By Tim Mead

Chapter 6

You'd be a damn fool to get your hopes up, he told himself.

He had taught his Thursday afternoon class, lingered awhile to answer some questions, and gone home.  He was sitting in his favorite chair with a glass of cabernet.

So you and Tony hit it off.  For an overnight.  You had a wonderful time.  Briefly.   He's smart.  He's been all over the world.  He reads a lot.  He owns an apparently successful business.  Granted he's not movie-star handsome, but looking at him pleases you. He has nice eyes and a sometimes sweet, sometimes sexy smile.   And the sex was perfect . . .  for a first date.

"Date."  A word you're not accustomed to using.  After all those years with Brian it's strange to be dating again.  Strange but, judging by this one, what?  Invigorating?  No, not exactly.  Full of promise?  Yes, that's it!  You're actually tense anticipating the next time, aren't you?  Like a fucking teen.

After all, he'd agreed you could get together soon.  How soon is soon?  Any chance he could come to Colby this weekend?  Nah.  He'd probably have to be in the shop until closing time Saturday.  Unless he could get Ted or Alice to cover for him.

Wonder how much business he gets on Saturday afternoons.  Would he get more or less on home football Saturdays?  

It's your turn.  He invited you to hear Boggess.   Maybe you could call him and invite him for the weekend after next.  If he isn't free, you could go up there and just sit and visit with him in the shop until closing time.  It would be fun to watch him deal with people.  And so many questions to ask him.

Listen to yourself, Craig!  You sound like a moony teen.  What if this is simply the rebound syndrome?  You've been used to having a mate.  Now you don't.  Are you just thinking about Tony because he's a nice guy who's been alone for a while and is perhaps available?  Better take it slowly.  Get together, sure, but don't push too hard.  See what happens.

#          #          #

"'Yes,' I said.  `Isn't it pretty to think so?'"

The class had been discussing what Jake Barnes meant by that.  

Caitlin Lewis was adamant that Jake was agreeing with Lady Brett.  Some of the others, mostly women, concurred either verbally or by nodding their heads.  

It was Blake Bellamy who was most persuasive for the other side.  

"He says it's nice to think so.  He doesn't say it is so.  It's pretty obvious that even if Jake hadn't been, um, emasculated, the two of them couldn't ever have been happy together.  He loves her.  He keeps saving her ass, but he's not stupid enough to think either of them was the kind to settle down and raise rugrats."  

Although one of the class members had suggested that things that happened in the 1920's were `ancient history,' most seemed to be caught up in the lives of Jake, Brett, Cohn, and the rest  -- for which Adam was grateful.

After class, Blake walked with Adam to his office.  They chatted further about the novel the class had been discussing.  

"Give me a clue, Adam.  I'm right.  Right?"

"Yeah, probably."

"Yes!" Blake said, almost under his breath.

When they got to the office, Blake came in with him.

"You need to see me?"

"It'll keep if you're busy."

"No, sit, sit."

Adam put his notes on the desk, took off his jacket, hung it on the coat tree in the corner, and sat behind the desk.  He unbuttoned his cuffs and rolled them.

"So.  What's up?"

"Oh, come on!   Do I have to have ten solid academic reasons for wanting to enter your sanctum?"

"No, of course not.  And I merely asked what's going on in your life?  Not why are you here?"

Blake grinned.  "It's a matter of tone of voice, professor.  Your words were innocent enough, but I could tell you're not really easy about my being here."

Trying his best not to bristle, Adam said, "I wasn't aware that my tone of voice conveyed any such thing."  Then he grinned back. "Okay, now you've put me in a position where anything I say gets me in trouble.  Where do we go from here?"

"How about back to your place?  A little nooky, maybe?"

"Jesus, Blake!  The door's open.  What if someone heard you?"

"Chill, dude.  Unless someone's skulking quietly just around the doorjamb, there's no one out there.  You're really jumpy."

Adam cleared his throat.  When he realized he was getting an erection and his palms were sweating, he took a deep breath.  Then he ran his hands along his jeans-covered thighs.  "Okay, let's get out of here."

Blake's eyebrows shot up.  "Goody, we're gonna go jump in your bed?"

Adam stood.  "No, idiot.  But we're going someplace where we can safely talk about whatever it is you have on that oversexed mind of yours.  How about Nellie's?"

"Okay, if that's what you want."

Nellie's wasn't exactly jumping at that time of day, so the two men had no trouble finding an empty booth that wasn't close to other afternoon imbibers.

Blake insisted on fetching their beers.  

After they'd each had a swallow of their brews, Adam asked, "Things going okay with you?"

"Yes.  Except for one thing.  Thanks for asking."

"Ah.  You do have a problem."


"And you're going to make me drag it out of you?"

"I'm not trying to play games, Adam.  My problem is the same one I've had all along."

Adam looked at the young man's sexy brown eyes, waiting.

"I want to fuck with you.  Top, bottom, doesn't matter."

"Should I be flattered?  You spend your weekends cruising.  Why this interest in me?  Is it because I'm older than your normal pickups?  You looking for a daddy?"  Once he'd said that, he was sorry.  He remembered the issues Blake had with his real father.

Blake, usually confident to the point of cockiness, winced.

"Those pickups are just lays.  With you, it's . . . something more.  I'd like to spend the whole night with you, wake up in the morning, fix breakfast.  Oh, shit, I don't know!"

Adam leaned forward.  "I'm a little stunned, guy.  What you've described is what a lot of us are looking for.  But I didn't think you were at that place yet.  I thought you were just going with the flow, sowing your wild oats or whatever."

"That's the way it was until I met you."

His mind racing, Adam took a long draft of his beer and set the bottle down.

"I didn't know.  And I don't know what to say."  He paused.  "I guess I am flattered to think that I'd not just be another of Blake's conquests.  That you'd be interested in someone my age for more than bragging rights."

"Adam!  I'm not Bernie Caldwell.   Sure, I've been around.  I love having sex with guys, and I don't have any trouble getting someone to fuck.  But you're different.  You're not like the dudes I usually wind up with.  You're good company.  Not that you aren't smokin', too."

"Thanks."  Adam sighed.  "But you know we can't have any kind of relationship other than student and professor."

"I'll drop your class.  I'll change my major again if I have to."

"Please don't do that.  Weren't you serious when you said you thought you'd like to teach English?"

"Sure I was.  But if you'd consider a relationship, I'd change in a heartbeat."

"Sorry.  You're a stud.  And you're smart.  Good company, too.  But I'm probably sixteen or seventeen years older than you.  You'd get tired of me once the novelty of an older lover wore off."

Blake looked as if he disagreed, but he didn't say anything.

"Besides," Adam continued.  "I think I've found somebody."

Blake almost managed to hide the pained look on his face.  The bottle raised to his lips went a small way toward that, and when he lowered it, his features were recomposed.  However, only the most positive would consider the slight up-turn of his lips a smile.

"Really?  That was quick.  Who's the lucky guy?  Do I know him?"

Adam had surprised himself by saying what he'd just told Blake, but he realized that he was indeed thinking of Tony Lucarno as someone with whom he might get into a serious relationship.

"No, he's a guy I've known via telephone and the internet for several years.  But I just met him in person this fall.  He lives in Ann Arbor."

"U of M faculty, I suppose."

"No, he owns a rare book business."

"Sounds dull."

"Believe me, he's not.  And you shouldn't make quick judgments like that."

Blake shrugged.  "Well, I hope it works out between the two of you.  Can't blame a guy for trying, though."

"Thanks.  And you're right.  No blame.  As I said, I'm flattered.  And, look, you and I, we've got some kind of friendship going.  I'd hate to lose that."

Blake grinned, and the devil reappeared in his eyes.  "Yeah, yeah, we can still be friends."  He stood and grabbed his bag off the padded seat of the booth.  "Guess I'll be going.  See you in class."

"Blake . . ."

"Yes, professor?"

"Take care of yourself."

He nodded, flipped his hand in a sort of farewell wave, and left.

Adam went to sleep that night wondering how he might have handled that scene better.

#          #          #

The next evening Tom Nielsen called.  After the preliminaries were exchanged, Tom said, "You remember I mentioned our group to you?"

"Yes, I do."

"I know this is short notice, but we're having the guys here, well, at Adrian's actually, a week from this Saturday.  If you're free, we'd like for you to join us.  It'll give you a chance to meet everyone."

It wasn't as if Adam had to check his calendar.  "I'm pretty sure I can come.  What time?"

"Great!  Come about eight?  And you won't need to eat first.  There'll be plenty of food."

"Can I bring anything?"

"Not necessary.  Unless you want to bring a friend, which is fine."

"Thanks, Tom.  I'll look forward to it.  Oh, since I've not been to one of these affairs before, what is the dress?"

Tom didn't exactly laugh, but Adam could hear the smile in his voice as he answered.  "Most everyone wears a jacket and tie.  We never told people they should do that.  I think it's just the fact that Adrian's overseeing the food and drink that makes them feel they should dress up a little."

Adam had the clear impression that Adrian was within earshot as Tom made that remark.

"Okay.  Sounds good.  Thanks for including me.  Do I need to let you know about the guest?"

"No, just bring him along.  There'll be plenty to eat and drink."

Adam thanked Tom again.  After the connection was broken, he looked up and punched in Tony Lucarno's home  number.

When Tony answered, they exchanged pleasantries.

Then Adam asked, "Could you get away from the shop for the weekend after next?"

There was a pause while Tony apparently looked at his calendar.

"I'd love to.  U of M plays at home that weekend.  There's never much business those afternoons.  And I'm sure Alice or Teddy will cover the shop.  Why?  What's going on?"

"I've been invited to what I'm assuming is a buffet dinner at the home of the owner of the best restaurant in town, Adrian Lynch.  And all the guests will be gay men from Colby and environs.  And I've been invited to bring a friend.  It might be a chance for you to do some networking."

"And enjoy the scenery?"

Adam chuckled.  "Well, could be.  Though they may be a bunch of desiccated old queens, for all I know.  But look, if you're uncomfortable being thrust in with all those strangers, I'd understand."

"I love `thrust'!"  Tony laughed.  "But this is a room full of gay men.  I'll love it.  Besides, I've heard of Adrian Lynch.  He has a restaurant in Detroit, Fusion, I think it's called.  If he's behind this soiree, it should be very interesting."

"Great.  When can I expect you?  Oh, and please plan to stay for as much of Sunday as you can."

"What will we wear?  And should we take anything?"

"I asked about dress.  Jackets and ties are the norm, I'm told.  Tom, the man who called, said we don't need to bring anything, but I'll double check with friends who belong to the group."

"Group?  These guys get together regularly?  What's their function?"

"Beats me.  I think it's purely social.  They call themselves the Colby Queers."

Tony laughed at that.  "Can't wait!  I'll let you know when to expect me after I've cleared everything with my staff."

#          #          #

"Was last night a bore for you?"

Tony rolled onto his side and began lightly stroking Adam's nearest nipple.  "What, you mean having sex with you?"

Adam shivered.  "No, silly.  The party."

"Oh, that!  No, I enjoyed it."

Adam turned onto his side and caressed Tony's face.  "I'm glad.  I was afraid that being with all those strangers might have been uncomfortable for you."

"Nope.  I like meeting people.  And it's not often one finds himself in a room with a bunch of dressed up, mostly good-looking men, knowing they're all gay."

"So you were perving on them?

Tony grinned.  "Sure.  Weren't you?"

"Well, yeah, some of them."

Just then Tony's stomach rumbled.

"Gee!  I better feed you."

Tony put his forehead against Adam's.  "I can last a while longer if you want to . . ."

Adam wanted to.  And they did.

Over breakfast, Tony said, "You didn't know any of those guys before the party, did you?"

"Well, I'd met one of the hosts, Tom Nielsen.  I'd expected to see Jim Grant and Jake Handley, but they were in Cleveland for an overnight.  Tom said they had tickets to hear the Orchestra.  I'm sorry you didn't get to meet them."

"How'd you meet them?"

"They were at the Dean's reception for new faculty.  Jake's been teaching history here for a while, but Jim is new this fall.  He used to be a local detective, but now he's on the criminal justice faculty.  They sort of rescued me and took me home for a drink."

"How old are they?"

"Fiftyish, but in good shape."

"Sorry I missed them."

"Well, you'll have to come back."  Adam took a bite of Danish, chewed it, swallowed, and then asked, "Who was the tall gorgeous blond I saw you talking with?  I never managed to meet him."

"He's Colby County's PIO.  Name's Anders.  Kris with a `K' he said.  Nice guy."

"Oh, so he's Ben's boss."

"Moss is the novelist?  I spoke with him briefly and then we were interrupted.  He introduced his partner and then somebody else came up and we didn't get a chance to talk any more."

"Yeah, Moss published a gay novel a while back.  Not porn, he stresses, but a serious novel.  I remember reading about it in the TLS.  And he must work with Anders, `cause he said he's the Deputy PIO for the County.  But what's this about his partner?"

"Cute Asian kid.  Toby Taba.  I think Moss said he worked for the University."

"I talked with him.  Hot little number.  He's in IT.  Said he teaches an intro class and also helps oversee maintenance of our office PC's."

"Yeah, definitely a hottie."  Tony took a sip of coffee.

"We're being a couple of gossipy queens, aren't we?" Adam asked, rhetorically.

"Not necessarily.  We are just comparing notes on the interesting men we met at last night's party."

"Oh, well, that does make it sound better.  So tell me, what's your take on Lynch?"

"You mean apart from his being gorgeous?"

"Well, there is that."

"He seemed to be a gracious host.  And, god knows, the food and drink were top level.  Why?"

"That's the impression I got.  But I've heard it suggested that he's a little . . . ."


"I'm not sure.  Arrogant?  Manipulative?"

"He didn't strike me that way."

"Me neither, so I suppose we should give him the benefit of the doubt."

Adam got up to refill their mugs of coffee.  

When he'd sat down again, Tony asked, "Did you meet the two black hunks?"

"Oh, yeah."

"They came together, didn't they?  I'm assuming they're a couple."

"They could have just shared a ride," Adam said.  Then he grinned, "But they're a couple.  It was obvious from the body language."

"Remember their names or anything about them?"

"Uh huh.  One of them is Digby Gautier.  He teaches music here at CSU and, he told me, he plays sax in some local jazz groups.  The other is Tyrese James, and he's a lawyer.  Practices in Toledo but lives here."

Under the table Tony rubbed Adam's shin with his bare foot.  "How about the other blond?"

"You mean besides Anders and Moss?"

"Yeah, the younger one with the buzz cut."

"Oh, that's Brody something or other. He's an undergrad here."

"A little old for that, isn't he?"

"Yep.  Was in the Marines in Iraq."

"Oh!  A gay ex-Marine?"

Adam nodded.  "His partner is Dave Cromer.  He's a landscaper."

"Oh, yeah!  I talked with him.  Another hottie.  Didn't know he and the hunky Marine were together."

"Well, like any good couple, they're not joined at the hip, obviously."

"You weren't the only redhead there.  Did you get to talk with the, pardon me," Tony said, grinning, "younger one?"

"No.  Did you?"

"Yeah, Ray Stonesifer.  He's a local cop.  Used to be uniform but is now a detective.  He was the only single guy there.  Said sometimes there are others, but he felt a little strange last night as the only one without a partner."

Adam grinned.  "I notice you didn't have any trouble remembering his name."

Returning the grin and cocking an eyebrow, Tony said, "Maybe I have a thing for cute redheads."

"Thanks, I think.  I'll look forward to getting to know him and all of them, really better as time goes on.  It's a diverse group, except that they're all so good looking.  I talked with a botany prof, well he wasn't particularly handsome, and an interior decorator.  Oh, yes, and an econ professor.  Can't remember any of their names.  I think the drinks were getting to me by that point."

"Handy that all we had to do was get on the elevator and come down a couple of floors.  You obviously live with the swells."

"The only swells are Adrian and Tom.  Tom is the one who built this place.  He planned two luxury condos on the top floor.  As you can see, the typical ones like mine are a lot less grand."

"Still," Tony said, "it's a nice place.  You have a lot of room.  Two bedrooms and a study!  Great view of the campus, too."

"Yeah.  Now if I could only get it furnished."  After a moment, he continued, "Hey, that reminds me.  I know at least one other gay guy who wasn't there last night."


"Yeah, he's really cute.  Late twenties. My height.  He's making book cases for the study.  Dave Cromer introduced me to him.  Wonder why he wasn't invited."

"Do you suppose a furniture maker is too blue collar for Lynch and Nielsen?"

"I'd hate to think that.  Come to think of it, though, that would fit in with what I've heard about Lynch."

"Between us we managed to talk with almost everyone there.  Maybe four or five I didn't meet."

"Yeah.  As I said, an interesting group.  I'm glad they get together several times a year.  I'd like to see some of them again.  Ben Moss, the novelist, for example."

"The operative word being `see'?" Tony asked, grinning.

Returning the grin, Adam replied, "Partly.  Oh, and one more tidbit.  Jim and Jake weren't the only absentees.  Adrian's head chef is gay and more or less a member of the group.  He's French.  Antoine or something like that.  But since it was a Saturday evening and Adrian was at the party, Antoine, no, Albert, had to be at the restaurant.  I guess he's pretty much second in command."

"Have you ever been to the restaurant?"

"No.  I'm not fond of eating alone in restaurants."

"Well, from what I've heard about Fusion, his place in Detroit, Lynch knows how to do it right."

"If you weren't going home this afternoon, we could eat at Adrian's this evening."

"Perhaps another time?" Tony asked, a hint of a smile on his face.

"Does that mean you'd like to come back?"

"Indeed.  But you must also let me show you some of the many fine things about the great university city where I live.  Not to belittle Colby, but Ann Arbor and U of M have lots to offer."

"So I've heard, though, of course, being a loyal Buckeye, I've never believed it."

"You never went to OSU, did you?"

"No, but all Ohioans are Buckeyes, wherever they went to school."

"Yeah, yeah."

#          #          #

Two weeks later Adam went to Ann Arbor on Saturday for an overnight with Tony, who showed him some of the interesting points about the town and campus.  Of course Tony took him past "The Big House," where the Wolverines played their home football games.  

"It's much bigger than it was when you were here as a high school student.  And they're adding new luxury boxes now."

The place was impressive, so Adam squelched the urge to make any pro-OSU comments.

Tony drove him through the Old West Side, which had many restored homes of the early twentieth century.  "You can only build or remodel here if your plans are approved by the city and they fit the architectural style of the period," Tony explained.  Adam loved the look of the lovingly refurbished century-old homes.  The streets looked almost like a movie set.

Adam was also taken to see Nickel's Arcade, the Cube, the Diag, and the Bell Tower.  They drove by but didn't go into the Museum of Natural History.

"See those two big stone lions?"

"Yeah.  They'd be hard to miss."

"The local legend is that they will roar whenever a virgin goes by.  And they haven't roared in over a hundred years."

Adam chuckled appropriately.

They also drove past the Michigan Art Museum, as Tony pointed out, the second largest art collection in Michigan.

Adam was impressed by the number of old and used book stores in the downtown area.  That evening they had supper at The Gandy Dancer, a restaurant in an old stone railway station.  Following tradition, every time a train went past, the customers stood and toasted the train.

The two ate well and enjoyed being together, both for conversation and sex, leaving Adam wishing as he reluctantly drove back to Colby the next day that they didn't live so far apart.

#          #          #

One evening in early November Adam's phone rang.  


"Hello, professor.  How are you settling in at Colby State?"

"Tim!  What a nice surprise!  I'm getting the hang of things.  So to speak.  How are you and Max?"

"I'm fine, and Max is right here.  Would you like to say hello?"

"Definitely.  Put him on."

"Hi, Adam."

"Mmm!  Max, has anyone told you you have a sexy voice?  Or should one not say that to a priest?"

Adam heard a chuckle on the other end.

"I don't mind at all, but maybe you should tell Tim."

"I'm sure he knows."

"Well, thanks for the compliment.  You know, it's nice to talk with you after hearing about you for years."

"Yeah, same here."

"Listen, Adam, I'm going to put Tim back on.  I just want to urge you to take the suggestion he's going to make."

"Well, um, if it's within reason, I will."

"Fair enough.  Now here's Tim."

"I'm back."

"Okay, Dr. Mead.  What's this all about?  What suggestion?"

"Max and I are calling to see if you have plans for Thanksgiving.  If not, we'd like you to spend it with us."

Adam's folks were planning to go to his Aunt Melanie's in Dayton.  He was invited but had opted not to go.  He was thinking perhaps he and Tony could do something together, providing Tony was free.

"I don't have any obligations, Tim.  And I'd love to see you and meet Max in person.  There's just one hitch.  I have this, uh, friend.  We haven't made specific plans, but I was rather hoping he and I would do something together."

"Hmm.  That sounds interesting.  Tell me about him."

"He is a rare book seller.  Lives and works in Ann Arbor.  I've bought several things from him over the years.  Went up there recently to pick up a first edition of Stranger in Paradigms, and we hit it off.  We've been getting together whenever we could since, though the distance is a bit of a problem.  As is the fact he has a business to run six days a week."

"Ann Arbor, huh?  That wouldn't be Biggs and Lucarno, would it?  I know there are several good booksellers there, but that's the one whose name I know."

"Yes, Tony Lucarno is the guy."

"You and he don't have specific plans, you say?"

"No, we haven't even talked about Thanksgiving."

"Well, if he can be away from his shop on that weekend, why don't you bring him along?  I'm sure Max and I would enjoy meeting him.  Max is looking forward to getting to know you, and I'm eager to know you better.  We might even talk a little shop, if Max and Tony don't mind."

"Sounds good.  Thanks for thinking of me.  Why don't I give Tony a call and get back to you?"


"Your guy has a sexy voice."

"Tell me about it.  When he growls at me I get puddles in my pants."

"Growls, huh?  Is he a big hairy daddy?"

Tim laughed.  "No, he's about our size, and only moderately hairy.  But it's not just his voice that's sexy."

"Lucky you!  Give him a hug for me.  I'll call Tony and get back to you, okay?"

"That'll be fine.  And you know, Adam, if Tony has to be at work on Friday and Saturday, you could come see us anyway.  We'd love to meet him, but the invitation is there."

"Thanks.  I'll be in touch soon."

"Great.  I hope you'll be able to be with us.  And Tony, too, of course."

As soon as they'd said goodbye, Adam hung up and then punched in Tony's number.

"Adam!  What's up?"

"How'd you know it was me?"

Tony chuckled.  "Tsk, tsk, professor.  Shouldn't that have been `It was I?'"

"Only to pedants.  And that's supposed to be me.  I!  And you never answered my question."

"You need to get with the twenty-first century, guy.  I have Caller ID."

"Oh, of course!  So, how've you been?"

"Great.  You?"

"Fine, thanks.  Listen, do you have plans for Thanksgiving?  Can you get away from the store that weekend?"

"Interesting you should be thinking Thanksgiving.  I was going to call you.  Alice and I usually trade off hosting Thanksgiving dinner, and since Teddy's been around he's joined us.  This year it's her turn.  Would you like to come up and share the occasion with us?"

"Sure, I'd love to be with you.  With you guys.  What about the weekend?"

"It sounds as if you have something in mind, Adam.  But I'm sorry, I have to be in the shop on both Friday and Saturday.  Those are big days, even for rare book dealers.  Why?"

"Tim Mead and his partner have invited us to come for Thanksgiving or the weekend."

"That's Timothy Mead, who wrote the dos Passos book that made such a splash?"

"The very same.  His partner's an Episcopal priest."

"Damn!  I'd love to meet them, but Thanksgiving's just not on."

"Would it be okay if I came up on Thursday and returned to Colby on Friday?  Then I could go to Kent Saturday and come back Sunday."

"Sure.  If you want, you can hang around the shop Friday morning for a while.  If we don't have any customers, we could make out in the stacks."

"The stacks, huh?  I could so get into that!"


Adam had an erection just thinking about it.  Then, forcing himself back to practicalities, he asked, "When do you want me on Thanksgiving?  And what can I bring?"

"Come to my place as early as you can get here, and we'll go to Alice's together.  Bring lots of white wine to go with the turkey.  Do you have any favorite recipes?"

"Not really.  I'm not a very good cook.  But, look, there's a great bakery here in Colby.  I could bring a pie or two."

"How about a cake instead?  Alice always makes her `runny custard,' as she calls it.  And that's great poured over cake."

"Sounds wonderful.  My grandmother used to make boiled custard, which I suppose is what you're talking about.  I'll bring along a cake as well as the wine.  Anything else?"

"Just your sexy self, professor."

"I'm hard thinking about it."

Tony laughed.  "I didn't know food turned you on so."

"It's not turkey or cake or even runny custard that's making me hard, guy."

"Oh?  Well, then, what is it?"

It was Adam's turn to laugh.  "As if you didn't know."

The next evening Adam called Tim back to say that he'd like to come to Kent on Saturday and return to Colby on Sunday but that Tony would be tied up in his shop.

"Oh, is Tony into bondage?"

"What?  Oh!"  Adam chuckled.  "You startled me there for a minute.  No, that's not the kind of shop he runs."

"Sorry.  Couldn't resist.  So, here's an honest question.  Would you be willing to go to church on Sunday morning?"

"Does Max have the service?"

"Yes.  Normally the rector takes the main service on the Sunday after Thanksgiving, but he has to be away, so Max is doing it.  One of the deacons is doing Morning Prayer at the 8:00 service.  It's all a little off kilter, but the rector has a wedding out of state on Saturday and can't get back in time.  So if you want, you can watch Max celebrate the Eucharist and listen to him preach.  Or vice versa, actually."

"I'll look forward to that."


"Tim, before we hang up, I have a question for you."


"Have you ever heard of Vivian Clay?"

"Is that something sculptors use?"

"Smart ass!"

"Assuming then, that you mean a woman, I don't think so.  Can you put her in a context for me?"

"Only that she once owned the copy of Stranger in Paradigms I bought from Tony.  I'll explain when I see you, okay?"


"Hugs to Max."

"Hugs back from us."


To Be Continued.

Thanks, as always, to Drew, Tinn, and Mickey. 

Emails encouraged at   If you do write, please put the title of the story in the subject line so I'll know it isn't spam.  Thanks. 

Oh, and would you consider sending a contribution to the Nifty Archive?  What would we do without it?   --Tim