The following is a work of fiction. The story may contain profanity and references to gay sex. Any relation to similar events or persons, fiction or real, is completely fortuitous. If such content offends you please leave now. The author retains all rights to the story. Do not copy or use without written authority from the author. Write Bobby at firstname.lastname@example.org with your comments.
Have you forgotten all I know, and all we had?
You saw me mourning my love for you
And touched my hand
I knew you loved me then
I believe in you
I'll give up everything just to find you
I have to be with you, to live, to breathe
You're taking over me
Taking Over Me © by Evanescence, 2003
Control. It's extraordinary the tactics people employ to obtain it. Some rely on deception while others engage in outright trickery. Then there are those who resort to extortion. Why do we fight so hard for control? Because we know to lose it is to put our fate in the hands of others. And what could be more dangerous?
© by Marc Cherry, 2005
As I spread fresh orange curd on a piece of whole grain toast, Torry came stumbling into the kitchen, sitting at the island on a stool.
"Morning," I said happily.
Torry only grunted, what I'm assuming, a short "hi." Like Keegan, he's not much of a morning person compared to the rest of us. In fact, they're so horrible at waking up in the morning Tyler sometimes has to literally drag them out of bed just for them to show any signs of life. I on the other hand have always been a morning person. I mean, perhaps there was a time when it was difficult for me to awaken, but now it's just something else I have to do each day.
Jared strolled into the kitchen a few seconds later. By the look on his face I'd say him and Tyler had a nice argument last night about God only knows what. If I know him like I think I do he'll be asking me for advice any minute now. But as the seconds ticked by and the awkwardness of the three of us not speaking grew to unimaginable heights, I decided to take my breakfast into my room and watch TV.
Plopping down in bed, I began coming up with ideas of what I could do today. First and foremost I'll see if Claire wants to hang out. I really do miss her. If not, then we'll see each other tomorrow in biology. Actually, going back to school is what I'm looking forward to. Class will get me out of the house every day and give me work to do. What I'm not looking forward to is seeing Trevor in class. . . . Every class. Of course we took all the same classes. It was a good idea at the time. Now I'm realizing how incredibly stupid that really was. I just never thought we'd be in the situation we're in.
Hey want to hang today?
She should reply soon, I hope. If she's not able to hang out I guess I'll simply stay home once again. There is Lizzy and Olivia, but I'm not feeling too Lizzy-like right now and Sundays are spent with family for Olivia due to her religion. I'm not much of a spiritual guy myself. I believe in God just as much as the next fellow, but going to church isn't my thing. If God is everywhere I can pray at home and he should receive the message . . . unless he has Verizon, in which case I'm screwed.
Sunday mornings aren't particularly abundant in good programming even with, I don't know, 700 channels. The classic movies and shows don't come on until around noon. Tremors is a pure Sunday classic. I'm still surprised it's still on TV being made back in '90. It just goes to show classics don't die, unlike the pathetically made movies today that rely strictly on CGI and no talent in the actors.
Sorry I made plans with my cuz. We're at the beach.
The beach? It's the end of January.
Well it's not like we're swimming! You goob
Ugh fine I'll just see you tmrw. Actually looking forward to going back to school.
Haha okay I'll def see you in the am
The beach, hm. I can't even begin to count the number of times Trevor and I have gone and spent the day, not even considering the times we went with my family. What about a beach day that is just instilled in a child's memory? Is it the salty aroma of the entirety? Or the thrill of seeing what the fishermen caught from the pier? Could it even be the idea of having a hotdog and a smoothie, particular beach food? For me it was everything, even though my first time at the beach was when I was fifteen, I believe. Tyler and Jared were definitely the ones to take me and my brother. But with Trevor it was so different. When we went it was more of a romantic thing.
We'd leave at about eight each time and arrive around nine-fifteen depending on traffic. Usually it was overcast that early with only glimpses of sunlight. To burn time we'd walk along the shore and try to find the perfect seashell. Luck would occasionally grace us and a sand dollar or two would be found. The sun made a full appearance by late morning, which was also the time we'd begin to lay out. Never was it a competition, but I always tanned better than Trevor. I think I'm part Italian, and Italians are mostly olive skinned. Didn't ever take long for me to absorb the sun's rays. Of course, laying out now is out of the question. I'm more aware of the consequences of the harmful UV rays and prefer not to look like an elephant's ass when I'm in my fifties. The past year I've worn blankets of sun block when at the beach. Trevor was happy. He tanned faster then. Again, it wasn't a competition, but once he started to "beat me," I wasn't ever able to live it down.
After an hour of tanning we'd go jump in the water and float around. Sometimes we'd bring a boogie board, and then the real competition would start, but that was mostly saved for when Keegan and Torry were with us. If asked, Jared would swear up and down he's the wave champ. Everyone begs to differ, though.
The end of our beach day generally was roughly four o'clock. By that time we felt crisped enough and the water was becoming cold anyways. Once repacked and the car was loaded, the only thing on either of our minds was food. Our typical beach spot had this orgasmic pizza parlor just a block away from the sand. Even with my ideal of healthy eating I would unabashedly eat five or six slices. That's just how bloody amazing the pizza was. And with the sun falling into the horizon, we would walk the pier, stopping at the end to enjoy nightfall and a frozen lemonade. Yeah, so many great memories of the beach. Ugh, I just need to stop thinking about him and all the things that made us us.
Mental note: that part of my life is over.
"Travers," Jared said from the doorframe, startling me out of my reverie. "We need to talk."
"Okay, sure," I breathed, heavily. "What's up?"
He closed the door and stood in the middle of the room. "It's about you."
"What about me?"
"You said something to Tyler last night that made him very uneasy." He released a tired sigh. "Are you having suicidal thoughts?"
I rolled my eyes. Typical Tyler taking a random saying way out of proportion.
"No, I'm not having suicidal thoughts."
"Are you sure? Because I know you've been going through a severe bought of depression the past week."
"But I'm not suicidal so it's okay." I took a small bite from the piece of toast. The tartness from the orange curd made my cheeks quiver.
Jared didn't seem convinced.
"Are you transitioning fine?"
I groaned lightly. "I'm fine, seriously. All good."
"If you're all good, then you wouldn't be constantly holed up in your room crying for hours on end. I know the break up was hard on you, Travers, but it's time to move forward."
"Well, thank you, Dr. Phil."
"This isn't time for sarcastic comments,"
"It's also not the time for the suicide talk. Are you sure I'm ready?"
"You're about to get my foot lodged up your ass. Knock the smartass attitude off." I could easily tell he truly meant that. I don't know why I continue to test him. He's the dictator of punishment around here. "Tyler is very worried about you. Your brothers are. I am, too." He sat on the edge of my bed.
"I'm honestly fine. No one needs to worry so much about me."
"That's just it. You're not fine. You spend hours a day crying. You didn't eat anything or drink anything for close to a week. That's not normal. It's time to move on, Travers. Tyler's had to bury two people he loved before. Don't make him bury a third."
His words hit me like an atomic bomb. Why would they even think it would go that far? Was I really that bad? I didn't realize they felt that way. I studied Jared for a second. Although he was staring straight ahead towards my door, I could make out the wateriness in his eyes.
"And," he sniffled casually, "I don't want to have to bury my child, either. So, please, try to cheer up . . . for Tyler's sake."
No sarcastic comment would work here, not that I was planning on using one anyway. Jared's really torn up about this. Makes me feel incredibly warm and secure.
"Okay," I said simply. "I'll work on it."
The corner of Jared's mouth curled up in a shy smile. It's not often any of us-well, maybe except for Tyler-see him become emotional. He's a manly man. He's the kind of guy who comes home from work, grabs a beer, and takes a breather on his recliner that is set in front of the TV in a certain position. He's the husband who does the yard work on Saturday mornings and watches sports on Sunday. It's been that way for years. Jared is one half of what makes this house a home.
"Good boy. I'm barbequing tonight. Nice, juicy steaks . . ." He finally looked up at me. "And a bitchin' piece of salmon."
That brought a smile to my face. "Awesome,"
"Love you," he said as he moved for the door.
"Love you, too."
Jared's never been terribly good with expressing raw emotion towards us kids. So it truly is a treat when he takes an extra step to show his love for us. He's not cold whatsoever, but like I said earlier he's very manly. I felt extremely warm and safe after our little talk. I'm definitely going to spend time with the family today.
I quickly showered and dressed comfortably. Torry was still sitting at the island, his head down on the granite, snoring softly. The places that boy can fall asleep is amazing. This one time after a day of swimming for hours upon hours he literally fell asleep at the dinner table, which caused him to face-plant into his mashed potatoes. Tyler snapped a couple of pictures before helping him to bed. We all had a good laugh, except for Torry, of course. A little miffed, but he got over it eventually. Through the dining room, I saw Jared and Tyler sitting next to each other on the couch. They were talking in low voices, not even noticing me over in the kitchen. Keegan must still be sleeping. Oh, wait, look who I'm talking about. Of course he's still asleep. In the distance a cell phone rang, and I heard someone go run off after it. I poured myself a cup of juice and went into the living room. Tyler wasn't around so it must've been his cell that rang. Jared glanced at me and seemed pleased that I was out of my room.
Tyler then came back from his phone call.
"Well, grandpa went hunting yesterday and wants us over for dinner tonight."
"What's on the menu?" I asked, totally aware that it is probably going to be something farfetched.
"Quail," Tyler chuckled, as did Jared. "And grandma bought fried chicken just in case. You know how picky the boys are."
Grandpa has invited us over for some weird food before, but I think quail is among the top of the weird list. Although, there has been dove once. Luckily for me and animals, his hunting trips are very few and far between. Even if the game he catches isn't a delicacy, he makes the best chili in the world. I don't care who you are. It's the best.
"What time, babe?" Jared asked.
"I guess steak and salmon can be tomorrow night's dinner, then." Jared said. "So, quail, huh? I wonder if it tastes much like dove? I'm glad your mom thought ahead with the chicken."
"I know for sure Keegan won't like quail, but Torry's slightly broadened his appetite. You think you'll eat the quail, Travers?"
"It's possible and probably a better alternative than the grease covered chicken grandma is going to buy."
"The more grease the better, Travers."
Tyler went to the kitchen, calling back to his husband. "Want a beer, babe?"
"Who says marriage is a bad thing?" Jared mumbled next to me. "Sure!" he shouted back. With a cold beer in hand he started flipping through our hundreds of channels. Both Tyler and I know he'll go through the entire guide a few times before settling on a movie he's seen 28539146 times. It's Sunday, though, so the race should be on soon. The NASCAR race for those of you wondering. I find them boring, except for the crashes and occasional fights between the drivers. Tyler can't really stand too much of them, either. For some reason Jared loves to watch the cars go around in a circle for hours. The thrill must be there somewhere.
Welcome to the Delfino-Young household on a typical Sunday morning. Although, Jared doesn't usually have a beer this early in the day. I suppose I'd need one too if I planned to watch hours of boring racing. Keegan stumbled into the room, zombie-like and tired. Tyler noticed and asked us if breakfast was needed. I already ate so it was up to the human garbage disposals. No surprise when the three of them desperately agreed.
I decided to help Tyler out by starting the bacon AND sausage. The little carnivores. Can you imagine how sad their hearts are? Fuck. Mine is crying for theirs. But if they want to harden their arteries, then more power to 'em. Most Sunday mornings Tyler creates his unique breakfast hash; a mix of shredded potatoes, bacon pieces, sausage pieces, and eggs and toast on the side. From the look of things I'd say the hash isn't happening this morning. Looks more like a regular breakfast deal.
"So, you ready to go back to class tomorrow?" Tyler asked casually. Always the one to start a conversation, especially when it comes to my sanity.
"I'm stoked," I said gleefully. "Like, seriously stoked. I've been so bored just staying at home all day for the past several days. . . . And all depressed, so going back will definitely pull me out of this funk, even if I have to see him everyday." Ugh, just the thought . . .
"Well, eventually you won't even pay attention to his presence. Besides, you'll be so focused on your work there won't be time to acknowledge him."
"I suppose," I murmured.
Torry was still dead asleep at the island. Since I had the meats under control, Tyler started to clean the countertops. Well, with Torry still knocked out, Tyler simply lifted his head, did a quick wipe, then gently placed his head back down. The dirty dog didn't even budge! I so wish I could sleep that deeply. It's damn sad how light of a sleeper I am. A mouse squeaks and I'm up for hours-not that we have mice. I've lost many hours of sleep that way, but fortunately for me at the time, Trevor would sneak in and we'd cuddle . . . or have sex. I've probably mentioned this before, but I'll miss everything about Trevor, especially the incredible sex we had. My God that boy could make me cream myself just by touching my arm. And the weird thing is the sex has always been that explosive, even our first time was and he was still a virgin! Like, holy shit. A virgin made me feel fucking high as a kite. He honed his skills even further over the years.
But it's all over. So moving on . . .
The sausage is just about done. I fetched a plate and laid a few napkins on it to catch grease from the links. Only a few minutes later the bacon finished crisping up. Tyler started on the eggs and I worked on the toast. Jared came in the kitchen and poured everyone a glass of juice. Teamwork, folks, teamwork.
"Why do you stir the eggs the entire time?" I asked Tyler out of curiosity. I've watched him make scrambled eggs this way for years, but never really knew why. It's not how most people cook them I'm sure.
"So they don't come out like rubbery diner eggs." He smiled.
"And the low heat helps, too?"
"That it does. Protein needs to be cooked low and slow that way the food doesn't become tough and chewy. If only Jared understood that." Back from the living room we heard Jared snicker sarcastically. "And you're supposed to turn the heat off the eggs a little bit before they're actually done because they'll keep cooking for about two minutes." With a pinch of salt and pepper, the eggs were finished. To me they still appeared raw, but that's why I don't cook the eggs anymore. I cook them until they're "rubbery diner eggs."
In his seat, Torry slowly gained consciousness of the world and went straight for the food, acting as if he hasn't eaten in days. He piled on pieces of bacon and sausage. I just want to vomit now. Unlike the suicidal tendencies of my family, I chose to have some juice and another piece of toast with orange curd.
"It's amazing how you're not as thin as your brothers." Jared commented, which I knew he would. He almost always does.
"It's truly amazing you're not as large as Taft." I countered.
"Travers," Tyler began, "want to help grade some essays with me? You know my grading style so you're the perfect intern."
"Sure, I'll help."
"Sure, I'll help," Keegan mocked. "Brownnose,"
"I spit in your eggs," I laughed to myself and swigged my juice.
He stared into his eggs and became apprehensive. Torry thought it was kind of funny, but Tyler and Jared were minding their own business. They usually just let us poke and prod at each other unless things grow out of hand, which they have multiple times in the past.
"Oh, for God's sake, Keegan, he didn't spit in your eggs. I was watching him the entire time." Tyler spoke up.
Jared parked on the street, inches away from the curb. He's pretty good at driving the Suburban-code named the Tank-compared to when he first bought it a few years ago. I remember when we went out to dinner to celebrate a grade Keegan received on a test and he tried to park in a spot but couldn't because he wasn't used to such a large vehicle. Tyler had to get out and guide him into the spot. Now he pulls into spots that seem way too small for the Tank.
We all got out of the cab and walked up to the door. I could smell grandpa's smoker from the backyard. Quail sure smelt delicious. Tasting delicious is another area entirely, however. I feel kind of bad for even considering eating such a bird. Did it have a family? Thoughts like those can consume someone's soul and should be avoided at all costs, especially a soul like mine, which is so fragile and delicate as of late. I've considered becoming a vegetarian to help ease the burden of guilt from eating animals. This consideration, however, wouldn't work. Jared would have a fit. He loves to barbeque steak and chicken and pork. I'd be surrounded by temptations that I'm not sure would be deniable. Plus, chicken to me is like crack to an addict. I love chicken. Chicken nuggets, chicken strips, roasted chicken, barbecued chicken, smoked chicken, chicken kabobs, fried chicken, chicken pot pie, chicken salad sandwiches, chicken bouillabaisse. Definitely couldn't give up the scrumptious bird. And then there's fish, salmon in particular. Salmon is absolutely perfect for eaters of the healthy nature. Roasted salmon with a crust of kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper, or grilled salmon with plenty of lemon.
Why couldn't grandpa go fishing more often than hunting anymore? Salmon isn't a native of these parts, but I like all fish.
Before reaching the door, grandpa opened it and greeted us.
"Hi," he said in his natural scratchy kind of voice. That's what years of smoking cigars does to you, I suppose.
"Hi, grandpa!" I said cheerfully.
"Ready for quail?"
I groaned to myself. "Of course," I went inside. The warmth from the heater felt exhilarating compared to the chill of the outside air.
"Hi, dad," Tyler said, hugging grandpa.
Grandma was in the living room watching a detective show. When I got closer she stood from the couch and hugged me.
"Oh, I'm so glad you guys are here!" she said.
"It's nice to be out of the house . . . sort of." I chuckled, realizing although I left my house I was only in a different house. Whatever. A change of scenery is a change of scenery.
"Grab a drink from the garage, change the channel if you'd like." she offered.
Walking back into the living room from the garage, grandpa had a fresh cigar in his mouth and a glass of gin and tonic. Jared also had a cigar, but a beer instead of gin. The two stepped outback and began lighting up. Tyler is in the kitchen with grandma, helping her with last minute dinner stuff. Torry and Keegan are already flipping through the channels.
"Hey, butt sniffs," I grumbled. "I'm watching what I want." Before either could object, I snatched the remote from Torry's feeble grasp.
"We don't want to watch your stupid shows!" Keegan shot back.
"I don't watch stupid shows!"
"No, Travers, you really do." Torry indignantly commented.
There was a time when I thought like the two Neanderthals. Cop shows and anything to do with learning or education bored me to death. Nowadays I find the thrilling chase of a good crook to be highly entertaining, and the National Geographic and History channels are completely fascinating. Once they mature much more they'll come to appreciate such interesting channels.
Grandpa's hearty laugh sounded through the sliding glass door. Him and Jared were still puffing on their cigars as if it wasn't in the low fifties outside.
"So, Travers, how's school going?" grandma asked from the kitchen.
"School's good. Just excited to go back tomorrow."
"Have you chosen a major yet?" Grandpa and Jared walked back inside then.
"Not yet, but I'm kind of thinking something to do with biology, or some kind of science."
Grandpa chimed in, "Science is a great field to get into, you know." He took a seat in his recliner and cleared his throat. "I have a buddy down at the country club that used to teach physics at Cal State San Bernardino. He's smart as a whip and says he made a nice amount of money."
"Yeah, I know science is always in demand, especially nowadays."
"See, and if you become a scientist you have the luxury of becoming the next person to discover a cure for some big disease or figure out a way to build a car that runs off of electricity."
"Well, Nissan has the Leaf. That's a fully electric car. Been out for a few years now." How could he not know that? He watches the news and is subscribed to the newspaper. I know he reads it every morning.
"I don't mean a glorified go-kart. Uh, I'm talking about an electric SUV. An electric semi-truck. Cars that can go hundreds and hundreds of miles on a single charge, not just around town with the worry of becoming stranded."
"Chevy," I said, "came out with the Volt a few years ago, too. Runs on a battery for about forty miles then switches to a gas motor."
"Yeah, but the fact of the matter is it still isn't a fully electric vehicle. These companies, see, need to stop being so worried about their funds, which are more than full, and focus on providing their customers with vehicles that are worth the price tag."
"Well . . ."
"See, back when I was a teenager, I had a '71 Chevelle. They don't make cars today like they did back then."
"What? Unsafe and gas guzzlers? I think cars today are great. We've come a long way since the days of twelve miles to the gallon."
Grandpa shook his head once. "I'm not talking about fancy electronics or miles per gallon in the thirties. I'm talking about muscle and fun, something today's cars just don't have." A quick swallow of his drink and he continued, "The new Challenger and Camaro are nice, but they're just not durable like their older siblings. And all the new gizmos on them, like GPS, satellite radio, air conditioning, a roof."
"Grandpa, sitting in your driveway is a top of the line F-250 and an RX-350. I know both have navigation, ventilated seats, satellite radio, back-up sensors."
"But those kinds of things have no place in a muscle car."
I decided to give up. Grandpa can go on and on about how different things are now compared to when he was growing up. I think that's why a lot of older people are against gay marriage. It's just not something they're used to and it's almost frightening to them. Honestly, though, I'm not making any excuses for anyone. People need to keep up with the times. Since 2010 gays have become more and more accepted in every aspect of life.
"Mike, I'm done with the sides. How's the quail?" grandma asked, saving the night.
"Almost done, hon," he replied.
I sat quietly, unsure of what to say, or if I should say anything at all. Not much in the mood for a drawn out conversation. I only want to eat and go home and go to sleep. I'm very anxious for class tomorrow. Claire's so excited for me to return she offered to take me out to lunch. Tyler already asked me to bring him lunch, though, so I told Claire we could just go on Tuesday instead. It's been a while since I've gone to his class. His students like me. Probably because I keep him distracted and that gives them the chance to take a break. He's certainly not a stressful teacher, though. I mean . . . Well, yeah. Not a stressful teacher at all. When Trevor was in his class years ago he told me how lenient Tyler was with regards to due dates and his compassion for unfortunate situations always shined brightly.
Grandpa got up and went outside, I'm assuming, to check on the birds. The smoky scent penetrated my senses and overwhelmed them. They didn't smell out of the ordinary. Perhaps they won't taste out of the ordinary, either. >From the looks of what grandma is cooking she's prepared for us not to like the quail.
Several minutes passed by before grandpa reentered the house. In his hands was a tray with four browned carcasses. So far it looks like barbecued chicken. Smells like it, too. He took the tray into the kitchen and announced to everyone to grab a plate.
I was third to last in line, in front of Tyler and Jared. Grandma was serving the boys and grandpa already had his plate at the table. The boys had small slivers of the quail next to a couple of fried chicken pieces, red beans and rice, steamed carrots, potato salad, and some kind of stuffing mixture that was passed down to grandma from her mom. She makes it every family gathering and there is never any leftover.
"Dad, this actually smells pretty good."
"Mhm," grandpa hummed from his seat in the dining room. "Tastes pretty good too. I think I have a new favorite bird."
Of course there's nothing healthy to choose from, other than the steamed carrots. But I always allow myself to splurge while here. After all, they are my grandparents and being taken care of is the grand part.
"Oh, Travers, here," Grandma went to the oven and pulled out a chicken breast. "I ordered a grilled piece since I know how you are when it comes to eating healthy."
I blushed. "Thanks, but you know I always eat whatever when we're over. This is my free house."
"Just in case. I never know with you."
After everyone put food on their plate, the feast began. Keegan and Torry, unsurprisingly, disliked the gamey taste of the quail. Tyler didn't mind it, and Jared loved the bird. To me, quail was an acquired taste. Like my brothers, I could do without the gamey taste of the flesh, but it's not so overpowering that the flavor requires a drink to get it down. I ate the entire breast of chicken and every bit of the sides. For dessert she brought out two pies: one pumpkin and a Dutch apple. No surprise when in the end there was only a slice of pumpkin left. Jared and the boys are insane with their appetites.
Later in the evening, back home, I took a quick shower just to feel refreshed, then crawled into bed. I fell asleep with two thoughts in my head. The first: I'm finally going back to school tomorrow. The second: I have to be with Trevor all day tomorrow. What a thrill that's going to be. I can only hope it won't be too awkward. But knowing my luck, it'll turn into a scandal of some sort, like the Lewinsky scandal.
I'm back in the saddle. This chapter took me an incredibly long time. I included Travers's grandpa in this chapter because of the sole reason mine passed away a few weeks ago. I've made his grandpa very similar to mine with notes about his famous chili, love for cigars and gin and tonic, his hunting trips, and even his vehicles. I miss my grandpa so much. From writer's block to family tragedy, I've finally finished and feel like I'm back on track. So much has been happening lately. My best friend is home for good from the Air Force. Thrilled she's finally home because now my social life returns! I'm going to receive my real estate sales license within a couple of weeks (I hope). And I've met someone who is pretty awesome. So, write me with what you thought of chapter four. Things appear to be moving forward for Travers. Will they stay that way for long?
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