Disclaimer: 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," "Kyle, Part 2," and "Kyle, Part 3."  It now continues in "Summer Fun."  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, though.  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 brew_drinker23@yahoo.com.

--Brew Maxwell

Summer Fun

Chapter 1

(Kevin's Perspective)

The last day of school for Tim, Kyle, and Brian was May 20th, and the last two days were exam days.  Kyle worried and fretted about trig but actually ended up making a B in the course.  The other two studied hard, and they both got A's in everything.

My twenty-seventh birthday was on May 25th, and it was a Monday that year, Memorial Day, in fact.  We decided to celebrate it on the 23rd.

"Guys, I want a simple cookout.  Naked swimming.  All guys, no ladies.  And no elaborate stuff.  If you're dying to do that, wait till I turn thirty," I said.  We were all in the den, planning the party.

"Just guys?  Hell, I wanted to bring a date," Justin said.

That broke us up, of course.

"What girl would go out with you," Kyle asked.

"You'd be surprised, Kyle.  There's a girl in housekeeping that's had her eye on me for a while.  She'd be a good date, too.  Wouldn't eat much, either, unless I bought her some teeth first."

He had us screaming.

"I thought she was your sister," Kyle said.

"She is.  So what?"

More laughs.

"Are we planning a party, or what," Kyle said after the laughter died down.

"I don't know about you, but I'm at one right now," Jus said.  "And I'm having a damn good time, too."

When Kyle finished laughing, he said, "I know.  That's what I mean.  We need to get this planning done."

"Kyle, man, you're so fucking compulsive about this.  Come here," Jus said.


"Come here and get in front of me.  I got to settle you down," Jus said.

Kyle did what he told him.

"Now take your shirt off."

Again, Kyle complied.

Justin started massaging Kyle's neck and shoulders.  Kyle got a look of total contentment on his face.

"Damn, you give good hand, Bubba.  Not good handjobs, just good hand."

Of course we laughed.

Justin popped him on the side of his head.

"Cut it out.  You're going to give me a cauliflower ear," Kyle said.

"Good.  You can serve it at the next party.  Meat and vegetable, all in one.  Cut your planning time in half."

When he said that, Jeff doubled over in laughter.  The rest of us were gasping for breath from laughing so hard, too.

"Stop," Rick said.  "I can't catch my breath."

"I ain't giving you mouth-to-mouth, that's for sure.  No telling where that nasty tongue's been," Jus said.  All of it was totally deadpan.

We all sort of sat there with huge grins on our faces, exhausted from laughing so hard.  Justin was still working Kyle's shoulders and neck.

"Thanks, Bubba," Kyle said.  "I think you worked all the compulsive kinks out of me."  Then, in a second, "Steaks?  Potato salad?  Fried eggplant?  Coleslaw?  How does that sound?  Rolls and birthday cake and ice cream, of course."

"Kyle, you are fucking relentless," Jus said.

"Does that sound good to everybody?  How about it, Kevin?  Is that good?"

"Kyle, it's great."  I could barely keep from laughing.

"Okay.  I feel so much better."

Justin started to say something, but just then we heard this whimpering and scratching at the back door.

"Let her in, Kyle," Tim said.

"You think," Kyle asked.

"Yeah, let her in."

Kyle got up and went into the kitchen.  In a second, a black Labrador Retriever puppy came bounding in.  It's tail was wagging furiously.  It went from boy to boy, nosing and licking.  Then it saw Tim, and it jumped into his lap on the sofa.  Kyle came in right behind it, grinning.  He sat down on the sofa next to Tim, and the dog licked his face.

"What the hell is this," Rick asked.

"It's a dog, Rick.  What does it look like," Tim said.

"I know it's a dog, Tim.  What's it doing here?"

"She came to visit us," Tim said.  "She knows me and Kyle."

"Is this your dog, Tim," I asked.

"No, sir, not officially, but I want her to be.  She is so sweet, Kevin, you wouldn't believe it."

I thought about the black Lab we had had when I was a kid.  I actually loved that dog more than I did my brother, at the time.  Of course, I was only about ten when she was poisoned.  I don't remember it, but supposedly I didn't talk for a week after she died.  This one was exactly like mine when we had gotten her.

"Where did she come from," I asked.

"Tim and I were skateboarding one afternoon about a week ago down at the motel we worked at last summer.  She just came up and started playing with us, Kev.  A couple of days later, Herman called me to come get her.  Herman the Heartless didn't want her," Kyle said.

"You've still got it in for Herman, haven't you," Rick said.

"No comment on that," Kyle said.

"Who are y'all talking about," Jus asked.  "Who's Herman?"

"The asshole manager of that place where we found you, Bubba.  You remember him.  He didn't want to comp your room, and he would have probably called the cops on you, too.  That's who."

I could tell Kyle still felt really strongly about that whole episode, and I wanted to change the subject.

"So where has she been since then," I asked.

"In our yard.  Your yard, I mean," Kyle said.  "Tim and I have been feeding her, and I think she's hungry right now.  This is the first time she's been in the house, though, Kevin.  Scout's honor."

"Kyle, don't say that.  This might be the first time you've let her in, but she's been in before," Jeff said.

The dog's ears perked up when she heard Jeff's voice.  She raised her head from Kyle's lap and looked at him with a really cute look on her face.

"You," Kyle asked.

He sort of cringed a little bit.

"Yeah.  A couple of times."

"I've seen this dog around some, too.  I tried to run over it, though," Justin said.

Kyle got instantly furious, or pretended to.

"You asshole.  You tried to run over this dog?  I'll run over your ass."

"First you're going to save me from the cops, and then you're going to run over my ass?  Got you last, Kylie," Justin said the last part in a sweet, soft voice.

"I knew you'd never do that, Bubba," Kyle said.  "I'm too hyper."

Yes, you are, I thought, but I didn't say anything.

"Actually, I've played with her a little bit.  I threw your dirty jockstrap out into the street for her to fetch.  She loved it, Kyle.  She ate it, in fact."

"You shit," Kyle said.

We all laughed.

"What are we going to do about this dog," Rick asked.

"I think we should keep her, Rick.  She loves us," Tim said.

"She belongs to somebody, though.  You can't just keep somebody's dog because it ran away," he said.

"Rick, we've been looking in the paper every day.  Nobody has advertised losing a black Lab puppy.  I called the county Humane Society, and they don't know of anybody who has lost a black Lab puppy.  I think she's a throw-away," Kyle said.

"What do you think, Babe," Rick said to me.

"Rick, if you don't want this dog here, then there's no dog here.  Period.  But I have to tell you this.  We had a black Lab when I was a kid, and I loved her more than I loved Craig.  And he loved her more than he loved me."

"So, I gather everybody wants to keep the dog," Rick said.

"If you don't want the dog, we don't keep the dog, Babe.  This is your home," I said.

"Yeah, but it's everybody else's home, too.  And this is my family.  If y'all want to keep the dog, I'm fine with it.  I'm not taking care of her, though.  And I'm not picking up any dog shit, either.  The rest of y'all are going to have to do that," he said.

"Babe, that's fair.  We'll do all of that, right guys," I said.

They all agreed.

"And that dog ain't sleeping with us, either, Kevin," he said.

"It never crossed my mind she would, Babe," I said.

"Kyle said she's hungry.  I think we should feed her," Rick said.

Everybody grinned at Rick.

"We've been calling her Trixie," Tim said.

The dog perked up when she heard that.

"We call her Trix, too," Kyle said.

She barked a little when she heard that.  That was a very smart dog, I decided. 

We fed Trixie and put her to bed on a ratty blanket in the laundry room.  I decided the next day we would get her a proper dog bed.  She was so cute, and I knew Rick would soften up to her.

(Rick's Perspective)

I got blindsided on this damn dog thing.  I know Kevin didn't have anything to do with it, but the kids set me up.  How could I have missed a dog that big on my own property for a week?  Jeez.

When I got up for my run the next morning, what's the first thing I see in the kitchen?  The dog.  She was wagging her tail and wanting to lick my knees and shit.  Yuck.

I try to sneak out to run, and I'm not quick enough.  The dog sneaks out with me.  Good, I think.  Maybe it'll get lost.

But it doesn't get lost, and it keeps right with me the whole way.  When we finished, I gave it some water, and it lapped it up.  It emptied the soup bowl I gave it the water in, and I refilled it.  What the fuck am I doing, I thought.  I said I wasn't taking care of this damn dog, and here I am, taking care of it.

The next morning, she was waiting for me in the kitchen.  She barked a time or two.  I told her to shush because I didn't want her to wake up Kevin.  Then I thought, Wake his ass up.  He deserves it.

She did a number on me that morning.  She started running at my pace, but then she ran ahead and stopped.  She started barking for me to come on, like she was my coach or something.  I'd get to where she was, and then she'd run ahead again.  She did that a bunch of times until we got to my turn-around.  She remembered it, evidently, because she ran in the other direction when I got there.  I was pretty impressed.

When we got home, we were both wringing wet.  I dried off, and then I dried her off, too.  She licked my face.  Yuck.

Somebody had bought a dog basket for her to sleep in, and food and water bowls.  I filled up the water bowl, and she lapped it up quick.  I filled it up again, and she drank about half of it.  Then I filled up the food bowl with this shit they had bought.  She liked it and ate a good bit of it before I went and found my husband.

The third day was a Friday.  We had been up late the night before, and I had decided I wasn't running Friday morning.  Or so I thought, anyway.

I woke up at ten minutes after five to this clawing at our door and this whimpering.  I thought one of the kids was sick or something.  I jumped out of bed, and it was damn Trixie.  She barked a couple of times and then led me, like she wanted to run.  Jesus, I thought.  I can't even sleep in when I want to.  I needed to run, though, so she and I took off.

That weekend was Kevin's birthday, and I wanted us to go out to celebrate it.  The kids all wanted to go out to eat with us.

"Can't Kevin and I have some privacy around here?  Can't we have a night to ourselves," I asked.

"Rick, we want to be with you because we love you guys," Kyle said.

"We know that, Kyle.  But don't you and Tim want to be alone sometimes?  We're probably going to talk about you guys and this fucking dog, who seems to have taken me on as a project, but I want private time with Kevin tonight.  Tomorrow night's the family celebration.  Tonight's ours, okay?"

"You guys love each other, don't you."  He was close to blubbering.

"You know we do, Kyle."

"Yeah, and we don't give you much space, do we?"

"Yes, you do.  We have enough space.  I just want a little extra tonight with my guy, you know?  We'll be home early," I said.  "Wait up for us."

Kevin and I had a great meal that night in what was probably the best restaurant in town.  Most people thought the best ones were on the beach, and there were definitely some good ones there.  But the one we ate at was the best one east of the bridge.

We got home around eleven o'clock, and the boys were in the den waiting for us.  Kevin and I sat down next to one another on the sofa, and Trixie jumped up and sat next to me.  She put her head in my lap.

"I think Trixie has a new boyfriend," Justin said.  "She's in heat, and she smells that cum in Rick."

They all laughed, but I didn't think it was all that funny.

"Jus, that was pretty gross, you know," I said.

"I know, but you would have said it about me if she had her snout in my crotch and you'd have thought of it."

"Yeah, I probably would have," I said.  "The fact is, Trixie and I have been getting to be good running friends."

She sat up and licked my face when I said that.  Jesus!

"I knew you'd give in and love her," Kyle said.  "What was it you called me once?  You hard-ass macho fuck."

"He called you a horny macho fuck, Kyle," Kevin said.

"Okay, y'all were right, I was wrong," Rick said.  "I love Trixie.  She's part of our family now."

(Kevin's Perspective)

My secretary buzzed me around ten in the morning.

"Kevin, it's a phone call from a Jackie Thomas.  Will you take it?"

"Jackie Thomas?  Yes, of course I'll take it," I said.  

"Hello," a voice said.

"Jackie, is that you?  Where the hell are you, man?"

"Paul and I are in Emerald Beach, Florida.  Where the hell are you?"

"You're here?  Jackie, I'm so excited, man."  I was half laughing and half crying at the same time.

"Calm down, K.  You gonna be all right," he said.  He was laughing, too.

"Where the fuck are you.  I mean, exactly where the fuck are you?"

"I'm sitting on a bed in room 732 at the Laguna Hotel in Emerald Beach, Florida, that's where I am.  And my brother Paul is sitting on the other bed."

"Jackie, don't move.  I'll be there in fifteen minutes," I said.

"What if I have to piss," Jackie said.

"I absolutely knew you were going to say that, man.  And you know what?"

"Suck it up?"

"Exactly.  That's exactly what I was going to say.  But you knew that, didn't you?"

"Get your honky ass over here right now, so I can go pee if I have to."

"I'll be there in ten minutes," I said.

"Ten or fifteen?"

"I don't know how long.  Right now, call down to the bell desk and tell them you want Justin and Jeff in your room right away.  Those are two of my sons.  Tell them who you are, you hear?"

"Your sons?"

"Well, foster sons, but they don't have anyplace else to go.  Just call 'em, okay.  I'm hanging up now.  See you in ten."

I was so excited.  I felt like I knew what Kyle must feel like when he gets excited.  I ran down the hall to Rick's office.

"Come on.  Let's go," I said.

"What's going on," he asked.

"Paul and Jackie Thomas are here.  They're staying at the Laguna," I said.

"Your two buddies from school?"

"My two buddies from birth, Babe.  Can you leave?"

"I guess I can," he said.  He told his secretary he might be gone for the rest of the day.

When we got to the hotel, a valet parker met us first thing.  She was sharp and crisp, and I liked that.  She had no idea who we were, and that made her demeanor even more impressive.  We took the elevator to the seventh floor and found their room in a few seconds.

"God almighty, look at you," Paul said, when he opened the door.

"Look at me?  Look at you," I said.

He ushered us in, and I grabbed Jackie in a big hug, too.

"This is too good.  This is too fucking good," I said.  I had happy tears running down my face, and those guys did, too.  They had met Rick at Craig's wedding, and they remembered each other.

"You've met Justin and Jeff, right," I said.

"Oh, yeah.  We've already told them about ten stories about you," Paul said.

"You better not have," I said.  "Guys, call your brothers and tell them to get their asses over here."

Justin got out his cell and called them.

"Are y'all here on vacation, or what?"

"On vacation and to see a good friend," Jackie said.

"Did you know my birthday is Monday," I asked.

"Of course we knew that, asshole," Jackie said.  "What do you think?"

There was a knock at the door.

"That's probably the kids," I said.

Paul opened the door, and I was sure the kids weren't expecting a black man to be on the other side.

"Are you Kevin's kids," Paul asked.

"Yes, sir, we're Kevin's kids," I heard Kyle say.

"Well, come on in," Paul said.

We did all the introduction stuff, and all the hand shaking.

"Is anybody hungry," I asked.

"Yes, sir.  You know we're hungry," Kyle said.

"The seed don't fall far from the tree, I see," Paul said, laughing.

"Let's go eat," I said.

We had a great lunch that lasted until two o'clock that afternoon.  We got caught up on one another's lives.  Paul was working for an engineering firm in Portland, Oregon.  He had been in a serious relationship with a girl from there for several years, but he was single once again.  He said he wanted to get married eventually, but he wasn't in any hurry.  He was looking to relocate to New Orleans.  Jackie had just gotten his Ph.D. in clinical psychology, and he was getting ready to do a year-long residency in an in-patient facility for adolescent boys in New Orleans.  He had spent the previous five years in Baton Rouge going to graduate school.

"Come live with us.  That'd do it," Justin said.

"There's nothing crazy about this bunch," Jackie said.  "You might have some minor problems, but no group with this much love has serious psychological needs."

"You can almost feel it, can't you?  The love, I mean," Paul said.

"There's plenty of that, all right," Justin said.

"You don't find that among people who I treat, Justin," Jackie said.

"Oh, guys, do you remember Rebel," I asked.

They both thought for a second.

"Your dog," Paul asked.

"Yeah," I said.

"I remember her.  Damn, how long has that been," Jackie asked.

"A long time," I said.  "We've got a puppy that's exactly like her.  I can't wait till you meet her."

"Are y'all coming to the party tomorrow night," Kyle asked.

"Are we invited," Paul asked.

"If you're not, nobody else is," I said.  "It's a pool party for my birthday."

"So bring our suits, right," Jackie said.

"Nope," I replied.

"Oh, it's one of those.  Just like the old days," Jackie said.

"That's right," I said, grinning.

"This guy used to love to get naked," Paul said.  "I didn't know why 'cause there wasn't ever much to show off."

"Still isn't," Jus said.

That made everybody laugh.

"Kevin, you tease me all the time about being a nudist and always wanting to be naked," Kyle said.

"It's a case of 'it takes one to know one,' Bubba," I said.  "I tease you about it, but I don't make fun of you for it."

"That's true," Kyle said.

"What's the worst thing he ever did," Tim asked.

"Do you guys know what a potato gun is," Jackie asked.

"No!  No!  Don't tell that story," I said.

"Tell it," Rick said.  "I've never heard this one."

"A potato gun is a kind of cannon made out of PVC pipe," Jackie said.  "You pack a raw potato in it, spray hairspray into the end, and light it.  The hairspray is the fuel, and it explodes in the confines of the pipe.  It shoots out the potato, and it makes a loud noise, sort of like an explosion.

"Well, we made one, and we were playing with it in the playground of the school we all went to.  We could have gotten in trouble just for being on the playground right then because our parents thought we were in church.  It was a Catholic school, so there was the church there, too.  The church had a stained glass window behind the altar that showed the Last Supper with the Twelve Apostles, including Judas.  We had had . . ."  Jackie started laughing and Paul took over.

"Kevin was convinced that Judas should not have been in that window, and we had argued about it a bunch of times.  That day, with that potato gun, he decided it was his job to take his ass out.  No more Judas."

"Did you shoot the window out," Kyle asked.

"Yes, but there's more to it," I said.  "That whole window had thick Plexiglas on the back of it to protect it in storms and what not.  I just wanted to hit Judas in the face.  I knew the potato couldn't go through the Plexiglas, and I never intended to break the window."

"But . . .," Paul said.

"But I did," I said.  "That was the only panel that didn't have Plexiglas, apparently, and it went right through the glass into the church."

"Tell 'em what else," Jackie said.

"It was Good Friday, and there was a service going on inside," I said.  "God, this is so embarrassing."

"Oh, shit," Rick said.  He was all warmed up to this story.

"We were supposed to have been there for the service," I said.  "All four of us were altar boys, and we were all supposed to be dressed in our robes in the church.  It was about three o'clock in the afternoon."

Jackie was laughing hard, but he continued.

"When the thing flew into the church, it must have scared somebody and they screamed.  Craig screamed out, Oh, fu . . ."  He was laughing too hard to continue.

"Craig screamed, 'Oh, fuck!  You killed somebody,' at the top of his lungs.  And just then, two men came running out of the church.  They caught us before we could get away," Paul said.

"Did y'all get in trouble," Justin asked.

"What do you think?  Did we ever get in trouble," I said.

"How old were you guys," Kyle asked.

"I was nine.  Jackie, you and Craig were eleven, right?"

"And I was twelve," Paul said.

"What did they do to you," Brian asked.

"Well, let's just say we couldn't sit down for about a week after that," Jackie said.  "This guy tried to save the rest of us, though, I will give him that much credit."

"Did you have to pay for the window," Rick asked.

"Of course," I said.  "Actually, my dad paid for it, and he wasn't very happy about that."

"So you guys were badasses.  Way to go, guys," Justin said.

Everybody laughed at him.

"I hadn't thought about that story in years," I said.

"What else did you do," Kyle asked.  I could tell he was thrilled by my misadventures as a kid.  I was sure he had plenty of his own, too.

"That was about the worst thing we did," Paul said.  "We were pretty much always in trouble for something, though.  We were a pretty high-spirited bunch."

"So what else did you do," Kyle demanded.  He was being delighted by all of that.

"We set the garage on fire one time," I said.

"Yeah, but that was really an accident," Jackie said.

"That depends on your interpretation of the word 'accident,'" Paul said.  "I was already in high school, and Craig and Jackie had just finished the eighth grade.  We had to wear uniforms to grammar school, and part of the uniform was a black tie.  The last day of school, those two wanted to burn their ties because they hated them so much.  We set them out on the workbench and sprayed them with lighter fluid.  They wanted to see which one would burn up first.  It was kind of like a race.  Craig and Jackie each struck matches and set them to the ties, and they didn't burn.  The fire went out."

Jackie took over.  "Craig decided to really soak those ties with that lighter fluid.  In the process of doing that, he got lighter fluid all over the damn place.  We didn't think it would set the wooden workbench on fire, though.  How dumb was that?"

"It was pretty damn dumb," I said.  "We didn't actually destroy the building, but the fire department had to come to put out the fire.  We dragged the workbench outside, and that's what saved the building."

"Red ass on that one, too," Justin asked.

"No.  By then we were too old for spankings," I said.  "We were just grounded for a month.  Although, these guys still came over to our house every day."

"I didn't.  I was working by then," Paul said.  "In fact, I don't remember why I happened to be there for the conflagration."

"It sounds like you guys were really close," Rick said.

"Unbelievably close," Jackie said.  

"Did you ever see Kevin get his dick caught in his zipper," Tim asked.

"Not more than about once a week," Paul said.

"I didn't do it that often," I said.

"Maybe not, but it happened all the time," Paul said.  "And he'd make us all look at it to check out the wound."

"Craig did it, too," Jackie said.  "He's not circumcised either.  Craig and I were in the same class because we were the same age, and we were also best friends.  One time at recess he and I were taking a leak, and he was in a hurry to get back to the game we had been playing on the playground.  He's in a big hurry, okay, and he's not paying attention.  He pulls up on the zipper, and then you hear this unbelievable scream."

"Oh, my God," I said.  "I know what's coming."  I was laughing almost  too hard to talk.

"I look over to see what's wrong, and he's got quite a large chunk of his foreskin caught.  He's trying to pull down the zipper to free it, but there's blood all over the zipper tab, and his fingers keep slipping off.  Of course, he's crying and jumping around.

"I try to get the zipper down, but I can't do it, either.  'Go get Kevin,' he says to me.  'Where is he?'  'He's in class.'"

"Let me take over this part," I said.  "I was in fourth grade, I guess, and I was in my desk, trying to pay attention to the teacher.  This joker barges into the room and says, 'I need Kevin to come help his brother.'  The teacher says, 'Help his brother do what?'  She knew Craig and Jackie because they had both been in her class.  Her name was Mrs. Landry.  'He's got his wee-wee caught in his zipper, and only Kevin can get it unstuck.'"

Everybody howled.

"Well, she wasn't going to let me go.  She wanted Jackie to call his mother, which we ended up doing, anyway.  But Jackie says, 'But Miss Landry, it's his wee-wee.  He needs Kevin for his wee-wee.'"

Kyle and Justin were laughing so hard they were slapping the table.

"All the kids in the class were laughing.  I didn't wait for permission to leave the room when he said that."

"Damn right, son," Justin said.  "When there's a wee-wee in a jam, you got to take action."

That made everybody laugh even harder.

"We ended up calling Miss Dilsey, just like the teacher had said to do, and she took him to my mom's office.  No stitches, though."

"I haven't thought of some of this in forever.  It's so good to see you guys," I said.

"Kev, listen, man.  We're not going to monopolize all your time.  We've got some college friends that we're actually here with, in fact," Jackie said.

"But you'll be at the party, won't you," I asked.

"Of course.  We wouldn't miss it.  You're twenty-seven, right," Paul said.

"Right.  Can you believe we're as old as we are?  We've known each other all that time, too.  I don't have any recollection of not knowing you all."

"I know.  We've been brothers all our lives, haven't we.  One more story, then we're going to have to go.  We had watched some movie about kids becoming blood brothers.  They cut their arms and held the cuts together so their blood could mingle.  We decided to do that.  This genius here," Jackie said, pointing to Paul, "goes first and cuts a fucking artery in his wrist.  You talk about bleeding like a stuck pig!  He's bleeding and crying, Craig is laughing, and macho man Kevin faints dead out.  I'm the only one who's half-way in control, and I start screaming for my mom.  She runs upstairs to--whose room was it?  Craig's?--to wherever we were, anyway.  She snatches up Paul and they haul ass to the emergency room.

"Meanwhile, I've still got Kevin passed out.  She didn't even notice him.  I grab Craig, who is in some kind of hysterical shock or something, and can't control his laughter, and ask him where they keep the smelling salts."

Everybody laughed.

"We all watched too much TV.  Doesn't everybody have smelling salts around the house?  Anyway, he didn't have a clue.  I ended up going downstairs to the kitchen and taking a jar of horseradish back upstairs.  By then Kevin was awake, but I made him smell it anyway."

"To this day, the scent of horseradish makes me sick to my stomach," Kevin said.

Everybody was in stitches.

"I had forgotten that story, Jackie," I said.  I had tears in the corners of my eyes from laughing so hard.  "We had fun, though, didn't we?  When you hear those stories, it sounds like we were bad as hell, but we really weren't, most of the time."

"Let's blame it on Craig, since he isn't here," Paul said.

They laughed.

"These guys all know Craig, and I'm sure they'd believe you about that, Paul," I said.

"Did you guys live on the same block," Brian asked.

"Oh, no, son.  Our mother worked for Miss Beth."

"Their mother raised me and Craig, boys, and that's a fact.  Her name was Miss Dilsey, and their daddy is Mister Gabe," I said.  "Miss Dilsey passed away a few years ago.  She and Grandma were very, very close friends.  Best friends, really."

"But they took care of us, too," Jackie said.  "We went to Catholic school from kindergarten through high school, and then we both went to Tulane University.  The Foleys paid for every dime of all of it."

"Did I know that," Rick asked.

"I didn't know about college," I said.  "I thought you guys had scholarships.  That's what they told us."

"We did.  Foley scholarships.  We're the only ones who have ever won one of those," Paul said.

"This will be the next bunch to get them," I said, meaning our boys.

"Guys, I can't tell you when I've enjoyed a lunch as much as I have this one.  We need to catch up with our friends, though.  We'll see all of you tomorrow night," Jackie said.  "Boys, don't let this dude make you think he was anything but a normal, pain-in-the-ass kid."

We shook hands, and then I hugged Paul and Jackie.

"Those guys are soooooo nice," Tim said.

"There's the best, Tim," I said.  "Most of the stuff we did was when we were young, in elementary school, or grammar school, as they called it.  When we went to high school, we sort of drifted apart, except for Craig and Jackie.  We were in different classes and different sports and other activities.  We made different friends.  Plus, they didn't need to be watched after school by that age, so they went home instead of coming to our house every day."

"But you still seem to like one another a lot," Brian said.

"We love one another, Bri, and we always will.  Craig and Jackie still hang out some together.  The two of them were much closer than I was to either one of them or than he was to Paul.  They stayed good friends all through high school and college, too.  In fact, Jackie was in Craig and Cherie's wedding.  That was the last time we saw one another.  You'll have to get Craig to tell you the story of what happened when they got drunk together at a Tulane football game."

"I wish Craig was here," Rick said.

"Me, too," I said.  "This is the kind of stuff they used to do.  One time they were on a double date, and apparently the girls were virtuous and didn't want to get into heavy making out.  Do you remember that big fountain we saw at the lakefront in New Orleans?  Well, that's where they were parked.  Anyway, they're both frustrated, right?  So Craig says, 'Thomas, you swollen up back there, boy?'  and Jackie says, 'Hell, yeah, all pumped up and no place to go.'  Craig says, 'I'll bet you mine is bigger than yours right now.  I'll put ten bucks on it, in fact.'  Jackie says, 'No, way, whitey.'  Craig says, 'Only one way to prove it.  Get out.'

"So they both get out of the car.  The two girls are horrified and threaten to tell the boys' parents if they go through with it.  By the way, Craig and Jackie had planned this.  Maybe not for that particular night, but they had talked about doing this if they ever found themselves in that situation together.  So, anyway, Craig says to the girls, 'Y'all can watch.  We ain't bashful.'  The girls say they're not going to watch, and the guys had their backs to the car, anyway.  Jackie says, 'All right, Foley.  On three.  One.  Two.  Three.'"

I slowly and methodically took several sips of water at that point in the story to build suspense, or something.

"So what happened?  Who had the biggest," Justin demanded.

"On the count of three, they both pulled their belts out of the loops on their pants and held them up to one another.  'Damn, Foley,' Jackie says to Craig, 'yours is longer and wider.  I never thought a white boy would out-measure a black boy.'  'Girls, can you believe this?'  They turn around to the car and hold up the two belts.  Craig's date thought it was funny, but Jackie's date got super pissed off and demanded to be taken home.  Those girls never saw those boys again after that night."

They were all laughing.

"That's hilarious," Jeff said.  "Who thought that up?"

"I don't know.  They're both capable of it, but they might have read about it or seen it in a movie or something.  When Jackie and Craig get together with their friends, especially after a couple of drinks, they . . . You can't breathe, you're laughing so hard," I said.

"Let's get together with them the next time we go to New Orleans," Kyle said.

"We'll definitely try," I said.  "Paul's been in Portland for several years, and Jackie's been in Baton Rouge.  They didn't used to get home all that much, but it sounds like they'll both be in New Orleans from now on.   Both of them are borderline geniuses, by the way."

"You were the dummy of that crowd, then," Justin said.

"I'm smarter than Craig," I said.

"And a lot more modest, too," Rick said.  "Let's get back to work."