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
Riding to New Orleans was fun, but we mostly talked about intellectual stuff. What I didn't get was Justin. It was like one minute he was pissed off or something, and the next minute he was acting so sweet and so nice. I loved Justin as much as I loved Clay, I think, but sometimes I just didn't understand where he was coming from.
I went to sleep after we stopped to pee just before we went through Mobile. I stayed awake going through that awesome tunnel they have, but once we passed the city it was really boring. I had woken up real early that morning, so I just went to sleep. I think everybody else must have, too, except for Kevin, who was driving.
When we turned into Kevin's street, there were these humongous trees with about a million Christmas lights hanging in them. It was so beautiful that we all started cheering and screaming. Kevin said he didn't tell us about that because he didn't know about it. It turned out that Beth had done that for us.
We had some more raw oysters that night before dinner. They were Louisiana oysters, not Apalachicola oysters, and they weren't as good. They were much bigger and not nearly as salty. I had to teach Brian and Jeff how to shuck them, but they caught on pretty quick. Those oyster knives they had were shitty until I sharpened them. It was a good thing they had a grinder because we'd still be there if I had had to use a file on them.
After dinner, which was good, we went to see the lights. Then we went to get coffee and some little square doughnuts covered with powdered sugar. They were good. Not too sweet, but nice and light. I ate the six they brought me and two of Tim's.
It was amazing how many people were on the street. There was a big square with a fence around it right across the street from the coffee shop, and we walked around a little bit looking at some of the shops and such. I saw a bunch of cute guys, and several of them checked me out as I was checking them out. We saw three or four male couples holding hands, and we even saw two guys kissing on the street. They were rubbing against one another, so there was no doubt what they were doing.
It was just a couple of blocks to Bourbon Street, so we walked over there. We went to a place called the Cat's Meow that was packed. It was a great place, though. It had karaoke, which I had heard of but had never seen before. The DJ was funny, and he kept singing really dirty words to the songs. It was a little embarrassing at first because my mom and Beth were with us, but I didn't let it bother me after I saw them both laughing. This one couple were dancing all over one another, almost like they were having sex. I saw that the guy was hard, but I wasn't surprised. The DJ kept offering to take up a collection so they could get a room. They left after a little while, I guess to get a room.
Watching those two dance made me hard, which I really didn't appreciate since I wanted to dance with my mom and Beth and Cherie. There was no way I was dancing with them with a hard-on. No way. It went away after that couple left, but my underwear was wet with what I had been leaking. It wasn't cold, exactly, but it was annoying. If Tim and I had danced like that, we probably would have been arrested. On second thought, probably not in New Orleans.
I ordered a couple of rounds of drinks for the boys, and the waiter didn't even ask how old I was. He just brought the drinks. I got Brian a drink like everybody else, and he handled it just fine, like I knew he would. People forget that Brian was going to be fifteen in January, although he looks a lot younger.
Tim wanted me to get up on the stage and sing.
"No way," I said.
"Come on, Babe. You'll be great, man. Please," he said.
"He ain't got the balls to do it," Justin said.
He said that kind of mean. He teased me all the time, but that didn't really sound like teasing. That was all it took, though. I went up on that stage and sang two songs. A lot of people clapped, and I felt good doing it. I watched my mom, and she got a real proud and happy look on her face when I was singing. So did Beth.
Justin didn't clap, though, and he had this real mad look on his face when I got back to our table.
"Why are you in such a shitty mood, Justin," I asked. "Aren't you having fun?"
He got very, very quiet. He didn't move a muscle except to lower his head.
I took his hand in my hand. He looked up at me, and I could see tears in his eyes. I knew he was hurting; I just didn't know why.
"Let's step out and have a smoke," I said.
"You can smoke in here," Tim said. "All these other people are smoking."
"We'll be back in a few minutes, Babe," I said. Then I leaned over and whispered to Tim, "I need to talk to him."
"Okay," Tim said.
Jus and I walked down a side street about a half a block and lit up.
"This isn't you, Bubba," I said. "What's going on?"
"It's just so much, Kyle," he said.
"What do you mean?"
"Well, everything," he said. "The trip, the beautiful house, all the nice stuff, all these people being so nice to me. Everything."
"Are you afraid it's not real? That it's going to vanish before your eyes?"
"Something like that," he said. "Do you know what I did on Christmas Day last year, Kyle?"
"I took six dicks up my ass, man. The first guy was the one who hurt me. Who gave me that tear in my ass. He was so fucking drunk I was surprised he could even get it up, but he did. When I told that bastard who owned me I didn't want to do anymore tricks that day, he punched me in the face and told me to grow up. I still had five more guys to do. I passed out twice. The second time I passed out was with the sixth guy. The pain was unbelievable. When I woke up the next morning, I had a wad of paper towels stuck up my ass, but the bleeding had stopped."
"But that's all over now. Now you're with us," I said.
"I know, and I feel like shit for being in such a bitchy mood. Especially to you, man. You've been nothing but kind to me. I love you, Kyle. I used to want you for my boyfriend. I don't anymore, but I still love you."
"I love you, too," I said.
"Yeah, but you love Tim more, don't you?"
"I do love Tim more, and I also love Tim different. I love you like I love Clay."
"At least that's something," he said. "That afternoon you jerked me off I thought maybe you felt about me like I felt about you. But that was just a mercy fuck, wasn't it?"
"That was something I should never have done. I've thought about it a lot since then. I'm not going to lie to you, Jus. Physically? Sexually? I find you extremely attractive, man. You're a stud. And I'm not teasing you or joking around now. But there's a level where we just don't connect, and Tim and I do. I want to be your friend, your very close friend, the rest of our lives, Bubba."
"I want that, too. I think I'm in love with Brian, Kyle."
"I know you are. It's pretty obvious."
"I think Brian might be my Tim, or my Rick if I was Kevin," he said.
"I hope so," I said. "Were you thinking that if you were obnoxious enough I'd stop loving you? Or that Kevin and Rick would stop loving you?"
He didn't respond right away.
"I guess," he said.
"Well, let me tell you something. No matter how bitter or sad or obnoxious you are, that ain't going to happen. I'm not going to stop loving you. Kevin and Rick aren't going to stop loving you. Beth isn't going to stop loving you. You belong to our hearts now, and you can't change that. No matter what you do. So you might as well stand tall and soar like an eagle, man. 'Cause that's what you are."
He started crying.
"Happy or sad," I asked.
"H-H-Happy," he said. He stopped crying and snorted up the snot that was in his nose. Then he spat a wad of it in the street. "Let's party, Brother." He grinned.
There were no more bad moods from Justin on that trip or for the rest of the Christmas holidays. In fact, he's been a pretty cheerful dude since then.
We got home pretty late Friday night, but everybody had had a great time, I think. Kyle and Justin had left the karaoke club we were in for about an hour, but they came back looking like they were the best of friends and happy. I figured they had decided to check out some of the other action on Bourbon Street. They were old enough to do that, but I was a little disappointed in them for ignoring their boyfriends while they did it.
The first post time at the Fair Grounds was 12:30, but a lot of activity went on before the beginning of that first race. The racetrack was in Mid-City, a section between Uptown and Downtown. It was fairly close to City Park where we had seen the lights, and it was about a five-minute drive from the Quarter. It was about a fifteen-minute drive from our house.
The boys were all downstairs by 9:30, but they all needed to clean up in the bathroom. We let them have coffee and some of the pastry Odille had made and my mother had baked that morning, but we ushered them up to get ready for the day by ten o'clock. Before he went back upstairs, Justin wanted to talk to Rick and me.
"I want to apologize for acting like a butt hole yesterday," he said.
"You seemed pretty hostile at times yesterday, Jus. I was worried. Apology accepted," I said.
"Same here, on both counts," Rick said.
"Kyle set me straight last night. It'll be all cheer and fun from here on out from me," he said.
Rick and I knew better than to pry into what had gone on.
"Welcome back," I said.
"Yeah, welcome back," Rick said.
He grinned and went off to take his shower.
"Kyle strikes again," Rick asked.
"Apparently," I said.
"Are they going to let the boys in at the racetrack," George asked as we were getting into the cars.
"Oh, yeah," I said. "Children under six can't get in, but these dudes can. We'll have to place bets for them, maybe. Especially Tim and Brian. Jeff is fully legal, and Kyle and Justin can pass for eighteen to make bets."
"This is New Orleans, not Boston, George," my dad said. George laughed.
The Fair Grounds is a pretty impressive place by any standard. It's the oldest racetrack in the country that is still in operation, having started racing there in 1852. I was sure other tracks probably claimed that title too, but it hardly mattered. There had been thoroughbred racing on that site for a long time, and they knew how to do it right.
"I'll get the admission," George said. "How much is it?"
"A buck a head," I said.
"You're kidding! A dollar a person? You can't do anything for a dollar," he said.
"Well, that's the grandstand. The Clubhouse is four dollars each, but I think the grandstand is better," I said. "You're much closer to the action. It's not cold or raining today, and the grandstand has the best characters."
"But a dollar for admission is outrageous. No place only charges a dollar," he said. He was laughing.
"Well, the Fair Grounds does," I said. "If you want to spend money, George, you can buy everybody lunch."
"That'll set you back about six bucks a person," my dad said.
"Unbelievable," George said. "How does this place make money?"
"How does a casino make money, George? Casinos give you free drinks and food," Rick said.
"Good point," George said. "I'm here for entertainment and to be with friends. I guess a lot of people are here to win, or lose, money."
"Exactly," I said, "and it's mostly to lose."
We got programs as we went in, and Craig bought a copy of The Racing Form.
"Do you know how to read the Form, son," my dad asked him.
"Not really, but I figured with the amount of education in this group we should be able to figure something out," Craig said.
"Not necessarily," Dad said.
The Racing Form was a more-or-less daily newspaper that was published about the Fair Grounds. I assumed every major racetrack had its own edition of the Form. It had details about every race and more statistics than The Wall Street Journal. Racing aficionados knew how to read the Form and how to use it to win.
"What's the strategy here, Kevin," Gene asked.
"Gene, basically I bet the favorite to win, place, and show. That way you're almost always in the money. The program shows you who the favorite is. It also shows you who the long shot is. A lot of guys box the favorite and play the long shot to win. The bets are three dollars, I think. Not more than five, anyway. You can bet a whole lot more, of course. Some people play lucky numbers. Each horse has a number, and if a number feels lucky to you, bet it."
"What do you mean by 'box the favorite,'" Kyle asked.
"Betting win, place, or show--first, second, third--on the same horse is boxing that horse," I said.
"How many horses in a race," Kyle asked.
"They don't like to let the races get down below ten. There are usually twelve, fifteen horses."
"What if I box 'em all," Kyle asked.
"If you do that, you'll win a win bet, a place bet, and a show bet. But you might not even break even if you do that. The fun of this sport is picking one horse and betting on it. You're not here to make money. You're here to have fun," I said.
"Kyle, when my father started bringing me to the track when I was around ten, he used to always take me to the paddock. If a horse took a piss or a shit while we were there, that's the one we would bet on," my dad said.
"Why? Lighter," Kyle asked.
"Exactly," Dad said. "And you know, that's as good a system as any."
George and Gene were listening, and they laughed.
"The paddock is the place where they take the horses fourteen minutes before a race. How they set on fourteen minutes, instead of fifteen minutes, I'll never guess, but that's what it is. When you hear the bell ring, that means the horses are entering the paddock," Dad said. "You can go look at the horses in the paddock and get pretty close to them."
"This is so cool," Kyle said. "How much time before the paddock opens?"
"About an hour and a half," I said.
"Should we get some lunch," George asked. It was only eleven, but I knew the boys could eat.
"Yes, sir," Kyle said.
We got lunch. Afterwards we visited the gift shop.
"Let's all get baseball caps," Kyle said. We agreed, and everybody, including the ladies, got identical baseball caps. They were black with the Fair Grounds logo on them. George, who was still annoyed that the admission and the lunch had cost so little, paid for all the caps, too. They were $13 a piece.
There was already a good arch in the bills of those caps, but Kyle and Rick worked with theirs a little more. Tim worked his, too, after he saw Kyle doing it. Mine was comfortable the way it was.
After we finished in the gift shop, we had to decide on which horse we were going to bet in the first race. When we had made our choices, we pooled up our money so only a couple of us would have to stand in line. After we had bought our tickets and were back in the grandstand, we heard the paddock bell. We all trooped over there to look at the horses. They were magnificent specimens, but they seemed nervous and jittery. It was like they knew they were on display.
In a little while we were back at our place in the grandstand. It wasn't long before the trumpet let us know the race was about to start. "And they're off," the announcer said, and the horses bolted from the starting gate. Everybody started cheering for their horse, and it seemed like the race was over in just a few seconds.
"Mine won," Brian said. He was pretty excited about that.
"Let's wait and see how much it pays," I said.
"How do we know that," Kyle asked.
I pointed out the sign that gave the payoff. We waited a few minutes, and the amount flashed up. It was $16.50. The place horse paid $13.00, and the show horse paid $12.75.
"That's not very much," Kyle said.
"Well, the favorite won," I said. "The show horse was a long shot, and that's why it paid as much as it did. It has to do with odds and with how much money is bet on each horse."
"How do we get the money," Bri asked.
I explained about the cashiers and having to cash in the ticket.
"We can do it now, or we can wait for a few races to see if we have more to cash in," I said.
"I want to do it now," Brian said. The adults stayed in their places or went off to make new bets, but I took Brian and the boys to cash in the ticket.
The rest of the afternoon went by in more or less the same way. As the sun went down and shadows covered the grandstand, it began to get a little chilly. It had been in the high sixties all day while the sun was out, but the temperature fell into the fifties. We decided we had had enough after the seventh race, and we went home.
"That was really cool, guys. Thanks for taking us," Kyle said.
"Yeah, thanks," the others chimed in.
"I'm glad you liked it. I couldn't do that too often, but I like to go to the track now and then," I said.
"Do you think that place has a Web site," Jeff asked.
"It does, Jeff. I checked it out, in fact," I said. "It's got some pretty interesting stuff on it."
I could tell everybody was tired. Kyle asked a few questions about places we passed, but everybody else was quiet. It had been a great day, and I was glad the guys had had a chance to go.
We had some coffee and a snack when we got home. We talked all about how much fun we had had and about all the interesting people we had seen.
"I saw this really cute group of gay guys," Rick said.
"Why didn't you tell us," Kyle asked.
"I just figured you guys had seen them, too," he said. "They were so hot."
My mom and dad, Beth and Ed, Craig and Cherie, and Doc were all grinning, so I figured they had seen them, too.
"Rick, when you see groups like that, let us know, man," Kyle said. "Evidently, all of you saw them, but we didn't."
"Why are you laughing, Grandma," Brian asked.
"I'm laughing because he's talking about you fellows," she said.
"Get out of here, Rick," I said, and they all laughed.
Tim and I went up to the room we were sharing with Jeff. We got down to our briefs and got into bed. We hadn't had any private time since Thursday night, and I needed to hold him and snuggle with him. I put my arms around him and kissed him for a long time. It didn't take that much, even, for Tim and I to arouse each other, and after several days of no physical contact, we were off like rockets in just a few seconds.
"I love you so much," I said. "You make me the happiest guy in the world, Babe."
"You make me happy, too, Kyle. Thank you for wanting me," he said.
"I want you right now. I hate to lock the door, though, in case Jeff needs something," I said.
"Let's don't worry about that. I need you right now, too, Kyle."
He started rubbing my nipples, playing with the little loops in them. I was breathing so hard I could hardly talk. He started rubbing my erection.
"Okay," I whispered.
I got up and locked the door. I slipped off my briefs on the way back to bed, and Tim got on his back for me. He raised his legs and gave me a clear hot at his ass. I went down on it and started licking and kissing his hole. I got out a tube of lube, and I was in him in moments.
I didn't expect to last very long since it had been a couple of days, but I did okay. I made Tim shoot, and then I shot right after him.
"That felt so good," Tim said when we were finished.
"For me, too," I said. I got up and unlocked the door and got back in bed naked. Tim and I cuddled for a while, and then we both went to sleep.
I woke up in a little while. It was dark outside, but I didn't hear anybody else up and getting dressed. I checked the watch on my ID bracelet, and it said five o'clock. I turned on the small lamp that was next to the bed so I could see Tim.
He was so beautiful to me. He was as big as I was, but he looked like a little boy when he was asleep. Soft, cuddly, needing protection. I thought about Christmases in the years to come. We would always spend part of Christmas with Kevin and Rick, and I hoped we could always spend some of it with Beth and Ed, too. I didn't like to think too much about what was going to happen. I had already decided that I was going to go to the community college with Jus after I graduated, and then I would transfer to whatever college Tim went to. The only problem was, Tim was really smart in school, and I didn't know if I could get in at someplace like Duke or Harvard, like he probably could. I guess I could go to another college nearby. One way or the other, though, we were going to be together, if he still wanted me.
Tim and I had talked about the future a few times, and he had said he was thinking he wanted to be a doctor. It made sense, I guess, seeing that his dad was one. He would have to go to college and then to medical school, though. Then he would have to be a resident in a hospital. It took a long time. Even though I didn't want to think about it, I knew we had to at some point. Tim was just a sophomore, but time seemed to go by pretty fast. It was hard for me to believe that I started falling in love with him almost a whole year ago. A lot had happened in that year, but in some ways it seemed like only yesterday.
Tim stirred a little, and then he woke up.
"Hi, Babe. What time is it," he asked.
"It's ten after five. Did you have a good nap?" I kissed him quickly before he could answer.
"Yeah. Did you go to sleep?"
"Yeah. I woke up about ten minutes ago."
"What did you talk to Justin about last night when you guys went outside," he asked.
"Justin was hurting pretty bad, I think. I think all of this is a little confusing to him," I said.
"You mean the trip and Christmas and all?"
"Yeah. You know what he did last Christmas?"
"He got fucked by six guys. The first one was drunk and tore up his butt. The bastard who ran him wouldn't let him stop. He finally passed out, I guess from loss of blood. He said he woke up the next morning with a wad of paper towels crammed in his butt."
"What did you tell him," Tim asked. I could tell he was hurting for Jus.
"I told him that if he was acting like a butt hole yesterday because he thought that would make us stop loving him, he was wrong. I told him to straighten up and fly right."
"Did he cry," Tim asked.
"Yeah, he did, but it was a happy cry."
"Jeff has seemed pretty sad, too, hasn't he," Tim asked.
"Yeah. I'm sure he's missing his family, and I know he's missing Clay. He probably hasn't even had sex since before Clay died," I said.
"I'm sure he hasn't. Do you want to invite him to sleep with us tonight?"
Jeff had slept in our room, but he was on an air mattress on the floor.
"Just to sleep, or...."
"All of it," Tim said. "Would you be cool with that?"
I thought for a moment. Jeff was a really nice guy, and I knew he needed comfort and support. I didn't really have a problem with jerking him off or finger fucking him, but I didn't want to kiss him or fuck him or suck his cock. And I didn't want him doing any of that to me or Tim.
"What do you mean by 'all of it?'"
He chuckled a little.
"Just cuddling and jerking off. Like what we did with Chad," he said. "We don't have to if you don't want to."
"We can do that. I thought maybe you meant more. Like what we do with each other. Let's don't ever do more than jerk off with a third guy, okay, Babe? I want what we do to just be for us," I said.
"I know, and that's what I want, too. I don't even want to kiss him," he said.
"I definitely don't want to kiss anybody but you," I said. "Tim, I have to tell you something, and I hope you won't be mad at me."
"What did you do," he asked.
"The day Jus got home from the hospital, I jerked him off. I wouldn't let him touch me, and I know he wanted to. I shouldn't have done that, but it was just a brotherly thing," I said.
"Kyle, I know how you feel about me, Baby. You don't have to confess that to me."
He kissed me, and I knew right then it meant no more to him than it had to me.
"He and I talked about that last night. He said it got his hopes up, and that's what was wrong about it. Maybe we shouldn't do anything with Jeff for that same reason," I said.
"You're right. I don't even know if Jeff would do anything, but we don't want to set him up to be hurt. Let's forget about what we said a few minutes ago."
"Okay. And Tim, it won't ever happen again unless you are right there with me and we both want to do something. Deal?"
I heard the shower go on in the bathroom that connected our room to the one Justin and Brian were in. It sounded like they were in there together. It didn't take them long, though, so they must not have played around.
Tim and I showered together. We did play around, and we ended up jerking each other off.
Dinner at Commander's Palace was quite a big deal, as I knew it would be. There were many fine restaurants in New Orleans, and my family ate out pretty often when I was growing up. Commander's Palace was one of the favorites, and we always went there for special family occasions. My parents knew there was no better place to take their Florida guests.
My mother and Cherie had a fit when they saw the boys all dressed up in their suits. Kyle had brought his digital camera and a box of 100 diskettes on the trip. Those, plus the memory sticks he had bought, were enough to let him take pictures of everything he saw. He had taken many the night before of the lights, even more that day at the racetrack, and we got several of everyone dresses and ready to go out. Rita asked him not to take the camera to the restaurant, which was probably a very good idea, so that event went undocumented. For everything else, though, there was quite a good photographic record.
Commander's is directly across the street from the Lafayette Cemetery, where Chris Rice had set the opening pages of his novel A Density of Souls. I had read that book and had been impressed by it, but I doubted anyone else in our group was familiar with it. I mentioned that fact.
"I loved that book," Jeff said. "Clay gave it to me to read. He said that if he ever went to New Orleans he wanted to see that cemetery."
"Well, there it is, Jeff," I said. "It's closed at night, unfortunately."
"That's okay. I don't think a cemetery, especially one like that, would be all that much fun at night," he said.
We all laughed politely.
Rick and I had talked about poor Jeff the night before. He seemed terribly depressed and sad. That was a phase of the grief process that was close to the end, and of that we were glad, but we hated to see him hurting, as we knew he was. Rick pointed out that Jeff was the odd one of the boys. Tim had Kyle and Brian had Justin, but Jeff had no one. George was without a partner, too, of course, but George had long ago put away his grief over his daughter and his wife. In fact, since George had started seeing Sonya, he seemed decidedly more upbeat than he had before he met her.
"This cemetery looks really old," Brian said.
"It is, Buddy," I said. "Maybe we can come back in the daylight so we can see it better. I know you want to see the cemeteries here."
"I think the Metairie Cemetery is better for touring," Mom said. "Well, it's time to go in, everyone."
Commander's Palace was in an old Victorian mansion that had opened its doors as an eatery in the 1880's. The place was pretty remarkable, but it had been redone to open it up and let some light in.
Our party was too large for seating in a public dining room, so they put us in a private room upstairs. My mother announced that everyone should order exactly what he or she wanted. I made a mental note to tell the boys later that ordinarily the host or hostess ordered first and that it was rude to order something that cost more than his or her choice. By saying what she did, my mother had dispensed with that rule.
The service at that restaurant was absolutely impeccable, and it was all done without your being aware servers were around. Being a waiter in a place like that could easily mean a six-figure income, and there were rumors that the waiter jobs at another fine restaurant in the city were passed down from father to son.
We had a fantastic meal, and everyone said that was probably the best meal they had ever had. We finished it up with coffee and the bread pudding soufflé, one of their signature dishes.
On the way out, my mother pulled me aside.
"Jeff seems terribly depressed," she said.
"Yes, he does. Rick and I were talking about that last night. I wish there was something we could do for him," I said.
"It's no doubt part of his grieving process, but there is something I can do about it." She reached into her purse and took out a prescription pad. She hastily wrote a prescription and handed it to me.
"What is this," I asked.
"It's a fast-acting mood elevator. He should take one tablet four times a day. Taken long term and in larger doses, it can be quite addictive. This dosage won't do that, though. I've given him enough to get through a couple of months. He should see a psychiatrist if these don't work or if his depression seems to drag on for weeks," she said.
"Thank you. I love you," I said. I gave her a peck on the cheek.
"Stop and get that prescription filled on the way home," she said.
"Yes, ma'am," I said. "And thanks again, Mom. You are the best."
"I can't stand to see anyone suffer, much less my own grandson," she said.
I drove toward home and pulled into the parking lot of a large drugstore that was open twenty-four hours.
"What are we doing," Kyle asked.
"I need to pick something up," I said.
"Rubbers, probably," Jus said. "They use about a case a week."
"Babe, make sure you get extra, extra large for me this time, please," Rick said.
The kids laughed.
"That ain't the head you're supposed to cover, Rick," Jus said.
"Jeff, come in with me, would you please."
Jeff looked confused, but he went into the store with me.
"What's up," he asked.
"Jeff, several of us have noticed how depressed you seem to be. My mom noticed it today at the track and tonight at the restaurant," I said.
"I'm sorry, Kevin," he said. Huge tears welled up in his eyes.
"Jeff. Buddy. It's not something you can help, man. We all know that. We just don't want you hurting anymore. My mom wrote a prescription for some medicine that will help you. That's why we stopped. To get it filled," I said.
He didn't respond, but he seemed somehow calmer.
We got the medicine, and Jeff bought a bottle of water. He took one of the pills before we left the pharmacy.
I had always heard of miracle drugs, but that night I watched that medicine work a miracle in Jeff as we drove home. The boys wanted to see more Christmas lights. Since it was still relatively early, we drove around for a while. It was almost with each passing block that I could see Jeff coming back to life. It started with a small chuckle at somebody's wisecrack. Then it was outright laughter. Then Jeff made a wisecrack or two of his own. By the time we got home, Jeff was feeling fine.
"I haven't felt this good in months," he told me as we were going into the house. "Thank you so much, Kevin."
When we got inside, my mom's face lit up when she realized that the medicine was already working. She asked Jeff to give her a hand with some made-up task in the kitchen. I knew she wanted to talk to him, and I knew he wanted to thank her.
Craig had a nightcap with us, then he and Cherie left. Brian was on the floor next to Jus. He looked pretty tired, and it was cute watching him fight sleep. Kyle and Tim were fooling around with Kyle's camera.
"I wish I had thought to bring a laptop," Kyle said.
"What do you need a laptop for, son," Gene asked.
"If I had a laptop, I could make a slide show of all these pictures, Dad. There are some really good ones," he said.
"I have a laptop, Kyle," my dad said. "In fact, there are two or three of them around here. Let me get you one."
"Two would be better, gramps," Kyle said. "That way, Tim and I can both work."
My dad got two nice Dell laptops for them to use. They went to work right away creating a slide show for us. In about a half hour, Kyle was finished with his. Mom and Jeff were back in the room by then, and we all watched the slide show. Kyle had developed quite a photographer's eye, it seemed. The pictures were wonderfully clear and sharp, which was probably more the camera's doing than his, but he had captured the mood and flavor of every scene.
I watched my parents' reaction, and the reaction of Gene and Rita, to the show. It was hard to tell which couple had greater pride spread across their faces.