DISCLAIMER: The following story is a fictional account involving teenage boys who are gay and trying to cope with love and homophobia. Sexual activity takes place in this story and there are references to gay sex, and anyone who is uncomfortable with this should obviously not be reading it. With a few very obvious exceptions, all characters are fictional and any resemblance to real people is purely coincidental. Conversations with real individuals are strictly hypothetical and not meant in any way to imply an actually conversation that has taken or might take place. Although the senators in this story bear strong resemblances to Senators Richard Lugar and Evan Bayh of Indiana, any references to their beliefs are based on pure conjecture. Although the story takes place in actual locations and establishments, the author takes full responsibility for all events described and these are not in any way meant to reflect the activities of real individuals or religious establishments, governmental nor school or corporate policies. The author retains full copyright of this story, and of stories based on these characters.


Please note that this is the twenty-first in a series of short stories known collectively as Naptown Tales. The series of stories can be found on my GayAuthors Page and on the Naptown Tales Page at Awesome Dude. Slightly modified versions of some of these stories that are suitable for younger teens can also be found on the Altimexis Page at Codey's World. Please see the Introduction for important background on the series.

Summer Internship

A Naptown Tale in Twelve Parts

by Altimexis & David of Hope

Part Eight
Weddings and Wonder - Trevor
by Altimexis

It was nice to settle back into a regular routine at work after the whirlwind of the Medal Ceremony and the interviews. Things seemed to settle down, and although there were still rumblings, within our own little world, they didn't really affect us too much. Although Seth and a few of the other pages still made occasional snide remarks, they pretty much gave us a wide berth and most of the other pages treated us with respect. Neither Kurt nor I received any advances from anyone on `The Hill' after Kurt made his comments on Nightline. I guess everyone was spooked at the thought of getting caught in a scandal.

On June 29, we were all invited to participate in a ceremony in the East Room of the White House, celebrating Pride Month. A lot of national LGBT leaders were there, and I was surprised that most of them recognized us from all the publicity we'd had of late. Not surprisingly, we were among the youngest participants there, but we were far from the most vocal. One thing we could all agree on was that the Obama administration wasn't doing nearly enough to advance gender equality and our civil rights.

At one point, David got up and told the story of a young Pakistani boy named Altaf, who was forced to flee his native country along with his mother when she discovered him in bed with his best friend. David told how they fled first to London, where they fell in with a terrorist cell, and how grateful they were when it was America that granted them asylum because young Altaf was gay. David told how Altaf was befriended by a Jewish boy named Randy, and how they fell in love.

"This Fourth of July weekend," David continued his story, "Randy and Altaf will be getting married, but not in the state where they grew up together, but rather in Connecticut, because it's one of the few places where they can legally marry.

"Why is it that this beautiful union between a Muslim and a Jew cannot occur in the place of their choosing?" David asked.

"When they enter medical school together in a few years, one of the options that should be open to them is to fund their medical education through the army, but thanks to `Don't ask, don't tell', as an openly gay couple, they are precluded from entering military service. How preposterous is that?" David again asked.

"Mr. President," he continued, "it's time to end apartheid based on sexual orientation in this country and to extend civil rights to all Americans."

David got a standing ovation - one that was well deserved. Even Obama applauded, but his smile didn't seem to reach his eyes. It didn't seem he was pleased with David's speech. Not one bit.

Once the applause died down, the President went on to say, "As I said not long ago, I'm glad I didn't have to debate Mr. Reynolds when I was running for president," which drew a round of laughter from the crowd. "But seriously," he continued, "I think you know that if we were to hold a national referendum on gay marriage today, or to bring the matter before the Supreme Court, more than likely we would lose.

"That's why I'm encouraging a `grass-roots' approach.  Once legislation is put forth, it must be solid enough to stand up to those who would challenge it. One thing we must not have," he said with conviction, "is a repeat of what happened in California. That fiasco did nothing to create unity in the state of California or in the rest of the United States.

"Thankfully, some states are going ahead with their own legislation and it's working, bit by bit.  Believe me when I say that the legislation will come and when it does happen, it will be irreversible. The beginnings of something like this are always small, but eventually momentum will build until those beginnings become so large and overwhelming that the whole populace has no choice but to accept the inevitable.  I remember the civil rights movement better than many of you, and I know the power of any grass-roots movement . . . I know that it's the people of your generation that are going to make this happen."

It might not have been what we wanted to hear, but it was honest, and it was real. It was history in the making, and we were a part of it. How sick was that?

Before we knew it, the time had come for us to travel to New Haven to attend Randy and Altaf's wedding - something we'd all been looking forward to. The festivities were lasting the entire Fourth of July weekend and, although it was a shame we were going to miss the usual holiday festivities in Washington, which I understood were quite lavish - unlike any Independence Day festivities anywhere else in the U.S., we weren't going to miss the wedding festivities for anything. Randy and Altaf were our friends. This was also a great chance to get ideas for our own wedding next year.

Our plan was to take the train up late Friday afternoon, taking off a little early from work. New Haven was the next stop after New York. The entire trip would take four hours, so we'd arrive in the late evening, just in time for the Friday prayer service, which we really wanted to attend as a show of faith to the couple.

The four of us went together in getting a great gift for them. We'd spent a little more than we'd planned, but it would be worth it if it came out as we'd hoped. Jeremy kicked in an extra $100 in the end. "If you've got it, why not spend it?" he said - covering the total $500 cost. We were picking it up along the way, from the artist herself, who lived in Hoboken. She was meeting us trackside, in Newark.

We were all excited when Friday morning arrived. Even though we packed the night before, we still spent extra time making sure we hadn't forgotten anything. I reminded the senator that I would be taking off early, and he replied, "Trevor, you've only been reminding me every day this week!"

"Well, I just wanted to be sure," I said.

Chuckling, he said in return, "Maybe you should have taken the whole day off. I'm not sure how useful you'll be to me under the circumstances."

"Don't worry, Senator," I assured him. "When I'm here, I'm unquestionably yours. You can always count on me."

"I know that, Trevor," the senator agreed.

In spite of being kept busy running errands, the day dragged on until the early afternoon, when the four of us returned to Webster Hall. We grabbed our luggage and ate a late lunch at Union Station before catching our train to New Haven.

As we rolled along through Delaware, my cell phone rang. I looked at the caller ID and smiled when I saw it was Sammy, but got a little worried wondering if something was wrong back home.

"Hey Sammy," I answered, "Is everything OK?"

"Everythin's more than OK. I mean, every thing's more than OK, bro," he replied, correcting his English in the process. Wow, he really was making an effort. Continuing, he asked me, "Guess where I am right now."

"Gee, I don't know, sport. Maybe out back by the pool?" I suggested.

"Not even close," he replied.

"Are you over at Paul's?" I asked.

"Well, Paul's sittin' right next ta me. I mean, Paul's sitting right next to me, but, no, we're not at his place, either," he replied.

"Are you at the mall?" I asked.

"Bro, we're not even in town," he replied. "We're in the car with Mom and Dad, and we're surrounded by corn fields, and guess where we're headed."

"Sammy, I haven't a clue," I replied.

"Trevor, I'm going by Sam, now. I'm not a little kid any more, but anyway, WE'RE HEADED TO CHICAGO!" he shouted, practically frying my cell phone and busting my ear drum in the process.

"Chicago?" I asked.

"Yeah, isn't it great?" he responded. "We're gonna stay in this fancy hotel overlooking Lake Michigan, and we're gonna spend a whole day at the Chicago Art Institute and a day at the Field Museum. Mom and Dad say those are really sick museums, too."

"They are, Sammy . . . I mean, Sam," I answered him. "It's been a few years since I've been there, but they're prolly two of the best museums in the Midwest. You'll go ape over them."

"There's this huge Fourth of July festival going on along the waterfront in a place called Grant Park, too," he went on to say. It's called A Taste of Chicago and they have food from all the best restaurants in the city, and there'll be fireworks, and there'll be amusements, and we're going to a place called Navy Pier. . . ."

"It sounds like you're gonna have a great time!" I enthused. "And we're all just going to a plain old wedding."

"Yeah, bro, but it's for your good friends, and I know how much they mean ta you. I mean to you. Next year, it'll be you who's getting married. That is so sick, man. You guys have a good time, too," Sammy said, "OK?"

"We will," I replied, "And you have a great time in Chicago, and you and Paul be sure to pig out without making yourselves sick, OK?"

"We will, and that's a promise," Sammy answered. "Goodbye, bro."

"Bye, Sam," I replied, and then hung up the phone.

"I take it the 'rents are taking Sammy and Paul to Chicago for the three day weekend?" Jeremy asked.

"Yeah," I answered. "I got to do all sorts of things like that growing up, but this is all knew to Sammy, or Sam as he wants to be called now. You should have heard his enthusiasm. He's so appreciative, too. You know, Kurt and I were talking about how cool it would be to take him to New York. He'd go positively ape in New York and we've gotta talk the 'rents into it."

"If you guys go, we'd like to go with you," David chimed in.

"We already figured as much," I laughed. "Anyway, what I was going to say was that there's actually a lot to see in the Midwest that can be done in day trips or at most in a weekend. Sam's my bro. I should make more of an effort to take him some of the places I got to see as a kid growing up. There are some really nice art museums within a short drive in places like Columbus, Cincinnati and Louisville. Columbus Indiana has some world-class architecture he'd prolly enjoy. In a weekend trip, we could hit Cleveland for their art museum, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and then stop at Cedar Point in Sandusky on the way back. Or we could do the Henry Ford Museum, the Detroit Institute of Art and the Toledo Museum of Art."

"Sounds like you really love your little brother," Jeremy said with a smirk.

"As if he were my own flesh and blood, and never, ever doubt that," I replied.

"That's OK, Trev," Jeremy clarified, "I feel the same way about Cliff."

At that point, we entered New Jersey, and we checked with the conductor to verify our exact position on the train. We then called the artist who made our wedding gift to Randy and Altaf, relaying the information so she'd know exactly where to stand on the platform. It was indeed a finely choreographed sequence as Kurt watched the seats, I waited in the doorway to make sure the train didn't leave and David and Jeremy, the most athletic in our group, found the artist, grabbed a very tall, wide and thin box from her and brought it on board the train.

Just as David and Jeremy got it up the steps, the train started to pull away. I waved at the artist and managed to hear her shout, "It's nice to meet you, Trevor. Give my love to Randy and Altaf!" and then she disappeared out of sight.

When I re-entered the passenger compartment, I saw that David and Jeremy had securely stowed the box behind the first seat. As I sat down, Jeremy showed me a photo that the artist had given him of the completed artwork. "I really think they'll love it," I agreed. "It's certainly unique."

"She included an etching kit and instructions inside the box," David added. "When we told her about how Randy and Altaf plan to adopt and raise gay kids who've been abandoned by their own parents, she thought they might want to etch the names of their kids on the leaves. There are 28 leaves, and I doubt they'll adopt that many kids, but it would literally become a family tree for them. It gives special meaning to the term, `Tree of Life'."

"That's a great idea!" I agreed. "I never would have thought of that."

"Of course the real credit still goes to Kurt," Jeremy reminded us. "He was the one who thought of giving them an artistic representation of their common heritage."

"Yeah, my honey done good," I agreed, which only caused Kurt to blush, but he was smiling.

It was ironic that after all the rushing to get the sculpture on board, we found ourselves at Penn Station minutes later, where we sat for a full half-hour layover. We knew that would be the case, but we hardly felt it would be appropriate to ask the artist to lug a heavy and unwieldy box by herself on a Path Train, just so we'd have an easier time of getting it on board. All in all, our quick exchange act worked pretty well in the end.

After a half-hour delay in NYC, during which we all grabbed a quick snack, we were once again on our way. Next stop - New Haven, where the Amtrak station was literally within walking distance of the hotel. Had it not been for the wedding gift, we might well have walked it, but there was no way we could do that and carry the box. The first SUV taxi we approached outright refused to take us such a short distance, and so we agreed not to give him our business. The second taxi, a minivan taxi, was also reluctant, but quickly changed his mind when Jeremy pulled out a fifty-dollar bill.

In no time at all, we were settled into our adjoining rooms. Kurt looked absolutely adorable, but there was no time for romance, as a Friday evening service would be starting in a matter of minutes. We barely had time to wash up and change.

It was really amazing how many of our friends and acquaintances from school were attending the service. I noticed Debbie McLaughlin and Cathy Andrews right away in the row in front of us, sitting next to each other.* Debbie had come so close to committing suicide last December after the two of them had split up. In fact, if I hadn't run into Debbie in the process of purchasing razor blades at a CVS pharmacy . . . I shuddered to think what might have happened. It was unfortunate that it was my parents' security company that had helped the girls' parents obtain proof that their daughters were involved in a relationship, but once my father discovered what one of his employees had done, he not only put a stop to it, but did everything he could to make it right in the end.

Unfortunately, the damage had already been done and Cathy couldn't handle living without her parents' love. She made the choice to throw away four years of a loving relationship and to deny whom she was, to return to her parents' home. That left poor Debbie out on her own with no one, and too embarrassed to turn to her friends until that fateful day when I found her at CVS. Fortunately for her, my parents and her parents had been talking in the interim about what it's like to be Evangelical Christians with a gay child, and Debbie's parents were more than ready to welcome her home with open arms.

Sadly, Cathy continued her downward spiral, dated boys and wound up getting pregnant. Seeing the two girls together again gave me hope. I knew that deep down, they still loved each other very much. I had no doubt that Cathy would make a very capable mother, but it would be great for the child if it could have two mothers.

Just then, Cathy turned to Debbie and said, "Here we all are, having flown in from the conservative Midwest to attend a gay wedding. Why is it that Randy and Altaf have to marry here? It's just so wrong that they can't marry back in our home state."

"It won't be this way forever, Cathy," David, responded. "Mark my words, but it will change if I have anything to do with it. Some day I'm going to be the governor of our state. It'll be tough as a gay man getting elected, I know, but if anyone can shift the focus off my being gay and onto the issues, I'm the one who can."

I was shocked. I mean, I knew David was interested in politics, but this was the first time I'd heard David utter something so concrete about going into public office. David Reynolds, the governor of our state. Obviously, I wasn't the only one caught off guard, because his boyfriend immediately replied with, "You want to be the governor? In our state?"

"Yeah, I've been thinking about what Paul said over Spring Break," David answered. "Why not start as governor. Hey, I got elected Class President twice . . . yeah, I could be governor."

"You sound serious about going into politics," Debbie commented.

"Oh, he's serious all right," Jeremy agreed. "You know we're doing internships at the White House this summer. That's why we weren't on the flight with you guys. We took the train up from D.C. this afternoon."

"Yeah, and we're serving as pages in the Senate," Kurt threw in.

"Kinda sucks that we're missing all the Fourth of July festivities in Washington this weekend," I added, "but, man, I wouldn't miss this wedding for anything."

Jeremy practically teared up, however, as he continued, "I just don't like the other thing Paul said."

"Paul Levine?" Cathy asked.

Shaking his head, "Paul Manning, Trevor's foster brother's best friend," Jeremy clarified. "He has Down's Syndrome and who knows, but he had a pretty wild premonition during our trip to Washington during the Spring Break. Out of the blue, he said . . ." Jeremy started to weep, "he said David would be buried in Arlington Cemetery."

"Just because Paul had this premonition," David countered, putting his arm around Jeremy, "doesn't mean it's gonna happen. And besides, that's way in the future. A lot could happen before then. Didn't he imply we'd be together all that time? That's way longer than most couples are together."

"I guess you're right," Jeremy said, just before planting a quick peck on David's lips. His doing that made me throw my arm around Kurt and snuggle up with him. Cathy and Debbie smiled at us and turned back around, because the service was getting ready to start.

The service was a very nice combination of the Jewish and Muslim faiths, but my boyfriend was particularly fascinated by it. The rabbi and imam who presided over it did an outstanding job of pointing out the similarities and differences. There were far more similarities than differences - the most glaring difference being that wine in the Jewish faith, as in the Christian faith, was considered a sacrament versus a sin in the Muslim faith. Otherwise nearly everything had an identical parallel. Why then was there so much animosity between the two peoples? Obviously Randy and Altaf had found a way.

That night, back in our room, after the rehearsal dinner and festivities were over, Kurt and I found our way, too. Unfortunately, we were too exhausted to do as much as we might have liked, and we knew we wanted to get up early enough to enjoy the Muslim Morning Prayer service, which was to be followed by a brunch and then a Jewish Sabbath Prayer service. We therefore settled for a nice, sensuous sixty-nine before going to sleep. God, I never tired of my boyfriend. He's such a sexy, loving boy who means the world to me.

Attending a traditional Muslim prayer service was a first for us, but the imam made all feel welcome, and he explained everything as he went for the vast majority of us who weren't Muslim. He also allowed men and women to pray together at the wedding couple's insistence. Not too many people attended the Muslim service, which was a shame, but we surmised that it was mostly because people were tired after the last evening's festivities.

Brunch was a simple, but elegant affair. We certainly weren't hungry after last night's dinner. A lot of our friends, including David and Jeremy, arrived late - just to grab a quick bite before heading out for an afternoon on the town, such as it was. We stuck it out and attended the Jewish Sabbath Service, and then took advantage of the hotel's health club facilities before heading back to our room to continue what we'd started last night.

Generally I preferred to bottom, but nothing was more heavenly than the look on my baby's face when I entered him, and I was anxious to see that look today.

Spreading out a large bath towel on our king-size bed, I had Kurt lie face down on it. God, he looked so cute . . . and sexy. Opening a vial of scented bath oil that was among the assortment of freebies that came with the room, I applied a little to my palm, then started rubbing it into his back, kneading it between his shoulder blades and up into his neck. He literally purred as I felt his muscles relax under my hands. I lowered my body down and kissed the nape of his neck. He hummed appreciatively.

I poured some more oil onto my hands and started kneading his back muscles down lower, working my way down to his delectable mounds, gently pulling them apart and exposing his rosebud. I lovingly teased it with my tongue, which I knew would drive him wild. Kurt loved to be rimmed, which was great, 'cause I loved rimming him, but I was far from done with his massage.

Pouring out a little more oil, I massaged the backs of his thighs, and then his calves, and finally the soles of his feet, lovingly caressing each of his toes. Kurt had the sexiest toes. His feet were silky soft. I could almost see having a foot fetish with Kurt's sexy feet.

Telling Kurt to turn over, I massaged the insides of his legs and thighs from the front, and then used my tongue to `massage' his beautiful sack, which begged for attention. I let my hands take over while I used my tongue and my throat to `massage' his glorious cock, which was as hard as I'd ever seen it. Yeah, he was pretty close to the edge already, so I'd have to be careful.

Pouring a little more oil into my palm, I massaged his abdomen and his chest, paying particular attention to his very firm nipples and his pecs. I lay down on top of him, relishing the feel of our total body contact, enhanced by the lubrication of the bath oil. It was time.

Reaching down, I lubricated my member with some of the bath oil, then inserted first one, and then two of my fingers into Kurt's hole. He was more than ready by now. Pointing my cock at his entrance, I slowly pushed forward as he himself thrust his pelvis back against me, eager to experience the wonder of our union. The look on his face was priceless. If there was any pain, he certainly didn't show it. What I saw was a sense of wonder . . . wonder that something so blissful, sensual, sexual, and full of love could be happening.

As our thrusts deepened and quickened, I could feel we were heading toward one earth-shattering climax. I would have liked to have prolonged it, but it had been weeks and we had a lot of pent-up desire. Kurt's first volley hit me in the chin, and that plus his sphincter clamping down on me sent me over the edge in no time. As we came down from our high and kissed passionately, I felt we were so close, we could crawl into each other's skin.

"I love you so much, Trevor," Kurt said as he started to recover, "I don't know what I did to deserve you, but I'm the luckiest guy alive. You make me so happy . . . I hope I can give you back one-tenth of what you've given me."

"Are you kidding?" I replied. "You give me twenty times back in return what I give you. You're a perfect ten in my book. I love you, Kurt. There are no words in the English language that can describe what I feel for you."

Smiling at my boyfriend, I kissed him on the nose and then said, "Come on, let's get washed up. We need to present our gift to Randy and Altaf before the picnic and Fourth of July festivities."

"Yeah, I guess it is getting late," my boyfriend agreed.

Taking a shower together and making sure we were squeaky clean, I contacted David on his cell phone and we made arrangements to present our wedding gift to Randy and Altaf before the festivities were to begin. The four of us met them in their hotel suite.

We were all dressed in board shorts and T-shirts, prepared for the picnic that was to follow, and Randy and Altaf were similarly attired. They looked so happy. They were absolutely radiant.

"That is a very large box," Altaf said as we carried it inside.

"We decided we could get you something nice if we pooled our resources," David explained.

"This was all Kurt's idea," I said proudly as I wrapped my arm around my boyfriend's shoulders.

"You might want to leave it in the box until you get it safely back to your apartment," Jeremy suggested, "but here's a picture of the finished artwork," he said as he handed the picture the artist had given him to Randy.

"It's a `Tree of Life' glass sculpture," Kurt explained. "The Tree of Life is a common theme to many of the world's religions, but it's central to both Judaism and Islam. It represents the `burning bush' through which God appeared to Moses. It's also a metaphor for God's holy scripture. `It is a tree of life for all who hold it fast. All its ways are ways of pleasantness and all its paths are peace.' This symbolism is present in both religions."

"It's designed to be hung on a wall," David explained. "It has a built-in backlight. It uses six-watt LED's that should never burn out. It uses a lithium battery that recharges itself from a solar panel on the front, so as long as it's not in a completely dark corner, it should power itself. It's very environmentally sound."

"Your names and the date of your wedding have been inscribed in English, Hebrew and Urdu," I added. "In addition, the artist included an etching kit so you can add the names of the children you adopt to the leaves. As she put it, you will make it a personal `family tree of life'. I like that idea very much."

"Trevor, Kurt, David and Jeremy," Randy said, "You have all left me speechless. I don't know what to say. This is such an incredible gift."

Altaf reached his arm around Randy's waist and added, "I feel the same way. It is beautiful, and so appropriate. It is a gift we will treasure for as long as we live. We have received many, many gifts, but none more meaningful. Thank you."

Altaf then came up to us and kissed each of us on the cheek, followed by Randy, who did the same.

"That was really sweet," I said as we descended in the elevator and got off on our floor. "I think they really liked it."

"Yeah, Kurt," David agreed, "that was a really great idea."

As we approached our rooms, Jeremy spoke to Kurt and me in a really hushed voice, "Guys, you definitely will want to take a piss break before we head out."

What in the world was he getting at? We were only going to be a few blocks away, at the Fourth of July picnic Randy and Altaf were throwing for the wedding guests.

I must have looked at Jeremy kind of funny, as he laughed and continued, "We need to get going, too, 'cause we have a bit of a drive ahead of us."

Now I knew there was something up, as there was no way we needed to drive to get to the park. Kurt beat me to asking about it, though. "What's up, Jer? I thought we were all gonna freshen up and meet downstairs in, like, an hour or two for Randy and Altaf's Fourth of July party."

David giggled as Jeremy explained, "I didn't want to say anything before, 'cause I wasn't sure I could get you guys an invite, and I definitely didn't want to say anything in front of anyone else, 'cause I didn't want to make it look like we're sneakin' out on the wedding festivities . . . but that's exactly what we're gonna do."

"Why?" I asked.

With a devious smile, Jeremy said, "There isn't time to explain, but meet us out here in ten minutes. Wear some dressy casual clothes . . . maybe khakis and a polo shirt, but not shorts, 'cause it'll get chilly later on. We're going to a party . . . a picnic in the sky . . . and we're gonna have fun!"

As Kurt and I entered our room, I said, "I wonder what that's about."

"Whatever it is," Kurt said, "knowing Jer, it'll be with rich people."

"You're prolly right," I agreed. "We'd better brush our teeth and put on some cologne . . . and wear our ECCOs or Birkenstocks - not sneakers. It's a good thing we already showered."

"Definitely," Kurt agreed as he gave me a quick peck before heading into the bathroom.

Ten minutes later, we were all heading out the front door of the hotel and onto the street.

"We don't want to be seen leaving in a limo," Jeremy said, "so we're gonna walk over to Yale University Hospital. It's not unusual for limos to pick people up there, and none of our friends should be there to see us. That's where I told our driver to meet us."

"Oh, OK," I said.

About five minutes later, we were all sitting pretty inside a huge Continental stretch limo. As we got underway, I finally asked, "All right, Jer, what's this all about?"

"That's a fair question, and we have about an hour until we arrive in New York, so there's plenty of time for me to answer it."

"New York?" I exclaimed.

"Yeah, buds, New York. You see, while it's true we're missing one hell of a show down in Washington for the Fourth of July, this year the biggest show isn't in Washington. It turns out that 2009 marks the four hundredth anniversary of Henry Hudson's `discovery' of the Hudson River. 'Course the native Americans were there long before that, but for Europeans, Hudson's discovery marked the finding of one of the best natural harbors in the world and certainly the best in the New World. That discovery led to the Dutch colony of New Amsterdam, which became the British colony of New York and the American city of New York, one of the greatest centers of trade in the world.

"To celebrate Hudson's discovery, Macy's has moved their Fourth of July fireworks extravaganza from its usual location on the East River, over to the Hudson River. Not only that, but they're making it fucking huge, man. It'll be one of the largest fireworks displays in history and the largest display this year, anywhere in the U.S., in spite of the economic downturn.

"So instead of missing the fireworks in Washington, we're gonna be seeing an even better show in New York!"

"Yeah, but how are we gonna get anywhere near enough to see it?" Kurt asked.

Jeremy smiled and said, "My dad has a client who has a business associate with a penthouse apartment, right on Fifth Avenue overlooking Central Park. When I told Dad about the wedding and where we'd be this weekend, he insisted on contacting his client and, well, not only did the client come through for us, but he got us invited to his business associate's party! Turns out the client will be there, too. It should be a real sweet party."

"Are we gonna be the only kids there?" Kurt asked.

"I wondered about that, too," David chimed in. "There'll be several other kids there besides us, I guess."

"Just as long as there's no drugs," I stated emphatically.

"I told Jer the same thing," David agreed.

"I expect there'll be some booze there," Jeremy noted, "and I wouldn't be surprised if there's some pot. Like I told David, we're prolly gonna be around the stuff in college and we're gonna have to learn to stay away from it, even when it's all around us. If there's pot, we'll steer clear of it, 'cause we can't afford to test positive. If there's anything stronger like coke, we'll all leave. You have my word on that."

"That makes me feel a lot better," Kurt said, and I heartily agreed.

Before long, the dazzling skyline of New York City was before us, and then we were crossing over the newly renamed RFK Bridge, formerly the Triboro Bridge, into Manhattan. Traffic on the FDR, the highway that runs along the East River, was bumper-to-bumper as might be expected, but it didn't take all that long before we were pulling up in front of a very posh looking building on Fifth Avenue.

Jeremy led the way and told the doorman who we were. The doorman crossed our names off a list and then `granted' us access to one of the elevators, pushing the button to the 35th floor, the top floor, for us. When we reached the top, there was no hallway - the elevator opened directly into the penthouse apartment.

Even before we'd gone a few feet, a servant dressed in a white tux approached us with a tray of hors d'oeuvres. There were stuffed mushrooms, pigs in a blanket, and some things I wasn't sure about. David immediately asked what everything was, and which things contained any meat. We all went to town grabbing a few napkins full of food. Hey, we're teenagers, after all. It took all of thirteen seconds for us to devour the tiny entrees in our hands. I sure hoped there'd be some real food, such as burgers or hot dogs, too.

It wasn't long before Jeremy spotted someone he recognized. "Hey Zach," he practically shouted. Well, as discretely as he could without being rude. "Zachary Taylor," Jeremy spoke a little louder this time. Suddenly, a boy of about fourteen or fifteen looked up from across the room and spotted us. He was slender, had shoulder length, light brown hair, and was wearing shorts with a Purdue University sweatshirt. When he got closer, I could see he still had some peach fuzz on his upper lip, so maybe he was even a bit younger, like thirteen. He was cute, though.

"Zach," Jeremy said, "I didn't know you'd be here. It's good to see someone from back home." Turning back to us, Jer said, "Guys, this is Zach Taylor. He's the son of one of my dad's clients, and he'll be a freshman at Carmel High in the fall." Lowering his voice, Jeremy added, "He's also gay," which caused Zach's eyes to get big as saucers. Jer went on to say, "but so's everyone here, so don't worry about it, Zach. Your secret's safe with all of us. In fact, Trevor here's the president of the North Central GSA, which is why I didn't think you'd mind me outing you to the rest of my friends. When you're ready to come out, he can help. He's helped lots of kids come out . . . to their parents . . . to their friends. Hell, his boyfriend came out on the front page of The Star!"

Suddenly, Zach registered a look of recognition and said to my boyfriend, "You're Kurt DeWitt!"

To which Kurt answered, "One and the same."

And then he looked up at me and said, "And I saw you on television with Kurt, too. You guys are like, famous!"

"Believe me, Zach," Jeremy countered, "once you've seen them naked, they're really quite ordinary."

Kurt started to laugh hysterically when he heard that, and pretty soon, the rest of us were in hysterics, which probably had all the adults in the room wondering what in the world us teenagers were up to.

Once we'd settled down, Zach asked if we'd seen the view yet, to which David answered that we'd just arrived. Zach then led us all out to the penthouse's terrace, which was abso-fucking-lutely enormous. It wrapped around the whole western end of the building, affording a spectacular view of Central Park, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, which was just to the north of us, and Midtown Manhattan, which was a little to the south. I guess they called where we were the Upper East Side. The Empire State Building, down in Midtown, towered above all, lit up in red, white and blue for the holiday.

"This'll be a great vantage point for viewing the fireworks," Zach said. "Any further south and all the buildings of Midtown would be in the way. Much further north, and we'd be too far away to see much of anything. They're gonna be shooting the fireworks off from three barges along a twenty-five block stretch of the river. It'll be awesome."

"Oh there you are, Zach!" a cute blond girl said as she came up to us and threw her arms around the poor boy, practically pulling him down to the ground with her. It was obvious she had been drinking. She looked to be around Zach's age.

"Oh, hi Valerie," Zach replied as he rolled his eyes at us. "Val, I'd like you to meet some friends of mine," he said as he pulled her upright. "This is Jeremy. He's the son of one of my dad's business associates, and the tall guy next to him is David, his boyfriend."

"Wait a minute," she said, "are you telling me they're . . . they're gay?"

"Well yeah, Valerie," Zach stated as if it were the most natural and obvious thing in the world. "I've known Jer for a few years now, and he and David have been on the front page of The Star like three or four times. Everyone back home knows about them."

"I don't read The Star," Valerie admitted, "and I'm surprised you hang out with fags."

Swallowing hard, Zach said, "I can only hope you said that 'cause you've had too much to drink. These guys are my friends. So are Trevor and Kurt," he said, nodding in our direction. "They're gay, too. And you know what else. I know you've been interested in me for a while, but there's a reason I haven't asked you out. I'm not the kind of guy who's willing to use a girl for cover. I haven't asked you out, 'cause I'm gay, and I'm proud."

Even as drunk as she might have been, Valerie looked stone cold sober as a look of revulsion took over her face. "Wait 'til my parents hear about this!"

"I think I'm gonna throw up," Zach said as he started to sway on his feet. David grabbed him before he fell to the floor, then lifted him effortlessly and carried him inside. Man I had no idea David was that athletic. Kurt went in search of a soda while Jeremy went in search of Zach's father. I wasn't so sure that was the best idea, but he was right - Zach prolly needed him. David and I stayed with Zach until he came to.

"Whoa, what happened?" he said when he found himself staring up at us.

"You passed out," David said quietly, stating the obvious.

"Zach, of the various ways I'd recommend for coming out, that was definitely not one of them," I said with a laugh, trying to diffuse the tension.

"Oh shit," Zach said. "Not only are my parents going to know, but everyone's gonna know by the time school starts."

"Is that a bad thing?" David asked. "Jeremy accidentally outed himself in the eighth grade, and thanks to that, the two of us became boyfriends. We both agreed we'd be out in high school, so when Barry Smith asked me what I was doing hanging with `that faggot' at the Fashion Mall, I told him then and there that we were boyfriends. That was it . . . by school orientation a week later, everyone knew about us, and we're talking a class size of nearly a thousand kids. Not everyone's been OK with it, but I was elected to the Freshman Student Council, and then became the Freshman Class Treasurer, and was elected the Sophomore and Junior Class Presidents. I guess you could say that Jer and I are pretty popular at school."

I laughed at that and said, "That's an understatement. David and Jeremy are two of the most popular kids at school, so being gay and out doesn't mean you can't be popular. On the contrary, even I'm pretty popular in spite of my geekiness and being out. I hear Carmel High has a great GSA, too."

Just then, Jeremy arrived on the scene with a man I presumed to be Zach's father, in tow. The man got down on the floor, kneeling in front of Zach and he said, "Zach, I heard about what happened. I heard about it before Jeremy found me, so you don't have to worry about telling me now," he said with a laugh. "It's probably not the way you wanted your mom and me to find out, huh?"

Continuing, he said, "You know, I've known about Jeremy and David since I've been using Kimball's firm, and while I'd naturally rather my son be straight, because I'd hate to see you having to deal with all the crap gay people have to deal with in this world, I love you for the wonderful son you are, no matter what you are. Someday, when you bring home the man of your dreams, your mom and I will love him no less than we would have loved the woman of your dreams. Never doubt that."

Zach leapt into his father's arms and hugged him tightly, crying on his shoulder. I think we all had tears in our eyes. Finally Kurt showed up with a Sprite in his hand. Geez, how hard was it to find the bar, anyway.

It was at that moment that we heard the first unmistakable booming sound of fireworks going off. We all rushed out onto the terrace to see what I could only describe as the most breathtaking site I could imagine. The entire southwestern skyline was illuminated with brilliant plumes of colored light. The whole thing was perfectly synchronized, so that the exact same color and the same design of firework was shot off, two from each barge at the same time, creating a curtain of light along the entire horizon. Our view of it all was magnificent.

The show was only about a half-hour long, but it was one we'd all never forget as rainbows of brilliant light cascaded across the sky, made all the more sweet by the father-son moment we'd witnessed just moments before the display began.

The remainder of the party was interesting to say the least. I had my first taste of beer, which I didn't particularly like at all. As the young man who brought it to me said, it's an acquired taste. He then brought me a different drink, a pale ale, which was decidedly better, but stronger. As the young man continued to be friendly with me, it became increasingly apparent that he was interested in more than pleasant conversation, which was really curious, given that he was there with his wife.

"Oh, my wife knows I'm gay," he explained when I confronted him. "We both get something out of the relationship we want. I need a wife for expediency and to provide biological children, and she gains access to my money, and power."

"And what happens after the divorce?" I asked, recognizing where this would likely lead.

"Then I will have my freedom, and she will still have my money and power, and we'll both have the children we need."

`Children who'll sadly be caught in the middle of nowhere,' I thought to myself.

"So how about a little fun, Trevor," he asked. "The age of consent in New York is seventeen, and you're seventeen, and at twenty-five, I'm not that old, now, am I?"

"Truthfully, I'm flattered . . . really, I am," I answered, "but I don't think my fiancé would appreciate it," I said as I nodded my head toward the terrace, where Kurt was engaged in a conversation with Zach."

"The blond kid?" the man asked.

"He's one in a million," I answered.

"You can't imagine how much I envy you. Congratulations, and good luck," he said as he shook my hand.

I think we all managed to get a little tipsy, but none of us got drunk and, fortunately, there were no drugs at the party. There was a lot of food, though, and we were all stuffed to the gills before it was time to leave.

There were around a dozen other teenagers at the party, and about fifty or sixty adults. With what happened at the beginning, it was no secret to anyone that Zach or the rest of us were gay, but none of the other kids were gay or at least, would admit to it. Valerie was the only one who seemed to have a problem with it, and Zach gained more and more confidence as the night went on, even to the point of dancing with the rest of us openly.

"Remind you of anything?" David asked me as the two of us watched Zach and Jeremy dancing together.

"Yeah," I replied as I remembered how I outed myself by dancing with David at Homecoming, "the best thing I ever did in my life." Beyond a doubt, I meant it, too.

We didn't get back to New Haven until the sky was already starting to lighten. We only had a few hours of sleep before it was time to go down and grab what was left of Sunday Brunch. Poor Kurt slept through the Sunday Christian prayer service, which I knew he really wanted to attend. I only hoped he wouldn't snore during the wedding. I only hoped I wouldn't, either.

The wedding ceremony combined elements of both a traditional Jewish ceremony and a traditional Northern Pakistani one - it brought tears to my eyes - it was so beautiful. The vows Randy and Altaf chose were extraordinary. They vowed in front of God and us all to take in as many gay kids as they could . . . to give them a loving home. How cool was that? What wonderful young men they were.*

The reception was huge, with a monstrous dinner with lots of courses, followed by lots of dancing, including all the traditional Jewish group dances you see in the movies. But then something horrible happened - Cathy Andrews started bleeding profusely. Something was horribly wrong with her pregnancy.

Altaf's mother is a pediatric nurse and she knew instantly what was wrong. Altaf wasn't wasting any time - he insisted on driving her to Yale University Hospital, which was just three blocks away. What a way to interrupt a wedding! We were all in shock. It wasn't long before the whole group of us ended up over at Yale Medical Center, which sure wasn't equipped to handle the few hundred of us who descended on them en mass.

After much posturing, Randy's parents finally convinced all of us to return to the hotel, where they made arrangements for all who wanted to stay over to do so at their expense. They would make sure we were all kept informed with frequent progress reports from the hospital. Needless to say, the charter flight that was supposed to return with most of the wedding attendees left that evening with less than half its passengers. Most everyone who didn't have to return home was staying at least overnight. Kurt and I each called our senators to let them know we'd be at least a day delayed in our return. They were more than understanding. David and Jeremy called Will to let him know of their delay as well.

It wasn't until after midnight that we finally got word back from the hospital. Both baby and mother were fine, although Cathy ended up having to have an hysterectomy to keep her from bleeding to death. She'd had a healthy baby boy who was in surprisingly good shape for an infant born nearly two months early. We'd all be able to go see mother and child come morning, but only in small groups.

Kurt and I slept fitfully - we were so keyed up with everything that had happened - but we were up early Monday morning to see Cathy. Before getting ready, we called over to the hospital to see when we would be able to see her, and were informed there was so much interest that we had to sign up for a time slot. They were actually taking reservations! We figured we'd better coordinate our visit with David and Jeremy, so we woke them up and opened the connecting doors between our rooms. Soon we had a very groggy and naked David and Jeremy in our room - not that we didn't see them that way every day at Webster Hall, but it was still very funny.

Calling the hospital back, we were surprised to find that visitation times were already solidly booked through 3:10 that afternoon. They were allowing visitors blocks of ten minutes each, with no more than two visitors at a time so as not to wear poor Cathy out. We booked 3:10 for Dave and Jer, and 3:20 for Kurt and me. Checkout was at noon, so we'd have to check our luggage with the bell captain. That still left us a hell of a lot of time to kill, but there was little reason for us to stay another night. We then reserved an early evening train back to DC, so we could still salvage the rest of the week.

Final arrangements complete, we showered and dressed in comfortable clothes, and then packed up our stuff. We were way too keyed up to go back to sleep, even though we felt exhausted, and hardly in the mood to make love, so we headed downstairs and grabbed some breakfast.

By now, the shops were all opening, so we spent our time just browsing the shops in and around the hotel, then checked out at noon, browsed some more of the shops and finally, when it was time, headed to the Medical Center. We all stopped briefly on the Pediatrics floor to see if we could catch a glimpse of Cathy's baby in the Neonatal ICU. They did allow us to look in through a window, but he was so tiny in his incubator, there wasn't much we could see. We continued on to the Gynecology floor, where Cathy was staying, and at the appointed time, David and Jeremy went inside just as Paul Levine and Sam Arnold came out of the room.

"Wow, it `s good to see you guys," Paul said to us as he slipped his arm around his boyfriend's waist. "You been taking good care of my organization, Austin?"

"All you have to do is look at the website to know it," I said in retort. "You know, the website that didn't even exist when I joined."

"There hardly even was a GSA when I started out," Paul chided me."

"Hey, I know, man. We're all grateful for everything you did." I said as I held up my hands. "Had it not been for you, the GSA would have never gained traction. Without a strong GSA, David and Jeremy would have never come out . . . well, Jer was outed, but that's beside the point. Having someone charismatic like David being out was the spark that lit the flame. He made it cool to be out. He paved the way for me to come out, and to take over as GSA president when you graduated.

"Thanks to your paving the way, Will Smith and Jim Wilson, two football jocks came out, and Will's brother, Barry joined the GSA . . . he's my VP, man. We have more straight members than gay members, and that's all your doing.

"Don't get me wrong . . . I'm proud of what I've done with the GSA website. It's a top ten resource for gay teens, nationwide . . . maybe even worldwide, but I could have never gotten there had it not been for you."

"You're a good guy, Trevor," Paul said, "and I really was just kidding you. I've heard that David's brother's trying to get GSAs started in all the middle schools. That's a pretty gutsy move, particularly for a straight boy."

"I don't know how well you know Brad, if at all," I said, "but he's very much a younger version of his older brother. He's going places, too. He has the same, `Take me as I am or leave me,' attitude, but in some ways he's more pragmatic. I fully expect to see them both in politics some day.

"So, what's the story between you and Sam," I asked, nodding in Sam's direction.

This time, it was Sam who answered. "We were both miserable. We were pursuing our life dreams separately, but it meant nothing if we were apart. We thought we were doing the right thing . . . that we would always regret it if we didn't follow through with our original plans. What a crock of shit that turned out to be!"

"We're transferring to the University of Rochester in the fall," Paul explained. "The Eastman School of Music is still second to none, so Sam's still getting the education he's always wanted, and as far as I'm concerned, what good is an education from MIT if I flunk out because all I can think about is how much I miss Sam? Besides, the reality is that at MIT, the classes are humongous, you're taught mostly by TAs because the professors don't give a shit, and even then, they eat up and chew out young professors, just because they're MIT and can get away with it.

"Rochester's a small school that actually cares about their faculty and that goes the extra mile for their students because they have to, to attract the best. The classes are actually taught by professors as well as TAs and the class sizes are much more reasonable. You can actually get to know your professors and they try to keep their professors around a while. The atmosphere is so much more collegial. I know I'm going to enjoy it there a whole lot more than I did in Boston, and it's not just because Sam will be there."

"And there's one other thing, too," Sam added. "Even though New York State doesn't allow gay marriage, they recognize it, so if we marry here in Connecticut or in Massachusetts, New York will recognize us as a legally married couple, so attending school together in Rochester is just as good from a gay marriage standpoint as it is in Boston."

"That sounds wonderful," I agreed.

Nudging me in the ribs, Kurt whispered to me, "You sure you still want to go to MIT?"

Whispering back, I told him, "Comp Sci's a little different than Engineering. Although I'm sure many of the same issues remain, as long as you're there by my side, the MIT degree's worth a little hassle."

Just then, the door opened, signifying it was our turn to see Cathy.

"It was great talking to you guys," Kurt chimed in, just before we entered the room, leaving David and Jer to talk to our old friends.

When we entered the room, I was surprised, and pleased, to see that Debbie was there, and that she and Cathy were holding hands. It was actually Debbie who spoke first by saying, "Trevor, Kurt, it's so good to see you."

"It's great to see the both of you," Kurt said.

"How are you doing, Cathy? How's the little one?" I asked as I took her wan hand in mine. She looked so pale, but she looked up at me and she smiled.

"Trevor, you've always been one of my closest friends. I want to thank you for saving my fiancé's life. I couldn't imagine going through this without her, now."

"Your fiancé?" I asked.

"Yes," she answered with the most radiant smile I'd seen on her face since she and Debbie had broken up. "I've done some pretty foolish things, but getting pregnant pales in comparison to breaking up with Debbie in the first place. Debbie is my soul mate. She always has been, and always will be. She'll make a wonderful mother for young Timothy Lawrence, and any other children we may choose to have someday. We belong together, so we've decided to get married.

"I know it's short notice, but we've arranged to get married this Friday evening at the same hotel where Randy and Altaf were married."

"Holy crap!" Kurt exclaimed.

"We'll understand if you can't make it," Debbie said calmly. "We know you work."

"No, we'll be there," Kurt countered. "We'll definitely be there, one way or the other. A wedding happens only once in your life, God willing. We wouldn't miss it for anything."

"My sentiments exactly," I added.

"The ceremony's not until 8:00," Debbie clarified, "which should make it easier for people to attend."

"Just like Randy and Altaf's prayer service," I noted. "That's perfect . . . we can still get in a good six hours' worth of work in the morning before we catch the train. The senators can hardly complain about that. Thanks for being so considerate . . . and I think this is terrific news. . . .

"So tell me about . . . what was his name again?" I asked.

"Timothy Lawrence," Cathy answered. "We named him after two of our closest friends."

"Oh yeah," I said, "Tim and Larry, your `boyfriends' for all those years. You know they had a very good reason for keeping their relationship a secret, just as you did, don't you?"

"Now I do," Cathy confided, "but I really used to think they were straight."

Chuckling, I said, "It's funny, I don't know why, but kids feel comfortable coming out to me. There must be nearly a dozen closeted kids even now who have taken me into their confidence and told me and no one else that they're gay. I have done everything I can to help them to open up . . . to teachers, clergy and parents . . . anyone who might be able to help them without violating their trust, but often I'm the only one they'll trust enough to unload upon."

"Sometimes it's quite a burden, but I don't know anyone who's handled it better," Kurt said as he gave me a quick peck on the lips.

"I can sure attest to that," Debbie said with a smile.

Just then, there was a knock on the door. Sighing, Debbie said, "Well, it looks like it's time for the next couple. Anyway, have a safe trip back to Washington."

"Thanks girls," I said.

"Good luck with the wedding plans," Kurt added. "We'll see you on Friday."

When we exited the room, waiting outside were a bunch of people - the entire Wilson clan from what we could see, including Will and Barry Smith, Will's boyfriend, the boyfriend's sisters and parents and Barry's latest girlfriend. I wondered if all of them were going in to visit, or if only some of them were going in as the designated visitors.

As we left the hospital, I asked David and Jeremy if they were planning to attend the wedding on Friday. "Are you shitting me?" David answered. "We wouldn't miss it even if the world came to an end."

"Same here," I agreed, "so let's see if we can make a room reservation when we get back to the hotel, and then we can plan to take the same train up next Friday."

"Sounds like a plan," David concurred.

When we got back to the hotel, Mr. Credit Card himself, Jeremy headed straight for the front desk to make the room reservation while the rest of us retrieved the luggage. "All set," was all he said moments later as we walked the few short blocks to the Amtrak station. Since we had time until our train arrived, we made our reservations and bought our tickets for Friday's wedding as well. We'd take an early afternoon train from DC to New Haven on Friday, arriving just in time for the wedding, stay overnight to sleep off the effects of any reception, sleep in and then return on an early afternoon train to DC on Saturday.

Now all we had to do was buy a gift. . . .

Exhausted as we were, it was scarcely a day later that we all found ourselves headed out on the Red Line train to White Flint, with Will leading the way in search of another perfect gift.

"Explain to me again why we aren't just heading across the Potomac to Pentagon City?" I asked.

"There's nothing wrong with Pentagon City, Trev," Will explained, "The Fashion Mall is fine . . . it's your typical Simon Mall . . ."

"I know the Simons," Jeremy interrupted."

"Why am I not surprised?" David sighed."

"They live on a huge estate, on Ditch Road, between 106th and 116 Streets, near the McMansion your parents almost bought," he added.

"Great, we were almost neighbors," David said sarcastically.

"My dad does a lot of business with them, and they share a lot of clients. He considers them friends, although I'm not really sure why," Jeremy added. "I think I see what Will's saying, though. The Simons build a nice, generic, Main Street-killing mall. Nothing to write home about."

"Exactly," Will agreed. "The anchors at Pentagon City are Macy's and Nordstrom, which are nice stores, particularly Nordstrom, but you're probably looking for something a bit more up-scale for a wedding gift. You can always go back there if you don't find what you're looking for where we're going.

"The anchor stores at White Flint are Bloomingdales and Lord and Taylor, and there are a whole lot of really nice specialty shops at White Flint. It's truly the nicest, richest mall in the metro area. And if you don't find what you're looking for there, on the way back, there's the Mazza Gallerie right here at Friendship Heights, right on the DC line. The anchor stores here are Nieman Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue. As you can see, you have lots of options."

"The first order of business is food!" Kurt blurted out. "I'm starving!"

"There's a very nice, upscale food court at White Flint," Will suggested, "but I have something much better in mind . . . my treat . . . and we're almost there. We'll get off at the next stop after this one."

We were, literally, stopped at the Friendship Heights metro station at the moment and people had just finished boarding. The door chimes sounded and we all heard the standard announcement, "Doors closing . . . please stand clear of the doors."

The train lurched forward and after a moment, the announcement came overhead, "Next stop, Bethesda."

When the train came to a stop, we all got off and headed to the exit. Inserting our metro farecards as we'd all gotten used to doing, we exited the turnstiles and headed up a short escalator, then approached the longest escalator I'd ever seen in my life.

"Whoa," Kurt said.

"Impressive, isn't it?" Will said as we all stepped onto it, "And it isn't even the longest one in the system." He motioned for all of us to stand over to the right and I was flabbergasted when some people passed us on the left and started walking up the escalator steps. How could anyone hike up such a steep incline? The escalator had to be at least five or six stories high, but some people were doing it!

When we got to the top, there was another short escalator, and then we were in a courtyard among a complex of buildings. The smell was incredible - I definitely smelled Chinese food, and Italian, and maybe Thai, and French . . .

"I think I'm smelling hundreds of restaurants," I said.

"Indeed you are, Trevor," Will said. "Welcome to Downtown Bethesda, restaurant capitol of metro DC.

"So what's your fancy? We've got Chinese, Thai, Vietnamese, Korean, Japanese, Ethiopian, Nigerian, Generic Mediterranean, Lebanese, Persian, French, Italian, German and others. Oh yes, and some of them are even vegetarian. I've got a Lebanese vegetarian, an Afghan vegetarian, a Japanese vegetarian and a couple of American vegetarian selections, so what'll it be?" Will asked.

"Wow," David said, "It sounds like you really did your homework on my behalf. Since time is of the essence, what do you think would be the fastest?"

"Probably the American style grill, not only is it closest, but it's a diner and has great service, and there are many types of selections that even meat eaters will like, too."

We all agreed it sounded great, so that's where we headed. The food was excellent, it was reasonably priced and the service was fast. In no time at all, we were back on the Metro and headed to White Flint. In a way, it was a shame we didn't have more time to spend in Bethesda. It certainly smelled like there were many great restaurants there that were worthy of checking out.

White Flint Mall was definitely one of the most elegant enclosed shopping malls I'd ever seen. We spent some time browsing the general gift sections of Bloomingdales and Lord and Taylor, just to get some ideas, and then we started working our way around the various smaller stores of the mall. The trouble was, we didn't have any idea what to get the girls. At the same time, we needed to get a baby gift, too, and wondered if we should get a wedding gift that served both purposes, but nixed that idea rather quickly. Cathy and Debbie deserved a true wedding gift, so that meant shopping for two gifts, which made our work doubly difficult. At least with Randy and Altaf, we'd had plenty of time to think on it.

"This is ridiculous," Will said, "The stores will all be closing in like, a half hour, and you guys are no closer to having an idea of what to get your friends than you were when we left The District a few hours ago."

"Maybe we should just give them a gift certificate to Saks Fifth Avenue," Kurt suggested. "I mean, it's not like we had much advance warning anyway, so they could hardly blame us."

"That would be so lame," Jeremy countered. "Could we at least get the baby gift tonight? I saw a toy store with some huge stuffed animals that would be perfect for the kid, particularly as he gets a little older. What do you guys think about that as a start?"

"Sounds good to me," I said.

Going back to the store, we all settled on a large stuffed kangaroo with a smaller baby kangaroo inside the pouch. It was adorable, and the two together were just under a hundred dollars, plus another $25 to have it shipped back home. It was a perfect baby gift from the four of us.

That still left us with the wedding gift to buy, and the stores were about to close.

"Want to sleep on it and give it another try tomorrow?" Will suggested.

"What choice do we have?" David sighed.

"There must be someplace else we can try to shop for what we're looking for. Let's all give it some thought overnight," I added, but then another thought occurred to me as we all boarded the Metro for our return home, as the sound of the door chime and `Doors Closing' fading into the background. "You know," I said, "when Debbie and Cathy lived on their own when their parents first kicked them out, they had absolutely nothing. They slept on an air mattress, and sat on folding chairs. They may be a little better off now that their parents have accepted the relationship, but they'll still probably be getting their own place, and starting out with almost nothing.

"They've been living with their parents, and they're gonna want to get their own place again, particularly as they head off to college. They'll need everything, from sheets, to dishes, to towels, and even a comforter to go on their bed. Heck, they'll even need a bed, as they sure won't want to sleep on an air mattress forever."

"That's why a lot of couples set up gift registries," Will chimed in. "They pick out the things they know they're going to need, and even choose the patterns of the china they want, so people can get them what they really want."

"But Debbie and Cathy didn't have time to do that," David sighed.

"A really nice comforter would be perfect, and in the right price range," Jeremy suggested, "but I'd hate to second-guess their tastes, and what if it doesn't match their color scheme?"

"Don't we all sound so gay?" I laughed. "Seriously, I like the idea of a comforter, but Jer's right . . . the style and color scheme is a personal thing. Given the fact that we didn't have much notice, I think we're justified in giving a gift certificate. I think it's the best solution, and it would allow them to get something they really want and need. What would make it special and unique is the choice of the store."

"Saks Fifth Avenue has nice things, and a great selection, and they're right in the Fashion Mall at Keystone at the Crossing," Jeremy suggested.

"I thought you said that would be lame," Kurt reminded Jeremy.

"So I changed my mind," Jeremy replied.

Yeah, but $500 doesn't go very far at Saks," Kurt pointed out, bless his heart. That was exactly what I was thinking, too. "We are talking $500, aren't we?" he went on to confirm. We all nodded and vocalized the affirmative.

"Well, they could fill their home with a whole lot of shit from Bed Bath and Beyond or Target," Will pointed out, "but that's not exactly the sort of stuff you'd want someone to remember you for, twenty years from now."

"I was thinking of something a bit more in the mid-range," I suggested. "Macy's is a possibility, but I was thinking of Nordstrom's, now that we have a store downtown back home. Nordstrom's is definitely more upscale than Macy's, but down to earth compared to Saks or Bloomingdales and its ilk. The nice thing about Nordstrom's is that if they don't have what you're looking for, they'll go the extra mile to get it for you. And since there's a store right over in Pentagon City, it'll be very easy for us to take care of it. A gift certificate from Nordstrom's would be classy . . . not tacky."

"I could take care of it tomorrow after work," Jeremy volunteered. "I'd be more than happy to do it."

"I'll go with you," David added, "We can make it a date, have dinner, take in a movie, get some snuggling time."

"You mind if we double-date?" I asked.

"You guys are always welcome, Trevor," David answered. "You don't even have to ask. You guys are our best friends in the world. We'll all pick out a movie when we get back to Webster."

As we talked about some of the movies we were interested in seeing, I noticed that Will was staring down at the floor.

"Would you and your girlfriend like to go with us, Will?" I asked.

"Are you kidding?" he laughed. "The last thing Sherrie would want to do is triple date with a bunch of `high school faggots'." Putting up his hands, he said, "Her words, not mine." The look on his face spoke volumes.

Compared to Randy and Altaf's wedding, Debbie and Cathy's was almost anticlimactic. Theirs by necessity was a much simpler affair, even though it was held in the same hotel. I was amazed at how many of our friends either stayed for the entire week so they could attend their wedding, or returned as we did to attend it as well.

Being so soon after her surgery, Cathy still looked pale, but she was positively radiant, nonetheless. Both brides were given away by their fathers, and both chose to have best men at their side - Larry in Debbie's case and Tim in Cathy's. Larry and Tim were themselves a gay couple who would be getting married over the Christmas break. It was an odd juxtaposition on this day, however, seeing two brides and two men in formal attire at their sides - it truly looked like a double wedding.

Debbie and Cathy literally cried when they saw the gift certificate. "You don't know how much this means to us, guys," Cathy said. "There's so much we're going to need for our new household. It's hard to know where to even begin. This is absolutely perfect. I absolutely love shopping at Nordstrom's . . ."

"I do, too," Debbie interrupted.

"We would have never shopped there ordinarily, because it's just so pricey . . . not like, Bloomingdales or Saks Fifth Avenue, but Nordstrom's is just a luxury we can't afford right now except for an occasional sale."

"What I think my better half is trying to say," Debbie continued, "is that thanks to you, we can now afford to buy a few nice things at Nordstrom's for our place. Thanks a million, guys. You're all terrific." She then leaned over and kissed each of us on the cheek, and Cathy did the same.

The wedding reception was a simple, but elegant dinner without dancing, since Cathy wasn't up to dancing, yet. After the dinner, Kurt and I retired to our room and took full advantage of our privacy. Unless we wanted to go to a dive back in Washington, this could well be the last chance we'd get to make love until we returned home. Needless to say, we didn't get much sleep in spite of the late checkout time, and ended up sleeping most of the way back on the train to Washington. It seemed to me that David and Jeremy did the same.

What awaited us back in Washington, however, was far from the peaceful rest we'd been expecting. When we got back to our room in Webster Hall, we found it crawling with federal agents. They'd already seized our laptops and the moment we entered our room, they showed us their search warrant and demanded we turn over the overnight bags we had with us, too. They'd pretty much tossed the place. This did not bode well. . . .

*For Debbie and Cathy's story and more details of Randy and Altaf's wedding, please see my 2009 Summer Anthology story, The Future Starts Now.

The authors gratefully acknowledge the invaluable assistance of Alastair in proofreading our stories, as well as Gay Authors, Awesome Dude and Codey's World for hosting them.


Visit My

My Blog

Read My
Other Tales

Go to My
Home Page