Journey to Love
All Work and No Play Makes Jack a Sick Boy
edited by Cole, Peter and Scott
Preface warnings apply.
Monday, I got more assignments to be completed before the end of the semester but put them aside until after the holiday. Sam, Brad and Mom arrived shortly after I came home from my 1:00 class Tuesday. We put away the food they brought and took their bags to their rooms before we did a tour. They were much impressed not only with the new guest rooms but also the transformation of the living room and dining room.
Thanksgiving Day was wonderful! Mom, Sam and I cooked with help from Janette and Jeremy. A self-appointed group extended the table and collected the chairs. Another set the table. While dinner was finishing, Jayden served wine and beer in the living room upstairs. With the table extended there was little space left downstairs. When we were all seated at the table, I said grace and we started the feast—and a feast it was.
Shortly after we finished the Thanksgiving meal, Philip and Peter headed back to Richmond while we restored the house. Jeremy and Janette took DeAngelo, Joe, Angelica and Katrina out somewhere. Jayden and I settled with the adults in the living room for coffee. “You know, I was in this room so seldom that it feels as though I am in someone else's house,” I laughed.
“No doubt it will never be your living room,” Ms. Bianchi said. “Why would you come down here when you have that wonderful room upstairs?”
Jayden mentioned the exhibition of some of my photographs at the camera shop and Mr. Manning asked if they might see more of the photos from the summer. “Now I've done it,” Jayden said. “He culled them all twice now and I think there are only five hundred left!”
“Wish I could say Jayden is exaggerating, but he's not. Well, I did put together a couple of new disks.” We all went to the upstairs living room and I started a slide show.
We agreed we would sleep in Friday and have mimosas followed by coffee cake for breakfast. Jayden and I were awake at our regular time, took care of nature's calls and went back to bed. Hot, passionate kisses resulted in a great sixty-nine. We each teased our lover’s cock, bringing him to the edge and then backing off. In doing so, we both slurped up loads of precum. When I exploded in Jayden's mouth, he thrust his hard cock deep into mine and exploded as well. We both produced such a load that we could not swallow it all and ended up licking each others faces. Afterward, we cuddled and spoke of the things lovers speak about. I didn't say anything, but I was well aware that what Jayden and I had was a thousand times deeper than what Wolf and I had. We drifted back to sleep and when we woke two hours later we made love again before going downstairs.
Sam and Brad were sitting at the kitchen table having mimosas and grinning at each other. “Appears to me my dads have been up to something,” I chuckled.
“Actually,” Dad Brad said, “it would be more accurate to say we were up for something.”
“Probably something at least similar to what your son was up for,” Jayden said.
“So, everything set for next semester or do you have to wait until this one is over?” Sam asked.
“I'm set. Actually, I was set when I registered last fall since I was officially accepted into the pre-med program so my courses are just about cast in stone. Of course I had to sign up for specific sections, but with Louis watching over me, that was taken care of.”
“Pretty much the same for me,” Jayden said, “in that freshmen have few choices. Fortunately, Louis had my schedule all worked out and my adviser just signed off on it.”
“How about the summer?”
“Drs. Levey and Bailey are working on that. I wanted to go back to the clinic, but they felt experience in another under-served area would be more valuable. I’m not sure where I might end up. I’d like it to be Arizona.”
“You plan to go with Derek?” Brad asked Jayden.
“Well, I don't like the idea of being separated, but probably not. I’ll be in Arizona. I'm working on spending some of the summer with an elder on the rez. The medicine man—that's a very dumb term, but anything else seems to confuse the issue—at the Pueblo wants me to spend the summer with his 'teacher.'” Jayden laughed. “I thought the medicine man had been born two seconds after the Old Ones and if his teacher is still alive, he must be at least a hundred.”
“Some time apart is certainly not all bad,” Brad said. “Anything we can do to help?”
“Not that I can think of,” I answered.
“Call on us if you need us.”
The adults left Sunday for Stanton. DeAngelo suggested he and the other three cut classes Monday and stay over. Katrina looked at him as if he had lost his mind and Angelica smacked him one. I guess a domineering woman is not always bad!
Monday I began the end-of-semester rat race. Although I had spent hours in labs while the house was being done, I still had major projects to complete in biology and chemistry. I had stayed up with math because once I got behind, it stopped making sense, but I was worried about my art class. I had the major project to do and it determined my grade for the course. I had no ideas. Others in the class were doing painting, watercolors, sculptures, etc. A few were doing replicas of significant architecture, but I was stuck.
Sunday evening, after everyone had gone, Jayden came to my rescue without knowing it at the time. “Derek,” he had said, “Janette asked again if you had shown me some DVD, which you haven't. What was that about?” I told him about the DVD she and the others had given me at Christmas last year. I found it and put it in the player.
As we watched it, he commented on some of the photos as being 'very artistic.' “That's it!” I practically shouted.
“My art project. I have hundreds of photos from this summer and have always seen them as a way to tell a story, but they don't have to. I could do an exhibition of some of them as art!” We spent the next hour selecting photos and had chosen eighteen. “We'll select more later,” I said, “but right now I am ready to take you to bed,” and did exactly that after we had a shower together.
Monday night we spent another hour working with photos and added another twenty to our selections. I went through them again and selected twenty. I had drawn up a plan to make five cubes out of foam-core board, cover their sides with photos and assemble them into a tower and call it all ‘Mesa Country.’
Tuesday I felt as though I was hopelessly behind and started going at it until I was so tired I just fell into bed and was asleep in minutes. That was my life as I headed for final project deadlines and final exams. Jayden took over providing meals and all else needed to keep the house going. I promised myself I would be better organized and not take on so much next semester. When I said that to Jayden, he asked how I planned on doing that, I suddenly faced an agonizing decision. The only way I could reduce my load was to eliminate diving.
I talked at length with Louis about that and he was much opposed to it. It was the only thing I did at the university that was not related to classes and academics. In fact, he advised me to begin attending other events—lectures, plays, concerts—and not take so many courses. “Why are you in such a hurry?” He asked. “You're two years ahead of Jayden. What's going to happen when you graduate and head for your graduate work? Will that definitely be here or are you assuming Jayden will be happy to follow you around like a puppy dog?” That sure gave me something to think about.
Drs. Bailey and Levey almost came to blows when I had a conference with them. Dr. Bailey would have had me in class and labs twenty-four/seven. Dr. Levey came down firmly with Louis not only on my not dropping diving, but also on adding more events. “Derek, you're not sure the route you'll take, but apparently you have been bitten by the 'health to the under-served' bug. Should you go in that direction, you can almost be assured you will be in an isolated area whether it is in the deserts of Arizona or the alligator-infested Florida swamps. Unless you learn to appreciate something other than chemistry and biology—and sex—life will be pretty boring.”
I was so concerned about the issue that I was finding it hard to concentrate on my assignments and projects. One evening during a study group, Levi said, “Derek, your head has been somewhere else the last couple times we've met. Something private or care to talk; we're ready to listen.” I told them what was going on and the debate started. Needless to say, nothing was resolved there!
After everyone left except Levi, he called his place and Telvin came over and he and Jayden joined us for a beer. The beers were barely open when Levi brought up the issue. “I guess you called your dads and Mr. Manning as soon as the issue raised its ugly head,” Levi said.
“You guess wrong,” Jayden said quickly. “I kept trying to get him to and he finally admitted that one, he didn't want the chewing out he could get for taking on too much and two, he knew what their response would be. All three would be firmly on the 'stay with the diving' side.' No longer than I have been around, I know that.”
“Yeah, so do I,” Levi said.
“I can't see what all the fuss is about,” Telvin said. “Derek, you drop Jayden.”
I felt as though someone had kicked me in the stomach. I had been completely self-centered. I was only thinking of what I wanted. “I just about have,” I said, “that's what raised the issue. I realized I was going to class, diving, participating in study groups and dropping into bed and have been since Thanksgiving. Jayden hasn't complained, but not only am I too tired and pushed to make love, I had very little desire to do so. Frankly, I have been and am exhausted.”
I made an appointment with Dr. Levey and went in to talk with him—Dr. Bailey would just have to learn to live with my decision and I saw no reason to argue with him. Dr. Levey was direct and to the point. “Derek, I am sure you were planning on the medical school here or one of the graduate programs in medicine. I can assure you of three things. The first is that being in the pre-med program definitely helps those who plan to go to medical school here. The second is, you have no assurances you'll get in medical school here or anywhere else. The third is good, small colleges with no pre-med as such place students in med schools all the time. Martha Baldwin in your hometown is a good example. Their pre-med program is a modified biology program which you could put together yourself. All of that is to say you can have a good, solid basis for med school if you decide to do that without jumping through hoops. You are 'way ahead of schedule now, so relax and take an extra year if you need to. You'll still graduate with the group you entered with, right?” I nodded. “If you need money . . . ”
“That is not a worry, Dr. Levey. When Auntie died, she had established a trust fund for my education.”
“Then forget this headlong rush to graduate. Enjoy the journey. During the summers I was in college, I worked in a quality control lab. After someone had been on a two weeks vacation, they would return and brag about how many miles they traveled, not what they saw. The ultimate insanity was a man who drove at night because the kids would sleep and there was less traffic. He won the most miles award, but all he saw were oncoming headlights and taillights of passing cars. You have been driving at night.”
“Point made, Doctor,” I said as I shook hands with him and it had been. But I did have to finish the semester. Louis met with Dr. Levey and redid my schedule for the spring semester before I finished my finals.
With the load off my shoulders, I settled down to prepare for finals and still fell in bed exhausted, but it was all over the week before Christmas. Grades were posted and I was happy with mine. There was a party at Levi's and while Jayden and I did not get completely shit-faced, we did do a lot of leaning on each other crossing the backyards and it took about three times as long as usual. When we did get home, there was some real question about whether we could make it up the stairs and it did take awhile, but we finally made it. It was 4:00 in the morning when, in true end-of-semester fashion, we both fell across the bed fully clothed only to have to leap up—as well as someone drunk can leap up—to hit the bathroom and empty our stomachs—twice.
Also, true to the tradition, our mouths felt as though they had been used by a flock of buzzards and our heads as though we had been hit by a Mack truck when we crawled out of bed at noon. After brushing our teeth and gulping down massive amounts of water and a double dose of OTC painkiller, it was back to bed. It was 3:00 in the afternoon when we next ventured out of bed.
After a couple cups of coffee and toast, I began to feel human—almost. Jayden looked as though he doubted he'd ever be human again. I do know he drank a lot less than I did and at only five ten, he weighed less. Also, he had said there's a good reason alcohol is not allowed on the reservation. “I don't think we metabolize alcohol the way you do,” he had said to me some time ago.
“Last night was a damn foolish thing to do,” he groaned. “No one should be allowed to make himself as sick and miserable as I was and am. I'm going back to bed.” Sounded like a good idea to me. We brushed our teeth again, drank more water than I could believe and crawled back in bed.
At 6:00 in the evening the phone rang. It was Telvin. “Come over for late breakfast, very late breakfast,” he said.
We ate breakfast, talked about how foolish we had been, to which Telvin replied, laughing, “But we'll do it again and you all know it!”
“You can count me out of that,” Jayden said. “This Indian may even become a teetotaler.”
It was close to 8:30 when Jayden and I left for home. About half-way across our back yard, I became very dizzy. I leaned on Jayden and when we got home, he got me a glass of water and I felt better, but he thought I should go back to bed and I did. Shortly after midnight Jayden woke me. I was shivering from a chill, but when he took my temperature he said, “Babe, you have a fever high enough to be a danger signal. I'm calling the school clinic.” When he did, he was told to bring me in. An hour later I had been rushed to the hospital and was being dressed in a show-your-ass hospital gown.
I guess I had been given something to put me to sleep because when woke up I remembered being dressed in a hospital gown and then nothing else. When I opened my eyes, Jayden was standing over me. “I must have dropped off to sleep there for awhile,” I said.
“How about thirty-six hours?” Jayden said and he wasn't smiling.
“Nonsense! I just dozed off.”
“I see you are awake. Good morning, Mr. Wilson. I am Roberta, one of your nurses. You've given us a bit of a scare.”
“What's going on here?”
“You remember going to the clinic?”
“Sure. I remember the ambulance to the hospital, being dressed in a gown and, I guess, I was given something to make me sleep because that's the last thing I remember.”
“Derek! You're awake!”
“Mom, what are you doing here?”
“We're all here,” Brad said as he and Sam walked in the room.
“So this would not be my choice of sites for a family gathering, so again I ask, what's going on?”
“Dr. Choi will be in shortly to talk with you,” Roberta said, turned and left.
“Derek, you had a kind of a close call, to be blunt about it,” Sam said. “No one thing major, but a deadly combination. First of all, you are anemic. That was a surprise because you were still diving . . . ”
“But not doing very well at it, I have to admit.”
“You just about quit eating as you started finishing up the semester. You were sleep deprived for the same reason. Both of those would have slowed you down, but not done you in, but they combined to put you at risk for any bug floating by and a very bad one was. No way you would have escaped being hospitalized from the infection brewing in your system when you went to Levi's to party. Dehydration from the alcohol further lowered your resistance to the rapidly developing infection. You went to bed and the bug went to work doing what bugs do, multiplying and wrecking havoc. Your body went into overload and does what overworked things do, it started shutting down. Fortunately, the nurse practitioner at the clinic sent you to the hospital and Dr. Choi and the staff here started battling against your body's plan to shut down. Make no mistake, had they not gone right to work, you would have been history. I'm being blunt, son, because had you paid attention to your health as you have in the past, you probably would have thought you had a twenty-four hour bug and the attack would have been little more than that. End of lecture,” Sam said as he kissed me on the forehead.
“Dad, you're serious?”
“Son, I have never been more serious in my life.”
“How about Jayden? Will he get the bug?”
“Jayden wasn't on the schedule you were. He ate the meals he prepared and you barely tasted. He slept when you were still going at it hours after midnight, so he might have been infected, but probably would have overcome it easily. Nevertheless, Dr. Choi prescribed and the clinic dispensed antibiotics to everyone at the party. If anyone was going to become ill they would likely be showing signs now and none have.”
“So I can kiss Jayden?”
“I'd say that's up to Jayden,” Brad laughed.
“Jayden's in favor of it,” Jayden said and we locked lips.
“I believe, Mr. Fulton, Mr. Wilson was resuscitated yesterday and further mouth-to-mouth is not necessary,” a man in a white coat said, smiling.
“Mr. Wilson disagrees, Doctor.”
“I'm Dr. Choi,” he said, extending his hand. “Glad to have you with us. How do you feel?”
“Weak, trembly, empty.”
“Well, I think if we remedy the last, the former two will take care of themselves. I have ordered some food, but I suspect there are better cooks to be had at your place. Since Mr. Houston and Mr. Hunsinger both seem knowledgeable and your mom and boyfriend both say they can cook, I'm discharging you with some very strict orders. I'll see you in a week and if you have behaved yourself, I would likely discharge you completely at that time. Any questions?”
“One. I am on the dive team. How soon can I go back to swimming?”
“I would suspect you'd be back in the pool after I see you in a week.”
“That's good as we have meets right after the semester begins.”
“I said in the pool, Mr. Wilson. I did not say you'd be in meets. That, if all goes well, should be possible next fall.”
“Next fall! What about my scholarship?”
“Can't tell you about that, but check your letter of agreement very carefully.”
'Food,' when it arrived was Jell-O and beef broth. “I'll wait for food,” I said when I saw it. Hospitals must dispose of tons of Jell-O everyday.
By the time I got home, I was worn out. Brad actually picked me up and carried me up the stairs and put me to bed. I was propped up by pillows when Jayden brought up some of mom's beef broth she had prepared in anticipation of my discharge. “Beef broth? I wanted food!”
“Your system is going to have to get used to food again. So drink the broth,” Mom said. I was so shaky Jayden had to feed me.
‘Dr. Choi will see me in a week,' I thought as I sank back in the pillows. There would be no Christmas with family in Stanton and while no one said it, I knew I would not be in Arizona for New Years. I was, of course, deeply disappointed and was sure Jayden was even more so, but I was also angry, angry at myself for disappointing others by not being sensible about caring for myself.
After I had rested for half an hour, Jayden came into the room and asked if I felt like going to the living room to visit with Sam, Brad and Mom. “Sure, but first, Jayden, I am so sorry, so very, very sorry I messed up and we won't be going to Stanton or Arizona for the holidays. I was just plain selfish.”
“Derek, we were both pretty stupid, but like most men our age, we assumed we were indestructible and discovered we are not. I learned that when I saw you lying in the hospital and was told you might not make it. I also learned just how much I loved you. Derek, you are my life.” Jayden was sitting on the bed so it was easy for him to lean over and kiss me and he did. The kiss I returned was pretty weak, but that didn't mean it didn't carry my love.
I didn't realize just how weak I was until he helped me stand. I would have fallen to the floor had he not had his arm around me. He lifted me and carried me to the living room where one of the recliners was ready for me. After I had visited with the family for half an hour, they said their goodbyes and headed home. I was asleep in the chair in a matter of minutes.
Jayden was the gatekeeper for me and made sure I didn't exhaust myself with visitors. Levi, Telvin, Louis, Philip and Jeremy were regular visitors and often came with food. Jayden had given them the diet Dr. Choi had prescribed and rather than random dishes, they prepared a meal, freeing Jayden from that task at least once a day.
Louis came over one afternoon to talk about my schedule. He had also talked to Coach about my not being able to dive for the rest of the year. Coach said he would simply suspend the scholarship until I was able to rejoin the team. “Will give him a semester on the team we hadn't planned on,” he said.
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