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




Chapter 98: Jeb and Jill

Greg ran his hands through Cory’s thick, dark brown hair, as he looked deeply into his husband’s chocolate brown eyes.   His fingers traced the line of the scar on Cory’s scalp, where the doctors had operated on Cory after his Dad had attacked him.   Cory’s hair had never grown back over that place.   Fortunately, Cory’s shoulder length hair hid the scar.   Greg continued to marvel that Cory still loved him, even after his Dad had tried to kill him.   Greg had been afraid to see Cory, after the attack, for fear of being rejected by him; because of his family’s reaction to their coming out, as a couple.    He was so happy when Cory, not only wanted to see him, but obviously still loved him, after everything that had happened.

 All of these thoughts ran through his mind, as he gazed into Cory’s eyes.   Greg thought about how he loved holding Cory close to him.   Cory’s slight frame molded itself so perfectly to his body that it was almost like they were one single entity.   The warmth of Cory’s body reminded him of the great time they had on their honeymoon.   The memory of it brought a smile to his face.  

Cory brushed the hair out of Greg’s eyes, and asked, “What are you thinking about?”

“Our honeymoon,” Greg responded, as he played with Cory’s hair, twisting it around his fingers.

“I thought that was it, when I saw you smile.   You always get that look, when you are thinking about all the wonderful sex we had,” Cory said, laughing.

Greg agreed, “You’re right about that.”   He ran his fingertips along Cory’s jawline, then cupped his face with his hand.  “You have to admit you will never forget how special we felt on that trip.”

Cory smiled, and replied, “No, I will never forget being with my handsome husband, and the great time we had together.”

They fell silent as Greg ran his hands lightly over Cory’s naked body.   Cory was glad Greg seemed to be relaxing.   Greg had seemed tense all day, and a little distant.   Cory knew that something had been bothering Greg; so, he waited patiently for Greg to finally share with him what was going on in his head.

Greg placed his hand on the small of Cory’s back, and pulled him closer to him.   He said, “I want us to start attending church services, Cory.   I know that we have good reason to hate churches, given what has happened to us.”   He paused, to let Cory respond.  

Cory looked into Greg eyes.  “Are you sure you want to do this?   You have been pretty adamant that we should stay away from the so called ‘Christian’ churches.”  

“I know.   It’s just that I have always attended church since I was small.   Now that things have settled down for us, I have been thinking about beginning to live a normal life, instead of holding onto my anger and hatred.   Just think about it.   We have moved to a new city.   We have a new last name, and we’re married.   We’re living with a bunch of gay married guys.   We have our college education paid for, and we only have to work hard at getting good grades.   Grandpa pushed me pretty hard last night about letting go of my hard feelings towards religious people,” Greg said.

“He’s right you know,” Cory said.   “I have been trying to tell you the same thing for weeks, now.”

“I know you have, Cory, and I’ve tried to resist your logic.   I talked to Grandpa about it last night.   I told him about what you said yesterday, about learning to forgive those who have hurt me.”   Cory brought his hand to Greg’s face, as Greg tried to control his emotions.   “How can I forgive Dad for what he did to us?”

“It’s simple.   Leave it in the Lord’s hands.   There is nothing you can accomplish by nursing a grudge against him.  I thought that you would relinquish your hard feelings, after we had begun a new life together; but you haven’t.   Sometimes, you blow up at me, for no apparent reason, Greg.   I’ve tried to be understanding of your feelings; but, something has to change.   I can’t continue to feel like I’m walking on egg shells around you.   It’s driving me crazy!   When I have pushed you to tell me why you are so angry, you tell me it’s because you were so badly hurt by your Dad, and you can’t let go of your anger toward him and his church.    I don’t understand why you can’t move past what happened, especially now.   Greg, I was attacked, just like you were, and I spent just as much time recovering as you did; but, I let my anger go a long time ago,” Cory said.  “I’m not going to accept your excuses for not moving on with your life.   You can’t pretend that I haven’t suffered just as much as you have, because I have.   Do you remember that I was there and your Dad took me out first, or have you forgotten that?”

“No, I haven’t forgotten,” Greg said, his eyes glistening with unshed tears.

“It’s time for you to stop feeling sorry for yourself, and get on with living your life in the present, instead of always living in the past.   I’m not letting you continue to wallow in self-pity, anymore.   You need to forgive your Dad for what he did, and to get over your hatred of his church.   I want to live a happy, productive life with my husband; specifically, a husband who is fully engaged in our relationship and isn’t wasting time and energy holding onto the past.”    

“I know you’re right, Cory.   Grandpa confirmed your words.   He was pretty forceful about what he expects of me, as his adopted son, last night,” Greg said.   “I have given it some thought today.   I think that if we started going to a local church, that I could begin to let go of my hard feelings towards all ‘Christian’ churches.”   When Cory started to interrupt, he put his finger to Cory’s lips, “Let me finish, please.   I know that going to church isn’t the answer to all of my issues, Cory; but, it might help me to turn the corner on letting go of my hatred for all religious people.   I need to see that there are religious people who truly live what they preach.   They claim to love all people, and that God loves all of us.   Let them prove it to me, Cory, by accepting me for who I am, and treating me as an equal with them in their quest for enlightenment, or whatever it is that they’re seeking.”

Cory said, “Okay, that is fair enough.   I was worried that you had arrived at the conclusion that going to church would be the magic pill that would cure all of the ills we might have, because it’s not, Greg.   It may be part of the solution, but it’s not the complete picture.   The last thing I want to happen is for you to go there, hoping to find an auto-erase feature that can turn back time and remove the mental and emotional effects of what happened to us.  I’m afraid you’ll come away disappointed, because things don’t meet your expectations.”

“Grandpa counseled me about that very same thing.   He said I need to find the strength from within, to heal the mental and emotional wounds that are still holding me back.   Grandpa said that, if going to church will help me, I should look for a warm and welcoming church community.   I thought that maybe we could attend services at the Hennepin Avenue Methodist Church, where the Twin Cities Gay Men’s Choir holds their rehearsals.  What do you think?”

Cory answered, “I’m good with that; but, I’m not sure that the Methodist Church is the right one.   I know the Hennepin Avenue Methodist Church is very welcoming to gays; but we need to meet with their pastor, and talk about their position on gay marriage, among other things.”

“I checked that out already, Cory.   On their website, they say they are working for marriage equality for all people.   They are also very supportive of gay and lesbian couples.”

“I’m willing to give it a try, if you will give them an honest chance to prove they are really a ‘Christian’ church, and not one of those that gives lip service to ‘Christian’ doctrines,” Cory said.

“I’m willing to listen with an open mind,” Greg said.   “If they truly believe that we are all God’s children, and can treat everyone with love and respect; I am willing to entertain the idea of becoming part of their congregation.”

“You know that my parents have been asking me if we have begun attending a local church.   They worry that we will decide to shut God completely out of our lives,” Cory said.

“They have asked me about it, as well.   That’s why I thought we should try out the Methodist Church.   At least we can tell your Mom and Dad that we went, even if we decide it’s not for us,” Greg said.   “Grandpa said we should be very careful about selecting a church.   We talked about what makes a good pastor versus a bad one.   He suggested that we have the minister over for dinner, to discuss his views about things that are important to us.”

A look of concern crossed Cory’s face.  “We need to talk to the other guys, before we invite some stranger to have dinner with us, here, especially a pastor.”

“I wouldn’t bring him here, unless everyone agrees to meet with the minister.   I think we should meet him for dinner somewhere else, instead of trying to get everyone on board with having him come to dinner, here,” Greg said.

“I wouldn’t discount the guys so quickly, Greg.   They haven’t suffered as much religious persecution as we have, but they may not be as opposed to talking about it as you think,” Cory said.

Greg asked, “Do you really think they might be interested?”

“I do,” Cory said.   He looked deeply into his husband’s eyes, and said, “Thank you for listening to me, Greg.”  

“I’m the one who should be thanking you for being patient with my stubbornness,” Greg said, rubbing noses with his sweetheart.

Cory kissed Greg on the lips, then said, “I love you.”

Greg grinned, and said, “I love you, too.”   He ran his hands lightly over Cory’s skin, causing Cory to shiver slightly in anticipation, as he gazed into Greg’s eyes.   Then, Greg nibbled on Cory’s ear and whispered, “Let me show you how much I love you.”

Rick and I made our way to our Latin American literature class.   We were running late, so we ended up at the back of the room.   The professor, Dr. Khartchner, glared at us, as we slipped into our seats.   He was a tall, lean man from Texas, with graying dark brown hair.   He wore horn-rimmed glasses that magnified his watery blue eyes that were a little too close together.   His huge bulbous nose, with black hair sticking out of his nostrils, dominated his face.  

In Spanish, he began berating us.  “Mr. Nielsen and Mr. Lernier, I would appreciate it, if you could make more of an effort to arrive on time.”

I responded, “Yes, sir,” in English, which earned me a deep scowl.  

Satisfied that he had made his point, he returned to his lecture.  The class was a survey of Latin American literature, which is Dr. Khartchner’s area of specialization.   He obviously loves teaching it and waxes eloquent in his praises of Latin American authors.   I was having a hard time following his Spanish.  I looked at Rick, to see if he was doing any better.

Rick grinned, and whispered, “I don’t understand a word he is saying.”

I shrugged my shoulders and returned my attention to the front of the room, where the professor continued his soliloquy.  

Dr. Kartchner had lived in Madrid for many years; but, spoke Spanish with a Texas twang that added to my difficulty in understanding the Castilian Spanish he had learned in Spain.   He pompously declared all other dialects of Spanish to be inferior and unacceptable in his class.   Fortunately, he liked to do all the talking, so, I wasn’t exposed to his tongue lashings for my “gutter” Spanish.  

However, he required us to write essays, in Spanish, analyzing everything we read.   Even worse, Dr. Khartchner was ruthless with his red pen!   Rick and I are struggling to even get a passing grade in this course!

After class, Rick looked at me and said, “Glenn, I’m afraid I’m going to fail this class.   I didn’t understand a word that guy said, and I’m not doing very well with all the writing.   I have problems writing in English, let alone in Spanish.”

“I’m in the same boat as you, Rick.   Do you want to drop the class?   We have only a week left, if we going to get out of it, without it showing up on our transcripts,” I said.

“I don’t know.   Maybe we could study with some of the other guys in the class.   That might help,” Rick said, looking around the room.   His eyes fell on two guys at the front of the room.   He said, “Let’s talk to them, and see if they want to form a study group.”

We walked up to them, and Rick said, “Hey, I’m Rick and this is Glenn.”

They stopped talking to each other.   They both had dark brown hair.   The taller one was wiry and thin, with a swimmer’s body.   He wore a white tank top and khaki carpenter shorts and flip flops.  He had dreamy blue eyes, dimples and a terrific smile.    He introduced himself, “I’m Mason and this is Duane.”   He shook Rick’s hand and mine.

Duane shook my hand, but didn’t let go of it right away.   Duane looked into my eyes.   He had light green eyes with flecks of silver in them.   He sported a goatee that emphasized his square jaw.  Duane wore a printed shirt that he wore unbuttoned and board shorts that hung low on his hips, showing his bright blue Speedo underwear.   He had a sun tattoo that was centered on his naval.   He grinned as he watched me look him over.   His deep baritone voice seemed to rumble in his chest, before it came out.  “Glad to meet you, Glenn.   Do you like my tattoo?”

I smiled, “Yeah.   It’s rather unusual.”

Duane finally released my hand, and pulled off his shirt.   He had several other tattoos on his arms and on his back.   I admired his tattoos, as well as his well-muscled body.   It was obvious that he worked out on the weights.   He flexed his muscles, which made the tattoos on his biceps ripple.   “What do you think?”

“I think you have some pretty awesome ink, there,” I said. 

Rick noted, “And some pretty good definition, as well.”

Duane smiled, “You look pretty buff yourself, Rick.”

Rick nodded his head.  “We hit the gym several times a week.”

“So do we,” Duane said.   “I have us on a special diet, to help us maintain muscle mass.”

“You will have to share that with me,” Rick said.   “I have a hard time convincing Glenn to eat healthy foods.   He likes his pizza a little too much!”

I laughed, and said, “That is too true.”

Mason asked, “How are you guys doing in this class?”

“Terrible,” I responded.   “We were just talking about dropping the class, when Rick suggested we hook up with you guys to form a study group.”

Mason looked at Duane.  “We were just debating whether or not to continue with this class, as well.   What do you think?”

Duane said, “I’m up for trying a study group, but I think we need to be clear about something first.”

My eyebrows shot up in surprise at the harshness of his tone.   “What might that be?” I asked, wondering at his sudden change of attitude.

“We’re gay and we’re a couple.   Do you have a problem with that?” Duane asked us, with more than a little hostility in his voice.

I glanced at Rick, and waited for Rick to decide what he wanted to reveal about us.   Rick smiled, and said, “We’re okay with that as long as you don’t make any passes at my boyfriend.”

Duane laughed, and said, “I wondered if you were gay.   I knew Glenn was, when he checked me out, but I wasn’t sure about you.”

Rick agreed. “That is usually the case, because Glenn can’t help himself when it comes to checking out the good looking guys!   Do you guys want to study here on campus?   You’re welcome to come to our place to study, as well.”

Duane said, “Let’s start here on campus.   After we get to know you better, we can decide if we want to go to your place, or ours.   I’m sorry if I don’t sound very trusting; but we have had bad experiences with folks who seem to be our friends, but then, turn out to be enemies.”

“We certainly can understand that.   We’ve had a few bad experiences, as well.   Let’s get lunch, and we can study as we eat,” I suggested.

Mason agreed.  “Sounds like a plan.”   Mason had a light, tenor voice.   I thought to myself that he would make a great addition to any choir, with that voice.   As we left the classroom, Mason asked, “Where are you from?”

“I’m from Saskatchewan.   It’s one of the western provinces of Canada.”

“I know.   I’m from Post Falls, Idaho,” Mason said.

Duane put his shirt back on, and said, “I’m from Spokane, Washington.   Rick, where are you from?”

“I’m from North Carolina,” Rick said, as we walked towards the Wenn Student Center.

Duane looked at Rick, and asked, “How did you guys meet?   You don’t strike me as being the type of guy who goes to gay bars to find a date.”

I waited for Rick to respond.   When he didn’t, I said, “My cousin, Keith, introduced us,” I said.   I related our story, with Rick filling in details I left out.   We found our way to the food court, and grabbed a table.   Everyone got their favorite things to eat and returned to our table, where we pulled out our books.

“Since we told you how we met, tell us how you met Mason,” I asked Duane.

“We met at Dempsey’s Brass Rail in Spokane.   One night I was dancing with another guy, and Mason joined us.   I took Mason home with me that night, and we have been together ever since,” Duane said.

Mason said, “We struggled to make ends meet those first few months we were together.   A couple of our friends got jobs working with a software development company, and encouraged us to apply for jobs at the same company.   We both got interviews.   We were told that there weren’t any positions available locally; but, they had positions here in Atlanta.   They offered to move us, and pay for our education.   So, here we are, and, of course, we’re computer science majors.”

“Why are you taking Spanish, then?” asked Rick.

“Because we like to vacation in Cancun, Mexico,” Duane said.   “We meet a group of our friends there every year.   We wanted to be able to do some touring outside of the resort, so we decided to learn to speak Spanish.”

“Are you working on a minor in Spanish?” I asked.

“No, we aren’t,” Duane said “But, we decided to take the literature class, so we could better relate to the Hispanic population, here in the area.   There are a lot of people from Central America in Atlanta.   Are you majoring in Spanish?”

“Yes, I am.   Rick is taking the class with me, so we have at least one class together,” I said.   I gave him a worried look.  “But I don’t want him to get a bad grade on my account.”

Rick smiled, and said, “I won’t get a bad grade, because you are going to make sure we both get good grades.”   He leaned over and kissed me.

Duane grinned, “I’m glad to see that you are comfortable enough with who you are, to actually show affection in public.”

“I really shouldn’t, because I’m in the Marine Corps,” Rick said.

“Then, you should be more circumspect than you have been,” Mason said.   “The military doesn’t look favorably on gays.”

“I know,” Rick said.   “My friend, Sam, was murdered by his fellow Marines for being gay.”

“I’m sorry,” Duane said.   “No one deserves to be murdered for being who they are.   Did they catch the guys who did it?”

“Yes, they did.   They are going to be in prison, for the rest of their lives,” Rick said.

Mason said, “Good!   Maybe that will help keep the rest of us safe from crazy trigger happy Marines.”

“I don’t know, Mason.   I’m a Marine, and I’m not trigger happy, or crazy; but I know of several of my fellow Marines who hate gays so much they have vowed to kill any they meet,” Rick said.

“Where do they live?” Duane asked.   “I want to make sure I don’t meet up with them in some dark alley.”

“Here in Atlanta,” Rick responded.   “They are in the reserves, just like I am.”

“Doesn’t that bother you?” Duane asked.   “I mean doesn’t it bother you to have to be around such hateful people?”

“It does, but I’m not going to live my life in fear because of a couple of ignorant men who have been brainwashed by the religious right into thinking that the end of the world will be caused by gays,” Rick said.

Duane agreed, “I’m with you on that.   I’m not religious and I don’t want anything to do with those who profess to be on a mission from God to save my soul.   They can stay in their churches and preach to one another all they want; but I don’t want to see them on my doorstep, trying to peddle their brand of hatred to me.   Yes, they have the right to express themselves; but I have the right not to be harassed, persecuted, bullied, called names or discriminated against, because I don’t agree with their religious views.   I don’t want anything to do with ‘Christian’ religions and that includes putting up Christmas trees and any other type of religious symbols.

Mason said, “That’s true.   Duane argues with me every year, when I put up a Christmas tree.   He tells me I need to let go of my childhood and face the reality that most good ‘Christians’ won’t even speak to me, let alone want to get to know me.”

“How long have you two been together?” I asked.

Duane looked at Mason, and said, “I think it’s been five years.”

“Yes, it’s been five years.   We have been here for two years, now, and we lived together in Spokane for three years, before that,” Mason said.   “How long have you two been together?”

“We have been together for a little over two years, now.   Rick was on active duty, last year,” I said.

“Wasn’t that hard to be here all alone?” Mason asked.

“Yes, it was hard to be without Rick; but I decided to stay with my cousin in Minneapolis, and went to school there, while Rick was gone,” I said.

Duane looked at Mason, and said, “If Mason were gone that long, he wouldn’t have a boyfriend when he got back, because I would’ve found a new boyfriend during that time.”

I was more than a little surprised.  “But I thought you two were in a committed relationship.”

“We are, but I won’t wait around for Mason, if he ever decides to take off and leave me,” Duane said.   “I got burned by an ex-boyfriend who took off for basic training, promising me he’d be back.   Well, guess what?   He came back alright!   He came back married to some chick he got pregnant, while he was out with his buddies.”

I looked at Mason, and asked, “Are you okay with what Duane is saying?”

“Duane has been very blunt about things.   He has made sure that I understood where he was coming from, with his attitudes about our relationship,” Mason said.   “I love him, Glenn.   That is why we are still together, despite Duane’s rough edges.”

Duane nodded his head.  “I love Mason, but there are certain things I won’t tolerate, and I have been crystal clear about those things.”

Rick and I glanced at each other, then Rick asked, “How old are you guys?”

Duane shot back, “Why do you ask?”   His voice was hard as steel, and he gave Rick a hard stare.

“I didn’t mean to offend you, Duane.   It’s just that you seem to be more focused than most students, who have just left high school,” Rick replied.

Duane laughed.  “I’m more focused, because I have to be.   Our employer is paying for our classes.   We can’t afford to goof around.   How old are you guys?”

“Glenn is 20 and I’m 21,” Rick replied.

“Okay, we are a little older than you guys.   I’m 27 and Mason is 34,” Duane said.

“We haven’t been around many gay guys that are older than us,” I said.  

Duane laughed, “We must seem like old men to you!”

I blushed.  “Well, yeah.”

Mason smiled, and said, “I guess we are a little older than the traditional students that attend Georgia Tech.”

“It also explains why you and Duane seem so sure of yourselves and who you are,” Rick said.

Duane said, “I’m proud to be gay, and I’m not about to let anyone walk on me or try to put me down.   I have this philosophy that if you respect me, I will respect you; however, more importantly, heaven help you if you try to treat me with disrespect.   I have very little patience for pansies.   If you have the balls to disrespect me for who I am, you had better be ready to do combat, because I will clean your clock!”

Mason nodded his head, confirming Duane’s statement.  “I’ve seen Duane in action, and I, for one, wouldn’t want to cross him!”

Rick looked at Duane, and asked, “Where did you learn to fight?”

“I have a black belt in karate, but that isn’t where I learned to fight.   I learned to fight on the streets of Los Angeles, where I grew up.   I ran with a gang for protection.   I used to get beat up all the time, for being gay, but then my brother and a couple of the members of his gang took me under their wing and protected me.”

“Is that why you have all of the tattoos?” I asked.

“Yes,” Duane said.   He pointed to each one and related what each one meant.   “I’m not a member of a gang anymore.   My brother landed in jail, as did his buddies.   I ended up in a juvenile detention center.   It was pretty rough in there.   They said it would help reform me.   They were dead wrong!   It was worse than being on the streets with gangs!”

“How did you end up in Spokane?” Rick asked.

“After I got out, I went to live with my grandparents, who live in Coeur D’Alene, Idaho.   I got a job in Spokane at the same company where my Grandpa works.   I commuted back and forth from Coeur D’Alene with my Grandpa, until I saved enough money to move out on my own.   They treated me like a child – always asking me where I spent the night, and scolding me for not calling them.   I got out of there as fast as I could,” Duane replied.  

“I was living at home with my parents after losing my job, when I met Duane,” Mason said.   “He took me home with him that night, then asked me to move in with him.   I told him I didn’t have a job and didn’t want to be a bother to him.   He insisted that I move in, and we would look for a job for me.   I ended up being a bartender at the one of clubs near our place.”

 “How did you like working as a bartender?” I asked.   “I don’t drink, so we don’t go clubbing very often.”

“I liked it, but Duane hated watching the guys hitting on me,” Mason said, with a grin.

Duane confirmed what Mason said, “I’m very possessive and I don’t like other guys messing with my man!”

“I agree with you completely,” Rick said, squeezing my hand under the table.

Duane laughed, and said, “It’s a wonder every gay guy in town hasn’t tried to make a pass at Glenn.   It’s a good thing you don’t go out clubbing every weekend, or you would have to keep Glenn in a chastity belt!”

I laughed, looking over at Rick.  “Rick doesn’t have to worry about that, because I won’t let anyone else touch me, but him.”

“That’s true.   There were a couple of guys who tried to get in Glenn’s pants, while I was on active duty and failed,” Rick said, looking at me.

“My Dad tried to convince me to leave Rick, while he was overseas.   He wanted me to find a girl and settle down with her, instead of living with Rick,” I said.

Duane hissed his disapproval, “That sounds like my grandparents reaction, when they found out I was living with Mason.”

“They wouldn’t even let me in their house,” Mason said.   “They caused quite an ugly scene, when Duane took me to their house to introduce me to them.”

I glanced at my watch, and said, “Guys, I’ve got to run to my next class.   Can we catch up with you tomorrow to study our Spanish assignment?”

“Sure,” Duane said.   “We haven’t finished the reading assignment, yet, so we will work on it tonight.”

I frowned, “We haven’t either.   Aren’t we supposed to read Ernesto Sabato’s ‘El Tunel,’ and write an essay, analyzing the symbolism the author uses?”

“That’s correct,” Duane said.   “And don’t forget that it all has to be written in Spanish, too.”

“I haven’t forgotten,” Rick said, with a groan.

Mason laughed.  “I know exactly how you feel!”

I said, “The worst thing about the story is that it’s about a guy’s obsession over a woman!   I have to keep pretending that he’s obsessing over a real stud, like Rick, to keep from throwing up as I’m reading it!”

Rick said, “I can relate to him, because I was that way over Angie at one time.”

Duane raised his eyebrows in surprise.  “Really?   You were in love with a girl?”

Rick nodded his head, “Yes, it was during our senior year of high school.   I got her pregnant, and she decided it was my fault.   She sent her brothers to beat me up.   Luckily, Glenn’s cousins came to my rescue.”

“Hopefully, that taught you a lesson,” Duane said.

“It did.   I never trusted another woman.   I became quite a womanizer.   My goal was to sleep with a different one every weekend.   My philosophy was ‘fuck’em and leave’em,’ which suited me fine.   Then, I met Glenn,” Rick said.

“And the rest is history,” Mason said, with a smile.

“That’s true,” I said.   I stood up to go.   I kissed Rick, and said, “I will see you in the library, in our usual spot.   Hey, I’ll catch you guys tomorrow, then.”

I walked to my next class.  I entered the music room, and took a seat next Gerald, giving him an appreciative look.   Gerald was 6’ (183 cm.) with an athletic body.   His honey colored skin matched his honey brown eyes.   He had a broad smile, and a jolly laugh.   He kept his jet black hair in cornrows.   I loved looking at him.   He saw me giving him the “look” and he flexed his muscles for me.   He was a gym rat and loved showing off his muscles.   “You like?”

I grinned.  “Yes, I like very much.   For a straight guy, you look pretty good!”

He laughed, “And you look pretty good for a gay guy!”

“Thanks, I think,” I said, laughing.

“You’re welcome.   There aren’t many guys from Macclenny, Florida, that look as good as I do,” Gerald said.   “I need to find me a woman who appreciates my beauty as much as you do, Glenn.”

“I thought you had a girlfriend in Macclenny,” I said.

“Yes, I HAD a girlfriend, there,” Gerald said.   “However, I don’t have a girlfriend, anymore, and I am very horny.”

I laughed.  “I could probably find a couple of gay guys that would be willing to help you out!”

Gerald fixed me with a stare that said “No Way,” then he laughed, “If I don’t get laid soon, I may have to take you up on that offer.”

We didn’t realize that Dr. Bigelow was standing behind, until he said, “If you need relief, Gerald, I can help you out in that department.”

We both turned around in surprise.   There was an obvious tent in Dr. Bigelow’s trousers.   He walked to the front of the class.   Gerald look at me with wide eyes, and said, “I didn’t know Dr. Bigelow swung your way, Glenn.”

I nodded my head, and I whispered, “He is quite the pervert.   He has his eye on my partner, Rick.”

Gerald looked at me, in surprise.  “Really?”

“Yes, really,” I replied.

Dr. Bigelow began his lecture.   When he finished, he walked over to us, and said, “Please feel free to stop by my office any time, Gerald.   The same goes for you, Glenn.”

He left us and I turned to Gerald, and said, “I wouldn’t go anywhere near the man.   He gives me the creeps.”

“You and me both,” Gerald said, nodding his head in agreement.   “When did you want to get together to practice the concerto we have been assigned?”

“How about after orchestra rehearsal?   I have some free time.   We can grab a practice room, or you are welcome to come over to our place,” I said.

“Let’s go to your place.   I don’t want to hang out around here.   I don’t want to give Dr. Bigelow any reason to believe I want him around,” Gerald said.

We went to our rehearsal, then we met Rick at the library.   I introduced Gerald to Rick, “Gerald, this is my life partner, Rick Lernier.   Rick, this is Gerald Lee.”

They shook hands, and we took a seat at the table with him.   Rick asked, “Where are you from Gerald?”

“I’m from Macclenny, Florida.   I’m studying electrical engineering, with a minor in music technology,” Gerald said.

“Gerald and I are playing the solo parts in the Bach double violin concerto for our upcoming concert.   We thought we would practice at our place, instead of staying on campus,” I said.

Gerald saw the puzzled look on Rick’s face, and elaborated, “Dr. Bigelow invited me to drop by his office anytime.   I don’t need some 50 year-old pervert trying to get in my pants!”

Rick laughed, and said, “I don’t blame you.   It was pretty obvious that he had the hots for me, and I’m glad I don’t have him as a professor.   In fact, I have been trying to convince Glenn to switch majors.”

“Rick says I would be better off taking private lessons to improve my skills.   Rick thinks that Dr. Bigelow might try to corner me, and rape me if I’m not careful,” I said.

Gerald agreed, “He does seem rather spooky that way.”

“I have thought of switching to business management,” I said.   “I know it would make my Dad happy.   He thinks I have gone soft in the head, by majoring in Spanish with a minor in music.”

“You could go with computer science, Glenn.   There will always be a need for computer programmers,” Gerald said.

Rick said, “Let’s go, guys.   I’m hungry.   Glenn makes a pretty good baked ziti dish.   I think we should stop and get some garlic bread and salad fixings to go with it.   What do you say, Glenn?”

I nodded my head.  “I think that sounds good.”

We left the library and got our car.   Gerald followed us to the grocery store, then home.   We parked and Gerald helped us carry our groceries up to our condo.   I put some water on to boil for the pasta, then put together some bruschetta for the guys to snack on.   I pulled my cell phone out and called Keith.

“Hey, Keith!   Are you and Kerry up for some baked ziti tonight?”

“Sure, what time?” Keith asked.

“About an hour from now,” I said.

“Cool!   I’ll tell Kerry.   She’ll be happy that she doesn’t have to cook tonight.   Egan was up most of the night, last night, and we are both really tired,” Keith said.

“We’ll see you in an hour, then,” I said, and ended the call.

Rick said, “Tell me about yourself, Gerald.”

Gerald said, “I already told you where I’m from and what I’m doing for school.    I have a 2-year old daughter, LaTisha, who lives with my ex-girlfriend’s mother.   My parents were killed in a car accident about three years ago.   I am an only child, and I am using the money from their estate to get an education.”

“I’m sorry to hear about your parents,” Rick said.

“I was pretty devastated.  My ex-girlfriend was the only person I knew I could turn to, for comfort at that time.   That is why we ended up with LaTisha.   We were too much in lust, to think about the consequences of having unprotected sex,” Gerald said.   “I love my daughter very much.   However, my girlfriend has turned out to be a real pain.   I wish I hadn’t messed around with her,” he said, ruefully.   “I’m paying child support and I go home to visit LaTisha on holidays.   She is very cute and looks a lot like her mother.”

“Why didn’t you marry your ex-girlfriend?” Rick said.

“I wasn’t in love with her,” Gerald said, earnestly.   “I want to marry someone who loves me and appreciates me.   Sharon only wants me for my money.”

“How do you know that?” I asked.

“She told me herself that the only reason she wanted to have sex with me was to trap me into marrying her.   She wanted to have a big house and lots of money, and knew that I had inherited quite a sum of money.   She thought if she had my child that I would marry her, and she could get her hands on my money.   She thought I was a big push over,” Gerald said.   “And maybe I was, at that time.   I was grieving for my parents, and I turned to her.   It didn’t take me long to find out she really didn’t care about me, or the child.   Sharon’s mother takes care of LaTisha, since Sharon has moved to New York City with her new boyfriend.   Sharon said she couldn’t be bothered to take care of a baby, and that if I couldn’t care for her that she would put the baby up for adoption.   Her mother volunteered to care for her granddaughter, while I got an education.   I pay her child support, so she can stay home with LaTisha.”

I stood up from the table and dumped a box of ziti pasta into the boiling water, stirring it to keep it from sticking together.   I returned to the table, and sat next to Rick.   Rick looked at me, and asked, “Did you remember that the guys are coming over for bible study tonight?”

I slapped my forehead with the palm of my hand, “No, I didn’t!   It’s a good thing I’m making baked ziti.”

Gerald looked at me in surprise.  “I thought gays didn’t believe in God.”

“I can’t speak for other gay guys, but Glenn and I believe in God; however, we don’t believe in organized religion,” Rick said.   “We and some of our friends have had very bad experiences with so called ‘Christian’ churches and their members.”

Gerald said, “I have always been told that gays were sinners, and didn’t believe in God.”

“Well, that is what most ‘Christian’ preachers would have you believe,” Rick said.   “Let me tell about what my good ‘Christian’ family did to me.”

Rick related what had happened to us.   “And that isn’t the worst of it.   Our friends, Greg and Cory, were attacked by their father, because of the religious teachings of his church.”   Rick continued to narrate their story to Gerald.  

When he finished, Gerald had tears in his eyes.   “I can’t believe that parents would turn against their own flesh and blood.   I love my LaTisha so much I can’t imagine ever doing her any harm.”

“I found it hard to believe, as well, Gerald,” I said.   “When I went to visit Rick during spring break, I was shocked at how badly hurt the two boys were.   They are living in Minneapolis, now, with my band of brothers.”

Gerald looked at me curiously.  “Band of brothers?   Who are they?”

“They were my roommates at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities.   While Rick was on active duty, I went to school with my cousin and his friends.   They are so totally awesome.”   I went on to describe each one of the wonderful guys who were my roommates.

Gerald said, “No wonder you call them your band of brothers.   They sound like really great guys.”

I got up and went into the family room.  I retrieved a group photo we had taken last spring.   I returned to the kitchen, and showed the photo to Gerald.   I pointed to each guy, as I stated his name, “This is Mark, Brandon, Brian, Justin, Robbie, Adam, Zach, Todd, Ben, Rick and me.   Mark, Zach and Todd are on the school’s hockey team.”

Gerald asked, in amazement, “Do you mean to tell me these guys are all gay?’

“All of them, except my cousin, Ben,” I said.   “He got married to Janice, last summer.   Zach and Todd are married, as are Mark and Brandon, and Justin and Brian.”   I pointed to the couples in the photo.  

“How can they be married?   I didn’t think Minnesota allowed gay marriages,” Gerald said.

“They don’t.   They went to Thunder Bay, Ontario, to get married,” I said.

Rick spoke up, “Glenn, do you want me to check the pasta?”

“No, I got it, Babe.   Thank you for reminding me,” I said, giving Rick a quick kiss on the lips.
I drained the pasta, then combined it with my favorite bottled spaghetti sauce, mozzarella and parmesan cheeses and poured the mixture into a baking dish.   I put it in the oven and set the timer for 30 minutes.   I asked, “Rick, will you help me with a green salad?”

“Sure,” Rick replied, with a grin.   I retrieved the vegetables from the fridge.   I washed them and left them on the sideboard to drain.   Rick picked them up and started chopping them up, then putting them in the salad bowl.

Gerald said, “I love watching you guys.   I can tell how much you love each other.   I want the same kind of relationship with my future wife.”

Rick smiled. “Are you sure you won’t marry a guy?”

Gerald laughed.  “I’m sure.   I’m not attracted to guys, at all.”

There was a knock on the door.   “Gerald, will you get the door?”

“Sure,” he responded.   Gerald got up and left the kitchen.   He soon returned with Keith and Kerry.   Keith was carrying Egan.  

I smiled at them and asked, “Did you meet Gerald?”

“Yes, he introduced himself, when he opened the door,” Keith said.

Gerald asked, “May I hold the baby?”

Keith nodded his head, “Sure.”  Keith settled Egan in Gerald’s arms.

Gerald looked so natural, holding the little guy.   “He looks so much like you, Keith,” he said.

“I have to admit he is quite a handsome little fellow,” Keith said.

Kerry laughed, and said, “And he is going to be just as conceited as his father, when he grows up.”

“I can’t help it if I’m the best looking guy in the room,” Keith said, grinning at his wife.

Kerry kissed him and said, “Yes, I agree you are the best looking husband in the room.”

Keith looked crestfallen, “I’m the only husband in the room!”

“Yes, you are, dear, and that makes you the best one, because you’re mine,” Kerry said, ruffling his hair.

There was another knock on the door.   This time, I went to the door to let the guys in.   I opened the door, and said, “Come in, guys.”

Cordell and Michael came in, and each gave me a hug.   Next, came Jeb and a nice looking blond girl.   She was tall and slender, with long hair that hung down to her waist.   Her bright blue eyes looked into mine, as Jeb said, “I hope it’s okay for me to bring my girlfriend, Jill.”

“Nice to meet you, Jill.   I’m Glenn,” I said.   “Welcome.”

Her voice was like the tinkling of little bells, when she spoke.   She said, “Thank you, Glenn.”

They came in, and I led them to the kitchen.   I introduced the guys and Jill to Gerald.   Gerald smiled and said, “It’s nice to meet you.”

Rick pulled down the dishes and everyone helped set the table.   I pulled out some lemonade and some sweet tea out of the fridge to go with our meal.   Rick cut the garlic bread, and threw it in the oven to warm.

When the timer went off, I pulled the bread and the baked ziti out of the oven and placed them on the table.   “Let’s eat,” I said.

Rick asked, “Keith, will you say grace?”

“Sure,” he replied.   When he finished, we all said, “Amen,” and we started our meal.   I looked around the table and saw that everyone was enjoying the food and the company.   Nothing makes me happier than to have my friends and family around the dinner table, enjoying a great meal and talking with each other.

After dinner, the guys cleared the table.   I looked at Rick, and said, “Why don’t you get everything set up in the family room, while I finish up the dishes?”

Rick agreed and led the way into the family room.   Jill and Kerry stayed behind and helped me finish up the dishes.

Jill asked, “How long have you been with Rick?”

“A little more than two years, now,” I said.

Jill said, “You two seem to be very much in love.   I can tell by how you look at each other, and the little things that speak of a very close and loving relationship.   Jeb told me that I needed to meet you and Rick, because I wasn’t convinced that two guys could ever be in love with each other, like a man loves a woman.”

“I wondered why you were watching us so closely,” I replied.

“I’m trying to have an open mind about two guys loving each other,” Jill said.   She had a troubled look on her face.   “I have always been taught that being homosexual is wrong.   When I met Jeb, I saw something in his eyes that made me think he is Mr. Right; so, when he asked me go out with him I was very excited about it.   We had a great time together that first night.   I was floating on air when I came home.   My parents could see that I was quite smitten with Jeb.   I still am.   Jeb introduced me to Cordell and Michael on our second date.   I told him that I couldn’t associate with them, because they were gay and Jeb told me that if it was a choice between his gay friends and me that I lost.   That really shook me.   I couldn’t believe that a nice God-fearing guy, like Jeb would choose to be friends with homosexuals.”

Kerry asked, “So why did you come here tonight?”

Jeb begged me to have an open mind, and to at least give his gay friends a chance to show they are just like any other couple, and that my pastor’s anti-gay sermons are not what Jesus taught.   Jeb insisted that I needed to meet Glenn and Rick, so I could see for myself what wonderful people they are and how much they love each other.”

“Glenn and Rick are very devoted to each other,” Kerry said, looking over at me. 

I had stopped putting away the dishes to listen to Jill.   I looked at her, and said, “I hope that you can work things out between you and Jeb, because it’s obvious that he really likes you, Jill.   I know how far Jeb has come from his very bigoted and hateful views of gays, to where he is today.   It’s amazing how peoples’ views change, when they take the time to get to know us.   We aren’t monsters, pedophiles, or crazed sex fiends.   We are normal people.   Just because we happen to love someone of the same sex doesn’t make us inhuman or insane.   We aren’t diseased, or psycho.   We want to have the same rights as straight people do – we want to be married and to be treated with dignity and respect.”

“I think that’s reasonable,” Jill said.

“I do, as well,” Kerry agreed.

“Maybe you can spread the message to all of the religious bigots who are trying to pass laws against us.   They give sermons and put out ads denigrating us, blaming us for all the evils that are afflicting society.   The worst part is that they encourage violence against gays,” I said.   “Let me tell you about a few examples of such behavior.”   I related what had happened to me and Rick.   Then I talked to her about Greg and Cory.

“Jeb told me about them.   He said that is what really started him thinking about how wrong his father was about gays,” Jill said.

“Did he mention how many ‘Christian’ ministers advocate violence, but then in small print add, ‘But we don’t condone illegal acts,’ as a parenthetical statement after they have inflamed their congregations to take action against gays,” I asked.   “It’s almost like they are trying to inoculate themselves against criminal and civil lawsuits, when their members commit murder in their name; because then they can claim that they told their angry mobs not to do anything illegal.”

Jill nodded her head.  “He told me about how his Dad does that, as do all of the other ministers he knows.   I disagree with what they are doing.   It goes against everything I have been taught about being a good Christian.”

Kerry said, “That’s because they have built up their churches to get gain.   They are in the religion business, for the money and the power.   Keith and I have been very happy with our new church.   It’s the First Metropolitan Community Church.”

“Jeb has asked me to go with him to your services.   I don’t know how my parents will react to that,” Jill said.

I said, “They are very accepting of gays.   We have been going there for a few weeks, now, with Keith and Kerry.”

Kerry said, “I think that if you tell your parents you are going with us that they will be fine with it.”

“I will think about it,” Jill said.

Jeb came into the kitchen, and asked, “Are you going to join us for Bible study?”

We looked at each other, then Jill said, “Yes, we are going to join you.”

We got up from the kitchen table, and joined the guys in the family room.

Jeb beckoned for Jill to join him on the loveseat.   I sat next to Rick who put his arm around my shoulders.   I snuggled closer to him, as he held the Bible open on his lap.

Jeb said, “Let’s start with a prayer.”  

Jeb had become our spiritual leader, as he walked us through our Bible study sessions.   During our first meeting, as a group, Jeb had led us through a discussion about who Christ was and what we thought were his character traits.   Each of the following weeks, Jeb selected one of the attributes we had identified.   Jeb led us through the scriptures to discover the basis for each attribute and why it was so important to the overall character of the Great Teacher and how we could cultivate it in our own lives.

After the prayer, Jeb said, “Tonight’s subject is forgiveness.   We need to learn to forgive others, and ourselves, for things that happen to us.   We also need to learn how to seek forgiveness, when we give offense to someone else.”

Jeb led us through a series of scriptures that made it clear that we are to forgive everyone their trespasses.   Jeb asked, “How many times should we forgive someone?”

Gerald said, “Seventy times seven according to that verse.”

Jeb said “Correct.   That is what is says.   But for us to clearly understand what was being taught, we have to understand Jewish tradition and culture.   The statement, “Seventy times Seven,” meant an infinite number of times, or you could say we are required to forgive every offense no matter how many times it happens.”

Gerald said, “That’s hard to do, Jeb.   My girlfriend, Sharon, has repeatedly tried to get my money, and has told me that I’m worthless and good for nothing except to be hauled out with the trash.”

Jeb looked at Gerald and nodded his head, “I understand, Gerald.   I’m having a hard time forgiving my parents for disowning me, solely based on a difference of opinion.   I don’t agree with their stance on gays, specifically their call for violence against another of God’s children.”

Gerald said, “Sharon has signed over sole custody of our child to me.   She has shown zero interest in our baby.   She claims she has no responsibility, as a parent.”

“But her mother is helping you take care of LaTisha, isn’t she?” Jeb asked.

“Yes, she is.   Mom Strickland is wonderful and loves LaTisha very much.   I wish I could be closer to them, while I go to school,” Gerald said.

“You can be, Gerald.   You can buy the condo next to ours, and move Mom Strickland and LaTisha here to Atlanta,” Kerry said.

Gerald looked at Kerry in surprise, “Do you think that would really be something Mom Strickland would consider?”

“Sure, especially if you tell her it’s only for a couple of years, while you finish school,” Kerry said.

Gerald thought for a moment, “She might do it.   She is a widow and doesn’t have anyone at home with her.   Sharon’s brother, Eugene, could take care of her house.   He was looking for a place to live, with his wife and kids.”

“Why don’t you call her, and see what she says?” I asked.

Gerald nodded his head and stood up.   He walked out of the room to make his call.   We could hear him talking to her about it.   He returned with a big grin on his face.   “She said she would agree to move to Atlanta, as long as her sister, Celia, could live with us while she is getting cancer treatments here.”

Kerry smiled, “My neighbors haven’t put the condo on the market, yet, so I will let them know that I have a potential buyer.   Keith and I would love to have you live next door to us.”

Gerald said, “Thank you for suggesting it, Kerry.   Now, I won’t miss out on seeing my daughter grow up.”  

There were tears in his eyes that he tried to hide, but Kerry saw them.  She got up and walked over to him.   She hugged him and said, “It’s okay, Gerald, I understand how you feel.   I have a little one, too.”   She took his hand and led him back to his seat next to her and Keith.

Jeb said, “Gerald, it looks like you just got adopted by this wonderful family.”

Gerald smiled, “It seems like it.   I have been so lonely, since I moved here.   Since I have a child, most students won’t take the time to get to know me.   They can’t relate to the worries I have about my daughter.   Glenn befriended me, from the beginning.   I’m glad you invited me to your home tonight, Glenn.   It feels great to have a place to be among friends.”

I said, “You’re welcome.   We still haven’t rehearsed for our concert, though.”

Jeb asked, “What concert?”

“We have a concert in a couple of weeks and we are the soloists,” I said.

Jeb said, “I’m finished with our topic for the evening.   Would you mind playing for us?”

I looked over at Gerald.   Gerald shrugged, “I’m okay with it, if you are Glenn.   The only thing is that you guys can’t expect us to be perfect.   We have practiced our parts separately, and this will be our first time putting it together.”

Kerry said, “We understand that you aren’t ready to perform it yet.   Maybe you can play the parts you are most comfortable with, instead of playing the entire piece.”

I nodded, “Okay.   Let’s get our instruments.”   We set up our music stands, and tuned our instruments.   We played through the first few pages, before we decided we needed to stop and start over.   I grinned at Gerald, “It’s a good thing we started to practicing together.   I hate to think what a disaster it would have been, otherwise!”

Gerald laughed and looked around the room, “I warned you guys we weren’t ready.”

Cordell said, “That’s okay.   It’s kind of like how Jeb and I work together on the football field.   We have to practice, and practice our plays, until they are second nature to us.   Then, when we execute them in the game, we can do it perfectly and win every time.”

Jeb agreed, “That’s true.   It takes a lot of practice to get good at what we do.”

Michael said, “That includes getting good grades in class.   I am really struggling in my classes this semester.”

Jeb laughed, “I think I know why!”

Cordell blushed, as did Michael.   Gerald looked at the two guys and asked, “How long have you two been a couple?”

Michael smiled.  “Only since school started.   Jeb is right.   We have spent a lot of time together, and not all of it doing our studies.”

Cordell took Michael’s hand.  “I have to admit that I’m having difficulty keeping up on my homework.   We have talked about limiting our time together.”

Rick said, “You have to be rather disciplined about it.   Glenn and I have developed a set schedule, so we spend the time to get our homework completed.   Otherwise, we would never get anything done, because Glenn can’t keep his hands off of me!”

I protested, “I’m not the one who decided we needed to have some recreational activities, instead of reading our Spanish literature assignment, last night!”

Rick grinned, “No, you weren’t, but you didn’t complain about it, either!”

“No, I didn’t, because I wanted it as much as you did,” I admitted.   “But that isn’t the point.   We do have a fairly disciplined approach to our studies, most of the time.”

Michael complained, “The problem is that there isn’t any time for us to be together, because of Cordell’s football commitments.   He has to practice every day, then there are his games.”

Cordell said, “Football practices do take up a lot of my time.   I still have to maintain good grades, at the same time.”

“Glenn and I don’t have all the answers for you,” Rick said.   “But there has to be something you can work out between the two of you, so that you can spend quality time together and still keep up with the homework.”

Jeb said, “I’m having the same problem. since I met Jill.   It’s almost like the coaches don’t want us to have a social life.   They keep telling us that we need to stay focused on the game.”

“Well, you know how much Georgia Tech loves their football team,” Keith said.

Cordell said, “Believe me!   We know!”

“Yes, there has been a lot of pressure to keep up our winning streak,” Jeb said.

Rick said, “I think you need to keep your minds focused on the game, then, until after the football season is over.   Michael and Jill will have to be patient and understanding.”

“Michael has been very supportive of me,” Cordell said.   “We talk every night and we get together, when we can.”

Gerald said, “We need to practice.   Is there another room, where we can go so we don’t bother anyone?”

“Follow me,” I responded.   “Please excuse us.  We will talk to everyone later.”

Gerald followed me down the hallway to our spare bedroom, which I had turned into a music room.   We set up, then we began rehearsing.   After we finished, Gerald asked, “Can I ask you something?”

“Sure,” I said, looking over at him.

“Do you really think that your cousin and his wife would really like having me as their neighbor?” Gerald asked.

I looked closely at Gerald, and said, “They said they would love to have you as their neighbor.   I believe they meant what they said.   Why?”

Gerald said, “It’s just that, in the past, families like mine wouldn’t be allowed to buy a condo in this building.”

I looked at Gerald, in total and complete shock.   I had never heard of such a thing.   I had read about discrimination in the Southern United States in our history books in school, but there had never been a discussion about it in class.  Being a farm boy from the prairies of Saskatchewan had shielded me from many things, including discrimination against anyone who was different.   Yes, I had some problems with a couple of kids at school about being gay; but that had been minimal given the fact that my cousin, Ben, and his friends took me under their wing.  Then, I thought about Mom and wondered why she never talked about how prevalent discrimination was here.   She talked about her family and growing up on the peach farm, but never about such topics.  As I processed what Gerald said, it reinforced for me that people here had a history of discriminating against anyone they didn’t like, or who didn’t fit their definition of being acceptable to society.  Things like the color of your skin, your sexual orientation, your religion or your social status.  

I said, “It may have been like that in the past Gerald, but it doesn’t seem to be like that now – at least not in this condo complex.   There are people from all over the world, who live here.   You would be more than welcome here.   I think you would find that the people who live here are very open and friendly to everyone.”

Gerald smiled, “I know that you and your family want me here.”

I nodded my head, “Yes, that’s true.   You are a good person, Gerald.   I want you to be happy, and having your daughter near you will make you happy.   I have watched the sadness come into your eyes, when you are talking about being away from her.”

Gerald acknowledged his longing for his daughter, “I do miss my LaTisha very much.”

We packed up our instruments and went back to the family room.   Rick was watching the news.   He looked up, and smiled at me, “I thought you guys were never going to quit!”

I walked over, and sat down next to my guy.   Rick pulled me close, and I gave him a quick kiss on the lips.   “We can’t do any more damage tonight,” I said.   “We pretty much massacred the piece.”

Gerald nodded his head.  “We really need to practice.   Let’s meet at the school, tomorrow afternoon.   I will get a practice room for us.”

“Okay,” I said.

“I need to get going.   Thanks for inviting me over tonight.   I had a nice time,” Gerald said.   As I moved to get up, Gerald said, “Don’t get up.   I can see myself out.   See you, tomorrow.”

He left the room, and we heard him open and close the door.   Rick said, “I like Gerald.   He seems really nice.”

“He is really nice.   I’m glad you like him,” I said.

Rick asked, “Are you sure Gerald isn’t a closet gay?”

I turned my head, and looked at Rick, “No, why?”

“He sure couldn’t take his eyes off of Jeb and Cordell,” Rick said.

“Really?   I didn’t notice anything like that,” I said.

“That’s because you weren’t paying attention,” Rick said, laughing.

“Well, I was paying attention to you.   You kind of distract me, whenever you are in the room,” I responded with a smile, as I placed my hand on his thigh.  

Rick laughed.  “Yes, I do seem to affect you that way.   It was kind of obvious that you were pretty turned on.”

“I was not,” I protested.

“You were.   The tent in your pants was pretty noticeable,” Rick replied.

I said with a little asperity in my voice, “ONLY because you were running your hand up and down my leg at the dinner table!”

Rick laughed.  “I wanted to make sure you hadn’t forgotten about me.”

“How could I forget about you?   You are always in my thoughts, Babe,” I said.   “I think we need to retire for the evening.   I need my superhero tonight.”

Rick clicked off the news, then stood up from the couch, pulling me up with him.   Rick led me to our bedroom, and said, “One superhero performance coming right up!”

I laughed, as he closed the door behind me and pinned me against it.   I could feel how horny he was, since his steel pole was very hard and erect.  As he captured my lips in a passionate kiss, I wrapped my arms around his waist and molded my body to his.

As Jeb drove Jill to her parents’ home, Jeb asked, “Did you have a good time tonight?”

“Yes, I did.   Keith and Kerry are very nice people and Egan is so cute,” Jill replied.  “Your gay friends seem to be nice, as well.   They aren’t the horrible people my parents have made gays out to be.”

“They are wonderful people, Jill,” Jeb said.   “Rick and Glenn are the best examples of what true ‘Christians’ should be like.   They treat everyone with kindness and respect.   I wish more of us were like them.”

“They are certainly in love with each other,” Jill said.   “I found it really cute to see how they interacted with each other.”

Jeb laughed. “They aren’t shy about letting people know that they are couple.”

Jill agreed, “No, they certainly aren’t shy, but that’s okay.   They were in their own home, and we were their guests.   I would expect them to behave like the couple they are, just like any other couple who is as much in love as they are.”

“So, you are okay with them being together?” Jeb asked.

“I’m okay with them, because they are happy and it is very obvious they are meant for each other.   However, I still don’t agree with two men having sex with each other,” Jill said.

“But you don’t hate them, or think that they are evil?” Jeb asked.

“No, I don’t hate them, and I have already said I don’t think they are the evil monsters my parents think gays are,” Jill said.

“Do you think I am doing the right thing by having Bible study with them?” Jeb asked.

Jill thought for a moment, then responded, “Bringing the gospel to people is always the right thing, Jeb.   Do I agree with your support of their gay lifestyle?   No, I don’t, but I do agree with your efforts to bring God into their lives.”

Jeb nodded his head, as he pulled into her parents’ driveway.  “Do you think you will ever be able to accept them for who they are?”

“I don’t know, Jeb.   You have to give me time to think about what I witnessed, tonight,” Jill responded.

Jeb leaned over, and gave Jill a quick kiss, and said, “Thank you for going with me, tonight.”

He got out of the car, and walked around to open her door.   He escorted her to the front door, and opened it for her.   She turned, and kissed him.   “Thank you for the nice evening, Jeb.”

Jeb returned to his car, and sat thinking about Jill.   He really liked her; but, he couldn’t, in all good conscious, continue to date her if she wasn’t willing to accept his gay friends as part of his life.   He had been disowned by his parents for calling them out about their hypocritical behavior toward gays.   He wasn’t about to compromise his principles, just because he wanted this beautiful girl.   He had already suffered the pain of being shunned by his parents, and he didn’t want that to happen, again, with Jill.   At least she had been willing to go to Rick and Glenn’s home, and see for herself what wonderful people they are.   Maybe there was hope that she would come to realize that gays are God’s children, too, and that they deserved to be treated with dignity and respect.   With this thought, he started the car and pulled out of the driveway.  

The next day, Rick and I met Duane and Mason for lunch.   As we sat down at their table, Duane looked at me and whistled, “Wow!   You look good enough to eat!”

I blushed at his praises.   Rick laughed and ruffled my hair, “Glenn always looks good enough to eat!”

Duane grinned, and asked, “Have you two ever thought about having an open relationship?”

I looked at Rick, who answered for us both, “No, Duane.   We are in a committed relationship.”

“We have been approached about it before, and we have given it some thought, but it’s not for us,” I said.

Duane nodded his head.  “I gathered you two were in a closed relationship, but I just thought I would ask.   Mason and I have played around with other guys before, and it hasn’t affected our relationship.”

I looked at Mason for confirmation.   Mason’s expression showed that he didn’t like it.   I was surprised, when he said, “It’s been fun to have other guys with us.”

“Don’t you feel like you are selling yourself for sex?” I asked.   “I know I wouldn’t feel comfortable having multiple sex partners.”

Mason said, “I felt like that at first.”

Duane looked in surprise at Mason, “I thought you liked being fucked by all those other guys.”

“No, I did it, because you wanted me to do it,” Mason said, looking down at the table.

Duane said, “You should have said something to me.   I wouldn’t have forced you to have sex with them.   I thought you wanted it, as much as I did and that you enjoyed it.”

“I know you wanted to have sex with those guys.   I felt that if I didn’t go along with what you wanted that you would leave me,” Mason said.

Duane didn’t respond immediately.   He thought back over what had happened and realized Mason was right.   He would have left him.   He looked at Mason, “You’re right.   I probably would have.”

Mason nodded his head.  “I knew that, so I went along with it.   Yes, I enjoyed being fucked, but I didn’t enjoy being with so many different guys.   I wanted to be with you, and only you.”

I looked at Rick, and I said, “Do we need to let you guys have some privacy, so you can talk this out?   Rick and I can meet you in the Library later.”

Duane looked at us, and said, “If you wouldn’t mind.”

We picked up our trays, and moved a couple of tables down from our friends.   Rick said, “I’m glad they are talking about it now.   Mason seems really upset.”

As we watched, Mason got up and left their table.   Duane soon followed.   He turned, and gave us a wave as he left.   “I hope they can work things out.”

“I’m sure they will,” Rick said.   “I’m glad we decided not to have an open relationship.   I don’t think I could have handled you being with another guy.”

I grinned at him.  “No, you tend to be pretty possessive, most of the time.”

Rick laughed, “I know I am, but you love me anyway!”

“Yes, I do, and I wouldn’t have it any other way, because I don’t want to share you with anyone else,” I said, gazing into my lover’s eyes across the table.

As a Spanish Major, I was taking several upper division Spanish courses this semester.   I not only had the Latin American Literature class with Rick, I had a class on the book, “Don Quixote,” and a Spanish Writing and Composition class.   I was sitting at the kitchen table writing my reaction to the assigned chapters of Don Quixote, when Rick came up behind me, putting his hands on my shoulders.   As he began giving me a massage, he asked, “Aren’t you done with that essay, yet?”

“No.   I have to look up almost every word in the dictionary, and it slows me down.   The Spanish that Miguel Cervantes used to write Don Quixote is forcing me to expand my vocabulary, in a most painful way!   Dr. Kartchner insists that we place direct quotations in our essays, then address them.   He wants us to interpret the symbolism of the quotation, and relate it to the society of the time and expound on its relevance to our time.   I’m starting to go cross-eyed, Rick, because the print is so small,” I complained.

Rick laughed, “You are the one who chose to pursue a Spanish major.”

I moaned, “But, I never envisioned spending every waking moment writing essays in Spanish!”

“Did you finish your creative writing assignment from your Spanish writing and composition class?” Rick asked.

“Yes, that was easy.   I didn’t have to look up every other word to figure out what the author was trying to say,” I replied.   “Since I’m the author, I knew what I wanted to say, and how I wanted to say it.”

Rick said, “Here’s Duane.”

He walked up, and said, “I’m sorry we can’t study with you, guys.   Mason has left me.   He is moving out of our apartment today.”

Rick said, “I’m sorry.”

Duane sat down, and said, “I’ve seen this coming for a while now.   I think it’s for the best.   Mason hasn’t been happy with me, since we had that make out session with those other guys.”

I asked, in an accusatory voice, “I take it that all you wanted was sex out of the relationship?”

Duane looked at me, and said, “At first, yes, that is all I wanted from Mason.   You must think I’m a terrible person, but I was very clear that is all I wanted from him, when Mason moved in with me.”

“That still doesn’t excuse your behavior towards Mason,” Rick said.

Duane started to protest, “It’s not my…”

Rick cut him off, “Duane, please look me in the eyes, and tell me you honestly didn’t know how Mason felt about having sex with other guys.”

Duane looked away from Rick, then he said, “You’re right.   I did know.”

“How do you feel about Mason?” I asked.

“I don’t know, Glenn.  I didn’t think I had feelings for him, but since he left me this afternoon, I have been thinking about what my life would be like without him,” Duane said.  “I’m going to miss him.”

I watched as Duane’s expression changed from one of resolve to one that clearly showed he was hurting inside.   I touched his arm, and said, “It’s not too late to try and set things right between you.”

Duane’s face hardened, and he replied, “I’m not going to go crawling to him, and beg him to return.”

“That’s not what I said, Duane.   Let me repeat, you still have time to apologize to him and let him know how you feel about him,” I said.   I looked across the table at Rick, who tried to signal me that someone was behind me.

Duane said, “How can I tell him I love him, now that he’s gone.”

We both jumped in surprise, when we heard Mason’s voice.   “You can tell me directly to my face,” he said, as he joined us at our table.

Duane took Mason’s hand, “I love you, Mason.  Can you forgive me for being so inconsiderate of your feelings?”

Mason said, “Yes, I forgive you.   I love you, Duane.   I have loved you from the first night we spent together.”  Mason turned to us with a huge smile on his face, “That is the first time Duane has ever told me he loved me.”

I looked at Duane, in astonishment.  “Do you mean to tell me that you’ve been together this long, and you have never told Mason you loved him?”

Duane looked sheepish.  “It’s true.   I don’t show my emotions very often.   I have always considered them a liability, and have tried to keep them under tight control.”

“I think you need to express your feelings, more often,” Rick said.   “I used to think like you; but, after meeting Glenn, I have changed my mind.   Glenn runs on pure emotion, it seems, and starts to get upset with me if I don’t tell him I love him often enough.”

Mason looked at me.  “I’m a lot like you, then.”   He turned to Duane, and said, “Now, I understand why you have been so cold to me sometimes.”

Rick said, “Guys, let’s find a study room, so we can talk.   I don’t want us to disturb anyone.”

Rick led us to a study room.   Rick checked to make sure we could use it for the next few hours.   When he returned, we discussed the assignment we had for our class.   Then, I said, “I know that you will want some time alone to celebrate tonight, but you are welcome to join us for dinner.”

Duane said, “Can we take a rain check?   I want to take Mason out on the town tonight.”

Mason grinned at Duane.   He turned to me, and said, “We would love to come over another time.” 

Rick said, “Okay, guys.   We will see you in class, tomorrow.”

The two guys left, hand in hand.   I turned to Rick.  “I’m glad they worked things out between them.”

“Me, too,” Rick said.   “Now it’s time for us to head home.   I think we need some alone time, too.”

Later that evening, Duane and Mason were at Swinging Richards enjoying themselves, when Dr. Bigelow spotted them.   He remembered seeing them on campus.   He walked over to them, and said, “Hey guys!   Don’t you go to Georgia Tech?”

Duane looked at the older guy, and said, “We aren’t interested.”

“You aren’t interested in what?” Dr. Bigelow asked, surprised by Duane harsh tone.  

“We have been watching you for some time,” Duane said.   “We aren’t interested in having sex with you, or getting to know you.”

 “How do you know what I want?” Dr. Bigelow asked.

“You have already hit on several of our friends, and a couple of them have gone home with you.   You are already a known quantity to us.   We aren’t interested in you, or your friend, Terry,” Duane said, pointedly.

“I see my reputation has preceded me,” Dr. Bigelow said, smiling at them.   “If you ever change your minds, you know where to find me.”   He walked off towards the bar.

Duane said, “I hope that creep keeps his distance.”

“He and his partner are into that bondage stuff,” Mason said.   “Remember how badly they hurt Aaron last week?”

“I think Aaron should have reported them to the cops,” Duane said.

“Aaron didn’t want to report it, because the cops wouldn’t have done anything about it,” Mason said.

“I think we should do something about it,” Duane said, angrily.   “No one messes with our friends like that.”

“What do you plan to do?” Mason asked, worriedly.

“I don’t know, yet,” Duane said.

They soon forgot the professor, as they found their way home.   Duane helped Mason get undressed, then joined him in their bed.  Duane pulled Mason close and said, “I want you to marry me.”

Mason gazed into Duane’s eyes, and said, “Are you sure?”

“Yes, I’m sure.   When you walked away from me today, I realized that I can’t risk losing you.   When that old guy approached us tonight, I thought I’d better get a ring on your finger, just in case someone like him tries to steal you away from me,” Duane said.

Mason said, “When do you want to get married?”

“At Thanksgiving break,” Duane said.

“Where?” asked Mason.

“I don’t know.   I thought I would let you choose where you wanted to be married,” Duane said.

“You are so unromantic, Duane,” Mason said, smiling at him.

Duane replied, “So true, but I can guarantee you the best sex you will ever have!”

“I know you will give me that,” Mason said, grinning.   Then he put his hand to Duane’s cheek, and asked in serious tone of voice, “And you will always be true to me?”   He looked, searchingly into Duane’s eyes.

“Always,” Duane responded.  He cut off further discussion by kissing Mason.  

Prev To be continued . . .

A Note from Russ:

The Hennepin Avenue Methodist Church

Bach:  Concerto for two violins -   

First Metropolitan Community Church -