INCIDENT ON POLK STREET Copyright © 2005 by Jerry Leckie — A young sailor, a gay virgin on shore leave, looks for male companionship on San Francisco's infamous Polk Street. He finds what he is looking for -- and more. He returns to his ship, a changed man, vowing to return for what he has found, if it's still there.

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Having undergone repairs at Mare Island Naval Shipyard, Buddy's boat, the USS Los Angeles, a Los Angeles class missile sub, sailed at mid-morning, bound for Pearl Harbor to provision before being deployed to the Far East.

Buddy was grateful to be immersed in the orderly routine of shipboard life, or he would have likely fallen into depression. Having no frame of reference for what he was feeling, he only knew that he had found that state of consciousness--and its physical expression--that he had craved all his life. And now that he had experienced it, but briefly, it was denied him once more. Unfortunately, it was denied to him before he had defined and incorporated its meaning into his soul. He felt incomplete.

Of course, all of his feelings were bound up in the image of Jerry. That subject was constantly before his mental gaze. Jerry, Jerome Aiken II. And, the worst part, on shipboard there was no one he could talk to about it, because of the US military rule of Don't Ask, Don't Tell. Under the rule, the military authorities would not ask if a member was gay, and likewise, the member could not tell (or indicate in any way) that he was gay. In other words, a gay man could serve in the military as long as he didn't act on his basic nature.

What a SNAFU! (Situation Normal, All Fucked Up) Buddy thought as he sat in the mess (dining room) sipping coffee. Yeah, there's no one to talk to. I can't even call Jerry. He chuckled and shook his head. Even if I could call him, I don't have his fucking phone number.

"What's so funny my man?" a cheerful voice asked as his shipmate, Jeff, plopped down beside him.

Buddy smiled at his friend. "I was just thinking about some of the stupid, boneheaded things I do sometime."

"You can't help it Bud. You're a Swabby." Jeff laughed. "Doesn't the Chief tell us how stupid we are all the time?"

Buddy chuckled. "That he does."

"Well, he's the Chief and we're the Swabbies, so we have to believe him, don't we?" He roared with laughter.

Buddy was grateful for Jeff's cheerful nature. He enjoyed the company of most of his shipmates, and Jeff in particular. Jeff slept in the next bunk and kept him in stitches with his funny comments and stories. They worked in different parts of the sub, but they conversed most days during off-duty hours.

On more than one occasion, he had wondered whether Jeff was gay. The boy was only a year younger than Buddy, but looked to be about fifteen. He was small, with a delicate build, and his blond hair and fair complexion did nothing to make him appear his true age. Furthermore, he did not chatter constantly about his female conquests as did most of the other men.

Every night as Buddy lay in his bunk, masturbating under the sheet, he heard Jeff and many other shipmates doing the same thing. He mused that it didn't make any difference whether one was fantasizing about men or women, everyone dreams. And, he always dreamed about Jerry.

Five days later, the sub docked at Pearl Harbor, and the crew was given twenty-four hours liberty while the boat was provisioned. Early afternoon found Buddy and Jeff drinking beer at a pub.

"Earth to Buddy," Jeff said, waving his hand in front of his shipmate's face. "Has one beer done you in?"

Buddy smiled at the boy. "Naw, I was just thinking."

"You been doin' a lot of that lately. Ever since we left San Francisco."

"Yeah." Buddy sighed. "Jeff, lemme ask you a question. How do you know if you're in love?"

Jeff rested his chin in his hand. "Beats the hell outta me. As far as I know, I've never been." He looked critically at his friend. "Yep, something happened in S. F. didn't it?"

Buddy grinned. "Could be."

Jeff asked casually, "Does it have anything to do with that red sports car?"

Buddy's stomach clinched and his blood froze. He frantically tried to retain his composure. "What red sports car?"

Jeff laughed. "Don't bullshit me. Monday morning I was commin' outta the BX when this red sports car pulls up outside the gate. Jesus, it was like a fuckin' neon sign. Ya couldn't miss it." He paused and smiled evilly. "And who do I see getting out of it, but my old buddy Bud. I was wondering what happened to you when you didn't get back on the bus with us." He leaned in conspiratorially. "I ain't asking for no details, but something happened last weekend, didn't it?"

Buddy's heart was pounding, but he managed to smile and say, "Yeah, it did. But, no details. I don't kiss and tell."

Jeff chortled. "Ooooo, somebody's got it bad." Then, he suddenly sobered and laid a hand on his friend's arm. "But, you can't do anything about it, can you?"

"No, I can't," Buddy said, shaking his head sadly, "and it's tearing me up."

The next morning, the Los Angeles put to sea, bound for points east. Eleven weeks out, near the Marshall Islands, her air filtration system malfunctioned again. She surfaced and radioed her condition. Pacific Command decreed that she make for Mare Island once more by the most direct route. Unfortunately, she wouldn't be making fast knots, needing to travel on the surface most of the time.

The long voyage of many weeks was not a pleasant one for the crew. They were in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, overdue for liberty and subsisting on short rations. Consequently, everyone became obsessed with three things: sex, food and how long it would be before they could have enough of both to satisfy them.

The crew's surliness turned to unmitigated joy when the sub docked at Pearl Harbor to provision. The Capitan granted forty-eight hours liberty and the Swabbies stormed ashore. Buddy predicted that there would be a lot of full bellies and sore dicks when the Los Angeles sailed again. In one respect, he understood how they felt. Now that he had tasted the "forbidden fruit," he understood that masturbation was not enough. He needed to be well-bedded. Therefore, he vowed to find some intimate male companionship while in port.

The first night, he gave Jeff the slip and traveled into Honolulu alone. It didn't take him long to find a gay bar; but, he sat for hours, fending off admirers. Every time a man approached him, he looked up from his beer expecting to see Jerry's face. After four hours, he returned to the ship, thoroughly frustrated.

The next night, he set out for Honolulu again, full of resolve, and found himself at the same bar. He had just taken a sip of his first beer when he heard, "Thought I would find you here."

He whirled around and demanded, "What are you doing here Jeff?"

Jeff smiled shyly. "Having a beer."

Buddy snorted derisively and studied the label on his beer can. "How did you find me?"

"Followed you," Jeff admitted, paying for his beer and taking a sip.

"Why?" Buddy asked, feeling both irritated and elated.

"I was curious," Jeff admitted. "One, you've been acting strangely since the incident of the red sports car. Two, you talk in your sleep, about someone named Jerry, and fucking. And three, you've never talked about all the girls you've had. So, I added it all up and it came up with 'gay.'" He took a deliberate swallow of his beer.

Buddy stared directly into Jeff's eyes. "So, you've got it all figured out, huh? What are you going to do with your brilliant deduction?"

Jeff gave him a cockeyed smile. "Nothing. I'm just here having a beer with you."

Buddy decided he could play the game as well. "I've been curious about you too. For example, you never talk about the girls you've been with either."

Jeff gave forth a hearty laugh. "Would it do any good? Look at me. I look like I'm fucking fourteen years old. Would the guys believe me if I went bragging about how many girls I fucked on liberty?"

Buddy raked Jeff's body with his eyes and found him desirable. And that frustrated him. He scowled, weary of the verbal sparring and looked at the boy squarely. "Bullshit aside Jeff," he said with a slight threat in his voice. "Why are you here? What do you want from me?"

Jeff blushed, dropping his eyes, unable to look at the man. "I like you a lot Bud. We've never talked about what we enjoy, but I thought you and me might enjoy being with each other tonight, ya know?"

Buddy's tone softened a bit. "What do you have in mind?"

"How about we find ourselves a hotel room?" Jeff suggested, with a pleading look.

Buddy was in a high state of need, to be loved and well-bedded. And Jeff was available. Both nervous and shy, Buddy's heart fluttered with anticipation, and his penis twitched in his briefs.

Silently, they exited the bar and headed down the thoroughfare. At the next corner, Jeff named a cheap hotel nearby and they turned down a side street. Buddy took the boy's hand as they walked along. Two blocks later, Jeff stopped and led Buddy into an alley. Turning, he looked up at his friend with large, soulful eyes. His lower lip trembled and his face held the most vulnerable expression Buddy had ever seen. His heart melted, and he took the boy/man into a tender kiss.

Before the kiss was broken, he felt a hand on the back of his neck. "We were right about you." Buddy turned to see the two towering figures of his shipmates, Phil and Tank.

Nodding in the direction of the street, Tank said to Jeff, "You did your part. Get lost. We'll take it from here." The boy turned and ran out of sight.

Heart pounding, Buddy asked, "Whaddya want Tank?"

The big man smiled down at him. "We want a cocksucker on the boat for those lonely nights at sea." Tank unzipped his pants while Phil pushed Buddy to his knees. "And right now, you're gonna give us an audition for the part," he said hauling his fat cock out of his fly, waiving it in Buddy's face. "Come on, suck it for me," he said seductively.

With an indignant expression, Buddy looked up at Tank and spat, "I'm not gonna suck your dick or Phil's either. Now let me go!"

"Aw come on Bud, you're gay. You know you want to suck it."

Buddy glared up at the huge man. "I said no Tank. And that's it!"

At a signal from Tank, Phil pinned Buddy's arms behind him, and Tank growled, "You don't have a choice asshole. This is a command performance." He grabbed a handful of Buddy's hair and thrust his hips forward.

Buddy turned his head. "No!" he screamed.

Tank's face grew red. "I'm not standing out here in an alley with my dick out for my health, cocksucker. This is yer last warning. Suck my dick!"
Buddy struggled valiantly to free himself. Tank became more furious by the second. He pressed his thumb into Buddy's jaw, forcing his mouth open and tried to shove his cock inside. In the struggle, Buddy bit the thumb.

With a howl of pain, Tank swung his fist at the right side of Buddy's head. "Suck it!" he yelled.

"No!" Buddy said, tasting blood from his split lip. Tank rained blows on his head and shoulders while Phil kneed him fiercely in the kidneys.

"Now suck it!" Tank commanded.

"No," Buddy said weakly. He felt a fist crash against the side of his head, then nothing at all.

He woke to see a face staring down at him, and struggled in vain to raise his arms to defend himself.

"Easy son, you have an IV in your arm." Buddy tried unsuccessfully to speak. "You're safe. I'm Doctor Kimball, and you're in the base hospital." He smiled ruefully. "Don't try to talk. You're mouth isn't up to it at the moment." He fiddled with the IV and continued, "I'm giving you something to make you sleep, so you'll get some much needed rest."

When Buddy woke again, he felt much better. Kimball was standing at the foot of the bed flipping through a chart. He heard the boy stir and smiled down at him. "Ah, you're back with us."

Buddy tried to speak, but his mouth was too dry. Kimball extended a glass, allowing him a sip of water through a straw. "What's the matter with me?" he croaked.

Kimball crossed his arms in front of him. "Looks like you got mugged pretty bad. By more than one person I'd say from the look of your wounds." Buddy nodded. "You have multiple bruises on your face and back, a split lip, the biggest black eye I've seen in a long time, and a cut on your cheek that took eighteen stitches to close. The good news is, you don't have a concussion or any loose teeth. We're going to run some tests to see whether you have kidney damage from the blows to your back." He grinned. "All in all, it appears you lucked out. You're young and healthy, so you'll be out of here in no time. The twofold problem you have now is to try to heal and ingest the terrible food we'll serve you at the same time."

Buddy laughed in spite of the pain. "When can I go back to duty?"

Kimball shook his head. "Not for a few days. Not until we run some tests."

There was a soft knock at the door and a Navy Shore Patrol officer stepped into the room. "May I speak to Mr. Watkins doctor?"

Buddy had screwed up his courage for this interview, and now it was here. The officer sat next to his bed and produced a note pad and pen. "Do you know what happened to you night before last Mr. Watkins?"

Buddy replied, "The doctor said I was mugged."

"Yes. Our patrol found you and brought you to the emergency room here. How many assailants were there?"

"I saw two."

"Can you describe them?"

"It was dark; however, I could tell they were Anglo and wore civilian clothes."

The officer sighed. "Well, that's that. There's no way to tell whether they were civilian or military." One corner of his mouth twitched into a smile as he put away the pad and pen. "If it makes you feel any better, you weren't the only one that found trouble that night. We go through this every time a ship docks after a long stretch at sea." As he turned to leave, he said, "Oh, by the way, the Los Angeles sails tomorrow morning."

"Without me?" Buddy asked, wide-eyed.

"Yes. They'll put a temporary radio man on board in your place." He looked around the room. "You'll get out of here in a few days, then you can hop a transport to the mainland to catch up with your boat."

After the interview, Buddy felt both blessed and damned. Blessed because he did not have to name Phil, Tank and Jeff. That would have required an explanation for the beating. At the same time, he felt damned because he would be locked in the submarine with them during his next cruise. He didn't know how he would react, or how they would react for that matter. In any event, he did not look forward to the experience.

He was dozing after the evening meal when he felt a presence in the darkened room. He turned his head to see a form seated beside the bed sobbing. Jeff raised his tear stained face and blubbered, "I'm so sorry Bud. I didn't know they would beat you up."

Buddy turned away. "What are you doing here?"

"I just had to see you before we sailed, to tell you how sorry I was."

Buddy said through clenched teeth, "You set me up, you son-of-a-bitch."

Jeff pleaded, "They made me do it Bud. I had no choice."

"Whaddya mean?"

"They've got a lot on me that I don't want to get out. So, I had to help them." At Buddy's questioning look, he continued, blushing furiously. "Well, I'm their pussy boy when we're at sea. They fuck me."

Buddy grimaced. "Why do you go along with them?"

"It would be my word against the two of theirs. But even if I could get someone to believe me, I wouldn't say anything. My grandfather is an Admiral and my dad is captain of a sub and my brother is an officer on a carrier. All hell would break loose if it got out that I'm gay."

Buddy's anger cooled. Apparently, the boy was trapped in an untenable situation. "Why did they target me?"

Jeff barked a mirthless laugh. "They got greedy. They wanted a suck boy as well as a fuck boy. They knew we were friends, so they threatened me until I admitted that you might be gay." He burst into deep wracking sobs. "W-wh-what made it so bad was that I really care for you. The kiss you gave me that night was the signal to them that you were gay. But, I wanted that kiss from you more than anything." Buddy stroked the boy's hair. Jeff looked up through bloodshot eyes. "I had no idea they would beat you up. I hope you didn't suck 'em." Buddy shook his head. "Good." Buddy smiled and so did Jeff.

Then, the boy turned serious once more. "They're going to blow the whistle on you, ya know. They can't risk having the both of us rat on them."

Buddy considered the statement. Strangely, he realized, it was the perfect solution. He felt as if a heavy weight had been lifted from him. "If they do, they will be doing me a favor. But, what will happen to you?"

Jeff grinned wickedly. "Oh, I don't think they'll want any of my ass for a while. Tonight I told 'em I was going to the hospital for a checkup because my backside wasn't feeling too good, and while I was there I was gonna have an AIDS test. They both got white as ghosts when I said that." He giggled. "Wish I had thought of that six months ago."

Five days later, Jeff's prediction came true. The day Buddy was released from the hospital, he was commanded to stand forth and was separated from the Navy.

As the bright Hawaiian sun made its way toward the zenith, he stood outside the gate to Pearl Harbor with mixed feelings. Glancing down at the one bag holding all his worldly belongings, he smiled in spite of his sense of confusion. He was pleased to be a civilian again, free to live a life true to his nature. But, sad that he didn't know where or how to start living. He refused go home in disgrace--from the perspective of his friends and relatives--, and he would not lie to them about his discharge from the Navy. The thought uppermost in his mind, of course, was Jerry. It had been months since their weekend together. He wondered if Jerry even remembered him.

He had to find out, so he hailed a taxi for the Honolulu airport.

The flight from Hawaii landed in San Francisco at six o'clock Saturday morning. He took a shuttle into the city and made his way up Powell Street. He didn't remember the house number, but he remembered the building and that Jerry lived on the third floor. It was shortly after 7:00 a.m. when he approached the entrance and studied the intercom system. He pressed the button for the third floor and waited.

A tired, sleepy voice crackled from the speaker, "Yeah?"

Buddy bent forward and spoke into the microphone. "Jerry?"

"Naw, this is Tom. Jerry isn't here."

Buddy's heart squeezed. He quickly apologized for bothering the individual and walked away in a daze.

He walked aimlessly for hours until his stomach protested with hunger pangs he could not ignore. When he found himself on Polk Street,
he chuckled at the irony. He checked into the first hotel he saw and ate a hasty meal at a nearby cafe. Back in the room, he lay down for an hour, but was too restless to sleep. He showered, changed clothes and caught a cab to the Castro District, thinking he would feel less frustrated among "his own kind."

An hour later, he had just walked out of a fashionable saloon, when recollection registered in his confused brain. He stopped and turned to find the man he had just passed staring at him as well. The beginnings of a smile flickered around the man's mouth.

"Well, if it isn't the young gladiator that bearded the lion in his own arena," the man said with an inflection of triumph.

Buddy frowned for a moment, then remembered the fellow. He extended his hand. "Duane, isn't it? How are you?"

Duane pressed his hand firmly. "Splendid, as usual. And you, dear boy, are Robert, I believe."

Buddy grinned. "Just Buddy, please. What's this about bearding a lion?"

Duane chuckled. "As I recall, I first met you some months ago near this very spot holding our Jerry's hand. And, he hasn't been the same since."

Buddy frowned. "I'm sorry. Is he ill?"

Duane smirked. "That depends on your point of view. Suffice to say, he's changed completely. He now eschews the homo happy hunting grounds, no longer cruising beautiful boys and surviving to tell us about them over brunch." He brushed an imaginary hair from his brow. "He's opted instead to go the route of true love. He even went so far as to find someone with whom to construct a love nest."

Tears formed in Buddy's eyes and threatened to spill onto his cheeks. "Uh, yeah, I know. I flew in this morning and went to his apartment ... and ... a guy named Tom answered."

"His apartment? Oh no, no, no dear Buddy. That person was not his significant other. That was the new tenant." He emitted a genuine laugh. "Jerry's bout with loving bliss lasted approximately thirty days. He swore to me that every time he looked upon his new beloved, he saw only your face. Whereupon, he showed the man the front door and sublet his apartment--fully furnished, mind you, with all of his worldly possessions--to the fellow you encountered this morning. Do you now begin to see what you have done to him?"

While listening to the tale, Buddy's eyes had been getting bigger and his smile wider. "Then, where is he? Is he still in San Francisco?"

Duane gave Buddy an appraising look. "Quid pro quo dear boy. First, tell me why you wish to find Jerry."

He gave the man a crooked grin. "I can't get his face out of my mind either." Then, with a sigh, "God as my witness Duane, I love him."

Duane pursed his lips, then smiled. "Well, it takes all kinds to make the world. Someone has to do the nasty job of nest building I suppose. And, Jerry has a new one, costing some millions I believe. It sits afloat down at the marina. Berth 42, to be exact. And he lives aboard."

Buddy laughed aloud and hugged the startled man. "Oh thank you! How do I get there?"

Duane gave him a genuine smile for the first time. "Come on. I'll drive you." They rounded the corner and piled into Duane's convertible sports car and roared into traffic.

They traveled in silence until they stopped in front of the gate to the berth. Duane pointed to a pennant flying on top of a yacht of impressive proportions. "He's home. He always flies that flag when he's on board." Duane gave Buddy another genuine smile and kissed him on the forehead. "Now, the gate there is locked. Go stand by it and I'll give him a call." Buddy stepped out of the car as Duane pressed a speed dial on his cell phone. Grinning at Buddy, he spoke into the instrument, "Jerry, Duane here. I've just deposited a gift for you at the gate to your sanctum sanctorum, but I must run. Do come out and retrieve it before someone spirits it away. Ta ta."

Buddy giggled. "You're soooo bad. Thank you very much."

"In truth, it was a genuine pleasure. Take good care of him. He's worth it." He put the car in gear and Buddy watched as it roared away.


Buddy spun around to see Jerry, key in hand, about to unlock the gate. Time froze for several heartbeats, then they were both clawing at the chain link barrier between them, until Jerry finally managed the lock. Opening the gate, he swept Buddy off his feet and into a breathtaking, bone crushing kiss. Breaking the kiss, he grabbed the boy's hand and raced down the dock and into the boat.

In the saloon, they locked in another brief kiss. As they pulled apart, they said, "I love you," at the same time. Then spontaneous, frenetic activity ensued. They clawed at their clothing, not caring to whom it belonged. Buttons flew across the cabin, and the sound of tearing cloth filled the space. Nude, their lips and hands began attacking flesh. The accompanying dialog emulated the soundtrack of a XXX-rated video. Gradually, they sank to the floor. During the ensuing hour, a smaller boat would have rocked in time with their movements.

Sweaty, smeared with body fluids and temporarily sated, they cuddled in the middle of the saloon floor. Buddy lay half on top of his lover's recumbent figure, nursing contentedly on the stiff nub of his right nipple, while Jerry's hands lazily roamed the boy's body.

Buddy reluctantly pulled his mouth away from the tasty morsel when Jerry murmured, "I still can't get my mind around the fact that you're really here."

"It's a long story, but I'm here." He moved between Jerry's legs and raised the man's knees to his chest. "I'm right where I want to be." Taking Jerry's half-hard member into his mouth, he gently sucked it to full tumescence. Abandoning the cock, he sucked first one, then the other of his lover's balls until they drew up tight. Next, his lips and tongue concentrated on Jerry's rectum until it was wet and willing. Then, he rose and placed the head of his massive column at the entrance and slowly pressed home.

Panting slightly, he moved forward until his face was above that of his lover, while Jerry encircled him with his arms and legs. "Yes Jerry, I'm exactly where I want to be." His hips began to pump, slowly. "I'm with you." He sucked Jerry's lower lip for a time. "I never want to be anywhere else." He kissed his man, deeply, as his shaft coupled with him. "I thought about you every single day. I saw your face everywhere I looked. I couldn't think about anything else." He tenderly kissed Jerry's eyes, ears and throat. The friction of their bodies sent electric thrills through their nervous systems. "Jerry, I'm in love with you. I know it now. I love you with all my heart."

They both moaned with pleasure as Jerry began to thrust to meet Buddy's hips. He pulled Buddy's head down to his lips and explored the boy's ear. Then he whispered, "Oh God, you have no idea how I've wanted--no, needed--you here with me." He sucked passionately on Buddy's ear lobe. "When I left you at Mare Island, I felt like a piece of me was missing."

Buddy lay down flat on Jerry, sucking the soft tissue of his shoulder while their bodies rocked in perfect unison. Jerry embraced the boy tightly and whispered, "I love you too, with all my heart."

At length, the men's reaction to their spiritual and physical union overtook them; murmurs of endearment became unintelligible; faster and faster their bodies moved as their spirits soared in unity; each stared into the eyes of the other as their simultaneous orgasms overtook them; and, silent screams of joy were the only sounds heard in the room while their bodies trembled, expelling their passion. Then, muted sighs as they curled together to rest.

Buddy's head lay on Jerry chest. "Jerry, if you love me and I love you, I'd like to stay here. I can. I'm not in the Navy anymore." Then, he told his story of the last few months, slowly and quietly.

At the end, Jerry enfolded him in his arms. "Oh my poor baby. I wondered about that scar on your cheek." He stroked the boy's hair. "But now it's all over. You're safe, and you're home." He held Buddy's face between his hands. "Please stay with me."

They sealed their union with a kiss, then rose, showered and dressed, Buddy wearing some of Jerry's clothes.

Jerry took him on a tour of the boat. "It's seventy feet long, bow to stern. Below, it has two state rooms and two baths, full galley, dining room and saloon. On top, there's the wheel house, lounge and deck. She has plenty of diesel power and blue water navigation equipment. She can go most  anywhere in the world." On deck, he pointed to the pennant fluttering in the breeze. "I fly that when I'm on board. Do you see the design on it?"

"Yes, but I can't make it out. What is it?" Buddy asked.

"It's the letters R and J, stylized and intertwined." Staring into Buddy's eyes, he continued. "Of course, it stands for Robert and Jerome." He smiled at the boy. "I knew we were made for each other, even if you weren't here. Let me show you something else." He took Buddy's hand and led him out onto the dock to a point where they could read the boat's name on the stern.

"It's the Robert W?" Buddy asked, incredulous.

Smiling proudly, Jerry replied, "None other, Mr. Watkins. If I couldn't have you in the flesh, then I embodied your spirit here."

Buddy drew him into a sweet kiss. "Make love to me Jerry." They retired to the large bed in the forward state room and did just that. As Jerry entered his love, Buddy said, "Now you have me in both body and spirit."

Later, they drove to Polk Street to pick up Buddy's belongings and check him out of the hotel. Then, they walked a short way to a cafe to have dinner. Buddy took a sip of the excellent Cabernet Jerry ordered and asked, "Why did you trade the apartment for the boat?"

"As with most things in life, it just sort of happened. After you left, the apartment and everything in it simply lost its meaning. At the same time, a friend had a financial reversal and had to sell his boat. It was a good deal, so I bought it. And, the minute I walked on board as the owner, I felt at home. I didn't have to think about it at all; I sublet the apartment and moved on board with just my clothes and some kitchen stuff." He held Buddy's hand. "And, I've been happy there, concentrating on what I've come to value in life."

Buddy leaned in for a sweet kiss. "You named her after me."

"You got it. Now that you are aboard, my life is complete."

Buddy sobered. "Well, I'm here to stay, so tomorrow I had better look for a job."

For several moments, Jerry didn't respond. He stared into the distance, deep in thought. "I think you already have a job. How would you like to be the skipper of the Robert W?"

"Jerry, I can't live off of you. I don't want to be a kept boy."

Jerry grinned at his love.  "Remember that trust fund that I inherited? Well, after some wise investing on my part, it's now worth medium eight figures."

Buddy did a quick calculation in his head. "T-that's at least forty million dollars!"

"At least. So neither of us has to work. Have you ever been to New York?" Buddy shook his head. "How would you like to take us there Captain Watkins? Down the coast of Mexico, through the Panama Canal, across the Caribbean, up the East Coast, hitting as many ports as we want to see along the way? Hmmmm?"

Buddy's eyes were big. "We can do that?"

"Um hm. We would have to take some navigation courses and learn every nut and bolt on that boat. But yes, in a few months we could be on our way."

They continued to make plans as they exited the restaurant and walked down Polk Street. Jerry stopped in front of a bar and led Buddy into it. "This is where we first met."

Buddy chuckled. "Yeah, this is where it all began. Remember that little incident against the back wall?"

The End

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