Thank you for reading my story. I appreciate it! However, you should be
aware that there may be scenes depicting sex between males, some of
whom may be of different generations. If it may be illegal for you to
read this or if you might find reading it offensive, I ask that you not
do so. Any similarities between characters and events in the story and
real people or events is purely coincidental. If you would, please
write to me at Daniel.McKenzie@yahoo.com.
I also keep a daily online
journal that I would like
you to visit at Daniel
Michael McKenzie. :-)
Also, because this story begins in 1967, there may be some ethnic terms that are considered very offensive today. They are used to be realistic for the era and to show the way of thinking during that time of transition. No offensive is intended and the purpose of the story is to fight such prejudice.
Walking on Water
Daniel Michael McKenzie
“Walking on water wasn't built in a day.” Jack Kerouac as quoted by Allen Ginsburg
“So, what are we doing tonight?” Daniel asked as they left Rinaldi's and strolled along the sidewalk.
“Well, I usually invite some friends over on Friday nights for a little wine and a little jazz and a little conversation,” Michael replied. “I hope that won't be too boring.”
“Naw. That's sounds cool,” Daniel replied, feigning disinterest. Then his faced brightened a little as he said, “You're pretty good on the pinball machine.”
After their pizza, Michael and Daniel had played pinball and Michael had attracted several onlookers, including Kevin, to Daniel's dismay.
“Yeah, I guess I am. I get challenged a lot in there.”
“You're not like most dad's,” Daniel replied. “You're a lot cooler. You build models and play pinball and drive a cool car and stuff.”
“I think a lot of dad's probably build models and are good at pinball. Of course, most dad's have to worry about safety and such, so they probably don't drive their families around in muscle cars.”
Daniel gave his father a careful sideways glance as they turned the corner to his father's apartment.
“Well, maybe you can have a family. Maybe I could come live with you.”
Michael stopped and gently took the boy's face in his hands.
“Son, there isn't a day that goes by that I don't think about you or worry about you or wonder what it would be like for you to live with me. There's nothing I want more than for you to live with me. But, it's just not possible. The divorce… the judge… I….”
He looked away, unable to continue. Daniel saw his father's eyes grow moist. He was amazed. He had never seen a grown man start to cry before. Daniel suddenly felt horrible remorse. As his own tears formed, he looked up at his father and said, “I'm sorry, Daddy. I didn't mean to hurt your feelings.”
Michael looked down and smiled at his son. He hugged the boy tightly and replied, “It's OK. It's just that I love you so much and things just can't work out the way we want them to. Someday, maybe things will be different. Maybe someday….”
“It's OK,” Daniel said between sniffs. “We'll just write to each other more often.”
Michael didn't know what to say. He was full of anger at his ex-wife, disgust with her new husband, remorse with himself, and love and pity for his precious son. After a long moment, he finally pulled away and feigned jocularity.
“Well, let's go home and get ready for the wild party I'm throwing in your honor! What do you say?”
“Sure,” said Daniel with a big sniff.
The telephone was ringing as they entered the front door and Michael rushed to the table by the couch to answer it. Daniel wondered over to the French doors and out onto the balcony. He leaned against the brick balustrade and eavesdropped on his father's conversation.
“Hello? Hey! Yes, he got in all safe and sound and in one piece.”
Michael held the receiver away from his ear and asked Daniel, “Did you pick up any stewardesses?”
“Ooh! Gross!” Daniel replied.
Michael grinned and said into the receiver, “Did you here that? Well, I think it might be a little early to make that assumption, but judging from everything, I think you're probably right. Well, we'll see. Sure, come on over. We just got back from Rinaldi's and were going to set out the snacks and wine. OK. See you in a bit.”
“So what's too early to tell?” Daniel asked as he wondered back in. Michael cleared his throat and turned on a lamp.
“Oh, uh. Nothing, really. Why don't you turn on the TV. I think it's time for Huntley and Brinkley.”
Daniel frowned in frustration, surmising that the statement had been about him, but his father didn't want to say what it was about. He turned on the television and waited for it to warm up as his father walked through the dining room toward the kitchen on the side. As the picture appeared on the screen, he turned the knob to the channel with Huntley and Brinkley. Chet Huntley was reading a story about the riots in their city earlier in the week. Daniel went into the kitchen, where his father was preparing a tray of cheese and crackers.
“Are the Negroes going to riot again tonight?” he asked.
“Maybe, but probably not. I think it's all over for awhile.”
“Why did they riot?”
“Because they're tired of being treated so badly. They want jobs and respect and the same opportunities that you and I have.”
“But, how come they're only burning down their own areas? Why don't they come to this part of town?”
“I don't know. But, I will tell you one thing. Something's going to have to change in this country pretty soon or things are going to get a lot worse. Poor people need jobs. The soldiers have to come home from Vietnam. The factories have to stop polluting the air and the water. And, people who are different, who don't conform, are going to have to be treated with respect and dignity. If things don't change, I'm afraid of what may happen.”
Daniel stood next to his father and leaned against him as the man arranged the snacks on the tray.
“George says that they should call out the army and shoot all the rioters and all the protesters. He says anyone who doesn't like it in America should leave.”
“Well, pardon me for saying this, but George is an idiot. If you love your country, the most patriotic thing you can do is to improve it. It's not patriotic to just blindly approve of everything your government does. I think those kids on campus who protest the war are a hell of a lot more patriotic than all those flag-waiving fascists.”
“Yeah,” said Daniel emphatically. “George is an idiot.”
Michael smiled and squeezed his son's shoulder.
“Well, now, don't believe things just because I believe them. I want you to grow up thinking for yourself. Get all the facts and make up your own mind. Don't believe things just because certain people believe them. I want you to grow up to be your own man.”
“OK,” Daniel replied with a nod. “But, I still think George is an idiot.”
Michael grinned and replied, “Well, you're certainly entitled to that opinion!”
There was a knock on the front door at that moment. Michael asked his son to answer it. When he opened the door, he found an older man, possibly in his forties, with neatly cut hair, slightly redder than Michael's and Daniel's, in slacks and a short-sleeve shirt. He had an inviting smile on his face and laughing eyes.
“You must be the new man of the house,” he said with a grin that immediately put Daniel at ease.
“And, I'm John, your father's surrogate father. May I come in?”
Daniel politely stepped aside and the man entered carrying a bottle of red wine. Michael appeared around the corner from the kitchen carrying the tray of cheese and crackers.
“John, I see you've met my new houseboy.”
“He's delightful. And, polite.”
John extended his hand and he and the boy shook.
“Well, that's all him,” Michael said as he placed the tray on the coffee table over copies of The Nation, The New Yorker, and Saturday Review. “It's in spite of his mother and stepfather, I can assure you.”
“What's a surrogate father?” Daniel asked. Michael grinned.
“Well, since my father is dead,” explained Michael, “John sort of acts like a replacement father for me. He looks out for me and makes sure I don't do anything completely stupid.”
Daniel cocked his head and examined the guest.
“You don't look old enough to be my grandfather.”
“Bless you, dear boy,” John declared. “I shall mention you in my will. Actually, I am old enough to be your grandfather. I'm forty-nine, precisely twenty years older than your father.”
“But, you'd never guess it from…” Michael suddenly caught himself as John gave him a warning look. “Um, yes, well. Anyway… I see you brought wine.”
“Yes,” said John handing the bottle to Michael. “A nice Burgundy. I'm tired of that California swill you keep forcing on us.”
“Hey! California wines are getting much better,” Michael protested as he headed into the kitchen.
“Maybe in another twenty or thirty years,” John replied dryly.
Michael smiled and asked, “Shall I open it now?”
“Of course, and pour a glass for Daniel. It's time for him to learn about wine.”
Michael raised an eyebrow.
“He's only nine.”
“I'll be ten next week!”
“Oh, well. In that case.”
Michael poured two glasses and gave Daniel a sip. He turned his nose up and scrunched his face in distaste.
“Yuck! It's kind of bitter. I don't like it.”
“Neophytes usually don't like dry wines. I suggest Michael you give him some Chardonnay. And, please tell me you don't have any Rose'.”
“You snob,” Michael replied as he went to the refrigerator for a bottle of Chardonnay.
“You got here awful fast,” Daniel commented to John as the gentleman took a seat on the couch. John patted the cushion beside him and Daniel sat down next to him. John wrapped an arm around the boy and Daniel leaned into him.
“I live across the street,” John replied.
Michael entered with a tray carrying three wine glasses, two red and one white. He chuckled and commented, “He wishes.”
John gave him a sour look and answered, “I'm his neighbor.” To Michael, he commented, “I see he's met the neighborhood heart-throb.”
“Yes,” said Michael handing a red wine to John and a white to Daniel. To the boy, he added, “Drink this slowly. OK?”
Daniel nodded as he took a sip and smiled. Michael continued.
“Yes, we ran into Beatnik Boy at Rinaldi's.”
“Ah, his latest phase,” John replied. “Emulating Allan Ginsberg, I suppose. Last spring, he was going to be Charles Atlas. He was working out every day. He built quite a body.”
“Yes,” Michael concurred. “He had on that sleeveless t-shirt today. Those arms are….”
“Yes, they are,” John agreed. Daniel smiled secretly; these comments were conforming his assumptions and playing right into his plan, which might be amended now to include John.
There was another knock on the door and, this time, Michael answered it. In walked two more men, both appearing to be in their late twenties or early thirties. One looked like Dennis the Menace's father, tall and slender with black hair and black-rimmed glasses. He was also carrying a pipe. The other had longish dark-blond hair and was dressed in a tie-dyed shirt and jeans with sandals.
“David, I'm so glad you didn't feel the need to overdress this evening,” Michael said giving the blond a wink.
“Hmm, yes, well,” David replied as he glided to the nearest chair. Daniel could see his eyes looked red and he seemed half-asleep. “We were worshiping Haille Salasse on the hill behind the library and planning the teach-in for the first week of the semester.”
Dennis the Menace's father took a chair opposite the hippy and declared disdainfully, “I did not participate in the Sacrament. I was leaving the English building and was drawn by the odor of burning rope to rescue our Jacobin and bring him to the Friday Night Salon.”
Daniel looked about him in complete confusion. Michael grinned, enjoying the spectacle and explained, “David was smoking marijuana behind the university library and Richard is a snob.”
“I am an aesthete,” Richard replied dramatically.
“What does that mean?” Daniel asked.
“It means I express outrageous and condescending opinions about things I know nothing about and do it in the most pompous manner possible. Speaking of which, where did Opie Taylor come from?”
John nudged Daniel with a grin so he wouldn't be offended by Richard's comment.
“I'm Daniel. Daniel Patrick Shannon. I'm Michael's son.”
“Ah. Another son of the Mother Country,” Richard sighed. “Even when you're light in the loafers, you people can't help breeding like rabbits.”
Michael raised a warning eyebrow and replied, “I will take that as a polite request for a glass of wine.”
“Well, of course. I was wondering how long I had to wait. I was beginning to think I was going to have start insulting your ancestry.”
Michael turned to David and asked, “Hey Bob Marley, red or white.”
“Red,” David replied through the fog of his cannabis-induced high.
“Give him the California stuff,” John cautioned with a grin.
For the next couple of hours, the conversation continued along much the same lines, though after several glasses of wine, the barbs became softer and eventually more relaxed. Michael had placed a Modern Jazz Quartet album on the stereo, which was replaced with Dave Brubeck as the conversation flowed from the riots of the last few days to the war to President Johnson to Judy Garland. Daniel, snuggled closely to John, paid careful attention, and seemed to understand most of what was discussed.
Toward the end of the Brubeck album, he relaxed and rested his elbow in John's lap. However, he felt something hard underneath. He looked over and saw that the man had an erection. He looked up at John's face in surprise and grinned. John smiled guiltily and looked away. Daniel did not remove his elbow.
The boy had begun his second glass of white wine, over his father's objections but at the urging of the guests, when the album ended. Michael had temporarily turned on the radio and The Monkees' “I'm a Believer” was on. Daniel immediately leaned forward, set the glass down, and jumped up.
“I love this song!” he declared as he jumped around the coffee table into the middle of the living room and began to dance. John and Michael looked on in amusement as the tipsy boy began to sway and jump to the music. David the Hippy looked over at Michael and shook his head.
“Dude, you gotta teach him about music. Put on some Sergeant Pepper.”
Richard the Aesthete smiled.
“He's having fun. Leave him alone. I get the feeling he doesn't get to have a lot of fun at home.”
“I don't,” Daniel declared as he danced away in front of the men. “My Momma and my stepfather hate me, so I never get to do anything. This is cool!”
He raised his arms into the air and closed his eyes as his head fell back and forth and his body moved with the rhythm. John suddenly stood up and joined him in the middle of the living room and, as the song changed to Tommy James singing “I Think We're Alone Now,” Michael stood, as well. David shook his head in disgust and gulped the last of the California Red as Richard smoked his pipe and looked on in amusement.
When the song ended and a commercial came on, the three returned to the couch, though Daniel snuggled up to his father this time. The conversation resumed, but not with the vigor of before. The evening was winding down and Richard soon announced, as he watched David's head nod a few times, that he and “The Hippy” needed to depart. John stayed a little longer, but soon he, too, rose. By this time, Daniel had fallen asleep beside his father, the man's arm still around him, the boy's head against his chest. John quietly walked out and silently shut the door behind him, but not without a jealous smile to Michael.
The man sat on the couch for a long time, looking down at the red head of the boy asleep in his embrace. He was a sweet boy, intelligent and trustworthy, a son to be proud of. He knew the boy was unhappy at home and could hear it in his voice whenever it was mentioned. Desperately, he wanted to find some way for Daniel to live with him; but, he just didn't see anyway his ex-wife, based on her behavior before and after the divorce, would ever permit it. He would just have to be satisfied with the occasional, infrequent visits they were permitted.
Eventually, Daniel shifted his position and Michael leaned down to kiss him on the forehead.
“Come on, Sleepyhead,” he said softly. “Time to go to bed.”
“Mmmf mmm prumf,” Daniel replied as he shifted again and wrapped an arm around his father's arm. Michael grinned, pushed a finger under the boy's arm, and began to poke and prod.
Suddenly, the boy twisted and writhed, opening his eyes in shock and squealing with confusion and laughter.
“Wha? Yahhahahaha! Stop! Hahahahaahaha! AAAAAAAAA!”
Michael chuckled as he tickled his son, the boy struggling to escape the relentless poking and prodding of his father's fingers. Finally, the torture ended and Daniel, laying on his back on the couch, laughing and gasping for breath, looked up at his father with mock outrage and declared, “Are you crazy, waking a guy up like that? I coulda had a heart attack!”
“Oh, I doubt that,” Michael assured him with a smile. “Besides, only the good die young and you're one major brat.”
“I am not!”
Michael then stood and picked the giggling boy up and hoisted him over his shoulder as Daniel squealed with delight and fear.
“Put me down!” he demanded. “Where are you taking me?”
“To my bed, my little pretty! Bwahahahaha!”
“You aren't going to ravish me, are you?”
Michael threw him down on the bed and raised a quizzical eyebrow.
Daniel simply smiled demurely. Michael frowned uncomfortably and quickly turned.
“Get ready for bed while I clean up out here.”
Daniel turned on the lamp beside the bed and stripped off his clothes, throwing them in the corner by his suitcase. Naked, and with a stiff little erection, he pulled the covers back and crawled into the bed. Sitting cross-legged under the sheets, he waited in the warm night air until he saw his father return to the living room and switch off the lamp. Michael walked from the darkened room into the bedroom and smiled.
“Well, you're all ready, I see,” he commented as he opened the French doors leading out to the balcony to let in the cooler night air. With the city's night sounds in the background, he walked over to his chest of drawers and began to undress.
“Did you brush your teeth?”
“You're as bad as Momma.”
Wearing only his boxers, Michael turned, raised a commanding eyebrow, and pointed to the bathroom.
“All right,” Daniel muttered, conceding defeat. He crawled from the bed and as he ran naked to the bathroom, Michael's eyes grew wide.
“Daniel! You're naked! What are you doing?”
“Brushing my teeth.”
Michael strode to the bathroom and looked in.
“You know what I mean. Why aren't you wearing your pajamas?”
With his toothbrush in his mouth, Daniel replied, “Don't you sleep naked?”
“Well, yes,” his father admitted. “But, not when you're here.”
“Come on,” said Daniel as if his father was wasting his time. “It's just us guys. Who cares?”
Michael gave him a look that said to give up or else. Daniel sighed and spit into the sink. After washing his mouth out and wiping it on the towel, he sulked past his father, his little penis now soft and shrunken, and went to the corner of the bedroom. He pulled his briefs on and crawled into bed. Michael watched him curiously.
“Sweetheart, why is it so important to you?”
“I feel like a little kid,” Daniel replied, his legs and arms both crossed now. “I'm gonna be ten next week. I'm not a little boy anymore.”
“I know, son,” said Michael walking around the bed. He pulled the covers back and crawled in. He turned off the lamp. In the darkness, he slipped lower in the bed and then reached out to Daniel, roughly pulling him over to him as the boy struggled to remain angry and not to giggle.
“You know, you should really be glad I don't make you wear those bunny jammies you used to have.”
Michael could see his son roll his eyes in the dark.
“Daddy, for Pete's sake.”
Michael pulled the boy tight and put his arm around him. Daniel snuggled up against his father, resting an arm on the man's hairless chest and his head on his father's shoulder. Michael could feel the boy's little penis, having resumed its former state, pressing stiffly through the cotton of the underwear against his hip, but he ignored it, considering it a natural reaction, under the circumstances.
Michael squeezed the boy tightly and kissed his head. As the sounds of the city floated through the room, he whispered, “I love you, Daniel.”
“I love you, Daddy,” the boy replied.
It was not long before Michael could feel the steady, even breathing that told him his son was once again asleep, but it would be some time before the father would drift away. Many thoughts paraded through his mind and some of them were quite unsettling.