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 email@example.com.
Kyle, Part 2
We had brought along CB radios with us so we could keep in contact with Gene and the others in the other car. I made contact with them and told them to leave the high-rise Interstate at Franklin Avenue. It wasn't the easiest exit to get to because you had to cross several lanes of traffic. Fortunately, at that time of day most of the traffic was headed in the other direction, out of the city, so it wasn't too difficult that night.
Once we were on Franklin Avenue, Rick got out of his truck and into Gene's car to drive to my parents' house. We had figured that would be easier than trying to have them follow us or to give them a map or something. We got back on the Interstate from Franklin Avenue and headed west, more or less, toward my parents' house.
As a kid growing up in New Orleans, I never really had a sense of the four compass directions within the city. People never used expressions like, "go west on Canal Street," or "that street is five blocks north of here." On the map, "uptown" was south of "downtown." They also never spoke of the "western suburbs" or the "eastern suburbs." Those places all had names, and they used them. For example, to get to the part of the city commonly called "the West Bank," meaning on the west bank of the Mississippi River, you crossed a huge bridge headed due east. The West Bank was really on the south bank of the River, anyway.
When Rick first started going there with me, he was appalled by the apparent lack of concern for geography. He teased me that instead of calling it the Big Easy, they should call it "the Big Easy to Get Lost In." When he heard the motto, "The City that Care Forgot," he changed it to "The City that Forgot to Care About Directions." That sad part was, he was right.
"Wow, look at all the lights," Brian said. "I thought we had a lot on our house. Man, this is too much."
"It's pretty, though," Justin said. I heard somebody give somebody a kiss, and I assumed it was Justin kissing Brian.
"Guys, a lot of people here go all out with Christmas lights," I said. "There are some neighborhoods where every house out does the next one with decorations. They have to close some streets because there are so many people out looking at them."
"That's cool," Kyle said. "Can we drive around some and see 'em."
"Yeah, but not right now. Let's go home first. My mom and dad, and Craig and Cherie, are waiting for us."
"Kev, do you think I could call Beth," Justin asked.
"Yeah." He suddenly sounded shy.
"Sure. Why not?"
"Here's my phone," Kyle said.
I told Jus the number, and Mom must have answered it.
"Hi, Beth. It's me. Justin," he said shyly.
"No, ma'am. We're fine. Kevin's driving. I just wanted to say hello and that we're almost there."
"We're excited, too."
"Brian's fine. Did you know he and I are boyfriends now?"
"Yes, ma'am. I think he is, too."
"I think about you every day, too."
"How much longer, Kev," he asked.
"He said fifteen minutes."
"No. I don't know where we are. We just passed a big park or something. Does that help?"
"Okay, well, we'll be there in a few minutes. See you then."
"Don't hang up," Kyle screamed at him.
"Hold on a second," Jus said. "What do you want, Kyle?"
"Hold the phone out. On three, we all say, 'Hi, Grandma.' One, two, three."
"Hi, Grandma," all four boys bellowed.
"Did you hear 'em," Jus said into the phone.
"I love you, too. We all love you. Bye."
"Justin, that was about the nicest thing you've ever done, man," I said.
"She started crying at the very end, though," he said.
"Those were tears of joy, son. Happy tears. You've already made her a very happy lady, and you haven't even gotten there yet," I said.
"I'm glad. I was afraid she was going to ask about my butt," Jus said.
"She probably will, when you get there. She'll probably want to check it, too. She may be your grandma, but she's still a doctor, you know," I said.
"If she does, I hope I don't get a hard-on this time," he said.
"This time," Kyle asked. "You got a hard-on when she checked you before?" Kyle sounded surprised and shocked, but he might be setting up a big tease.
"Yeah. I did. So what?"
"So WHAT!!??? That means you ain't queer, Jus. You're a faker, man," Kyle said.
"Fuck you. I'm as queer as you are. Probably queerer."
"Nuh-unh. Ladies don't give me boners, man," Kyle said.
"Shut up, Kyle, you little shitass. I'll show you how fuckin' queer I am. I'll..."
"Buddy, stop it," Brian said.
"WHAT!?....Sorry, Bri. What?"
"Stop it because Kyle just got you last," Brian said.
There was a long pause. Suddenly Justin burst out laughing, and the rest of us did, too.
"You jerk, Kyle. Yeah, you did, asshole," Justin said. "You got me last this time."
My, God, I thought. They're arguing about who's the queerest. I couldn't wait to tell Rick about that.
"I'm going to nominate you two to be the Gay Pride poster boys," I said.
"What does that mean," Kyle wanted to know.
"Worthy causes have 'poster children.' Those are kids who best illustrate what the cause is trying to promote. Like the cerebral palsy poster child is a kid who has bad cerebral palsy but who is totally cute and loveable. I actually doubt they have poster children anymore. It's probably not politically correct. I said it as a joke, but I can see it was not even remotely funny. Forget it."
"He knew what it meant, Kev," Tim said quietly. "He wanted to get you last, too."
"Shit," I said, and they all laughed their asses off.
We pulled into my old neighborhood at that moment. After a turn off Metairie Road, we were driving down my street. It was in a part of town known as Old Metairie, and the streets had huge oak trees next to the sidewalk that made a beautiful canopy over the street. In our block, somebody had strung Christmas lights in the canopy, and the whole street was ablaze with color. That was the first time that had ever been done. When the guys saw it, they started cheering.
The block had seven houses on either side of the street, and our house was dead center on the right-hand side. I had no idea whether that was the north, south, east, or west side. I just knew it was the right-hand side from the direction we were coming.
"Kevin, this is awesome, man," Kyle said. "Why didn't you tell us?"
"I didn't tell you 'cause I didn't know. They've never done this before," I said.
It really was quite a spectacle. I noticed that there weren't any cars parked in the street. Usually, there were cars on both sides, at least here and there, at night. More than once some kid on the block had come home drunk and had taken out some neighbor's parked car. Craig and I had never done it, but we both knew it was our Guardian Angels that had kept that from happening.
"This is it, guys," I said, pulling into the circular driveway that ran across the front lawn. Rick and the rest were right behind us.
"Damn," Justin said.
The house was big, and it was nice. I had taken it totally for granted as a kid. Everybody in our neighborhood lived in a house like that, and many of my friends from school outside my neighborhood did, too. It was two stories, and there was an apartment over the garage in the back yard that you reached from a service alley. We had always had a lot more space than we really needed, even when Craig and I still lived there. Now that we were grown, my parents held on to it probably just for occasions like that visit. Craig and I had had to "do the yards" when we were kids, but now my parents had a lawn service. It was all the difference between night (Craig and Kevin) and day (the lawn service).
I tapped the horn a few times when we pulled up to let them know we had arrived, and Mom, Dad, Craig, and Cherie came out of the front door. It had only been about three weeks since we had seen them, but they swarmed on us like long-lost relatives.
"Beth, the house is just beautiful," Rita said, once we had settled down.
"Thanks. It's comfortable for us. A little too big, now that the boys are gone. Rita, there's a small apartment over the garage out back. I was thinking you and Gene might do well in one of the bedrooms out there, with George in the other bedroom. Will that work?"
"Certainly. It's best to keep the boys in the house so some adults can hear what's going on," Rita said. "Will you show me around?"
The ladies went off on a tour of the house. My parents had collected some pretty neat antiques and art works over the years, and I knew my mother was eager to show it off to Rita. She had been very impressed by the Goodson home, and she wanted Rita to know that she had good taste, as well.
"Who wants a drink," my dad asked.
We all said we could use something.
"Son, would you do the honors," my dad asked Craig.
"Sure. Get your ass up and help me," he said to Rick.
Rick stuck out his hand for Craig to pull him up, and Craig jerked his arm.
"Thanks, brother," Rick said, then he and Craig both laughed.
"Dad, what's with the lights in the trees," I asked.
"That was your mother's doing. She paid for those to be hung, and she's paying for the electricity. She wanted it for the boys," he said. "She got the neighbors to park off the street, too. But just for tonight and the night of our party."
"It's beautiful," George said.
"I'm glad you like it, George."
"I think we all second George in that, Ed," Gene said. "I wish we had big trees like you do across our street."
"Organize the block, Gene," my dad said. "People think live oaks grow slowly, but they really don't. They appear to grow slowly because they live for several hundred years and get so big. These trees were planted in the 1940's, and this street has been canopied since around 1970. That's the year we moved into this house."
"Is this the only house your family has ever lived in," George asked.
"Yes. We thought it was outrageously expensive when we bought it, but we got it for a song by today's prices," Dad said.
"Do you mind saying how much, Ed," Gene asked.
"No. Forty thousand. In 1970. We've modernized and improved and renovated here and there, but that's what we paid for it."
"But you were both doctors," Gene said.
"We were, but we were both residents, not in practice yet, Gene. It was a risk and a gamble for us back then, but it paid off," Dad said.
Craig and Rick came back in with a tray of drinks. Rick served the adults, and Craig served the kids, pointing out to each one which drink was his. We all knew what that was all about.
Craig went back to the kitchen and brought out drinks for the three ladies and set them down for them on napkins. Then he went back and brought out a couple of trays of hors d'ouevres.
"Don't eat too heavy, guys. We've got a sack of oysters out back, and there's a bunch of food tonight," Craig said.
The ladies came back in a few minutes. Tim, Kyle, Justin, and Brian got off the sofa for the floor to give them a place to sit. Rita started telling Gene and George how wonderful the house was, but I could tell neither one of them cared. My mother made Jus and Brian sit on either side of her legs, and Cherie honed in on Jeff again.
"Mom, it's 6:30," Craig said. "Should we start opening the oysters?"
"Yes. You and Kevin go do that, please," she said.
"I was thinking some strong boys need to open oysters," Craig said. "Kevin and Rick and I need to supervise."
"Would you mind doing that for us, boys," she asked.
"No, ma'am. We expected to. That's our job," Kyle said. "Let's go."
The five boys and Rick and Craig and I got up to go outside to open the oysters. Kyle organized it, handing Justin and Tim gloves and knives.
"What is this shit," Jus said, looking at the glove.
"It's an oyster glove. What does it look like," Kyle asked.
"What's this extra thumb for? My dick?"
"That's way too big for your dick, Justin, and you know it," Kyle said.
"It would swallow yours, anti-dick," Jus said.
Craig acted like that was the funniest thing he had ever heard. "He got you last, Kyle."
"Yeah, he did, but I'm still ahead. That extra thumb makes that glove work right-handed or left-handed, Bubba. See." He demonstrated it on both hands.
"Cool," Jus said.
They hadn't gotten singleton oysters, so there were three or four stuck together. Tim evidently didn't realize that. He opened one of a cluster of four and put it on the tray.
"Look, Babe. Let me show you how to do this," Kyle said. "These ain't singletons, and there are three more oysters in that clump you just set down there. What you do is open one like this." He demonstrated. "You lay the top shell down on the tray, and you scoop out the oyster like this." He demonstrated again. "You lay that oyster on the top shell, and you do the same for all the others in the clump. This is the way you usually have to do it."
"Okay," Tim said.
They worked on a few.
"These knives need to be sharpened bad, Craig. You got a grinding wheel around here somewhere," Kyle asked.
"There's a wheel in the garage. At least there used to be. I guess it's still there. Let's go look," Craig said.
They came back in about ten minutes, and I could tell those oyster knives were razor sharp. Justin was the first to notice the difference.
"Damn, this is like cutting through soft butter with a hot knife," he said.
"My advice to you, Justin, is always keep a good point on your tool and keep it sharp, Bubba," Kyle said.
Craig and Rick almost choked, they laughed so hard.
Kyle opened those oysters at four times the speed of the other two. He fed himself, the rest of us, and still managed to fill up as many trays for inside as the rest of them.
"We have to shuck all of these out before we eat," he said. "'Cause we're going out tonight after dinner, right?"
"If you didn't eat so damn many, you could get them all done," Rick said.
The next time around, Kyle started to offer one to Rick off the point of his knife. Instead, he shook his head "no," and passed him by. We laughed.
"Jeff and Brian, y'all come over here and take their places. You need to learn how to do this, too," Kyle said. "Have either of y'all ever done this?"
They both said "no."
He demonstrated and watched as they did it the first time.
"You can do it," he said. "It takes some elbow grease sometimes, but there really ain't that much to it."
Kyle speared one of the first ones Brian opened, and he couldn't get it off the shell.
"No, Brian. You've got to cut that muscle, man. Watch."
He showed Brian how to do it.
Kyle had grown up in a seafood culture, where men knew how to harvest food from the sea. He knew how to open oysters, peel shrimp, filet fish, and get the meat out of crabs faster than anybody I had ever seen. He knew how to catch those creatures, as well. He knew where the scallop beds were in St. Joseph Bay near us, and he knew how to snorkel to get them. He knew how to throw a cast net in a perfect circle, and later that year, in the summer, I got a magnificent picture of him stark naked throwing a net off the stern of his boat. It was pure luck on my part to get that shot, but it communicated total concentration on his face, total at-homeness with his body, and the total power of a young male fishing.
Craig refilled the boys' drinks, and I knew he was giving Jeff, Jus, and Kyle booze. I thought he gave Tim a little bit, too, but I could tell he wasn't giving Brian any liquor. Justin and Kyle, though only seventeen, were men in Craig's eyes, and at twenty Jeff was certainly a man. If I hadn't known it before, I knew that night that my brother loved those boys like they were his own sons.
"Beth, Kevin didn't tell us about the Christmas lights in the trees," Kyle said. "They look unbelievable." We were back inside after opening the oysters.
"Thanks, Kyle. I'm glad you like them," Mom said.
"Mom, you should have heard them screaming in the car when they first saw them," I said.
"Thanks for doing that for us," Jus said.
"You're most welcome, Justin. It's not every day my grandchildren visit me for the first time, now, is it?"
"No, ma'am," Jus said. "I hope this isn't the last time, too."
"Oh, it won't be. If Kevin won't bring you, I'll send you airline tickets, and you boys can come without him," she said.
"Oh, we'll bring 'em, Mom," I said.
"Y'all ought to come for Mardi Gras," Craig said.
"When is it," Kyle asked.
"It's early this year. The middle of February," Mom said. "We can check the exact date, though."
"And don't just come for the weekend," Dad said. "Plan on traveling over on Friday and going home on Ash Wednesday. Too many people miss Carnival Day."
"Can you still get hotel reservations," Rita asked.
"Probably not good ones, Rita, but we'd be annoyed if you didn't stay here," Mom said.
"Oh, Beth, that would be too much," Rita said.
"Not at all. We'll probably just end up being here to sleep, anyway. But you saw how big the house is. We can handle everyone easily."
Kyle kept cutting his eyes back and forth between the two women. I knew he knew better than to put his two cents worth in, but I could tell he really wanted to come.
"Let me check the calendar so you can know not to schedule any business for that time," Dad said. He got up and went into their home office, also known as the study. "It's on the twelfth of February. That means you'll get here on the eighth and leave on the thirteenth."
Rita got a small calendar book out of her purse and turned to February.
"It looks good, Hon," she said to Gene.
"Put it down," Gene said.
"Does this mean we're coming," Kyle asked.
"It means your mother and I are," Gene said.
"Aw, Dad," Kyle said.
"He's teasing you son," Rita said.
"And he sure got me last," Kyle said.
"God, it's been years since I've heard anybody say that," Mom said. "Do you all play that game with each other?"
"Yeah, Beth," Rick said.
"This one invented it, I think," she said, indicating Craig. "They played it endlessly, and, frankly, it was usually pretty funny."
We heard a bell from the dining room, and that meant dinner was served.
"Shall we have dinner," Mom said, standing. We all followed her into the dining room. She assigned seats, and we all sat down.
Mom nodded to Dad, which meant she wanted him to say grace.
"I'd like to ask our friend George to do the honors tonight, if he will," Dad said.
"Thank you, Ed. Let us pray. 'Lord, you've gathered together your family this evening through the gracious hospitality of Beth and Ed. We all need one another in so many ways, but most of all we need you among us. Thank you for one another, for your presence at this table, and for these gifts which we are about to receive through your bounty, through Christ our Lord....'"
"Amen," we all said together.
"Nicely done, George. Thank you," Dad said.
"Thank you, Ed," George said.
The first course was seafood gumbo, a dish we always referred to as okra gumbo. It was in a huge tureen at my mother's end of the table, and she served our plates. Justin picked up his spoon to start eating as soon as he got his plate, but he put it down to wait for everyone else when he glanced at Rick and Rick gave him the eye.
After the gumbo was served, my mother passed around a bowl of rice to put in it. Once the rice bowl was back in its place on the table, she picked up her spoon. All five of the boys were watching her to see what to do, and they followed suit automatically.
The gumbo was superb, and everyone commented on that fact. Through the years my mother had had great luck in hiring women, all of them Black, to cook for us. When we were at home, the cook came every day. Now, she cleaned the house twice a week and cooked on special occasions. The lady who had worked for us the longest, Miss Dilsey, basically raised Craig and me. She had two sons who were our ages, and for several years they were our best friends. It probably shocked the good people of Old Metairie to see four little boys, two Black, two white, playing everywhere together. One year Craig and I had gotten new bikes for Christmas. That year Paul and Jackie had gotten new bikes, too, and they were identical to ours. Paul and Jackie had both gone to our high school, too, and it was a couple of years later, when I was in college, that my parents confessed to basically supporting those boys. Paul was an engineer in Portland, Oregon, by then, and Jackie was in graduate school at LSU working on a Ph.D. in clinical psychology. I still loved those guys. Miss Dilsey had died my freshman year of college, and I had come home for the funeral. Like everyone in my family, I mourned the loss of a dear loved one.
The rest of the meal was good, but it didn't quite measure up to the gumbo. We had pork roast, oven-"fried" white and sweet potatoes, and broccoli with cheese sauce. Dessert was the best bread pudding I had eaten in years.
"What's your schedule," my dad asked during dinner. "Or I guess I should say what's our schedule?"
Rick and I had sat down together before we left home to work up a schedule of things to do.
"Rick and I have a plan, but it's flexible," I said.
"Can we look at the lights tonight," Brian asked.
"That sounds good to me," I said. "I had actually forgotten about that until Kyle asked to do that on the way in tonight."
"Yeah, we really do have to do that," Dad said. "They're even more spectacular this year than last, or so I've been told."
"Apparently the display in City Park is unbelievable this year," Cherie said. "There was an article in the paper about it last Sunday."
"Okay, so Christmas lights tonight. We were thinking the Fair Grounds tomorrow," I said.
"For heaven's sake! That's perfect, Kevin," Mom said. "I haven't been to the racetrack in years. Certainly not since they've rebuilt it after the fire a few years ago. That'll be fun, Rita, especially with all these handsome men to wait on us."
"We have reservations for dinner at Commander's Palace tomorrow night," Dad said. "Everybody brought dress clothes, right?"
"Yes, sir," Kyle answered for the boys.
"Great. Our reservation is for 7:30. We'll have time to come home, clean up, and maybe even rest a little before dinner," Dad said.
"On Sunday, we thought we would go to the aquarium and the zoo," I said.
"I have an idea," Mom said. "Let's go to Mass at the Cathedral first, then have coffee and doughnuts at Cafe du Monde. There's a boat that goes from the aquarium to the zoo. We can ride that up and back. That way we can see some of the river."
"That's a great idea, Grandma," Brian said. He didn't mention that he had already thought of it.
"I'd like to get some beignets," Rita said, "or was that what you were talking about, Beth?"
"Yes, it was, Rita. Here in the city we refer to it as coffee and doughnuts usually, but it's really coffee and beignets."
"Get Kevin to tell you guys a funny story about us at the Cincinnati Zoo. It involved an elephant," Craig said.
"He already told us," Jus said, "and it was pretty funny. I've never even seen an elephant, much less an elephant's ...."
"Don't tell it, Bubba," Rick said.
"Jeez. Sorry," Jus said, and he blushed a little.
"So what was the story," Rita said.
"Oh, Rita, you really don't want to know," Mom said. "Trust me on this."
"Beth is right, Rita. I know the story, and it's strictly a 'boy thing,'" Cherie said.
"I can just imagine," Rita said, and she grinned. I think that was the first time I noticed how beautiful she was and how much Kyle looked like her.
"Sunday night we have tickets for Cats," I said. "For all of us."
"Kevin, that's perfect," Cherie said. "I love that show."
"So do we, Cherie," Rita said.
"You've seen that play, Mom," Kyle asked.
"Yes, son, and so have you. You were four years old. You don't remember it, do you?"
"No, ma'am," Kyle said.
"It's damn good, Kyle. You'll love it," Craig said.
"Monday I thought we would take a city tour, including the Quarter. I think we can give a city tour as well as a bus tour does, don't you, Mom?"
"Better," she said. "I wish we had a vehicle large enough for all of us."
"It would take a bus," Jus said, deadpan, "or a troop carrier. A humvee, maybe."
"I'm thinking. I'm thinking," Dad said. "We're fourteen, right? Craig and Cherie, will you be able to be with us on Monday?"
"Are you kidding? This is Christmas vacation for us," Cherie said.
"I wonder if we could hire a limo that would hold all of us," Dad said. "I'd like for us to all be together for the tour, too."
"Dad, they have limo vans that can seat fourteen easily. We went to a wedding recently where they used one," Craig said.
"I'll check on that tomorrow," Dad said.
"If you find something, Ed, it's on me, you hear," Gene said.
"We'll work that out," Dad said. "So that's Monday. What about Monday night?"
"Monday night the boys...er, we would like to do some gay clubs," I said.
"Well, of course," Dad said. "You fellows don't have much opportunity for that sort of thing, do you?"
"No, and there's a place that has Youth Night on Mondays," I said.
"We can all do that too, can't we," Mom asked. I wondered if she had a PFLAG sweatshirt.
"Of course, Mom," Craig said. "We're going, aren't we?" The last statement was aimed at Cherie.
"Sure," Cherie said.
"Honey, I don't have any problem with going," Dad said, "but I think maybe the young people would have more fun without us. We're sort of past the bar-hopping stage, after all. We can do something old-fogeyish with George and the Goodsons."
She thought for a moment.
"Yes, I guess you're right," she said. "Tuesday?"
"Tuesday is open right now," I said. "I didn't know what kind of help you might need getting ready for the party."
"Odille and her husband will be here all day. Their two daughters and their husbands will work the party, too. Most of the food is catered, and Odille will cook the rest. Or will have cooked it by then at her house. We don't need a lot of people underfoot around here, Kevin. I think you should plan something. Why don't you take everybody to the Destrehan Plantation and up River Road to see the bonfires."
"I had forgotten about that," I said. "That's a good idea."
"There having bonfires that day," Jus asked.
"No, not that day, Jus. It's a tradition along the river. People light bonfires on Christmas Eve on the levee of the Mississippi River so that Papa Noel, Santa Claus, can find his way to the little towns along the river," I said.
"They think Santa Claus lives in Baton Rouge," Craig said. "They have him confused with Edwin Edwards."
My parents, Cherie, and I laughed our asses off at that comment.
"Local joke," George asked.
"Very local, George," I said.
"Do they have big ones like we had at camp in Marianna," Tim asked.
"Oh, much bigger, Tim. Three stories tall. Four stories tall. They start working on those things Thanksgiving weekend, and they work every day to build them. You'll see. It's pretty unbelievable. I did a project on them for school one time. There was an article in the Smithsonian Magazine about them. That's what gave me the idea for the project. Most of them are just tall pyramid-type things, but a few are houses, fire trucks, railroad engines, all kinds of things."
"Wow," several of the boys said.
"We'll get out and talk to the guys building them. They've been doing it for over a hundred years," I said. "Some of them supposedly post armed guards at night so nobody will tear theirs down, or worse, set it on fire ahead of time."
"A couple of times we took a boat ride up the river to see them. Remember, Kev," Craig asked.
"Oh, yeah. They were spectacular," I said.
"I wish we could see 'em lit," Kyle said. "Are there many of them?"
"There are a couple of hundred, I would guess," Craig said.
"Man, that must be something," Kyle said.
"It is, Bubba. Maybe we can do that some year," I said.
"I know Odille is waiting to get in here to clean up," my mother said. "Are we ready to go see the lights?"
The lights on our street were truly spectacular as we drove away. There was a long stream of cars in the street, looking at our lights, but we were able to get out of the driveway pretty quickly because of one nice guy. Craig and Cherie were in the Bronco with the rest of us. The other six were in my dad's car, with him driving. We had given them the other CB radio so we could keep up with one another.
"I wish Jeff could have fit in with us," Cherie said.
"Me, too," Kyle said. "Kevin, call them and tell them to pull over so Jeff can ride with us. Tim can sit on my lap. That's okay with you, isn't it, Babe?"
"Sure," Tim said.
I called them on the CB and told them what we wanted. They pulled over, and Jeff came bounding back to our car. He had a big grin on his face, and I knew he liked the idea of riding with us.
We visited a bunch of streets in Metairie, and some of them were quite a sight. Several streets were blocked off, and we had to walk. Every one of those streets had vendors selling food and drink. At the fourth place with a vendor, the boys each got a hot dog with chili, French fries, and a drink. It had been over an hour since they had eaten, after all.
At the next one, we all got ice cream cones.
City Park was truly unmatched. I had been there for that light show a few times before, but it was much bigger and much better than I had remembered. The boys were impressed, too.
"What's that big building right there," Kyle asked.
"The New Orleans Museum of Art," I said. "They don't have a real big permanent collection, but they get good stuff, from time to time. Touring exhibits."
"Yeah, they're going to have a killer one next year for the two hundredth anniversary of the Louisiana Purchase," Cherie said. "We'll have to go see that."
We ended up at Cafe du Monde for coffee and doughnuts. After we ate our beignets and drank our coffee, we had to take to foot and see what was going on. That wasn't on the agenda for that night, but how could we have stopped that from happening? We ended up at a karaoke bar in the fourth or fifth block of Bourbon.
They just about wore out my mom, Rita, and Cherie dancing with them. Then they branched out to other girls in the place. It was a mixture of tourists and locals, and there were several tables of all girls just dying to dance. Kyle got a waiter off to the side and placed an order. The guy brought the drinks, and Kyle paid him in cash. The drinks were in clear plastic cups, and they looked like cokes. I knew better.
"That's my boy," Gene said, when he saw me looking.
"I've got to sing," Kyle eventually said.
He went up to the stage and talked to the DJ. In a few seconds we heard the music of "Rawhide," and Kyle was singing it. Then he sang "Friends in Low Places," and the place erupted in applause.
The boys were standing at a high table near the front, not sitting at a regular table in the back, like the adults. He bummed a smoke off Justin and lit up.
"He's never done that before around us," Rita said, referring to Kyle. "Gene and I have known for a couple of years that he smokes, but this is the first time we've ever seen it."
"I've known both my boys smoke for over ten years, Rita, and I've never seen them smoking, except from a distance," my mom said. "I know you don't approve, and I don't either, but there really isn't anything we can do about it. It's part of the letting go."
"I guess," Rita said. "He just has such a strong personality."
"We talked about this at Thanksgiving, when you and Gene were still in Charleston. Kyle is probably an alpha male, Rita. He's the boss, and other men accept that implicitly. All of those boys do, whether they realize it or not, and Kevin, Rick, and Craig do, too. They might not want to admit that a seventeen-year-old boy is their boss, but he is," my mom said.
"I've had a sense of that before, Beth," Rita said. "What did you call it? Alpha male?"
"Yes. He runs that pack of boys. He'll run any pack of boys or men he's in, Rita. I think it's a gift from God. Others think it's purely biological. It has nothing to do with his being gay. It's just the way things are ordered by nature," my mom said.
Kyle came up to the table we were seated at by then. It was in the back of the club, away from the stand-up tables. It was a few minutes after one o'clock.
"Are y'all ready to go home," he asked.
We were, and we did.