippers.  "Ready as I'll ever be," he told Dan.

"Come on.  Wait 'til you see this place.  It's fantastic!"

"Lead on."

They went down a long hallway with lots of bedroom doors, turned left, and they were in the kitchen.  It was filled with good smells of cooking food, and full of light because one wall, dominated by a lengthy table with benches, was glass.  Carl was stunned by the breathtaking view of downtown San Francisco from the kitchen.  A door in the glass wall could be opened up to a sizable outdoor deck where family meals could be eaten in clement weather.

"Hey, dude!" William greeted him with a slide and dap handshake.

"Hey, man," Carl said.  "'Morning, everyone."

"'Morning, Carl," Mary Carson said from where she was busy helping their housekeeper, Mrs. Vega, fix breakfast.  "How did you sleep?"

"Great, thanks," Carl said.  "Uh, I want to thank you folks again for taking us in.  It's really nice of you."

"We're glad you're here," Mary said.  "Carl, this is Mrs. Vega," she continued, "without whom this place wouldn't run.  Yolanda, Carl Emrick."

The short, petite Chicano woman working at the huge stove stopped what she was doing, and turned and shook hands with Carl. 

"You boys sit down and have some orange juice, and breakfast will be ready soon," Mrs. Vega instructed in an Spanish accented voice.

"Thank you," Carl said.

He and Dan sat down with William, the older Carson boy, and Mark, the younger, and they talked about school while they drank their orange juice and got acquainted.  The Emricks were really taken with their hosts' children, who were both good looking and engaging, with lively personalities.

In a few minutes, Mrs. Vega put a huge platter of huevos rancheros on the table, along with bacon and a covered dish of hot tortillas.  She refilled glasses of orange juice, and poured coffee for Ian and Mary Carson.  Mary Carson invited the four boys to stand as she offered the grace, and they all sat down and began passing food around.  The four boys ate like there was no tomorrow, and soon the eggs had disappeared.

"Excellent, as always, Yolanda," Ian Carson said.  Mrs. Vega smiled and waved a hand dismissively as she began to clear the table.

Ian stood up from the table and stretched, relaxed and yawning.  "Carl, can you spare me a few minutes to talk?"


"Let's go into my study."

"Yes, sir."

Carson filled up his coffee mug and carried it with him as they walked out of the kitchen, through a beautifully appointed dining room and then a huge living room with a massive fireplace and comfortable chairs strategically placed to promote conversation.  They turned down a short corridor into a room with an antique, cherry wood secretary which was obviously used as Carson's desk.  The top of the secretary was filled with books.  The front of the desk was folded down, revealing a green felt writing surface inlaid in the wood.  There was a couch against one wall, and several easy chairs were scattered here and there.  The outer wall of the room was glass, once again giving a magnificent view of the city from that side of the building.

"Please sit down," Ian said, gesturing to an overstuffed chair, and Carl sat down gingerly, his backside still sore from the whipping he'd received from his father.  "You're still hurting?" Ian asked solicitously.

"A little.  But it's better."

"Good.  The reason I wanted to talk with you is that there are some decisions we have to make about school for you and Dan, and some other things."

"Yes, sir."

"I'm going to have to clear whatever we decide with Child Protection, but I want you to know that we'll do as much of what you want as we can."

"Thank you," Carl said.

"We have some options," Mr. Carson said.  "First of all, you're what?  About 8 weeks from graduation?  Do you want to get placed in Monterey County so you can get back to your own school as quickly as possible, or do you want to stay here and have me get your credits transferred to a school here in town?"

"I can't speak for Dan, but I don't want to go back to Seaside anytime soon," Carl said.  "Everybody is gonna know what happened, and I'm ashamed."

"You don't have anything to be ashamed about, and we need to talk about that.  You're right about everybody knowing what happened, though.  I pulled up the Monterey Herald on the net this morning, and your dad's arrest and the charges against him are front page headlines."

"Oh, man."  Carl put his face in his hands.

"Look at me, Carl," Ian said, and the boy looked up.

"It's!  Not!  Your!  Fault!" Carson said, emphasizing every word, looking into the boy's eyes.  "You're going to have to learn the truth of that, and learn to love yourself in a whole new way.  A better way."

Carl dropped his head and was silent for a moment, looking at the floor.  Then he looked up.  "Why did you bring me and Dan here?"

Ian locked eyes with him.  "Because I was molested as a young man when I was about your age.  By an uncle that everybody loved and respected."


"Only my wife knows that.  Not the boys.  I'll appreciate it if you'll keep that information between you and me."

"Yes, sir.  I promise I will."

"I've been through what you have, and lived through every pain you're experiencing and the shame you feel.  So I have a good idea of what you're going to need to get better.  To heal, I mean, not just get through it.  Healing your physical body is the least of your challenges.  Let me be blunt.  You've been damaged, mentally and emotionally and spiritually, by what your father did to you, far more than you know.  I want you to stay here with us long term, both you and Dan if you can talk him into it, because I can get you the help you need, the same kind of help I was fortunate enough to get when I needed it.  That help has allowed me to function well in life as a human being, and that's what I want for you.  I know you don't know me and my family very well, but I hope you can find it in yourself to trust us and let me help you.  Along with the therapy, and equally as important, you'll receive something from my family that can't be bought:  we'll love you and your brother."

"What do you want me to do," Carl whispered, tears in his eyes.

"You're asking the right question, Carl Emrick," Ian said, nodding his head.  "The question that's going to give you a good life, a wonderful life, I can promise you that."

He stood up, followed by Carl, and Ian stepped over to him and drew the boy into his arms, just holding him as Carl wept quietly.  Nothing more needed to be said.

*  *  *

Cam and Kevin had gotten up by 9:00 that Sunday morning after waking up during the previous night and making love twice, each of them topping once.  They were getting more skillful all the time when it came to pleasuring each other.  Cam had awakened first that morning, and held his partner loosely, head on the boy's chest, tucking his nose into Kevin's armpit just to savor the male smell of his body.   He had wondered idly if Kevin could physically feel the love for him that Cam felt pouring out of his own being as they lay there together.

They had been feeling pretty logy when they got up, and for good reason, given their extended sexual acrobatics, but Cam had still wanted to go to Mass.  And after Cam had shown him such a good time the night before, Kevin figured, who was he to say "no" to going to church.

Cam had made them some coffee, which they didn't usually drink, just to give them a kick start.  After eating some cereal and drinking orange juice, Cam had taken Kevin into the bathroom to give him another sponge bath in front of the sink.

"You don't have to wash me, Cam," Kevin had said.  "I should start doing this for myself."

"Shutup," Cam had said.  "I want to."

Despite his desire to be as independent as possible and not have Cam wait on him hand and foot all the time, Kevin got the shivers just to be touched like that by his lover.

"I really like this little threesome you've got down here," Cam had told him after he reached his midsection, washing and drying Kevin's dick and balls, and then bouncing his testicles in his hand.

"'Little?'  Whaddaya mean, 'little?'" Kevin had protested.  "You weren't complaining last night."

"It's more an observation than a complaint, Kev.  I didn't want to discourage you last night while you were in the throes of passion."

Kevin had laughed helplessly, shaking his head, and he had put his arm around his lover's neck, squeezing it and kissing him on the ear.  "You're really annoying!  Have I told you that lately?"

"I don't remember," Cam had said, grinning.  "But it's my job.  It's 'Job One,' as the Ford people say."

"Well, you're good at it.  Too good, if you don't mind my saying so."

"Any and all compliments are gratefully accepted," Cam had said, finishing the sponge bath, drying his buddy, and then offering his shoulder for support, had taken Kevin back into the bedroom.

Cam had sat him down on the side of the bed, and he brought him clean clothes and helped him put them on.  When he'd finished, he sat down on the side of the bed, too.

"These have been a couple good days for us," he'd told Kevin, putting his arm around him.  "We got to relax and make love a lot and even help out somebody that needed it.  You can't beat that."

"Thanks for bringing me down here," Kevin had said, turning his head to look into those green eyes he loved.

"Where I go, you go, bro!" Cam had said.

Kevin had kissed his cheek.  "I wonder how Carl and Dan are doing?"

"There's no reason we can't find out," Cam had said.  "I have a list.  First, Mass.  After Mass, maybe we can check out the kennel in Seaside.  Who knows, we might get lucky and find a little Alice look-alike.  I bet we will.  Then, why don't we call the Carsons, and if the timing's good, maybe we can stop there on the way home."

"Good thought!" Kevin had said, pushing Cam down on his back on the bed.  He lay across him, nuzzling his face with his nose and rubbing the crotch of his partner's 501's with his hand.  "You're just full of good thoughts!" he'd added.  "And all kinds of other good stuff."

"Yep," Cam had agreed.  He'd been sorely tempted to strip Kevin down right then and there and make love to him again, but thought better of it so they could pack up and make it to church on time.  Moving efficiently, Cam had packed both of them up, picked up the place a little, and then called Mr. Anderson, the caretaker, to tell him that they were leaving for home, so he could have the cabin cleaned and locked up.

As they'd driven toward Seaside in the Camaro to go to Mass, Kevin had reached over and held Cam's hand where it lay in his partner's lap.  The last three days had been a powerful time of bonding for the two of them.   Kevin knew he had loved Cam for a long time before they had come out to each other, but as the relationship with him had continued to deepen, it made his heart sing.

© 2005 Don Hanratty.  Thanks to Eric for editing this chapter, and to readers for patiently waiting while it was written.  If I have to evacuate New Orleans because of Hurricane Dennis, the next chapter may be a little late as well. 

I'd made arrangements with a reader who was going to help Eric proofread Belovèd, and now I've lost his name and addy.  Email me, man.  Thanks.