This story is a continuation of the story of Kevin Foley, Rick Mashburn, and their "sons," Tim Murphy, Kyle Goodson, and Justin Davis that started in "Tim" and continued in "Justin." It is about gay men and gay boys living and loving together as a family, and it contains descriptions of sex. 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 1
Tim and Kyle came over in the early afternoon of that Saturday in September, all excited about the hurricane.
"We're going to miss school because of the storm," Kyle said.
"How many days," Tim asked. Like Rick and me, Kyle had grown up in hurricane country, and he knew what to expect and what would happen.
"That depends on when and where it hits," he said. "When we had Hurricane Opal when I was little, we were off school for over a week. That one was a real bitch, though. Really bad storm surge, and it just about destroyed the beach. They had to renourish it for there even to be a beach in some places."
"What do you do when there's a hurricane," Tim asked.
"A lot of people evacuate," he said. "They open schools for shelters, but that's for shit. We always go up to Dothan. Our problem here is flooding, unless the winds are so bad they knock your house down."
"Where is Dothan," Tim asked.
"It's in God's country," Justin said. "Alabama."
"They don't get hurricanes there," Tim asked.
"Well, sure they do, Babe. It's just about 70 miles north of here. They zip right on up the highway," Kyle said.
"You mean that figuratively, not literally, right, Babe," Tim asked.
"Whoa! Jump back! Where the hell did you learn that," Kyle asked.
"In school. Where did you think I learned it," Tim said. He was teasing Kyle, and it was fun to watch them.
"Where do y'all stay in Dothan, Kyle," I asked.
He named a hotel that was part of an international chain. His dad owned a franchise for one of those here in Emerald Beach.
"Does your dad know somebody," Rick asked.
"Yes, sir," Kyle said. "The guy's name is Mr. Buddy, and he and my dad are good friends. He always saves rooms for us. Do y'all want some rooms, too?"
"What do you think, Babe," I asked.
"Well, if Gene gets his family out of here, I say we get our family out of here, too," Rick replied.
"What about me," Tim asked. "I don't want to be the only one still here."
"That's your dad's decision, Tim, but you guys are welcome, too, I would think," I said.
"Hell, I don't want his ass up there. I'm going to look for me a cute boy if we go to Dothan," Kyle said.
Tim walloped him on his arm, and Kyle laughed hard.
"Do you think I'd go anywhere and leave you behind," Kyle asked.
"I know you wouldn't," Tim said, and he kissed Kyle on the cheek.
"Well, I'm ready to get this thing organized," Rick said. "If this is anything like coastal south Florida, the roads will be so crowded it'll take ten hours to get to Dothan if we wait too long."
I called George Murphy and told him what we were thinking. He had heard a hurricane was in the Gulf, but he hadn't been watching the weather on TV, so he didn't know how fast it was moving or that it was headed toward us. When we told him what was up, he said he and Tim were definitely in.
"What does your family do, Jay," I asked.
"We went to Crawford High School for Opal, but my daddy said he's never going back there," Jason said. "I reckon we'll just stay home and say our prayers."
"Would your parents let you go with us," I asked.
"Yes, sir, they probably would," he said.
"Call and find out, so we'll know how many rooms we'll need," I said.
He called, and it was fine with them if he went with us. I talked to his mom, and she thanked me, as Gene had done, for being such a good role model for Jay. I was a little embarrassed because I hadn't really spent that much time with him. Since he and Jus were older and both worked and had cars, they didn't hang around with us nearly as much as Tim and Kyle did.
"So how many rooms are we going to need," I asked when I got off the phone. "Jus and Jay, Tim and Kyle, George, and Rick and Kevin. That's four rooms, right?"
"Yeah, I think so," Rick said. "Five counting Gene and Rita, of course."
"What about Mont and Terry, and Sam and Fred," I asked. "None of them is from here, or from the coast, even. I'll bet they don't know they might need to evacuate."
"Call 'em," Rick said.
I got Mont on the phone, and, just like George, he and Terry didn't know what was going on with the weather. It really wasn't a surprise because it was a beautiful sunshiney day and just as hot as ever. There was a pretty stiff breeze, though, and I knew that was a sign a storm was on its way. I told Mont we were making plans to evacuate to Dothan if we had to, and he said to put them down for two rooms. Mont evidently knew he could speak for his brother Fred.
I called Gene and told him what had been going on at our house. I told him we needed six rooms for us and our friends, and he said that wouldn't be a problem.
"If we go, and I'm hoping we don't have to," Gene said, "that will be a good chance for you and Rick to meet some of my friends in Dothan. You never can tell when we might just be acquiring a property or two up that way."
"That sounds good," I said. "When will we decide about leaving?"
"I prefer not to leave for anything less than a Category 4. I will leave for a Cat 3 if they're predicting a strong storm surge, like they did with that last big one we had. He's a Cat 3 now, but he'll pick up strength as he gets closer."
"Yeah. It happens every time with that warmer shallow water closer to shore," I said.
"It sounds like you've been through one or two of these things, Kevin," he said.
"Naw. Just all my life, is all," I said.
He laughed. "You rascal," he said. "Given what we know, I think we need to leave just as soon as they open the shelters. It's an hour's trip, but for Opal it took people 12 and 13 hours to get to Tallahassee from here, and that ain't but 100 miles."
"Rick and I were in Tallahassee for Opal. We remember."
"I didn't think of that, but y'all would have been. Well, y'all know, then. Damn, our lights just flickered," he said.
"Yeah. Ours did, too. You'll take care of setting it up with them up there, right?"
"Already did. I sent e-mail to my friend just as soon as you told me how many rooms y'all need, and I'm printing out the confirmation right now. It's all comp, by the way. Remember that we always comp him and his when they want to come to the beach."
"Okay," I said. "What's his name?"
"Buddy Oliver. He grew up here, and we've been friends for more years than I care to remember. Tell Kyle to get his ass home and get his shit ready to go, okay?"
"Kyle, go home and get your shit ready to go when we need to leave. Jay, you and Tim need to do the same thing. We'll leave from here. Jus, you pack up, too. We're going to all take our cars. At least we'll have those if it floods here. Jay, make sure your car is high and dry if you decide not to take it. Let's get moving, guys. We're not panicking, but we're not farting around, either," I said.
Everybody went in different directions. Rick and I packed our clothes. We decided to lay out all of our hanging clothes in the trunk of my car. We packed our "hurricane box," which had all our important papers, in the trunk, too. We moved as much of our stuff as we could, like my grandmother's silver, the computer, the big TV from the den, the stereo and other electronic gear from the entertainment center, and things of that sort, to the attic. Fortunately, the attic was fully floored, so we had plenty of space to put things. Our house had been built post-Opal, so it had had to meet the rigid "hurricane proof" building code the state had imposed on new construction after that event. We were pretty sure it wouldn't blow away, but we lived across the street from a lagoon that emptied into the Gulf, so a flood was entirely possible.
We got it all done by two that afternoon. Everybody was back at our house, and our driveway and the street in front of our house looked like a used car lot. George came over to wait and watch with us, and Mont, Ter, Sam, and Fred were there, too. There were eleven men in our house.
"What do we do now," Tim asked.
"I don't know about you guys, but I'm going surfing," Rick said. "That southeast wind is bringing in some of the most awesome waves we ever get here, and I ain't missing it. Surf's up! Anybody coming?"
Rick had six or seven surfboards, and he was always willing to share. His preference was for a long board, and he had two of those, but he had medium boards and short boards, too. George said he'd pass and stay home with an eye on the news, but the rest of us at least wanted to go down to the beach to watch him surf.
We went to the motel where the boys had worked that summer. The beach was pretty much deserted, but there were a couple of surfers in the water. The waves were bigger and more numerous than I had ever seen, and the noise from the surf was almost deafening. It was definitely not a time to hold a romantic conversation on the beach.
"Can you hang ten," Kyle asked Rick
"Fuckin' aye, dude," Rick replied. He rarely talked to the boys that way unless he was very angry or excited or wanted to really emphasize a point. The fact that he used "fuck" with Kyle that time meant he was really excited, or playing the role of "surfer dude."
"What does that mean, exactly," Mont asked. "I've heard 'hang ten' all my life, but I thought it just meant 'surf.' It must be some kind of skill, from what y'all just said."
"The 'ten' are your ten toes, Mont," Rick said. "I can get right up to the front of the board, when I'm lucky and the waves cooperate, and I can have all ten toes in the water as I ride a wave. It's not that big a deal, but a lot of guys can't do it. I got smacked in the back of the head by my board a bunch of times when I was learning how."
We watched the water, and a huge wave came across and made a "pipe."
When Rick saw that, he said, "I'll be back." He took off into the water. He paddled out to where the surf was breaking, and he got right into it. He took a wave, and the two other boys who were out there with him let him have it. He rode it great, and I could tell that all four of our boys were in awe of what he was doing.
"I wish I could do that," Sam said.
"Come on. Let's do it," Kyle said.
"I've never been on a surfboard in my life, Kyle," Sam said.
Kyle gave Sam a quick verbal lesson.
"Where'd you learn that," I asked.
"Every beach kid knows how to surf, Kev," he said.
I should have known.
Sam, Kyle, and Tim grabbed boards and went out there. When they got to where Rick was, he flipped the boys overboard, and the four of them played for a while in the surf. Rick made them spread out, and they appeared to be working out a signal system so they'd know who got which wave. They were coming in pretty fast, so none of them had to wait long.
Kyle went first, and he rode his wave all the way in. We applauded his performance from our position on the beach. Tim was next, and he did pretty well. He tried to hang ten, though, and the surfboard smacked him in the back of his head. We all held our breath until he popped up above the waves. He shot his surfboard a bird, and we all laughed. Sam was next, but he didn't last on the wave for more than fifteen seconds. Fred got a little worried when he went under, but he grinned when Sam popped up.
Rick took the next wave, and it was a doozy. It was huge, and it turned into a pipe. We all more or less held our breaths while he was out of sight, but he rode through it, hanging ten. We all jumped to our feet when we saw him emerge, clapping our hands off.
They kept at that for well over two hours. The wind was picking up, and our four surfers dragged asses and boards onto the beach.
"You guys were so good," Rick screamed to be heard above the surf. "I can't believe it."
Tim and Kyle sought Rick's approval above everything, and they were grinning so hard when he said that I thought their teeth would pop out. Sam, their assistant scoutmaster, was grinning, too.
"We saw you hang ten on that pipe, Rick. That was awesome," Jason said.
"Did you see ole Timmy get smacked when he tried it," Rick asked.
"Why are you blushing? Did you see these other pussies even try to hang ten," he asked.
Tim grinned. It wasn't approval for a job well done, but it was definitely approval, and he loved it.
We left the beach then and went back home. George had been watching the Weather Channel, which had already dispatched people to our area to cover the storm, and it didn't look good. They were predicting landfall on our beach at noon the next day.
The local school superintendent and the Director of Emergency Management came on next. They announced that the shelters would open at 5:00 PM. It was then 3:15. The phone rang seconds later, and it was Gene.
"It's time to move out," was all he said before he hung up.
The guys who had been in the water took very quick showers together, and they were ready to go in less than ten minutes. We already had the cars packed, so we were ready to go.
"I'll turn off the main breaker," Rick said.
"Why? The stuff in the freezer will go bad if we're gone for a few days," I said.
"Come on, New Orleans. You know why. Think," he said.
"Oh, yeah," I said, after I thought about it. "Power surge."
"Exactly. Come on, man, now. Remember your shit from when you were a kid," he said. "If you leave the power on, your house can very easily burn to the ground from the power surge when they turn it back on. You know that."
"I'm going to give your ass a power surge, if you ain't careful," I said. Then, when he had finished laughing at what I had said, "Yeah, I just forgot."
"We didn't know to do that," I heard Mont say to Terry.
"I knew," Terry said. "We have hurricanes in South Carolina, too, you know."
Mont just grinned at his buddy, and it reinforced what I already knew: he and Terry were just like Rick and me.
The road to Dothan was crowded, but it wasn't yet bumper-to-bumper as we had feared it would become. Everybody who owned a car, and that was most of us, drove it. Tim rode with Kyle, and Jay rode with Jus, but every other car was owner-occupied on that trip. I listened to the radio for news, but there wasn't really any. I found the PBS station, eventually, and they had a news report from the Emergency Management Center.
"This is going to be a bad one, by all reports," the news caster said.
"No question about it. It's still a Cat 3, but it's fixing to become a Cat 4, and some forecasters are even predicting a Cat 5. We ain't had a Cat 5 here in recent memory, and, if that rascal gets up to a Cat 5, we'll see some incredible damage."
"Hasn't the state issued new building codes to make buildings hurricane safe?"
"Yeah, but that's just the new stuff built since Opal. That was just a few years ago. A lot of the older houses and buildings on the beach are vulnerable. The people need to heed the warnings and evacuate, especially from the beach or if you are within two blocks of water anywhere in the county."
I wondered if Rick and the others were listening to that station. I had no idea what a Category 5 hurricane would do to our home or to the businesses Rick and I had just agreed to run, and I prayed fervently that we would be spared.
The traffic was already heavy, and the first band of heavy rain pelted our cars. I momentarily considered pulling over because visibility was so poor. Several cars had done that. I reached the top of a small hill, and I saw what looked like Kyle's car pull over. I guess I'd better do the same, I thought, and I pulled off the road right behind his.
Their car had barely stopped when the two of them jumped out. It was raining so hard they were soaked in seconds. There was a small bridge about ten feet in front of Kyle's car, and he and Tim ran over to it. Kyle kicked off his shoes, pulled off his shirt, and then wiggled out of his shorts.
Oh, my God, I thought. What the hell is he doing?
I couldn't see Tim's face, but he was moving around as though he were very excited. He went with Kyle to the rail on the bridge. Kyle stood up on it and jumped in feet first. Even though I knew I'd get wet to the skin, I couldn't stay in my car a second longer.
"What the hell's going on, Tim," I shouted. The wind was blowing hard, and the drops of rain felt like tiny needles as they hit my skin.
"A car went off the road and into this creek," Tim said. He didn't look at me. His eyes were focused on the water where Kyle was. Just then Kyle's head popped out of the water, but he went back under. "He's trying to get the driver out," he said.
"Is his phone in the car," I asked.
"Yeah," he shouted back, barely able to make himself heard over the noise of the wind and rain.
I went to Kyle's car and called 9-1-1, but the line was busy. It was all I could do to keep from hurling the phone into the street. Then I dialed *FHP to call the Florida Highway Patrol. That was their statewide emergency number, and it was busy, too. I tried 9-1-1 again, and I heard the busy signal again.
"Goddamn it," I said aloud.
In another thirty seconds, a Highway Patrol car passed me. He was, like everyone else, going very slowly because the driving conditions were so bad. I leaned on the horn of Kyle's car for all I was worth, and the patrol car pulled over in front of Kyle's car. I ran to it.
"Officer, a car went off the road into the creek," I said. I was excited, scared, and just a bit winded from running to the car.
"Is anybody still in the car," he asked.
"I assume the driver is. My brother is in the water trying to get them out," I said.
"Can he swim," he asked.
My frustration had been growing, but it peaked just about then.
"Sir, I'm not trying to tell you how to do your job, but do you think you could go see if he needs help?"
The guy looked at me like I had asked him to drive me to Dothan. Then, slowly and with as much passive aggression as he could muster, he got out of the car. He was wearing a rain slicker and rain boots. He pulled the rain hat down in the back to protect his neck, which I was almost positive was bright red, and walked over toward the bridge.
Kyle was towing a woman through the water. She was conscious and screaming and crying. Tim flopped down on the bridge to take her arms when Kyle started to lift her.
"Kevin, help me," Tim said.
I flopped down beside him, and we each took one of her arms. With Kyle pushing and us pulling, we were able to get her up enough so that she could grab on to the rail of the bridge. She pulled herself up the rest of the way.
The lady was young, probably late teens or early twenties, and she was hysterical. I couldn't understand what she was saying, but Tim did.
"Kyle, get her baby," he screamed to his boyfriend.
Kyle did a flip and went under again. In a matter of second, that seemed like hours, he was back on the surface with a little kid in his arms. The baby looked like it was about a year old. He handed the baby up to Tim. The mother tried to grab the baby away from him, but Tim screamed to me, "Kevin, stop her."
Tim ran over to Kyle's car with the baby, set it down on the back seat, and immediately began giving it mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, alternating with CPR. The cop had gone back to his car. I hope that son of a bitch is calling an ambulance, I thought.
Kyle pulled himself up on to the bridge, and he trotted over to his car.
"Move over," he said to Tim, and he did CPR while Tim continued mouth-to-mouth. They were both hunched over the baby, and I couldn't really see it. In a second, though, I heard Tim coughing. Moments later, the baby was crying, and the boys had stopped what they were doing.
The mother had been struggling in my arms trying to get away from me. She let out an ear-piercing scream when the baby cried.
"They're hurting my baby," she bellowed. "I'll kill them for hurting my baby."
"Lady, they just saved the baby's life," the cop said. "And they saved your life, too. Would you pipe down please, ma'am."
She shut up completely when he said that. Oh, the power of a uniform, I thought. An ambulance pulled up, and two EMT's got out. One, a young woman, looked after the baby's mother, and the other one, a young man, looked after the baby. They took both, mother and child, into the ambulance. They must have been examining both of them because they didn't leave the scene. In a minute, the man came back out.
"They're going to be fine. We're monitoring the baby's pulse and blood pressure, and we have him on oxygen. The mom is pretty crazy right now. We're going to take them into the hospital."
His remarks were addressed to the policeman, but we all heard what he said.
"These boys saved both of them," the cop said. "This one went into the water and brought them up, and this one did CPR and mouth-to-mouth."
"He did CPR, too," Tim said, meaning Kyle.
Everybody focused their attention on Kyle for the first time, and he was quite a sight. The rain had more or less stopped, but he was still wringing wet, of course. He had on a pair of small white briefs that weren't exactly bikinis but weren't regular-cut briefs, either. The cotton cloth was thin and transparent, and there was no doubt he was male.
"Why did you take your clothes off," I asked, a little embarrassed at the way he looked standing there on the side of the road.
"He did the right thing, sir. Having clothes on would have slowed him down, and they could have gotten caught on something," the EMT said.
"That's what they teach us to do, Kev," he said, and Tim confirmed it.
"Where'd you boys learn what you did," the EMT asked.
"Scouts," they said in unison.
"They're both Eagle Scouts," I said in my proud big brother voice.
"Is that so? What are your names, boys," the officer asked. He took out a pad and pen to take notes.
They told him their names, addresses, phone numbers, and ages.
"You related to Gene Goodson," he asked Kyle.
"Yes, sir. He's my dad."
"You tell your dad J. R. Watkins said hello. That's me. We went to school together."
"Yes, sir, I will," Kyle said.
"You boys did a very brave and courageous thing today, and you saved two lives because of it. The governor has a special program to honor acts of heroism that kids do, and I'd bet money y'all are fixing to get an invitation to Tallahassee pretty soon."
Tim and Kyle broke into huge grins when he said that.
The lady EMT stuck her head out the back of the ambulance to tell the guy they were ready to go. He shook hands with the boys and me, and he wished us a safe hurricane. I smiled at the irony of that.
"I need to follow them to the hospital," the patrolman said. "Are y'all headed out," he asked.
"Yes, sir. We're evacuating to Dothan," Kyle said.
The cop thought for a second, and then he said, "Let me see what I can do for y'all."
He went back to his car, and we saw him use his radio. In a minute he was back with us.
"The traffic's starting to get bad, so I made arrangements for y'all to have a police escort to the state line. Maybe that'll help some. You boys look good together. Take care of each other, you hear." Then he winked at them.
He shook hands with them and with me, and then he and the ambulance left.
"Y'all get some dry clothes on," I said.
They moved quickly to gather up Kyle's discarded clothes and to get dry ones out of the trunk. They both put on jeans, which was rather unusual for them in the summer, and a polo shirt. Kyle's shoes were wet, so he put on sandals. I changed into dry clothes, too.
They were beside themselves with excitement, and they were as cute as I had ever seen them.
"Did you see him wink at us," Kyle asked.
"Do you think he knew," Tim said.
I started laughing at them with delight.
"He said for us to take care of each other," Tim said.
"And that we look good together," Kyle chimed in.
"Would it matter if he knew you were gay," I asked.
"Yeah," they both said at once.
"I can see the headline now," Kyle said. "Queer Eagle Scouts Get Award for Bravery; Troop Kicks Them Out for Using Scout Skills to Save Two Lives."
"It wouldn't say that in the paper," Tim said. "It's too long."
Kyle rolled his eyes, and I couldn't control myself. Even Tim laughed when he realized what he had said.
"Let's get in the car now, blondie," Kyle said. Tim punched him, and Kyle laughed and ruffled his hair.
Two patrolmen on motorcycles drove up and gave us instructions to follow them. It was great moving through the traffic like VIP's. Having them with us let us go much faster than we would have otherwise been able to, and they saluted us and waved goodbye at the Alabama line.
We got to Dothan and found our hotel on the Ross Clark Circle, a highway that went around the city. It was a very nice place, and Gene introduced us to Buddy Oliver right away. Gene made it very clear that we were Executive Vice Presidents of his company, and Buddy made it very clear to his General Manager that we were his personal guests at that hotel. Not only were we comped, we were comped VIP. The fact was, Rick and I would have been willing to pay $150 a night or much more to save us and our boys and our friends from being killed in a hurricane, but we didn't have to. In fact, we were going to be treated like visiting royalty.
"Gene, we need to get you and Rita and everybody else together in one place so y'all can all hear what happened to us on the way up here," I said.
"What is it, Kevin," Gene asked. Rick didn't say anything, but he was dying to know what I was talking about.
"The boys are heroes, Gene. They saved a woman and a baby from drowning. But let's let them tell it."
"Well, I've got to hear this," he said. "Y'all come to our room. We've got a suite."
We followed Gene. We said hello to Rita when we got there. We had been in her company several times, but we didn't really know her well. We called the rest of our crew and told them to come to the Goodsons' suite.
There weren't enough chairs for thirteen people, so the kids and Rick and I sat on the floor. Rita and Gene dispensed the refreshments they had on hand, and Gene called room service for a couple of platters of hors d'oeuvres.
"Tell us what happened," Gene said.
Kyle took a deep breath and let it out noisily. "Okay," he grinned.
"We were driving up the highway, and it started to rain real hard. I could barely see to drive, so I slowed way down. I was in the left lane, and a car passed us in the right lane going pretty fast. There was a big puddle of water on the bridge over a creek, and the car hit the water and lost control. It busted through the bridge railing and went into the water."
"I saw it, too," Tim said. "I told him to pull over, but he was already doing it. We pulled over and jumped out. Kyle ran to the railing and took his shoes and clothes off. Then he jumped in."
"You took your clothes off right there on the highway, Kyle," Rita Goodson asked, slightly horrified.
"Yes, ma'am," Kyle said. "That's what they tell us to do."
Rita started to object, but Sam cut her off.
"Kyle did exactly what we teach them to do, Rita. In a situation like that, it's way too easy for clothes to get caught on something and for the rescuer to get hung up on something."
"Well, if you say so, Sam, but..."
Gene laughed at his wife's prudery. "Keep on, son," he said.
"I jumped in and couldn't find the car at first. It was a dark maroon color, and it was dark under the water. I had to come up for air. I went back down, and I found it. I opened the driver-side door, and the whole car filled up with water when I did that. The lady wasn't wearing her seatbelt so I just pulled her out and carried her up."
"He gave her to me and Kevin," Tim said. "We pulled her up while he pushed from below."
"Was it hard getting the car door open," Rick asked.
"Yeah. It was. I just realized that," Kyle said.
"You were fighting the pressure of the water," Sam said.
"I guess so. Anyway, we got the lady out, and I was about to get out, too. Then Tim said..."
Tim jumped back in. "I heard her say something about her baby, so I told Kyle to go back after it. Him, I guess it was."
"I went back in, but I couldn't see shit."
"Kyle!" his mother said.
Gene said, "Keep on son. You couldn't see shit, and..."
Everybody, including Rita, laughed when he said that.
"I couldn't see nothing. I felt around for the baby on the front seat, but it wasn't there. Then I opened the back door, and there it was. It was in a car seat, and it was all wrapped up in a seatbelt. I had to feel how to get it out of there. I did, though, and then I swam it up."
"He handed it to me, and I felt for a pulse first thing," Tim said. "I rushed over to Kyle's car and got into the back seat. I started mouth-to-mouth and CPR, but it wasn't responding. Then Kyle came over. He took over the CPR part. Pretty soon the baby puked into my mouth, but that was good. Then it started crying. We stopped what we were doing 'cause we knew it was alive."
"I heard you cough, but I didn't know it puked in your mouth," Kyle said. "That's gross."
"I know," Tim said, matter-of-factly, like it happened every day.
"Then the ambulance came, and they took over with the lady and the baby," Kyle said.
"The policeman took our names and all, and he said we might be getting an award from the governor," Tim said.
"Oh, yeah, Daddy. He said he knows you," Kyle said.
"What was his name," Gene asked.
"J. R. something," Kyle said.
"J. R. Watkins," Gene asked.
"Yeah, that was it, Gene," I said.
"Oh, hell. I've known J. R. all my life. Good, good guy. A little on the lazy side, but a hell of a nice fella," Gene said.
"He seemed real nice," Kyle said. "He even got us a police escort to the state line. That's why we weren't late."
"Yeah, that sounds like something ole J. R. would do. He's like you and Tim, Kyle." Then, looking around the room, "Like all you guys, except you, George."
"You mean he's gay," Kyle asked in disbelief.
"Queer as a three-dollar bill," Gene said.
"He's queer, and you still like him, Daddy," Kyle asked.
I started to say something to Kyle when he said that, but Rick put his hand on my arm to tell me to be quiet.
"Hell, yes. He's my friend. Listen Mister, you ain't too big a hero for me to put you across my lap and wear you out for implying that about me."
"Oh, Daddy! Would you do that? Just like the old days?" Kyle was teasing his dad, and everybody laughed.
Gene cocked his head toward his wife to indicate Kyle shouldn't say things like that in front of his mother.
"Oh, Gene, please," she said. "It was funny, and you know it."
Everybody laughed again.
The hors d'oeuvres arrived about then, only it was twice the order Gene had made. They were followed by Buddy Oliver and his wife, and two other couples I hadn't met. It was suddenly a cocktail party.
Rita got busy doing hostess duty. She asked Kyle to make drinks for the newcomers and to freshen the drinks of everyone else. I watched him go behind the counter/bar in the little kitchen to make the drinks. He made drinks for the new arrivals, and Tim delivered them. Then he made fresh ones for those of us who had been there. He disappeared for a few seconds behind a wall, and then he and Tim came out with two drinks each, one for each of them and one for each of the other boys. Jason tasted his and grinned. He said something I couldn't hear, and all four of them laughed, like they were getting away with something.
Gene was talking to George. "I think Kyle just gave the boys a little cocktail," I said to them.
"Well, they damn sure deserve one," Gene said.
"I'll drink to that," George said.
"So y'all don't have a problem with that--if, in fact, that's what he did?"
"Kevin, didn't you do stuff like that when you were their age," George asked.
"Guilty," I said. "You sound like Rick."
"Let 'em have some fun, son," Gene said. "We're having a hurricane party, and they ain't going anywhere. Relax and enjoy yourself."
"I guess I worry too much about them," I said.
"It's 'cause you love 'em, and they don't even know how lucky they are to have you and Rick," Gene said.
"But we know, Kevin, and we don't even have the words to thank you guys," George said. "Right, Gene?"
"You got that right, George," Gene said.
I mingled some, meeting the people who had come in with Buddy Oliver. One of the men was the president of the local Chamber of Commerce in our town, and he invited me to join as soon as we got back home.
Sam and Fred pulled me aside.
"It was unbelievable what they did," Sam said.
"I know. And they said they learned how to do that in the scouts. I announced shamelessly that they were both Eagle Scouts. I wanted to say 'gay Eagle Scouts,' but, of course, I didn't."
"It sounds like the cop would have been fine with that," Fred said.
"Yeah. Now I find out," I said.
They both laughed politely.
"By the way," Sam said, "the scouts have special awards for bravery. I'm going to nominate them for one."
"Really," I asked. I wasn't surprised that they did, but it hadn't occurred to me.
"And I'm going to talk to a friend of mind who works for Boy's Life about doing a story on them, too."
"What is Boy's Life," I asked.
"It's the national scouting magazine. Just about every scout gets it, and most schools and libraries do, too. That story will make the editor hard for a week," Sam said.
Fred and I laughed.
I saw Kyle come out of a bedroom and head for the kitchen, where the booze was. I figured the boys were all in there smoking, and I wanted a cigarette, too. I knocked.
"Who is it," Tim asked.
"It's me," I said.
"Oh. Come in," he said.
When I opened the door, a wave of cigarette smoke met me. That was obviously not the main bedroom for the suite, and the boys were propped up on the two double beds that were in it. Justin and Jay each had cigarettes going, but Tim didn't. They had hauled off one of the platters of food, and about half of it was gone. I lit up a smoke and settled in one of the chairs that were around the small table.
"What's going on, guys," I asked.
"We're just talkin' and eatin'," Jus said.
"And smokin' and drinkin'," I said.
They got deathly quiet.
"Are we in trouble," Justin asked.
"That depends. How many drinks have you had?"
"Just one," Jus said.
"Justin?" My tone of voice said "Tell me the truth."
"No, Kev. Just one each. Scout's honor," Tim said.
"All right, but make the next one your last, okay, guys?"
"Okay," Tim said.
"Hooh! I was so scared I was about to shit my pants just now, Kevin," Jus said.
Kyle burst in just then. He held up a liter of coke and a half bottle of bourbon. "Lookie what I got," he said. Then he saw me, and his eyes got the size of Frisbees.
"One more drink each, okay," I said.
Kyle burst into a grin. He poured drinks for the boys and me, and then I made him put the bottle of bourbon on the table next to me. He got on the bed next to Tim.
Rick found us in a few minutes.
"What is this, the den of iniquity," he asked.
"Er, excuse me, but I think it's the Hall of Heroes," Kyle said.
"I'll hall your hero," he said.
"Ohhhhhhh," Kyle said seductively.
"Shut up, asshole," Rick said around his laughter. Pause. "Seriously, I'm so proud of you guys right now, I can hardly stand it. Kyle, your dad's telling the story to those new people out there, and he's crying, man. And your dad's crying, too, Tim. We're so proud."
Justin said, "The Few. The Proud. The Gay."
That broke everybody up.