Well, dear readers, with a little more delay than I had hoped, here is chapter 3. I hope you enjoy it, and I promise to try not to take so long with chapter 4. It amazes me, as I write, what the characters get into. Sometimes, what they say, and do takes even me by surprise.
Best wishes for a safe and happy holiday season, whatever your religious persuasion. Speaking of which, I'll be fairly unavailable until next week sometime, so, if you write to me at BiDadWriter@Yahoo.com it may take me a few days to respond.
Without further to-do...
Once again, I began relating to Allen the details of my life with Travis.
Travis took me back to Charlotte that Sunday. We talked the whole way back about what kind of ceremony we wanted. Mom had given us some ideas and some options to consider. One thing we both wanted was some kind of church service. We knew that there was really no church that would sanction our union, but then Travis had an idea.
"Hey, Jer, how about we check with the Charlotte Metropolitan Community Church?"
"It's the gay and lesbian church in Charlotte."
"They have one of those? What's it like?"
"I don't really know. I've never been. You know where I go to church, and the pastor there would never agree to the ceremony we want. So, let's give those folks a call, and see if someone there would officiate."
"Sounds good to me, babe!"
"So, Jer, you really want to do this, right? You're not just going along with all of this just for me?"
"I can't believe you'd even ask such a question! This is what I want. I realize that some people say the bible teaches against homosexuality, and given what I've read, I'd say that they have a rather strong argument. However, the God I worship says to love one another, and serve Him with all your heart. I do love Him, and serve Him with all that I am. But, I also happen to be in love with you. I think that the right thing for us to do would be to get married. I don't know of any other way."
"Thanks, Jer. I needed to hear that. I know you love me, and I know you want to be with me. And I know we've talked about this before, but I just needed to make sure. I hope you're not upset with me."
"No, Travis. I'm not upset. I understand. This is a big decision we're both making. I just wish it were a legal thing. I wish we really could get married, and it be recognized by everyone. I love you so much, and I just wish everyone could accept that."
"I know, baby. Maybe someday. Maybe someday."
We rode in silence for a few minutes, each lost in thought. Travis broke the silence.
"Where do you want to go for your honeymoon?"
"My honeymoon? Don't you mean our honeymoon?"
He blushed, and chuckled and said, "Ok, our honeymoon! Seriously, where would you like to go?"
"Travis, I really haven't given any thought to that. As long as I'm with you, I don't care."
"How about Charleston?"
"Wow! How romantic! I think that would be great!"
"So, do you want to have the ceremony early enough to leave and make it to Charleston before it gets late, or would you rather stay around here?"
I thought for a moment before I replied, "Travis, I'll do whatever you want to do. But, since you asked me, I'll tell you how I feel about this. We're going to begin our lives together that day. Personally, I'd like to be at home our first night together, the night we give ourselves to each other. I think I'd much rather be in my, well, our own home."
Travis just grinned at me. "That's what I wanted to do, too! I mean, we're going to be able to go and do whatever we want to, just about whenever we want to. But, I'd really like to be with you at home, for the first time."
"Well, if we're going to stay home for the first night, we can have a formal, evening ceremony, can't we?"
"If that's what you want, baby. We'll do anything you want."
"I just dreamed about getting married by candlelight, when I was growing up." I chuckled, "And my dream marriage always included two guys. A bride was never included."
"Well, it looks like your dream is going to come true, baby!"
"My dream is coming true because I'm going to get to be with you for the rest of my life. The ceremony is just icing on the cake. You're my dream, Travis. You're my dream, my reality, my life, my best friend, and my love. You're my everything. I love you, Travis!"
"And I love you, too, Jeremy."
The rest of our trip home was uneventful. We talked about colors, whether or not to try and send invitations, what we'd like to have at the reception, that kind of thing. The time flew by, and, before we knew it, we were back at my dormitory.
"Well, for lots of things, but, mostly, for being you, and for loving me."
"Hey, the pleasure is all mine, I assure you!"
"You know I'm not going to be able to go out with you until Friday, don't you?"
"I know, baby. That's ok. But you can expect my call every morning."
"I know, Trav. I can always count on you! Thanks!"
He walked with me up to my dorm room. Billy wasn't back yet, so, we did what any two people who just got engaged would do, we started necking. I loved kissing Travis. He was the first person I had ever kissed, and it was special every time. I don't think I ever took his kisses for granted. Especially later.
After a while, he got up to leave, with an obvious bulge in his jeans.
"Did I do that?" I asked.
"You silly, of course you did. Just like I did that to you." and he pointed at my stiff dick.
"Well, I've still got a little preparing to do before class tomorrow, so, I'd better get to work," I said.
"Goodnight, my love. I love you! Thank you for agreeing to marry me."
"Like I could have done anything else!" I laughed. "Now go, or you won't get any rest before tomorrow, and I won't get my work done!"
He kissed me one more time, and left. He called me when he got home to let me know that he made it back safely. I had already called mom to let her know we got back to Charlotte ok. Mom told me later that Travis called her after he hung up with me, to let her know we had both made it home safely. Travis and mom both liked him calling her.
I really put my heart into my schoolwork. I was studying hard, writing reports, and planning a wedding! I've had less stressful times in my life, but it was so worth it!
Travis and I decided to get invitations, but we only invited friends (and some of my family) that we knew would support us, me especially, when they found out I was gay. All in all, we invited about 50 people, and, most of them did show up. There were some surprised people, but, they all supported us.
Travis contacted Rev. Walker at the Charlotte MCC. He told Travis about the kinds of ceremonies they performed, invited us to church, and, they talked about prices. One of the things that he, as a pastor, required was that we live together for a year, beforehand, and attend several counseling sessions. We talked with him about that, and how we understood his rationale behind his requirements, but that we wanted to wait to be intimate until the night of the ceremony. We didn't have a problem with the counseling, and in fact, we each agreed with him that it was a good idea. He eventually agreed with us that, for us, it would be ok to wait to live together until after the ceremony. He suggested that we wait at least until after I had finished my first year in college, so we picked Saturday, June 11, 1988 as our wedding day. We elected to have the service at the MCC church, so as not to offend any other religious group by having a gay marriage in their church. The church wasn't formal or fancy, but it served us well.
Before we knew it, Thanksgiving was upon us, and finals were just around the corner. We packed up Travis' truck Tuesday night, and, as soon as my one class was over Wednesday, we left. Even early in the afternoon, traffic was bad, so, we took our time, and didn't get home until almost dinnertime. Mom was very glad to see us, having worried about us all afternoon. We came in, got settled in our respective rooms, and vegged out for the rest of the evening.
We told mom about what plans we had made, and she showed us the dress she was having made for the ceremony. It was beautiful, to be done in a brilliant blue, with baby blue lace trimming. The first time she modeled it for us, I got tears in my eyes. My mom looked more beautiful than I'd ever seen her, both that day when she modeled the dress, and then again that June.
We told her about the church, and that it was a gay church, and that we hoped that those friends of ours who showed up would not feel too uncomfortable. We had already contacted one of the local hotels about the reception, and had elected to have heavy appetizers as opposed to serving a meal. With as few people as we expected, we were still able to provide for them, without having to spend an arm and a leg. We were going to have an open bar, and a champagne fountain. With the help of Rev. Walker, we contacted a bakery that would help us with the cake, and we also decided to use a gay owned and operated florist. They were very helpful in helping us choose the flowers for the church, boutonnieres, corsage, and what not. We also rented the candelabra from them.
Mom kept asking what she and dad could do to help, and Travis told them nothing. There was still seven months before the wedding, and Travis and I would be able to take care of just about all of the details. Mom countered that the brides' parents usually paid for the wedding, and, since there was no bride, that the cost should be equally divided between Travis and me. Travis gave in on that one! Not because he needed the help paying for it, but because he knew he'd never hear the end of it if he didn't. We also split the cost of the rehearsal dinner. As June drew closer, Mom also helped us in making the final decisions about the decorations, accommodations for the out of town guests, and what not.
Thanksgiving dinner was wonderful. We had what you'd call a late lunch, or early dinner. The meal was served at 4pm. There were the four of us, my dad's only sister and her family, and my mom's only brother and his family. That made a total of eleven, when you included my three cousins.
My cousins ranged in age from my twelve year old cousin, Elizabeth, to fourteen old David, and sixteen year old Michael. Michael and David knew the deal between Travis and me, and, David actually had a more difficult time with it than Michael. After the meal was over, Michael asked Travis and me if he could talk to us.
We put on our jackets and went out on the back porch.
"So, you two are, like, gay, right?"
"Yes, Michael, we are," I said.
"How do you know?" he asked.
"Well, I prefer the company of men. When I was growing up, and jerked off all the time, it was always guys I fantasized about. That kind of gave it away for me," I said.
"What about you, Travis?"
Travis told him his story, and Michael thought about that for a while.
"Do you think that just because girls don't get you excited that you're gay?" he asked.
"No," Travis replied. "There could be several reasons that girls don't do it for you. Not the least of which is that you're not ready, emotionally, to go there yet, and your body is trying to tell you that."
"But, I also get real turned on in the locker room, seeing the other guys. Does that make me gay?"
Travis chuckled and responded, "No, that doesn't mean you're gay. That means you're a teenager, and you've got hormones running through your body. Most guys, if they were honest, would admit that, occasionally, a guy turns them on. That doesn't make them gay. What makes you gay is, well, I don't know that I can answer that. Do you want to be gay?"
"NO!" Michael said.
"Then there's a really good chance that you're not. Don't worry about it, just go with the flow. Have you ever had sex with anybody?"
"No. I had the chance with Mary Beth Tomlinson last weekend, but I told her that I didn't have a rubber on me, and I was scared she'd get pregnant if we did it without a rubber."
"Did you want to do it with her?" I asked.
"Yeah, but, I couldn't get hard," he said, hanging his head.
"Were you really worried about her getting pregnant?" Travis asked.
"Well, some, yeah. But, I was also worried about getting caught, and I was worried that I wouldn't be able to get it up."
"Well," Travis said, "there's your problem. Anxiety. You've got to get rid of all those worries. But, before you get rid of the worries, let me make another suggestion."
"Ok," Michael said.
"Did you know that Jeremy is a virgin?" Travis asked.
Michael got this REAL surprised look on his face and said, "You're kidding! You mean, you two haven't been doing anything?"
"No," I responded. "I wanted to wait for the person I was going to spend the rest of my life with. My virginity is a gift. It's going to be a gift to Travis, and it's the most precious gift one person has to give to another," I said as I looked at Travis.
"But, everybody is doing it," Michael said. "If I don't, then everyone will think I'm a fag. Oops...sorry guys."
"That's ok, Michael," Travis said, laughing again. "While neither of us approves of that particular word, we know what we are, and we're not ashamed of it. But, let me ask you another question. Suppose you were gay. Would that be so bad?"
"Yeah, because nobody would want to hang with me. Everybody would hate me, especially my parents."
"Do you think my parents hate me, Michael," I asked.
"I don't know, Jeremy. I know my folks told me to stay away from you, but, I told them that you were my cousin, and I loved you, and I didn't think I had anything to fear from you."
"Thank you, Michael. You don't have anything to fear from me, or Travis. And, to be completely honest with you, I know my parents are disappointed. They were hoping for grandchildren, and all, and they know that Travis and I are going to have a tough time. They don't hate me, they love me, and want the best for me. But, since meeting Travis and getting to know him, and seeing the love we have for each other, they know that I am happy, and this is the best thing for me. If you ever determined that you were gay, your folks would eventually come around. They're good people, and they love you. Sure, they'd be disappointed, and hurt, just like my folks were. But, I really think that their love for you would win out. And, regardless of whether you're gay, straight, bi, or whatever, you will always have my folks, and Travis and me. We will be here for you, regardless. Got that?"
Michael looked at me, and I could see his eyes were wet. "Thanks, Jeremy," he said, as he hugged me.
"Now, back to this other comment you made. Don't worry about what other people think. Not about your sexuality, not about your likes and dislikes, not about anything. Michael, you are unique. You are a gift from God, and your life is a gift to God. Be the best Michael you can be, and just remember that the only person you ultimately have to answer to is God, and He loves you, and He's the one that made you the way you are. Tell you what, why don't you decide, tonight, that you're gonna wait on sex until you're ready. That you're gonna wait for the right person at the right time. Maybe that will be a guy. But, it will probably be a girl. Just decide that, you're special, and your virginity is a gift for a special person. Save it for that person, take the pressure off yourself, and just enjoy being Michael. I promise, if you search for yourself, fall in love with Michael, and don't give a rats ass what other people think about who or what you are, or what you do, then, when the time is right, you won't have any problems getting hard for the right person. And, Travis and I hope that it IS a girl you fall for. But, if it's a guy, who cares? We will love you, and support you either way."
"Geez, Jer, how'd you get to be so smart?" Michael asked me.
"Hanging out with Travis," I said, and Travis blushed.
We all went inside, and Michael's' mom gave me a funny look. Eventually, I got her alone and said to her, as snidely as I could, "Don't worry, we didn't rape him, or try to make him gay. He just had some questions that only another guy could answer. He's a great kid. How'd you manage it with your attitude?" and I walked off.
She grabbed my arm and said, "Jeremy, I'm sorry." I wouldn't turn around, or look at her, so she continued, "Jack and I just want the best for Michael. We don't want him to be influenced by you, not because we think you're bad, but, honestly, because we think he is gay, and we don't want that for him."
I turned at her, and she could tell that she had said the wrong thing. "Are you so naive as to think I want to be gay, or that Travis does? Can you change the color of your eyes? Can you change your blood type? No! And I can't change who I am, or who I love. God made me this way. If He, in His infinite wisdom, also chose to make Michael this way, then you better learn to live with it and to love him for himself NOW! This is not the life I would have chosen for myself, and it's not the life my parents would have chosen for me. But, this is who I am. There's a man in the other room that loves me. He loves me so much that, when so many people, gay and straight, are out having anonymous sex with multiple partners, he doesn't. He asked me not to have sex with anyone until I was in love, and he asked me to make that promise to him the first time we ever sat down and talked. He is a man of high integrity and morals, and you'd be lucky for Michael to meet and marry someone just like him, whether it was a girl or a guy. So you don't want our influence on Michael? You don't want us to tell him to relax, learn to love and respect himself, and to not care what other people think about him? You don't want us to tell him to promise to himself to wait on sex until he finds the person he wants to spend the rest of his life with? You don't want us to tell him that all guys get turned on by other guys sometimes, and that he's normal, not weird? Too bad, lady, because that's the kind of influence I am, and that's the kind of influence Travis is. Get out of my sight, you sicken me!" and I turned around and walked off.
Without meaning to, I had drawn a crowd. Sandy was in tears as I finished, but I was so mad that I didn't care. I grabbed my jacket, and headed out the front door. Travis was only three steps behind me, and Michael was two steps behind Travis.
"Jeremy, baby! Wait up!" Travis said.
"Jeremy, wait for us!" Michael yelled.
I stopped, put my hands on my hips, and just stood there, puffing, mad, on the edge of tears.
"Michael, I'm sorry. Maybe you're right. If you figure out that you're gay, you'd better hide it from your folks, your mom especially."
"No, that's ok, Jeremy," Michael said. "But thank you for saying all that to her. I know you hurt her feelings, but, especially for the last several months, she has really been on me about dating. I really think she's scared that I am gay."
"Yeah, she told me that," I said.
Travis was behind me, rubbing my shoulders, trying to help me calm down. I was facing our house, so, I saw my uncle Jack come out the front door, and look around, then he started walking towards us. Travis moved to stand between Jack, and Michael and me.
Uncle Jack finally got to where we were, and said, "Jeremy, I'm not gonna lie to you. I'm really pissed that you talked to Sandy that way. I'm not mad at what you said, just how."
"I'm sorry, Uncle Jack. Her attitude just got to me." I looked at Travis, and said, "Oh, Travis, you must be so disappointed in me! I'm so sorry!"
Travis took me into his arms, and shushed me. "It's ok, Jer. It's ok. I'm not upset with you, ok?" But, for some reason, I just couldn't shake the feeling.
"Oh, Travis, I'm so sorry. I should have held my temper, I should have treated her with respect, instead of being such a jerk myself. You have to be disappointed in me. I'm so sorry!"
Travis just held me, and gently rocked me back and forth, rubbing the back of my head, kissing my cheek, and telling me that everything was ok, and that he wasn't mad at me. I finally calmed down, but I couldn't look Travis in the eye. I had treated my aunt with the same disrespect and contempt that she had shown Travis and me. I was no better than she.
"Jeremy," Travis said, "you made a mistake. Not in what you said, but, like Jack said, in how you said it. I understand, and, because I know you want to hear this, I forgive you. OK? Personally, I don't think there's anything for me to forgive, but I forgive you, ok?"
"Thanks, Travis. Uncle Jack, I'm sorry I treated your wife with disrespect. I'll go apologize to her right now," and, hand in hand, Travis and I headed back to the house.
"Michael," Uncle Jack said, "would you walk down the block with me?"
"Sure, dad." And they walked off in the other direction.
When we got back to the house, Sandy was still pretty pissed. "Aunt Sandy, I'd like to apologize for treating you badly. The way I treated you, and the way I talked to you was wrong and I apologize. I'm not apologizing for what I said, just the way I said it."
"You made me look like an idiot," Sandy said.
"No, Sandy," my mom said, "You handled that quite well without Jeremy's help. You prejudged my son, your nephew, whom you have known all his life, because he's gay. He's no different than the young man that used to stay with you and Jack when he was little. He's just grown up now, and he's fallen in love with that young man with him. The fact that you can't deal with that is your problem, not his. I watched you all afternoon, the way you looked at the two of them, with that sneer on your face. So what? Jeremy's gay. Deal with it, or get out."
"No, mom," I said. "If Aunt Sandy can't deal with me, perhaps Travis and I should be the ones to leave. I wouldn't want to ruin the family fun, so, we'll just go pack our things and leave."
"Jeremy Daniel Smith, if you make one move to pack your things, I'll take you over my knee and spank you," my dad said. "Sandy, you're my sister, and I love you, but, your attitude is the problem here. Fix it, or leave."
"That's ok, Ed," Uncle Jack said, "We'll be leaving now. Elizabeth, get your coat. Sandy, let's go." The tone of his voice pretty much put to rest any argument Sandy may have attempted.
"Linda," Aunt Sandy started, "Dinner was great. Thanks for having us, and, I apologize that things have gotten so out of hand. Jeremy," she said, as she turned and looked at me, "perhaps I was wrong in judging you, but do you honestly think that you're going to not be judged by others?"
"Aunt Sandy, we're family. Family is supposed to stick together, not tear each other down," I said. "Again, Aunt Sandy, I apologize for treating you so poorly," and I turned to walk into the kitchen.
"I apologize for being unfair to you, Jeremy," Aunt Sandy said to my back, and she and Uncle Jack turned to leave.
"Oh, Jeremy, Travis" Uncle Jack said, "Thanks for talking to Michael, and thanks for being good role models for him."
I was stunned by his comment, and just looked at Travis. He smiled, and said, "You're welcome, Uncle Jack."
After Jack and Sandy left, Uncle Bob and Aunt Sue stayed for about an hour before collecting David and going home. David just mumbled his goodbye when they left, and I wondered if we'd see either family at our wedding.
As I was getting ready for bed that night, I heard Travis's and mom's voices in the kitchen. I couldn't hear what they were saying, but, Travis was sitting on my bed when I got back to my room.
"Mom said she thought I should stay in here, with you, tonight. I told her that I thought you might need to be held tonight, and she agreed."
"Thanks, Travis, because you're right. I do. My nerves are so raw, I'm shaking."
He got up, came over and hugged me. I heard mom go by the door on the way to her room, and, she stuck her head in the door and said, "Goodnight, my sons. Sleep well. I love you, both."
"Good night, mom," I said into Travis's shoulder.
"Good night, mom," Travis said.
"Jer, you go ahead and get in bed. I need to brush my teeth and what not. I'll be back in a minute, ok?"
I got into bed, and waited for Travis. I had almost dozed off when he came in the room. He pulled off his robe, and got into bed with me, and spooned up behind me.
"I love you, Jeremy Daniel Smith."
"I love you, Travis Aaron Davis."
Within minutes, we were both asleep.
The next morning mom wanted us to go shopping with her. I hate shopping the day after Thanksgiving. It may be the start of the Christmas season, but most of the people out shopping are in anything but the Christmas spirit! I HATE shopping that Friday! But, being the good boys that we were, we went. Fifteen minutes into the first store, and I was ready to go home. If it had not been for Travis, his humor, and his forbearance, I think I may have committed murder!
We finally got home about 4:30 that afternoon, exhausted. I told mom and Travis I was going to lay down for a little while. I had only been laying down a few minutes when I heard the phone ring. There was a pause, and a thud, then I heard Travis yelling. I jumped up and ran down the hall.
"What's going on?" I asked.
"I don't know! Mom was talking on the phone, set the phone on the hook, and passed out!"
We were gently slapping her wrists, and her face, until she finally came to.
"Mom, what happened?"
"Oh, Jeremy!" and she stared crying.
"Mom! What is it? Tell me, please!"
"Jeremy, your aunt Sandy was just killed in a car wreck!"
"WHAT?" Travis and I asked in unison.
"Apparently, she and Jack got into another heated discussion about last night, and she stormed out. Less than a mile from their house, and this is where it's a little cloudy, she was broadsided in the middle of an intersection. She and the truck were the only vehicles close by, and so there's no way to tell who ran the light. But, Sandy is dead."
"Travis, we've got to get to Michael! He's going to feel responsible, because he knows his folks were arguing about him, and us. Mom, we'll be back later."
"No, way, son. Let me call your father, and I want to go with you. Jack and Elizabeth will need someone too. Jack probably more than anyone."
Mom called dad, and he said he would meet us at Jack and Sandy's house, well, Jack's house. The three of us jumped in mom's car, and were there in twenty minutes. We were not prepared for what we found. Michael was on the roof of the front porch with a gun pointed at his head.
I jumped out of the car and yelled at him, "Michael, come down off of the roof! I need to talk to you!"
"NO!" he yelled. "I don't deserve to live!"
"Michael, that's pure, unadulterated bullshit!" I said. "What happened to your mom is not your fault!"
"Yes it is! If I'd just done what she asked, she wouldn't have gotten mad, or driven away, or..or.." and he burst into tears.
While I had been talking to him, Travis had gone inside. I saw him start to climb out the window, and Michael whipped around, and pointed the gun at Travis.
"Stay away from me, you sorry faggot! If you hadn't changed Jeremy, none of this would have happened!"
"Michael, that's not true," I said. "I told you last night I was gay before I met Travis."
"You said you hadn't ever been with anybody but him!"
"No, I said that I had not ever been with anybody, and that I'd only be with him."
"But it's his fault!" Michael screamed, and fired the gun towards the window where Travis was.
"TRAVIS!" I screamed as I ran toward the house.
I almost broke the front door down trying to get inside. I couldn't see or hear anything as I bounded up the stairs. As I turned the corner, I saw Travis lying on the floor. My heart leapt into my throat as I called to him.
He turned and looked at me, and blood was running down the front of his face.
"I'm ok," he said.
"The hell you are, you're bleeding! You've been shot!"
"No, baby," he said. "The window busted, and the glass cut me."
Then I saw Michael at the window, looking in with a very strange look on his face.
"TRAVIS, RUN!" I screamed.
I was running to try and help him as he was scrambling away from the door. I looked up, and saw Michael looking at us, and he was crying. He lifted the gun towards his head, and I ran past Travis and towards the window.
"NO!" I screamed as I dove through the window towards Michael.
I felt my hand touch material, and then I heard an explosion, and I heard my mother scream.
I was too late.
"NO!!!!!!!" I screamed "MICHAEL!!!!! OH, GOD!!! NO!!!!!"