Saturday, April 30, 2011

The Man from Swift Current Chapter Sixty One - Beverly


Chapter Sixty One – Beverly

After graduation, Ben and I were anxious to continue our road trip. My grandparents took Nancy and Cynthia on a trip to Europe as a graduation present. They left two days after graduation. Ben and I packed our stuff in the back of the Land Rover and said our good-byes to our parents.

We went directly south from Swift Current following Saskatchewan Provincial Highway 4 to the US Border and crossed into Montana, where we took US Highway 191 south to Interstate 90. We stopped in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, for a few days of boating on Coeur d’Alene Lake. We heard about the car races being held in Spokane, Washington; so we decided to drive over to watch them. The Spokane Falls were very pretty and the races were great!

We made our way to Seattle, Washington, and then north to Vancouver. We doubled back through Seattle and headed south to Hillsboro, Oregon, where we stayed with Mom’s cousin, Beverly. I don’t know how we’re related because I don’t remember Mom mentioning a cousin Beverly. All Mom said was, “Beverly is our cousin and is the family historian.” I called Beverly on my cell phone to get directions to her home. It was a gray, misty morning when we pulled into Beverly’s driveway.

As we got out of the Land Rover, Beverly came out to greet us. “I’m Beverly. Welcome to Oregon, boys!”

“I’m Glenn and this is my cousin, Ben,” I said, introducing ourselves. “Thank you for letting us stay with you.”

Beverly said, “No problem. Come inside out of this drizzle.” We followed her inside and sat down at the kitchen table where she had put out some cookies and milk. “When your Mom called and said you would be coming out this way, I told her I would love to see you. I’m the family historian, and have been gathering information on our family for over twenty years now. Would you be interested in seeing some of the stories I have collected on our family?”

“Yes, I would. I don’t know much about Mom’s family,” I said, smiling.

Ben said, “I’d like to know how you started collecting family stories, etc.”

Beverly replied, “I’ll be glad to show you how to start your own family history collection. I love discovering my heritage. Things like why our great grandparents left England, and what they did when they first came to America. We have a very large extended family, with lots of interesting people.”

“How did you first become interested in our family history?” I asked.

“My grandfather kept a daily journal that was given to me when I was in high school. It was after grandpa died and we were going through his things. Grandma asked me to come with her into her bedroom where she gave me Grandpa’s journals. She said, “Beverly, your Grandpa wanted you to have these journals. You two were inseparable almost from the day you were born. He wanted you to have his journals because he wanted you to remember all of the wonderful times you had together. I know that you will take good care of them and preserve them for others to enjoy when the time comes.” I spent the next few months reading my grandpa’s journals. At my grandma’s suggestion, I transcribed them and added photographs, birth certificates, newspaper clippings and other interesting items and published grandpa’s journals for the rest of the family to enjoy.”

“So you’ve been working on your family history since then?” Ben asked.

“Yes, that is how it started, and I’ve kept at it since then. Since you’ve finished with the cookies and milk, let’s bring your things in and get you settled in the spare bedroom. After that, I’ll show you what I’ve managed to collect over the years,” Beverly said.

Beverly was very excited to be able to share her life’s passion with us. We spent the rest of the day reading journal entries, newspaper articles, histories, etc. Ben and I were totally amazed at all of the information she had amassed on our family. She created a gigantic family tree that traced our family back to England in the early 1200’s. Beverly included photographs of each ancestor on the family tree. It was interesting to see the different facial features of each of the individuals on the tree and how they were passed down from one generation to the next.

Over dinner, we had quite an interesting discussion. I asked, “I saw the photos in the front room of your children. Where do your children live?”

“They live in California near their stepfather, Jimmy. I divorced him a few years ago because he kept bringing his male sex partners home and flaunting them in my face,” Beverly said.

I was surprised to hear that. I looked over at Ben before asking, “Did you know he was gay when you married him?”

“Yes, I did. We were friends in high school and I knew he was gay. In fact, we used to hang out together, checking out the guys! Then his parents died, leaving him their estate. The only problem was they had stipulated in their will he had to be married in order to inherit their money. That’s when he asked me to marry him, so he could get their money,” Beverly explained. “I told him no several times. Then I married another man and had my two children with him.”

Ben seemed as curious as I was to know how Beverly ended up marrying a gay guy. He asked, “So what happened that you ended up married to Jimmy?”

“My first husband was a very abusive man. He beat me a lot when he came home drunk. One night he came home and beat me so badly I ended up in the hospital. That’s when I left him and filed for a divorce. He fought me over every little thing and left me with very little. What child support I got didn’t meet our needs; so I went to work and managed to save enough money to buy a house. When I went to get the loan, the bank denied my loan application; stating they couldn’t loan money to a woman,” Beverly said.

“Isn’t that illegal?” I asked.   I had never heard of a bank NOT lending money to a single woman.

“Yes, it is, now. It wasn’t then. I went from bank to bank and got the same answer. I made enough money to qualify for the loan; but when they found out I was a single mom, they would find a reason to deny the loan request,” Beverly said. “That’s when Jimmy approached me, again. He said he would sign for the loan on the house, if I would marry him. I agreed to marry him on the condition that the house had to be in my name only, and that he couldn’t have his male friends spend the night.”

“Did he agree to those terms?” Ben asked.

“Yes, he did. But after the first year of marriage, he started having his partners sleep over at the house. I kept warning him I’d divorce him if he didn’t stop. He laughed at me, and kept making out with his lovers in front me and the kids. So I kicked him out and filed for a divorce,” she said.

“So how did you manage to keep the house?” I asked.

“I threatened to tell the trustees of his parents’ estate he was gay and we never really had a marriage relationship. As a result, we had an amicable divorce. He got to keep his money and his boyfriend, and I got to keep my house,” Beverly said.

“You said your children live near him in California. Why do they live there?” I asked.

“I only divorced Jimmy because I couldn’t handle watching him making out with his boyfriend in front of me and the kids. My children adore him. He was more like a big kid than a stepfather to them. He is more of a father to them than their real dad. In fact, my children were mad at me for leaving him. It’s just I wanted more in a relationship than to be roommates,” Beverly said. “I don’t have a problem with gay men. I think they are some of the best people around, and I’m happy Jimmy has finally found someone to be his life partner. Now, I just need to find me someone, too!”

Ben asked, “Do a lot of gay men marry women to cover up the fact that they are gay?”

Beverly looked at Ben.  “Some do. Why do you ask?”

“It seems that trying to cover up who you really are would cause more problems than it would solve,” Ben said.

Beverly agreed, “You’re right, Ben. Even though Jimmy and I are great friends, trying to pretend we were actually husband and wife nearly ruined our friendship. Jimmy wasn’t happy either. He wanted to live with his boyfriend full time; but had to keep up appearances in order to keep the money coming in from his parents’ estate. Now that anti-discrimination laws have stopped banks from denying loans to women, I don’t have to worry about having a man sign the loan papers for me.”

“I’m hoping Rick asks me to marry him when he returns from being overseas,” I said.

Beverly looked at me in surprise.  “I didn’t know you're gay. Your Mom told me about Randy and Shawn getting married; but didn’t say anything about you, Glenn. So, who is this Rick fellow, and why isn’t he with you on your road trip?”

“Rick and I have been together for almost a year now. He’s in the Marines and is on active duty right now,” I said, answering Beverly’s questions.

We talked more about me and Rick. Talking about Rick made me miss him terribly. Beverly said, “It’s obvious you love him, Glenn. Rick is a very lucky man.”

Ben said, “Glenn did choose well. I like Rick and he’s good for Glenn.”

Beverly said, “I’m currently dating a guy named Joe. He will be coming over for a few minutes to meet you. He hates it when I get started with my family history stuff; so he stays away until I get my fix, and can concentrate on other things!”

“Things like Joe?” I asked, grinning.

“Yes, you’re right, Glenn. I get so focused on what I’m doing I forget about everything else, including Joe. He says he feels like he’s just part of the furniture when I’m in the middle of a family history project,” Beverly explained.

Later that night, we met Joe. He seems to be a nice guy. Ben and I retired to our room shortly after he arrived; since we were planning to make an early departure in the morning.

Ben asked, “Are you going to be alright?  You were starting to worry me there for a minute.   I saw how much you are missing Rick as you kept talking about him.”

“I’ll be okay. I’m going to text Rick in a few minutes,” I replied. Before I could type in the text message, I received a text from Rick that said, “Real busy, 8-3-1-4, talk to u tomorrow.” I sent back the message, “Back at you.”

The next day, Beverly said, “Glenn, I want you to take a copy of our family history to your mother for me. I’ve included a copy of grandpa’s journals. I hope you will take the time to read them. I think you will come to have a greater appreciation for what they did for us. Reading grandpa’s journals makes it seem like he’s sitting next to me telling me about his life. I miss him so much.”

She handed me two book boxes holding the 10 volumes of our family history and great-grandpa’s journals (all 26 of them). “I’ve included video history of our family and how we settled Riverside County, California. Our cousin, Eleanor, inherited great-grandpa’s farm and has developed it into a gated community for seniors. She and I wrote the script and screenplay and she hired a local film company to make the film. It’s pretty neat and shows a lot of our history.”

I was surprised to hear great-grandpa settled Riverside County, California. “I thought Mom’s family was all from Georgia. How did we get to California from Georgia?”

Beverly explained, “Your great grandmother is my grandfather’s half-sister. Your great-great-grandpa met his first wife while he was in college in Atlanta. They married and moved to California and settled the farm in Riverside County, California. However, she didn’t like living on the farm in Riverside and decided she wanted to go home; taking her children with her. They lived with her parents in Savannah, Georgia, until she remarried. Great-grandpa remarried and had 6 more children; the oldest was my grandpa. So, we’re like, half cousins. I contacted your mother a few years ago to complete the family tree on your side of the family. We’ve kept up a correspondence since then. When she mentioned you were taking a road trip a few weeks ago, I suggested you stop here and visit with me.”

“Thank you for everything,” Ben said.

“Yes, thank you for the family history. I know both Mom and Grandma will enjoy reading these books,” I said with a smile.

“Thank you for taking them to her. If I shipped them, I would spend a fortune because they are so heavy,” Beverly said. “Have a safe trip and let me know when you get to Atlanta.”

Ben answered, “We’ll be sure to give you a call.”

We said our good-byes and left for California. We toured the redwood forests and stopped in San Francisco for a few days to see the sights. Then on to Los Angeles and San Diego before we set an eastern course back across the United States. We visited many of the national parks: Yellowstone, Zion, Arches, Mesa Verde, and the Grand Canyon before we crossed the continental divide and headed east to Denver, Colorado. After three more weeks of touring, we ended up back in Atlanta.

We pulled into the parking lot of our condo. Ben and I unloaded the Land Rover and hauled all of our stuff upstairs. It felt good to be home! We knocked on Keith and Kerry's door. Keith came to the door and let us in.

"Welcome home boys," Keith said.

"It feels good to be home," I said.

Ben said, "Thanks for letting us crash here for a few days."

Keith answered, "Not a problem. Here, let me help you take your stuff back to the bedroom."

I started unpacking my stuff and putting it into the closet; when Ben walked into my room and saw me in the closet, hugging Rick’s clothes that we had stored there. “Glenn, are you going to be okay?”

“I’ll be fine, Ben. I’m just missing Rick’s arms around me and his body being close to mine,” I said.   I tried to keep the tears from falling; but actually verbalizing how I was feeling caused me to lose what little control I had.

Ben hugged me and said, “It’s okay, Glenn.   It’s okay to miss the one you love.  Let’s order some pizza and play video games. Kerry is staying at her mom's house, so Keith is on his own this week.”

Having regained my composure, I said, “Okay, I’m up for that.”

We did just that. We told Keith all about our trip as we ate pizza and had a beer or two to wash it down. We made it an early night since we were pretty tired from driving all day. I went to bed, but couldn’t sleep. I sent a text message to Rick, “can u talk?”

About a minute later, my cell rang and I heard Rick’s rich baritone voice come over the speaker.

“Hello, Babe. How are you doing tonight?”

“I’m good now, sweetheart. I’m just missing you being here in our bed with me.”

“I’m missing you as well. I’m really having a hard time here. The guys are great and we enjoy each other’s company; but it’s you I want to have here with me.”

“I walked into the closet where we are storing your clothes and hugged them.   I was remembering how they smell of you. I’m wearing one of your shirts to bed tonight. It keeps me from missing you too much.

Rick laughed.  “I’ve only seen that in the movies, Glenn. Have Ben take a picture of you and send it to me. I want to see you wearing my shirt to bed!”

I laughed as well.  “It does seem kind of corny doesn’t it. I can’t help it sometimes, Babe. I need you so much.”

“Just don’t ruin it by using it as a cum rag! I know how you are about jerking off all the time!”

“I don’t jerk off all the time! Just some of the time, because you aren’t here to take care of that particular need!”

“Okay, you can start by jerking off as I talk dirty to you over the phone,” Rick said laughing.

I was surprised, but eager to do what he asked. As he told me what he would do to me when he returned home, I went wild and soon was shooting cum everywhere.

I lay there gasping for air as Rick said, “Good night, Babe. I’ll talk to you tomorrow.”

“I love you, Rick.”

I ended the call and fell asleep dreaming of my lover boy!

Friday, April 29, 2011

The Man from Swift Current Chapter Sixty - The Girls' Graduation

Chapter Sixty – The Girls' Graduation

We were up early the next morning and met the rest of the family for breakfast at their hotel.   We soon were back on the road, heading for Swift Current.   We arrived at Uncle Dave and Aunt Mary’s home just before noon.  It didn’t take long for us to return Uncle Dave’s boat to its place in the garage, and to put away all of the camping gear. We joined the women in the kitchen for a light lunch of sandwiches and a veggie tray. The girls were still at school; so we relaxed for a few hours waiting for them to return.  

When Nancy and Cynthia arrived, I was the first to give them a hug and a kiss, followed by Ben. They both had changed quite a bit over the course of the school year.

Nancy said, “Welcome home, boys! We’ve missed you!”

“Yeah, we’ve missed having you guys around this year,” Cynthia said. “We haven’t had as many guys hanging around the house to flirt with, since you left.”

Nancy laughed.  “Don’t believe her! She has had plenty of guys trying to get her attention. She hasn’t needed any help from anyone in that department!”

Cynthia blushed at that, but was quick to respond, “Nancy's right; but she has had just as many guys running after her.”

“We both have boyfriends,” Nancy said. “They’ll be coming over later tonight. We want them to meet our big brothers!”

Ben and I laughed. “Is it someone I know?” Ben asked his sister.

“Yes, it’s Jared from your hockey team. We started dating a few weeks ago. He’s been very sweet,” Cynthia said.

I looked at Nancy, “So who’s your boyfriend?”

“His name is Aaron. I don’t think you know him since he moved from Saskatoon, and this is his first year at our high school,” Nancy responded. “He’s really nice, and I think you’ll like him.”

Ben said, “Glenn likes all the guys; but he’s taken so he can’t play the field anymore!”

I blushed a little bit, but laughed with the rest of them.  “Yeah, you’re right, Ben. I like checking out the guys, but like you said, I’m off the market.”

Nancy asked, “Have you been able to talk to Rick since he left?”

“Yes, I’ve been able to talk to him a couple of times. Most of the time we send text messages to each other. I don’t know where he’s at right now. Last week, he was in Germany. He couldn’t tell me where his unit was going to be stationed.”

“I hope he’s safe; wherever he is,” Cynthia said. “I really like Rick, Glenn. You picked a great guy.”

Randy and Shawn joined us. Randy asked Nancy, “Have you decided where you’re going to school next year?”

Nancy replied, “No, but Grandpa said I could go any school I wanted. I’ve decided I want to be a nurse like Aunt Mary.”

“That’s what I want to do as well,” Cynthia said. “I’ve decided I’m going to the same school as my Mom. I’ve already been accepted at Weber State University.”

Shawn asked, “Nancy, why don’t you go to the same school as Cynthia?”

“I want to go school here in Canada. They have a really good nursing program at the University of Saskatchewan at Saskatoon. Aaron’s going to school there and Eric thinks that he might move there as well; since he and Laura plan to be married this summer, and Laura wants to finish her degree.”

Randy said, “I wondered when Eric was going to propose to Laura! Did they set a date, yet?”

“He proposed to her last night; so I don’t think they’ve set a date for the wedding,” Nancy replied.

Shawn said, “Do Mom and Dad know Eric proposed last night?”

Nancy replied, “No, Eric wants to tell them in person. He said he and Laura would be here by dinnertime, so you guys can’t tell the adults, okay?”

We all agreed to keep it secret until Eric got here. I asked, “What time is graduation tomorrow?”

Cynthia answered, “It starts at 10 AM.”

“That’s the same as it was last year,” I said.

“Yeah, I bet the graduation ceremony will be just like ours,” Ben said, smiling at our sisters.

They both laughed. “No, it won’t be like yours, Ben,” Cynthia said. “We don’t intend to wear a hockey jersey to graduation like you did instead of a cap and gown!”

Nancy said, “And we aren’t going to spike our hair, so it stands straight up, like you did, Glenn. You looked so gay that day.”

“Well, I’m gay aren’t I?” I asked.

“Yes, but you were so in your face about it that day. Most of the time, you’re just like any other normal guy,” Nancy said.

“I was making a statement, and I didn’t’ care who knew since I was leaving town anyway,” I said.

Randy spoke up for me, “Nancy, give the guy a break, okay?”

Nancy laughed at Randy as well.  “And speaking of making a statement, I remember that you were worse. You wore your hair in a Mohawk, and you died it purple and work black nail polish. Mom and Dad were totally horrified!”

Shawn looked surprised.  “You didn’t tell me about that! I always wondered if you didn’t have a wild side, since you seem to always be calm, cool and collected!”

Randy grinned at his partner.  “I’m glad I still can surprise you, Babe!”

Shawn laughed.   “You surprise me every day!” He pulled Randy close and kissed him.

Ben looked at me as he punched me in the shoulder.  “Don’t even think you’re going to kiss me, cousin.”

I returned his punch in the shoulder, “I don’t think anyone would want to kiss your ugly mug.”

Ben laughed.  “Only the best looking girls in the world get to lay one on me.”

Cynthia said, “You haven’t changed one bit, big brother! No wonder your girlfriend dumped you!”

“That’s not why she dumped me!” Ben exclaimed.

“Okay, then tell us why?” Cynthia asked, grinning at her brother.

“Do you really want to know the truth?” Ben asked, looking around at the rest of us.

We nodded our heads and waited for his explanation. “It’s because she got pregnant. She had been fooling around with another guy, and they didn’t use any protection. She admitted to me she loved him and had gotten pregnant on purpose to get him to marry her. She had dated me to try and make him jealous. It’s good thing we’d never slept together, or it could’ve easily been me who got her pregnant,” Ben said, his expression showing his relief.

Cynthia said, “I’m glad you’ve learned to keep it in your pants, brother. That’s more than I can say for when you were living home.”

Ben looked at his sister in surprise. “What?”

“Don’t go looking like you didn’t fool around with Sharon Watson. She told me everything you guys did every chance she got. I got so sick of hearing about how she had you wrapped around her little finger.”

Ben blushed.  “I didn’t know she was telling everyone about us.”

“Well, bro., let’s just say every girl in the school knew you two were getting it on almost every night after school,” Cynthia said, smiling at her very embarrassed sibling.

If Ben could have turned a deeper shade of red, he would have. I’d never seen Ben speechless before; but this time he didn’t have anything to say! I laughed and punched him in the shoulder again. “Now, who was telling me not to mess around with Ian?”

Ben had the decency to apologize, “I’m sorry I ragged on you about Ian. But you have to admit I was right about him just using you.”

“Yes, you were right. I remember you broke up with Sharon just before graduation. She decided she wasn’t going to marry a hockey player,” I said.

“Yes, that’s what she told me the night she dumped me,” Ben said. “It seems I have the worst luck with girls.”

Randy smiled at Ben and said, “Maybe you should try finding a guy to date instead. I’m sure Glenn can find you a good looking guy to share your bed, when you get back to school. He seems to have a good eye for picking good looking guys.”

Ben looked over at me and shook his head.  “Thanks, but no thanks. I’m just not wired that way. I’m going to have a difficult enough time keeping the guys away from Glenn. Rick made me promise to watch over Glenn while he’s gone.”

I nodded in agreement, “Rick did make Ben promise to take care of me. I have a feeling I’m going to be taking care of Ben instead; since he’s having so much trouble finding a girlfriend.”

Ben laughed.  “We’ll see how things go, cousin.”

We migrated downstairs as group to play video games. Randy and Shawn were pretty good; but I managed to still beat them. I finally lost to Cynthia. She went on to beat everyone else, so I didn’t’ feel too bad about losing to her.  Later that evening, Eric and Laura arrived, and announced their engagement to our parents. We had a nice dinner and spent the evening talking about Eric and Laura’s wedding plans. The girls' boyfriends showed up as well; but didn't stay very long, since they were graduating tomorrow as well.

The next day, we attended the girls’ graduation ceremony where we met up with my grandparents. Afterward, we all went out for lunch.

Over dessert, Grandpa asked, “Nancy, have you decided where you’re going to college?”

“Yes, I’ve decided to go to the University of Saskatchewan at Saskatoon,” Nancy replied.

“Good. What are you going to study?” he asked.

“I want to go into nursing. They have a good program there. Eric and Laura plan to go there as well, since Laura wants to finish here degree,” Nancy said.

Grandpa looked across the table at my Dad. “Will you allow me to help them?”

Dad looked surprised Grandpa had asked him.  “Yes, I’m sure they would be very happy for any assistance you can give them.”

Grandpa turned to Eric and Laura and said, “As part of our wedding gift to you, we will pay the full cost of tuition, books, and fees, so you both can attend college. However, there is one condition.”

Eric looked at Laura and then back to Grandpa.  “What is that, Grandpa?”

“I insist you find a nice home to buy in Saskatoon. I will buy the home, and you will manage the property for me. I suggest you buy a duplex so Nancy can live on the other side with a couple of roommates. When you all have graduated, we will rent out both sides of the complex, and the rent will be used to help you buy another home; wherever your first job takes you. Does that sound like something you three would be agreeable to doing?”

Laura eyes were full of tears as she spoke, “It’s miracle! Eric and I had planned to move to Saskatoon; but we didn’t know how we were going to be able to afford to have both of us in school at the same time.”

Eric nodded his head.   “I’d planned to work while Laura finished. Then, Laura planned to work, while I completed my degree. Yes, we are willing to find a duplex that suites our needs, and will manage it for you.”

Nancy spoke up, “I’ll help you look, and I already have some friends who want me to be their roommate. I can invite them to move in with me, instead of all us trying to find an apartment somewhere. Thank you, Grandpa.” Nancy leaned over to give him a hug.

Laura said, “Yes, thank you for the very generous offer. I’m still not sure it’s all for real.”

Grandpa assured her, “It’s real alright! When we return to your Uncle Dave’s house, we’ll sit down and work out the details on paper, so you have an idea of how we will work things.” Grandpa stopped for minute then looked at me and Ben before continuing, “I want you two to do the same in Minneapolis, unless you’ve already signed a lease, Ben.”

Ben replied, “I’m afraid I had to, in order to get the house we wanted. Maybe we can find someone to take our lease for us. We will have to let you know once we return to school.”

Grandpa said, “That sounds good.”

I looked over at Dad who was smiling. After dinner, he came over to Grandpa and shook his hand.   “Thank you for helping the children. I’m sorry I was so stubborn about it before. My pride wouldn’t let me see you wanted the best for my children.”

Grandpa said, “I’m glad you finally saw reason, and stopped preventing me from helping your family. You’re a good man, Don, and you’ve raised a wonderful family. I know we haven’t always been on the best of terms; but I want you to know I’m gratefu you’ve made my daughter so happy.”

Dad said, “Thank you for the words of praise. I don’t deserve them because your daughter has made all the difference in the world to me, and it's through her efforts that our children have prospered, and have turned out to be very wonderful people.”

My Mom came up as he finished speaking.  “Don, you’re a wonderful man, too. Let’s go home so Dad can rest. It’s time for his nap.”

Grandpa smiled.  “Yes, it’s time for me to listen to you play my favorite piano pieces to put me to sleep. It’s been a very long time since I heard you play.”

With that, we all piled in our cars and returned to Uncle Dave and Aunt Mary’s home.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

The Man from Swift Current Chapter Fifty Nine - Camping

Chapter Fifty Nine – Camping

The next morning, we were awakened by the smell of bacon and eggs. The four of us made our way to the kitchen. Aunt Hannah and Mom had the table set and the food was ready for us to dig in.

“Good morning, son,” Mom said, giving me a hug. “Did you sleep okay?”

“I slept really well last night,” I replied.

Ben said, “Yes, you did.   You snored all night long!”

“I don’t snore, Ben,” I said, giving him a “give me a break” look.

Ben laughed, “You’re right.   You didn’t snore; but you sure slept soundly.”

We sat down at the table and Ben asked, “Have we said grace?”

Aunt Hannah smiled at us and said, “Yes, we have.  Go ahead and eat, boys.  The rest of us have already eaten.”

Randy said, “Thanks, Aunt Hannah. You always know how to cook a great breakfast.”

Shawn nodded his head in agreement since his mouth was already full.  It didn’t take us long to finish off what was left of breakfast.

Mom said, “You boys need to get cleaned up so we can go.   We let you sleep in, but now it’s time for us to be out and about.”

Randy grinned and said, in a mocking tone, “Yes, Mother.”  

Mom gave him a glare and said, “Don’t “yes, mother,” me.”   She moved forward to give him a smack, but he ducked behind Shawn for protection.

Shawn looked over his shoulder at his husband and said, “Don’t drag me into this.   You were the one who had to get smart with your mother.”

Randy laughed and hugged his husband from behind.   “Sorry Mom.  Let’s get showered, Babe.”

They left the kitchen hand in hand.   Mom looked at me and said, “You and Ben need to do the same.”

I asked, “Aunt Hannah may we use the shower in you master bedroom?”

She answered, “Sure.   There are clean towels already laid out for you.”

Ben said, “I get to shower first.”

I said, “Oh, no you don’t!”

We raced out of the kitchen and down the hallway to my Aunt’s bedroom.   We reached the shower at the same time.   Ben said, “We shower together, since we tied.  But you have to remember I’m not Rick.   I know how you two like to shower together!”

I laughed and asked, “You do?”

Ben grinned.   “Yes, I do.   It’s not hard to imagine what you two were up to with all the noise you made when Rick fucked you the other day.”  

I blushed and asked, “I wasn’t that loud was I?”

Ben laughed and said, “Yes, you were!   I knew it was your last day with Rick so I didn’t tease you about it then; but I sure can harass you now!”

We stripped off our clothes and quickly showered.   I couldn’t help but admire my well-built cousin.   He's shorter than me; but he more than makes up for it with muscle mass!  

Ben caught me looking him over.   He grinned and asked, “Do you like what you see?”

I answered, licking my lips, “I have always loved your perfect body, Ben.   I just wish you were gay!”  

Ben said, “I’m glad I meet with your approval.   If I hadn’t promised Rick to look after you, I’d let you give me a blowjob!”  He laughed when he saw my disappointed expression.   “Come on, Glenn.   You’re practically a married man.   What little time I’ve spent with you and Rick, I know you love each other very much.   I can’t have you going after every good looking guy that catches your eye; and that includes me!”

I pouted and then used my towel to give him a hard smack on his perfect bubble butt.  

Ben howled, “This means war!”

I ran to the other side of the room, putting the bed between us.   I laughed and said, “You have to admit I got you fair and square.”

Ben laughed and said, “But revenge will be sweet!”   He leaped across the bed as I made to escape.   The tip of his towel barely clipped me; but it sure stung!

I yelped and Ben scrambled to stand up and reposition himself to strike again.   I moved to the far side of the room and got my towel ready.   We kept at it until Mom knocked on the door, “Boys are you ready to go?”

I stopped and said, “Just about.”   Ben took advantage of my inattention and walloped me good.   “Damn, Ben!   That hurt!”

Ben laughed and said, “I said revenge would be sweet!”

I grabbed him in a headlock and gave him a nuggie.   He wrapped his arms around my waist and lifted me off my feet.   I released him and said, “Okay, you can put me down now.”

Ben grinned and said, “I like having you at my mercy.   It keeps you humble.”   He set me on my feet.   “It reminds me of our time together in high school.” 

“Only this time, I’ve been working out with Rick; so I don’t look so scrawny standing next to you,” I said, smiling.

Ben gave an appraising look.   “I guess you have filled out a bit.   We will have to keep working on you.   I want your body to be so buff Rick won’t recognize you when he sees you naked when he gets back.”

We grabbed our towels and wrapped them around our waists and made our way back to our bedroom to get our clothes.   When we finished dressing, we joined the rest of the family in the kitchen.

Dad looked up from where he at the table and said, “Let’s go.”

Ben and I rode with Randy and Shawn down to Fort George followed by the rest of the family. We toured the old fort and spent some time talking with the staff dressed in period costumes. By the time we finished, it was nearly noon. Uncle Carl and Uncle Dave unloaded a pretty nice picnic, and we ate next to the lake. It was a beautiful spring day, and I enjoyed being outside. After lunch, we drove down to Niagara Falls and took the boat ride up under the falls. It was amazing to be that close to all that water coming over the falls! The best part of all was riding the Niagara SkyWheel!   We went to the top of the Skylon Tower and ate dinner in the revolving restaurant. We headed home after that.

“When are we leaving for Algonquin Provincial Park?” I asked Randy.

“Tomorrow morning,” Randy replied.

Shawn looked back at us and smiled, “Yeah, if any of us get any sleep tonight. Didn’t you hear Randy snoring in his sleep last night?”

Randy immediately responded by slapping Shawn on the back of the head.  “That’s for being unkind to your husband. I don’t snore!”

“Yeah, you practically brought the house down it got so loud last night!” I exclaimed.

Randy looked at me in the rear view mirror.   “Just for that, I will have to get even with you tonight!” Randy gave us his most wicked laugh.

Ben laughed at Randy’s dramatic response just as did I.  “I’ll have to make sure Ben protects me from the Big, Bad Randy!” I responded.

Ben put on his tough guy look and said, “Yeah, Big, Bad Randy. You had better watch out! You don’t know what will happen once you’re asleep!”

Randy and Shawn laughed.  “We’ll both be on the lookout,” Shawn responded grinning from ear to ear.

We continued our bantering as we completed our trip back to our uncle’s house. As we got out of the car, Dad joined us.   “Remember to set your alarms, boys. We need to be on the road early tomorrow. Make sure you say your good-byes tonight just in case Uncle Carl and Aunt Hannah aren’t up when we leave.”

With that advice, Dad went inside the house and we followed him. We did as he directed and thanked Uncle Carl and Aunt Hannah for their hospitality; then retired for the night.

After everyone was settled for the night, I sent a text message to Rick, “Can you talk now?”

I soon received a response, “Yes!”

So I went outside on the patio and hit the speed dial. I heard it ring once; then my lover boy was on the line, “Hi, sweetheart!” You don’t know how much good that did to hear Rick call me his sweetheart from half a world away.

“I love you,” I said.

“I love you, too,” Rick replied.

“I just wanted to hear your voice before I went to bed,” I said, letting my voice communicate how much I missed him.

“What did you do today?” Rick asked, trying to keep things light.

“We spent the day playing tourist,” I replied and gave Rick a quick rundown of our day.

“Sounds like you had a nice day with your family,” Rick said.

“Yeah, it was nice to be with my family doing things we used to do when we were kids,” I said. “We are going camping tomorrow and won’t be in range of a cell phone tower most of the time.”

“I’m glad you told me or I would’ve been worried that something had happened to you,” Rick said.

“I’ll text you when we leave for Regina so you can call me if you can,” I said.

“Okay, how long will you be camping?” Rick asked.

“I think Dad reserved a campsite for a week; so I’ll talk to you, again, in about seven days,” I said.

“You know we’ve never gone that long without talking to each other or at least sending a text message,” Rick said, his concern for me showing in his voice.

“Don’t worry, Rick. I’ll be okay. Remember, I’m with my family. I will still miss you terribly; but Ben has already promised to help keep me occupied,” I said, smiling at the memory of Rick giving Ben instructions about what to do to help me.

I jumped about a foot in the air when I felt a hand on my shoulder. I turned around to see Ben standing behind me. Ben said, “Glenn, please don’t scare me like that when you leave without letting me know where you’re going.”

“Rick, Ben just scared the living daylights out of me, doing what you told him to do,” I said, laughing.

“Good, I’m glad to hear Ben is keeping tabs on you,” Rick said.

Ben asked, “Are you talking to Rick?”

“Yes, I am,” I responded.

“I’ll talk to you later,” Rick said. “I’ve got to go now.”

“I love you,” I said.

“Back at you,” Rick responded and ended the call. It was apparent to me that someone had come up to Rick; so I didn’t feel bad he’d terminated the call so abruptly.

Ben said, “Let’s go back inside and get to bed. We have to be up early, you know!”

“I know, Ben. But I had to talk to Rick before we go camping; so he wouldn’t worry about me,” I said, trying to explain.

“I’m glad you called; now you can relax and enjoy camping,” Ben said.

We turned in for the night. I slept better knowing Rick was okay, and he knew I wouldn’t be calling or texting him for a few days.

Dad woke us up early; so we could get on the road. We had a quick breakfast before hitting the road. Ben and I followed Randy and Shawn in the Land Rover. It was an uneventful drive. It brought back a lot of good memories of the many camping trips we had taken over the years. Ben and I had a good time talking about those camping trips as we drove.

When we arrived, we pulled into the Achray Campground and checked into our site. We started to unload our gear; as we planned to use Achray as our base camp and do some hiking, canoeing and fishing at different points in the park.

As soon as we had camp set up, we launched the boats on Grand Lake. Dad and Uncle Dave love being on the water, and we spent most of the day on the lake. Dad had the helm of one boat and Uncle Dave the other one. Of course, they brought the fishing gear; so we all had a fishing pole. We managed to catch enough fish for dinner.

We pulled the boats out of the water, and brought the fish back to camp after cleaning them near the water’s edge. Dad and Uncle Dave pulled out the Dutch ovens, and got the fire going to cook dinner. First, they sliced some potatoes really thin and layered them in one of the Dutch ovens with butter, garlic and pepper. Next, they whipped up a cake mix and poured the batter in another Dutch oven, and added drained, canned peaches. Mom had made up some dough for rolls which Dad put in a third Dutch oven to bake. Of course, the fish were the last thing to be cooked. Dad stuffed each one with garlic, pepper and slices of lemon and double wrapped them in foil and put them on some coals to cook next to the fire. Ben and I got the job of turning the fish to make sure they didn’t burn.

I love eating Dutch oven cooking. My Dad and Uncle Dave really know how to do things up right. We have never gone hungry when we’ve been out camping! After eating, we all gathered around the campfire to listen to Uncle Dave. He pulled out his guitar and he led us in singing campfire songs. This is what I needed to bring me back from my fit of depression because Rick’s not with me.

Later, as we settled in our tent, Randy spoke up, “Let’s talk about some of our experiences camping; like the time Glenn insisted on running around the campground without any clothes on!”

“Randy! I was only two at the time!” I exclaimed, feigning embarrassment. “I remember the time you came running out of your tent screaming there were snakes in your sleeping bag!”

“Yeah, that was because you and Eric put a rubber snake in there,” Randy responded.

Ben laughed, “I remember that one. It was here in this very campground when that happened. Glenn and I had our own tent that year.”

We continued to talk late into the night; regaling Shawn with our tales of fishing, canoeing, hiking, etc., until Shawn said, “It’s time to sleep my friends.”

We said our good nights and were soon asleep.

After breakfast the next morning, Dad put his arm around my shoulders.  “I’m glad we came camping, son. It’s good for all of us.” He paused before continuing, “You know Rick is very lonely without his family, Glenn. We saw that when you brought him home to meet us. Rick and I had some nice long talks during that time. Rick was hurting really badly from being disowned by his family. I know you’ve tried to make up for his loss. You’re going to have to be the strong one for him. I want you to know we are here for both of you.” Dad said.

I looked at Dad in surprise.   I wasn’t sure he really meant what he said about being there for us.   But, I decided I needed to give him a chance to show he really did accept us as a couple.   I said, “Thanks, Dad. I know I can count on you. As for Rick, I know what you’re saying is true. Rick and I have spoken of his family often. I hope our love will be strong enough to see us through the rough times ahead.”

The rest of our camping trip went very well. I love Algonquin Provincial Park! There is so much to do and lots of space to do it in! Unfortunately, the time arrived for us to break camp and head west. We followed Randy and Shawn as we caravanned along some of the most scenic stretches of highway in the world! You haven’t seen real beauty until you’ve driven across Canada! (No offense to the rest of the world!)

When we reached Regina, we stopped at Randy and Shawn’s place to stay the night. Randy and Shawn cooked for all of us. They sure know how to cook! It was a little crowded in their apartment but we had a great time! After helping them clean up, the adults left for their hotels to relax and get ready to make the sprint home in the morning.

Randy came into the kitchen after seeing Mom and Dad off.   “Glenn, have you decided what you’re going to do with the rest of the summer?”

“Yes, Ben and I are going to take a driving tour of the United States and Canada,” I replied.

Ben spoke up, “Yeah, we’ve already drawn up our itinerary. I’ll get our map out so we can get your ideas about places we should visit.”

Ben went back into the bedroom we would be sharing, and rummaged through his stuff until he found what he was looking for.   He returned with his map and spread it out on the kitchen table for all of us to see.

Ben said, pointing to Atlanta, Georgia, “See, this is where we started.” He moved his finger along the route we had followed to Regina. “I’ve marked with a highlighter the highways we’re going to be travelling.”

We spent the next hour or so talking about our plans and listening to Randy and Shawn’s suggestions. We liked most of them and made the appropriate adjustments to our schedule.

After putting the map away, Shawn asked me, “Can we talk for a little bit?”

“Sure, Shawn,” I responded looking at him curiously, wondering what exactly he wanted.

“Glenn, there are some things I need to talk to you about; since it looks like you and Rick have decided your relationship will be a long-term one. You will need to help Rick learn to accept who he is; and, even more importantly, he has to learn to love himself,” Shawn said, looking me in the eye. “Do you think you’re up to the task?”

“I think so. I know Rick struggles with the fact he’s fallen in love with a guy; and he’s lost his family because of it. We’ve talked about it often, and I think Rick is okay with loving me; or he would’ve broken off our relationship when he went on active duty,” I said.

“I agree with you, Glenn. I think Rick is in this for the long haul. You are very fortunate to have found someone who deeply cares for you and will stand by your side; no matter what happens,” Shawn paused. He took a deep breath before he continued, “Glenn, I’m going to say some things that will make you very angry with me; however, I feel very strongly you need to hear it. I promise you if you listen to me carefully you will become a better you, and will be better able to love your partner. Okay?”

I nodded my head in the affirmative, not sure what to expect.

Shawn didn’t keep me in suspense for very long, “Glenn, you’re extremely self-centered, and have to learn that being in a relationship requires you to become completely selfless. Instead of doing everything for the sole purpose of satisfying your own wants and desires; you need to do things for the only reason that it makes someone else happy, even if it means you have to sacrifice something that is important to you. I can tell you the biggest single point of failure on your part is your all-consuming desire to be safe and comfortable regardless of the impact on others.”

I was taken aback by Shawn’s assessment of my behavior towards Rick; but as I thought about my relationship with him I could see that Shawn was right. “I guess you’re right, Shawn. Rick’s love represents safety and comfort to me,” I said, stopping; as I suddenly realized my overriding need for security was caused by what my cousin, John, did to me.

As I sat pondering Shawn’s words, Randy said, “Glenn, I remember you used to be the happiest and most easy going of all of us; but something happened when you were around 11 or 12 years old. You all of a sudden became extremely withdrawn from all of us, and you seemed depressed all of the time. I remember Mom and Dad talking about it. We were all trying to figure out what was going on with you.”

I looked across the table at Randy with raised eyebrows and asked, “Didn’t Mom and Dad tell you what happened?”

Randy looked confused.  “They haven’t said anything to me. Does this have something to do with what happened at Thanksgiving?”

“Yes, it does,” I responded, as I continued to relate to them why Rick had decked John, and what John had done to me.

Randy eyes filled with tears. “I had no idea John had done that to you. That explains a lot of things. I was surprised when Rick decked John that day. I didn’t hear what John said; so I was just a little upset with Rick for coming to our family get together, and disrupting it that way. I understand now why Rick was so upset with him.”

Shawn said, “I’m glad you finally told us what happened between you and John. You’ve kept it bottled up inside for too long. Who else knows?”

“Mom and Dad know. I told them at Thanksgiving when they came back from Uncle Gordon and Aunt Sylvia’s. They were pretty upset with Rick for what happened. I decided I had to tell them; so they wouldn’t think badly of my partner,” I said.

“Does anyone else in the family know?” Randy asked.

“I think Dad told Aunt Sylvia; because she was the most upset that Rick had desecrated her home by attacking her son. I don’t know who else knows. I know I haven’t told anyone else in the family,” I replied. “Now that I think about it, I remember Mom saying they met with Uncle Gordon and Aunt Sylvia to try and iron out their differences. Aunt Sylvia thinks I’m lying and I’ve made it all up.”

Shawn said, “I can understand her wanting to defend her child; but why would she think you have made up such a horrific thing? Doesn’t she understand no one can fake the pain and suffering that comes from being raped? Rape victims seldom fully recover from the trauma.”

I nodded my head and said, vehemently, “I know, believe me. I’ve tried to put the whole thing behind me. I don’t want it to define who I am; but it’s so difficult to forget. It’s like I’ve got “Rape Victim” written on my forehead. I feel like I’m wearing a scarlet letter around my neck some days. I know people don’t know what happened to me; but I can’t help but think they are judging me and saying to themselves, “He could’ve avoided it. He deserved what happened. He brought it on himself.” Intellectually, I know it isn’t true; but those thoughts still cross my mind every time I meet someone new.”

Randy asked, “What did Mom and Dad say when you told them?”

I wasn’t really ready to answer Randy’s question because of how emotional I was feeling, but I tried anyway.  “They kept asking me to forgive them for not seeing I needed help. Both Mom and Dad were pretty upset.”

Randy said, “I’m so sorry, Glenn. We all should have seen you needed our help.”

“What’s important is we’re talking about it now,” Shawn said. “We are here to help you, Glenn. There are many people who love you and want you to be happy. Obviously, you’ve told Rick.”

I nodded my head.  “Yes, I told Rick. In part, that is why Rick decked John. When John made his obnoxious remarks, Rick let him have it, as you remember.”

My face must have shown just how close to falling apart I was; because Shawn stood up and came around the table and pulled me into an embrace. He held me close for a long time as I buried my face in his chest and took comfort from him. Ben and Randy both joined us in a group hug.

I pulled back from Shawn.  “Thanks guys. I needed that. Can we watch a movie or something? I need something to distract me right now.”

Randy said, “Sure, let’s go in the front room, and we can see what’s available.”

We followed Randy out of the kitchen. Randy chose a movie and invited us to get comfortable. We spent the rest of the evening unwinding from our long trip in the car.

As we were getting ready for bed, Ben asked, “Why didn’t you tell me about what happened with John?”

“I was so ashamed I couldn’t even think about it, let alone tell anyone,” I tried to explain to Ben.

“You and I have always been very close. I would’ve thought you would have confided in me,” Ben said, just a little hurt.

“Ben, please try to understand what I was going through. I was so traumatized by the whole thing, I couldn’t think straight. Besides that, John threatened to beat me up if I ever told anyone what he and his friends had done to me. I don’t want you to think  I intentionally kept a secret from you, Ben. You are my best friend in the whole world. Please don’t forget that,” I said, hoping my words would erase the hurt feelings Ben was projecting.

“I can’t say I understand, because I don’t. Just don’t ever keep something like that from me again. I’m here for you, and it hurts when you don’t trust me enough to tell me what’s going on with you,” Ben said.

“I promise. Are we okay?” I asked, looking Ben in the eyes.

“Yeah, we’re good,” Ben responded. “Come here.” Ben pulled me into a bear hug. “You’re a great guy, Glenn. Don’t beat yourself up because of what John did. You’re not to blame; and you shouldn’t ever feel that you’re inferior to anyone.  Do you understand me?”

I was pretty choked up by what Ben said; so I nodded my head to let him know I understood.

“Let’s get some sleep,” Ben said.

“Good night, cousin,” I said as Ben turned out the lights.