21 October 2004

TGIF!  Almost.  Busy week.  Way too busy and I really need to catch up on my story writing this weekend, if only the cats will quit sitting on the keyboard and in front of the monitor.  My big (15 pounds) Russian Blue/Oriental mix just loves to sit right down in front of me and casually flop down onto the keyboard, then has the nerve to look up at me with those emerald green eyes as if to ask "Yeah?  What's the problem?"  Cats.  Can't live with 'em, can't disobey their commands.  Always remember....Cats were once worshipped as gods and they never let you forget it.

I've prattled on enough.  Many thanks to those who wrote.  I've enjoyed our correspondence very much and traded some very interesting thoughts this week.

Stay safe and enjoy the story.

Kindest regards. 

Michael Garrison

And now, [Sweeping gesture towards the parting curtains].......

This story is a work of fiction.  Any resemblance to actual events, locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental. This story also deals with love and consensual sexual activities between men.  If you are not of legal age, reside in an area where viewing such material is illegal, or are offended by such themes, do not read further and leave this site now.

The author retains all rights to this story. Reproductions or links to other sites are not allowed without the permission of the author.

Two Lives – Two Loves

Chapter 27

We excused ourselves for a minute. Jon and I went down to get some fresh towels and some shorts from the laundry. We stripped off our drenched clothes, threw them into the to-do pile and dried ourselves off. The cool air evaporating off our skin felt good so we didn’t bother with shirts as we padded back up to the kitchen. Hunter’d cracked us open a couple of fresh beers and Ron’s hands were waiting for me, God bless ‘em.

“Aaaaaaaahhhhhhoooooooowwwwww,” I moaned. I sat on the floor by the couch, towel draped over my head, as Ron worked his miracle.

“Jesus; could you have any more knots?” Ron said as he dug his thumbs slowly into the base of my neck and shoulders.

“It’s been one of those days, man; what can I say?” I said, almost breathlessly.

“And that ain’t no shit!” Jon said, winking at Hunter as he rubbed his hair with the towel. We chuckled at our new found catchphrase.

“Colloquially expressed, but essentially correct,” I added, doing the best Spock I could muster.

“So what happened with you?” Hunter asked hesitantly.  The question was obviously burning a hole in his head. Part of him probably said to just leave it be, but the other part just had to know.  “Man, it was like you were out past Pluto or something.”

“You wanna tell him or should I?” Jon asked.

Ron was playing church-mouse. Not a peep.  His hands were doing a fabulous job on my neck; I’ll tell you that. I wasn’t real keen on any distractions from those fingers and thumbs sliding around my shoulders and back.  He had to be curious, too, though.

“Knock yourself out, stud,” I mumbled, sighing heavily and closing my eyes as Ron dug in under my shoulder blades.

Finally finished futzing around with his hair, Jon draped the towel around his shoulders and sat back in the lounge chair.

“There’s something we really didn’t exactly get to at dinner,” Jon began. “We haven’t brought it up much ‘cause most people either don’t know how to react to it or they react badly,” he said, taking another draw from his bottle.

I peeked out from under my towel to see that Jon had Hunter’s undivided attention. Hunter was sensing the worst.

“See,” Jon began again, “Brad’s psychic.”

A punchbowl with a big, ol’ nasty Baby Ruth floating around in it couldn’t have made the room go any quieter. Hell, I was half surprised the TV didn’t suddenly mute itself. Even Ron, who knew all this, stopped working on my back.

“Ron? My back?”

“Oh. Yeah,” he mumbled. “Sorry.”

“No way!” Hunter said as he fell back in the sofa next to me.

“Word,” Jon said, his head bobbing in acknowledgement. 

“Oh, man!” Hunter grinned.  “That is too cool! Man, the way you started telling it, I thought you were gonna say he’s positive or something!”

“I am positive,” I deadpanned, and waited.

There’s never a camera around when you need it. I wish I could properly describe the sudden sharp looks I got from Hunter, but especially Jon.  He looked like his own mother had just thrown him out of the house. Naked.  Cost for faking out boyfriend? Priceless. 

I turned around to see the look on Ron’s face. I felt his hands withdraw as soon as I’d said it, like he’d touched a hot stove, and I could see every filling in his gaping mouth. I’d said it as a joke but the reactions were pretty sad.

“I’m positive that I’m psychic,” I said.

The volume came back up.  Hunter, Ron and Jon all groaned as one.  I guess that Baby Ruth was mine.

“That was so not funny, dude,” Jon said, hurling a cushion at my head.

“Sorry,” I pleaded, holding up my hands. “Sorry; I beg forgiveness.”

“Yeah, man,” Hunter agreed, “that’s not the kind of thing you joke about.”

“Just for that, you’re done.  C’mon Jon; your turn,” Ron said, patting the seat of the couch in front of him as he gently shooed me away. “Go on, git,” he said.

“All right already!” I smirked. I rolled over on the rug and out of Jon’s way.  He sat cross-legged on the floor in front of Ron. I loved the way it stretched out those teardrop shaped muscles in his thighs.  I lay back on the floor with my hands behind my head, waiting until he was comfortable before I rested my feet in his lap. Jon moaned and slumped under Ron’s thumbs.

“Do I get a shot at this?” Hunter asked, watching Jon’s obvious enjoyment.

“Right after this,” Ron said. Jon looked up at me from under his brows. I winked back at him; he knew I’d been right.

I couldn’t stop myself from raising a foot, wiggling my big toe in his nose.

“How ‘bout a footrub, babe?” I asked, grinning.

“Oh, man! Get your skanky hoof outta my face!” he fumed, pulling it back down into his lap.

“So, Jon,” Hunter began again, “You didn’t finish the story.”

“Oh, yeah,” Jon mumbled.  He was enjoying his backrub. His speech was slowing down a little. “Well, as I was going to say before Mr. Comedy Central here decided to make an appearance,” he said, jerking his thumb in my direction.  “He goes on these little…’trips’ now and then.”

I lay back, closed my eyes and listened.

“Trips? Like what?” Hunter asked.

“It’s kinda like he just zones out, you know? I never really noticed it much when it was happening ‘cause we’ve usually been asleep.  This is the first time I can remember it happening while we’re wide awake. Scared the shit outta me, though; I’ll tell you that.”

“You should’ve been there,” I snorted.

“So what happens, man?  Where do you go?” Hunter was all ears.

“Well,” I drawled, beginning slowly. I gave Hunter the brief version of my ‘travels’; the robes, the same but different house, the cars, the rocky plateau, my guides. For the moment, I thought it best to leave out the particulars of my talk with Grandfather.  I didn’t want to spook everyone too much. I did, however, in a broad way, tell them that it was because of that last visit that I’d torn up the Ouija board when I’d come to. I apologized again for acting like a complete idiot.

“Hey, don’t worry about it,” Hunter said.

“Yeah, that’d shake anybody up,” Ron said.

“So can you, like, do lottery numbers and stuff?” Hunter asked, grinning.

“Man, if I could do that, I’d be on Ocra or something,” I laughed.

“Oprah,” Ron smirked.

“Whoever. I sure wouldn’t be sitting here.”

“Don’t leave out the part about your boyfriend,” Jon mumbled, looking up and grinning.

“He’s not my boyfriend, he’s your boyfriend,” I groused back, sticking my foot in his face again.

“Nah, uh, he’s your boyfriend,” Jon laughed, grabbing my foot and twisting it.

“No, man; he wants you; I think he likes those pecs!” I said. “OW! Quit it!” I yelped as Jon twisted my foot harder.


“OW! Stop it!” I yelped again, “You’re killing me!”


“Always,” I said.

“Girls, girls!” Hunter chided. We couldn’t help but laugh at our own foolishness. “What ‘boyfriend’?” he asked.

“AH! There’s the thing,” I said. “He’s probably the reason people think this place’s haunted.”  I told Hunter about the man in my dreams. Note that I said ‘in’. The man ‘of’ had finally consented to working his thumbs into the soles of my aching feet.  If you haven’t tried it, I highly recommend it.

But, anyway; I told him about the man and the study in the living room and that book that kept cropping up, about his pleas for help, about the constant rain storms; like tonight.  I could almost see Hunter shudder as he glanced out the French doors to the steadily increasing rain beyond. It had to be a guy thing, that part of us that loves to be scared.  I mean, how many times when you were a kid did you go to see some horror movie and dive for that sticky, chewing-gum infested floor when some shit started happening? You’d have to see the movie twice just to see what you missed and then you’d dive for that floor again.  Although we might not be able to verbalize it, exactly, guys innately understand the logic; women have no appreciation for it whatsoever. Thank God for Netflix, huh, or you’d never be able to see a horror movie all the way through.  I kind of lost my taste for them but not Jon. He was like a little kid whenever a horror movie was on.

“So, you think he’s this Corbin guy?” Hunter asked, referring to the name, if that’s what it was, that had come through when Ron and Jon were screwing around with the Ouija board.

“I have no idea,” I said.  “Not sure I wanna know, either.”

“Yeah, there’s been some definite weirdness going on around here; that’s for sure,” Jon agreed. He added his own part about the strange phone calls.

“Okay, that’s enough with the ghost talk for now,” Ron said, patting Jon on the shoulder. “It’s Hunter’s turn.”

“Oh, c’mon,” Jon protested.  “It was just getting good.”

“You’ll get yours later,” he said. “I don’t want my hands to wear out too fast.”

“Me neither,” Hunter said with a wry grin.

Jon grumbled a little more and slid down by me, snagging the remote control and resting his head on my stomach so he could see the screen.

Hunter slid into Jon’s position.

Ron pulled at the shoulders of Hunter’s blue tee. “You’ll like it better if you take your shirt off.”

“You first,” Hunter said, arching his neck back, letting his black hair fall into Ron’s lap as he smiled up at him.

I draped my arm over Jon and gently pulled his head toward the TV. I didn’t want us to seem like voyeurs. It was hard not to notice, though. Hunter was obviously enjoying pushing his game just a little harder.

Ron’s brown eyes stared down into Hunter’s glassy green ones. It was funny; funny-odd I mean. It was like watching prey being mesmerized by a cobra’s steady stare.  Ron’s attention didn’t waver an inch for the few long seconds that Hunter stared at him, even as he peeled off his own tee shirt and dropped it into Hunter’s lap.

“Cool,” Hunter whispered, admiring Ron’s build again, finally breaking their eye contact to peel off his own tee, revealing his smooth developed torso again. He tossed it lightly over his shoulder into Ron’s lap.  Ron pulled it, and Hunter, closer to him and he dug his fingers into Hunter’s shoulders and neck.

Hunter’s eyes drifted shut and he moaned his appreciation. “Oooooh, man.  That feels great,” he whispered.

“You feel pretty tight,” Ron said as he slowly worked his hands over the expanse of Hunter’s shoulders.

“Oh, yeah,” Hunter muttered.  He began his own slow massage of Ron’s legs on either side of him. As guarded as he could be, I expected Ron to pull his legs away or something. But he didn’t. In fact, he extended them out a little further. Hunter began to slowly work his thumbs up and down Ron’s exposed calves. They both sighed at their mutual attentions.

“Dude,” Jon whispered to me, “This is…”

“Shh,” I cut him off.  “Play with your remote.”

Jon turned down the volume and occupied himself flipping around the channels. He stumbled past something just as Ron looked up.

“Ooo!” he grunted.  “Go back, go back!”


“Go back,” he said.  “Wait! There! That’s it!” 

“Oh, leave it to you to find a horror movie,” I said.

“OH! I know this one!” Ron chirped. “This is the one where the monster comes back to life every twenty-three years or something, right?”

“Yeah, that’s it!” Jon said, pushing himself to sit up, “and he kills anyone who has body parts he needs!”

“Oh, God,” Hunter sighed, nudging my leg. “Where’d you find this pair?” The mood was broken.  He was definitely a little torqued.

I shrugged. “Some playground.”

“Sounds about right,” he said, then addressing Jon and Ron, “What’re you guys, like thirteen years old?”

“If I brush this one’s hair just right, he almost passes for eighteen. Comes in handy at motels,” I said, tickling at Jon’s ear. He shooshed me and swatted my finger away like a fly at a picnic. 

“Stop it. You should like this movie, anyway; it’s got a psychic in it.”

“Oh, hey, great,” I said flatly.

“Shh,” Ron said, “This is the good part!”

Hunter rolled his eyes and crossed his arms as we watched some half-bat, half-human, half-I-don’t-know-what start tearing up a police station.

Jon had this way of just disappearing into a movie.  Everything else just ceased to exist for him when he got that way and I wanted to have some fun.  I lifted my finger to my lips, telling Hunter to be quiet for a second and watch.  After I figured Jon was engrossed enough in the movie, I tapped him on the shoulder again.

“Hooooney? Hunter and I are going upstairs for a quick blowjob.  We’ll be back in a few minutes, okay?” I said softly.

“Yeah, okay,” he droned before the lights finally snapped on. “HEY!”

Hunter and I shook as we laughed. Realizing he’d been had, Jon turned and enveloped me with his arms, straddling me as he pinned me to the floor again.

“You are so fucking gullible!” I laughed. I tried to wipe the tears from my eyes but Jon held my wrists tight.

“You’re just a regular comedian tonight, huh?” he grumbled but started to laugh at his own overreaction.

“Hunter liked it,” I said, pointing to the man gasping for air as he pushed himself up from the floor.

“SHHH!” Ron said again, stronger this time, annoyed.

“Oh, will you forget about the movie,” I said. “This is funny stuff here!”

“I’m not talking about the movie,” he said, looking around the room with a puzzled expression.  “It’s that sound.”

“What sound?” Hunter asked.

Jon hit the mute button on the sound system and we quieted down, listening for whatever it was that Ron was hearing.

“All I hear’s the rain,” Jon said.

“No,” Ron said, “It’s that other sound.”

I was starting to get annoyed by this. “What other…”  And then I heard it. Kind of far away, a clicking sound. No, not clicking; more like a tapping, but odd.

“Yeah, I think I hear it, too,” Hunter said. “Sounds like you’ve got a woodpecker or something on your roof.”

“At night? In the middle of the pouring-down rain?” I asked.  “That ain’t no woodpecker.”

“Huh,” said Jon, “Never heard the house make that sound before.” Jon turned the TV off and pushed himself to his feet. We followed suit, remaining quiet, turning our heads back and forth to get a bearing on the sound.

“Got kind of a rhythm to it, doesn’t it?” Ron said.

“Sounds like it’s coming from the front,” Hunter said, pointing.

Jon started walking in that direction, like a hound on the scent, with the three of us in his wake.  We crept through the dining room.  The sound was getting more distinct.  Ron bumped his hip on the sideboard and rattled the china.  We all turned around and shooshed him.

“Quiet!” Jon whispered, turning his head to get his bearing back.

The tapping echoed from every wall of the entry. It was louder, but the echoes made it difficult to find the source.

“It’s coming from upstairs,” Jon whispered.

Hunter stopped. He looked confused as he listened. “You know, if I didn’t know better, I’d swear that was Morse code.”

“Morse code? Here?” Ron said. He listened for a second longer. “Huh. You’re right.  It does kinda sound like Morse.  You got a radio or something on somewhere?” he asked.

“No radio’s upstairs,” I said. “Leastways none I know about.”

“Doesn’t make any sense, then,” Hunter said.

“Would it make sense if I told you that the guy who built the house was had his own telegraph upstairs?”

“You’ve gotta be shitting me!” Hunter said in complete disbelief. “Who has their own telegraph?”

“Apparently, this guy did,” I said.

“Yeah, beaucoup bucks,” Jon agreed.

“Oh, this I gotta see,” he said, prodding Jon along.

“I’m beginning to like the woodpecker theory better now that I think about it,” Ron said. It was obvious that he was getting nervous again, like when I had the run-in with the ghost in the bathroom.

I knew that Hunter was going to make a wiseass comment about the pecking of wood, but I stopped him, “Save it,” I whispered.  “Let’s go,” I told Jon. He started leading us up the stairs.

It’s kind of funny.  In a situation like that, we were four guys acting as a group, each of us bolstering the courage of the other, following that incessant tapping sound just because our buddies were and we couldn’t let them down or look bad in their eyes. Individually, I’m pretty sure each one of us wanted to cut and run, find a nice, safe bed to hide under; assuming you could find one around this place.  Maybe not Hunter, I think he was genuinely fascinated by this.  This was just what he’d come here to find and he didn’t seem too unsettled. I can only think that he must’ve seen enough while in the service that nothing fazed him too much. Time would tell.

When we got to the top of the stairs, the direction was unmistakable. The sound was coming from down the far end of the hall. I really hadn’t explored down that way much, didn’t need to, really, since it was on the opposite side of the stairs from our bedrooms.  I just figured it was more bedrooms.

Jon stopped on the landing and stared down the hall.  His eyes were a little wider than normal. “Well?” I asked.

“Well what?” It dawned on him what I meant and a smirk flashed across his face.  He wanted to be anywhere else but here right now.

The tapping was clear and distinct now. It had that fast, distinctive electric clicking that you usually associate with a telegraph key, ‘dah-dah-dah, dah-dah, dit, dah, dah-dah-dah, dah-dah, dit,’.  I couldn’t make it all out. It definitely felt like it was repeating some short phrase and my stomach was starting to knot up again.  Grandfather was trying to tell me something.

Jon stalled “Hey, Hunter; if you were in the Navy, can you make any of that out?” he asked, “If it is Morse, I mean.”

“Man, you’re asking the wrong sailor,” he said. “I was Emergency Services, not Communications. I know ‘SOS’ and that’s it.”

“C’mon,” I said.  “This shit’s gotta stop right now.”  I squeezed past Jon and took the lead.  Ringing phones, telegraphs, whatever; I can’t stand noisy crap like that and this nonstop noise was just plain driving me nuts.  I slapped at the light switch as I started down the hall.

I think they were all a little stunned at my sudden brusqueness. That didn’t stop them from following me as I marched down the hall, though. I stopped in front of the door at the end, looking at it up and down as the tapping just kept repeating and repeating, over and over and over.

“Any idea what’s in here?” I asked Jon.

He shrugged, “It’s nothing now; it’s where the telegraph thing used to be.  My uncle was going to make it into an office.”

I reached for the door knob and felt Ron’s hand on my bicep.  “Wait,” he said, “You sure this is a good idea?”

“No,” I said, staring him dead in the eyes. I don’t think he quite fully appreciated how sick I was of intrusions like this.

“Do it, man!” Hunter urged.  “Let’s have a look!”

“Dude,” Jon said, “You really think…”

Too late. I was tired of waiting. I ignored Jon and grabbed the ornate brass knob, turning it and pushing in one, swift motion.  I stumbled through the opening, almost recoiling at the staleness of the air. I don’t think anyone had been in here in a long time.  Dust went straight for my nose. It wasn’t until I stopped sneezing that I noticed the sound had also stopped. I felt around inside the doorway for anything that might be a light switch. There was an odd key-like deal.  I turned it until it clicked on a bare bulb that was just enough to allow us to see.  I looked at the burning filaments in the bulb and wondered if Thomas Edison might’ve personally autographed the thing. I mean, we’re talking old.

Jon, Ron and Hunter followed in after me; Not right away, of course. They hovered in the doorway for a second, peering around the room for any sign of whatever had made the sound. There was nothing except for an old desk against a windowless wall with some sort of old electrical box above it. Empty shelves stood on one side. No telegraph key, no nothing.  The place looked more like somebody’s attic than an office.

“Nothing,” Hunter muttered.  He sounded disappointed as he pushed through into the room.

“Yeah, show’s over, I guess,” Ron said. He sounded relieved.

“Well, something made that sou…,” I started to say before I was interrupted by the other, new sound.  I could almost see the hair literally rising on Ron’s head as it jerked back around the way we’d come. We listened to the sound of metal squealing against metal, of hinges slowly turning.

Jon was not happy about this new twist, but he seemed more concerned than scared. Hunter was all energy, “Oh, c’mon, man! This is getting good!” he said, slapping me on my abs.

On tiptoes, we crept back down the hall as quietly as fours guys can creep. In reality, the thought occurred to me that it could be a burglar or something. I mean, you never know, and you might not want to announce your presence too quickly.  We winced at every creaking of the floorboards like we were trying to sneak in late and not wake up our parents.  We got to the stairs and peeked over the railing down into the main hall.

The front door was slowly winding through its arc, hinges squeaking every inch of the way.

“Didn’t you lock that door?” Jon whispered. I nodded in reply.

“Probably just the wind,” Ron tried to reassure us, well, not so much us as himself.

“The wind doesn’t have a key, dude,” Jon deadpanned.

The door swung flat against the sidelights, its bumper knocking lazily against the wood base as the breeze swirled around it, making it sway a little. The breeze filled the entry. It was cooler than I thought it should be and we all shivered. I saw the goosebumps on everybody’s bare arms and chests.  From fear or the sudden chill, I couldn’t be sure.  A bit of both on my part.

“We just gonna stare at it, or what?” I said. I moved around to start down the stairs. Enough was enough for one night. The breeze became more of a wind and got colder and I got one of those involuntary shudders.  I wrapped my arms over my chest but it was meager protection. I was halfway to the door, when, suddenly, it slammed shut.  Of its own accord. As if thrown by something with tremendous strength.  We all jumped from the crash of wood against wood.

The entry fell silent except for the sound of my pounding heart. Except for that odd sound that filled my head. That sound that seemed to come from nowhere and everywhere. It was a sigh of satisfaction, like when you have that first sip of coffee in the morning or when the warm water first hits you in the shower. But this one felt like it said ‘home’. I knew none of the others had heard it.


To Be Continued