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




Chapter 87: Ben and Janice’s Wedding

Rick and I enjoyed each other very much last night, and again this morning!   I think we were trying to make up for being apart so long!   Well, maybe not!    Rick and I both love having sex, and lots of it!   At least, we’re in a monogamous relationship, so we don’t have to worry about getting STDs!  

We were helping each other get dressed for the day, when my cell phone rang.   I grabbed it off the table, and answered it, “Hi Dad.”

“Are you two coming down for breakfast any time soon?” Dad asked, impatiently.

“Yes, we’re getting dressed, and will be there in a few minutes,” I answered, grinning at my lover boy.

“Okay, we will wait for you, but don’t make us wait too much longer,” Dad answered.

I cut the connection, and laughed.  “Dad is so impatient!   We had better hurry, before he decides to come and get us!”

Rick grinned.  “Okay.   I’m ready.”   Rick looked so sexy in his sleeveless t-shirt and tight fitting jeans I wanted to attack his body, and make mad, passionate love to him.   Rick noticed me looking him over, and smiled.   He posed for me, and asked, “Do you like how I look?”

I licked my lips seductively, and asked, “Do you even have to ask?”

Rick laughed, and gave my butt a tight squeeze.  “Come on, tiger.   If I let you have your way, Dad will be here pounding down the door to drag us down to breakfast!”

I replied, “You are so right!   But I will have my way with you later, Mr. Lernier!”

Rick grinned.   “I’m counting on it!”   Rick put his arm around my waist, and pulled me in for a kiss.   He said, “Being away from you for so long has made me appreciate every morning I wake up with you beside me.”

I looked into his eyes, and saw his love for me in his steady gaze.   “I feel the same way, sweetheart.”   Rick kissed me, again.   He took my hand, and led me out of our room, and down the hall to meet my parents.  We were holding hands with our fingers intertwined, as passed a couple of young guys in the hallway.

One of them sneered, as he asked, “Can’t you guys get a room?”

Rick responded, with smile, “Yes, we have a room here.   Do you have a problem with that?”   I could tell from the tension in Rick’s body that his smile was one of warning.  

The guy was about the same height as Rick, but was pencil thin.   His short, bushy red hair stood straight up on his head, as if he had just stuck his finger into an electric socket.   His thin, gaunt face was covered with freckles, and his watery blue eyes peered out through thick black horn-rimmed glasses.   His mouth was pencil thin, just like the rest of his body.   His red nose looked like he had a cold, and was about to drip all over.    He looked to be 18 or 19 years old.   He turned towards Rick, and said in thin reedy voice, “No, I don’t have a problem with you having a room here, but I do have a problem with two guys holding hands in public.”

I watched the guy’s Adam’s apple bob up and down as he spoke.   I could tell from his accent that he wasn’t from Canada.   I gave Rick’s hand a reassuring squeeze.   I asked, “You aren’t from here are you?”

“No, we’re from Dallas, Texas,” he responded, with obvious pride.   His companion looked just like him, only smaller.   I guessed that they must be brothers.

“Welcome to Canada.   I hope you are enjoying your visit,” I said.   “As a Canadian, I’m proud of our tradition of hospitality and acceptance of all people, including gays.   Have a great day!”   With a smile, I turned away from them, and pulled Rick with me down the hall, ignoring the look of astonishment on their faces.

Rick said, “I like how you handled them.   My first reaction was to punch them in the face for being so rude.”

We passed through the hotel lobby, and we could see that Dad was pacing back and forth in front of the restaurant entrance.   Rick turned to me, and said, “It’s a good thing we came when we did.”

“You’re right,” I replied, and gave him a quick kiss, as we walked up to my parents.   Dad smiled at our public display of affection.   I have to admit Dad has come a long ways, since he disowned my brother, Randy, for being gay.   I walked over to Mom, and gave her a hug and quick kiss on the cheek.   “Good morning, Mom.”

Rick did the same, as I turned and gave Dad a hug.   “Sorry for being so late this morning.”

Dad said, “No, I’m the one who should be apologizing.   Your mother reminded me that I was being very impatient, and that I needed to ‘chill out;’ since we are on vacation, and not hurrying to get the work done on the farm.”

Dad indicated that we were ready to be seated, and we followed the hostess who showed us to our table.   I looked at the number of place settings, and it dawned on me that Dad must have called the rest of the family to come down to breakfast.   I looked up, as the rest of the family joined us.   Randy and Shawn sat down across from us, with Gary and his family spread out around the table.   Eric and Laura sat at the table next to us with Aunt Mary and Uncle Dave.   Nancy and Cynthia wandered into the restaurant and joined us.   Once we were all settled, the hostess took our orders, and disappeared to get our beverages.

Jack asked, “Uncle Rick, have you been to the top of the CN Tower?”

“No, Jack.   What is the CN Tower?” Rick asked.

“It’s one of the tallest buildings in the world.   It is about 533 meters high,” Jack replied.

“How tall is that in feet, Jack?” Rick asked.

Jack looked at Rick, and said, “Uncle Rick, didn’t they teach you how to convert meters to feet in school?”

“Yes, they did, Jack, but I never was very good at doing the conversion in my head,” Rick said, smiling at our nephew.

Jack pulled out a little brochure he had found in the hotel lobby, and read aloud, “Measuring 553.33 meters (1,816 feet, 5 inches), the CN Tower in Toronto, Canada, is among the tallest structures in the world.”

I laughed at the look on Rick’s face.   “Jack, it’s a good thing you know how to read.   I think you need to help your Uncle Rick learn how to read, too.”

Rick punched me in the shoulder, and grinned.  “Don’t give me a hard time.   Remember, I know where you sleep!”

I put my hand on his leg and rubbed his inner thigh, as I replied, with a broad grin, “You had better remember where I sleep!”

Rick gave me lecherous look, as he took my hand off of his leg, and brought it to his lips.   “I love you, Babe.”

The look in his eyes sent a thrill up my spine.   I love that look!   It always means a night of fantastic sex!   I grinned, and replied, “I love you, too.”

Jack interjected, “We’re going to the CN Tower; so we can see the entire city.   Daddy says it’s fun to be so high up in the air.”

Dad said, “It is a fun place to visit.   We have plenty of time to take a tour of it, before we have to be at the church for the wedding rehearsal.   Miriam and Jack, we will make sure we get photos of you at the top of the tower, so you can show your friends back home.”

Jack was literally bouncing up and down in his chair in anticipation.   His excitement was contagious.   We finished our breakfast, then made our way over to the CN Tower.   The view from the top was fantastic!   We highly recommend touring it, if you find yourself in Toronto!   Also, if you’re an aspiring engineer, it’s pretty fascinating to read about how they built the CN Tower!


When we were finished touring the tower, Dad said, “Next, we’re going to see the Gibraltar Point Lighthouse.”

We made our way to the ferry dock.   Jack and Miriam enjoyed the 15 minute ferry ride to the island.   Once we arrived, it took us about 30 minutes to walk from Hanlan’s Point Ferry Dock.   By the time we made it back to the mainland, we were famished.   We found a pizza place, and managed to satisfy everyone’s hunger.  After lunch, we returned to our hotel to rest and freshen up, before walking over to the church for the wedding rehearsal.   Since our hotel was a few blocks from the church, Rick and I decided we had time to enjoy each other, before we had to meet everyone in the lobby.  

We had just gotten out of the shower and Rick was drying me off, when my cell phone rang.   Rick wrapped the towel around my waist and released me to answer the phone.   I gave him a quick kiss, and said, “That was wonderful, Babe!”

I walked over to the coffee table, and retrieved my phone.   I looked at the number, and saw that it was Mark.  “Hello, Mark.  Are you guys checked in yet?”

“No, but we’ll be arriving there in about 30 minutes, or so.   We wanted to make sure we hadn’t missed the wedding rehearsal,” Mark said.

“You haven’t missed it.   I’ll let everyone know you are almost here.   The church is a couple of blocks from the hotel, so don’t worry about trying to drive somewhere after you arrive.   The church is called the Cathedral of St. James,” I said.

“Cool!   Brandon is driving, so we shouldn’t be too much longer,” Mark said.   “You know how fast he drives.”  I could hear Brandon protesting about Mark’s comment.   “Zach and Todd are right behind us, and they have brought Robbie and Adam with them.   I believe that Justin and Brian are flying into Toronto, so they should be there by now.”

“What about Jimmy and Donica?” I asked.

“They are flying, as well.   Donica’s parents are accompanying them.   They were pretty adamant that she would not be spending time alone with Jimmy in a hotel.   They are pretty old fashioned that way,” Mark said.   “They have finally set a date for their wedding.”

“What date did they choose?” I asked.

“August 15th will be the big day for them.   The wedding will be held in Minneapolis,” Mark said.

“Cool!   I’ll let Rick know,” I said.

“Talk at you in a bit,” Mark said, and we ended the call.

I turned to tell Rick what Mark had said.   He put a finger to my lips, and said, “I know.   Jimmy and Donica are getting married in August and the rest of the gang will be here shortly.”

I laughed.  “I love you.”   I kissed him passionately.   Rick pulled the towel from around my waist, and lifted me off my feet.   He carried me over to the bed, and gently laid me down.  I smiled up at him, and said, “It’s a good thing you didn’t get dressed yet.”

 Rick’s eyes held mine, as he lowered his head until his lips met mine.   I will never tire of my lover’s caresses!   Rick whispered in my ear, “You had your way with me in the shower, Babe, and now it’s my turn.”   My last coherent thought, before I became lost in a haze of desire and lust, was that the guys were going to tease me about the marks on my neck!

Rick gently brushed his fingers along Glenn’s cheek, as he gazed into his lover’s face.   It had been nearly two months, since he had returned from his 12-month tour of duty with the Marine Corps.   The last few weeks had flown by like an express train.   The biggest adjustment for Rick had been bringing his mental barriers down.   He had been so afraid that his superior officers would find out that he was gay that he had almost gone into a stasis mode, so that he wouldn’t betray himself to them.   It had been much easier the last few months at Quantico, with Sean as his roommate; but, it still didn’t help the situation with Lt. Colonel Bachman, his commanding officer.   Rick knew that Sgt. Riehle had guessed that he was gay, but he had never asked Rick any questions, so technically he was okay.   Unfortunately, don’t ask, don’t tell is still in force.

Rick was eager to return to Atlanta, but at the same time feared that some of his marine buddies would discover that he was gay.   Glenn had become very open about his sexuality, during his time in Minneapolis.   It’s not that he hadn’t been open about it before, because he was; but it seemed that Glenn had adopted an in-your-face kind of attitude that didn’t allow people to ignore him.   This concerned Rick a little.   Glenn’s vibrant personality and quick wit always made him the center of attention, no matter where they went; however, added to that was this new attitude of “I’m gay and you had better like it, or else.”  

Rick was so used to hiding his sexuality, and doing everything possible NOT to attract attention to himself, in any unusual way, that the last few weeks with his life partner was like he had walked through a time warp into another dimension.   He loved the feeling of being liberated from having to pretend he was interested in girls.   He loved being with Glenn, and being able to openly show his affection for his soul mate.   He was puzzled by the dissonance he was feeling.   His love for Glenn had grown one hundred-fold, and their relationship was stronger than it had ever been.   His conversations with Glenn’s parents had relieved him of much of the mental and emotional burden he had been carrying with regards to his family.  

His mind returned to their most recent conversation:

“Come sit next to me,” Mom said.

Rick complied, then waited without saying a word.   He had been troubled for some time about his parents, and didn’t know how to resolve the hurt he felt.

Mom said, “Rick, you need to forgive your parents for rejecting you.   Holding on to the anger you feel will only make you bitter, and your whole outlook on life will become twisted and angry, just like the anger you feel towards your parents.”

“Mom, I have tried to forget how they rejected me.   I have tried to let it go, and move on with my life, but I can’t,” Rick said, the misery he felt filling every word as it fell from his lips.

Mom replied, “Rick, you must try harder, not only for your sake, but for our sakes, as well.  You are my son, Rick, and I worry about you.   It’s not good for you to brood over past injuries.   You have a new family who loves you.   Do you remember the conversation Dad and I had with you last night?”

Rick’s eyes had filled with tears, as the memory of their discussion returned to his mind.  “Yes, I remember.   You told me that you loved me unconditionally, and that I would always be your son, even if I decided to break up with Glenn, and we went our separate ways.”

“Do you think we were lying to you?” Mom asked, pointedly, holding Rick’s gaze.

“No, but I still can’t believe you wouldn’t be angry with me if I left Glenn,” Rick replied.

Mom’s look was stern, as she replied, “Richard James Lernier, what is it going to take for you to get it through your thick head that you are an integral part of this family with, or without, your relationship as Glenn’s partner?”

When she used his full name, Rick knew he was in trouble.   His birth mother never used his full name, unless he was in trouble with her.   He hung his head, and looked at the floor.   When he didn’t’ respond, Mom had placed her arm over his shoulders, and placed her hand under his chin to raise his head up, until she could look into his eyes.   “Rick, I love you, as does your father.   He may be stern at times, but he loves you very much.   I need you to understand that you belong to us, because we love you for who you are; and not just because you are Glenn’s partner.   I have the same expectations of you, as I do of my other children.   You may have been raised by your birth mother and father, but we have adopted you as our own.   Do I make myself clear?”

Rick nodded his head.  “Yes, Mom, I understand.”

Mom placed her hand over his heart.  “I know you understand my words, son; but, I need you to feel it and know it, here.   I know that we haven’t discussed our religious beliefs with before; but I have a strong belief in God, and that He has sent you to us for a reason.   I believe that God loves all of His children no matter what religion, race, gender, or sexual orientation they may be.   He loves us no matter which country we live in, or what political party we belong to, or even which church we call our own.   I think we can all have a relationship with God that is deeply personal and private; one that no one can limit, or destroy.   Too many religionists think they have a lock on God, and can dictate who God can love and accept, as His child.   I need you to understand that not only are you my son, but that you are God’s son, too.   He loves you, Rick.   No one can take that away from you; because it is God given, and not subject to man’s capricious nature.   If you remember nothing else, remember that you are a child of God.   It will help keep you centered, and will help you to overcome every obstacle that you find in your way.   The knowledge that we are God’s children is something that we carry deep within us, and helps us become better people.”

Rick listened to her, and was awed at the depth of her faith.   He had never really talked about religion with Glenn; other than to point out the hypocrisy of its adherents.   His own upbringing had been filled with religious duties, due to his mother’s strict interpretation of the bible.   He didn’t believe in the doctrines of his birth mother’s religion, nor did he particularly feel a need to be part of a religious organization.   Looking into Mom’s eyes, he saw her deep conviction reflected there.   He knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that she truly believed that every person on earth was a child of God.

He said, “If nothing else, Mom, I will always remember that you have a firm belief that we are all God’s children.”

“Hopefully, you will come to that realization, as well.   Every human being on this planet deserves to be treated with respect and dignity, because they are a child of God.   We may not agree with them.   We may not like them.   We may even hate them.   However, we must always treat them with respect and dignity.   I also think that if everyone would remember to ‘JUST BE KIND’ that the world would be a much nicer place,” Mom said.

Rick smiled, “I have heard you say that before, and Glenn is always saying it to me.   In fact, Glenn doesn’t have to say the whole thing, anymore.   He just says, ‘JBK,’ and I know what he means.”

“Good!  At least one of my children remembers what I have been trying to teach them since they were infants!” Mom said, with a laugh.   “I hope that I haven’t offended you, Rick, but I felt very strongly that you needed to hear what I had to say.   I can’t let you continue to suffer from the acid that anger creates.   Let go of your hard feelings toward your family, so you can begin to heal.   Glenn needs you to be a whole person; not a shell of man, eaten up by his past hurts and injuries.”

Rick’s thoughts were brought back to the present, as he felt Glenn stirring in his arms.  As he watched his lover’s face, he saw Glenn’s eyes open, and a smile spring to his lips, as Glenn focused on Rick’s face.   It was like watching a rose opening its petals to the sun.   He realized that he was the center of the Glenn’s universe.   He knew that Glenn loved him, but the reality of how much he meant to Glenn had never been as clear to him, as it was at this moment in time.

I didn’t say anything, as I watched a variety of expressions move across Rick’s face.   I held his gaze the entire time, waiting for him to speak his thoughts.   I didn’t have to wait very long.   “Glenn, I love you.”

 “I love you, forever,” I said.   I know that we say those words often, but we mean every word – no, we mean every letter!   8-3-1-4 has been our secret code for “I love you, forever,” since the summer we first met.   What does it mean?   Eight letters, three words, one me, forever.

Rick’s eyes misted over with tears, as he heard my words.   He, too, remembered their secret code.   “Just like our secret code, 8-3-1-4.   I’m glad Keith introduced us; because, as a result, I met my soul mate.”

Rick kissed me, then said, “We need to get up and get dressed, or we will be late for the rehearsal.”

After another quick kiss, I got up, and helped Rick out of bed.   I asked, “Do you think we should take a quick shower first?”

Rick laughed, and said, “Only if we don’t touch each other.   We don’t have time to have a make out session.”

“Spoil sport!   Okay, I promise I won’t try to molest you in the shower,” I replied.

A few minutes later, we were out of the shower, dried off and dressed.   I looked over Rick’s attire, and decided he was presentable.   He had put on a long sleeve white dress shirt and navy blue slacks.   The shirt was an athletic cut and hugged his body, so I could see his muscles ripple under the fabric.   Rick stood still, while I looked him over.   “Will I do?” he asked, grinning broadly.

I smiled, “Yes, I think you will do quite nicely.”   I had dressed in similar fashion.   My mother had insisted we had to dress up for the rehearsal.   I had protested that a t-shirt, shorts and flip-flops were formal attire.   She had cuffed me up the side of the head for that statement!

We made our way downstairs to meet up with the rest of the family.   We walked the few blocks to the church, and entered to find that several of our friends were already there.   Reverend Horner led us into the sanctuary, and invited us all to be seated.   He welcomed us to St. James Cathedral.   He spoke to us about the sacred nature of matrimony, and we began the rehearsal.   Jack was the ring bearer, and Zach stood with Ben as his best man.   Janice had asked Miriam to be a flower girl, and Donica to be her maid of honor.   Patty and Irene were her bridesmaids.

After the rehearsal, Uncle Dave had arranged for all of us to eat at the Rosewater Room.   The banquet room was absolutely stunning, and the service impeccable.   Rick and I sat with Jimmy, Donica, Patty, Irene, Zach, Todd, Mark, Brandon, Robbie, Adam, Justin and Brian.   It felt good to see them, again.   I love Rick very much, but I also love my former schoolmates!   They have seen me through some very difficult times over that last school year.

Zach looked over at Rick, and said, “With Ben and Janice getting married, you and Glenn are the only ones not married except for Robbie and Adam, who have to wait until they are 18.”

“I know,” Rick said, smiling.   “Glenn hasn’t let me forget it!”

I protested, “I haven’t pestered you at all about getting married.   I think I have been very patient and understanding about the whole subject of marriage.”

“Yes, you have been very patient, but you have to admit that you want to get married sooner, rather than later,” Rick said.

“Yes, I do.   I wish we could get married tomorrow with Ben and Janice,” I said.   “But I understand why we have to wait.   It doesn’t make me very happy, but I am resigned to the fact that your military won’t allow you to continue in the Marine Corps, if you marry me.”

Rick took my hand, and squeezed it reassuringly.  “Thank you for being so patient with me.”

Todd smiled at us, and said, “It will happen soon enough.   I know that you will both be faithful to each other; and, when the moment is right, you will get married like the rest of us.”

Rick thought to himself, “Maybe Shawn was right in pressing me on the subject of my relationship with Glenn.   Am I ready to make that kind of commitment to Glenn?   Getting married seems to make things so permanent.  I know I told Randy and Shawn that we had already passed the test of being tempted to start a relationship with someone else; but what if I find a girl I am more attracted to than Glenn?   Then what would I do?   Would I be able to resist and keep Glenn first in my heart?   I know that I would never hurt Glenn, but how can I know for certain that marriage is the right thing for us?   We seem to have a fantastic relationship, now.   What if marriage made our relationship unstable, or worse caused us to drift apart?   Sometimes Shawn could be so irritating, but this time he had hit the mark; because he did have some lingering doubts about his future relationship with Glenn.   How did Shawn know about things he hadn’t even clearly articulated for himself?  

Zach had noticed the troubled look on Rick’s face, and said, “Rick and Glenn, I’m sorry for bringing up such a sensitive subject.”

I said, “It’s okay, Zach.   It’s just that we have been having quite a bit of discussion about our plans for the future, and right now marriage is out of the question for us.”   I could see that Rick was becoming more upset, so I put my hand to his cheek, and gently turned his head towards me.   At first, he wouldn’t look me in the eye.   I said softly, “It’s okay, Rick.   I love you, and we will work things out together.”  

He finally met my gaze, and he said, “I’m sorry, Glenn.   I am just overanalyzing things, and I need to relax a bit, instead of worrying so much.”

I laughed, “Hey!   That’s my department, Rick!   That’s not fair!   You can’t take over my territory without asking my permission first!”

That caused Rick to laugh, and I knew that he was going to be okay.   The conversation moved on, and we had a nice time with our friends.

The next morning, we were up early, and had breakfast with our gang.   We ate at a breakfast buffet place.   When we were just about finished, Mom came over to our table, and said, “I am so amazed that you guys put away all that food!”

Zach laughed, “You haven’t seen anything, yet, Mrs. Nielsen.   You should have seen us after a game last year.”

“Yes, Mrs. Nielsen, you should have been with us at the last team dinner.   The whole team was there, and we ate a lot!” Mark exclaimed, with a big grin.

We left the restaurant to return to the hotel.   We got dressed for the wedding, and walked the few blocks to the church.   We took our places.   As we waited, the sanctuary filled with those who had been invited to attend the wedding ceremony.   I looked around, and spotted my cousin, John, sitting with Uncle Gordon and Aunt Sylvia.   I hadn’t seen them since Rick decked John at their home nearly two years ago.   I leaned, over and whispered in Rick’s ear, “There’s my cousin, John.”

Rick looked where I nodded.   His expression hardened, and his eyes narrowed, “John had better keep his distance.  I won’t tolerate his disrespect, nor do I want you anywhere near the bastard.”

“I’m sure he won’t approach us.   His parents still blame me for everything that’s happened.   They don’t believe that their darling boy could ever harm anyone, let alone one of their own kin.   They think I made the whole thing up to cause trouble in the family,” I said.

Rick asked, “Are your parents even on speaking terms with them?”

“Mom said they haven’t spoken to them in over a year,” I said.   “Aunt Sylvia demanded an apology for the false accusations I had made against her son.   Mom told her that no apology would be forthcoming, because the accusations weren’t false.”

Rick grimaced, “It amazes me that Aunt Sylvia would think you would dream up something as hideous and deplorable as being raped by your cousin, just to cause trouble in the family.   It’s like she thinks you’re some kind of monster.”

“She does think that, because I am gay.   She told Mom that my mind is twisted; because I like guys and have all kinds of evil thoughts running through my head,” I said.   “What she doesn’t understand is that before John fucked me, I had no idea what having sex with someone meant.   Dad had lectured me about the birds and the bees, but I was pretty naïve about how all that worked.   John and his friends told me I was their bitch, and that they would teach me how a man fucks a woman.”

Rick had grown agitated, as I reminded him of what John had done to me.   Rick said, “They had better not say anything to us, because I’m likely to do them some physical harm.”

“I don’t think they will approach us.   I’m pretty sure that they won’t even speak to any of our family.  They are barely on speaking terms with Uncle Dave and Aunt Mary.   In fact, I’m very surprised they are here at all,” I said.

Rick said, “I’m sure Aunt Mary made sure they were invited.   Remember, she said that we must keep trying to help them understand the importance of family.   She said the only way we could do that is by continuing to invite them to join our activities, and staying in touch with them, even though they don’t respond.”

As the music began to play, I took Rick’s hand in mine, and watched as the wedding party started marching up the isle to the front of the church, where Reverend Horner waited.  We all stood, as the wedding march began, and Janice made her entrance.   She was very lovely, all decked out in her white wedding gown.

Reverend Horner welcomed everyone; and the wedding party took their seats, and the wedding service began.   The program was very nice, but I was anxious to get to the most important part of the service – the wedding ceremony itself.   After what seemed an eternity, Reverend Horner invited Ben and Janice to stand along with their party, and he began the ceremony.  

I took Rick’s hand in mine, and smiled at him.   I leaned over, and whispered, “I love you.”

Rick whispered back, “That will be us some day.”   He held my gaze for a moment, then we both turned our attention back to Ben and Janice.

“Benjamin David Nielsen, will you give yourself to Janice Marie Caldwell to be her husband:  to love her, comfort her, honor and protect her; and forsaking all others, to be faithful to her so long as you both shall live?” asked Reverend Horner.

Ben replied, “I will.”

Reverend Horner turned to Janice and asked, “Janice Marie Caldwell, will you give yourself to Benjamin David Nielsen to be his wife:  to love him, comfort him, honor and protect him; and forsaking all others, to be faithful to him so long as you both shall live?”

Janice replied, “I will.”

Reverend Horner addressed the congregation, “Do you, members of the families of Benjamin David Nielsen and Janice Marie Caldwell, give your blessing to this marriage?”

The congregation answered, “We do.”

Reverend Horner responded, “You are the witnesses to these vows now being made.   Will you do all in your power to support and uphold this marriage?”

The congregation answered, “We will.”

Reverend Horner signaled Ben and Janice to face each other, and join hands.

Ben said, “I, Benjamin David Nielsen take you, Janice Marie Caldwell, to be my wife, to have and to hold from this day forward; for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish for the rest of our lives, according to God’s holy law.  This is my solemn vow.”

Janice said, “I, Janice Marie Caldwell, take you, Benjamin David Nielsen, to be my husband, to have and to hold from this day forward; for better, for worse,

for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish for the rest of our lives, according to God’s holy law.  This is my solemn vow.”

Reverend Horner put out his hand to Jack.   Jack untied the rings that were tied to the tiny pillow and handed them to Reverend Horner.   Reverend Horner addressed the congregation, “Dear friends in Christ, let us ask God to bless these rings, that they may be a symbol of the vow and covenant Benjamin David Nielsen and Janice Marie Caldwell have made this day.”

We all bowed our heads and prayed silently.

Reverend Horner continued after a brief silence, “Blessed are you, God of steadfast love, source of our joy and end of our hope.   Bless these rings, given and received, that they may be a symbol of the vow and covenant Benjamin David Nielsen and Janice Marie Caldwell have made this day, through Jesus Christ, our Lord.”

The congregation answered, “Amen.”

Ben said, “Janice Marie Caldwell, I give you this ring, as a symbol of my vow.  With all that I am and all that I have, I honor you in the name of God.”

Then Janice said, “Benjamin David Nielsen, I give you this ring, as a symbol of my vow.  With all that I am and all that I have, I honor you in the name of God.”

They joined their right hands, and Reverend Horner said, “Benjamin David Nielsen and Janice Marie Caldwell have joined themselves to each other by solemn vows, signified by the joining of hands, and the giving and receiving of a ring.  I declare that they are husband and wife, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.  Those whom God has joined together let no one put asunder.”

We responded, “Amen.”

Reverend Horner said, “I present to you, Mr. and Mrs. Benjamin Nielsen.   Please come forward to congratulate the newlyweds.”

We made our way to the front of the sanctuary.   I hugged Janice, and said, “Congratulations!   Welcome to the family.”

Janice smiled, “Thank you, Glenn.”

I turned to Ben, and gave him a bear hug.  “Way to go, cousin!   Congratulations!”

Ben laughed, and said, “Thanks, Glenn.   I have loved being your roommate again.   I’m glad we had this last year to share our college experience.   We owe you and Rick so much.”

Rick said, “You’re family, Ben.   You don’t owe us anything.”   Rick gave Ben a hug, and turned to Janice and did the same.  “Welcome to the family, Janice.   Take good care of Ben for us.”

Janice laughed, and said, “I thought Ben was supposed to take care of me.”

I said, “You will need to take care of each other, like Rick takes care of me and I take care of him.”

Ben said, “We will.”

We moved on, since there were lots of people waiting to congratulate them.   As we walked out of the church, Rick said, “They make a very happy couple.   I’m glad Ben found Janice.”

“When are we inviting Greg and Cory to come visit us?   I know we told them sometime after we get home, but we haven’t decided when we are going to leave for Atlanta,” I said.

Rick thought for a moment, before answering me.  “Let’s stay here another week.  I want to visit with Aunt Hannah and Uncle Carl for a few days before we leave.”

Zach and Todd caught up to us, and asked, “Where is the reception center?”

“Dad has the address,” Rick said.   “We’ll follow him over to the reception center.”

The reception center was beautiful.   Between the two sets of parents, they had managed to put together a truly amazing celebration!   There was plenty of food, drink and lots of dancing.   A great time was had by all.   As it approached midnight, Ben and Janice joined us at our table.

Ben said, “Rick and Glenn, thank you for everything you have done for us.”

“Yes, we owe you so much for helping us get started on the right foot, financially, as well as for the enormous amount of love and support you have given us,” Janice said.

Rick answered, for both of us, “Like I said earlier today, you are family and we take care of family.”

Ben’s eyes were misty, as he said, “I have heard that many times from Glenn over that last few months, as we have reached out to help our friends and family.   However, it never meant as much as when you two made the offer to help us buy a home, and to participate with you in your family business.   I never expected Grandpa Scarborough to count us as part of his family.   I knew he had set things up for you and Nancy, as well as for your other cousins; but it totally took me by surprise when you included us as part of the Scarborough clan.”

I said, “You’re my family, Ben.   Grandpa made that very clear, when he came to Minneapolis.”

“I know, but it is still amazing to me.   Not everyone is as kind hearted as you and your Grandpa.   We will always be grateful for what you have done for us,” Ben said.

Rick said, “Then, the best way for you to show your gratitude is to make sure you become successful at whatever you do.   Grandpa has made it very clear that he expects us to reach our full potential, by following our dreams.”

“We are definitely going to do that,” Janice said.   “My dream was to marry a wonderful man, who would make me the happiest girl on earth.   I have done that; so, now I look forward to helping Ben make his dreams come true.”

Ben said, “We’re leaving, before someone decides to mess with my car.”

Rick laughed, “Too late, Ben.   It’s already happened!”

“You have got to be kidding.   I thought I had hidden my car well enough that no one would be able to find it,” Ben said, with consternation.

“It’s okay, Ben,” Janice said.   “Let’s go find the car, and see if it’s drivable.   If not, let’s call a cab, and we can deal with the car tomorrow.”

Ben nodded his head in agreement.  “Janice is already taking good care of me.”

“Yes, she is.   We’ll talk to you soon,” I said.

They gave us each a hug, and left the reception.   Rick turned to me, and asked, “Are you ready to return to the hotel?”

“Yes, I am,” I replied.

We were cuddling in bed, when Rick said, “Can we talk about our future together?”

I looked into Rick’s face, and saw his tormented look.  “Yes, we can but may I say something first?”

“Sure, Babe,” Rick responded, wondering what Glenn was going to tell him.

“I love you very much, Rick.   No matter what happens I will always love you,” I said.   I kissed him gently on the lips.   When I pulled back from our kiss, I saw that he had tears in his eyes.   I cupped his cheek in my hand, and used my thumb to wipe away the wayward tear that managed to escape.   “It’s okay, sweetheart.   I will always be here for you.”

Rick pulled me close, and buried his face in my hair, as I melted into him.   His masculine scent filled me with a longing for him to caress my body with his strong hands.   I managed to restrain the impulse to ravage him, and make wild passionate love to him.   I knew that right now Rick needed me to listen to him.   I waited, as his chest heaved with barely suppressed sobs.   When the storm had passed, I pulled back, and wiped the tears from his face.   I held his gaze for the longest time, willing Rick to understand that I loved him deeply.

Finally, he spoke.   “I don’t deserve you, Glenn.”

I was stunned, to say the least.   I knew that I had to tread lightly, because of Rick’s extremely delicate emotional state.   I knew that something had been eating at him, ever since he returned from his tour with the Marine Corps.

I waited patiently for him to continue, as I tenderly stroked the hair on his chest.   He reached up, and took my hand in his.   “I have been thinking about whether I am ready to make a commitment to spend the rest of my life with you.   I know you want to be married, but I can’t do that right now.   I really love being in the Marine Corps, and I don’t want to have to give up being a Marine.   I know this may sound selfish; but I am worried that I might find a girl that I am more attracted to, than I am to you.  What if I fall back into my old ways of womanizing?   What if I can’t continue honoring my commitment to you?   I don’t want to hurt you.   I am also worried that I won’t measure up to your expectations.”

“Rick, what are you really trying to say?” I prompted him.

“I’m afraid of failing you, like I did with Angie.   Also, I am trying to come to terms with how out and proud you are, now,” Rick said.

His remarks cut me to the quick.   I couldn’t believe what I was hearing.   It was almost like he was trying to prepare me for his departure from my life.   I swallowed hard.   I looked deeply into his eyes, and said, “I want you to be happy and if that means you need to let me go; so you can discover who you really are, I’m okay with that.   Will I be happy about it?   No, I will be totally devastated; but because I love you, I have to tell you that your happiness is more important to me than forcing you to remain in a relationship that you aren’t comfortable with, for whatever reason.   You are the light of my life, Rick.   I can’t stand to see you suffer because of me.   You have been hurting a lot the last few weeks for one reason, or another.   I thought that talking with my parents had relieved your suffering; but, now, I see that there is more to it than just losing your family.”

Rick started to speak, but I put my finger to his lips, “Let me finish, please.   I know that we have each endured hardships over the last 12 months, since you left me in Atlanta.   Those experiences have changed us.   I am the first to admit that I am not the same person I was when you held me in your arms for the first time in Atlanta.”

When I had finished, Rick said, “Glenn, I have been hurting, because of my over analysis of my feelings for you.   I love you so much I can’t put it into words.   I want to spend the rest of my life with you.   You have put so much trust in me that it scares me, Glenn.   I feel like you have put me on a pedestal so high that I’m afraid I will fall off, and make a big mess of our lives.   I keep thinking of the questions Shawn asked me, and I can’t help thinking that maybe I am not ready to commit myself totally and completely to you.”

As I processed what he was saying, it dawned on me that Shawn’s words had caused more damage than good.   I would have to talk to Shawn about keeping his thoughts to himself the next time we spent time with my brother, Randy, and his husband.   In fact, we would see them in the morning at breakfast, and I was of a mind to give Shawn a piece of my mind about his interference in our relationship.   Things were going just fine, before he decided he needed to quiz Rick about his thoughts about our future together.

Rick saw the look of anger cross my face, and said, “Please don’t be angry, Glenn.”

“I am not angry with you, Rick.   I am a little miffed at Shawn for planting these thoughts in your head, and causing you to doubt yourself,” I replied.  “Look, Rick, I can believe that you aren’t sure about the future.   That I get, but I just can’t fathom all of the self doubt.   You are the most kind, caring individual I know.   Yes, I have placed you on a pedestal, because you are the most wonderful person in the whole world.   Do I know that you aren’t perfect?  Yes, I do.   I know that you make mistakes, like everyone else.   Do I think that at some point in the future you may find someone who you are more attracted to than you are to me?   Yes, you probably will.   Will I find someone who turns me on as much as you do?   Yes, I probably will.   You know that seeing hot guys really gets me going.   Do I put the moves on them?   No, because I have the hottest looking stud as my boyfriend.   Do I fear that you will return to womanizing?   No, because you have been in a steady relationship with me for nearly two years, now.   If anyone should be afraid of messing up our relationship, it should be me.   Remember, I’m the one who likes to flirt with every good looking guy I meet!”

Rick laughed, releasing the tension that had built up inside him.  “That is so true.”

I knew we were past the worst of this conversation, when I heard him laugh.   “Rick, I know how good I have it with you.   I’m not going to risk ruining our relationship by having a fling with some hot guy who will use me, abuse me and then leave me.   I need you Rick.   You make me whole.”

Rick looked into my eyes for a few moments, then said, “I have been a fool these past few weeks.   I should have talked to you about my feelings of inadequacy, sooner.”

I ran my fingers along his jaw line, then I touched his lips.   He opened his mouth, and sucked on my finger.   He looked so sexy that I immediately started reacting down below.   I asked, “Are we okay?”

Rick replied, “Yes, I’m feeling much better.”

“Rick, we will work together to help each other through the tough times.  The most important thing to remember is to keep our lines of communication open.  I’m sorry I wasn’t more sensitive to your needs.   I should have spoken up, when I first noticed how troubled you were by Shawn’s questions.   I shrugged it off, and figured you would do the same,” I said.

Rick said, “I’m the one who should have talked to you, first, about my feelings.”

“We both should have said something much sooner about what we were feeling.   Can we both agree that in the future we won’t wait to talk about things like this?” I asked.

“Yes, I can agree to that,” Rick said, smiling at me.

I said, “Good.   Let’s put this behind us and move on.   Okay?”

“Yes, that sounds like a great idea,” Rick responded, as his hands begin exploring my body.   

I can testify that making love and expressing our feelings for each other after a conversation like the one we just had is one of the sweetest memories I have of our lives together.

The next morning, we joined the rest of the family for breakfast at what was fast becoming our favorite breakfast buffet.   We sat with Randy and Shawn this morning.   I had told Rick of my plan to talk to Shawn.   Rick didn’t approve.   He said, “It’s not Shawn’s fault that I went over the edge, Glenn.   Don’t take out your anger on Shawn.   You should be angry with me, and not Shawn.”

“I’m angry at Shawn; because, before he put those thoughts into your head, we were doing just fine,” I replied, hotly.

“No, Glenn, I needed Shawn to point out to me that I had unresolved issues with our relationship, and that I needed to work through them with you,” Rick said, taking my hand, and stopping me in the corridor outside our room.   “Promise me that you won’t say anything to Shawn?”

I started to protest, “Rick…”

“Please do this for me,” Rick pleaded.

I said, “But…”

“Please, Glenn,” Rick continued to beg me to listen to him.

“Oh, alright, but if he upsets you, again, with his comments, I won’t stand for it.   I promise you, I will say something to him,” I said, in exasperation.

Rick looked relieved, but pressed me to say the words.  “You still didn’t promise.”

I looked at him, and said, “I promise I won’t say anything to Shawn about it, today.”

Rick laughed at how I had time boxed my promise.  “Okay, I guess I will have to be happy with that, for now.”

We entered the hotel lobby, and joined the rest of our family and friends for the walk over to the restaurant.   As we sat with Randy and Shawn, Rick looked at me, and saw that I was about to say something.   He leaned over, and whispered in my ear, “Remember, you promised.”

I glared at him, and proceeded to ask, “What are your plans for the rest of the week?”

Randy said, “We have to head back to Regina.   I have used up all of my leave, and need to get back.   We plan to leave as soon as we are done with breakfast.”

Shawn looked at us, and smiled, “I sense that you are angry with me, Glenn.   I’m sorry if I have been the cause of any problems between you two.”

I looked at Rick, who looked totally surprised at Shawn’s comment.   I wasn’t surprised at all.   I had known Shawn long enough to know that he is very sensitive to the thoughts and feelings of those around him.   “Rick has made me promise not to talk to you about it.”

Shawn nodded his head, giving us a knowing look.  “I have a feeling I know what this is about.   Rick, you seem to have resolved some of your doubts, but not all.   Am I right?”

Rick gave me a quick look, then nodded his head.   “Glenn is very angry about the questions you raised, because I have had a lot conflicting thoughts about our relationship, since we talked.”

Randy looked troubled at what he was hearing, and said, “It was never Shawn’s intention to cause problems between you two with his questions.”

“I know that,” Rick said.   “However, that doesn’t change the fact that Glenn is angry about what he views as interference in our relationship.”

Randy looked at me for confirmation.   I looked at Rick, and refused to speak.   Rick said, “I’m afraid that I haven’t handled things very well.”

Shawn said, “I noticed that you were pretty preoccupied every time I saw you over the last few days.  I was afraid that I had caused things to get worse rather than help resolve them.   I’m sorry that I was the cause of problems between you.   Glenn, can you forgive me.”

I looked at him, and replied, “Only if you promise not to interfere with us again.   We have enough things to work through, without having someone else throwing things into the mix.”   Shawn was taken aback by the harshness of my voice.   Seeing his expression, I continued, “Yes, I am very angry, because you were someone I trusted to help us; but, instead it caused us more grief and soul searching.”

Shawn nodded his head in understanding.  “I am truly sorry, Glenn.   I promise to carefully weigh my words next time.”

“No, Shawn, I don’t think you get it.   I want you to promise not to interfere, unless we ask you for advice.   What you said to Rick was totally unsolicited and unnecessary.   Rick may have had those doubts all along, but he didn’t need you to fan the flames of his own misgivings,” I said.

Rick said, “Glenn, it’s okay.  You have delivered your message.”

I looked at Rick who blanched, when he saw my expression.  “Yes, I have delivered my message, but I have yet to hear Shawn promise not to interfere unless invited to comment.”

Shawn looked from me to Rick, and back to me.  “I promise not to interfere in your relationship without being asked for my assistance, or advice.”

Randy took his husband’s hand, and said, “Thank you, Shawn.   I know how hard that promise was to make.”

“I just hope I don’t live to regret making it,” Shawn said.   “But I recognize that if I want to have a relationship with Glenn that I needed to accede to his demands of me.”

I nodded my head, confirming his words.  “Thank you, Shawn.   I needed to hear it from you so that what happened this time won’t be repeated.”

“It won’t be repeated.   I have learned the hard way that I need to look at the whole situation, instead of being so narrowly focused that I missed the potential negative impact of my words,” Shawn replied.

Rick said, “Now that we have worked through that, we can move on to other things.”

I nodded my head in agreement.  “I’m sorry you have to leave so soon.   I was hoping to hang out with you guys for a few more days.”

Randy laughed.  “Yes, I was looking for a rematch of our soccer game last year.”

I laughed, as well.  “Yes, that would have been fun.   We will have to plan another time, when we can all be together in St. Catharines.”

“Let’s plan to get together for Thanksgiving,” Rick said.

“Do you mean in October for our Thanksgiving, or in November for yours?” Shawn asked.

“I was thinking of November, but October would work, as well,” Rick replied.

“We will have to let you know,” Randy said.

We visited with them, until it was time to leave.   We bid them good-bye at the hotel, and promised to keep in touch.   Rick and I returned to our room to finish packing our things.   We planned to drive to St. Catharines to stay with Aunt Hannah and Uncle Carl.

As we finished packing, my cell phone rang.   I saw it was Dr. Nohr, and answered, “Hello, Dr. Nohr.”

“Hello, Glenn.   How are you?” Dr. Nohr asked.

“I am doing well, thank you,” I replied.

“I am calling to see if you would be available to play a concert in Atlanta next month.   I am the guest conductor for the summer music festival, and I need to find a soloist,” Dr. Nohr said.

“I would be happy to help you out.   What do you want me to play?” I asked.

“Saint-Saens Piano Concerto No. 2,” Dr. Nohr said.   “Do you think you can master it by then?”

“I will certainly give it a try,” I said.

“Good,” Dr. Nohr said.   He proceeded to give me the details about the concert, as well as the arrangement he preferred of the concerto I was to play.   He concluded, “Be sure to call me if anything comes up, or if you think you won’t be ready.”

“I’ll be ready.   Thank you for asking me,” I said.

“You’re welcome,” Dr. Nohr said.   “I will talk to you later.”

“Good-bye,” I said, and ended the call.

Rick looked at me, and asked, “Who was that?”

“That was Dr. Nohr, and he has asked me to play at the summer music festival in Atlanta,” I replied.

“Will you be able to learn that piece in time for the performance?” Rick asked.

“I think so.   Mom used to play it at home.   I will ask her to help me, when we get to Aunt Hannah’s,” I said.

I was very excited to be asked to play at the summer music festival.   It would give me a chance to be introduced to the music community in Atlanta.   I had been more than a little anxious about how I would get to know other musicians in the Atlanta area.   Dr. Nohr’s offer was the perfect answer to my problem.

Rick laughed, “I can see that you’re very excited about this invitation to play.   You are practically bouncing up and down you’re so excited.”

I laughed, and grabbed Rick in a bear hug.   I gave him a kiss, and said, “I love you.”

Rick grinned.  “I didn’t do anything.   Dr. Nohr is the one who issued the invitation!”

“I know; but, you are the one who has encouraged me to study music.   I love you for seeing what I couldn’t see for myself,” I said.   “You’re the reason why I changed my major, and, as a result, met Dr. Nohr.”

I wrapped my arms around his waist, and hugged my guy again.   Rick put his arms around me and held me tight.   All I could think of was that I was very happy.   I had my lover with me, and I had just been offered an opportunity to make my way into the music community.  Things were looking pretty good from my point of view.

We drove over to Aunt Hannah and Uncle Carl’s place.   Mom and Dad were already there, since they had left early in the morning.   Dad said he would rather have breakfast with Aunt Hannah than at some restaurant buffet.   We pulled into the driveway.  

Rick looked over at me, and said, “I like to see you happy, Glenn.   You haven’t stopped talking about that concert, since you got the call from Dr. Nohr.   I think you have called just about everyone you know to tell them about it.”

“I’m sorry, if I have over done it, Rick.   I admit I’m very excited about it,” I said, smiling at him.

Rick laughed.  “You’re still bouncing in your seat with excitement, and it’s been a couple of hours, since you got the call.   I think I’m going to need some help getting you to calm down.”

I laughed, and gave Rick an impish grin.  “You know what will calm me down.”

Rick saw my grin, and laughed.  “I guess I do.   Let’s get our stuff inside, then I will ask the folks not to disturb us, while I distract you in the only way I know how!”

I ran my hand up and down the inside of his thigh, and leaned over to kiss him on the lips.   “I’m ready when you are.”

We got out of the car, and saw that Mom had come outside.   She was waiting on the front porch.   We retrieved our gear from the back of the car, and walked over to greet her.

I dropped my bag, and gave her a hug.   She looked up at me, and smiled, “I found a music store that has a copy of the Saint-Saens Piano Concerto No. 2.   I put it on hold for you.”

“Thanks, Mom,” I said.   “We’ll run over to get it, after we get settled.”

Mom, still smiling, said, “I understand.   Hello, Rick.   Thank you for taking such good care of my boy.”

Rick hugged Mom.  “It’s my pleasure.”   He paused, and looked over at me.   “You know how excitable Glenn gets, sometimes.   You know, like he can’t sit still for even a second.”

Mom nodded her head.   “Yes, I do.”

“Well, Glenn needs some tender loving care right now to help him calm down a bit.   I know just the thing that will do the trick.  Do you think we could have some alone time, before we join the rest of the family?”

Mom looked at Rick, then at me.   She saw the look that passed between us.   She said, seriously, “Yes, I think that can be arranged.”  

Rick leaned over to kiss me, and said, “Are you ready, Glenn?”

“Any time you are,” I responded, with a lecherous grin.

Mom smiled, and shook her head.  “Men are all alike; but I’m glad to know that my boys aren’t any different.   Go on inside, and put your things in your usual room.   Aunt Hannah has already made up your bed.   I will tell them not to disturb you two.”

Rick smiled, “Thanks, Mom.”

We grabbed our stuff, and did as Mom directed us.   We poked our heads into the kitchen to say, “Hello,” then continued on to our bedroom.    As soon as we had the door closed, Rick pulled me into his arms.   I smiled up at him, and said, “I need you to distract me, as you promised.”

Rick’s broad grin let me know he was more than ready to help me out!   A while later, we lay on our bed with our limbs intertwined, as we basked in the afterglow of the “distraction” Rick had promised me.   I rested my head on his chest, as he stroked my hair.   He ran his fingers through it, then pushed it back off of my forehead.   I listened to the steady rhythm of his heart, and sighed with contentment.

Rick asked, “What are thinking?”

“I was just thinking how perfect things are.   I have a wonderful boyfriend.   My cousin had a great wedding, and my family and friends were able to be with us.   And now, with this invitation to perform at the music festival, Dr. Nohr will be able to introduce me to people in the music scene in Atlanta.   I was really worried about how I would be able to network with other musicians.   I knew that I would be meeting some of them at Georgia Tech, but they would be students like me,” I said.

Rick said, “I’m very happy that things are working out for you.   I was a little nervous about how you would readjust to living in Atlanta.   In fact, I have been very worried about us; because we can’t be as open about being gay, as we have been elsewhere.”

I moved back a bit, so I could see Rick’s eyes.  “Is that really the reason you are so uncertain about us?   Is it because of your fear of being outed to your Marine Corps buddies?   Are you afraid that I won’t be able to tone down my ‘out and proud’ demeanor?”

Rick looked away from me, and didn’t answer.   I put my hand up to his cheek, and gently turned his head, until he looked at me.  “Is that what all of this soul searching is about?”

Rick slowly nodded his head.   “Yes.   Shawn was right in that I hadn’t really decided what I wanted.   I have been struggling with wanting to be what you want me to be, Glenn; and my desires to continue to serve in the military.”

I was puzzled by his statement.   I asked, “What is it that I want you to be?   I am not aware of saying anything to you about changing who you are.”

“No, you haven’t said anything, but I have felt pressured to become ‘out and proud,’ like you have become.   It’s like you expect me to live an openly gay lifestyle with the same ‘in-your-face’ attitude that you’ve adopted since we’ve been apart.   I don’t want to be that way.   I want to live a low-key lifestyle, where people leave us alone.   I have no desires to be a gay activist.   While you have been at the University of Minnesota, you have taken part in many activities to promote awareness of gay issues.   Most of those I have agreed with; but I’m not the kind of person who wants to be on the front page of the newspaper for causing civil disturbances to draw people’s attention to the injustices inflicted on gays,” Rick said.

To say I was completely unaware of the angst I had created by my activities and attitudes would be a huge understatement.   I said, “I always thought you approved of what I was doing, and how I was going about it.   You have never said anything negative about it.”

“Yes, I have approved of your activities; but, I wasn’t personally impacted by what you were doing.   Remember, I was still on active duty, and you were at college in a different state,” Rick said.   “Now, we’ll be together in Atlanta, and what you do will have a direct impact on me.   It’s not just about you, as it has been for the last 12 months.”

“Let me get this straight,” I said, with a hard edge in my voice.   Rick flinched, as if I had slapped him; but, I ignored him, as I pressed on, “You mean to say that you want me to tone down my attitude of ‘I’m gay and proud of it,’ and stop my participation in activist type events?”

“Yes and no,” Rick said, hesitantly.   Rick knew he was going to make Glenn angry with what he was going to say next.   He braced himself for the worst.  “I want you to be my boyfriend, and I want to live as any other couple.   I don’t want us to be the poster children for gay rights in Atlanta.   I want to live a normal life, without being in the spotlight.   I need to feel comfortable that you won’t bring a sudden end to my time in the Marine Corps, by outing me to them, even if you do it unintentionally.”

I gazed into my lover boy’s eyes, and saw the fear and the anxiety there, as I tensed in his arms.   What he was asking me to do for him was to deny everything I had worked so hard to accomplish.   I had gone to therapy at his request, because he knew how emotionally fragile I was.   Rick also knew that the therapist was helping me to stop hating myself, for what John had done to me.   That self-hatred was reinforced by the horrible things being said about gays by supposed Christians, and others in very public forums.    I had come to see myself as evil, and that I was raped by my cousin and his friends to punish me for some imaginary sin I may have committed.   I had worked hard to overcome those thoughts, and begin to build my self-esteem in positive ways.  

Part of that process had been working with other gays to make the world a better place for us to live in.   My whole universe was built around my circle of gay friends, who had supported me and encouraged me throughout the whole process.   They had formed a protective barrier around me and Justin, as we worked to rebuild ourselves.   I had never experienced the depths of depression like Justin; but I had come pretty close a time, or two.   I had shared every detail of my therapy and my progress with Rick, who had been very supportive and loving the entire time.

The last time I visited my therapist, she had congratulated me on reinventing myself.   She said I had managed to build a positive self-image of a gay man in a healthy relationship with his significant other.   The self-loathing was gone.   It had resolved itself, as I came to realize that nothing in my behavior had caused John to repeatedly rape me.   I had accepted the fact that I had been a victim of a violent attack on my person, and had mastered techniques to help me handle the effects of that traumatic experience.

I had learned to love me for who I am, even the parts of me that aren’t very likeable.   The very things that Rick wanted me to give up are the things that helped me to overcome my mental and emotional issues; namely actively working to better gay lives, and the new “in-your-face” attitude that dared the world to say anything to me about being gay.

Most importantly, I had been able to overcome my fears of hurting Rick, and giving him pleasure the same way he had been pleasuring me, since we first met.   I remembered the look of pure joy on his face, as I fucked him for the first time.   I still prefer to bottom for him; but he likes it when I take control, and push his pleasure buttons.   Those memories brought a feeling of warmth to me.  

Now, he seemed to want to take everything away that I have worked so hard to achieve.   My whole world seemed to be imploding.   My main motivation for working to improve myself was for Rick.   I wanted his approval so badly that I was willing to endure anything to make him proud of me.   I wanted to be the best I could be for him.   I felt so totally crushed that Rick wanted me to throw all of that away, and return to the way I was, before I started therapy.   Then, I started to get angry.   How dare he ask me to go back to my old self?   I felt a red hot, boiling fury begin to develop inside.   I felt like a fire bomb had exploded in my head.

As I debated how to respond to Rick’s request, I wanted to shout and scream at him.   Then, I wanted to plead and beg with him to not ask this of me.   Then, I just wanted to cry.   This last made me angry again.   Then, I went totally numb.   My face froze, and I went completely stiff.  

Rick watched the myriad emotions cross Glenn’s face.   He knew he was asking a lot of Glenn, but he felt he needed to resolve the conflict he felt inside.   He knew that he had hit on a nerve, as he saw anger winning Glenn’s internal debate.  At that point, Glenn stiffened in his arms.   Rick noticed that his jaw was clenched tight, and his eyes went totally blank.  Glenn stared at Rick, but Rick knew that Glenn wasn’t seeing him.   He didn’t blink, as Rick waved his hand in front of Glenn’s face.  A few seconds later, Glenn went completely limp, and his eyes rolled back in his head.  Rick had never seen anything like it before.

He rolled Glenn over onto his back and put his ear to Glenn’s chest.   His heart was still beating regularly, and he was breathing normally.   He climbed out of bed and put on his clothes, so he could get help.   He ran out of the room shouting, “Mom, come quickly!”

She and Aunt Hannah came running out of the kitchen.   Mom asked, “What’s going on?”

Rick said, “I think Glenn is having a seizure of some kind.”

Rick followed her back into their bedroom, where Glenn still lay unconscious on their bed.   She crossed the room quickly.   She put one hand on Glenn’s forehead, and with the other she held his wrist to check his pulse.  She turned to Rick, and asked, “What happened?”

Rick explained how Glenn had gone completely stiff in his arms, and how his expression froze, before he went unconscious.  “This has never happened before today.”

Mom said, “Glenn has never had any problems with seizures, but Nancy had them frequently, as a toddler.  They were pretty severe.   Did he seem upset, or stressed about anything?”   Not waiting for his answer, she turned to Hannah, and asked, “Will you call an ambulance?”   She looked back at Rick, waiting for his answer.

Rick hung his head, and wouldn’t meet her eyes.   She saw his reaction, and pressed him for an answer.  “Rick, please tell me what triggered this.”

“I asked him to stop being so flamboyant, and to be more circumspect in his demonstrations of affection for me in public places, when we return to Atlanta,” Rick said, avoiding Mom’s gaze.   “I explained that I wanted to continue in the military, but didn’t want to risk being discharged; because someone saw us holding hands, or making out in public.”  Rick finally looked up, and saw the look of sorrow on Mom’s face.  “I’m sorry.   I didn’t expect this to happen.”

Mom said, “It’s going to be alright, Rick.   If this is anything like Nancy’s seizures, Glenn will be just fine.   As for Glenn’s state of mind, the damage has been done.   All we can do is to wait, and see how Glenn comes out of this.   Some seizures can change people’s personalities.   Don’t blame yourself, Rick.   None of us knew this would happen.”   She walked over, and put her arms around Rick.   “I still love you, Rick.   This doesn’t change that fact.   You didn’t do anything wrong.”

They heard the ambulance arrive, and Hannah leading emergency personnel to the bedroom.   They entered, and immediately took charge.   They asked the same questions Mom did.   They lifted him onto the stretcher, and wheeled it outside to the waiting ambulance.   Mom went with Glenn in the ambulance, while Rick and Dad followed in Dad’s car.

Prev To be continued . . .

A Note from Russ:

The CN Tower -

The Gibraltar Point Lighthouse -

Map of Toronto Island -

Cathedral of St. James -

Rosewater Room -

Camille Saint-Saens Piano Concerto No. 2

Part 1  -

Part 2 -

Part 3 -