Penis Shields and All-Night Party
At six-fifteen, the doorbell rang and standing outside was a seventeen- or eighteen-year-old boy with a neat package -- the one in his hands was pretty neat as well. “You must really love these jeans,” he said. “The bill is twenty dollars.”
“Here's a fifty. Twenty for the job and thirty tip for seeing that they were done and delivered. Got a date tonight?”
“More like a hot dude, as hot as you and the one standing behind you,” he laughed, then blushed.
“Play safe,” Josh said, “and have fun on the hot guy behind me,” and gave him another fifty -- Josh really was feeling good! “And give this envelope to the concierge if you will.” The young man grinned, saluted and left.
Luc and Cândido went into their bedroom to start getting dressed -- more like undressed in Cândido’s case -- and Alex and Josh did the same.
When Alex opened the package, he found the jeans had been starched and ironed with sharp creases. “These are like a board!” he exclaimed as he unfolded them.
“Best you not go commando tonight,” Josh said as Alex held them out in front of him.
There was a knock on the bedroom door and when Alex answered it, Luc was standing outside, holding a snow white T-shirt. “I think this could have gotten by without ironing because I think it will be stretched smooth over that hot body of yours, Alex, but Cândido insisted I at least touch it up. I can't wait to see your hot ass in those jeans. What are you wearing, Josh?”
“It's a surprise.”
When Alex was dressed, Josh rolled up the sleeves of the tee-shirt, but both decided a real or fake pack of cigarettes in one sleeve would be too much. “God, you have a beautiful ass, Alex Bledsoe! I don't know how I am going to resist climbing your bones tonight. You are beautiful all over, inside and out, Barefoot Boy, and I love you so much I can hardly stand it.” Alex threw himself in Josh's arms, covered his mouth with his own and started a major tongue duel and, literally, climbed Josh's bones when he locked his legs around Josh's waist. Even the starched and ironed jeans could not hide the erection he pressed against Josh. “Babe, I think we might better cool it. I don't know about you, but it wouldn't take anything before I shot in my pants. I can change, but you dare not fill those jeans with sweet cum -- not yet anyway. Give me the bedroom to get dressed. I want what I'm wearing to be a surprise.”
Alex gave him another hot, passionate kiss, climbed down and said, “Hurry it up. I'm dying to see the surprise.”
Josh took the gaucho outfit he had inherited from Senhor D'Cruz from the garment bag with reverence and started to get dressed, when Alex called to him, "Josh, phone."
“Josh, James Davis. Wanted to let you know someone complained about an odor coming from Kelly’s apartment. When the police broke in, they found his body. Apparently he had been dead for some time. He still had a needle in his arm so the coroner ruled it was a drug overdose and ordered the body cremated. His ashes will be put in the columbarium Monday. I’ll call you with the time later if you want to come.”
“James, I’ll have to give that some thought. Thanks for calling.” When he hung up the phone he was surprised that he felt nothing, not even ‘good riddance’. He told Alex what had happened and they agreed they would go on Monday for the interment of Kelly's ashes. Josh needed to do that, he decided. Alex thought he should, but Josh wasn't sure until it occurred to him that it would definitely place an end to an episode in his life that needed closing.
Josh finished getting dressed, opened the box and took the hat from it and placed it on his head at a jaunty angle. When he looked in the full-length mirror, he was pleased with the image and was sure Senhor D'Cruz would approve. He took a deep breath, opened the bedroom door and walked into the living room. A huge smile spread across Alex's face and Luc and Cândido stared, mouths open. “That did not belong to just anybody. The man for whom that was made descended from Portuguese nobility,” Luc said. “He was also a man of means. How in the world did you come by that outfit? It looks as if it was made for you.”
“Senhor D'Cruz left it to me. He called once when I was coming for a lesson and said, “Dress cowboy.” I don’t know what he expected, but I had festive American cowboy gear I got when I started trick riding. As I grew and got older, I kept making sure I had an outfit to wear and wore that. After that, he would sometimes call and say, “Ride 'em, Cowboy,” and we rode dressed as cowboys. Senhor wore this outfit and left it to me in his will. It is more than a little special.”
“I'll say,” Cândido said, “That outfit was special from the very beginning.”
While Josh was still being admired, the doorbell rang and Gary and Judy came in -- tie-dyed shirts, bell-bottom pants for Gary and long skirt for Judy with a daisy crown and love beads galore. Cândido had been half-hidden behind the sofa, Alex and Luc and when he stepped out, the Carsons and Josh joined the opened-mouth crowd. He wore an elaborate head dress, arm bands and huge necklace/collar all made mostly of bright feathers. He had a band about his waist and a cord in his crack, like a thong, and from the front a small, very small, piece of colorful handwoven cloth hanging from a band covered his cock and balls -- from the front -- his ass was bare. He had feathers in his pierced ears and something through a piercing in his lower lip. His face was decorated with black and red paint while his body was liberally decorated with tattoos. “I'll have to be decent for the restaurant,” he chuckled and wrapped a very short skirt made from some kind of grass about his waist. He was in for some serious groping at the club, if not the restaurant.
Luc served drinks, a Bororo drink. After a sip, Gary asked “Cândido, are you sure this is legal?”
Cândido grinned and said, “Probably wouldn't be, but since only us savages know about it, it's not on the list. Unlike a lot of stuff, nothing in it will harm you, but it does refresh you.”
“Tastes great, too,” Judy said.
The doorbell rang again and when Alex opened the door, Mario and a young woman were standing outside. “Come in, Mario, Reina,” Alex said. While Alex introduced the couple, Cândido brought them drinks. Both were dressed in white hip huggers that hung very low on their hips and embroidered shirts. They were a handsome couple. The fact Cândido was dressed as he was didn't faze them at all.
“Beautiful shirts,” Judy said.
“Thanks,” Mario replied. “My Grandpop, Bull, got them for us.”
“Mr. Taylor, we surely enjoyed the car and the movie,” Reina said. “You are spoiling Mario, but I’m enjoying it."
“Pleased you enjoyed the car and movie, but it’s Josh, not Mr. Taylor.”
Josh had decided it would be a lot more fun if they could all be together and had ordered a limo for the evening. They all climbed in at seven-thirty and a few minutes before eight, the limo pulled up to a restaurant Josh had not known existed. Inside it was pretty dark. There were lean-to like roofs projecting from the walls which formed a circle around what appeared to be a rainforest village center. The center was roofless. ‘If you like, you can order or Luc and I will order for us. I assure you, you'll eat nothing you wouldn't eat even if you knew what it was,” Cândido laughed.
A young man dressed much as Cândido -- without the short skirt, but with a penis shield instead -- came bringing drinks and Cândido ordered. Soon a dish of some fruit appeared which complemented the drinks. Shortly afterward, the food started arriving, most served by bare-breasted young women, bodies decorated and wearing Brazilian Indian dress. The meal was wonderful! Alex was afraid Mario and Reina, being teenagers, would have trouble with the food, but both enjoyed it.
When the group arrived at the club, Luc said, “You know this is an eighteen and over club, which means it serves no alcohol and drugs simply are not allowed. They may bend the age a bit from time to time if one member of a couple is just under eighteen, but are completely unbending on the no alcohol and no drugs rule. Enjoy!”
It was only nine-thirty when they arrived, so the club was not packed. Luc had said it got crowded, but never packed the way most gay clubs are. The music was great, a good mix of slow and fast, Brazilian and the different decades. Since Reina was Spanish, she did very well with the Brazilian music and Mario was perfectly willing to try anything with her. They all switched partners from time to time, but generally, they danced with their partner.
Josh whispered to Alex as they danced to ‘I only have eyes for you,’ “Alex, my heart, it is so good to hold you in my arms, to feel your body against mine. I have never been happier.”
“Nor I, beloved.”
Holding Alex very close, Josh said, “Alexander David Bledsoe, I love you so much. Will you marry me?”
Alex covered Josh's mouth with his own in a passionate kiss, broke the kiss, gazed in his eyes and said, “Yes, a million times yes!”
Josh and Alex were just almost dancing, gazing into each other's eyes. They were in a world, a universe of their own. Luc, who was dancing with Cândido near them said, “My dark Bororo beauty, those two remind me what love is about.”
“What life is about, meu amado.”
The four lovers had each taken a turn dancing with Judy and finally, Cândido grinned as he walked up to Gary and asked, “Wanta dance?”
Gary blushed, looked around and said, “What the hell. Sure.” The two men laughed continuously as Cândido tried to lead Gary through the steps of a spirited Brazilian dance. About half those on the dance floor were trying to follow Brazilian partners and having as much trouble as Gary.
It was almost two when the eight left the club and went to an all-night coffee shop before going home. Needless to say, they caused quite a sensation when they walked in, but the jaded waitress took it all in her stride. As they sat having a late night/early morning breakfast, Alex said, “I have an announcement. Josh made it official. He asked me to marry him.”
“Well? Well?” Judy asked.
“I said yes.”
When they finished breakfast, Josh said, “Gary, Judy, why don't you two spend the night in the apartment unless you really need to go home. There's toothbrushes in the bathroom and I think everything else you might need.”
“Sounds like a winner,” Gary said.
“Mario, Reina, I don’t know about curfews and parents, but if you clear it with your parents, Reina can sleep in the guest room of our apartment and Mario, you can sack out on the sofa in Luc and Cândido’s apartment, I suspect,” Alex said.
“Sure,” Luc said. “It’s actually is a decent place to sleep, I have been told.”
“Reina, I’ll speak to your mother if it would be helpful.”
“We can try,” Reina said, “but she probably will say no. I told her I was going out with friends and would be home very late, but for her that meant one.”
“I hope we didn't get you in trouble for keeping you late.”
“Not at all. Mom is extremely liberal compared to other Spanish mothers I know.”
Mario said his parents wouldn’t care since they knew he was out with friends of Bull and had told them he didn’t know when he would get back.
Judy talked with Reina’s mother, telling her she knew having a stranger call in the middle of the night about her daughter was strange, but she thought it safer for Reina to stay over with her and her husband and that Mario was in another apartment. “She’s a delightful young woman and I hope I can meet her parents soon. Maybe tomorrow afternoon when we bring her home.” Reina's mother gave her permission, reluctantly.
Sunday morning, Josh and Alex awoke very early and made love for two hours, first hot, reckless, 'take no prisoners' love, then slow, gentle, softly passionate love. They each had been inside the other and finally, after his second climax of the morning and with his still-hard cock inside Josh, Alex kissed the back of his neck and the two drifted off to sleep. Two hours later, they awoke, and made love again before showering, shaving and getting dressed.
When they stepped out of the bedroom, they heard their hosts in the kitchen and joined them. Luc handed Josh a cup of coffee and Cândido handed Alex a cup of tea. “That will revitalize you,” he laughed as he handed the tea to Alex.
A very sleepy Mario joined the four and without asking, Cândido handed him a cup of tea. After a few sips, he began to come alive. “You look like you need revitalizing as well, Mario, but I’m sure not for the same reason as this horny bunch.”
“I hope you are including yourself in ‘horny bunch,' husband,” Luc laughed, leaned over and kissed Cândido.
“Speaking of husbands, that's something I wanted to ask you about,” Josh said. “I really meant it when I asked Alex to marry me. I want to be married to Alex. I know you went to Canada. Maybe one day it will happen here, but I want us married now.”
“Josh, there's two questions involved or were for us. You know we are both Christian and when it became clear the church in which we grew up -- the Roman Catholic church -- would not, in our lifetime, I'm sure, accept us living together as a sexually active couple, much less allow us to be married, we left it. We both felt a great sense of loss and missed the presence of the church in our lives. Some time later, friends introduced us to the Anglican church in Brazil. We found a warm welcome there. While the teachings are different -- much more freedom, acceptance of everyone, generally you are expected to make your own decisions about what you believe, what is important to you, who and how you love -- we felt very much at home. The liturgy is very similar to what we had known and we were very comfortable with being expected to use our minds and make our own decisions. Some dioceses of the Anglican church in Canada perform same-sex marriages and that was very important to us. We wanted, we needed, the church's blessing. Since you are alienated from the church in which you grew up and since that church takes the same stance on blessing gay couples as the Roman Catholic, I can't answer that for you. I don't know whether you need or want the blessing of the church on your union.
“The second question involves the secular sanction. Legally, we are married in Canada and several other countries, but that doesn't mean our marriage is recognized here. So I don't know what to tell you. Some couples here in San Francisco were married when the mayor ordered that licenses be granted to same sex couples and there is a move afoot in several states to legalize gay marriage as it is called. Massachusetts is presently the only state where it is recognized, but marriages there are not recognized by other states. Legally, many gay couples we have known go to a very good lawyer and get documents drawn up which attempt to legally establish the same rights as straight couples have in so far as that is possible. Advance health directives are an example but, of course, there is no way tax laws or marriage laws can be set aside by a couple.
“Hank and Phillip have found they are comfortable with just the church's blessing now, but I guess that is not an option for you. Some have commitment ceremonies which are neither legal so far as the state is concerned nor involve the church. You might want to go that route. At least your friends would know you are a committed couple. Think about it.”
“Damn,” Mario said, “why shouldn’t two people in love who want to be married be able to get married. And what is this about the Roman Catholic church?”
“The Roman Catholic church has finally said being homosexual is not a sin....”
“How generous!” Mario said. “Aren't you born gay or straight?”
“Yeah, at least I was. I have always been gay and knew it before I knew what it meant. BUT homosexual activity is a very grave sin. In other words, Luc and I could live together....”
“Mario, he is getting ready to tell you a lie, he's going to say, 'if we didn't make love.' That's like saying jumping off the Golden Gate bridge is safe so long as you don't hit the water. A chastity belt wouldn't stand a chance holding back that savage.”
“Look who's talking... Anyway, no sin in being gay, just a sin to live and love as gay.”
“Doesn’t make sense. Hell, half my high school class is living with someone or fucking like they were married. Most of them don’t want to be married -- too much commitment -- and the ones who get married seldom last more than a couple, three years. Sure seems screwed-up to me. Yet you two and Alex and Josh are grown men who love each other and I know the Alex and Josh story and I'd place a lot more money on their being a happy couple 'til death do us part' than half the married couples your age I know. It's bullshit."
“On that we all agree,” Alex said, “but Josh was excommunicated from what was our church, LDS, Mormon, because someone saw him kissing me. I was disfellowshipped because of the same kiss."
There was a knock on the door and Gary, Judy and Reina came in. Reina walked over and gave Mario a soft kiss, which he returned. Cândido handed them tea. “Mario, we had better get to mass somewhere or we will be in deep poo poo,” Reina said.
“There’s a Roman Catholic church a few blocks down the street. If you hurry, you can make the eleven o’clock mass, which is the last one. Come back for brunch,” Luc said.
“Not sure I'm interested right now, but I guess I better keep peace in the families.” The two dashed out.
“They are a delightful couple,” Judy said. “I was very surprised her mother allowed her to stay over. We’ll take them home so I can meet the mother and make sure she knows all is well.”
“You would not believe Donna, a girl Mario was dating not long ago,” Josh said. “I had dinner with Mr. VanWinkle and Bull after they had scoped out New Beginnings and to say we had too much vino is an understatement. Mario had a date with Donna, the daughter of one of his mother’s high school friends and, ‘quote,’ a good Italian girl ‘end quote.’ Mr. VanWinkle let him pick up Donna and then drive us here in his Rolls Royce Phantom Drophead Coupe. She complained because it was crowded. She complained about the theater until she saw the price of the tickets, which I bought for them, then she complained because he spent that much money, she complained about the seats in the theater, which were the best in the house and she complained about the movie, which she had been bugging Mario to take her to see. She was an air-headed bitch and that was doing her more than justice.”
Alex and Luc said they would prepare brunch so the rest of us just lazed around with the Sunday paper.
After brunch, Mario and Reina both thanked everyone profusely for giving them a wonderful weekend and Gary and Judy took them to Oakland. Josh, Alex, Luc and Cândido decided to go back to bed and maybe even catch a nap.
Gary and Judy left to rent a truck to bring the things they had shipped and put in storage and to pick up their things at the hotel. When they returned, the four helped Gary bring the boxes up and then left them to put their things away. Josh called the small restaurant down the street and made reservations for the six of them for eight.
By eight, Gary and Judy had most of their things put away and in spite of the fact that the furniture was the same, the apartment looked very different. Josh understood what Alex meant about places saying who lived there.
Walt called just before they left for the restaurant to tell Josh he was taking off for the Mountain at eight the next morning. “So help me it's really his name, Jack Armstrong will be co-pilot to Pueblo and will pick up Syd Cardigan as his co-pilot to the Mountain. I'll fly them to Asheville for commercial flights back to Pueblo and San Francisco,” and gave Josh Armstrong's number.
Josh said he'd call him Wednesday night. “We will be leaving Saturday morning unless something changes. Expect to see us on the Mountain sometime Monday or Tuesday. I'll call.”
After dinner, Gary and Judy said it was early to bed for them as they had a busy day with the move. They thanked the four guys and went to their apartment. The four went to the apartment next door where Cândido made four cups of Brazilian coffee. The four sat around the dining table, talking, first about Gary and Judy. They had clearly won approval of Luc and Cândido.
A few minutes later, the two Brazilians were both looking at Alex and Josh with a small smiles on their faces. “Meu amado irmão,” Luc said, “I never expected to see you this happy. I thought you a hopeless romantic at best and an utter fool at the worse because you would never admit Alex was gone from your life forever. Now he sits with us, beautiful, full of life and loving. That he should be so is two miracles. First, that he is here and second, that he is beautiful, loving and full of life after what he had been through. I salute the two of you.”
“Josh, I told you that I could not see the future, and I cannot, but I do sense and feel things others do not. I told you you would be happy on the Mountain, but was not sure it would be with Alex. I always felt Alex's presence with you there, but doubted what I felt. The possibility that you would ever be together was, to my logical and rational mind, was so remote as to be impossible. I dared not say otherwise for fear what it would do to you. Now I can say with absolute confidence, you will be happy there, as will Alex.”
Josh leaned over and kissed Alex so very, very softly, but both felt in that soft kiss the bond that had been theirs since they were too young to know what it was.
Monday morning James Davis called before Josh and Alex were out of bed to ask when Josh would like to join him at the columbarium for the interment of Kelly's ashes. “No one has called, so I guess you and I will be it, unless you have changed your mind.”
I think it will close a
in my life that I want closed. Alex will be with me. Give us an hour to get dressed and get there.”
The weather was dreadful, a gray, chilly mist hung over everything. When Alex and Josh arrived, James was waiting with a man Josh did not know. When they walked up, James said, “This is Mr. Morton from the columbarium.” Mr. Morton nodded and James said, “You may proceed.” Using a tool, he opened the niche and James placed the black plastic box inside and it was closed. That was it, the sad end of a wasted life. Outside the sun was struggling, but losing the battle with the mist and fog.
As they walked back to their cars, James said, “Josh, unless you want to do something else with it, as soon as you get Boys' Camp officially registered as a 'Not for Profit,' send me a notarized copy of the document and I'll transfer the monies from the trust account to it. You, as sole trustee, could designate it as the recipient of the trust, but getting the official status will protect both of us. Good luck on your North Carolina undertaking and best wishes for you and Alex. Alex, ride herd on him to keep him from taking on too much now that he has you.” Both Josh and Alex thanked him, they shook hands and went their separate ways.
On the way back to the apartment, Josh said, “I really do have the feeling that a major part of my life is being closed. I came to San Francisco, literally, right out of college and started a remarkable ride called Blankenship Ltd. I saw it almost go down the tubes and Luc and I and the good people Kelly ditched grabbed a handful and pulled it back. It is in better shape than it has ever been. It is making piles of money, our employees are making more than people in similar occupations and it has a bright future. I suspect Luc will stay on a few years, but will quickly bring someone on board to take his place and he and Cândido will go back to Brazil. I know he loves working for Blankenship and they have a good life here, but they love their homeland.”
“I wish we could say we love where we grew up,” Alex said, “but mostly I feel nothing for it having realized that hating it does me harm and Wellsburg couldn't care less. Mom? I think dwelling on her only allows her control over part of my life and she owns none of me any more.”
“Yeah. Same with my grandparents.”
Tuesday Josh and Alex spent at Blankenship LLLP. Most of the morning was spend going through things in the Old Man's office, discarding trash, sending stuff to the archives, packing the few things Josh was taking with him and removing what Luc didn't want, the décor was placed in the lobby with a 'Want it? Take it' sign and was all gone before the last people in the building left. Wednesday morning, Josh, Alex and Cândido went with Luc to help him move into the Old Man's office.
After lunch with Luc, Cândido asked Alex if he had been to the Golden Gate bridge and he said he had not. “You cannot leave San Francisco until you do,” he said. “We'll take Luc's car and leave yours, Josh, since there are three of us.” Cândido drove and Alex was amazed as he watched the bridge disappear in the fog, reappear and disappear again all in a very short time.
As they drove back to the apartment, Josh called Jack Armstrong and made arrangements to leave at seven Thursday morning. That would be eight Pueblo time and the flight would take between one and half and two hours, so they could pick up the truck and trailer and leave for Boulder between ten and eleven. Josh had said they'd make it for a late lunch and he still hoped they could do that.
As they drove back to the apartment, Alex said, “Josh, where are Prince and Princess' children?”
Josh was thunderstruck. With all the horse moving, somehow or other, even when Sally mentioned the twins being ready to breed in a few years, he had forgotten all about them. “Jack still has them, I suppose,” he said, “since Sally and Brenda didn't bring them.”
“Think he might get them to Boulder? It wasn't planned that way, but you ended up with a four horse trailer, so we can take them.”
Josh immediately called Jack and asked about them. “I wondered if you had forgotten them,” he said. “I kinda hoped you had. They are a fine pair.”
Josh told him he had, in fact, forgotten then and asked if there was any way they could get meet somewhere and transfer the horses. “We could meet you in Cheyenne or if you couldn't make that, Rawlins.”
“Josh, I am sorta stuck here. I'll like to help you out, but I can't get away right now.”
“Let me call you back.”
“Shit! He can't do it and that means a trip to Wellsburg. Shit! Shit! Shit!” There is no way he can be stuck. He had three families living on his ranch. I know damn well if he couldn't get away, one of his cowboys could. There is something fishy going on here.”
“Call Sally,” Alex said.
Josh did. “Sally and Josh's Mustangs, This is Sally, Josh is not here.”
“'Cause I'm here Sally. How are things these days?”
“Pretty good. How are things with you?”
“Very good or were until a few minutes ago, now there is a fly in the ointment.”
“Couldn't have anything to do with Jack could it?”
“How did you know?”
“Well, it wasn't a lucky guess. Jack has got religion. He's a stake president and will have nothing to do with us outcasts. We had a major run-in when I brought another family of excommunicated LDS folks to work here. What's the problem?”
“How did you let me forget Prince and Princess's offspring? Alex just asked about them and even though you had mentioned their reaching breeding age in a year or two years, I had let them slip my mind.”
“Well, it's not like you didn't have other things on your mind. What's up?”
“I called Jack to see if he'd bring them to meet us Cheyenne or even Rawlins and he said he couldn't get away.”
“I hope to hell you can lay hands on proof they are yours,” she said, “otherwise I think he might try to keep them.”
“If there is anything Alex and I hate worse than a trip to Wellsburg, I can't think what it is. You got a fax?”
“Sure.” She gave Josh the number.
“I'll fax an authorization for you to take the horses and I'll get Mark Jenkins on it as well. Call Mark and see what he advises concerning getting them. Assuming you can get them, can you bring them to Cheyenne?”
“No Problem. When?”
“We planned on leaving Boulder Saturday with the Royal Couple. Still would like that, but we'll make final plans after we see what happens with Jack. I guess this means he has been taking stud fees even though they were contaminated by my being excommunicated. Hate to push this off on you, Sally.”
“I think Mark and I both would like to stick it to Jack. He has become so self-righteous that underhandedness is ok. I'll call you.”
“We plan to be in the air by seven our time, eight yours in the morning, so I'll call you from the plane after eight your time.”
“I'll call Mark tonight and we should have a plan and know what Jack will do by then. Don't worry. Mark is a really wooly bear when someone is trying to pull a fast one.”
Josh faxed an authorization to Sally and Mark and told Mark to do what it took to get the horses from Jack. “I hope he's reasonable, but he didn't seem so when I called,” he wrote.
Luc was home by five and Cândido had called a caterer to arrange for an early dinner at six thirty. Promptly at six thirty, there was a knock on the door and Luc admitted a chef and two assistants who quickly got food on the table—beef Wellington, with oven roasted potato rounds and haricot vert. After they had the food served, they left, leaving behind for dessert a baked Alaska. Luc fixed Brazilian coffee and they had the dessert in the living room.
As they settled with dessert, Luc said, “I had the strangest thing happen today. I had complained a bit, well more than a bit, about the fact that I had been moved into the Old Man's office and that I really didn't belong there. Anyway, I was sitting behind the Old Man's desk, kinda in a state of shock, I guess, I mean this little Brazilian boy was sitting behind the CEO's desk, when Prue, Elizabeth and Linda marched in without knocking and Linda planted a sign on my desk which read 'The Old Man.' Prue and Elizabeth were busy putting one on the door. When they finished, the three walked out without having said a word. I was stunned and thought, “Hell, the Old Man is a thirty year old Brazilian dude. So help me, I felt a hand on my shoulder, heard the Old Man's laugh and say 'Damn right!'”
Josh laughed, “Well, at least you told us. I never told anyone when that happened to me. I think everyone had decided I was crazy for getting involved in Blankenship again and sure didn't want to give them proof! But it's true, Luca, you are it and if you will remember you are married to this wonderful man who comes first, you and Blankenship LLLP will do well. I am as sure of that as I am of anything.”
Cândido and Alex cleaned up from dessert and brought back tiny cups of espresso, and a bottle of fifty year old Hardy Cognac Noces D'or. “I know you need a clear head in the morning, so I thought we could have something that can be enjoyed in small glasses,” Cândido said.
“Everything set for the trip?” Luc asked.
“I hope. Somewhere in the midst of everything, my mind slipped a few notches. Prince and Princess have two daughters, twins, who have been with the man from whom we bought the Royal Couple. I had forgotten about them even though Sally had mentioned them. Alex asked about them this afternoon. The fact that we had ended up with a four horse trailer means we could take them with us. I called Jack, the breeder, and asked about him meeting us in Wyoming so we wouldn't have to go to Wellsburg. He was kinda evasive, so I called Sally. Seems Jack had got religion and is even an LDS stake president these days. She thinks he will try to keep the horses. We'll do most anything to keep from going to Wellsburg and having to deal with those people. . . .”
“But if we have to, we will. I am not willing to leave the horses with an LDS asshole and in that particular hellhole,” Alex said.
“Might be good to go and rub their noses in what you have accomplished,” Luc said. “After all, you have been the Old Man and outdid the Old Man himself.”
“And you could shake the dust of that place from your feet,” Cândido added
Josh got a strange look on his face, as though he was somewhere else. His face was suddenly split by a wide grin, “Hell, yes! Barefoot Boy, we will go to Wellsburg for the last time and we will shake all the dust from our feet! He picked up his glass and said, “To the future and to love!” A toast the three gladly joined.
Next morning, Josh called Sally early and she said she had called Jack and said she was authorized to pick up the horses and he said he couldn't release them except to Josh in person. “Mark is working on something, but he thinks things could get messy.”
“Can you get witnesses to his saying he would release the horses to me? Take Mark with you and someone else. Some good, solid LDS member if you can. Alex and I are coming to Wellsburg. We will be there Sunday afternoon and go to Jack's early Monday. I think I have a few tricks up my sleeve for Wellsburg.”
Josh and Alex had essentially packed for the trip when they moved out of their apartment, so when they got up, they were ready to go as soon as they were dressed. They had coffee with Cândido and Luc, reminded Cândido to work on getting the Mountain State lecture series and reminded them they always had a place at the House. The four hugged each other, shed a few tears and Josh and Alex left. The co-pilot was waiting and they took off a bit early and were at cruising altitude by six forty-five. The flight was smooth and uneventful and they landed quite awhile before Josh had thought they would.
Neither Josh nor Alex was prepared for the truck and trailer. The metallic blue paint, as the dealer had told Winston, appeared so deep you could sink a hand in it and the airbrush artist had done more than justice to Linda's design. “Magnificent!” Alex exclaimed and Josh agreed wholeheartedly. The dealer was obviously pleased that they were satisfied and probably more so when Josh did not object to paying for the airbrush artist.
Josh asked him if he was married or had a girlfriend.
“Actually,” he said, “I really would like to get married, but the state won't allow it, but we have been together since eighth grade and are as solid or more so than any married couple I know.”
“When was the last time you took him on a romantic weekend?”
“Well, it's been awhile. Business has been kinda slow, so there's the money problem and because business is slow, I've been working my tail off. We were doing well and he took off to get his master's and that put a crimp in our style.
“You have been together since eighth grade? Vineland?”
“Then you know Mr. Larson who was a principal or Ms. Granger who was a counselor.”
“Know both very well, very well indeed. I'm Liam Larson; Mr. Larson was my father. He died a few years ago now. He was eighty. Mrs. Granger? She is my mother-in-law. She is, of course, retired and moved to southern California to get away from Colorado winters. Did you know them?”
“They probably saved my life,” Josh said and told him how the two had come to his rescue when his world first fell apart. “Liam, I have been very successful. . . .”
Liam and Alex both laughed. “I kinda got that idea from the rig you bought, either that or you have damn good credit.”
“Well, I guess that too. But Alex and I have been together since we were in the ninth grade—well, I guess kinda together before that, huh, Babe, and his mother tore us apart for seven long years. I have him back and I don't want to waste a minute. I know that while I was working to get where I am, had we been together, it would have put a real strain on our relationship. I am going to write you a check for a thousand dollars. It's not a bonus for the damn good job you did on the truck, it's in thanksgiving for your father and your mother-in-law. You and you husband are to take a long, romantic weekend, soon.”
“I don't know what to say, how to thank you.”
“Love your man and hug you mother-in-law the first chance you get. Now we are off to Boulder.”
“Thanks again,” Liam said as we drove away.
Boulder Without Vic House
Josh and Alex left Pueblo behind at ten fifteen, earlier than they thought possible, and hit I-25 headed for Boulder. It was twelve thirty when they reached Denver. Alex was driving and said, “Beloved, breakfast was kinda skimpy and it was awhile ago. This boy needs food.”
“I really don’t know why I am in such a rush,” Josh replied. “Let’s find a decent restaurant and have a leisurely lunch. We’ll be in Boulder in less than an hour and what if it’s three hours, four hours before we get there? It will still be there.”
“If it isn’t when we get there, doesn’t matter,” Alex laughed.
Josh pulled out his phone, checked on recommended places for lunch and selected a relatively upscale one which required they drive downtown. Since Alex was essentially a new driver, Josh had him pull into a service station on the outskirts of Denver and made arrangements to park the trailer there while they had lunch. He then took over driving as they headed to the restaurant.
Josh had picked a steakhouse and when they were ready to order, Josh ordered a salad, a twelve ounce medium rare steak and a baked potato with a side of grilled vegetables. Alex ordered a salad, a medium rare sixteen ounce steak, grilled shrimp, fries, oven roasted vegetables, and a second side of steamed asparagus. Josh looked at him and grinned when the server said, “I guess you are hungry.”
“Kinda, but I wanted to save room for dessert.” The server laughed at him. He was not laughing when Alex polished off his lunch and ordered a slice of chocolate cake with ice cream. Josh joined him in dessert.
By just looking at Alex, he seemed to be where he needed to be in the weight department and in terms of just weight, he was at his ideal weight, but his body was still determined to store fat after his being malnourished. They had been slack in San Francisco and were determined to mend their ways once they got home.
Josh mentioned ordering gym equipment before they left and Shawn said Boys’ Camp had a gym. “Of course it was equipped long before machines were developed, but free weights are free weights,” he said. “You can coat them with plastic in garish colors, but they are free weights. We don’t have any machines.” Josh told him to check with a good trainer and see what was recommended and to use his own knowledge and judgment and order what was needed and useful. Shawn said, “I’ll have to remind a trainer that we are not only dealing with grown men, but also kids from twelve as well as the older ones.”
“Just get what we need,” Josh said.
After lunch, they hit the highway to Boulder and arrived at the riding school at two thirty. When they knocked on Mavis' door, a strange woman answered. “She doesn’t live here anymore,” she told Josh. “They has moved down the road.”
Puzzled, Alex and Josh drove down the road and as they neared Senhor D’Cruz place, Alex remembered it now belonged to Mavis. They pulled in and walked to the door. Gertrude came out when they knocked and grabbed both in a hug. “I guess you are the rest of ‘they,’ Alex said.
“I suppose, but I don’t know what you are talking about. Come in.”
“A strange woman answered the door at Mavis place and said Mavis didn’t live there anymore that ‘they’ moved down the road.”
“In that case, yeah, I’m the rest of the ‘they.’ Mavis and I had a long talk after you guys left. We have been a separated couple for lot of years and, let’s be honest, we are no longer young and the time we have left, we realize the way it is hard for people your age to realize, is limited. Vic House was no longer fun and Mavis house needed a lot of repairs which had been put off. We had seen very little of this house and when we explored it, we fell in love with it. It was in perfect repair and was a lot nicer than Mavis and Vic House would always have people running around in it. We put both on the market and Vic House sold in two days for a lot more than I thought. A middle-aged couple are turning it into a bed and breakfast, It is going to be fabulous when they finish.
“Mavis' place sold a week later, also for more than she expected. The barns and stables here are also in perfect repair. Mavis only sold the house and five acres which include the barn, stables, paddock and horse ring. She sold none of the pasture. This week a work crew just completed joining the pasture here with the one there. With the land between the two places that was not fenced, the combined pasture is close to half again the size of the two separate pastures. We plan to add a number of horses and offer more riding classes and the university will be using the place for some classes, I'm not sure what, but that's Mavis' gig. Don’t know where we can pick up some good horses do you?” she laughed.
“Matter of fact, I suspect I do. I’ll see Sally early next week—tell you that story later—and will see that you have a dozen horses as soon as she can get that many trained.” In a pretty good imitation of a TV game show host, Josh said, “These absolutely fantastic and fabulous Mustangs will come to you as a gift from Alex and myself as our thanks for all you have done for us. The only cost to you and your partner will be that the riding school and place be called the D’Cruz Riding Academy and Fazenda.”
“Well, I guess you two have been together long enough that one doesn’t make decisions involving the other unilaterally,” Gertrude said with a touch of sarcasm.
“Well, I’m trying to learn that. Actually, that can be a real bugaboo for us. I am used to making decisions unilaterally and thinking I know best. After all, I ran a pretty big outfit where, ultimately, the buck stopped with me, but I’m making progress, I think,” Josh looked questioningly at Alex.
Alex got a sly grin on his face and said, “Yes, Lover Boy, small steps, but you are making progress. And I am making small progress in learning not to just be passive. We’re learning, Gertrude.”
“Well, do come in.” She just then noticed the truck and trailer. “Damn, Boy! That rig set you back a bundle.”
“Gertrude, that boy has lots of bundles and you would not believe what he did for the man who sold us that.” Alex then told about Liam and his partner being the children of a man and woman who befriended Josh while his dad was ill and after he died. “Josh is going to set up shop as a gay marriage counselor, I think. Course he has a limited range of plans. They all are ‘love your man and don’t let things come’ between you. I remind him of that occasionally just so he doesn’t forget. Where is Mavis?”
“She went into Boulder to see about something to do with signing up students for the spring semester. The fall quarter started a week ago and she wasn’t ready to start anything new then. So what’s the schedule?”
“The plan was for us to leave Saturday for North Carolina with Prince and Princess. The first thing that happened was Kelly Blankenship had started a mess again,” Josh said. “Then Mrs. Blankenship died and Kelly’s plot against me and Blankenship got shot out of the water. Then Alex was attacked and Kelly died from a drug overdose, I suspect it was not accidental, either murder or suicide. In all the turmoil over all that, I didn’t get the design for the truck and trailer approved when it needed to be, so that delayed us a day. Then Alex asked about Prince and Princess’ offspring which I had let slip my mind. The man who has them is playing games so we can’t get them until Monday at the earliest and we’re going to Wellsburg to do that. We’ll probably leave here Saturday or early Sunday. We need to be in Wellsburg Monday morning, at least before noon. Unless we get tied up there, we’ll head to the Mountain Monday afternoon or Tuesday morning. Which reminds me, I need to call Rob and Walt and tell them the change in plans.”
“Well, you know we’d like for you to stay longer.”
“I know,” Alex said, “but Gertrude, I am ready for us to be home and we have a lot to do there getting Boys’ Camp, now Elijah’s Camp, ready. It is Elijah’s Camp, isn’t it, Josh?”
“Sure. Well, I guess. We’ll know after I talk to Rob and make sure that is the final decision. I guess I better make the calls as it is almost seven there.” Josh walked out into the front yard where he had a better signal and called Walt first to tell him what was going on and asked about the small plane.
Cam answered the phone and said Walt was on his way back from Atlanta where he had gone to take the pilots back to catch commercial flights home. “Once they got here and had a couple meals, they accepted Janie’s offer to spend a couple days. Tell you, Josh, you’re gonna have to charge or people will just settle in to stay.”
“Have you settled in to stay, Cam?”
“Hell, yes. I’ve got my horse. Walt’s started pilot lessons and Shawn is helping him with the book part. School is going good—boring mostly, but ok—Shawn’s helping with my reading and says I’m doing great and there’s Kevin and I. . . .”
“Whoa! “There’s Kevin?”
“Well, yeah, Kevin’s like my best friend, my really, really best friend.”
Josh thought he detected something in the way Cam answered. “Is that all, Cam?”
“Well, Josh, I’m not sure. I wanna talk to you and Alex when you get back.”
“You’re on. Tell Walt we’ll let Rob know our schedule as soon as we are sure. Right now somethings have come up and it may take longer than we planned before we get home. And, Cam, don’t push things with Kevin, at least before we talk. Ok?”
“Ok, Josh. Love you, Man,” he said and quickly hung up. Josh looked at the phone with a strange expression on his face, then grinned. The tough street kid had grown up in the boonies. He was becoming a wonderful young man. But he was still puzzled by his conversation with Cam and not wanting to read too much into it when he dialed Rob’s number.
“Sentinel Mountain. This is Rob.
“Rob, Josh. How are things on the Mountain?”
“Just fine. Waiting for the Lord, or I guess that’s the Lord’s, of the Mountain to return,” he chuckled.
“Got a promotion while we were away, Rob. We have now been crowned the Kings of the Mountain, at least in San Francisco.”
“Well, now, we all know how crazy everything is in California.”
“I’m not sure you do! I was surprised at how crazy things were. But we are coming home, unfortunately, I can’t be more exact than that. Seems somewhere in the shuffle I forgot two very special horses, Prince and Princess’ twins. I expected the guy who has them would meet us somewhere in Wyoming and we would be on our way. Sally says he is playing games these days. He got religion, so he is very righteous and since I am an evil sinner, he thinks he will be able to keep the pair. I have my Wellsburg lawyer working on it and we’re going to Wellsburg Monday, as much as Alex and I hate the idea, and get the horses one way or another. If we get them Monday, we’ll likely stay over and leave Tuesday. We hope to make the trip in two and a half days to three, but we will be pulling a trailer with four horses and Alex is still not totally up to snuff, so it may take longer. Anyway, I’ll keep you posted as to our progress. What’s the decision on a new name for Boys’ Camp?”
“Interesting that. We were all pretty much in agreement and settled on Elijah’s House until you tossed in Elijah’s Chariot. Some liked it and others didn’t, no one hated it. We all talked about it all day and everyone’s already calling it Elijah’s Chariot, then you tossed in Elijah's Camp or Camp Elijah. Now it would take an Act of Congress to change the name to anything other than Camp Elijah.”
“Good. Well, Rob, I’ll keep you posted, but we will not be home until long after we want to be there. Rob, it is home and you all are the only family I have and I have a wonderful family. I want you to know that.”
“Son, we’re proud to have you both.”
“Thanks,” Josh said and closed his phone before he was completely choked up.
Josh and Alex had only seen the entrance and library of Senhor D'Cruz' house and Gertrude gave them the grand tour. It was as elegant as Josh had imagined it would be, but as Alex would say, it no longer said “Senhor D'Cruz,” but “Mavis and Gertrude.” Unlike Vic House and Mavis place, their new place definitely belonged to both. Neither Alex nor Josh ever asked why the two had not lived together before and neither woman ever said anything about it.
Josh and Alex took the two out to dinner Saturday evening and Josh again asked about Mavis being listed as adjunct teacher at Camp Elijah. “I think we need you for a couple weeks as soon as you can come out so we can get the training area built to your specifications and so you and Nelson can pick horses you think could develop into trick riding horses. “Unlike the Royal Couple, who will do just about anything Josh and I ask them to do, these horses will not belong to only one boy,” Alex said.
“Maybe not to one boy,” Mavis said, “but I would assign boys to horses. That way there will be some consistency in their riders. Would assign the same boys to their care as well.”
“That never occurred to me,” Josh said. “That's a good example of why we need as many as possible in on the planning of Elijah's Camp. No single person or small group of people have the experience and knowledge to think of everything.”
“Have you talked to Gertrude about additional horses?” Josh asked.
“Not beyond our talking about needing some and to have them trained specifically for trick riding. You know, trick riding was once very big, but in recent years it had just about disappeared. Would be a grand way to show off the boys and your establishment. When are you adding girls?”
“See!” Alex said. “Everyone thinks the should be a girls' camp as well.”
“Frankly, the thought never occurred to me. Boys' Camp had been on the Mountain and was dear to Elijah's heart so reviving it was logical. Stupid me, I thought we could just unlock the place, sweep it out and add boys. It's not that easy I am discovering. Petty bureaucrats have bred like rabbits since Boys' Camp was founded.”
“Back to the horses, Josh,” Alex said.
“Yeah, the horses. I'll see Sally Monday and see what she has broke and how long it would take to have a dozen broke to the saddle. They are yours if you will name the riding and trick riding school The D'Cruz Riding School and Fazenda in honor of Senhor D'Cruz.”
“That's a very generous offer, Josh, but I don't think I can take you up on that. We are talking between, oh, I'm not sure, I'd guess between fifty and a hundred thousand dollars worth of horses.”
“Look, Mavis, this is part of a plot,” Josh laughed. “You cannot imagine how much Alex and I hate going to Wellsburg, but truth be told, I realized when I talked to Sally, that so long as I have property there something will come up that requires me to go back. So I plan to offer Sally and Brenda the ranch in exchange for a dozen horses. Probably all will be horses she had bred, but will replace them, I'm sure, with a fall capture. The ranch is a bargain at a hundred thousand, especially since it will cost Sally and Brenda no cash. By naming your riding school after Senhor D'Cruz, I get an expression of the honor in which I hold the man who had a lot to do with my having, as Alex said, a lot of bundles. Additionally, the horses will be a token of the appreciation for what you and Gertrude have done for me and Alex over the years.”
“Well, since it involves so many, I guess I can swallow a bit of pride,” Mavis laughed. “And you know, The D’Cruz Riding Academy and Fazenda does have a classy ring to it. Sure, Josh, it's a deal. Now when do we go to North Carolina? I want to see this place.”
“We'll get back next week, give us a couple weeks to get settled and we'll come get you. Do you have someone who can take care of horses while you are gone?”
Mavis laughed. “You know Gertrude might get rid of Vic House and those annoying students only to move out here and the first thing she does is start looking for a place for students. There is a lovely apartment above the hay barn--Senhor called it the guest house—It has a huge living room, a kitchen, good size bedroom and a small office. Gertrude had me post a notice on a student bulletin board and she had twenty calls within the first half day. Even though the notice said 'Ideal for two men,' she still got calls from women. Had to handle that with kid gloves.”
“Learned right away as soon as someone asked about it to say, 'It's a part of the ranch set up—you know stables and barns—it's upstairs. The immediate assumption was that it was over the barn and that eliminated most inquiries!” Gertrude laughed. “If that didn't do it,” I said, “and it's a good deal. It rents for ten dollars a week and ten hours caring for the horses—feeding, grooming and cleaning stables. That's each for two people. Out of all the calls, only three guys actually came out to look at the place, a single guy and a couple. The single guy got here first and was very interested, but didn't have a roommate and thought twenty hours working a week was too much with his classes. The couple said, “We'll take it,” as soon as I opened the door to show it to them.
“One grew up on a ranch and knows all he needs to know. His partner is a city guy, but hard working and a quick learner. They have been together since their freshman year. One is working on a master's in psychology and the other in biology. He wanted to go to vet school at Fort Collins, but didn't get in on his first attempt and started his graduate degree in biology and decided that was the way he wanted to go. They will be here at least two years. Great fellows and both love the horses. City boy is becoming an excellent rider.”
Later when Alex and Josh were in bed, Alex said, “I am happy for Gertrude and Mavis and the set up here means they will have someone around helping out.”
“And it's a big help to the guys living here. They like the animals and when you do, even shoving horse manure isn't too bad and they are paying practically nothing for rent in a town where rent is not cheap.
The next day, Josh asked Mavis about his Chinese teacher and discovered he had retired to Taiwan. “And Srta. Medina?”
“As you know, she was ancient when you first started working with her. She died last year—at one hundred one and had students the week before.”
“Makes me feel old,” Josh laughed.
“Yeah, you and I will soon be old men of thirty,” Alex laughed.
It had been a long day with much going on and Josh knew Alex was tired because he was. After a few gentle kisses and assuring each other of their love, they went to sleep, wrapped in a tangle of arms and legs.
Jesse and Scott
As always, I own the copyright, so no use beyond personal copy, without permission. If you are too young or whatever to read literature which may describe explicit sex, don't or take any consequences.
All persons and places are fictional and any similarity to persons or places living or dead is coincidental. Again, it’s fiction, folks.
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