The Man from Swift Current
© 2011 Russ Nielsen
All Rights Reserved




Chapter 113: Don

The next morning I woke up to find Rick running his fingertips through my hair.   He has had a fascination with my hair, from the first time we slept together.   I love the feeling of his hands in my hair.   When he first did it, I thought he was crazy.   Then, he told me he couldn’t resist touching my hair.   He had looked so self-conscious about it, I told him he could play with my hair any time he wanted to.   I let him play for a while longer, before lifting my head up from his chest and looking into his eyes.   “Good morning, Babe.”

“Good morning, sweetheart.   I hope you haven’t forgotten we need to leave for the airport in about an hour,” Rick said.  

“No, I haven’t forgotten.   I’m glad you woke me up,” I said, yawning widely.

Rick said, “Tyler and Joey’s flight leaves about the same time as ours does; but they won’t have room for us in the minivan.   I’m afraid we’ll have to take the hotel shuttle to the airport.”

I played with the dark hair on Rick’s chest, then gently bit his left nipple.   I heard the sharp intake of his breath, as his body reacted to my teasing.   I moved to his right one, doing the same thing.   I moved up his body to his lips and kissed him deeply.   “Let’s get a shower,” I murmured against his open lips, kissing him again.

We moved to the ensuite.   Rick turned on the water and adjusted the temperature.   We stepped into the shower together and enjoyed our usual activities.   Did I mention showers are for lovers?  Well, they are, at least for us they count as wonderful place to make love to each other.   Afterward, we dried each other off.   We were soon dressed and packed.   We made our way down to the lobby to find Tyler and Joey already there with the rest of their family.

They both gave us a hug and a kiss.   Joey said, “Thank you so much for being here.”

Tyler added, “We’re so glad you made it for our wedding.”

“We wouldn’t have missed it for anything else in the world,” Rick said.

“We’re looking forward to visiting you in Spain next summer,” I said.

Tyler said, “We should be settled into our new house by then.   Our friends have a house on the Costa del Sol, and we can spend a few days on the beach when you come.”

“That sounds fantastic,” Rick said, grinning.   “We’re beach people and love playing in the sand and surf.”

Joey laughed and said, “Yes, we know.   We’ve heard about your Cancun trip.”

Rick grinned, “Everything you’ve heard is all true.”

“I wouldn’t doubt it,” Joey said.   “We’ll make sure you get plenty of time in the sun when you come to Spain.   Maybe by then, I will be able to speak Spanish.”

Tyler put his arm around Joey’s waist and said, “Don’t worry, Joey.   I’ll take good care of you.”

Joey smiled at his husband and said, “I’m counting on it, especially now that we’re married.”

Rachel pulled on Rick’s hand, “Good bye, Uncle Rick.”

Rick knelt down and gave Rachel a hug and a kiss on the cheek.   “Good bye, Rachel.   Take care of your dads for me.”

She nodded her head and said, “I will.”

I knelt down beside Rick and asked, “Do I get a hug and a kiss, too?”

Rachel giggled.   “Yes, Uncle Glenn.”   She put her arms around my neck and hugged me.   She gave me a peck on the cheek and said, “There, I gave you a hug and a kiss.”   She looked at me seriously and said, “You be good for Uncle Rick.”

I blushed at her admonition, wondering what had prompted her remark; but I said, “Okay, I’ll be good for Uncle Rick if you’re good for your dads.”

She nodded her head and said, “I’ll be good.”

I smiled at her and said, “Then we have a deal.”

I stood up and Joey said, “I hope Rachel didn’t offend you, Glenn.   She overheard us talking about Perry and what happened between you and Rick.”

I nodded my head in understanding.   “It’s okay.   She’s right.   I need to be good for Rick.”

Joey smiled, “We all go through rough patches, at one time or another.”   He put an arm around Tyler’s shoulders.   “We’ll have to tell you about our rough spot sometime.”

Tyler laughed and said, “Remind us to tell you about it when you come to Spain.”

Greg and Cory joined us in the lobby.   They detoured to the front desk before approaching us.   Greg announced, “We’re all checked out.”

Rick asked, “What are your plans for the rest of spring break?”

Cory said, “We’re driving down to Niagara Falls where we’ll spend a few days, then we’re driving back to Minneapolis.”

“You have to go to the Skylon Tower for dinner.   It’s really cool,” I said.

Greg smiled and said, “I’m one step ahead of you, because I’ve already made dinner reservations for tonight.”

“Good,” I said, approvingly.

Tyler said, “Why don’t all of you plan to join us in Spain as soon as school is out?”

Greg looked at Cory and said, “That sounds exciting.   What do you think, Cory?”

“I think we should do it.   I’ve always wanted to go to Europe,” Cory replied.

Joey said, “Then it’s settled.   We’ll see you in June.   I hope you can stay with us for a while.   There’s a lot to see and do.”

Greg said, “I’d like to make it all summer if that’s okay with you guys?”

“We’d love to have all four of you stay for the summer,” Tyler said.   “We have enough room in our new house for you to stay with us.”

I said, “I’ll call you later, Greg, to plan out the details.”   I turned to Joey and Tyler, “Do you mind if we bring along a few more of our friends to spend a few weeks at the beach?”

“Do you mean everyone who went with you to Cancun?” Joey asked.

“Yeah,” I said, grinning.   “I think you two would fit right in with the rest of the crew.”

“Well, let’s plan to rent a house at the beach for a couple of weeks.   That way there will be room for everyone.   We wouldn’t be able to accommodate that large of a group at our new place in Madrid,” Tyler said.

“Okay, I’ll call you in a few weeks and we can work out the logistics.   We’ll have to figure out what dates would be the best ones for everyone.” I said.

Joey nodded his agreement and said, “That sounds good to me.   I hate to break up our party, but we need to be on our way to the airport as do you two.”

We said our farewells to Louise and Harry.   Louise said, “Thank you for coming to the wedding.”

Harry said, “We expect to see you in Spain this summer.”

Rick said, “We’ve already made arrangements to do just that.”

“Good,” Harry said, with a smile.

We finished our farewells before we caught the hotel shuttle to the airport.   As soon as we had our luggage checked in, and we were sitting in the boarding area near our gate, I turned to Rick and said, “I hope Mom and Dad have managed to at least talk to each other.”

“Me, too,” Rick replied.   “Didn’t Mom say she and Dad were going to a counseling session yesterday?”

“Yes, she did,” I said.   We chatted about our plans for the rest of the week as we waited to board the plane to Regina.

At that moment, Eva sat in her front room thinking about the marriage counseling session she had participated in yesterday.   She thought the session had gone pretty well for the most part; however, it ended in a bad way.   She went back over what had happened during that session.  

She had arrived early and had been shown into the counselor’s office.

The marriage counselor stood up and introduced himself.   “Hi, I’m Durant Marshall.”

“Eva Nielsen,” she had responded.   She ignored his outstretched hand, choosing to acknowledge him with a nod of her head.

He withdrew his hand and said, “Please have a seat.   Mr. Nielsen should be here shortly.”

She had agreed to this session only because she wanted to give Don one last chance to prove to her he was capable of changing his ways.   Don had chosen this counselor; and that alone had made her suspicious of this counselor’s ability to be impartial.

“Mr. Marshall, let me be blunt.   I am very doubtful you can facilitate this session with impartiality.   The fact my estranged husband chose you raises doubts in my mind about the value this session will have in resolving the issues dividing us at the moment,” Eva said, giving him a steely-eyed stare.

Durant said, “Thank you for being candid, Mrs. Nielsen.   I would rather have any doubts and questions brought out now, rather than waiting until the session is over.”

The office door was opened and Don walked in.   Durant stood up and said, “Welcome, Mr. Nielsen.   Please take a seat.”

Don took a seat opposite Eva.   He looked over at her and smiled, “Hello, Eva.”

“Don,” she replied in acknowledgement.   Don wondered how the session was going to turn out since Eva was obviously not in good mood.

Durant said, “We need to address a couple of items before we start.   First, I must assure you both I do not have a vested interest in the outcome of this session, other than to provide a neutral place for you two to discuss your relationship.   I will not take sides, nor will I make value judgments.   Now, let’s lay down some ground rules for this discussion.”

He outlined a list of rules, then said, “I’ve posted the ground rules on this board so we can be reminded of them during the course of the discussion.”   He walked over and turned around a white board filled with writing.   “Do you both understand the ground rules?”

They both said, “Yes.”

“Good, let’s get started,” Durant said.

They began their discussion, laying out their grievances and talking about their root causes.   The conversation grew heated from time to time.   At such times, Durant would call for a 10 minute cooling off period.   They would get up to walk around, get coffee or take a walk outside.   Then, they returned to begin their conversation afresh.  

They had worked through all of their issues and concerns when Eva said, “I’m satisfied with where we are on everything we have talked about, up until now.   However, that leaves one more major item unresolved.”  Don’s body went taut as he anticipated what she was about to say.   She noted the tension in his face and said, “Don, your treatment of our sons and their partners is something I cannot countenance.   I will not remain under the same roof with a man who can’t accept his children for who they are; and who chooses to interfere in their relationships to their detriment.”

Don knew this was coming and had steeled himself to stand strong in his opposition to his sons’ same sex relationships.   He had conferred with his pastor the night before, to help strengthen his resolve.   He wanted to make sure he was on good terms with the church.   He looked across at Eva and said, “I can’t approve of their relationships.”

“Then, this conversation is at an end, Don.   Your rejection of them is also a rejection of me.   They are my flesh and blood and I refuse to stand idly by, while you persecute them, and display your ignorance and bigotry for all to see.   I’m sorry, Don, but this will be the last time I speak to you.”

She stood up to go; but Don said, “Please, Eva, can we talk about this in a logical manner.”

She glared at him and said, “What more is there to discuss?   The logic behind your position is purely based on your religious beliefs.   That alone tells me that logic doesn’t enter into this discussion.   I don’t think there is anything more for us to talk about.   Goodbye, Don.”

She walked out of the door and got into her car.   Don had followed her out of the building and tapped on the car window.   She rolled it down and looked up at him.   “Yes?” she asked, giving him a look that would have stopped anyone else dead in their tracks.

“I’m willing to accept them for who they are, Eva.   I just don’t approve of their same-sex relationships.   Can’t I hold that opinion?” he asked, practically begging her to accept his position.

“Not when you actively engage in activities designed to drive them apart.   I still can’t believe how far you went trying to convince Randy and Shawn to get a divorce, not to mention your conversations with Rick, pushing him to leave Glenn,” she said.   “You tried to impose your belief system on your sons without regard to their feelings, or their right to choose who they marry.”

Don said, “I realize I was wrong to try to interfere in their relationships, Eva.   I did go too far.   I recognize I acted completely out of self-interest, rather than looking out for the best interests of my sons.”

His confession that he had acted out of self-interest surprised Eva, but it still didn’t change her mind about ending her marriage to him.   “Maybe you can try to make amends with them, since the four of them will be here tomorrow,” she said.   “It might also be a good time for you try out your idea of accepting them for who they are, but not approving of their relationships.   Let me know how that works for you.”  

The sarcasm in her voice shocked him.  “You know they won’t come to see me, let alone speak to me,” he replied.

“Do you blame them?” she asked, pointedly.

“No, I guess I don’t,” he said.  

“Like I said, I hope you can reconcile your acceptance of your sons’ sexuality with your refusal to acknowledge they are happy with their partners, despite your disapproval.   I don’t remember there being any law on the books requiring them to gain your approval before choosing a mate.   I know our other sons certainly didn’t consult you on who they married; and you haven’t tried to break up their marriages,” she said.

“But that’s different,” he responded.

“I fail to see how it could be any different for Randy to choose Shawn as his mate than it was for Gary to choose Jessica.   You disapproved of Gary’s marriage to Jessica; but yet you haven’t tried to break up their marriage,” Eva said.  “It seems like a double standard to me.”

Don started to respond, but she cut him off, “I’m through arguing with you, Don.   You need to face the fact our marriage is over.   You obviously aren’t going to change your ways.   From this point forward, I will be operating under the assumption I will be moving to Georgia within the year.   I hope you are able to find someone else to take my place in your bed, because we’re through.”   Her voice was harsh and left no doubt her mind was made up about the subject of their marriage.

She rolled up the car window, effectively cutting off any further discussion.   She backed out of the parking space.   She was extremely disappointed by her husband’s continued opposition to her sons’ same-sex relationships.   She had to admit she wasn’t surprised, given her husband’s disposition and penchant for always being right; even if he was dead wrong.   She hoped one day he would come to his senses, before it was too late to have a relationship with his sons.

Eva’s mind returned to the present with the ringing of her cell phone.   She picked it up off of the coffee table and answered it.   “Hello.”

“Hi, Mom,” I said.  “We’ve landed in Regina.   Randy and Shawn are here to pick us up.   I thought I’d call you to let you know we had arrived.”

Eva said, “Thank you for calling me, Glenn.   I’m excited to see you boys.”

“How did the session go with Dad yesterday?” I asked.

“I will tell you all about it when you get here,” she said.   “Drive safely.”

I said, “We will, Mom.   Shawn is driving, remember?”

She smiled and responded, “Yes, I do remember.  It’s a good thing, too, since Randy drives like a crazy man; and you aren’t much better.”

I laughed and said, “We are crazy men, Mom.   That’s why we have such stable partners to keep us well grounded.”

“You both have chosen well.   Rick and Shawn are wonderful men,” Eva said, smiling.

“I’ll call you if our plans change,” I said.

Eva said, “I love you, son.”

She placed the phone back on the coffee table in front of her and leaned back into the cushions of the oversized couch.   She thought about her two gay sons and their partners.   She felt Randy and Shawn were well matched.   She had taken a shine to Shawn from the moment she met him.   Her maternal instincts told her Shawn would be as protective of her son as she was.   She was happy her first impression of him had been correct.  

She turned her thoughts to Glenn and his partner, Rick.   She loved Rick and felt he was the right man for Glenn.  But, she knew there needed to be better communication between them; especially given the recent events with some guy named Perry.   She knew her son well, and hoped Rick would have the patience to work with Glenn, to establish the kind of relationship they both needed.   Her heart went out to them, because of the things they had both suffered at the hands of family members; specifically Glenn by his cousin and Rick by his parents, cousin and uncle.  She knew those kinds of emotional and psychological wounds take time to heal; and sometimes reopen at the most unexpected times.   She wanted to do everything in her power to help them reach their full potential.  

She had talked to Rick at length last week about the ‘Perry Incident’ as Rick called it.   She had counseled him to love Glenn unconditionally, and to overlook Glenn’s apparent lack of trust in Rick.   She had reminded Rick that Glenn had remained faithful to him, despite Perry’s attempts to take him away from Rick.   Rick had openly wept, as he spoke to her about how deeply hurt he was by Glenn’s accusations, telling him he wasn’t totally committed to him and would abandon him for the next beautiful babe that walked by him.   Her memory returned to that conversation:

She had tried to console Rick and said, “Let Glenn know how you feel.   You need to talk these things out between you two.”

Rick replied, “But I don’t want to reopen that conversation.   It still really hurts when I remember what Glenn said.”

“Rick, I know my son loves you very much.   Trust him to listen to you.   Go tell him how you feel.   You can’t move past this until you both have relief from the hurt you feel.   Trying to plaster over it won’t work.   Your wounds won’t heal until you’ve cleaned them out and sterilized them.   I want you to hang up and go talk to Glenn right now.”

Rick had replied, “Okay.   I love you, Mom.”

“I love you, too, my son,” she replied.

Later that night, they had called her.   She picked up the cell phone and said, “Hello.”

Rick said, “Mom, it’s Glenn and Rick.”

“I hope you’ve called me with good news,” she said.

Rick said, “We wanted to thank you for your advice.   I did as you said and talked to Glenn.”

“Thanks, Mom,” Glenn said.  “I thought we had worked through all the issues we had with the Perry Incident; but, apparently we hadn’t.   I’m glad Rick reopened the subject and we were able to address his concerns.”

They both sounded happy.   Maybe they were beginning to become perfect soul mates for each other like Randy and Shawn were.   “Good, I’m happy you two are back in synch.   I was worried you two were starting to drift apart.”

There was a guilty silence on the other end.   Rick said, “We were drifting apart, Mom, at warp speed.”

“If we hadn’t stopped to talk things over, we wouldn’t be together now,” Glenn said.   “We were both at fault for not looking past our own interests, especially me.   I let Perry turn my head and I should have kept my eyes on my best friend in the entire world.”

“It’s the same with me,” Rick said.   “We just wanted to call you to let you know we worked things out.”

“How are things working out with Dad?” Glenn asked.

She said, “We’re not any closer to resolving our differences than we were when I first left him.”

“Have you gone to marriage counseling?” Rick asked.

Her voice was hard and brittle as she said, “No, but I’m not going to even try to get Don to go to counseling.   He will have to be the one to initiate it.   I tried several times over the years to get him to go with me to marriage counseling and he refused.   He always tried to make it seem like I was the one with a problem; and I was the one who needed the counseling, not him.”

“Maybe you could get Uncle Dave to talk to him about it.   Sometimes Dad will listen to him,” Glenn suggested.

“I’ll do that,” she said.   “You boys need to get to bed.   It’s late.”

“You’re right, Mom.  It’s nearly 1 AM here,” Rick said.   “We’ll call you tomorrow.”

“We love you, Mom,” Glenn said.

“I love you, too,” she said.

 She had done as the boys had suggested.   The next morning she had called Dave and asked him to talk to Don.   Their conversation had born fruit in the form of the marriage counseling session that took place yesterday.   She had been hopeful something positive would have come of it.   However, it had ended badly and she was very depressed and lonely.   She looked forward to seeing her boys, but she didn’t want them to know how down she felt.   She made up her mind to put on a happy face and enjoy the time she had with them.

I ended the call to my mother and turned to Rick and said, “The session with Dad didn’t go well.”

“Did she say that?” Rick asked, raising his eyebrows.

“No, but she wouldn’t tell me how it went over the phone,” I said.

Rick nodded his head, “I’m thinking you’re right.   Here come Randy and Shawn.”

The two men were given an enthusiastic greeting as they were swept into a bear hug by Shawn.   Shawn said, “You two are a wonderful sight.   I think you’re even better looking than I remember.”

Rick laughed, “And you’re still a real charmer, Shawn.”

Shawn grinned and said, “That’s my middle name.   I’ve always been Mr. Charming.”

Randy gave them a firm hug and said, “Let’s get your luggage.   I’m eager to get on the road.”   He put his arm around Shawn’s waist, “Alright Mr. Charming, let’s go.”   He gave his husband a quick kiss.

Shawn laughed and said, “Is there more?”

“Yes, when we get to Uncle Dave’s house,” Randy said, smiling at his husband.   “But not before then.”  Shawn pouted until Randy gave him another kiss on the lips.

Shawn smiled and said, “I know I can always get Randy to give me a kiss.”

Rick said, “He’s just like his brother.   He loves giving kisses.”

I grinned and said, “Absolutely.”

Our luggage showed up on the carousel and we grabbed it.   We made our way to Shawn’s SUV and piled our gear in the back.   We climbed inside and Shawn started the car.   He asked, “Are you guys hungry?”

I looked at Rick, who shrugged.   “I’m good for now.   Maybe we could stop for something in Moose Jaw.”

Shawn nodded his head.   “That sounds good.   We’ll probably be hungry by then.   We had a big breakfast this morning, so we aren’t very hungry right now.”

I said, “Since we’re going to stop in Moose Jaw, let’s take a detour to Buffalo Pound Provincial Park.   Rick has never been there and I think he’d like it.”

Shawn looked at Randy.   “What do you think?”

“I think it’s a good idea.   We don’t have to be in Swift Current until dinner time,” Randy said.

Shawn said, “Okay, let’s do it.”

Randy looked over his shoulder at us and smiled.   Rick had his arm around my shoulders and I had put my head on his shoulder.   I placed my hand on Rick’s thigh.   “I’m glad to see you two still like each other.”

Rick asked, “Why do you say that?”

“We heard you two had a little falling out a little bit ago,” Randy said.

“Did Mom tell you what happened?” I asked.

“No, but she hinted things weren’t going well between you guys,” Randy said.

Shawn looked at us in his rearview mirror and said, “What Randy is trying to say is he wants to hear all the gory details.”

Rick said, “Okay, we’ll tell you, but you have to wait until we’re done to make any comments.”

Randy said, “Alright, we’re listening.”  Between the two of us, we explained what had happened with Perry.   When we finished, Randy said, “You guys aren’t the only ones to go through something like that.”

I sat up and leaned forward in my seat.   “Out with it Randy!   We shared with you, it’s time you shared your experiences with us.”

Randy looked at Shawn before proceeding.   “It was before we were married.   Shawn was working long hours on his art project in Vancouver; and I was working the night shift.   I was given the assignment to train a new guy.   Phillip turned out to be gay.   He was an extremely cute blond kid, with bright blue eyes and a pert little nose and mouth.   Shawn and I weren’t seeing much of each other; and I was beginning to fall for Phillip.   Phillip and I had taken to sleeping together during the day.   We always stayed at Phillip’s place.   One day Shawn came home early and didn’t find me at home.   He came over to Phillips place and walked in on us fucking each other.”

To say I was shocked would be an understatement.   I said, “I thought you two had never had any doubts you were meant for each other.”

“We haven’t had any doubts about that.   It’s just Randy was feeling lonely and decided to take advantage of a young, horny guy,” Shawn said.

“I didn’t take advantage of Phillip; he wanted it as much as I did,” Randy said, defensively.

Shawn reached over and patted his husband’s knee.   “Don’t get so upset, Randy.   Randy felt so bad for stepping out on me he promised never to do it again.”

“That was the day Shawn proposed to me,” Randy said.

Shawn said, “I realized I would lose Randy if I didn’t get a ring on his finger.”

Randy smiled, “We have been happily married ever since.”

Rick said, “I’m glad to know we aren’t the only ones who have had our ups and downs.”

Shawn laughed, “I hope you didn’t think we were the perfect couple.”

I grinned and said, “I know better.   I grew up with Randy, remember?”

The kilometers flew by as we caught up on each other’s lives.   About an hour later, we pulled into Moose Jaw.   “Where do you want to eat?” Shawn asked.

Randy said, “Let’s do Humpty’s.”

We pulled into Humpty’s, where we had a quick meal; then drove north from Moose Jaw to Buffalo Pound Provincial Park.   As we entered the park, I said, “Dad used to bring us here to go camping and fishing.”

Randy asked, “Do you remember how scared you were of the buffalo?”

I said, “Yes, I remember and I also remember how much you and Eric used to tease me about being a scaredy cat.”

“Well, you were,” Randy said.   “Glenn used to be scared of his own shadow.   I remember hiding under his bed, pretending to be a monster under the bed.   Glenn thought Eric and I were real under-the-bed monsters.”

“You guys were mean to me,” I protested.   “You would jump out of the closet and scare the piss out of me.”

Randy laughed, “We did do that a time or two.   I’ve never seen anyone get as scared as you did.   Mom would get so mad at us, because you wouldn’t go to bed on your own.   You would beg her and Dad to sleep in your bed until you fell asleep.”

“Well, if you guys hadn’t scared me so much, I wouldn’t have needed their protection,” I said.

“Gary tried to stop us most of the time,” Randy said.   “He felt sorry for you.”

“At least somebody did,” I retorted.

Rick rubbed my back, soothingly.   “It’s okay, Glenn.”

Shawn drove us through the park, while we pointed out things of interest.   Since we didn’t intend to stay, we soon headed back the way we came until we hit the Trans-Canada Highway.   Shawn pulled onto the main highway and we were soon flying along at a good pace.   I leaned against Rick and relaxed.   I soon drifted off with Rick’s arm around my shoulders.

Don sat across from his brother, Dave, at the kitchen table.   There was tension in the air between them.   Don’s faced was contorted in anger and his hands clenching and unclenching.

Dave said, “Getting angry with me serves no purpose, Don.   You know what you need to do to resolve the situation your actions have placed you in.   I’m just saying, if you intend to continue to feud with your boys and their partners, I’m going to ask you to leave my home.   I don’t agree with how you’ve treated them and I won’t condone such behavior in my home.   I’m asking you to behave civilly and to abide by my wishes to make them feel welcome.   If you can’t do that, there’s the door.”   He pointed to the front door which was visible from the kitchen.

Don tried to stare down his brother, but failed.   He knew Dave was right.  Not only must he respect his wishes as the owner of house; but also about his ongoing feud with his boys.   He hadn’t changed his views, nor did he intend to stop what he saw as his parental duty to prevent them from going to hell as the sinners they were.

His pastor, at his request, had visited him for the second night in a row, and had reassured him that he was doing the right thing.   But when he had started to talk to Dave about it, Dave let him know exactly where he could take his religious bigotry.   While he was still trying to decide how to respond, Dave said, “In fact, Don, if you insist on pushing your religious views on others, I don’t want anything more to do with you.”

“Are you saying you’re going to disown me?” Don asked, barely holding on to his temper.

“Yes, I am, Don.   Our parents raised us to be respectful of all people, no matter what our differences were.   Your insistence that everyone has to conform to your view of the world is wrong, and I won’t have you insulting my guests, or badgering them to meet your expectations.   The boys are adults now.   You ceased to have any authority over them when they left your home.   You need to face the fact they are not your responsibility anymore.   You have made your choices, and they’ve made theirs.   You need to get over your need to control their lives.   You are no longer their guardian; nor are you their keeper.   If anything, you have become their number one enemy.   I hope you give it some serious thought, Don.   You are viewed as an enemy to their happiness.   Your actions have proven you to be a hypocrite.   You espouse Christian values, yet you don’t practice them.”

“How dare you preach to me?” Don said, his voice beginning to rise.

“I dare to preach to you because you are in my house, under my roof.   If you don’t wish to hear it, you are invited to leave my home, never to return,” Dave said.   “You have destroyed your marriage, Don.  You have destroyed your relationship with your boys, and now you are destroying your relationship with me.   While we’re being candid with each other, I think it’s time you owned up to the fact I’ve been more of a father to Randy and Glenn than you ever have been.   You sent them to live with me during their senior year at high school, because you couldn’t take the time to be their father.   You couldn’t accept the fact they weren’t carbon copies of yourself and dismissed them from your life.   I don’t know how you can look at yourself in the mirror every morning, knowing how you abandoned them.   It is beyond my ability to comprehend how you can even be related to me, given the arrogant and condescending attitude you have toward your sons.   With regards to their sexuality, how dare you pretend to know what is best for them?   Who do you think you are to force your sons to bend to your will?   Do you think you are a bloody tyrant who can demand complete and utter obedience from your family; just because you say it is your will that it be so?”  

Dave’s face was flushed and he knew he had said many things that maybe he shouldn’t have.   He gave himself a mental shake and said, in a voice that belied his mental and emotional state, “I think it is time for you to go.”

Don stood up from the table and glared at his brother.   He started to leave when Mary entered the house.   She saw Don’s face and knew things hadn’t gone well between the two brothers.   She stepped aside as her brother-in-law stormed past her and left the house.

Mary walked into the kitchen and asked her husband, “What happened?”

Dave related to her his conversation with Don.   He shook his head and said, “I wish it didn’t have to come to this, but Don is so hardheaded.   It takes a major disaster to get him to reconsider his position when he has already made up his mind about it.”

Mary put her arms around his waist, “Don’t let it bother you.   Don is responsible for his own actions.   You shouldn’t worry about him, Dave.   He will come around eventually.”

“I don’t think so, Mary.   I said some pretty harsh things just now.   I hope he thinks about what I’ve said; instead of letting his anger overwhelm his sense of reason,” Dave said.

Don climbed into his truck and slammed the door shut.   He turned the key in the ignition and backed out of the driveway.   He was seething, and he wanted to put as much distance between himself and his brother as possible.   He put the truck in gear and started his journey home to the farm.  

He was about half way to the farm when his anger started to dissipate and reason started to reassert itself.   He felt completely drained.   He pulled over to the side of the road and turned off the engine.   He put his head in his hands and leaned against the steering wheel.   Dave’s words kept coming back to him as he sat there.   Every one of his statements had struck him hard.   That was why he had been so angry.   He knew what Dave had said was true.   He had sent Randy and Glenn to Dave’s home to get them out of his house.   He had been ashamed of them and didn’t want to be reminded of his failure to turn them into men like himself.   He had wanted them to be “true” men.  

Randy had been the first to tell him to fuck off.   He remembered how upset he had been that night.   He had called Dave and begged him to let Randy move in with him.   He had dragged Randy out of bed in the middle of the night and driven him to Swift Current.   Dave had welcomed Randy with open arms, telling him everything would be alright.   The memory of Dave holding his son in his arms and comforting him seared his heart.   It should have been him who had consoled his son, and told him it didn’t matter what Randy did, and that he still loved him.   But that wasn’t how it happened.   He had failed as a father, and wasn’t willing to admit defeat.   Instead, he had banished Randy to Swift Current, so he could pretend he wasn’t a failure.   When Randy had shown up with Shawn and announced they were partners, Don had completely lost it.   He knew he had failed Randy again.

Later, when he was faced with Nancy’s rebellion against his authority; he, again, went to his brother and asked him to take his child into his home.   He had also taken the opportunity to send Glenn away, as well.   In Glenn’s case, it was jealousy, motivating him to send him to Swift Current.   He had always been jealous of the closeness between his wife and his son.   There was a special connection between them; and he resented the fact he didn’t share in that special connection.   She had always taken a special interest in Glenn.   Now, as he thought about it, they were a lot alike.   As Glenn grew up, the bond between them seemed only to grow stronger.   He had tried to ignore his feelings over the years, but had failed miserably.   So, when the opportunity presented itself to get Glenn out of the house, he made the case for sending both Nancy and Glenn to live with Dave.

Dave and Mary had been more than willing to take in their niece and nephew.  Their own children were the same ages as Nancy and Glenn, so it was natural for them to fit right into their family as if they had always been there.   Looking back on that time, Don realized he had given up the opportunity to share in his children’s lives.   He had abdicated his responsibility as their father, in favor of his brother, Dave.  

He was too proud to cry, but he came pretty close to it, as he sat there pondering Dave’s words.   He felt a huge emptiness inside.   His wife had left him and his sons had made it clear they didn’t want any association with him.   He still had contact with his other three children; but, even that was becoming less and less, as they had their own lives to lead.  He was startled by someone tapping on the window.   He looked out to see an elderly gentleman signaling for him to roll down the window, which he did.

“Are you all right?” he asked Don.

“Yes, I’m okay.   Thank you for stopping to check on me,” Don said.

“Okay, we’ll continue on our way then.   We saw you slumped over the wheel and thought maybe you had suffered a heart attack, or a stroke,” he said.

Don smiled and said, “No, I’m fine.   Thank you.”

“Well, don’t stay out here too much longer,” he said.

Don acknowledged the advice.   “I’ll be on my way shortly.” 

He rolled up his window and started the engine.   He decided he needed to go back to Dave’s house and try to set things right with his boys.   Dave had been right.   Everything he had said was true.   His pride hadn’t let him admit his sons were unique individuals; not automatons to be pre-programmed to achieve what their creators designed them to do and nothing more, nothing less.   

The more he thought about his conversation with his minister, the more he was convinced the paid professional preacher had been wrong.   The guy had insisted that, as their father, Don had a responsibility to rise up and condemn his sons.   Don had argued he wasn’t their judge and executioner.   However, the pastor kept reading and rereading the story of Eli and his sons from the Old Testament; emphasizing Don’s responsibility to weed out the iniquity in his family.

However, Don couldn’t reconcile the pastor’s vision of the Mosaic Law with the New Testament teachings of Jesus that said to judge no man and to love everyone.   He had always been taught that Jesus’ love overcame all.   It occurred to Don the man was more interested in keeping his flock happy and, thus, they would keep paying him rather than being right.   He taught the congregation what they wanted to hear rather than delve into the true meaning of the scriptures to help them draw closer to God. 

As he drove his truck north toward Swift Current, Don decided he needed his family more than the preacher’s sermons.   That, coupled with his admission that he had committed some grave mistakes with his sons, caused Don’s remarkable transformation during the ride back into Swift Current.   By the time he arrived at Dave’s house, it seemed as if a different man sat in the cab of his truck.   He knew what he had to do to repair his relationships with his sons and his wife.   It was going to take a lot of courage on his part to face them; but he knew in his heart of hearts it was the only way for him to be happy.

As he pulled into the driveway, he noticed Shawn’s SUV was parked next to Dave’s car.   He put the truck in reverse and pulled out onto the street.   He pulled parallel to the curb and parked his truck.   He climbed out, walked over to the front door and knocked.

Prev To be continued . . .

A Note from Russ:

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One Lawyer Specializing in Gay Immigration for Canada -

Music that inspired this chapter –

Lifehouse – Broken -

Lifehouse – Aftermath -

La Quinta Estación – Recuérdame -