STANDARD WARNING: This is a work of fiction. Any similarity to individuals, living or dead, is pure coincidence. Do not read this story if you are offended by man-to-man romance or sex. Do not read if you are underage according to the laws in the country, state/province, county, city/town/village or township where you live. There is sex between males. You have been warned!
Copyright 2000 by archer. Permission is granted to Nifty Archives, ASSGM and gaywritings to post one copy. No part may be copied, reproduced, republished, or reposted on another website without written permission from the author.
Tornadoes can occur in any part of the country and have been reported in all fifty states. Tornado Alley is an area designated by meteorologists as the geographical area where tornadoes are most frequent. Illinois is at the very tail end of Tornado Alley. It is an oval-shaped region beginning in western Texas, and ending in Ohio, Indiana or Illinois, depending on which meteorologist one consults. It includes parts of the states of Texas, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, Missouri, Iowa, Kentucky, Indiana, Ohio and Illinois.
The Chicago area was not immune to tornadoes. Each spring and summer includes at least three tornado watches or warnings. Scientists who study weather phenomena have theories why twisters havent entered downtown Chicago. The most popular states that the buildings in the city center hold heat, which causes the tornado to dissipate.
A scientist at the University of Chicago devised the Fujita scale, which measures the severity of tornadoes. Dr. Fujita based his work at the University of Chicago, not only because it was a world-class institution, but also because he could be close to the action.
Every year, some area in or around Chicago sustains some damage from storms. Mostly it is confined to the outer ring of suburbs, particularly the southern and southwestern suburbs. In 1967, a twister rumbled through Oak Lawn, not far from the mall where Matt worked. It killed about a dozen people and destroyed dozens of homes and businesses. More recently, in 1991, a killer tornado raked through the southwestern suburbs of Plainfield and Crest Hill, near Joliet.
Matt had always been fascinated with sky phenomena. When he was a child, he and his cousin Anna used to play Weather where they imagined themselves as meteorologists preparing for a newscast. He liked astronomy, and as a nature counselor, often focused the camps telescope on various planets to show the campers. One summer, he spotted the northern lights and awoke his entire cabin at 3 AM to see them. He watched the sky for the return of Haleys Comet in 1986.
Big raindrops began to splatter on the windshield as they pulled up to the small house in New Buffalo. As soon as they carried all the packages in, Matt tuned the TV to the Weather Channel. When the meteorologist displayed the Doppler radar map, an angry red and yellow line stretched diagonally across the northeastern corner of Illinois.
"These thunderstorms stretch from just north of Bloomington to Aurora. They have produced strong winds up to 70 miles per hour, and funnels. We have a report of a tornado touching down north of Dwight in Grundy County. These are very dangerous storms. If you are in the path of these storms take cover in a basement. If you dont have a basement, take shelter in a windowless, interior room, such as a bathroom. Stay away from windows and glass."
The meteorologist switched maps. "Here is the front as it moves through Illinois. Ahead is moisture from the Gulf of Mexico and high dew points. Behind it is cool, dry Canadian air. When you put the two together, you have the potential for a strong storm. This storm already has a history of damage in Iowa where a tornado touched down near Clinton. We also have sightings of funnels and tornadoes on the ground in Western Illinois...."
"I hope the house is OK," Brian said.
Matt thought, I hope Tim is OK.
The Weather Channel switched to a local forecast. The nearest weather reporting station, Michigan City, Indiana, had only posted a severe thunderstorm watch.
Tim hated doing construction in the heat. He had stripped off his shirt, as had all the other men he was supervising at the construction site south of Frankfort. It was a subdivision of upscale homes, and on this Wednesday afternoon, they were completing the framing on the second floor of a two-story house.
Ron was working on his crew. Tim liked Ron a lot. He had a wicked sense of humor and he always had a crack that would make the crew howl. He was also a practical jokester whose pranks got him in trouble from time to time. Ron was also a good listener when the mood struck him, which was usually in a bar after work on Friday afternoon. Ron had noticed the ring on Tims left hand and asked him about it the Tuesday after the ceremony in Lincoln Park. Tim had given him an evasive answer. But Ron had turned it into a running joke with the rest of the crew.
"Guess you married Rosie after all, huh? Come on, stud, tell us what the ring is for."
Tim laughed, but wouldnt tell. He was tempted to. He wanted someone else to know besides his family. He wanted to tell the whole world how much he loved Matt. But he was afraid that his crew would lose respect for him, so he kept the information to himself. He also didnt want them to think he was watching them whenever they took their shirts off, or when they urinated in plain sight. Even though the company was required by law to provide a portable toilet, the men still peed in the open, and since the subdivision was new and no owners had moved in yet, there was no one but their coworkers to see.
Tim and Ron were working together to raise the framing on the second floor. The roof truss system would be installed next week.
"OK, dont tell me," Ron said with a grin. "Ill find out sooner or later. I have ways of making you talk."
Tim just laughed at him while he nailed the base of an interior wall with an air gun. "Funny, you dont look like my mom, asshole."
"Yeah, but if I were, Id smack the shit out of you for that comment." The banter between the two men was all in fun and neither man took it personally. Teasing was a form of affection. They liked each other and insulting each other was a way of demonstrating it in a socially acceptable way.
Secretly, Tim was attracted to Ron, although he would never do anything. He was completely and totally attached to Matt. Still, Ron was attractive and a lot of fun to be around. The sun was still out, although all four men noticed the clouds gathering in the west.
"Jesus, look at that sky," Mike commented. He was referring to a wall of black clouds in the west.
The four men looked to the west. "Dammit, Jim, when are you going to invest in batteries for your radio, you fucking cheapskate?" Ron asked.
Jim mumbled something about buying an AC adapter cord.
They worked in silence watching the clouds out of the corner of their eyes and wondering when the rain would arrive. How long would the rain last? Would they have to stop work for the day, or could they resume? If they had to stop work, how far behind schedule would they be?
Tim stood up and wiped the sweat from his forehead with a red bandanna. His eyes scanned the western sky anxiously. Ron also stopped work and stood next to Tim.
"What do you think, Tim?"
"I think were in for a storm. Damn, I wish we had a radio. I think Im going to call the office," Tim said.
As he strode to the truck, the sun disappeared behind a cloud. He flipped the cell phone open and it beeped, indicating that the battery was still good. But when he punched the Send button, nothing happened. He tried twice more without success.
Tim inserted the key and turned on the power so he could listen to the radio. He tuned the radio to an all-news station.
"...A tornado watch is in effect for the entire Chicago area and a warning for Grundy County. At 3:15, a tornado was spotted 2 miles south of Channahon."
"Shit," Tim mumbled to himself. The houses they were building did have basements. But none of the houses were completed, so they werent going to provide much protection. He sat in the truck for a few minutes, listening to the weather warnings. The station played a commercial and then went into a traffic report. They started another news cycle. The top story, of course, was the weather. It started to drizzle.
Suddenly, the newscaster interrupted a story about the investigation of the Branch Davidian fiasco in Waco, Texas. "This just in....a tornado has been spotted on the ground four miles south of New Lenox. It is moving west at 30 miles an hour. If you are in the line of this storm take cover immediately."
Tim sounded the horn. Big raindrops splattered on the windshield as he did.
Just then, Patrick pulled into the subdivision in the other McGraw and Sons pickup. He drove fast and kicked up dust into the humid air. Patrick pulled beside Tim and rolled down the window. "Get your ass inside! Its heading this way!"
As Tim and Patrick ran for the semi-competed house, the rain stopped and the sky turned green.
"I heard that when the sky turns green, the tornado is on its way," Mike commented.
Most of the other men had heard that bit of weather lore, too, and wondered how true it was.
There was stillness to the air that frightened the men. The outer sheathing had been installed, but not the windows, so there wasnt a fear of flying glass.
"Im going down to the basement."
"Hope you can swim," Ron commented. "Theres water down there already and the sump pumps not installed yet."
The winds stated picking up; carrying away yesterdays McDonalds bags and the blueprints. The rain started again, this time coming down in a torrent.
"Im going up to get the tools. We left them upstairs," Ron said.
The winds increased still further and small pieces of plywood and siding became missiles. The five men anxiously scanned the western sky for a twister. The warning sirens in Frankfort sounded, and added their eerie wail to the howling wind.
The wind howled as it pushed a steel drum over and caused their vehicles to rock on their springs. They heard the framing of the unfinished second floor creak. With a report, a huge chunk of siding sailed east toward Mannheim Road.
"Shit! I left my window open!" Patrick started to run for his truck.
"No, Dad, no!" He pulled at his father, but it was too late. Tim sprinted after him. The rain stung his face and arms. The rain was almost horizontal, so hard was the wind blowing. He grabbed his father around the waist and started to guide him back to the building.
Just as he pushed Patrick into the threshold of the front door, a loud crack announced that another piece of siding had blown loose. This time it came from the house directly west. Tim tried to see it through the blinding rain.
The last thing he remembered seeing was a piece of outer sheathing sailing right at him.
In New Buffalo, the sky also turned green, although the sirens didnt sound. Matt had to turn on lamps inside the house. The rain came down in torrents, and the trees danced with each other, embracing each other with waving branches.
Brian was a bit anxious. "Shouldnt we go down to the basement?"
"There isnt one." Matt liked storms. He never became frightened unless a basic utility like power, phone or cable went out. So far, all three still functioned.
Because they were 75 miles away on the other side of Lake Michigan, the storm lost some of its power by the time it reached them. Another cause was the cool waters of the lake. The cooler air would temper the energy.
A downpour followed the green sky and then the rain stopped as abruptly as it stated. Matt sat on the couch and flipped TV channels. He wanted to find some news. The local cable company had replaced the South Bend NBC affiliate with Chicagos channel 5. They knew that summer residents from the Chicago area would want to know about their homes and families.
Channel 5 had interrupted all its afternoon programming to bring coverage of the storm and its aftermath. They sent out reporters to the areas that were hardest hit, including the south and southwest suburbs. Matt and Brian were glued to the TV.
Major sections of the south suburbs were without power service. Commonwealth Edison estimated that about 50,000 customers were without electricity. Ameritech estimated that about the same number were without phone service. Cellular phone service had also been interrupted because the storm had blown down towers near Lockport, Orland Park and Matteson.
The anchor at Channel 5 announced that a Commonwealth Edison news conference was in progress and they went live to the conference. A nervous man in shirtsleeves said that it might be several days until power would be restored to some areas. This was due to the fact that major transmission lines had been blown down near Manhattan and Joliet due to the tornado touchdown. Due to a tornado touchdown? These were the last words Matt heard before a wave of panic overcame him. Was Tim OK? Manhattan and Joliet were near Frankfort. In fact, Matt had an aunt and uncle who lived in a farmhouse near Manhattan.
When Matt returned to reality, hey had returned to the studio. A somber reporter told of five deaths so far. Two drowned in a car which was trying to cross a flooded bridge. The current swept away the car. Two more deaths occurred when a mobile home flipped over near Lockport. The last fatality was a construction worker in Frankfort.
Brian looked up at Matt. The fear was apparent in his blue eyes. "Matt? Do you think Tim is OK?"
Matt forced a smile. "Hes fine. Hes a smart guy. Im sure he took cover somewhere."
Brian wasnt so sure, but he snuggled closer to Matt.
As the coverage continued, they had live reports from Lockport and Matteson. The power was out in Matteson, so Matt assumed that the power would be out in Park Forest, too. Matt hoped that Tim had the sense to clean out the refrigerator if the power did stay off as long as they predicted.
Just out of curiosity, he picked up the phone and dialed Tims cell phone number. The call never went through. He tried to call home in Park Forest. He got a recording saying that all circuits were busy. His heart started to beat faster. He thought about calling Father Grimes or Leah but he didnt have their numbers, and didnt have a phone book for Park Forest.
His next call was to directory assistance. It rang and rang with no answer.
He would call Patrick and Jeannies house. Surely they would know something. He dialed the number, but it rang without answer. Their phone must be out, as well. He thought about calling Tims sister Cathy because she lived in South Holland, and he thought that just maybe her phone might be working. But he didnt even know her married name, and his earlier attempt to call directory assistance was not successful. How could I not know her last name? Ive been seeing Tim for almost a year.
Then it came to him. Karen. He would call his sister. She lived in Evergreen Park, and surely her phone was working. Evergreen Park ten miles from Frankfort, where some of the damage seemed to be centered, and even further from Lockport.
On the second ring, she answered. She was out of breath.
Matt breathed a sigh of relief and gratitude that her phone was working.
"Its a mess, even here," she reported. "Trees are down, viaducts are flooded. I took the kids down to the basement. I thought you were on vacation in Michigan."
"Did you get some heavy weather there?"
"A little. Hey, are you watching the news? Did they release the names of the people who were killed?"
"Just the two who drowned in Thorn Creek. Why?"
"Tim was working at a site south of Frankfort."
"Oh, God," Karen said and then immediately regretted it. One tornado had created havoc south of town. It was the same twister that had been sighted in Channahon. It retreated back up into the sky, then touched down again near Manhattan. It moved west, bringing its destruction to the village of Frankfort. Luckily, it had missed the town itself, but flattened about a dozen farmhouses and destroyed new subdivisions south of the village. A Christian summer camp, a school and a church on Sauk Trail had been heavily damaged.
"Im worried about Tim," Matt confessed.
"I dont blame you. You did try to call, right?"
"Cant get through. Anywhere. Its making me crazy."
"Ill try for you. If I get through, Ill call you."
"Would you? I appreciate it, Karen."
"No problem. Love you, Matt."
"Love you, too. Thanks, Karen."
In the meantime, Brian continued to watch TV. He watched Matt, and observed his increasing frustration. "Cant get through?"
"No, and Im really worried."
"Hed try to call."
"I know, but what if hes hurt? No one would know the number here except for Father Grimes. They wouldnt know how to get in touch with me."
Matt sat at the dining room table with a phone in front of him. He slumped in defeat in the chair. Brian came around the table and put his arm around the man. "Hes OK, Matt. I just know he is. Hes probably trying to get in touch with you, but he cant find a phone that works."
"Youre right," Matt conceded, but it didnt calm his fears. The best plan was to wait until someone called him. Karen was still trying to call for him as well, and she would keep him updated.
"Im hungry," Brian announced.
Matt managed a smile. "Youre always hungry." Brian was right; they hadnt eaten since returning from the outlet mall. The tension and excitement of the evening had made Matt forget about food. Going out to eat would divert his attention, at least temporarily. Maybe thats why Brian suggested it.
It seemed that every vacationer and visitor from Chicago had the same idea. Every restaurant on Red Arrow highway was packed. And on a Wednesday night! Brian would have settled for anything, but Matt wanted to go to a sit-down restaurant. They finally settled on El Rancho Grande for Mexican food. Matt was glad that Brian wasnt a fussy eater. Like any kid, Matt had to push vegetables on him; otherwise Brian would have lived on a steady diet of McDonalds and pizza. But there was little that Brian wouldnt eat.
While they waited for a table, Matt ordered a beer. He seldom drank in front of Brian, but rationalized it by telling himself that it would calm him. He ordered a second beer and began to feel the effects because his stomach was empty. They were finally seated and Matt ordered a third beer. They both dove into the tortilla chips and fresh salsa at the table. Brian ordered a Mexican pizza and Matt chicken enchiladas. The food was lukewarm, but they were too hungry to care. Toward the end of the meal, Matt remembered that he didnt turn the answering machine on.
On the way home, he bought a pack of cigarettes. He had quit smoking a year ago, but this stress was too much to handle without a crutch. They settled in front of the TV again, but Matts mind wandered. By this time, the cable TV company had switched back to the South Bend station. Apparently the worst of it was over.
Sports announcer #1 (Bob): Good evening ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to tonights Anxiety Game! Tonights contestants are the Freudian Slips versus Glassers Realists. It should be an exciting game!
Sports announcer #2 (Mike): Thats right, Bob! Before we start the game, lets look at playback from previous games!
Matt thought of the first time he met Tim, and the first time they had sex. He could recall every motion, word and feeling of that winter afternoon. He remembered the smell of the fresh lumber, the taste of the Chinese food and Tims dimples. He recalled the first time Tim slept over, the night he had broken up with Rosie. Tim slept on the couch and Matt could recall what kind of sandwich he made for Tim: It was chicken roll with lettuce and Monterey Jack cheese. He recalled the ceremony in Lincoln Park, and could see Tim smiling as brightly as the summer sun that afternoon. It seemed like so long ago, but it actually had only been a couple weeks.
Brian stretched out on the couch and put his head in Matts lap. Matt stroked his hair gently. Brian soon fell asleep.
Mike: Here comes the play the Freudian Slips are the most famous for the Guilt Play!
Matt sat there chain-smoking, and worrying about Tim. He knew that he would be unable to sleep tonight. He was filled with remorse and regrets. He regretted not telling Tim sooner about Brian and the separation that it had caused. Matt was sorry that he resisted the ceremony in Lincoln Park and the opportunity to show Tim how much he loved him. Matt was filled with remorse about holding out on Tim so long, even though he had known very early in the relationship that he loved Tim. Matt thought to himself that it had taken far too long to admit his feelings to Tim, let alone to himself.
Bob: Mike, that was a great move! The Freudian Slips scored big with that one! Look at how Matt is responding! Hes losing concentration.
Matt tried to watch Letterman, but his mind kept wandering. He got up from the couch, and brought back the blanket and pillow from Brians bed. Brian settled on the other end of the couch.
Mike: Bob, it looks like the Freudians are living large and taking charge! Matts on the phone again.
Matt tried to call Leah, Tims cell phone, and the townhouse with the same result as before. As he returned to the couch, the demons of irrationality and worry followed him. The demons poked at him with their spears of anxiety and fear. He had to do something. He couldnt just sit here. He could go to Park Forest, or even to the McGraws house in Flossmoor. What if no one was there? Tim could be in a hospital somewhere, but where? Could he be at Silver Cross in Joliet, or Olympia Fields Osteopathic, or even St. James in Chicago Heights?
He couldnt leave Brian here alone, and didnt want to wake him up. It was a stupid idea, Matt thought. But if I dont hear anything by 8 AM tomorrow morning, I am going.
Bob: OK, the Realists make a countermove. Matts going to at least wait until tomorrow to drive all the way back to Park Forest.
Matt came to a conclusion: Tim is part of me and I am part of him. We are one. Maybe the ceremony wasnt so ridiculous after all. Tim must have sensed it before I did.
Matt paced and smoked and worried. Finally, he prayed. Please, God let Tim be safe. Let him be alive and whole. I love him so much. Love is what you want us to learn in this lifetime, right? I promise Ill go to church more often, and see that Brian gets Confirmed. Ill promise anything. Just let me hear from him. Let me hear that hes OK. Then I can sleep.
Mike: I have seen it all! Matt is praying! This just goes to show you the power of the Freudian team. Theyre working together and their strategy is working. Matt is so worried hes actually praying!
Bob: Mike, Ive never seen anything like this! The Realists and The Slips are playing so hard; theyve worn Matt out.
Matts body had other ideas. It wanted sleep. About 3AM he sat on the couch and the blackness of slumber overcame him.
Bob: Well, Mike looks like half-time. The Slips are leading by 6, but the Realists arent going to give up without a fight!
Mike: I cant wait for the end of this game! Its going to be a close one!
The TV was still on when he awoke the next morning. It was very early, perhaps just after dawn. Matt got up to use the bathroom. Brian still slept peacefully on the other end of the couch. Matt massaged a stiff neck he had acquired from sleeping in a sitting position.
On the way to the bathroom, he noticed the clumps of leaves and small branches strewn all over the lawn and street. The next door neighbors patio furniture had been overturned.
After he washed his hands and rinsed his mouth out, he headed to the bedroom. Brian may be comfortable on the couch, but he wasnt.
Then, headlights raked the bedroom. Someone was pulling up the driveway.
Matt went to the living room to get a better view. It was an unfamiliar Buick with two passengers. A black Buick. Matt couldnt see the passengers because of the lack of light at this time of the morning.
Mike: (Shouting) Hold the phone, Bob! The Slips are making one last play and its a big one!
Matts blood went cold. Tim is dead. This is the coroner or a cop coming to tell me. Who else would be driving a black Buick?
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