This story is a continuation of the story of Kevin Foley, Rick Mashburn, and their "sons," Tim Murphy, Kyle Goodson, Justin Davis, and Brian Mathews that started in "Tim," continued in "Justin" and "Kyle," and now continues in "Kyle, Part 2." It is about gay men and gay boys living and loving together as a family, and it contains descriptions of sex, but the sex is never intergenerational. If you are offended by descriptions of gay sex, or if the law in your area forbids you to read them, please exit the story. Otherwise, I hope you enjoy it. I appreciate feedback, and you can send it to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Kyle, Part 2
Jeff came home on Monday, December 15th. He had had his last exam that morning, and he had gotten in his car and come straight to our house from the exam. He said he had gotten home around two o'clock that afternoon, and he was in the den with the other boys when we got home.
I had e-mailed Jeff the details of our Christmas plans, so he knew what was going on.
"The tree is beautiful," he said, after we had gotten a snack that evening.
We still had a ton of fruit in the house from all the gift baskets we had gotten, so Rick had made a huge fruit salad. We had topped it with vanilla ice cream, and that's what we were eating.
"Thanks," Rick said. "What did you do all afternoon?"
"I slept. I was really tired, and it felt so good being in that bed," he said.
Rick and I looked at each other knowingly. We had each been through eight rounds of finals in college, and we knew the physical toll those took on you.
"Do you know we're going to New Orleans," Kyle asked. "You ever been there?"
"Yeah, I know we're going, and, no, I've never been there," Jeff said.
"They bury the dead people above the ground," Brian said. "I've got to see that."
"You will, Bri," I said. "There are cemeteries all over the city."
"Why don't they just cremate them," Jus asked.
"It used to be against the Catholic religion to cremate people," I said. "New Orleans is a very Catholic city, so they figured out how to bury people. But let's change the subject."
"Yeah, let's," Jeff said.
"I checked on the Brass, and they ain't going to be there while we're there," Kyle said. "I really wanted to see a hockey game."
"Do you know what is going to be there," I asked.
"Horse racing. Thoroughbred horse racing," I said. "Have any of you ever been to a horse race?"
All of them, including Rick, said "no."
"Are you interested in going," I asked.
"Hell, yeah," Kyle said enthusiastically.
"Have y'all done the research I told you to do," I asked. "It sounds like some of you have."
"I have," Brian said. "I'd like to go to the aquarium and the zoo."
"Have any of you ever been to a zoo," I asked.
Rick, Tim, Kyle, and Jeff had been. Brian and Justin had not.
"I've been to several," I said. "I love zoos. I remember one time at the Cincinnati zoo we saw an adolescent elephant get an erection . At first I thought it was a fifth leg, but then I realized what it was. Craig and I were laughing our asses off, and people were staring at us because they knew what we were laughing at. My dad was chuckling at us, but my mom was embarrassed. We wanted to take a picture of it, but she wouldn't let us."
"I've never seen an elephant, much less his dick," Jus said.
"So, aquarium and zoo? Is that good with you guys," Rick asked.
They all said "yes."
"Okay, so far we've got the racetrack, the aquarium, and the zoo. What else," I asked.
"I'd like to see the Mississippi River," Jus said. "Isn't that where it is?"
"Yeah," Brian said. "You can get a ride on a boat at the aquarium and ride it up the Mississippi River to the zoo, Buddy."
"Well, hell, let's do that," Jus said.
"Anything you want to do, Jeff," I asked.
He thought for a second.
"Don't get on to me for this, okay? But I'd like to go to some gay places. Clubs and such," Jeff said. "I've never done that."
Kyle and Jus got animated at that and tapped knuckles.
"What about the little boys? What about me and Tim," Brian asked.
"Buddy, I ain't going anywhere without you. You know that," Jus said. He hugged Brian to him just then, and it was rather touching.
"I've done a little research on that, guys, since you said something about it the other night, Kyle," I said. "There's a gay club that has 'youth night' on Monday nights. They let anybody in, regardless of age."
"I just want to be somewhere where I'm not the only one who's gay, you know," Jus said.
"What about us? What about our family? What about our friends," Rick asked.
"You know what I mean, Rick. You guys have been wonderful to me, but this is home, you know? This isn't out on the street," Jus said.
"Well, I think that's a definite 'yes,' for the gay club," Rick said, and they all agreed.
"The French Quarter sounds interesting. What's there," Brian asked.
"A lot of historical stuff, Bri. There are a bunch of museums, a flea market that's great, a whole bunch of antique stores and art galleries, Jackson Square, the cathedral. A whole bunch of stuff," I said. "The Moon Walk is also there. That's along the river. And a lot of great places to eat, too."
"What about the Saints. Do you think we could see a Saints game," Kyle asked. "I've only ever been to one NFL game."
"No way, Bubba. I checked that out," Rick said. "They're sold out while we're there."
"Shit," Kyle said. "Do you think there will be any plays there while we're there?"
"Now that's an idea. I don't know," I said, "but we can check on the Ticket Master Web site."
"Jeff, do you know we're also going to Sarasota to see Rick's mom," Kyle asked.
"The twenty-seventh," I said. "I sent you an e-mail about that, Jeff."
"I was so out of it the last few days that I didn't even check my mail," Jeff said. "It all sounds good to me, though. I've actually been to Sarasota. It's a nice place."
Tim, Kyle, Justin, and Brian drifted off upstairs after that. It was the last week of their semester, and they had homework and studying to do. Jeff asked if he could use the computer to check his e-mail.
"Jeff, this is your home, man," Rick said. "You don't have to ask about stuff like that."
"Thanks," he said softly.
That week sped by. There was definitely a holiday mood in the house, and at work everybody was cheerful and expectant of fun to come. We had our office party for the employees of corporate headquarters, and their spouses/dates/significant others, on Thursday night at our biggest and nicest hotel. Gene didn't scrimp on that occasion. There was an open bar for cocktails before dinner, dinner itself, and then dancing with a DJ and more open bar. Wait staff were passing around with trays of hors 'oeuvres before dinner. Nice ones, too.
They usually had that party on a Friday night, but that year Gene, Rick, and I would be gone the next day so we had it on Thursday. Because of that, Gene had declared a holiday on that Friday and the next one, too, the day after Christmas. He wanted his people to have a good time, and he knew having to get up for work the next day would put a damper on the fun.
The high school boys had had the first two of their four semester exams that day, and they had two more the next day, as well. They had gotten out of school at eleven o'clock. Gene had insisted that Kyle come to the office to study, and he had had to be there no later than 12:30. We thought that was a good idea, so we made the same demand of Brian. It was a foregone conclusion that Tim would be there, too. We had set the three of them up in empty offices on our floor, and Rick and I had each checked on them a couple of times. By five o'clock they had put in more concentrated study time than I had probably put in during my whole four years of high school.
Gene had done that because he wanted all five of the boys at the party, but he didn't want their grades to suffer. The party was pretty dressy, and the boys needed suits. Tim and Kyle already had suits, but Jeff, Jus, and Brian didn't even have "dress" trousers, much less suits. Rick and I had taken them shopping the afternoon that Jeff had gotten home. We knew Brian was still growing, so we got him a suit that was nice but not as expensive as the others. Jeff and Justin were adult size, and a suit could last them several years. We got them nicer ones. They would need suits for my parents' party, too, and in a couple of years Jeff would need a suit for job interviews and such. It was fun buying those clothes with them.
Justin was first to be measured.
"Did you see that guy try to grab my nuts," Jus said to Rick and me out of the corner of his mouth.
"In your dreams, stud," Rick said.
"Yeah? Well, what was he doing then?"
"He was measuring your inseam, Bubba," Rick said.
"It's the length of the pants leg from your crotch to the top of your shoe," I said.
"He asked me if I dress right or left. What does that mean?"
"What did you tell him," Rick asked, grinning.
"I told him I dress right. I didn't know what the hell he was talking about. That was just a guess."
"He was talking about whether you keep your dick on the right side or the left side of your pants. You don't want that big ole thing you got bulging out of a nice suit, Bubba," Rick said.
Jus blushed a little, which was something he almost never did.
"How the hell was I supposed to know that," he asked.
"Did you guess correctly," I asked.
"Yeah. For once." He grinned.
He went over to Jeff and Brian, and we knew he was telling them about dressing right or left.
"No way," we heard Jeff say.
Then the three of them laughed, something we rarely heard from Jeff.
We left that store with three pairs of dress shoes, three nice belts, twelve pairs of dress socks, nine dress shirts, nine ties, and alteration tickets for three new suits. The suits would be ready the next day at five o'clock. Gene had told us to use the corporate credit card, and I was glad he had when I saw the total.
The party Thursday night was about as nice as anything I had ever been to, including the governor's inauguration, which I had helped cater when I was in college. The boys looked absolutely spectacular, too, in their dress-up clothes. Rick and I had had to show all five of them how to tie their ties, but nobody could tell that. All anybody saw was five of the best looking young men I had ever seen in one group.
We met George's lady friend that night for the first time. George wasn't an employee, of course, but he was Gene's best friend, so naturally he had been invited. She was as charming as she was stunning looking. Her name was Sonya Jenkins, and she and George made a very handsome couple. Evidently George had talked about us because she knew exactly who we were, what our holiday plans were, and what we did for a living.
Gene and Rita looked great, too, and they marched the boys around to all of their guests to say hello. Gene and Rita were both beaming with pride at the boys. They brought them up to a group of people Rick and I were in.
"I want you all to meet my sons and their friends. This is Kyle. This is Tim. And this is Jeff. And these are their friends and honorary brothers, Justin and Brian."
The boys shook hands all around.
The husband of one of our risk management people said, "Weren't the two of you in the paper and on TV a few months back? For saving some people in the hurricane? I recognized the name. It's not very common."
"Yes, sir, we were," Kyle said.
"Well, that was pretty brave and pretty amazing of you guys," he said.
"Thank you," Kyle said.
"And you're Eagles, right," the man said.
"Yes, sir," Kyle said.
"I'm an Eagle, too," he said.
"Yes, sir," Kyle said.
"And you were Clay's boyfriend, right," he said to Jeff.
Jeff blushed a tiny bit, and the other boys stiffened and shifted, probably imperceptibly to everyone but us, to get into position to kick that guy's ass if they had to.
"Yes, sir. I was his partner," Jeff said proudly.
"I remember the name from the obituary. My condolences, Jeff. Our condolences," he said, indicating himself and his wife. "We know this is a hard time of year for you, Jeff, and you, too, Gene and Rita." I saw the boys relax.
"Thank you so much," Rita said.
That little chat circle broke up just then, and I saw the boys head outside to a small patio right off the room we were in. Rick and I followed them by instinct. We were stopped by a couple. The lady wanted to introduce her husband to us, so we politely endured that intrusion into what we wanted to do. Neither of us knew who she was. By the time we got out to the patio, Kyle and Justin had lit up smokes.
"What took you so long," Kyle demanded.
We explained about the lady and her husband.
"That was so surreal," Jeff said. "I was trembling all over."
"Are you okay now," I asked.
"Yeah, I'm okay now," he said.
"Did you choreograph that little act, Kyle," Rick asked.
"What are you talking about?"
"You know what I'm talking about. You guys got into 'we've got your back' mode very quickly. It was obvious, man," Rick said.
Kyle took a drag on his cigarette and exhaled the smoke slowly. I could tell he was thinking.
"Nobody fucks with us, Rick," Kyle said.
"What would you have done to him," Rick asked.
"You see that parking lot out there? It would have been on his face, and his face would have been on it. But it turned out he was a really nice guy. It kind of rattled us, though, you know? We didn't know where he was going with that."
"Would you really have done that, Kyle? If he had bashed Jeff? Or made fun of him?"
"Yes, sir," Kyle said. I knew Kyle was dead serious, and I knew Rick knew that, too. And Kyle had his boys around him, and he was, indeed, the alpha male.
"You can't be violent like that, Kyle. Violence doesn't solve problems," Rick said.
"Yeah. We know. Mathew Shepherd told us."
Everybody was silent for a few moments.
"That was low, Kyle," Rick said.
"If that guy had bashed Jeff, you would have been right there with us, and you know it, Rick," Kyle said. "Just like you would have helped us stomp the shit out of those guys who hurt Jerry."
"Physically hurt Jeff? You're 200% correct. I would have crushed his balls. Verbally? That's different, you know?"
"What would you have done if he had verbally attacked Jeff for being gay, Kevin," Kyle asked.
I thought for a moment.
"I would have taken him and his wife aside, and I would have told her she was fired as of that moment because of what he had said. Then I would have gone over to your dad and told him what I had done. He would have congratulated me. You know, guys, nothing happened except the man expressed his and his wife's condolences to Jeff and the Goodsons. We're making something out of this that didn't really happen."
"Yeah, but it's the principle of it, Kevin," Rick said.
"The principle seems clear to me. If there is physical threat or harm, we beat the shit out of the motherfucker. If there is verbal threat or harm, we ruin his life as best we can."
They actually laughed for the first time since we had been out there talking.
"Let's get back inside, guys. It's about time to eat," I said.
Rick pulled me back as we were going in.
"I love those principles you just said, Babe."
"I thought you would," I said.
"Kyle and Justin are like me. They're not going to take it," Rick said.
"I know. Venus and Mars?"
"What does that mean," he asked.
"I'll tell you later."
Dinner was over around 9:30, and the dance music started. The boys' original leave time was ten o'clock, but we extended it to ten thirty. I suspected that all five of those boys would one day hold important positions in Goodson Enterprises (such as the position of owner, in Kyle's case) and that extra half hour of socializing and dancing with our employees would ultimately do them more good than an A, instead of a B, in high school biology.
They danced with, and charmed, at least half the women in the place. By ten o'clock Kyle had almost everybody in the room up and on the dance floor for line dancing, and there were at least 300 people. He and Tim were up front teaching them how to do it, and everyone was having a great time.
At 10:30 Rick got on the mike.
"Kyle Goodson. It's time. Get your ass home, boy."
"SHIT!!!" Kyle screamed, and everybody in the room laughed. They all knew who Kyle Goodson was, and they loved him.
Kyle, Tim, and Brian left then to a standing ovation.
"I'm coming back next year," Kyle screamed as they were leaving, and they applauded again.
Jeff and Justin stayed, and the party rocked on.
"He had these people by the 'nads, didn't he," Gene asked us. He was grinning so hard I thought his cheeks would pop.
"They would have followed him into hell, Gene," Rick said. "That's the effect he has on people."
"That's what I thought, too," Gene said. "He's a good boy, though, isn't he?"
The pride on Gene's face and in his tone of voice was almost overwhelming. I doubted that Gene knew about the theory of the alpha male, and it really wasn't important that he know it. He knew his son, though, and he was beginning to grasp the power Kyle had over others. Fortunately, Kyle was a good boy, and Gene and Rita had instilled the right values in him. Otherwise, he could have been dangerous.
"Most of the time, Gene. But we have to bust his butt now and then," Rick said.
"I figured that, and thank you for doing it," Gene said. "He's a high-spirited boy. Rita and I have had so much this fall . . ."
"We know, Gene. It takes a village to raise a kid, and we're the village," Rick said.
"Well said," Gene said. "So, I guess we're off tomorrow on our trip. I'm excited about seeing your parents again, Kevin, and your brother and his wife. This is going to be a good Christmas, right guys?"
"It's going to be extremely good, Gene," I said. "Extremely good."
The house was quiet when we got home shortly after midnight. Justin and Jeff got home just as we did, and they went up to bed without saying much, except they had had fun. Rick and I needed a little snuggle time in the den.
"That was a nice party, wasn't it," he said.
"Yeah. It was about the nicest thing I've ever been to. Did you have anything to do with the governor's inauguration while we were in Tallahassee?"
"No. You guys catered it, though, didn't you?"
"Yeah. That was the nicest thing I had ever seen before tonight. I wish I was going in tomorrow. I'd drive down there and congratulate the Events Coordinator on tonight."
"Why don't you send her e-mail? Her address is probably in that little directory we got," he said.
"That's a damn good idea. I knew I married you for some reason," I said.
I got up and wrote a very positive message to the girl. She was my age, and she had a lot of talent. I really wanted to encourage her. I gave specific praise, like we had been taught to do in college, but I didn't gush. She deserved the praise I sent her.
"Are you interested in a little playing around tonight," Rick asked when I was finished with the e-mail.
I chuckled. "You try to stop me, dude," I said.
We went on to bed but not to sleep quite yet.
Needless to say, Rick didn't run the next morning. In fact, we had forgotten to turn our clocks on the night before, and we awoke with a start when somebody pounded on our bedroom door.
"Get up," Kyle said loudly.
"Jesus Christ, Kyle. Shut the fuck up, man," Rick said. "I guess the masters want us up," Rick said to me.
I looked at the clock, and it was only 6:30. Rick and I took turns in the bathroom, pulled on briefs, and went out to face the morning.
The kitchen was filled with the aroma of breakfast. There was a platter of eggs, a platter of bacon and link sausage, a basket of toast, and a bowl of grits. There were cups of coffee waiting at each place, and we each had a glass of juice, too. We sat down and started eating.
"What time did you guys get up," Rick asked.
"I woke up at five o'clock," Kyle said. "I don't know what time they woke up, but everybody but Jeff was down here by 5:30."
"This is a great breakfast, guys," I said. "Thanks for making it."
"Kyle, you look like you're about to jump out of your skin, man. Calm down. What are you so excited about? Your exams," Rick asked facetiously.
"It's those quadratic equations, Rick. I see one, and I can't help myself. My dick gets hard. I start pumping out pre-cum. I grind down unconsciously into my chair to give my ass some of the attention it needs. I put my pencil in my mouth, and I suck it. I suck it hard. My heart beats faster. I finger the eraser, all wet with spit from my mouth. It's taut and erect. My breathing speeds up. And then I know I'm close. Oh, so close. I spurt out the answer, and I go into the deep afterglow of algebra."
Rick and I had started laughing after the first two sentences of that little act, and we both clapped when he finished it.
"Goddamn, Kyle. You got me hard as a fucking rock," Justin said.
We all laughed at that, too.
"I guess that means you're really not excited about your exams," Rick said. "It must be something else. A trip, perhaps?"
"Give the Bingo Boy the cupie doll," Kyle shouted.
"Kyle, shut up and eat your breakfast," Rick said.
Kyle grinned at him and started eating.
"You guys were great last night, with the dancing and all," I said. "Your parents were very proud of you, Kyle. And so were we, as usual."
"What about Tim," he asked.
"Of course. Everybody was proud of Tim, too," I said.
Tim blushed a little. "Don't say shit like that, Kyle. You were the one; not me," Tim said.
"Don't tell me what not to say. You were my inspiration, whatever the hell it was I did," Kyle said. "We got to be going. Brian, are you ready?"
"Yes, sir," Brian said.
Kyle looked at Justin. "What was that about?"
Kyle was referring to the fact that Brian had addressed him as "sir." In the South that was reserved for older men you respected. Kyle, Justin, Jeff, and Brian knew the code, and there was a good chance Tim knew it by then, as well.
Justin shrugged and grinned.
"Let's go," Kyle said, and they took off.
"Why did Brian say 'yes, sir' to Kyle, Jus," Rick asked as we were cleaning up the dishes.
"He thinks of Kyle that way. To tell you the truth, I think we all do," Jus said.
"Interesting," Rick said.
We cleaned up the kitchen, ran the dishwasher, and Rick and I went back to our room. We got back into bed and slept for another two hours.
At 11:45 the front door burst open, and Tim, Kyle, and Brian bubbled in. They were excited about the trip, and Rita got tears in her eyes over them. She was still very fragile, but she was doing much better.
"Is everybody ready to go," Kyle asked without even saying hello.
"Yeah, let's get in the cars," I said.
We had packed the cars the night before so we could leave as quickly as possible after they got home from school. We had packed sandwiches, chips, and fruit, along with some drinks, to have on the way.
We had a security system in the house, and we turned that on. The pool table and exercise equipment were going to be delivered on Monday, but Amy, Gene's secretary, and Cheryl, Rick's secretary, were going to make sure those would be set up properly. We had decided to get a ping pong table, too, and that was coming Monday, as well. It needed to be put together, but a couple of the maintenance guys from one of the hotels would do that when they came to install the basketball goal.
We were on the road in ten minutes.
"So, how were exams," I asked, once we were barreling down the highway.
"Oh, those quadratic equations were even hotter than I thought they would be," Kyle said.
I turned around to look at him when he was talking. Rick was driving, and I was in the front passenger seat. Tim and Kyle were in the middle seat, and Justin and Brian were in the back seat. Kyle was sprawled over Tim.
"Do you have your seatbelt on, Kyle," I asked.
"No, sir," he said.
"Put it on," I said.
"But this thing is so big, Kevin. I don't need it," he said.
"Put it on. Right now."
He straightened up, and I heard four seatbelts click shut.
"Should I talk to them about seatbelts," I asked Rick in little more than a whisper.
"You just did," he said.
"So, really, how were your exams," I asked again.
"I think I did pretty good on mine," Tim said. "I had never taken big exams before this year, and I think I did good on all of them."
"Me, too," Brian said. "I think this school is harder than other ones I've gone to before. But I think I did okay, too."
I had a mental image of Sally Ortega cracking a whip over the kids and teachers at that school. It made me smile. I really liked that lady, the little I knew her.
"What about you, stud? How'd you do?"
"I didn't take exams," Justin said.
Rick laughed. "Not you. The other stud."
"I know I passed everything," Kyle said.
"All A's," Rick asked.
"No, all A pluses," he said.
We all laughed.
"Kyle, there's more in life than being smart in books, man," Rick said.
"I hope my parents think so," he said.
The fact of the matter was, Kyle was extremely smart, but he was not necessarily smart in everything that school required. I had read a couple of articles on the theory of multiple intelligences that some guy at Harvard had come up with. It was very clear to me that Kyle had a very high IQ in verbal intelligence. He was incredibly quick witted and clever, and that blessing he had given at the Florida Caverns State Park several months before had been positively poetic. I had read a few of his essays at his request, and they were extremely well written. His spatial-physical intelligence was superb, as evidenced by his skiing and surfing. His logical-mathematical intelligence was shit, though, and that's where he had the most trouble in school. His crowning glory was his interpersonal intelligence. All of us had commented many times on how unbelievably good he was with people. It was too bad they only tested that in life and not in school. If they had, Kyle would have been the valedictorian.
"So what are you thinking, Bubba? A's and B's," Rick asked.
"Maybe that. Maybe a C or two," he said. "But let's don't talk about this anymore. Did you find out if there are any plays in New Orleans while we're there?"
"Yeah, I did, actually," I said. "There are three big ones, but we can only go to one because of the times. Cats. Sunday night. I went ahead and asked my mom to order us tickets. They'll be delivered today to my parents' house."
"I've heard of that one," Tim said. "What's it about?"
"It's probably about cats," Justin said. "Pussy, it sounds like."
"Actually, Jus, it's about a lot of things. Deep stuff. Like the mono-myth," I said.
"Mono ain't a myth, Kev. I've known too many people who have had it," Kyle said.
I knew it was fun time with pun time.
"Do you want to know what the play is about or not," I asked.
"Yeah, tell us," Brian said.
"The guy who wrote the words to Cats was a guy named T. S. Eliot. He was an American from St. Louis who spent most of his life in England. He believed very strongly in the importance of mythology. Not the stories of the gods and goddesses, necessarily, but the underlying meanings of those stories."
"What underlying meanings," Kyle asked. "Like what?"
"Do you guys know the story of Daedalus and Icarus," I asked.
"Yeah, we just read that one," Brian said.
"Tell it to us, Bri," I said.
"Well, Daedalus was an architect, and he had a son named Icarus. The king of Crete had him build a labyrinth on the island for the Minotaur, who was half man and half bull."
"It sounds like you, Justin," Kyle said.
"Yeah, right, stud," Justin said. "More like you, you mean."
"What's a labyrinth," Tim asked.
"It's a maze. Like that one on the beach near where we live. We've been there," Brian said. "But I think that one was made with shrubs, instead of plywood."
"Oh, okay," Tim said.
"Anyway, the king wouldn't let Daedalus and his son off the island because he was afraid they would tell people how to get out of the labyrinth. They used to put people from Athens in there for the Minotaur to eat. Virgins, so you guys can relax."
We all laughed.
"So Daedalus got an idea for him and Icarus to fly off the island. He made wings for the two of them out of feathers and wax. He told Icarus not to fly too high because the sun would melt the wax, and he'd fall to the sea and drown.
"Icarus was a boy of about fifteen or sixteen. He listened to what his dad said, but once he got flying, he flew too high. Sure enough, the sun melted the wax of his wings, and he drowned."
"Very good, Bri," I said. "Now what is that story really about?"
"It's about some kid who didn't want a bull dick up his ass," Justin said. "Can't say as I blame him."
Justin got the laugh he was going for.
"Is this what Cats is about," Kyle asked.
"No, this is about mythology and what it means," I said. "Let's analyze the story of Icarus, guys. He's a young guy your age, right? He listens to his dad, but as soon as he gets freedom, like when he's flying, he forgets his dad's advice. What did he basically do?"
"He didn't listen to his elders. He rebelled," Jus said.
"Exactly, Jus. You guys are adolescent boys. Do you listen to everything your elders say? Listen and follow it, I mean?"
"I see what you're getting at, Kevin," Kyle said. "It's hard to believe guys were like us way back in those days. In mythology days."
"Human nature doesn't change, Kyle. The point of the story applies every bit as much to the four of you as it did in ancient times. Am I right?"
"Yeah, I think you are, Kev. The wings stuff isn't really important. The point is that boy didn't listen to his dad, and he drowned for it. I guess it means that we need to listen to you guys."
"Kyle, have you noticed? They ain't that much older than us," Jus said.
I looked at Rick, and I knew that he, like me, was wondering where that was going.
"That's why they're our older brothers and not our dads," Kyle said.
"They might not be your dads, but they're my dads. Legally, at least," Justin said.
"Do you have a problem with that, Jus," Kyle asked.
"No," he said.
"So why are we talking about this? I think that's an awesome story. And I have to admit. Sometimes I want to fly higher than I should, just like that boy in the story. And sometimes I do. And you do, too, Jus. And they pull our asses back. And they save our asses, like that boy's daddy couldn't," Kyle said.
"I know," Jus said.
"So what's your problem, man," Kyle asked.
"I don't have a fucking problem with it, Kyle. So shut up, okay?"
"Okay," Kyle said.
My God! I thought. The atmosphere in that truck had gotten pretty hot and heavy, pretty quickly, over mythology of all things.
"Pitt stop," Rick said. He pulled off the Interstate into a gas station with a convenience store. "Everybody piss. Everybody get a cold drink so we can cool off."
We were in Alabama, just east of Mobile, in a town called Bay Minette. We had been on the road two and a half hours, and we were halfway there. The boys got back in the car with drinks and snacks. All four of them were silent.
I was driving when we took off again. I put a Jimmy Buffet CD into the player, and the first song was "Mother Ocean." That was a nice song, and pretty soon Rick was asleep in the passenger seat. I hadn't heard from the boys in the back, and I adjusted the rear view mirror so I could see them. All four of them were asleep, too. I drove through Mississippi at rush hour on the only decent rode they had, and I blew the horn when we finished crossing the twin span into New Orleans. That woke them all up.
"We're here. We're in New Orleans," I said.
"That was quick," Kyle said.
"Yeah, right. You were sleeping he whole damn time from Mobile," I said.
"You never did tell us about Cats," Kyle said, after he was fully awake and as we were driving through the barren part of New Orleans East.
"It's about the mono-myth. That means the basic myth. Birth-death-rebirth. The cats in the play represent different types of people."
"I figured that," he said.
"Well, it's about the cycle, man. What happens in nature?"
"I don't know. What?"
"Every year in the fall stuff dies. Nature dies. The leaves fall off the trees, the grass turns brown, the sun gets lower in the sky, like it's dying, too."
"Okay. So what?"
"Well, that's like the death of nature," I said.
"It doesn't really happen, though. It don't really die. It just goes dormant," Kyle said.
"Yeah, but these were primitive people, Bubba," Rick said, awake by then. "They didn't know the science."
"Exactly," I said.
"Okay, so it died. So what," Kyle asked.
"But it came back in the spring. Nature was reborn. In the play Cats, one of the cats dies sort of and is reborn in the Heavyside Layer. The message is that all of us will be reborn, too," I said.
"That is dumb," Justin said. "How are people supposed to know all that?"
"Well, they get people like us to explain it to them, Jus," I said.
"Besides, it's funny and the music is wonderful, even if you don't know all of that. I didn't know it the first time I saw it, and I loved the play," Rick said.
"Who taught you," Jus asked.
"Kevin," Jus asked.
"Who else," Rick asked.
"How did you know all of that, Kev," Kyle asked.
"I took a lot of English courses in college, Kyle. That's when I read T. S. Eliot. He is the alpha male poet of the Twentieth Century, by the way," I said.
"What does that mean," Kyle asked.
"Never mind. I'll tell you some time," I said.
We were going over the high-rise bridge over the Industrial Canal right at that moment, and the kids saw the skyline of the city laid out before them. It was about five o'clock, and it was dark enough to see the millions of lights that the city displayed. The boys got pretty excited over the cityscape in front of them and to the left.
"Goddamn," Justin said. "This is fucking awesome."
"This is my hometown, boys," I said. "Welcome to New Orleans."
Some happy tears squeaked their way out of my eyes. Rick noticed.
"You pussy," he said in a whisper, grinning his ass off.
"Shut up so I can concentrate on driving," I said.