This story is posted for the exclusive enjoyment of readers of the Nifty Archive. While you are free to make a personal copy, no copy of this manuscript may be published, copied, posted to another web site, or otherwise disseminated without express permission from the author.

The contents of this story are fictional. Any resemblance of characters to living or lived persons is strictly coincidental. Certain characters engage in sexual acts which may or may not be legal in the state or country in which a reader may reside. Any reader with objections to graphic descriptions of sexual encounters between males who may not have reached the legal age of consent, or whose local, regional, state or national jurisprudence prohibits such descriptions, should not read further.

Chapter XIV

Sunday, July 4, 1993

Even though she was in a hurry to get home to her own family, Becky made sure we had all the numbers for her pager, her home and her office. She told us she hoped we had a pleasant evening and we all went out the back door to her car, an immaculate little white Honda Accord. It barely made a noise once she got it started. She turned the car around in the apron in back, and headed out.

As she left, Brad looked at me with a surprised expression on his face.

"What?" I thought at him.

He didn't answer at first. Just looked at me,

"Tim, let me show you something in my room," he said to me a second later.

I followed him down the hall to his sanctum sanctorum, and we went inside. He closed the door behind us, and I was in his arms, our bodies as close together as two T-shirts will allow. Not kissing, just hugging.

"You can't hear me," he whispered softly.


"It isn't working, all of a sudden."


"I am!"

I 'heard' nothing at all.

"How come?" I thought.

He looked at me, again surprised, then said  "Don't know! But I just heard that, and you didn't hear me back!"

"You're just horny." I said, and attempted a grin. It was more probably a rictus.

"Am not!"


"I mean . . ."

"Too late!"

"That's not why . . ." He gave up and kissed me, and his tongue came back into its second home. I didn't get half hard.

"I love you, Brad," I said softly as we went back into the hug.

"Me too, Loon," he said. "I love you more than ever."

"Why do you think you can't talk all of a sudden?"

"Maybe it's just . . . the strain," he said.

I could tell he didn't believe that. He was somehow losing the gift. I missed it awful, already. We stayed in Brad's room, just sitting on the bed, cuddling and making out a little until Boo called us to dinner.

Dinner was really good. We made Boo sit to table with us. She was going to serve us and then just go sit in the TV room while we ate, then eat later, can you believe it? We talked incessantly, I think more to keep from thinking about what had happened than anything else. The pork was tender and flavorful, and the spinach just perfect. It was done differently than Mom cooks it, so I wasn't being disloyal. I even liked the carrots. I hate cooked carrots.

Boo told us about being raised in Oakland as a kid, then moving out to Sacramento with her husband in the fifties. She spoke only a little about the racial tensions of that era, the quiet way people would snub those with dark skins, the hateful things said in schools, shops, buses. She told us about the terrible conditions of the Mexican farm workers, treated like no more than animals, kept in pens on farms, where there were no showers, no toilets, no mattresses, no privacy. She was mistreated, but felt sorrow even stronger for those who were treated more poorly than she.

Boo and her husband had two kids together, but one of them bought a one-way ticket in Vietnam as a ground-pounder (infantry). A land mine sent parts of him home in a body bag, the rest into anthills and rodent stomachs. It took them two weeks to find the pieces. In the jungle, Boo said, it only takes a few hours for the bones to appear. She didn't seem to mind talking about it after we told her about my Dad's brother not coming home either.

Her other son left home when he was fifteen, just after their oldest was killed, and never came back, never called, never wrote. Her husband died two years later, and she'd been working as a housekeeper ever since. Didn't need to, she told us. Her husband had paid off the house she still owned and rented out, and his union insurance policy left her a nice little nest egg she'd managed to make grow.

"I bought me those computer stocks," she said. She put this bowl of Peach Cobbler in front of me that took my breath away.

"Which ones?" Brad asked. I was expecting to hear IBM, Compaq, and so on. I was too busy with the cobbler to talk.

"Microsoft, Intel and Oracle," she said. I'd never heard of Oracle, but I have shares in it now. Boo was worth almost a quarter million bucks -- in 1993. She'd started with less than five thousand. Scary. When she died year before last, she left more than a million to her church, a million to Children's Hospital in Oakland, and quite a lot to us. We used it to buy back more of the land around Reston that used to belong to the family. Brad and me had a brass and redwood marker made in Shasta with her name on it, and put it up next to a big incense cedar in the center of the parcel we bought with the money she left us. I visit the clearing every time I go to the cabin, just to keep it tidy and clear of nests.

It felt weird not doing KP, but Boo wouldn't let us do it. Period. End of story. Fin. We watched something on the box, but I have no idea what. Probably 60 Minutes. We watched the News at Eight. Boo brought us each some milk and a couple of cookies, then went back out before the local news started.

There was the usual about the President, the antics of Iraq, Bosnia, something or other in Russia. Fireworks in Washington.

Then came the thing about Mom and Dad. They started out saying that Dad and Mom were close friends of the Lieutenant Governor (not that I knew -- I only saw him at the house a couple or three times, and only when he was a staff manager or something, years before). They said the last anybody saw them was at some political dinner at the Capitol on Thursday night; they were found at Lake Berryessa Saturday afternoon by a guy walking his dog.

There was a shot of the Cherokee on its side, just like I had "seen" except from a different angle. I didn't see some of the rest, because my eyes got all teary, but I wanted to know, you know? There was a picture of the house, and me and Brad walking in, and they said that Mom and Dad left two teen-age sons. Then Thurston was in front of the house, and he said that the family was in shock and did not want to discuss the murders, but trusted that the authorities would track down the killers and bring them to trial. The talking head said that the FBI was investigating the murders because of the probability of kidnap and the political implications. It took less than two minutes for the whole thing.

Brad took it hard. Harder than me, in a way. He was angry that they said Dad was a wealthy developer. He wasn't a developer, he was a property management company. Brad was hurt that they showed the inside of the Cherokee, and there were stains that were probably blood. I tried to talk to him, but he wouldn't let me in, or I couldn't get in because we were losing it. He just went into a shell. We turned off the TV and I called out "Goodnight" to Boo - she was back in the little granny flat that was built into the house in case Gran Weston ever got out of the hospital -- which she didn't.

I went to my room, alone, and crawled into bed after I threw on my sleep shorts and a Tee. That's when it got so bad I couldn't hold it back any more, and I just sobbed. I thought of Dad and Mom on the kitchen floor, trussed like turkeys, knowing they were going to maybe die, and I went into a downward spiral. The door opened, and I figured it was Boo, so I tried to shut up, but I couldn't stop.

It was Brad. He crawled in behind me and held me, giving me his strength and his love, and I turned into his embrace and it got better. I thought at him how much I loved him, but he didn't answer.

I tried to get in, but he wasn't . . . open.

"You okay?" he asked. He was talking - he vibrated.

"Better, could be," I managed to squeeze out.

"I can barely hear you any more," he said.

"Sure? Even when I shout?"




I felt almost alone again, even in his arms. It was gone. I cried inside for I knew no longer why, whether for Mom and Dad, for myself, for our lost gift, I don't know.

He kissed me on the forehead, and held me so tight I felt welded to him, then just caressed me for a while, and I fell asleep, still weeping. We missed the fireworks entirely.

Monday, July 5, 1993

I didn't dream anything worth remembering. Sometimes I have a rip-roarer, with technicolor, surround sound and special effects, but most of them are just the same old same old. I remember waking twice, once when Brad went to the toilet, then when he had a nightmare and woke up sweating. He wouldn't tell me what it was, and of course, I couldn't go in and take a look for myself.

He woke as always, his arm around my neck and shoulders, pulling me close, whispering "I love you." I said it back at him, squeezing him in my left hand. He was full, but not hard. Me too. I kissed him full on the lips, and our tongues caressed themselves. He smelled more of walnuts than vanilla, I remember.

We were starting to get a little frisky when the floorboard in the hall, right at the far corner of my room, gave a little squeak, barely audible. As a kid, this was the Distant Early Warning system. If I was reading in my room after lights out, I knew I had exactly one sentence to read before I had to turn out the flashlight under the blanket and feign sleep, as Dad or Mom opened the door to make sure their little angel was sleeping peacefully.

"Quick," I whispered to Brad. "Get the chess board set up while I do a diversion."

He leapt from the bed, almost silently, and I dragged the bedclothes to the bottom of the bed, then walked to the door, ready to open it at just the right moment. He was wearing a Tee and no shorts, but it was long enough.

I heard the middle floorboard squeak as weight came off it, and launched into my little monologue. "I gotta go pee; you keep those pieces where they are, Bradley Parker Weston!" I said just a tad loud. Loud enough that Boo would hear me, not loud enough that the voice would have carried into the kitchen.

I opened the door real fast and bolted out, and pretended surprise when I saw Boo out of the corner of my eye.

"Oh!" I said. "I didn't think you'd be . . . I mean we thought you'd sleep later."

"Good morning to you, too!" Boo said with a grin. "How long have you two been up?"

"Only a half hour," I said, then confided in her in a whisper. "Brad's chess stinks first thing in the morning."

"Somehow, that doesn't surprise me," Boo said in a stage whisper. "What time do you guys usually eat breakfast?"

"Six thirty," I answered, for some reason still whispering. "Orange juice, vitamin pill, milk and toast or cereal. Brad likes coffee. Mom won't let me drink it until . . ." I suddenly got weepy again, and fought the tear back. "Until I'm sixteen," I said.

"I guess she wouldn't mind if we bent the rules just a little," Boo said. "Good morning, Brad!" she called into my room.

She'd stopped before she got where she could see into the room, 'cause I sorta blocked the way. I moved to the side to let her poke her head into the room.

"Morning, Boo!" said Brad. "You play chess?"

"Only a very little," she said. "How you doin' against this guy?"

I left to go pee -- I really had to, anyway. Besides, I had no excuse to hover. I saw Boo go into my room as I went into the bathroom. I wondered if she suspected that we'd spent the night in my bed.

When I got back, Brad was in the room alone.

"She say anything?" I whispered.

"Nah. Just asked if I was doing okay, and if wanted toast or cereal."

With a sigh of relief, I gave my man a kiss and tried to "talk" to him, but he could only hear my voice.

"Guess it's gone, huh?"

"Yeah," he said dejectedly. "At least we had it for a while."

"Think it'll come back?"

"Maybe. Maybe not."

"We still got each other," I said, tracing my finger around his ear. "That's the most important."

"You got it," He said, suddenly moving his head and getting my fingers with his lips.

We kissed once more, then Brad went to shower and throw on shorts and Tee, while I made my bed and carefully put the chess board up on the bookcase above the table. I figured we could "continue" the game each morning, and maybe convince Boo that we just got up early.

After a quick shower, I went into the kitchen, getting there a second after Brad. Boo had already laid out breakfast. It looked just like Mom had done it, except the vitamin pills were in the wrong place, above the fork instead of next to the glass. I hesitated, decided it wasn't important, and downed pill and juice as soon as I parked my butt. Brad offered me some toast even before he took one for himself. There was a coffee mug in front of me, and I tasted it gingerly. Wonderful! Things change. I still wanted a glass of milk, though.

"You guys sleep all right?" Boo asked, her back to us. I think she was buttering more toast, or something. I threw a look at Brad.

"I guess," said Brad, looking at me, not at her.

"Good," she said, then changed the subject to something about the drought and putting another brick in the toilets. It crossed my mind that I should have answered, too. After breakfast, and being shooed out of the kitchen when we went to do the KP, I wondered if she had accepted Brad's answer as being for both of us.

Boo gave us the list of calls from the day before. There were about 40 of them, mostly neighbors and friends leaving their condolences, most saying not to call back, they would understand. Billy had called to say he was really sorry, and Bud left a message for Brad telling him to forget all about the business, he (Bud) would handle everything until Brad was ready.

There was one from Jeremy, who'd called at nine thirty. He and William would be coming into town late Monday -- today -- afternoon. That message clarified the situation pretty quickly. Uncle Jeremy was a poofter. Just like us.

Brad and I went for a thirty minute run together, just to get a little air. Because of the holiday, it was really quiet, all the way to the park and back. There were only two joggers on the other side of the lake trail, and a car or two on the streets. Brad didn't usually have time for jogging because of the painting work, so I had to pace myself down a little as it got towards the end of the circuit. He wasn't out of shape, really, just not used to running eight klicks. He was winded, but it only took a minute for him to recover while we stretched. The white Honda was in the drive.

Becky was at the table when we went in, with a cup of coffee still steaming. She told us she was only going to stay a few minutes to make sure everything was all right, since Boo had already assured her that things were fairly quiet. Mrs. Sprague from next door had come over to see if she could help at all, and brought an extra apple pie she just happened to have made that morning. I marveled at how she must have gotten up at an absurd hour to do a really nice thing for her neighbors. Mrs. Sprague is no spring chicken. Mom said her husband, Gerhard, had retired from Bank of America the year I was born, so they must be in their eighties.

We sat in the kitchen, gradually coming down from the exercise, while Becky went through a few things. The first was security. She told us that there had been a number of crank calls, which was pretty normal in high profile cases she'd seen before.

Boo hadn't given us all the messages from the day before. She'd wanted to discuss them first with Becky or Thurston. Becky gave us a thumbnail. One guy said Dad deserved it, as all those who built houses on open space were worthless leeches on society. Even though the person who made that call may not have had more than two brain cells functioning between his ears, it hurt. A woman had ranted about Jesus wanting to show us the evils of our ways.

There were a couple of "breathers." People who just listened, breathing not so quietly as Boo asked if there was anyone there, then hung up. Some Demlican or Repubocrat said Dad had been rubbed out by the Party. Becky said we could have a tap and trace put on the phone if we felt it was needed. Brad and I looked at each other and he responded for both of us. No way.

Becky made us promise not to answer the door ourselves for the coming weeks, but rather let Boo or anybody else answer. She worried that some kook would walk up to the door and blast us.

I said aloud that I thought that was being a bit "Chicken Little."

"The world, unfortunately, has a lot of crazy people," Becky pounced. "There are too many cases of attacks on the kids of murder victims for us to take any chances."

"Why?" Brad asked. "What makes people attack somebody when they're . . . mourning?"

"Brad, there are people who would do anything -- anything at all -- to get attention, either for themselves or for their cause. If some philanthropist were to give half his fortune to a fund to provide all poor kids with a pair of good shoes, there'd be someone there to criticize, saying the man should have given more, or that he shouldn't have put any strings on the money. Just for the publicity."

"In your case," she continued, "it could go through the deranged mind of someone that you are privileged people, rich, good-looking, intelligent. They think that you don't have the right to be fortunate, that they can correct God's error -- and get attention from the newspapers and maybe even television, part of a media culture which would sell souls at auction if it would increase circulation."

"Sick," said Brad.

"Some of these people are," said Becky. "But the Courts won't let States put them into institutions, like it used to," she said. "There were too many abuses of the system, too many healthy people railroaded into state hospitals."

"The media people?" I said, my mouth getting me in trouble again. I can't help it, I'm just a smartass sometimes.

Brad gave me a look that would annihilate a Krell. Boo laughed.

"Wishful thinking!" laughed Becky, after a brief pause. I think for a minute she thought I was serious.

The 'phone went again, and this time Boo gave it to Brad. He didn't say much, just the usual "hello . . . yes . . . thank you . . . yes . . . no . . . all right." I missed not being able to hear with him.

"That was Dave." he said. Dave Garibaldi is my Dad's partner. "He wanted to know if it was okay to give Throckmorton Dad's computer address book and the old rolodex. He says everything worth noting is in the computer now, so he's just going to give a floppy copy."

Throckmorton is a wonder of organization and get-it-doneabliity. It was only maybe nine o'clock, and he'd already arranged for a messenger to meet Dave at the office to get the addresses.

After we promised not to answer door or phone, and after a couple of minutes of conversation with Boo, Becky was out the door, off to a picnic with her husband and their four daughters. I was jealous of the normality of her plan for the day.

Brad and I were at what Dad called loggerheads. We didn't know what to do with ourselves. It was a public holiday, there was no painting for Brad. There was nothing we could do about the funeral, the police didn't want to see us until tomorrow, the . . . identification . . . was Tuesday morning as well. Rather than just mope around the house, we decided to go to the Club, play a little tennis, swim, maybe even play some bridge. We took the 'Maro -- it was too hot to ride the bikes.

We got on a court with no problem, probably because it was still early. I hadn't played against Brad since we were in middle school together. He was good, of course. Beat me in straight sets: 6-2, 6-2, 6-3. But it wasn't as bad as the score says. I broke his serve three times, and had him huffing and puffing. There were a few people around when we finished, but nobody said anything. I wondered if we were breaking any taboos by playing tennis. At least it kept your mind off . . .

Naturally, as soon as I thought that, I got all teary again. We went and took a shower -- not together, of course -- and I got my eye spigots under control again. I did it by telling myself not to be such a damned wimp, that real guys didn't cry that much, they kept their emotions private, all that bullshit.

When we got ourselves cleaned up, we went into the grill for a drink and burger, and that's when we noticed the bubble around us. People moved away from us, didn't talk to us, didn't look at us. Charlie, the grill guy, acted normal, but nobody else did.

"How's it goin' Brad?" he said in his usual growl. "Hey, Tim. What's your pleasure?"

"Okay," Brad said. Charlie obviously didn't know what had happened. He gave us a look that said he figured something was wrong, but he didn't ask. At least I got a really rare burger.

I saw Sherrie and Bonnie, and there were a couple of empty chairs at their table outdoors, so we went and sat with them. Now, see, Bonnie had this huge crush on Brad, ever since last year, and before . . . you know . . . I wouldn't have minded, I mean she wasn't like somebody I wanted to date or anything, just a good school mate. When she looked at Brad with those doe eyes as we sat down, I was instantly jealous, up tight and itching for something or other. It was not a nice feeling.

"I'm sorry about your folks," said Sherrie, before we even opened the napkins. "I mean . . . "

"That's okay," Brad said. "Thanks."

"I saw it on the news last night," Sherrie gushed. "Your Mom looked really pretty."

Bonnie blushed and toyed with her food. Me, the asshole, got all blurry eyed and had to go back inside to the men's room so I could look at toilet art while I blew my nose. I wanted to do it so's nobody would notice, but naturally Greg was about to come out of the Men's Room as I walked in, and I bounced off him trying to get to a stall before I dissolved.

"Hey, Dude, what's . . . " Greg grabbed my arm to keep me from falling into the sinks on the rebound.

I looked at him for a millisecond and the damned waterworks just spilled over, and before I knew it, I was sobbing in front of him like a damned baby. He stood in front of me for a second and then wrapped me in his arms and held me, not sexual or anything, just held me.

"It's okay, Timmy. It's okay," he said, patting my back. He knew.

I wasn't thinking anything, I just felt alone, and I let him hold me, until I gradually calmed down, and the need for a tissue got urgent, before my nose ran all over his chest. He was at least wearing a polo shirt, so I wasn't up against his skin . . .

"Sorry," I said, as I broke away from him, and turned to the stall to get a wad of paper.

"Anything I can do?" he asked. He stood behind me, his hands in his shorts pockets. Concern was painted all over his face. There was nothing he could do, of course.

"No. I'm all right," I said. Bullshit. "I just . . . need a minute. Alone."

"Okay, Tim," he said, and turned to go. "But you need a shoulder, you got one, okay?"

I looked up and tried to smile a little. "Thanks, Greg."

"I'm gonna put the 'Closed for Cleaning' sign in front of the door when I leave," he said with a conspiratorial grin. "If they're finished with it when you leave, would you put it back?"

"Sure," I said, marveling that he was being such an ace about it. Maybe he wasn't so thick, after all.

After a couple of minutes, I figured I was done, and my eyes got a little less red, so I went back to the table. I remembered to move the sign, too.

Brad saw me coming, and looked only at me as I approached the table, but talking to Bonnie all the while. He looked so handsome in his Speedo's and shirt, his bright smile and flashing eyes. I wondered if anyone else could see the pain behind the façade. It really showed -- to me, anyway.

Sherrie and Bonnie didn't say anything about me rushing off, and I was grateful for that. But as I attacked my burger, they excused themselves and went over to the pool for a swim, telling us to join them after we ate.

"You okay?"

"Yeah," I said. Naturally, I spit out a bit of bread when I spoke. Sheesh!

"Greg . . . bother you at all?" He looked at me without expression, but the question was loaded for bear.

"Nah. Just kept me on my feet and gave me some space."

"That was nice of him. To put the sign out and all."

"Yeah," I said. I was a little surprised that Brad had seen that. "He isn't as . . . bad a guy as I maybe thought."

"He get . . . fresh or anything?"

"No!" I said, maybe a little too strongly. "He just said to let him know if he could help at all, then left me to get it back together."

"Sorry," Brad said. "I'm just a little . . . uh . . . "


"Yeah,' he said, looking almost guilty.

"Good," I said.


"Brad, I don't ever want you to not feel about me that if somebody tried to hit on me, you wouldn't get . . . uh . . . mad."

"Not mad," he said. "Worried."

"What, you think I'd wanna do something with somebody like Greg?"

"Nope!" he said with a little grin. "That I'd spend the rest of my life in Jail for . . . "

It was his turn. He thought about what he was about to say and just lost it. I watched his face melt like wax, and the tears spring out. Not as bad as me, of course.

"Let's go," I said, handing him the remnants of the toilet paper I'd brought back with me. "We can come back after we digest the food."

We took the side gate out of the club, avoiding most of the people, and got to the 'Maro without running into anybody. I carried the rackets high, and we walked arm in arm. He still wouldn't let me drive - it's only ten blocks, for chrissakes. My Brad, the strong one, never too weak to fend for us. 'Me, Tarzan.' I love him.

We never went back to the club. We just stayed at the house, watched a tape on the tube, avoided the news and the paper, and hung out. Boo left us be, except when she went to the store to get stuff for dinner and asked us to move the 'Maro. Brad even let me do it, just throwing me the keys when I asked if I could. That 'Maro was one sweetheart of a machine; mean as hell, but a sweetheart. The clutch was as sprung as it could get -- your left leg really got a workout. I put it back in the garage, since it was turning into a real scorcher. The sun had heated the seat to maybe two thousand degrees, so I was real careful where I put my legs.

At three thirty, while Boo was still at the store, the phone rang. Brad was farthest from the kitchen phone, so I got it. It was Jeremy, calling from the Freeway. I gave him directions, and figured it would take them half an hour. It's not an easy route for a stranger. They made it in fifteen minutes.

I was coming back into the TV area from the kitchen with a glass of water when I saw a car pulling into the driveway. I figured it was Boo. "Holy shit!" I said.

"What?" said Brad from the puzzle table. He was doing a jigsaw.

"Look!" I said, pulling the curtain back.

Brad came over to the window. "Sheeeiiit!" My thoughts exactly.

There was the most beautiful black vintage Rolls pulling into the drive that I have ever seen in my life. Correction. Bentley. Drop-head. Champagne leather seats and tonneau cover. Chrome wire wheels. It screamed "Sex!" as loud as any teenage kid on earth has ever heard. No, better. "Style!" No! Both.

The driver and his passenger got out of the car before we got out the front door, which is closer to the family room than the back door by an inch. My eyes were fixed on the car. It shone like a solid piece of polished obsidian marble, not a speck of dust, not a flake of anything anywhere that didn't belong on the car. You could fall into the paint, it was so deep. I almost forgot all about who was driving it.

"You must be Brad," said a baritone voice, the one we'd heard for the first time only yesterday. I looked away from the car and was surprised. It belonged to a slim guy, maybe five-ten, with widow's peaks of black hair, cut almost in a buzz. He had a beard, trimmed close, like a two-week growth. Jet black. A couple of grey hairs under the lip. He looked somehow familiar, like someone I'd seen on television or something, but not at all like I'd expected. Very polished, handsome in a way. Not like Mom. Except the nose. He put his hand out for Brad's, shook it and pulled him into a hug, at once masculine and Family Valued. Whatever that is. (I hate it the way the Christian Coalition, read Morality Mafia, has hijacked the Republican Party. One of my many pet peeves.)

"And you're Tim," said the other man in a strong voice, much deeper than Uncle Jeremy's, more like Don Chatman's. "I'm William." It was the Marlboro Man, no doubt about it, who stuck out his hand at me, and I took it. He had a strong handshake, even stronger than he looked. He was maybe six feet, slim and ropy, black jeans and a white shirt with tan leather vest. His chin could be used for an icebreaker's bow, square and strong and solid. His face was tanned, flawless, his teeth like Brad's - Perfect. His eyes said he liked me, that he had a sense of humor, that he was a practical joker, that he never smoked or drank in his life.

"Hello," I said, unable to think of anything worthwhile to say.

"It's very kind of you to let me come with Jeremy," he said. "I hope I'm not going to intrude too much."

"Not at all," I said, trying not to wag my tail. "We need . . . family here."

"At last we meet, Tim!" said Jeremy, coming around the back of the car, his arm around Brad like they'd been buddies for years. Brad seemed perfectly comfortable with it. He even had a big smile on, the first real one of the day.

"Hello," I said, turning and sticking out my hand. To no avail -- he just grabbed me into a huge hug, his arm around my body like a warm fuzzy octopus, not at all uncomfortable.

"I've looked forward to this day for more years than I want to remember," Jeremy said, beaming like a skinny Father Christmas.

"And talked non-stop about it since last night," said William in his deep rumble. "Practically had to gag him last night to get any sleep!"

"Rubbish!" said Jeremy, with a belly laugh I liked. "You sleep through earthquakes, for pete's sake!" Jeremy proceeded to unload the trunk -- boot -- of the car, all the time relating how William had slept soundly through the Northridge 'quake, despite the fact that Jeremy had been tossed from the bed "like a raggedy ann doll," ass over teakettle, books flying everywhere, the doors slamming.

"He just kept right on snoring away," Jeremy laughed. "I had to smack him awake to get him to get under the bed, not in it! Lucky thing, too -- the chandelier fell on the bed and would have made a right mess of his privates if he hadn't!"

"Wasn't that close," laughed David right back. "Would have missed by two feet!"

By this time we had the bags out and were halfway to the door. I had no idea what happened, they just sort of took over. I liked it -- liked it a lot. They had the same easy way as Mark and Don. I thought of the tale of the disintegrating chipper at once, the way they laughed and enjoyed retelling the tale. Partners. It sounded right.

The rest of the afternoon flashed by. We showed them the guest room, threw their luggage on the bed, and then showed them the rest of the house. From somerwhere, Jeremy produced a couple of bottles of wine, one red one white, when we got to the kitchen.

"For the kitty," Jeremy winked. I thought of Mom saying he was an alcoholic, and must have registered something on my face.

"Don't worry," he said. "I haven't had enough to drink to get me drunk in years."

"Damn right," said William. "I limit him to three glasses a day, six days a week."

"How come only six days?" I asked dumbly, putting the white wine into the fridge.

"He gets horny when he has wine," William said conspiratorially, " I need a night off once in a while."

There ensued one of those long periods of silence when you can hear a quartz watch tick at ten paces.

"I mean, uh . . . " William blushed.

"Well," said Jeremy, "the cat's out of the bag!" and he laughed his contagious way. Brad and I couldn't help smiling, then joining in.

"Is that true?" asked Brad of Jeremy.

"He's never complained before," said Jeremy.

Brad guffawed. Just plain bust a gut. Me too. William looked contrite, then gave in to the mirth of the room.

"You knew?" Jeremy said, wiping a tear from the corner of his eye.

"Guessed," I said.

"Figured your . . . " he was going to say Mom or Dad, I could tell, but wasn't sure.

"It's okay," I said.

"Figured your dad would have told you."

"Nope," Brad said. "We never heard much about you at all."

"Well, we are, we're together twelve years, and we don't have anything to hide," said Jeremy seriously, but through a smile.

"Twelve years?" I asked.

"Yep," said William, proudly. "I robbed the cradle to get him before somebody else did!"

"Rubbish!" said Jeremy. (I soon learned that 'rubbish' was one of his favorite words.) "It was me that tied you up and carried you off after school!"

We were then treated to their life story -- in brief, Jeremy was taking a graduate class in scripting, and William was the TA, they wound up doing Jeremy's homework together one night and woke up in the morning in love.

Just as the story was winding down, Boo got back from the store and tooted her horn so she could get in the back with the groceries.

"Uncle Jeremy, can you move your car?" asked Brad.

"Here's the keys," said my uncle. "It's stick shift -- you all right with that?"

"Sure!" said Brad breathlessly. He was already halfway out the door.

"We're going to take a quick shower," said Jeremy to me. "That okay?" He looked at William in a way I . . .

"Uh, sure," I said, not quite sure why . . . then, of course, the penny dropped. "Take your time!" and I bounded out of the room to see Brad move the Bentley. I was amazed that they wanted to . . . smooch . . . after all those years together.

Brad moved the car smoothly and effortlessly up to the turn-round to let Boo in, then backed it into the place where it was originally, but to one side so other cars could ge by in a pinch..

"Dress up the neighborhood a little," he said with a smirk.

"Nice?" I asked. I was only slightly envious. Sort of pale pea green.

"Almost as good as sex," he winked.

"Speaking of which," I said softly. "Guess what they're doing right now!"

"Taking a shower, I . . . " he started, then thought better. "Sure?"

"Not a doubt!" I said.

"Neat," he said.

"Do you think . . .?"

"Not now, Loon," he said huskily. "Let's help Boo with the groceries."

"That's not what I wanted to say, sex fiend." I said as we walked to the back of the house. Boo already had the back of her car open, and was hefting out a Safeway bag. "Do you think we'll still be at each other after twelve years?"

"Not a doubt!" I felt a squig better. I mean, it's nice to hear, you know?

When Jeremy and William finished their "shower," they got introduced to Boo, and Jeremy sort of took over. The stereo went on, a little louder than Mom liked, but not bad, and the music was soft rock and classic rock. There was never a lull in the conversation as Boo put away the groceries and got dinner started, Jeremy telling stories, William correcting the mistakes, keeping us enthralled with tales of drunken movie stars, TV production snafus, and on, and on.

Around five thirty, the doorbell rang, and Jeremy sprang up to get it before the second peal. Boo didn't have a chance to react. I wasn't sure if I liked him answering our door or not, then backed off.

William was telling us about the pool party at a famous actress' house, when the woman saw her boytoy getting a little too much attention from one of her male co-stars.

"She marched right into his face and said 'Martin, you're such a slut!' in front of a good number of her guests, including me and Jeremy. Martin just looked her up and down in that disdainful way he has, and said 'Ah, but my dear, you've dressed so much better for the part than I!' She went absolutely rabid, and snapped something at him about staying away from the hired help."

"The boy was right there and got really pissed off. They got into a flaming row, and after they went into the house, you could have heard her screaming at him if you'd been at the airport. Then it got real quiet, and all of a sudden, there he was at the top of the stairs in his birthday suit, not a stitch, I swear! Everyone at the party looked up at him, his nakedness more a symbol of his catharsis than anything else. Really quite beautiful, very masculine and nicely turned. He walked down the stairs like a prince, went right up to Martin and asked him if he had a position in mind. Martin took his jacket off, bundled the kid up and spirited him away to his place, and the boy's been living with him ever since!"

"Homework assignment!" Jeremy called out as he came back down the Hall. I could barely hear him for Brad and William's laughter. I, of course, was only slightly amused, the laughs coming straight up from my belly.

"Huh?" That must have been Brad. I'm brain dead when I laugh that hard.

The transcription service had produced computer listings of everybody in all three address books already, and we had to have them done immediately, according to the cover letter. The courier service would wait for them, thank you.

Brad and I looked at the list, and we were at a loss. I didn't know but a handful of the people on the first two pages.

Jeremy said he could be of no help, of course, but perhaps we might want to call Dad's partner. While Brad called, I went through the listings again. There were three columns that showed the source of each name with an "X," alongside the name and address, the city and the telephone number.

Who knew there was so much to do, so quick? First off, we decided to invite to the Church everyone who appeared on all three lists, and everyone who was on Mom's list who wasn't a business. Jeremy helped us divvy up the pages for checking, me first checking or lining out names from Mom's book, then Brad and Dave running through the remaining names on each page as fast as Brad could read them. William then separated them out into two stacks.

In the next hour, using the codes and Dave's advice, we checked off about fifty people who were only on Dad's computer, mostly customers, most everybody on Dad's rolodex, which was mostly people he knew from the Club, his political party, his golfing buddies, that kind of stuff. The top copies of the listings were for the courier, along with the dozen or so names on the sheet for the chapel at the cemetery -- or the crematorium. I wasn't sure if they were one and the same. Dave and his wife, Susie Westley and her husband, Thurston and Julia Throckmorton, Jonathan Alexander and his family, Gary Davies (the lieutenant governor) and his wife, and the four of us. For some reason, I didn't really want to invite the Davies, but Brad said it was the right thing to do, because they'd been friends since college, so I relented. I think I was afraid that there would be too much publicity for him, and he wasn't the reason for the service, you know?

The culling done, it was already dinner time. Time goes faster when you're busy. William stuffed one copy of the listing back into the envelope, and took it out to the courier.

Jeremy poured a glass of wine for everybody -- including William -- just before we sat to dinner in the dining room, and said a toast to Mom and Dad. It was sweet and nice and for some reason didn't make me want to cry. He said they'd raised two fine sons, and there was no better tribute a married couple could hope to leave the world. William raised his glass and touched the wine to his lips, but he didn't drink. Brad said grace, and it was sweet. He thanked Him for taking part in our day, for providing us strength, for giving us the love of family and friends.

Jeremy said he'd do whatever it took to make sure we were safe and loved with Mom and Dad away, and that was that. He then told a joke about his own foibles with the vino, sang a stupid song, and had us through the weepy bits before we knew it. William told me while we were clearing the dishes after supper that Jeremy was the kind of guy that hated to be thanked, so please not to say anything nice to him until next year some time, or he'd walk around with a swollen head for months. Boo threw us out of the kitchen, and we ended up watching the tube for a while. There was another very short segment about "the brutal murder of a wealthy developer and his wife," but it was all the same old shit. I think news programs are more about self-promotion of the program than they are about the news. Then it was a movie, and the night -- the day -- was over.

That night as we got ready for bed, Brad and I agreed that Jeremy was definitely an okay guy, and that we were glad they had come to stay with us. We were in our bathroom brushing our teeth, and I was starting to think of some sad stuff, when we heard the bed in the guest room creaking. Regularly. Brad looked at me and smiled the smile that says "we're gonna get it on."

I smiled back the smile that says "Yeah!," and we went into my room, made a pillow dummy, then retreated to his room, on the other side of the bath from my room, so's Boo couldn't hear anything if she looked into my room. Brad's room has a lock.

Then we went into slo-mo love mode. His T-shirt floated over his shoulders at the same time as mine, and our shorts sort of glided to the floor as we leaned into a kiss, only our lips touching, as if our bodies were too hot to make contact. We stepped out of the Birks, and the boxers floated down, two feet closer to his bed than the shorts. He put his hands on my waist and turned us so that he was backed up to the bed, and he sat down really slowly, holding me in place until his tongue glided all the way down the center of my chest. When he reached my navel, he paused long enough for me to put my hands on his head, feeling his ears, the muscles on the back of his head, the soft hair between my fingers.

His tongue went up a bit and tickled my abs, as my dick lodged under his chin, trying to poke up through it into his mouth, already leaking my lube for him. He then backed away just a bit, letting my dick trace a snail trail under his chin, up to the lower lip, and into the secret cavern, just a tiny bit at a time. His lips encircled me, and then his mouth collapsed around the head, and he sucked the lube out of me in a fraction of a second, and spread it over me, along with his saliva, telling me what he wanted as surely as if he'd painted a picture.

He let me out of his mouth and lay back on the bed, pulling me down to him, my lips seeking his. He somehow scooted up on the bed, pulling me with him with his lips and his hands on my hips, and my hands found his shoulders as we squirmed into position. His legs lifted around me, and my left arm found its home under his right shoulder, the back of his head in my hand to hold it up to my lips. He reached for me, and put the head of my dick to his entrance, and opened himself to me with his other hand, and I slipped into him, gently, steadily.

We separated our lips for a moment to whisper of our love, as I sank gradually into his center, and we looked into one another's eyes for the eon it took for us to be completely joined. I felt his hand massaging my balls, pulling me gently forward but at the same holding them out of the way, his other hand holding my arm that was under his bottom, lifting him to me.

I hit bottom, and he told me how good I felt in him, how he felt every ripple in my dick. I started moving back and forth, gently, an inch at a time, then two, then four, massaging his prostate, always moving up against it, keeping the contact as best I could, not having the benefit of feeling him feel me inside him. It was working -- I could tell from the shudders that went through him as I moved down his tunnel, and his muscles grasped me like a velvet fist as I moved up, trying to draw me back.

"It's in the right place," he whispered. "You're going to make me come soon."

"Not yet," I thought, "I want it to be good for you."

"I heard that," he whispered back.

"I love you, Brad," I thought as clearly as I could, under the circumstances.

"I know," he said after a pause. "I can hear you, but you can't hear me. I love you, Loon"

I slowed down a little, shortening my strokes, mindful of the sound of his bed creaking a little as I moved, then thought 'the heck with it,' and resumed the longer strokes, knowing that they made Brad feel even more of me, of my love for him. The bed creaked, but I figured no one would hear at this end of the house. The guest room is on the other side of the hall, Boo in the suite at the other end of the house.

I felt the telltale signs of Brad's impending climax, as his muscles began to contract deep down inside him, and my strokes got longer, not much faster. His hand coddled my nuts, pulling me into him, massaging more and more of my semen into the firing chamber. He broke away from my lips, and whispered that he felt me, felt his hands massaging my nuts, felt the knob of my dick as I moved inside him through me. He told me he was almost there, that he wanted me to fill him with my semen, to have me deep in his soul. My strokes got even longer, still slowly, still pressing against his prostate.

His muscles started to contract, and he whimpered in my mouth as his climax began, moving down his belly, grasping the head of my dick first. Then with a muted roar in my mouth, his butt clamped me at the base, then along the entire length as his first spurt moved forward. It was too much for my poor dick, which tipped into climax at once, and I felt my own contraction as my seed shot from inside me towards its goal, deep inside him. He "unnhhh . . . unnhhhed" into my mouth with each spurt of his semen, and I felt a splash on the bottom of my chin. Right on target! His legs pulled me down into him, him up to further impale himself, and we melded into the throes of our orgasm, our bodies as closely pressed together as two humans can be, no more room for his seed to reach my chest.

He went almost limp in my arms, and I pulled my mouth from his to look into his eyes. They were glazed, unseeing, and he spurted again, contracting around my dick almost as strongly as before. His body opened up even further to my dick, and I went a tiny bit farther into him as another spasm shook me. My legs trembled, and his as well, then his heels did a little tattoo on my back, as I plunged into him yet again. His arms grasped me again, as strongly as before, and there was another, weaker grasping of my dick by his insides. He whimpered with it, and I tried to get a little bit deeper into him, but to no avail.

We stopped the to and fro, with me as deeply inside him as possible, and rolled to my right, out lips still locked, our tongues making love to one another in deep fondness, then separating slightly so we could whisper of our love.

"I can't believe we've only been doing this a few days," he said. ""It feels like we've been practicing for years, just to make it this perfect. I love you."

"There's no way anybody could feel this way besides us," I told him. "You make me so much more than I am alone."

"Me too," he said. "I'll love you until heaven ends."

I couldn't top that one, so I just shut up and caressed him with my fingertips, and thought of how much I loved him, the Perfect Partner. I don't know if he heard me or not, but he fell soon into a deep sleep, not really waking when I swung around behind him into a spoon position, still buried inside him, and pulled the duvet over us to ward off the cool of the night.