This story details explicit gay sex between men, teens and boys. If you find this kind of thing distasteful, or if you are underage wherever you live, then stop reading this now, and delete this file. The story is completely fictional; the author does not condone or encourage any of the acts contained herein.



Chapter 56

By: Tim Keppler

When Peter, our new nanny, came to live with us, I asked him to get an HIV test and made an appointment for him with Dr. Cohen, my GP. I wasn't planning to go with him, as I do with Jason, Kenny and the boys, but I did want to be sure of his status given the contact he'd have with Kevin and Kai. Cohen asked me if he'd had a recent physical. I had no idea. Luckily, Peter was at home and I could ask him. "No," he said. "Not for about five years."

"We should check him out, Tim. If he's living with you, you want a clean bill of health."

Fine. So he'll get his HIV test and Cohen will give him a physical at the same time. Good idea.

As we get closer to his appointment date, Peter begins to get more and more...agitated. I honestly don't link his agitation to his doctor's appointment. I have no idea what's causing his rather bizarre behavior. Finally, the day before the appointment, he gets a call from a friend, and starts berating him over the phone. This is someone I've met, someone who seems like a really nice guy. Peter's talking on the phone in the kitchen, and his conversation attracts the attention of Kenny, Jason and me. He's angry and clearly very upset. Finally, Jason and Kenny herd the boys into the living room, leaving me with Peter. "What's wrong, Peter?" I ask.

He gives me a long look, and I can see a range of emotions pass over him. He starts at angry and moves to confusion. Then he just looks sad. Finally he sits down at the table and stares at the floor. "I lied to you," he says. "I've never been to a doctor -- ever. My only experience with doctors was the time I slit my wrists and when I got beat up by that guy in the Rose Garden. That's it. And those were `instant access' so to speak. I wasn't waiting around to see them. I wasn't `anticipating' the experience. I really don't like doctors. I haven't gone because I've been...umm... I really don't want to go tomorrow."

He looks into my eyes with a plaintive look, and I realize that this poor guy is scared to death. He has no idea what's going to happen to him there. No clue. Naturally, he's frightened.

"You're going, Peter," I say, squeezing the back of his neck. "It'll be okay. Almost no discomfort. Probably a couple of shots, but you're going."

He nods, still staring at the floor. Finally, after several seconds, he looks up at me. "Umm...could you...? Umm...would you mind...?" He looks down at the floor again, flushed. And then he asks so softly that I almost don't hear him. "Would you come with me?"

Back in the `60s there was a television show produced in the UK called The Avengers. I was an addict. Diana Rigg starred as Emma Peel. She was every boy's wet dream. If you were straight, you dreamed of fucking her, I imagine, and if you were gay, what attracted you was her strength. She was a powerful woman. There was one episode, The Fear Merchant, that explored personal phobias. One guy was afraid of spiders, another of open spaces. One guy was terrified of speed. We all have our personal fears, and Peter's fear, apparently, is of doctors. I can sort of relate to that. My father was terrified of doctors, which was tragic, because towards the end of his life, his health was poor. He had Parkinson's disease, and had to visit a lot of doctors, and each trip caused him intense anxiety. Peter apparently has the same problem.

"Sure," I say. "I can go with you."

He looks into my eyes with a most grateful if rueful, expression. "Thanks," he says. Poor guy!

So on Wednesday, the following day, we make our way to Dr. Cohen's office, and at 2:35 his nurse calls Peter's name. Peter gets up, while I continue to sit on the couch reading a magazine. He stands uncertainly for a moment, and then reaches forward and takes my hand, pulling me to my feet and into the examining room. The nurse knows me. Cohen knows me. This will be no surprise for either of them. She hands him a paper gown, tells him to strip, and leaves the room. You have never seen more terror in anyone's eyes than in Peter's at this moment. I give him a hug, reassure him, and move to the chair in the corner, a chair that knows me well. He takes off his clothes slowly and slips into the gown, and then he sits on the examining table to wait. You can see the perspiration smudging the sides of the gown, and he has a look of doom, of utter hopelessness. Cohen, to his credit, understands what he's dealing with the instant he comes into the room. He's seen this kind of fear before, and becomes very nurturing. He squeezes Peter's arm, assures him that everything will be fine, and proceeds to thump, to tap, and to listen. He listens to his breathing, to his lungs, to his heart. He looks into his eyes, his nose, his mouth and his ears. He performs a prostate exam, and inspects his genitals carefully. He of course notices the slashes on his wrists, and gives me a look. I nod. Then he rolls a lab cart over to the table. It's time to take some blood. Looking at the contents of the lab cart, Peter goes absolutely pale. He loses every streak of color in his face. He's going to pass out. Cohen catches him before he does, and gently lays him down on the table. "Breathe deeply," he tells Peter. "You'll be fine. This will be a lot less scary than you think. Just keep breathing." He motions me over with a nod, and I hold Peter's right hand while Cohen swabs his left arm with alcohol and inserts the needle into his vein. "Just a little prick," he says, reassuringly. Peter is absolutely still, pasty white and completely rigid.

Cohen takes three small vials of blood, and then removes the needle from Peter's arm. "Just stay where you are," he says. "Just relax."

He gets three shots -- for tetanus, measles, and smallpox. And then we're done.

"Why don't you two stay here for a few minutes? Just relax. We're done. Nothing more to do. When you're ready, get dressed and come out to the lobby. You did very well. It's scary, I know. But, you did very well."

Twenty minutes later we emerge. Peter has regained some color, but is still unsteady as he walks. I hold onto him pretty tightly as I take him to the car. I don't want him to fall.

Three weeks later we get the results of his lab work. Peter's blood sugar is slightly elevated, Cohen says, but everything else is acceptable. And, he appears to be negative for HIV, but will need to be tested again for that to be conclusive. Peter is elated, even euphoric. "Why?" I ask.

"Because I made it through the physical. I was so scared. I've never been to a doctor before. I was terrified. But...it wasn't...so bad."

You gotta wonder, don't you? If this were Kai, if this were a five-year old, this kind of terror would be understandable. I was scared to death of doctors at five, of needles, of blood tests, of all of it. But Peter's 22. But, what scares one guy near to death is another guy's cakewalk. Peter is willing to take on some guy in a park who's given candy to my young son, to take him on without a second thought even though he could conceivably be armed and dangerous, but he's terrified of doctors. Fear isn't rational, I guess.


In the next couple of months, it turns out, Peter will end up spending more time with the boys than any of us anticipated. Jason is traveling with the symphony -- New York, Denver, Paris and Moscow, of all places -- and Kenny has been working on a project with a guy from MIT, a guy he's known for years, apparently. So he's back and forth. And I, as executor of Gary's estate, am facing some interesting challenges.

I had a friend when I was younger who characterized himself as the "most prepared, least ready" person on earth. He had, in other words, prepared for all of life's contingencies, but when they actually befell him, he had a tendency to crumble. Anything he hadn't prepared for became a crisis of monumental proportions. Gary, on the other hand, was the "least prepared, most ready" person I've ever known. He wasn't great at planning for what might happen, but anything that did happen, he dealt with expeditiously. He treated estate planning in just this way, not prepared but ready to deal with it when necessary. Trouble is, when it's necessary to deal with estate planning, you're probably dead, so being ready doesn't help much. You have to be prepared, as the boy scouts say, and Gary wasn't...exactly.

Well...he sort of was. He had a trust and a will, so mostly he was covered. But, when Dinh came into his life, he failed to alter either the trust or the will to include him. So, on paper, everything goes to Nathan. That's not a big deal, because Nathan is a sweetheart. Nathan will simply give Dinh part of the estate. But that has tax consequences, doesn't it? Nathan and Gary were married, so property can be owned jointly and when a spouse dies, the property becomes that of the surviving spouse. But Ken Starr (yes, that Ken Starr) is trying to change all that, to invalidate all those eighteen-thousand same-sex marriages that happened in California prior to the passage of Prop. 8, and even if he's not successful, you still have the federal government, which doesn't recognize Gary and Nathan as anything more than friends -- good friends, but only friends. Bigots-R-Us. And, if Nathan starts to pass property to Dinh, also only a friend, that becomes income for Dinh on which he'll be taxed. This is all very murky, and because California faggots could only marry for five months, there aren't a lot of precedents to apply to the tax codes. It's anyone's guess what will happen.

Complicating this mess further is the fact that Gary's brother, whom Gary loathed, is contesting the provisions of both the will and the trust. Gary was very successful at what he did, and managed to amass quite an estate -- several million dollars. His brother -- who liked to refer to Gary as "the fag" at festive gatherings of family and friends -- wants the estate for himself, both because it would set him up for life, and because he hates Nathan even more than he hated Gary. Nathan is "the gold-digger," another really-charming phrase he coined to characterize someone he envies. So, he and a smart attorney have identified a number of technicalities that they believe invalidate the documents in which Gary identified his wishes for the disposition of his estate. The documents are very simple, very clear, but apparently technically flawed, and therefore invalid. At least that's the case they're making.

Bob Titus, my attorney, has been poring through Gary's trust and will for several weeks, but ultimately it's going to take one or more meetings with Gary's brother and his attorney to clear this up. That leaves Peter to tend to the boys, something I have confidence he'll do very well, but something that worries me anyway. I just don't like to be separated from them, I don't like to be out of their orbit. But, I really have no choice about this, and so on a Wednesday morning I prepare to leave. I have a cab coming to take me to the airport where I'll meet Bob for our flight to Toledo, Gary's hometown and where his brother still lives. I'm not looking forward to this.

"Remember, guys," I say to the boys, "you need to mind Peter. Peter's in charge while Daddy's away. Okay?"

They both nod, and we hug just as the cab arrives. Off I go.

I'm not going to bore you with the details of this trip. I'll just say that it was an interesting...experience. A lot of psychological warfare occurred. The most interesting psychological theory of the last century, in my humble opinion, came from Eric Berne, the father of what he called "Transactional Analysis." In his book, Games People Play, he posited that there are a finite number of "games" that people play with each other to gain advantage. What you need to do is understand the game, and then respond to it with what amounts to a "game-ender," a response that identifies the game and terminates play. I was really fascinated when I read the book, but realized later that we also play games with ourselves. I have trouble getting past my own baggage in a lot of cases to end the games of others. Said differently, sometimes the games of others push my buttons so completely that I don't want to end the games. Instead, I just want to smash the player. I want to win the game rather than end it, which is not especially...productive. Bob, however, is a master of transactional analysis. I've seen him do it any number of times in negotiations. I'm not always very successful at it, and he knows it. He knows my strengths and weaknesses. He knows when to push my buttons. And sometimes -- not often, but sometimes -- he uses my weaknesses to our advantage. This is one of those times.

Having met with Gary's brother and his attorney for well over two hours, we've made little progress. Finally Bob suggest that he and the attorney meet privately. He winks at me as Gary's brother and I leave the attorney's office. We move into the lobby, where two other clients are waiting.

"I assume you're a faggot, too," the brother says.

"I am, yes," I reply. "Faggotry is interesting, don't you think? I mean, your crowd of straight white men who think it's a choice, have always fascinated me, especially those like you who virulently hate us. What intrigues me is how resolutely you ignore the statistics. For example, fags like Gary and me, fags who have siblings, are fifty percent more likely to find that one or more of their brothers are also fags. And, it's usually pretty obvious which ones are the fags. They're usually the ones who most virulently hate us."

It takes a second for this to sink in, and then he lets fly. It's really, really hard for me not to defend myself. I could flatten this guy, but that's not what we're doing today. Today I'm going to be a victim. He punches me first in the face, and then in the belly, and then in the face again. After the third blow the door to the attorney's office flies opens, and Bob comes out into the lobby just as the attorney's secretary emerges from a back room. They're all drawn by the sound of the fight -- the lamp that's fallen and the table that's been overturned. Bob grabs the brother by the collar and yanks him off me, and his attorney shouts, "Frank! Get off him!"

It's all we need. Bob has been in with this idiot's attorney punching holes in his arguments -- and his games -- and I've been out here playing a game of my own, getting punched by the client. Priceless!

"I think we're done here," Bob says with authority while helping me to my feet. "If you want to pursue this, sue us. But, you should expect that when you do, we'll counter-sue on the grounds of assault. It's not like we don't have witnesses. Bring it on!"

Before leaving, Bob meticulously collects contact information from the two clients waiting to speak with the attorney, and from the secretary. And then he ushers me out the door. I've been trying to look pathetic, but once we're out on the street, I start to giggle, and he starts to laugh. "I just fucking knew I could count on you. I saw your face in there with that moron, and I knew you'd do something...significant. All I needed to do was cut you loose. What did you say to him? How'd you get him that angry?"

I smile, and it really hurts to smile right now. "I...sort of...implied that because his brother was a fag, he probably was too."

Bob shakes his head, and laughs. "This case is over, whether they decide to pursue it or not. It's over. That was a very expensive punch that guy just threw, although their case wasn't worth a damn anyway. Probably we should get you to a doctor, though."

"Naaahhhh. I'll be fine. There's a flight out in three hours. I'll see my own doctor tomorrow. Just don't make me laugh. It...umm...hurts."

When I get home and the taxi drops me at the house, I roll my suitcase into the entryway. I am greeted by Peter who is carrying Kevin on his shoulders. I am...a mess. I have a black eye and several other bruises on my face. And, I'm limping a little.

"What the fuck happened to you?" Peter asks, incredulous.

"I...umm...got into a fight."

"With whom?" he asks, sounding oh, so very erudite.

"It's a long story," I reply. "Maybe we should stop meeting like this..."

He nods. What a hoot!


Dinh is very vocal when he's spanked. He screams with almost every stroke. This freaked me out the first time I spanked him because I thought I might really be hurting him. I mean really hurting him. So, I lightened up. That was not what he wanted. Not at all. "No, please... Harder!" he screamed. So I went back to the way I'd been spanking him before, and he continued to scream. After 18 strokes, he was sobbing. I took him to the chair in the corner, and he cried for maybe twenty minutes, and then he started to settle down.

"You okay?" I asked.

"Yeah," he choked. "Thank you." And then he kissed me, a really good kiss, a really good prelude to really good sex. It was all just...really good. And when we were done, when we were lying in bed snuggling, I asked him if he was always that vocal.

"It doesn't matter," I said, trying to soften the question. "You can be as loud as you want. I was just...concerned that I might be hurting you too much."

He pauses to think for several seconds. "I once asked Nathan how much his spankings hurt him, and he was sort of...indifferent. `They hurt enough,' he said. If that isn't a cryptic answer... I don't know whether my ass is maybe just really sensitive to pain, or maybe I'm just a wuss. Or maybe I crave the spanking so much and the submission it implies, that my mind helps me out by making it seem more painful than it really is. I'm not sure. But, every time I'm hit, it's just searingly painful...but...ultimately...I love it. I just feel better afterwards. Gary was concerned early on that he was causing me too much pain, and we had a discussion, a lot like this one, about what `too much' meant. I've thought a lot about it ever since I met him, trying to understand why I like it. I mean, why would you? Jason's told me that he likes to be spanked for the emotional release. It gives him an excuse to cry about stuff he hasn't dealt with, unnamed guilt. Maybe. For me I think it's more about surrender. It's about giving up control of...everything...your body, your emotions, your mind...everything. Can you be much more vulnerable than when you voluntarily lay your naked body down before someone who you know is going to cause you pain? It's erotic, I guess, but more than that it's the ultimate submission, and that's why it's erotic. What you feel will be controlled by someone else. Someone who can ultimately do anything he wants to you. It's almost as though there is no `you.' Your will is gone. You've given yourself utterly to someone else. I...umm...think I've longed for that my whole life."

I've never thought of submission in quite this way before. Or, maybe I have, but not with this level of...desire. For Dinh, submission is equivalent to sex, it's a way to obliterate the self, which is how I think of sex. You just disappear. Not to get too philosophical, but there's something almost Zen-like about it. You relinquish all desire and all volition. You leave yourself in the hands of fate. It's just fucking fascinating!

"So, it was okay?" I ask. "It wasn't too much?"

"No," he says, shaking his head. "It was...good. I feel better. It hurt, but that's what I needed. I needed to surrender to you. I wanted to surrender to you. The amount of pain inflicted needed to be your decision, not mine. Can we...umm...do this a little more often?"

I feel really guilty. I've sort of ignored Dinh, or at least I haven't really gotten him on a schedule. So, we agree to do this every Monday evening from now on, and he goes away happy, kissing me passionately before hopping out of bed, getting dressed, and leaving the room.

The next morning, I meet Peter in the kitchen. He's boiling some eggs for breakfast and making tuna salad for the boys' lunch. He smiles at me as I enter, and then giggles as he returns to the tuna salad.

"Whassup?" I ask.

"That sounded a little intense last night," he replies with a laugh.

I'm initially confused, but then understand. I laugh. "Yeah, Dinh can get a little noisy. You could hear it?"

"I think the whole town could hear it," he laughs.

I giggle. "Sorry. Too noisy."

"No, it's not a problem. It's just that I don't really understand... What's the draw? Why does someone want to be spanked?"

"Depends on who you ask. For Kenny and Jason, it's an excuse to emote. Like most guys, they've been trained not to show emotion. Spanking eliminates their inhibition. They can cry without shame. Dinh's reasoning is both simpler and more complex. Dinh gets pleasure by submitting to the will of someone he loves, in his case, to me. And, there's no better way to submit than to give someone else your body to do with as they please. Not only do you give up your will, but you establish trust because the person who will hurt you is now responsible for your well-being. It's very humbling, believe me."

"It sounds like you're speaking from experience," he says.

"Yeah. I was spanked pretty regularly in my earlier days, and occasionally since then. Actually, it was Dinh's former partner who would spank me in times of extreme stress when I felt guilty or just bad about myself. And it's really interesting being on the receiving end of a spanking because, when you really need it to deal with your demons, it just feels...so...good. I've been known to cum spontaneously in the middle of a spanking. So has Jason. Actually, I think that's pretty common."

Peter nods thoughtfully, and goes on mixing the tuna salad. It looks really good. I think maybe I'll try to get him to make me a sandwich, too. I wonder if I'd need to pay him more if he became...a houseboy.



What the fuck is going on?

I emerge from the office, trying to figure out what I'm hearing. Where's it coming from? And when I open the door, it washes over me like warm water. Initially it sounds like a quartet, but then an oboe joins it. The oboe stops, and then there's a piano. And there are singers. Not operatic exactly, but really, really good. Then the oboe joins again.

I wander out into the living room, and find a dozen people there. Nadia is there with a viola, and Peter is there with Jason's violin. Jason is at the piano with his oboe next to him on the bench. There's a cellist and bassist that I don't know, and probably five singers. And there's someone with a French horn. Kenny's there, too. He's holding an electric guitar, a guitar that Jason asked for a year or so ago. "Can I have an electric guitar?" he asked.

What do you say to a concert musician when he asks for a really-cheap instrument that he doesn't know how to play yet? Let me give you a hint. You say, "Yes."

When Jason sees me wander into the room, he stops the rehearsal. "For those of you who don't know, this is my husband, Tim."

I wave. What the hell else am I going to do? I wave.

Having introduced me, he looks at me and smiles. "They know about you, Tim. You don't have to hide in the kitchen." He giggles, and so do I. What Jason is saying is that I can come out. This is a friendly audience, and I needn't be closeted -- as an emotive listener. This has nothing to do with my sexual orientation. This is about my auditory orientation, my tendency to cry through good music. Jason has "outed" me, so there's no good reason to go back into my closet. I can stay and listen to the music. And the music is good, really good! It doesn't take me long to realize that this is a musical rendering of Chaucer, specifically, "The Miller's Tale" from The Canterbury Tales. "Whilom ther was dwelling in Oxenforde / A riche gnof that gestes heeld to boorde..." This is 14th century poetry written in Middle English, and is one of the funniest damned stories I've ever read. In this particular tale, the character Nicholas is induced to hang his ass out of a window and to fart in the face of his rival Absolom. Absolom then sears Nicholas's ass with a red-hot poker. You're just going to have to read it, as I did years ago. I nearly died laughing. I remember my college professor discussing this particular piece. "Now what is notable about this tale?" he asked. Several students discussed how it fit into the frame of the overall Canterbury pilgrimage. Another spoke about the placement of this particular tale between "The Knight's Tale" and "The Reeve's Tale". I was dying, trying so hard to restrain my laughter. The professor noticed me. "What do you think is most notable about this tale, Tim?"


"That it's just so damned funny," I said, awash in giggles.


"Yes!" he screamed. "It gives you a snapshot of middle English humor at its scatological best." And then he began to outline the role of humor in medieval literature, and specifically in English verse from Beowulf through Shakespeare. It was one of the best lectures I ever attended.


"The Miller's Tale" is just flat out one of the funniest things you will ever read, especially if you've read "The Knight's Tale," which precedes it, and is just so fucking solemn. "The Miller's Tale" is comic relief. But, I had no idea that it'd ever been set to music, and especially not to this music. This is a very modern rendering of the tale. The music is dissonant and jarring. In some places it's hard to grasp and reminds me of Stravinsky. It's the rhythms that throw me. I can't exactly keep up. But, it's fascinating, and really engaging, because the music, which is really modern, is juxtaposed against Middle English poetry. And there's a fucking electric guitar, for Christ's sake, that seems to provide an ostinato more typical of Baroque music, something Bach would have written for the harpsichord. I love this, and after about five minutes, I get up and start to pace behind the couches. I'm dripping a little, but concentrating too hard to be sobbing.


At the end of the piece, Jason looks over at me. "Well?" And then everyone looks over at me. "You're pacing. That's a good sign."


"Umm...who wrote that? I've never heard it before."


Jason pauses. "Kenny and I wrote it. I played some of it for Nadia, and she really liked it. She suggested we stage it. We're opening in a month at a regional theater in Connecticut to see if it has a chance in...umm...New York."


I'm aghast. I almost don't know what to say. "New York?"


"I actually think it's a little too cerebral for Broadway, but it does have a certain..."


"Broadway?" I ask, absently.




If we were alone, if it was just Kenny and Jason and me, I would have screamed "Fucking Broadway?" But, we're not alone, so I try to keep it sober. "I really like it! There are places where I couldn't follow it, but I had the sense that that was how you wanted me to respond. Spots in the tale where confusion or consternation reigned, the rhythms got...complex, almost muddled. You seem to punctuate it with complex rhythms. It reminded me of Stravinsky, actually."


Nadia, who has set her viola in her lap, claps. "Yes! Exactly! That is exactly the impact he was looking for! Yes! It works!"


"But...umm...do you think you can get away with doing a musical in...Middle English?"


"That's what we're going to find out in Connecticut," Kenny responds. "I have two worries, actually. The Middle English is one, and the other is that I've heavily edited the Chaucer text. Purists will know."


I laugh. "I think there are probably five guys in San Jose who have read The Canterbury Tales. Probably ten in Connecticut, and maybe 20 in New York city. I doubt that textual purity will be a problem. But the Middle English worries me."


Kenny smiles, and nods at the singers and at Jason. Jason cues up the musicians, and they begin to play the piece again, but this time the singers are singing modern English -- a translation. It's not as good, I think. The verse is mostly iambic tetrameter, which wasn't Chaucerian, but at least someone who hasn't read the Tales will be able to understand it, though when Middle English is spoken, it's surprisingly understandable, a lot more so than when you have to read it. After a couple of minutes, they stop. "We can do it either way," Kenny says, smiling. "If we find that the Middle English doesn't work, we can go with the modern English translation."


I'm a little surprised. I was pretty good at Middle English in college, and I also read a couple of translations just to get a sense of how well The Canterbury Tales would translate. I wasn't particularly impressed with any of the translations, but this one isn't bad. The verse is a little weird, I'll concede, but it's written in couplets, and actually does sound Chaucerian. "Whose translation?" I ask.


"Joseph Glaser's and mine," Kenny responds. "There's stuff in the Glaser translation that I though was a little...odd. So I changed it, and of course edited it down. So, we'll bill the shows as `inspired by' Geoffrey Chaucer."


I just have to chuckle. Here we have a guy with a doctorate in computer science whose native language is not English, re-writing Chaucer for a Broadway musical. Fags will be fags, I guess. We've always been big on musicals. They're our universal language, whether in Cantonese or English. I lean over and pull Kenny into a kiss. "Very good, babe," I say, breaking the kiss at last. "I like it in middle or modern English. Very good! I mean, if Mel Gibson can produce a movie in Aramaic, surely you're allowed to do something in Middle English." This I say with a snort.


Kenny rolls his eyes, and then cuffs me. "Mel Gibson is an asshole, and his movie was a joke!"


"True, but at least he's opened the door for foreign language productions in this country, especially for the seven people on the planet who speak Aramaic. Can you guys sing in Aramaic?" I ask the singers. This earns me another cuff, and a round of laughter.


I'm a photographer. I have been for years. Not professional, of course, but a pretty good semi-professional. I got into it years ago when I got interested in the shapes of flowers, the configuration of the petals and leaves. I like the splashes of color in much the same way that Alejandro loved them in his paintings. And, like Alejandro, I like to get very close -- macro close-ups. I like to see the veins on the petals. Recently, I've become fond of portraiture. I started with head shots using models I know, like Teddy and Ty, and have since moved to full-body poses and even nudes. I try to make them evocative. I try to capture the character of the model in each portrait, and that's challenging. I have to get to know the models, have to understand who they are. I did a series of Kenny years ago, and that was fun because he's just so beautiful and he's not shy at all. Jason is shy, and hasn't been really interested in posing. To get the best results, the models need to be willing -- and uninhibited. I've hired a couple of models in the past -- Craigslist -- but often what you get are hustlers, and they scare me. They scare me enough that I never meet the models at the house. I meet them in a coffee shop to see what I've got before taking them to my studio, which is in a room behind our home.

Maybe four months after Peter moved in with us, I'd been commissioned by a friend to shoot a series of portraits of his boyfriend, a really cute Australian guy. If you've ever seen the work of Steven Underhill or Bruce Weber, you realize quickly that while they take nice snaps, the beauty of their work is based almost entirely on the beauty of their subjects. This guy, Simon, is really beautiful, and so are the pictures. We do a couple of studio shots, and then I take him into the back garden and photograph him there -- in nature. Unbeknownst to either of us, Peter is watching, and apparently is fascinated by the...process. I'd have been fascinated by Simon, but Peter is more interested in the shoot than the boy. Three weeks later, I do another shoot for The Watergarden, a local bathhouse. Again, it's nudes -- portraiture. Peter asks if he can come along. He's never been there and wants to see what it's like. I need an assistant anyway, someone to set up lights, so I agree on that basis. The guys The Watergarden has selected for their models are Hispanic. I'm usually very attracted to Hispanics, but these guys are not especially attractive -- to me. Skin heads and goatees. And they're too tall. "I'm not sure I can do much with these guys," I tell the owner. "They're just...not...very cute."

He nods. He knows. Not very cute.

Then he sees Peter, who is very cute. "You wanna model?" he asks. "I can pay you $200."

I think Peter has been waiting for someone to ask him this question for a long time. I don't think he gives a damn about the money. He thinks for a moment, and then looks at the owner. "Okay. What do I have to do?"

"Get naked," the owner laughs. "This is a fucking bath house. Get naked and do whatever Tim tells you to do."

Peter nods, strips, and waits for instructions.

I get him to pose in the swimming pool, in the sauna, and then we move inside, into one of the rooms, and I photograph him there. Peter is not a Bruce Weber boy. He's not athletic enough, not straight enough, but to my eyes, he's stunning. Finally, having taken a series of photos, probably over 100 in all, I position him in the kitchen, sitting on the counter. "Look sexy," I tell him. "Look alluring." But, he can't quite catch the mood I'm looking for. Finally, I hand my camera to the owner and walk over to Peter to position him. He's not a professional model, after all. There's no reason that he should understand what I'm trying to get him to do. I take his left arm and move it behind him, so his palm is touching his head. As I'm moving his right arm, he jumps down off the counter, and turns us so that he's standing in front of me, his naked ass and back in the direct line of the camera. Then he seals his lips to mine, and we kiss -- and this is some kiss! And as we kiss, the owner of the bath house begins to snap away with my camera. What he gets is amazing. What he gets is erotic. What he gets is...provocative. Here is a naked boy, his ass to the camera, looking all of 15, kissing a fully-dressed guy looking all of his 40 years. The shots are just fabulous, and one of them ends up on the cover of a local regional newspaper as well as in print ads for The Watergarden in every gay publication within a radius of 100 miles.

"What were you trying to do?" I ask him several minutes later.

"Dunno," he says, a little confused. "I'm not sure I was trying to do anything. I just really needed to kiss you. When you touched me like this," he says, indicating with his hands his still-naked form, "I just needed to kiss you."

Okay. That kiss got us a commission and future business. But, it's left me completely confused. And I think Peter is also confused. Where's this going to take us?

Published first at: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Nemo-stories/