by: Mark Arbour
Before you read this story, there are a few things you should consider:
It contains graphic descriptions of sex between men. There may even be some sex with women in here. Fortunately, there is no sex with animals.
Be aware that the effects of inflation have been profound. A good rule of thumb is to consider that $1 in 1968 is probably similar to $10 in 2008. So just add a zero at the end of any number.
This is a sequel to “Chronicles of an Academic Predator.” You don't have to read CAP before this story, but it will give you a deeper insight into the characters and their pasts.
May 10, 1968
France was in chaos. I was so glad I was out of there. It's funny, I'd never felt unsafe before, but it took being at home, ensconced in Escorial behind its gates to make me finally feel secure. I'd gotten home early with Sam. Stefan was already gone, but Isidore and the kids, and even Betty, were thrilled to see me. Jeff hadn't come back yet. Smart guy.
I spent the day with the kids and had a blast. Brad seemed to be doing better, but there was a defiant, rebellious streak that worried me. The poor guy was only six, but he seemed pretty scarred by his early years. I was in the Great Hall, staring at Andre, wondering what he would think of the world he left behind. I guess Brad must have sensed I was thinking of him. He came up and looked at me.
“Is he my daddy too?” he asked.
“No, he wasn't. This is Ace's daddy.”
“My brother and sister told me that my daddy wasn't my father. Do you know who he is?” My heart went out to this kid. I picked him up and he fought me, but I hugged him anyway.
“I know who your father is Brad. But I want to be your Dad. Will you let me do that?” He smiled at me and hugged me.
“So who's my father?”
“Come on,” I said, and led him into my room, where I opened my safe and took out my most precious possessions, letters from Billy and Andre. I pulled out the last letter I got from Billy. “Let me read this to you, OK?” He nodded.
I'm going to sea soon so I wanted to send you a quick little note to tell you how things are going. I'm so excited to go out to sea in the Thresher. It's like driving a sports car, that boat is so fast!
At the same time it kills me to leave Janice and the kids behind. I have such a great family. You know the funniest thing? The one I love the most is Brad, and he's not even my biological son. He's such a neat baby, and when I hold him I feel so proud. His father may have conceived him, but I get to see him grow up.
On a serious note, I need to tell you the name of his real father. I'm not sure why, but someday Brad may want to know. If I'm not around, tell him for me, and make sure he knows how much I love him, OK? His biological father is Kevin Carmichael. He comes from an old navy family. I'll always hate him for sleeping with my wife, but I've learned to temper that with appreciation for him giving us Brad.
Brad looked at me and a tear fell down his cheek. “Daddy loved me, and he loved me the most,” he said triumphantly. He got a big smile on his face and charged off to find Ace.
I locked up my safe and was about to head to my study when Stefan walked into my room. “JP,” he said softly, and walked over and hugged me. He was crying, really crying, something Stefan didn't do very often.
“It's gonna be OK Stefan. Really, it will be.” He just shook his head. I made him sit on the bed.
He finally stopped sobbing and spoke: “I can't believe Jeff did that to you. It's just evil. And it shows that he doesn't really love me. If he did, he would have moved on from you by now.” I couldn't argue with reality.
“Have you heard from him?” I asked. He shook his head again. God only knows where he is.
“JP, I have another problem. We had a bank account together. I put the money Barry and Tonto gave me to start my business in there. $100,000. It's all gone. He cleaned it out.” His tears really flowed.
“Oh no” I said. No wonder Jeff hadn't come home. He didn't need to. He was free to do whatever he wanted, and rich enough to do it. I just held him as he cried. “Tell me about this business of yours. I haven't had a chance to ask you about it.”
That distracted him. “I got Tonto and Barry to invest $100,000, and I've got a contract on my condo for the same amount. With $200,000, I wanted to build an office building in downtown Sunnyvale. My plan was to build it, rent it, and then move on to the next one, the next one, and the next one.”
“That's a great idea,” I said. “We've only been involved in construction before, but you're talking about developing and managing buildings. That's fantastic.”
“Yeah, it would have been,” he said.
“How come you didn't ask me to invest?” I asked. “You didn't want to go into business with me?”
“You've done so much for me already; I just couldn't ask you for more money.”
“Investing is not giving. If I could buy stock in you I would. You are an amazingly bright and persuasive guy. I'll tell you what. I'll give you the $100,000 to make up for Tonto and Barry, and we'll work that out between us later, OK? And then I'll drum up another $100,000 so I can be a partner too.”
He beamed at me. “Sounds good. Deal?” He stuck out his hand.
“Deal,” I said, pushing him back on the bed and kissing him. “I can think of another way besides a handshake to seal it though.” He giggled and then I fucked him.
May 13, 1968
Today was Sam's birthday. He didn't know that I knew that. He was really guarded about it, but I'd seen his passport. So we'd planned a little party tonight, all top secret. Meanwhile, I headed to my study with my morning paper. The French problems dominated the news. I wondered if Jeff had gotten out of Paris, and despite all that he'd done to us, I hoped he had. I thought about Billy, and what I would tell him about his real father. Maybe I wouldn't have to tell him anything. He was Claire's twin after all.
The protests in France had widened to include the more radical labor unions. Police had attacked them with tear gas and batons, and the protesters had thrown up barricades. Barricades in Paris. That evoked the image of the first French Revolution, and the many that followed. Revolution in that country was a possibility, unlike it was here. So today, in solidarity, major unions had called for a general strike to protest the government's violent suppression of the protests. I was glad to be out of there, so very glad, but I worried about Marc and the people I'd met there.
The book project was moving so fast it was almost difficult to keep up with just editing it. Sam had worked like a fiend, and the project that was supposed to be finished by the end of the summer would be off to the publisher at the end of this month. He was incredibly smart, amazingly efficient, and surprisingly organized. I was starting to feel somewhat irrelevant to this project, but in a good way.
Sam got home around 4PM. “Wanna do something different?” I asked.
He looked at me quizzically. “And what might that be?” I led him out of the house and out toward the garage, but right before I got there we detoured to the stables. Rafael and Isidore had bought some horses for our stables, two horses and a pony to be exact. Isidore wasn't much of a rider, so she'd gotten a gentle mare. I had more experience, so she'd gotten me a bigger mount, possibly too big.
“Ever ride a horse?” I asked. Rafael helped us saddle them up with a smile, and showed Sam how to get up on the horse. He was so nervous, it was cute. We just walked around the driveway, while he got the hang of it. Rafael walked next to him, explaining how to use his legs, how to hold the horse back, and all the sundry things one needs to do. Once he felt more comfortable, we walked off and explored our property.
“What's that?” he asked, pointing to my rifle that was conveniently holstered on my saddle.
“It's a rifle.”
“I know it's a gun. Why do you have a gun with you?”
I feigned a western accent. “Well, if'n I find outlaws on my property, I run 'em off.” He was getting irritated. He'd put up with my teasing for a while, but then he'd had enough. “I hate snakes. The horses do too.”
As if on cue, a rattler seemed to magically appear right in front of us. My horse reared. Pulling the horse back and getting him under control, I drew out the rifle and shot the snake in one fluid move.
He looked at me, impressed. “You're a good shot.”
I nodded. “Don't piss me off.”
We wandered around the property until something attracted my attention. There was a small stand of trees, and growing among the trees were some pot plants. I dismounted and pulled off a bunch of the ripest buds, putting them into my saddle pack. Cool. Free pot. Sam smiled at me.
We headed back to the stables. He seemed to be getting the hang of it, but he was still nervous. I led him back into the house and into the shower. He was an incredible lover, truly incredible, but I decided to try what I had learned in France. I let him fuck me, using that slow stroke that he used to drive me nuts. Then, with super-human willpower, I stopped him, rinsed him off, and dried him like Marc had dried me.
We headed to the bed, both so keyed up we couldn't stand it, and I worked my finger in his hole, loosened him up, and entered him. He was going nuts, being stimulated for so long. Just when he was about to cum, I pulled out of him and almost laughed at the frustrated look on his face. I kissed him gently and lay on the bed in front of him, holding my ankles behind my head. “Come on stud, fuck me. Fill me up.” He entered me quickly and started pumping right away. Our eyes locked as he pistoned in and out of me. I ignored the rest of my body, just falling into those beautiful brown eyes. He mouthed the words “I love you,” and I just lost it. I came so hard I thought I was going to pass out. I thrashed, I clawed the sheets, I kicked my feet back into his shoulders, probably a little too hard. I was unhinged, and so was he. It was so raw, so animalistic, and so primal. I loved it.
We lay there in bed, his mouth panting into my ear. “Just when I think it can't get any better, it does,” he said.
I looked at him. “I know. I feel the same way. You know, with other guys I've been with, all I've wanted to do is spend time in bed with them.” I waited for him to digest that and get offended. I smiled. “You satisfy me so much that I can spend the rest of the time enjoying your company, your mind.” I ran my hand across his hard chest.
“You heard from Jeff yet?” he asked.
I shook my head. “He really screwed Stefan over. Cleaned out their joint bank account. Took a hundred grand.” Sam's eyes bulged. He was pissed.
“That fucker. I see him again, I'm gonna beat him senseless. Poor Stef. He doing OK?”
“Not really. I told him I'd make it up. The money was an investment in his new company. I'm not worried, I'll end up getting it all back and more. Stefan is one smart, shrewd guy.”
“And he's pretty sexy. Can we invite him to sleep with us tonight?”
That wasn't exactly in my plan, but it might work out all right after all. “Sure. That would be nice for him, and for us.”
We had dinner at 7PM. Sam sensed something was weird, but there had been so much turmoil, he must have written it off to that. After dinner, Betty came out carrying a big cake with 26 candles burning brightly and we all broke into an ear splitting version of “Happy Birthday.” Sam looked really awkward, but it was the kids that made it fun. Kids love birthdays.
Anna and Rafael made a piñata and the kids lashed away at it. Ace was the one that finally broke it open, but they all scrambled for the toys and candy. It was great. The kids ran off when it was time for presents. Anna and Rafael took them swimming to burn off a bit of that sugar energy before bed.
“This is for you,” said Isidore, handing Sam a package. He opened it and found a Mont Blanc pen set with a note that said simply: “for the writer”. It was perfect. Stefan gave him some sleazy underwear, and a diamond tie tack. It was just the right size, not too flashy. Tasteful, like Stefan.
“And this is from me,” I said, handing him a small unwrapped jewelry box. He opened it up and found a ring. It was gold, with emerald insets. “I didn't have one when you gave me mine. I got emeralds so you'd think of my green eyes.” He stood up and hugged me, then kissed me. He did the same for Stefan and Isidore. After that the four of us headed out to the patio to smoke some weed. I really enjoyed this time, getting high with the important people in my life, looking at the beautiful sky, hearing the noises, the horses neighing.
“Bed time,” Sam said. He grabbed Stefan around the neck. “And you're coming with us.”
“No, you two enjoy yourselves. It's your wedding night.” He was being so thoughtful.
I grabbed his other arm. “You can't handle both of us?” I asked. That's all it took. I gave Stefan the best position of all, in between Sam and me. Stefan is the only other guy I know that can handle Sam with no problem. I lay on my back with my legs on Stefan's shoulders while he fucked me. Sam then entered him and wrapped his strong arms around Stefan and my legs. I felt like the three of us were completely cemented together. It was awesome. After we came, Stefan got up to go but I grabbed him and pulled him back to bed. The three of us fell asleep, intertwined.
May 17, 1968
I sat in my study, my normal routine now, reading the morning paper. The situation had gone from bad to worse in France. On the 13th, one million people had marched on Paris. Pompidou had relented and re-opened the Sorbonne, but all that had done was give the revolutionaries a better base. They had proclaimed the Sorbonne as “the people's university” and set up a bunch of “popular action committees” to perpetuate what was now a revolution in all but name. Those committees really scared the shit out of me. It was the Committee for Public Safety that Robespierre headed during the first revolution, and which sent thousands to the guillotine.
Meanwhile, the protests spread beyond academia and to the factories. As of this morning, over 50 factories were closed by some 200,000 workers supporting the students. Most disturbing of all, De Gaulle had not been seen recently, but there were reports of troops moving into position around or near Paris.
I am not a Frenchman, I am an American, but to see my “second” country in such convulsions was really upsetting. I'd grown to love France and the French, and Paris was my favorite city. I tried to call both Marc and Professor Gireaux and got no answer. Hopefully they weren't out manning the barricades.
The next problem facing me was one I'd never really dealt with before. I found that I was almost out of cash. What with all of my travels, buying Escorial and all the accouterments that went with it, new cars, and investing $200,000 into Stefan's business, I was having a major cash flow crisis. So here I was, hurriedly listing my condo, wondering where I was going to come up with some cash to keep my boat floating in the mean time. I ran the numbers, re-ran them, and then made the phone call. My mother answered.
“It's JP,” I said unnecessarily, like she didn't recognize her own son's voice.
“JP! Good to hear from you! I have been watching the news from poor France. I am so glad you are home safe and sound.”
“Me too mother. Listen, I have a little problem and I need your help.”
“But of course. What is it?”
“Jeff never made it back from France.”
The concern in her voice was obvious. “And you haven't heard from him? We should try to have someone track him down. Do you want me to see if we can do that?”
“No mother. It's a little more complicated than that. Tonto and Barry had given Stefan $100,000 to start his real-estate business. It was in a joint account with Jeff. Jeff cleaned all the money out and just vanished.”
There was a long silence. “That is terrible, just terrible. What could make him do such a thing?”
“I don't know mother. Ever since his problems with drugs, he's been very different. It's like he couldn't forgive himself, and then he'd just start hating himself more and more until the pain was too much, then he'd run off and drown his pain in narcotics. I'm not sure what more we could have done. So the last I knew, he was in Paris with a bunch of money in his pocket. He could do anything, end up anywhere.”
“Stefan must be devastated. What did Tonto say? That's a lot of money to lose.”
“He hasn't told them. He couldn't bear to. He takes the blame himself. He's ripping himself apart over this. So I volunteered to give him the $100,000, plus another $100,000 as an investment from me. I know I'll get it back from him mother. He's such a smart, shrewd guy. Jeff just caught him at a weak moment.”
“Good for you JP. Good for you. So what can I do to help?”
“With the money I gave Stefan, I've got some cash flow problems. I've got the condo on the market in Chicago, but until it settles, I'm going to be strapped. I could cash out some of my investments, but the ones that aren't liquid will cost me some bucks to get out of. Can you loan me some money until the condo sells?”
I hated to ask them for money. Hated it. And she knew it. “Of course, JP, of course. Let me talk to your father and we'll get some money to you as soon as possible.”
“Thanks mother. I really appreciate you bailing me out. I'm usually so much more on top of things.”
“Think nothing of it. You have a lot on your plate right now. How is Bradley?”
“He's really doing well. You won't recognize him.” I told her how I'd read him Billy's letter, and we chatted about that for awhile.
Later that night, she called back. “JP, I have some good news for you. Your father and I are coming out to visit you this weekend. We'll be there tomorrow. Can you pick us up?”
“Of course. You'll love it here, and we have a lot of room.”
“We don't want to impose. We'll stay at a hotel.”
I feigned offense. “You would refuse my offer of hospitality? Have you forgotten the manners you drilled into Jim and me?”
She laughed. “As you wish. We will see you tomorrow. And tell Stefan that your father wants to meet with him about his business.”
May 18, 1968
I sat at San Francisco Airport waiting for my parents, reading the paper. As if things weren't unstable enough in France, they'd just gotten even worse. The number of striking workers had grown from 200,000 yesterday to over one million today. The whole country was about to shut down. Not like things were calm here. A group of clerics, mostly priests, had broken into a draft office in Maryland and burned all the draft records in a protest against the war. If I had any money, I'd have sent them a check to help defray their legal costs.
I saw the plane roll in and my parents were the first ones off the plane. I was so proud of them. My father was really impressive, a tall, strong, powerful businessman, confident yet kind. My mother, looking sleek and elegant as ever, moving fluidly, the antithesis of a robot.
They both hugged me in their own way. My father, a big warm bear hug, my mother, a more distant hug with a kiss on the cheek. “It is so good to see you,” she said. “We have delayed coming out here much too long.”
It was a beautiful day, so after we got to Palo Alto I put the top down. We drove by the University and headed to the hills. We got to Escorial and their mouths dropped. “JP, this is a beautiful property,” my mother exclaimed. My father viewed things differently. “This is a great investment. And you say you can subdivide the land if you want to?”
They got a red-carpet greeting, not just from Isidore and me, but from the kids. They were so excited to see grandmaman and grandpa. It was cute. Isidore finally extracted my parents from the kids long enough to show them to the guest room. I was so happy to see them make themselves right at home, and to seem so comfortable.
I followed them to their room. “There's something I need to talk to you two about,” I said nervously.
“Don't worry about the money JP. We're more than happy to help. It's nothing,” said my dad, the buck always at the top of his mind.
“Thanks Dad, I really appreciate it. I feel guilty since we've obviously been living above our means,” I said, gesturing at the home. “But that's not it.” They looked at me curiously, wondering what new revelation I'd spring on them.
I swallowed and continued. “I've met someone, he's a great guy, and his name is Sam.”
“JP, you've already told us about Sam. We're excited to meet him.” My father looked less excited, but he was trying. I gave him a smile to thank him for his understanding.
“I just wanted you to know how important he is to me. I love him. We're partners.” My father rolled his eyes but got a dirty look from my mother. It didn't bother me. I knew where my father stood, and he'd be fine with it. He just couldn't be that obviously excited for me.
“So you want us to like him and be nice to him?” My father asked.
I laughed. “When have you NOT been nice to a friend of mine? You two have manners that would make Emily Post blush. I just wanted you to know how important he is to me.” They nodded, and I let them have some time to get settled and tour the house.
That night at dinner Sam met my parents for the first time. Isidore and Stefan kept giggling at his nervousness, which really pissed him off. It was hilarious watching him trying to be a polite gentleman with my parents while staring daggers at those two. But he didn't know my mother. If anyone is a master of the social graces, she is. In no time at all she had Sam completely comfortable. He sat across from both of them and the three of them spent the entire dinner in a three-way conversation. After dinner, when no one was looking, he stuck his tongue out at Isidore and Stefan.
May 20, 1968
My mother and I cantered the horses across the field, exhilarated by the speed and the view. It was a clear, gorgeous day, and the San Francisco skyline was visible from the hills, a rarity. We slowed near a summit to give the horses a chance to catch their breath.
“What a wonderful place this is JP. Your house, your land, your office, it is just wonderful.” I'd taken them to the campus earlier today where fortunately there had been no demonstrations. Sam had given them a copy of the article about me in the paper, which irritated me even though it made them proud, and Dr. Falstead had treated them like visiting celebrities.
“Thanks mother. I'm happy. Really happy.”
“That has more to do with Sam I think. Do not tell your father, but secretly he really likes Sam. You have his blessing.” We both laughed at that. My father tried hard to deal with my homosexuality, and he'd made great progress, but it was still foreign ground to him.
“What's he talking to Stefan about?” I asked.
“He wants to find out what his plans are. I think your father wants Stefan to know that he should call your father if he needs money for new deals.”
“Wow. Dad must have a lot of confidence in him.”
She smiled. “He does. And he also values your judgment. Now, let us race back to the stables and make Rafael cool the horses down,” and she kicked the mare and tore off. My stallion followed before I could even kick him, so I still beat her back.
That night, my father handed me a check for $200,000. “It's a gift JP, not a loan. And before you complain, we gave Jim the same amount.”
I swallowed hard, and then I hugged him warmly. “Thanks Dad.”
“I think it's best not to tell Barry and Tonto about Jeff stealing their money. Barry may have Interpol try to track him down, and I don't think Barry can handle the stress.” I just nodded.
The next day I took them to the airport and said a tearful goodbye. It was nice to have such great parents, and it was even better to know that they weren't perfect. Their flaws made them more real, and made it easier to love them.
May 23, 1968
It seems that every morning I wake up and read the paper, and there's just more and more trauma in the world. It felt like societies across the globe were just tearing themselves apart at the seams. France continued to lead the way in chaos, with the strikes continuing. The strike had expanded to the point that two-thirds of the entire national work force was boycotting work. But that wasn't the most upsetting thing in the news today.
In a painful moment of déjà vu, I read that the USS Scorpion, a nuclear attack submarine, had sunk with all hands off the Azores just a little more than five years after my cousin Billy had been killed when the USS Thresher sank. There would be more families enduring the same trauma, visualizing their sons being pulverized by the pressure then eaten by fish. I felt tears rolling down my cheeks, for the crew of the Scorpion, but more for the painful memory of Billy, my best friend, and Brad's father. I wondered if other wives of those sailors would go nuts like Janice did, and leave their kids totally fucked up.
But even that wasn't the most upsetting thing. Ironies can be funny and they can be cruel, and this one was cruel beyond belief. Listed among the missing (read: dead) was Captain Kevin Carmichael, who wasn't even in command, he was just a supernumerary. So poor Bradley had lost his Dad in the Thresher, and his biological father in the Scorpion.
I took the paper and went off to find Brad. I found him in Ace's room; the two of them had fast become inseparable.
“I need to show you something Brad,” I said, and pointed out the article. “Remember how I told you the name of your biological father? He was killed on board this boat when it sank.”
Brad looked at me, trying to comprehend what this meant. “So my father died just like my real father?”
“Yes. He was a hero too.” They both actually smiled at that. The psyche of young boys was an amazing thing. One person's tragedy was Brad's gain. Now he had one more thing in common with his best friend, Ace. Both of their biological fathers had died as heroes. I shook my head and took the article to my safe, putting it with Billy's letter. Someday Brad's reaction would be different. Today, the innocence of youth shielded his emotions.