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
Rick and I went up to our room to rest when we got home from the city tour, but we really didn't do much of that. We had never made love in my parents' house before. Rick had always felt ill at ease about it. By then, though, we were a married couple, completely recognized and accepted as such by my family. Rick initiated sex that afternoon, and it was good.
Everybody showed up in the den around 6:30. Craig and Cherie had gone home to rest and wash away the city's dirt. The boys came down dressed to go out on their first "gay adventure." Kyle was wearing his boots, which he hadn't had on before on that trip. In fact, I assumed he hadn't brought them. He also had on his new cowboy belt. I was still not used to him being taller than I was when he was wearing those boots.
"Did you and Tim put those charms on your nipple rings," I asked him in private.
"Yeah." He grinned and blushed a little.
"Which ones," I asked.
"The gay ones, not the dicks," he said.
"You know, a lot of guys take their shirts off in clubs. Are you ready to do that and let people see those things," I asked.
"Yeah, I'll take my shirt off right now, if you want me to," he said.
I laughed. "No, that's okay. I've seen it before."
He grinned at me.
"You're having fun on this trip, aren't you," I asked him.
"Oh, man. I'm having so much fun. This is the best. Thanks for bringing us here."
"Thank you for stepping up as the leader, Bubba. I appreciate that."
"Jeff's doing a lot better, isn't he," he asked.
"Yeah, and so it Jus. Did you have something to do with that?"
"Yeah, a little bit. Jus is still trying to get right with us, you know? He's not used to the same stuff you and Tim and Rick and I are," he said.
"I know. I trust you completely, Kyle, and I'm sorry for any time that I haven't. You have never let us down, man. And I know you never will," I said.
"Tim and I are thinking we're going to move here. For college and medical school and all, I mean," he said.
"Well, you've got a lot of time to plan that," I said. "If you do that, though, you'll have a huge support system, and Tim will have two very strong and important advocates in the medical community. You guys know that, don't you?"
"Yes, sir, we do. This place already feels like home to me as much as Emerald Beach does, Kevin. I've been a little bit worried about going off to Philadelphia or New York or Boston, or one of those places. But I know we can be very, very happy here," he said.
"How does Tim feel about going back to Emerald Beach when all is said and done?"
"He wants to, and so do I," he said. "We'll just have two home towns, is all. We can do that. You do."
"Kyle, you are so mature for your age, man. Do you know that about yourself?"
"Yeah. Sort of," he said.
Justin came up to us just then.
"Oh, another private conversation with Kevin, I see. What'd you do, Kyle?"
"He didn't do anything. Come here, you," I said. I hugged those two guys, one in each arm. "Y'all look mighty good tonight, and you smell good, too."
"Hell, Kevin. Is this fixin' to be a weeper? I don't want to ruin my makeup," Jus said.
"No, Jus. It's not a weeper. It's just three brothers who love each other very much," I said.
"I'll drink to that, if you'll let me go so I can go see Craig," Justin said.
"Craig's been fixing you guys up, hasn't he," I asked.
They both grinned.
"Well, let's go so they don't think we're turning queer for one another," I said.
All three of us laughed.
Drinks and dinner were very nice. Odille had made stuffed artichokes for hors d'ouevres, and that was one of my favorite dishes. It was Creole Italian, not Creole French, like so much of the other food had been. There was also a pot of cheese melted with a can or two of spicy tomatoes and a pound of fried bulk sausage. We ate that with nacho chips. It was delicious. There was also a tray of raw vegetables with a nice, refreshing dip. A bowl of olives and a bowl of cashew nuts rounded out the hors d'ouevres offerings.
Dinner started with a bowl of file gumbo. File gumbo is very different from the okra gumbo we had had Friday night. Okra gumbo, or seafood gumbo as it's called in other parts of the country, is basically a summer dish in New Orleans. You can make it with frozen okra, as Odille obviously had for Friday night, but you need fresh okra, fresh crabs, and fresh shrimp for it to be just right. Those had been available only in the summer ages ago, so okra gumbo was a summer dish. It didn't contain any sausage or other meat, like you get in restaurants these days. As a Catholic city, New Orleans had observed meatless Fridays for a couple of hundred years, and okra gumbo was ideally suited for a meatless meal. Flesh meat, that is. Not seafood, which didn't count as meat.
File gumbo was made with meat and oysters. Specifically, a turkey carcass or a chicken was the main meat in file, along with a little sausage. Oysters made it that much better and richer. Both types of gumbo were served with steamed white rice.
The entree was grilled filet mignon with a béarnaise sauce, scalloped potatoes, and a mixed greens dish. There was no salad that night. Dessert was a fifteen-layer chocolate cake. The layers were so thin you could probably have seen through them. The chocolate icing between the layers was superb.
After coffee we had liqueurs. The boys all had a taste of amaretto, cointreau, and Benedictine and Brandy. Some of the adults opted for Armagnac or Courvoisier. Craig made Stingers for me, Cherie, and himself.
We took our drinks to the living room, where the Christmas tree was.
"Who wants to be the elf and give out the presents? Brian, I think you're the youngest. Why don't you do it," Mom said.
Brian was only too happy to oblige.
Once the presents were distributed, I made an announcement.
"Tim and Kyle have identical presents for everyone. Let's open theirs first all together, on the count of three. Find their present."
They all shuffled around and found their present.
"Ready? On three. One. Two. Three."
Rita was the first to get theirs open.
"Oh, my God!!" she screamed. "Oh, my God. It's magnificent. Oh, thank you. Thank you, boys."
She and Gene were both in tears. My mom and dad got theirs open, and my mom shrieked, too. By the time I finally got a look at the pictures they had given us, most of the adults in the room was in tears. Happy tears.
Tim and Kyle were beaming with joy over what they had done. Kyle knew it was a special gift, and he was so proud of himself. The two pictures were very different poses, but the guys both looked like hunks, and it was obvious they were completely in love with one another.
"So much for the Jeep I bought them," Craig joked.
"Boys, these pictures are beautiful, and thank you so much," Rita said between her tears.
George was totally overcome with happiness. I looked at Rick, and he had huge tears rolling down his cheeks, but he had an enormous grin on his face.
After we all settled down from that total surprise, we took turns opening other presents. We all opened the envelopes from the Empty Stocking Fund telling us that money had been donated in our names for underprivileged kids, and that made everybody smile. There were a few shirts and CD's and books from various ones, but nothing cost very much money.
Our gifts were last.
"Rick and I had made a box that said, 'Open me Christmas morning' for the New Orleans people. Tonight, on the way home, we decided we wanted everybody to get their gifts from us at the same time so we could see you open them. He and I have the same gift from one another that you have. Let's tear into them on the count of three. One. Two. Three."
Paper flew everywhere. Jeff was the first to react.
"Oh, my God! Oh, my God!"
Rita and Gene teared up together when they opened their gifts.
"You guys," Gene said. "Oh, you guys."
"Guys, I'm sorry, but I'm wearing mine tonight," Jeff said. "I may never take it off."
He stripped off his shirt and put the long sleeve "Crew of The Clay" shirt on. The rest of us did likewise. Rita and my mom didn't take off anything. Instead, they put theirs on over what they were wearing. Cherie stripped down to her bra, though, and put hers on. She was so cool.
Kyle changed out the CD that was playing Christmas music, and he put on a Garth Brooks CD.
"Get up, so we can dance," Kyle said.
Everybody got up, and Kyle and Tim led us in the two-step, the line dance, and several others we had learned from Gage. We rocked out. Craig was the bartender that night, and he kept us in fresh drinks. I knew the boys got their share, too.
Some slow dances came up from time to time, and the boys danced with each other if a lady wasn't available. I slow danced with Rick a couple of times, and each time we both got hard. I danced with Craig, George, and even my dad, but it didn't have the same effect on me. We had a wonderful time that night.
Around eleven, Craig asked me if we were still going out. He and I pulled Kyle apart and asked him if he thought the boys wanted to go out.
"We'll do that next time we're here," he said. "We're having too much fun to go out."
We stayed home that night, dancing our asses off and having a wonderful time with our family. Justin and Kyle went outside to smoke a couple of times with Craig, at his instigation. The three of them, plus Rick who went out with them but who didn't smoke, were the "bad boys" of the family.
"Son, you have put together quite a crowd here," my dad said to me. "We could not be more proud of you and Rick," he said.
That made me very happy.
"They're something else, aren't they," I said.
"I haven't seen your mother this happy in years, Kevin. Thank you for that."
"You seem pretty happy, too, Dad," I said.
"The happiest I've been in a long, long time, son," he said.
Nobody got up early the next morning. I felt a little bad that the boys didn't get to go to any gay clubs, but I knew they had had a wonderful time at home.
My experience with gay clubs was very limited. My brother had insisted that Rick and I go to a few a couple of years before, and he and Cherie had taken us to three of them. We weren't looking to score or hook up or anything like that. Rick and I had danced with each other in public for the first time when we had gone with them, but we had also both danced with Cherie. A lot of the guys had seemed rather lost to me, mournful even, and I had had only a mildly good time.
I knew my boys had wanted to see what gay nightlife was like, but Kyle had decided for them that we were having too much fun at home to go out. It sort of pleased me that we could have fun with our parents. And, indeed, we had had a great time.
It was Tuesday, December 23rd, and it was party day. Everybody showed up downstairs wearing their long sleeve "Crew of The Clay" shirts. I figured that gift was a big hit.
The cook and her husband were already there when Rick and the boys and I groped our way down the stairs in search of coffee. My mother introduced us to them, and them to us. It was Miss Odille and Mr. Tyrone, just like it had been when Craig and I were kids and were introduced to adults.
When Tyrone shook my hand, he said "I'm Tyrone Jackson, and if you call me Mister Tyrone, I'll kick your ass, Kevin."
I liked Tyrone instantly, and I knew he was a good guy.
"What do you do for a living, Tyrone? Step and fetch it?"
"You asshole," he said, grinning broadly. "Get your coffee, and let's go outside for a smoke."
I did as told. Tyrone was, in fact, a really nice guy. He was an associate professor of history at a local community college, and he had a master's degree from Columbia University. "Miss" Odille had gone to the Culinary Institute of America in upstate New York. She had been a chef at Windows on the World for a time while Tyrone was in graduate school, but they had wanted her to be a stay-at-home mom. Restaurant work didn't fit that plan. They were both from New Orleans, so that's where they gravitated. I learned that we were the only family Odille worked for.
I told Tyrone what I did for a living, and he was impressed. I also told him that I had already tasted enough of Odille's cooking to know that she could be the Executive Chef at our biggest property the next day, if she wanted to be.
"Don't be surprised if we come knocking," Tyrone said.
"No, don't you be surprised if I come knocking. How long until you retire," I asked.
"Actually, I'm half through my last year. I'm going to retire in May," he said.
"Hold that thought. I need to go get a couple of people. I'll be right back," I said.
I hauled my ass into that house as fast as I could, and I got Gene and Rick out on that patio with Tyrone and me. We talked. Tyrone gave his wife's credentials, told about his retirement plans, and said when they might be available. Gene was loving it, and he basically offered Odille a $75K a year job right there, starting in June, without even talking to her.
Back in the kitchen, Mom said, "Did you and Tyrone get acquainted indulging in your filthy habit?"
I grinned at her. "You set this up, didn't you?"
"Well, let's just say I saw talent that needed to be used, and I facilitated a meeting of the minds," she said coyly.
"You're more of a lawyer than a doctor," I said.
"I cure where and how curing needs to happen," she said. She walked away from me then to help Odille.
We left on our trip to plantation country right after breakfast. We took the Interstate to Williams Boulevard in Kenner and got off. We turned left headed for the Mississippi River and the River Road. There are lots of famous streets in the United States, and the River Road, a substandard, narrow highway between New Orleans and Baton Rouge, is one of them.
We stopped in Rivertown in Kenner at the end of Williams Boulevard and the beginning of River Road. They had done some urban restoration of their own in Kenner. I was totally amazed at what they had there. There was a toy train museum that George thought was wonderful and that the boys enjoyed, as well. The Mardi Gras museum was every bit as good as the one we had seen the day before, but the New Orleans Saints Hall of Fame gave all the males under twenty- one erections, I was sure.
"See, we've got to go to a Saints game," Kyle said. "I need it bad, man."
"You're smelling the testosterone on all this shit, boy. Calm down," Gene said. He and Kyle were grinning hard, and they knocked knuckles.
The Wildlife Museum and Aquarium were really very good, but the aquarium sort of paled compared to the big one downtown. The Cannes Brulee Native American Center of the Gulf South, a re-created Native American village, was really good, too. The boys talked with the Native American re-creators, and all five of them, and Rick and I, too, bought Indian necklaces in their gift shop.
"You getting all this stuff, Flash," Justin asked Kyle.
"I'm trying to, but I don't know if the camera's working," Kyle said.
"Oh, no! Kyle! What happened, Bubba," Justin asked. There was real concern in his voice because he know how much Kyle loved that camera.
"I accidentally took a picture of you, and I think that broke it," Kyle said.
"You little fuck-wad. I'm gonna kick your ass for you," Jus said. He was grinning, of course. Then he realized what he had said and that everyone had heard him. He sort of grimaced when he realized the ladies had heard it. All of the boys had been pretty good about watching their language around the ladies, and the men, too.
"He got you last, Jus," my mom said, laughing at the whole situation.
"Yeah. Grandma, I'm sorry I said that bad word," Jus said.
"You're his brother, Jus. You know him better than I do. If that's what he is...," she said.
Jus was grinning by then. "You are so cool, Grandma. I love you."
"I know. And I love you, too. Besides, raising Craig and Kevin, it was either 'be cool or die,'" she said.
The highlight of Kenner, though, was the Daily Living Science Center. It was a hands-on museum that had exhibits on car engines, weather, dental hygiene (George's favorite part), commercial laundries, and other stuff you wonder about but never get to see. The absolute best, though, was a full-sized NASA space station, complete with a weightlessness chamber. The boys went totally wild in that place, and, frankly, the rest of us did, too. It was so awesome.
Once we were outside, Craig said to me, "Did you know about all of this?"
"No, did you?"
"No, I didn't know about it. Shit, this is fucking fabulous," he said.
"I know. This is ten times better than what we did in the Quarter yesterday," I said.
"Tell me about it. One more death mask, and I was dead. I thought the guys did great, though, didn't you?"
"Yeah, they did, but they were antsy toward the end. The Cabildo would have done them in, for sure," I said.
"The Presbytere did me in. All we would have needed was a tour of the Cathedral to totally wipe my ass out," he said.
"Dad's got a list of places they have to go, you know. Not on this trip, maybe, but on other trips."
"I know. Do you ever remember him having this much fun when we were kids," Craig asked.
"No, I think it's the grandchild factor," I said.
"Grandchildren. Shit. You damn sure got me fucking last on that one, motherfucker. You queer-ass son of a bitch."
He grabbed me in a big hug.
"I love you, Kevin, and I love Rick and those kids, too, man."
"I know you do, Craig. All queers love each other."
"Ohhh. Ohhh. That was a set up, you asshole," he said. He put his knee between my legs and ground down hard on my balls.
"Owwww!!," I said.
"Let me tell you something, brother. I ain't queer, but I am damn sure Gay Proud. And so is Cherie."
"I knew that, but thanks for saying it," I said.
My dad whistled just then. "Craig and Kevin, come on."
"Do you remember that whistle," I asked.
"Shit, I dream about it and quake in fear. Let's go."
We all got in the cars and started driving up the River Road toward the Destrehan Plantation. It actually wasn't very far from where we were. In fact, it was only about eight miles.
The locals call it the Destrehan Plantation, but the official name was Destrehan Manor. It was the oldest plantation house in the state. It was built in 1787, but it had been renovated a lot since then. They filmed a lot of the movie Interview with a Vampire in that house, and it looked like the kind of place they would choose for that movie.
"This is totally spooky, man," Justin said to Kyle.
"I know," Kyle said.
"Did you see Interview with a Vampire, Buddy," Brian asked.
"Naw. I've only seen a couple of movies," Jus said.
"Is he serious, Kevin," my mom said, clutching my arm.
"Yes, ma'am, I think he is serious," I said. "At least movies in theaters."
"Oh, my God! Oh, Kevin," she said.
"I know, Mom. We know. We're trying," I said.
"He's so well adjusted," she said.
"I know." Pause. "We'll rent that movie, Jus, now that you've seen the house."
He grinned. "Okay, man."
Justin was so incredibly vulnerable, yet I knew he trusted Rick and me and my mother. He also trusted Kyle. It was months before I ever found out just how much he trusted Kyle, but I knew then, intuitively, that he trusted him. We all did.
It was shortly after Destrehan that we began seeing the huge bonfires they were building for Christmas Eve. We stopped at the fourth or fifth one we saw, and the men all had to pee. We asked one of the guys building a fire if there was a restroom near by, and he said,
"Piss in the river, man. That's what we do."
"Why is there so much land between the river and that hill," Jus asked. He was referring to the levee as the "hill."
"That's the Batture," I said. "There isn't a Batture in New Orleans because the land is too valuable. There's one here, though. The river would have to flood way high to get those houses up there."
"But they'd open the spillways first," Dad said.
"Spillways," Kyle asked. "What's that?"
"The spillways are like really, really wide dry canals connecting the river to the lake, Kyle," Dad said. "If the river gets too high, they will open the spillways, and the city will be saved from a major flood."
"Dad, have you read anything about the river shifting," I asked.
"Oh, yes. Quite a lot about it. I think the Corps of Engineers will keep that from happening, though," he said.
"I hope so. Some of what I've read said the city would be high and dry if that happened," I said.
"Maybe not so high, and not so dry, son. One theory says we'll be under the Gulf of Mexico, if that happens," he said.
"You might know it. Just when I finally get to a city, it's fixing to disappear," Jus said.
We all laughed.
"Do you fellows know how this levee was built," Dad asked the boys.
"No, sir," they said in unison.
"Well, let me tell you the story. It all happened because of a lady named Annie Christmas. She was a keelboat pilot on the Mississippi, and none of the men dared cross her. She was six feet, eight inches tall, and she weighed 250 pounds of all muscle. She had the biggest mustache of anybody on the river.
"Annie Christmas would unload her boat herself, and she could carry a 55-gallon barrel of flower under each arm and balance a third one on her head. She had a long string of beads that she wore around her neck when she went to parties and such. Every bead on it represented a pair of eyes she had gouged out or a nose she had bitten off in a fight. When she died, that necklace was thirty feet long, but it wasn't as long as it could have been. She said some fights were so easy they didn't deserve to be remembered on her necklace. One time a keelboat was busted up and couldn't make it from Natchez to New Orleans on its own. That didn't stop Annie. She tied a rope to that boat and towed it here from Natchez with the rope over her shoulder. Some of the people who saw it said it was going faster than it would have under its own power."
"I don't want nothing to do with this bull-dyke," Justin said.
"She wasn't a lesbian, Jus. She had twelve big, strapping sons. The smallest one was six feet, seven inches tall, if that gives you some idea of how big those boys were."
"Yes, sir. Those are some big boys, all right," Jus said.
My dad had always been a wonderful storyteller, and he was really doing a number on this one. I looked at Craig to see his reaction. He shrugged and then shook his head "no" to indicate he had never heard it before, either.
"We owe Annie and her boys a debt of gratitude for building this levee."
"Why is that?" We turned to see who that unfamiliar voice belonged to, and we saw four of the kids who had been working on the bonfire standing there listening to my dad tell his story.
"Well, I'll tell you. One time a monster flood was rolling its way down the river. Mike Fink, another famous keelboat pilot on the River, said it was caused by a giant alligator that had a tail as long as a mountain is high. He was swishing that tail back and forth, and it was causing a major title wave. Mike decided he'd go get that gator and kill it, but that didn't do the people in Noo Awlins any good. The water was already on its way. The mayor sent for Annie Christmas and asked for her help.
"'Can you do something to save us, Annie,'" he asked her.
"'I don't know, Mayor,' Annie said. She sat down to think about it. The mayor's wife had been cooking chickens that morning, and Annie smelled them. She asked for a little snack, and the mayor's wife brought out a piece of chicken for Annie. She ate that in one gulp and wanted more. Eventually, the mayor's wife brought out all four of the chickens she had cooked, and Annie ate them all.
"'Thanks,' Annie said. 'That'll hold me till I can get a meal.'
"Annie thought some more. Then she said, 'Mayor, I've got an idea, but I'm gonna need the help of my sons. The problem is, they're all in jail.'
"'I think we can take care of that, Annie,' the mayor said. He sent somebody to get the boys from jail.
"When the boys got to the mayor's house, Annie slapped each one of them solidly in the face for disobeying her by getting caught by the law. Then she said, "Roll up them sleeves, boys. We've got work to do.'
"Annie knew she had to plow up a hill to protect the city. There weren't any mules or horses big or strong enough to do that work, so she hitched the boys to the plow. With the water churned up by that giant gator bearing down on New Orleans, Annie Christmas and her boys built this levee we're standing on right now. The city and the surrounding towns were saved from the flood."
Everybody applauded "Grandpa" for that great story.
"That ain't a true story, is it, mister," one of the bonfire boys asked.
"Do you know what gris-gris is," Craig asked him.
"Yes, sir. A-course I know what gris-gris is," the kid said.
"It's as true as gris-gris," Craig said.
One of the other bonfire boys, a cute little black-eyed Cajun about Brian's age and size, said, "No, shit!"
We all laughed, and he got a little red in the face.
"Dad, that was a great story. Thanks," I said as we were walking down the levee to our cars.
"Had you never heard that one before," he asked.
"No, sir," Craig and I said in unison.
"Do you know other stories like that, Grandpa," Brian asked.
"Yeah. He knows a million of 'em," Craig said. "This man right here is the champion of ghost stories, guys. I pissed my pants more than once listening to 'em when I was a kid."
"Did you really, Craig? You never said anything about that," Dad said.
"Like I would, Dad. Come on, man. Give me some credit," Craig said.
"Did you ever do that, Kevin," he asked.
"Oh, many times," I said.
"I'm sorry I scared you like that, boys. I really had no idea." He was sounding apologetic.
"Dad, we loved it. We loved those stories. Those are some of my best memories from childhood," Craig said.
"You, too," he asked, meaning me.
"Yes, sir. We really loved those stories, Dad," I said.
"It's a gay watersports thing, Ed. I'll teach you about it," Justin said.
"You son of a bitch," Craig said with a huge grin. "Get in that truck before I take out those stitches out of your ass with my teeth."
Justin took off running down the levee, and Craig was in hot pursuit, both laughing so hard they could hardly run.
"Your brother loves these boys, doesn't he," Dad asked me.
"Yes, sir. I think he does," I said.
"Well, he's not the only one," Dad said.
We got back in the cars to continue our trip up river. We had had a late breakfast, but it was getting on toward one o'clock. We decided to stop for lunch in Reserve. The place was a mom-and-pop diner that was anything but elegant. The walls were dark plywood paneling and the tables were un-place matted Formica. Kyle and I happened to end up in the men's room at the same time.
"Sheesh, you'd have to have a foot-long dick to use this thing," he said. He was referring to the urinal that was a good foot-and-a-half higher than the standard.
"I'm sorry, Kyle. I should have taken that thing so you could squat over the toilet," I said from within the stall.
"In your dreams, Bubba," he said, laughing.
Lunch was surprisingly good. Most of us ordered soft shell crab po' boy sandwiches, a New Orleans specialty that consisted of two soft shell crabs, lettuce, super-thin tomato slices, and pickles, all served on a twelve-inch length of light, crisp French bread. Jeff ordered a roast beef po' boy, and Tim and Brian got "combinations," which meant ham and swiss cheese. After coffee and dessert, we were back on the road.
Our next stop was the San Francisco Plantation. That place was almost Gothic in its design, and it sort of reminded everybody of a steamboat. The interior was very elaborate, and even some of the woodwork was carved.
It was 2:30 by the time we finished the plantation tour, and it was time to head home. The cocktail party was scheduled to start at 5:30, and everybody needed a little time to rest from the day and get dressed for the party. We took the Interstate home and got there a little before three.
"Did everybody have a good time," my mom asked when we assembled in the den.
"We had a great time," Dad said. "I wish you could have been with us. Is everything ready for tonight?"
"I'm glad you had fun, but I had fun being a domestic goddess, for a change," she said. "We probably all need to get cleaned up, don't you think? And, yes, everything is ready."
We all agreed, and we went to our rooms.
"Mom, the highlight of the day was Dad telling the story of Annie Christmas building the levee, as we were standing on the levee," Craig said.
"He's a talented storyteller, isn't he," she said.
"Absolutely. Some kids who had been working on a bonfire came over to listen. They were as enthralled as our boys were," he said.
"Our boys," she asked with a smile.
"Yes, our boys," he said, smiling back.
My mother had asked that everybody be downstairs by 5:15 to be on hand when the guests started arriving. The boys all showed up punctually.
"You guys are looking mighty good," Rick said.
I knew I was probably biased, but I thought the seven of us made a pretty stunning impression. The boys looked very grown up and mature in their suits, and they seemed to be pretty comfortable wearing them. I've seen guys who aren't used to wearing a tie pull at their collars constantly. Those guys didn't do that.
Kyle set up his camera to take a group shot, first of the five boys, then of the boys with Rick and me. He got pictures of the others, too.
"Kyle, would you mind setting up a laptop with that slide show of the monkeys," my mom asked. "I think some of our guests will find that amusing."
"Sure, Grandma," he said.
"You don't mind that the boys call you 'Grandma,' do you, Mom," I asked.
I thought I knew the answer, but I wanted to make sure before all the company got there.
"Of course not," she said. "I only wish they really were my grandsons, Kevin."
"That's what I thought. Just checking," I said.
Kyle got the laptop set up in the den, and some of us watched the slide show again. He had really done a clever job in matching the people to the monkeys. The overall effect was very funny.
The first guests started arriving around 5:40. My parents knew a great many people, and most of them would be there that night. Rick and I renewed our acquaintance with people we had met in previous years, and Mom was beside herself making sure all the guests met the boys.
The food was assembled on the dining room table, which had been opened to its full length. There was a magnificent flower arrangement in the center of the table, and I thought about our friends in North Carolina who ran the flower shop. We had stayed in touch with them through e-mail, and they were celebrating the holidays with "their" son and his wife.
Craig found me about halfway through the party.
"We're going to go out after this is over, right," he asked.
"We can. We really hadn't planned anything. We usually help clean up," I said.
"God, I wish these people would go home," he said.
"Small talk getting to you, Bubba," I asked with a grin.
"Yes! If one more person asks us about having children, I'm going to shove a glass up their ass," he said.
Tim and Kyle drifted over.
"We're talking about going out after this is over," I said. "Are you boys up for that, or are you too tired?"
"We're not tired," Kyle said. "I wish that gay place was open tonight."
"What makes you think it isn't," I asked. "Besides, there are lots of gay places all over the city."
"I thought it was just open on Monday night," he said.
"No, they'll be open tonight," I said.
"Cool," they said in unison.
The last of the partiers were gone by nine o'clock.
"I'm exhausted," my mom said.
"Beth, this was a fabulous party," Rita said. "I met so many doctors, I thought I was in a hospital."
"Thank you, Rita. We've done this for years. I thought it was a pretty pleasant group, considering," Mom said.
"I think the boys deserve a round of applause for how well they did," Dad said. We joined him in applause for the boys.
"Thanks, Dad," Craig said, obviously in fun.
"You asshole," my dad said.
He and Craig laughed.
"Mom, we were thinking we would go out tonight after we help clean up," I said.
"Oh, no. Go now. We have Odille and her five family members to clean up. They've been washing dishes and glasses all night. There really isn't much to do, but they'll take care of that," she said.
"Well, guys, let's go change. Whose coming," I asked.
It ended up being only the young people on that outing. After we changed into our going-out clothes, we all piled into Rick's Bronco, Tim sitting on Kyle's lap.
"Craig, do you think the boys will have any trouble getting into any of these places," I asked.
"Well, the rule is supposed to be eighteen to get into a night club and twenty-one to drink," he said, "but I don't remember ever seeing anybody checking ID's at the door. They might if they tried to order a drink, though."
"We can just walk around if they won't let us in," I said.
"They'll let us in," Kyle said.
"Tim and Brian, do you guys even have any ID," I asked.
"They'll be fine, Kevin," Kyle said.
It crossed my mind to inquire how he was so sure of that, but I decided to let it slide. We'd deal with the issue of fake ID in a less public setting, if, indeed, it was an issue.
We parked in what had become our usual place next to the Jackson Brewery and walked over to Bourbon. There were gay clubs all over the city, but there were several really nice places more or less in a row in the 800 and 900 blocks of Bourbon.
The first place we came to was a dance club, and it was big and loud. We had to pay a ten dollar cover charge, but that entitled us to two "well" drinks, two domestic beers, or two soft drinks. They gave us tickets for the drinks and fastened plastic bracelets to our wrists, the right wrist on the adults and the left wrist on the kids. Jeff got his on the right. We'd be able to leave and come back in without paying a second time, if we wanted to. We went up to the second floor, and the guys were grinning big.
"It's pretty loud in here," Tim shouted above the noise.
"Yeah," was all I said. I didn't want to try to compete with that sound system.
Most of the guys who were dancing had their shirts off, as I had expected. Even though it was December 23rd, the temperature outside was in the high 50's; inside, it was probably in the high 70's or low 80's. Anybody moving around as much as those guys were was sweating.
We got a table, and sat down. We weren't there more than a minute when a waiter came to take our order. I ordered a beer for Craig, Cherie, and myself, and I ordered cokes for everybody else.
The waiter looked like he could have been a model for a gay Web site. He was wearing very small red shorts and a Santa hat. He was probably twenty-one years old, very cute looking, and apparently hung like a horse, if the bulge in the shorts was really him. He had a winning smile, too.
"Did you see that guy," Justin said in amazement after the boy had gone to fill our order.
"What guy," Rick asked.
"The waiter, man. Damn, he was hot, didn't you think?"
"I didn't notice, Jus," Rick said.
"You liar," he said to Rick, and the two of them laughed.
"Let's dance," Kyle said to Tim, and the two of them took to the floor. They were back in about thirty seconds to take their shirts off. "No point in getting them sweaty," Kyle said.
"Come here," Craig said. They both went over to him. "What's this shit?" He had seen their nipple rings at the pool party at Thanksgiving, so I assumed he was referring to the little charms they had put on them. He was flipping the one in Kyle's right nipple up and down.
"If you keep doing that, you're gonna find out what it's really all about, and it ain't about shit," Kyle said, grinning big.
Craig jerked his hand away like he had touched fire. "Goddamn, I'm sorry, man. I didn't think of that. You know I didn't mean that, right, Kyle?"
"I know you didn't, damn it," Kyle said.
They went off to dance.
"Jesus Christ, Kevin," he said. "Why didn't you say something, man?" Craig seemed a little angry with me.
"Kyle's in charge of his body, Craig, not me. You saw and heard his reaction. He knows you weren't coming on to him, man," I said.
"Lighten up, Craig. It was no big deal, Honey," Cherie said.
"If he had kept it up, it would have been a big deal in about another minute. A bigger deal than you'd ever suspect, Cherie, from the overall size of him," Justin said, deadpan as usual.
"Let's change the subject," Craig said, still embarrassed and blushing. "I'm surprised he kept his shirt on that long."
"Me, too," I replied.
The gay club was a big hit. The boys had really taken to dancing since Chad and Gage had introduced them to it, and they fit right in with the other people there. There was a mostly young crowd at that place, and I saw some guys that didn't look any older than Brian and Tim. Rick and I danced to a few slow songs, with predictable protuberances, but we weren't interested in taking our shirts off or getting hot and sweaty. Jeff danced with the other four boys, and one slow one, even, with Craig. When they came back to the table after that dance, I noticed both guys were fluffed out a little in the crotch department. When Craig and Cherie danced slow, Craig came back to the table with a much larger fluff, so I figured they were good, at least in that department.
After we used our tickets, we decided to go out to the street to get some fresh air. I had the odd sensation that my body was still thumping from the music.
"What did you think, guys," Craig asked.
"That place was cool," Jus said. "There were a lot of nice boys in there, too, man."
"You better watch yourself, stud," Kyle said.
"I can look, can't I," he said mock defensively.
"That's all you better be doing, too, Buddy," Brian said.
Justin gave him a short peck on the lips and took his hand.
"Goddamn, it feels good to be able to do that," Justin said.
Kyle took Tim's hand in his when he saw Justin and Brian holding hands. There were quite a few people in the street, and our guys certainly weren't the only gay couples holding hands.
The next place we went was smaller than the first place, and it wasn't nearly as loud. Their sign said they featured exotic dancers. The tables were small, and not everyone could get around a single table. We ordered a round of drinks. Craig switched to scotch, but he ordered himself a beer as well and two beers for Cherie.
When the drinks came, he called Kyle and Justin over and gave each of them a beer. They were in plastic "go cups," as were the cokes we ordered. I decided to ignore what I had just seen rather than endure an argument. I guess Craig had decided his role was to be the "naughty uncle."
The show started after we had been there about fifteen minutes. It was just one dancer, and he did a partial strip down to a g-string. I didn't think it was either seductive or entertaining, and the boys didn't seem particularly interested, either.
Our next stop was a leather bar. It was much less crowded than the others had been, and it was pretty clear it was a much more serious place than the others, too. We passed through the bar area to find a table on the patio, and I felt like we were on display.
"What is this all about," Kyle asked when we were seated and had ordered a drink.
"It's for guys who are into leather, apparently," I said.
"What do you mean, 'into leather,'" he asked.
"I know what it means," Jus said. "Some guys get turned on by leather. They wear leather underwear and shit like that. Leather clothes of all types."
"Some of those guys looked kinda mean," Tim said.
"They're not, though, Tim. That's sort of part of the whole leather look, I think. I don't know that much about it, though. See that guy over there with the collar wearing the leather jockstrap. He's probably out with his master or something," Jus said.
"What's a bear," Kyle asked.
"It's a real hairy guy," Jus said. "None of us could be bears, except maybe you, Kyle, if you keep growing that stuff. Some of these guys in here are, though."
"What did you mean by that," Rick asked.
"Some of these guys in here are real hairy," Jus said.
"No. I didn't mean that. I meant what you said about Kyle," Rick said.
"That boy's been growing hair on his chest and stomach. Didn't you notice it earlier tonight? Especially when he was sweating," Justin asked.
"No, I didn't notice," Rick said.
"I noticed," Cherie said, "but I figured it had always been there."
"I noticed it, too," Craig said.
"Y'all are making me sub-conscious," Kyle said. "I can't help it. It just grows."
"We're making you sub-conscious," Craig asked, grinning his ass off.
"Yeah. What's so funny? Isn't that right," Kyle asked.
"It's self-conscious, Bubba, and I didn't mean to make you self-conscious. And it's okay to grow chest hair, Kyle." Rick was grinning at his ass off at his "true son."
"Rick has a lot of hair on his upper body, Kyle, but he keeps it shaved. He's done that ever since he started running triathlon," I said. "It's okay to be a hairy man, Kyle. Believe me on this one, dude."
"I guess there are a lot of different ways to be gay," Kyle said, changing the subject away from himself. Do you guys want to shoot some pool?"
Tim, Justin, and Brian did, so they four of them got the table that was outside but under the overhang of a large balcony or deck. Jeff was busy making friends with three young guys dressed like we were at the next table.
"I don't know how guys can do this kind of thing night after night the way some do it," Rick said. "It's fun in a situation like this, on vacation, but it would bore me to death if I did it all the time."
"It's been fun watching the kids," Craig said. "I don't know if they've been aware of it, but they've been the object of a good bit of attention, especially when they were dancing with their shirts off."
"I noticed that, too," Cherie said. "I saw Kyle get propositioned, I think."
"Did he really! What happened," Rick asked.
"It was during a break between songs. This guy came up to him and spoke to him. He started fingering Kyle's nipple ring." She looked at Craig, and he ducked his head like he was expecting a slap. "And then the guy cocked his head toward the door. It looked like he wanted Kyle to leave with him," she said.
"What did Kyle do," Rick asked.
"He shook his head 'no' and moved the guy's hand away from his chest. Then he and Jus, I think, started dancing," Cherie said.
"It'll be interesting to see if he tells us about it," I said.
"It's probably more a case of when than it is if," Rick said.
"True," I said.
"Are they pretty open with you all about sex," Craig asked. "I assume they're all doing it."
"I think that's a pretty safe assumption," I said. "At first, Tim and Kyle had quite a few questions, and we answered them as honestly as we could. We haven't talked about sex much in a while. I'm sure they talk to each other about it, though, like any kids would."
"Do you think they're into any threesomes or foursomes, or, hell, fivesomes, for that matter," Craig asked.
"We don't ask them about their sex lives, Bubba," Rick said. "We have two fundamental rules. First, nobody does anything unless both guys want to do it. No exceptions to that one. The second rule is that sex is private. We don't allow them to make out in public or play with each other or themselves in any kind of sexual way when they're around us."
I saw a guy talking to the kids shooting pool. He looked over our way a time or two. He turned to walk in our direction, and he looked vaguely familiar to me.
"Hi," he said, as he got to the table. "You're Kevin Foley, right?"
"That's right." The guy was dressed in Levis, a regular shirt, and a leather vest. He had on the kind of work boots that I associated with construction workers.
"I'm Paul Russo. We went to high school together," he said.
I stood up when he said that.
"Paul! Oh my God!" I pumped his hand. "How the hell are you? It's been forever."
"I'm doing great. How are you, man?"
"Terrific. Here. Sit down. Let me introduce you. This is Rick Mashburn, my partner. This is my brother, Craig, and his wife, Cherie," I said.
They all shook hands.
"I remember Paul," Craig said. "You guys were sophomores when I was a senior, right? As I remember it, you all were pretty good friends."
"Yeah, we were. How'd we lose track," Paul asked.
"I went to college out of state, and I guess I wasn't very good about keeping up with old friends. I'm sorry I didn't," I said.
Paul and I had been quite good friends but it was one of those friendships that were school related. He didn't live in my neighborhood, not that that should have mattered, and we never saw each other during the summer. He spent the night at our house a few times when we had projects due or big exams to study for, but, apart from things like sitting together at school games and such, we really didn't hang out together.
"So, do you live here now," he asked.
"No. We're just visiting. We live in Emerald Beach, Florida. Paul, are you...gay," I asked.
"Yeah. It seems I am. And yourself?"
"Oh, yeah. Rick and I have been together four and a half years. Tomorrow is actually one of our anniversaries," I said.
"That's right. I forgot it's tomorrow," Craig said.
"Anniversary of what, if I may ask," he said.
"Of our formal public commitment to one another. Our wedding," I said.
"Man, congratulations! How many years?"
"Just one. We've been together four and a half, though. What about yourself? Anyone special?"
"I'm been dating a guy for a couple of months, but we don't live together or anything. In fact, I see right now that he's ready to go. When are you leaving?"
"Unfortunately, tomorrow morning. Here, let me give you my card."
We swapped cards.
"Let's stay in touch. We'll be getting over here several times in the next few months. The boys love it here, and my parents love the boys," I said.
"Who are those kids, anyway," he asked.
"Actually, two of them are our foster sons, and three are honorary foster sons," I said.
"Oh, man. I want to hear all about that next time you're in town, okay? Listen, I hate to run, but Rob's impatient. Take care of yourself," Paul said.
"You, too. Send me some e-mail," I said. "It's on the card."
We shook hands, and he left.
The boys came over to the table, and we decided we had had enough night life for the evening. We dropped Craig and Cherie off at their place after much hugging and kissing and many heartfelt good-byes, and we went home and went to bed.