Cover and Book
By Bi_janus (email@example.com)
By the way, Janus is the name of the Roman god who looks forward and backward at once. Don't violate laws by reading this meditation. No one was harmed in creating this story, which is intended for use by adults in the comfort of their own minds. We sometimes takes risks, wisely or unwisely. This story will come out more slowly than the last ones, because I don't have a lot of time to write it. But, it wants to get written. If you email, please be civil.
Alone in the living room of a farm house, full of familiar furniture and unopened boxes. Loneliness and isolation were feelings with which he had not reckoned in many years, but not novel feelings. He wasn't at all happy about moving from Portland to the wilds of Klickitat County in Washington, but he knew this was what his fathers wanted. The whole damn county only had twenty thousand people. They weren't that far from Portland, and his dads had promised him that they'd go back to visit often, and they had kept the condo downtown. Portland was an easier place to be raised by two gay men than many, although he had his share of run-ins with local holy rollers and wannabe skinheads. He had developed a diverse circle of friends who liked his fathers and treated him like a normal kid, which he decidedly was. Laughing inwardly, he remembered how nervous his dads had been when they'd had the "talk" with him. He had jokingly told them that he was taking a big risk by coming out to them as straight. Two gay men trying to teach a straight kid about sex with women was pretty funny. But, they loved him, and they had a real sense of how people of any orientation should treat each other and the need for safer sex instruction. Since they had adopted him as a three year old, they had called him by his middle name, North, and he had been given one of their last names, Underhill, because his dads had told him they didn't want him hyphenated. Now here North was, a fifteen year old boy in the boonies of Washington, wondering and worrying about how is unusual family would be treated.
Jason's mother had mentioned that the family that had bought the place adjacent to theirs was moving in this weekend. The message that he might want to stop by and see if they needed help was anything but subtle. Because he was sixteen and had a learner's permit, he was allowed to use a car to drive on the system of private roads that connected the farming parcels East of US97 on which he and the newcomers lived. They weren't far from the largest town in the county, Goldendale, with a population of almost three thousand. Jason's mother didn't know whether the new people had any kids, much less kids near his age. As he drove across the dirt roads, Mt. Adams rose on his right. He had spent countless hours scrambling up its flanks and playing on its shoulders. He pulled up to the drive to the farm house and wondered whether to drive on in. He decided to park on the road and walk the quarter mile to the house.
The loud knock on the door startled North. No one here knew them, so he couldn't figure out who would be on the porch knocking. Opening the door, he saw a kid about his age with sandy blonde hair. The boy was dressed in jeans and a T-shirt and wore work or hiking boots. This kid was strikingly handsome, taller than North and solid. The visitor looked back at North and after a few moments spoke.
"Hey. I'm Jason. We live one place over. I thought I'd introduce myself and offer to help with unpacking or anything."
"Hi, Jason. Sorry I seem rattled. I'm North, like the pole, and I wasn't expecting anyone." North debated about inviting Jason in, and then thought that the likelihood he was a serial killer was slight. "Come in."
"Where'd you move from?"
"Big city boy."
"Well, I'll admit this is going to be a major transition."
"What do your folks do?"
"One's a physician and the other's a writer." North was going to avoid the revelation as long as possible.
"Which one's the doc?"
"Father. He's an oncologist, you know, cancer doc. He's going to work at MCMC."
"We're not all rubes out here, North like the pole. I know what an oncologist is." Jason was laughing a bit.
"Yeah. Sorry. I didn't mean anything."
"I know. I'm just ragging on you."
"Come on up to my room. You can help me begin to unpack." North led Jason up the stairs to his room at the end of the long hall. Pushing the door open, the boys stepped in among the taped up boxes. North already had a plan for the room, which he had seen when they first looked the place over. He looked up at jason and began ripping into the box marked "Fruit." He told Jason to open the one marked "Game Stuff."
North pulled his MacBook Pro with its associated hard drives and iPad out of the box along with the Apple TV module. He detested Microsoft products and the artless computers that ran them. Jason had pulled the PlayStation out of the other box. They spent the next hour getting the room unpacked and set up while talking about school, the upcoming Summer, and Jason's family. Jason lived with his father and mother on land that had been farmed by their family since the 1800s. They were of the same persuasions, religious, political, and social, as many east of the Cascades. North thought that Jason was bright, liked decent music, but probably would run the other way when he met the dads. Jason hadn't said anything overtly anti-gay, but he had mentioned his family's roots in the church.
"Do you see yourself farming when you're through with school?"
"I hope not. I'm shooting for UDub, and then who knows. My folks aren't leaning on me to stay around. Not a lot of kids stay. Farming is cool, but my heart isn't in it."
"It's cool that your parents aren't pressuring you. Seattle is pretty liberal compared to these parts. They aren't afraid you'll be polluted?"
"You're funny, North. I don't think I can be polluted against my will."
"I suppose not. What about girls around here?"
"Same as everywhere, I guess. No one special for me. What about you?"
"Yeah, someone in Portland. We're going to try the long distance thing. I guess my right hand and I are going to get really well acquainted."
"That sucks. I hope it works out."
"North! I'm back."
"My dad." Here we go. The disaster begins, North thought. "Come on down and meet him."
When they thumped downstairs, North's father looked at Jason with a little surprise. "New friend already?"
"Yeah. Dad, this is Jason. Jason, my dad, Tom."
"Nice to meet you, Dr. Underhill."
"Oh, I'm not the Doc; I'm the writer, Jason."
Jason looked at North, trying to unravel the knot. "I thought you said your dad was an oncologist."
North tried to figure a way out. Tom answered, "That's Jim, the other dad, Jason."
"Oh. . . . Well, nice to meet you. I'd better be getting back." Jason's flight couldn't have been more obvious or hurried. Another one bites the dust, North thought.