Rick was laughing and joking with the guys, as he waited for Glenn to return from the car. The guys being, Zach, Todd, Mark, Brandon, Justin, Brian, Greg, Cory and Michael, along with Patty and Irene, who had met up with them at the Woodruff Arts Center. They had ordered everyone’s favorite beverages and pizza. They were talking excitedly about the great performances Patty, Irene and Glenn had put on tonight.
Michael sat next to Patty, who turned to him, and asked, “You’re very good looking, Michael. Do you have a girlfriend?”
Michael blushed at her compliment, and responded, “No, I don’t have a girlfriend, even though my parents would love me to have one. I’m gay.”
Irene, who sat on the other side of Michael, said, “I should've known. All of the cute guys around here are gay! It’s just not fair!”
Michael was puzzled by her comment, and asked, “Why do you say that? I have found there aren’t enough cute gay guys to go around, and that there are plenty of straight guys everywhere.”
Irene sighed, “But I haven’t been able to find them.” She pointed to the guys around the table, “Every one of them is gay.”
“There has to more guys at the University than these guys here. Are you sure you are looking in the right places?” Michael asked.
Irene smiled. “You’re right, Michael. I wish I could find guys, like my friends, who know how to treat a girl.” She paused, and pointed to the group of guys around the table, “Every one of them knows how to treat their spouse right. Watch them, Michael. You can see they really and truly love each other, by how they talk to each other and the looks they share. I so very much want to have a wonderful husband, like they have, in each other.”
Patty said, “Yes, Michael, I want the same thing for myself. I'm so amazed by our gay friends. They have managed to find soul mates, and have begun wonderful lives together.”
Michael looked around at the guys, and had to agree with the girls’ assessment. There, indeed, was a lot of love and caring in the faces of the several married couples at the table.
Greg caught his glance, and smiled, “I’m so glad you came with us to get pizza, Michael.”
“I’m glad, too,” Michael said.
Greg said, “I can’t hear you. Let me come around to your side of the table.”
Rick was beginning to get worried, because Glenn hadn’t shown up yet. He couldn’t imagine what would be taking Glenn so long to put his stuff in the car. As Greg came around the table, he looked out the window, and what he saw made him freeze. Rick noticed Greg’s look, and turned to look out the window. It only took a second for Rick to process what he saw happening outside, and he was up and out of the restaurant door in a millisecond. The rest of the guys turned to look outside, and followed Rick outside.
Rick ran to where the two rednecks were pounding on Glenn. There was a crowd gathering around them, which he pushed aside, and landed a hard punch to Glenn’s assailant. The guy dropped to the ground, completely knocked out. The guy who had been holding Glenn’s arms behind his back, let go him go, and tried to run; but Rick tackled him to the ground, and pinned him there.
Zach caught Rick’s arm, to stop him from pummeling the guy. Zach said, “Don’t, Rick. Let the police handle this.”
The guy on the ground looked extremely scared; because he had seen his death written on Rick’s face, before Zach had stopped him. Rick got up, and grabbed the guy by the shirt, standing him on his feet; but didn’t release him. A moment later, two cop cars showed up, and four policemen jumped out and started clearing the crowd.
One officer approached Rick, and said, “Let the guy go, sir.”
The Glenn’s second assailant spoke up, “Sir, this faggot attacked me.”
Rick turned to the officer, to counter the accusation, and saw that it was Officer Taliaferro. He said, “Hello, Officer Taliaferro. Thank you for responding so quickly.”
“Hello, Mr. Lernier. I’m sorry to see you involved in this incident,” Officer Taliaferro said. He turned to the 2nd assailant whose, face showed complete and utter amazement, as he realized the officer knew who Rick was. “Would you like to repeat your statement, sir?”
The 2nd assailant gulped, and said, “We saw these two guys kissing in the parking lot, and we decided to teach them a lesson. We don’t want gays in our town.”
Officer Taliaferro looked at Rick for confirmation. “Yes, I gave my partner a kiss, here, in the parking lot. These two shouted obscenities at us, as they pulled through the parking lot. We ignored them, and went on inside the restaurant. My partner changed his clothes in the men’s room, and came out to put his tuxedo in the car; but he didn’t return. One of my friends looked out the window, and saw these two pounding on him. I ran out, and threw a punch that knocked out the guy who was using Glenn as a punching bag; while this one was holding him, so he couldn’t defend himself.”
Officer Taliaferro saw the guy was about to protest, and interrupted him, “You had best be careful what you say.” Officer Taliaferro read him his Miranda rights, then cuffed him and led him over to a police cruiser, putting him in the back seat and shutting the door.
Rick walked over to where Glenn was sitting on the ground. He was being interviewed by a policeman, who looked up as Rick approached. He said, “I am Officer Martin. Mr. Nielsen tells me you are his life partner, and you came to his rescue, when you saw he was being severely beaten by these two.”
Rick replied, “That is true, sir.”
I looked up at Rick, and he took off his t-shirt and handed it to me, “Use that to stop the bleeding.”
I protested, “But I will ruin your shirt.” My nose felt like it was ten times its normal size, and it really was starting to hurt.
Officer Martin looked at Rick and smiled, “You chose your partner wisely, Mr. Nielsen. But you won’t have to use that to stop the bleeding; because the paramedics will be here shortly, and can provide you with the care you need.”
As if by magic, the ambulance and the paramedics pulled into the parking lot. The 1st assailant was coming around. He opened his eyes, and sat up. He looked around in complete surprise, as he realized he was surrounded by three policemen. Officer Taliaferro said, “You are under arrest.” He also read him his Miranda rights, and handcuffed him.
Before he was loaded into the second police cruiser, the paramedics examined him and determined he was physically okay; and gave the go ahead for Officer Taliaferro to transport him to the police station, for processing.
Then, they came over to me and Rick. One of them, a thin scrawny guy with dark curly hair and brown eyes, said to me, “Hi, I’m Jeremy. Let’s take care of the nose bleed, first; then we will check out the rest of you.”
I had been leaning my head back, holding my nose, in an attempt to stop the bleeding. I let go of my nose, and the blood gushed out. The blood had been running down the back of my throat, making me sick. Jeremy took out a couple of gauze pads (the ones that are rolled up really tight) and stuck one up each nostril.
I flinched with pain. “Damn! That hurt!”
Jeremy apologized, “I’m sorry, but we need to stop the bleeding. Tell me where else it hurts.”
I touched my ribs. “I have a little pain, here; but, otherwise, I feel okay.”
Jeremy looked at Rick, and said, “Help me lay him down, so I can examine him.”
Rick nodded his head. Once I was prone, on the ground, Jeremy asked, “What is your name?”
I responded, “My name is Glenn.”
He asked another question, “How old are you?”
“I am 20 years old,” I said.
He held up his hand, and asked, “How many fingers am I holding up?”
“Three,” I said.
“Where are you from?” Jeremy asked.
“I am from Swift Current, Saskatchewan,” I replied.
Office Taliaferro came over, and took out his note book. “I need to take a statement from each of you about what happened.”
Rick answered, “Okay.”
Jeremy said, “I'm going to make sure there hasn’t been any internal damage. You said your ribs hurt. Where were you hit?”
Officer Taliaferro started taking notes, as he listened to Jeremy ask his questions. “They hit me in the head and in the stomach. Some of their punches landed on my rib cage.”
Rick stood up, and turned to Officer Taliaferro. He related to him what had happened, from his perspective, while Jeremy continued to check me out.
Officer Taliaferro then turned to me. He knelt down by my head, and asked, “Glenn, tell me what happened.”
I said, “We had just come from a concert, downtown, and I went inside to change out of my tuxedo.”
Officer Taliaferro interrupted, “I can see the tuxedo hanging up in the back of the car. Is that the one?”
“Yes, it is. One of them hit me in the head from behind, and the other punched me in the kidneys. Then, one of them grabbed my arms, and pulled them behind my back, while the other one used me as a punching bag. They kept telling me faggots didn’t belong in Atlanta. They said they were going to beat me to death, and nobody would come to help me, because faggots deserved to die.”
“Then what happened?” Officer Taliaferro asked.
“Rick hit the big guy, and knocked him to the ground; and tackled the other one, who tried to run away,” I responded.
“Did you provoke them in any way?” Officer Taliaferro asked.
“What do you mean?” I asked.
“Did you argue with them, or call them names?” Officer Taliaferro.
“No, I didn’t even see them, until they attacked me. When I came out of the Mellow Mushroom, there wasn’t anyone in the parking lot, but me. There were some guys crossing the street from the MARTA; but those two weren’t with them,” I said.
“That’s all, for now. I know where you guys live; so, I will be in contact with you, if I need more information,” Officer Taliaferro said.
Then, Jeremy asked, “Who is your emergency contact?”
“Rick Lernier,” I said, pointing to Rick.
“Rick, will you be accompanying Glenn to the hospital?” Jeremy asked.
“Yes, but why are you taking him to the hospital?” Rick asked.
“I have talked with the emergency room doctor, and he recommends we run a couple of tests, to make sure there are no internal injuries,” Jeremy said.
Rick said, “Okay. I will follow the ambulance over to the hospital.”
Jeremy nodded. “Alright, let’s get Glenn on a stretcher.” He waved his companion over, and they slid a board under me, lifting me onto their stretcher. They loaded me into the ambulance.
Rick walked over to our friends. “I’m going with Glenn to the hospital. I will see you guys, tomorrow at the condo.”
Zach said, “Okay. Call us, and let us know how things are going with Glenn. I don’t care how late it is.”
Rick nodded his head, “I will.”
He climbed into our car, and followed the ambulance out of the parking lot.
The rest of our friends went back inside the restaurant, where their pizza and beer awaited them. As everyone settled into their seats, a couple of guys from a neighboring table walked up. One of them said, “We’re sorry your friend was hurt. People from around here are usually pretty friendly. We don’t want you to think we are all like those two rednecks.”
Zach gave the two guys an appraising look, before he answered. Both of them looked to be football players from their height and build. He smiled, and said, “It’s not a problem.”
The other guy said, “Jeb, you need to introduce us. I’m Cordell Taylor, and this is Jeb McComb. We are both on the football team at Georgia Tech. We’re in the engineering program. We overheard you talking about attending classes. Where do you go to school?”
Michael was only half listening to the conversation, because he was looking the two guys over, and liking what he saw. He guessed Cordell was about 6'3” (191 cm.) or 6’4” (196 cm.) tall and weighed about 190 lbs. (86 kg.). Michael liked his curly blond hair, twinkling blue eyes, square chin, hawkish nose, dark brown eyebrows and dark eyelashes that would be the envy of any super model. Cordell wore a tight, sleeveless muscle shirt that left nothing to the imagination. Michael could see the guy was ripped, with six-pack abs. His legs were huge, and Michael noted his feet were, too. Michael’s attention was focused on Cordell’s large hands; then, he raised his gaze to meet Cordell’s eyes. Cordell was smiling at him, showing perfectly white, straight teeth that served to emphasize his deep tan. Cordell winked at Michael, then turned his attention back to Zach, who was talking to Jeb.
Zach said, “We’re from Minneapolis where we attend classes at the University of Minnesota –Twin Cities. I’m Zach Anderson-Ingram. This is my husband, Todd.”
Jeb said, in surprise, “You two are married?”
“Yes, we were married in Canada, last January,” Zach said.
Cordell put his hand on Jeb’s shoulder. “I think it's really cool you two are married. I have several gay friends, who are afraid to come out of the closet.”
Jeb shook off Cordell’s hand. His face had contorted into an ugly mass of disgust and revulsion. Before he could speak, Zach said, “Before you say anything, Jeb, let me warn you all of us here at the table are gay, with the exception of the two girls. I don’t think you want to piss us off, after what happened a few minutes ago, in the parking lot.”
Jeb looked around the table, and realized he was slightly outnumbered. When he didn’t say anything, Zach said, “This is Mark, and his husband, Brandon. They were married at the same time we were. Next, is Justin, and his husband, Brian. At the far end of the table is Greg, and his boyfriend, Cory. This is Patty, Michael, and Irene. Michael is from Atlanta, and joined us for pizza, tonight, to celebrate our friends’ concert debut.”
“Is that who was in the tuxedo, when you guys came in?” Cordell asked.
“Yes, and his boyfriend, Rick, is the guy who rescued him from being beat up by those two rednecks,” Zach responded.
Cordell said, “I’m sorry that had to happen, while you are visiting your friend. Please accept my apologies for Jeb’s behavior, as well. His dad’s a minister, and he has been raised to believe a lot of things about gays that just aren’t true.
Jeb’s head jerked around, and he looked at his friend in total shock. He said, “What are you saying, Cordell?”
“I’m saying your dad’s beliefs are fine in church; but, when you’re not in church, you need to shelve them, and treat people with respect and dignity. Gays are people, just like you and me. We need to stop the hatred and violence against them. Just because someone is gay, doesn’t give anyone the right to assault them and try to kill them. They have a right to be here, just as much as we do. Jeb, are you saying you condone what happened in the parking lot tonight?”
Jeb looked at his friend, and swallowed hard, “No, I don’t, but….”
Cordell cut him off, “But you have been so deeply brainwashed by your father you’ve talked yourself into thinking it’s okay to murder gays, because the Bible says so. Is that it?”
Jeb stood still, with his mouth open; but nothing came out. Cordell continued, “How does murdering gays square with one of the Ten Commandments that says, ‘Thou shalt not kill;’ or is there a footnote to that verse of scripture that says, ‘except it’s okay to kill those who don’t agree with your religious views?’ Are you a murderer in your heart, Jeb? Is that what your father teaches from his pulpit?”
Jeb’s face showed the conflict raging in his mind. Finally, he said, “I don’t know what to think, anymore, Cordell.”
The guys had been listening to this exchange in silence. Mark looked at Brandon, then he spoke up, “Why don’t you join us? That way, you can get to know us, as the gay men we are. Then you can decide if you have to continue to hate us or not.”
Michael got up, and said, “Let’s move your table over to join ours.”
Patty and Irene stood up and moved their chairs back, while Cordell and Michael moved the table. Once they were settled, Michael ended up next to Cordell, with Patty and Irene on either side of Jeb.
Cordell reached over and placed his hand on Michael’s leg. He looked into Michael’s eyes, “Thank you for helping me move the table.”
Michael managed to say, “You’re welcome,” despite the racing of his heart. He looked back into Cordell’s eyes, searching to see if there was any chance Cordell might be gay. Cordell removed his hand, then turned to talk to Patty.
“What are you studying at college?” he asked.
Patty smiled, and answered, “I’m majoring in music performance, and so is Irene. Our friend, Glenn, is, as well; or, at least, was, until he decided to move back to Atlanta with his boyfriend.”
Jeb smiled at Patty and asked, “So, how did you get to know all of these guys?”
Patty looked at him, and said, sharply, “How did I meet up with so many gay guys, you mean?” Jeb looked away from her, but nodded his head. She continued, “Glenn was in most of my classes, and we became very good friends. He introduced me to his roommates, who happened to all be gay guys.” She nodded at the guys around the table. “They’re my best friends, Jeb. They love each other, and they’re the most loyal friends you could ever have. Zach, Todd, and Mark are on our school hockey team. Brandon is an avid cyclist. Justin and Brian are members of the Twin Cities Gay Men’s Choir.”
Greg, who was seated on the other side of Irene, said, “I played football for my high school; until my Dad attacked me, and tried to kill me, for being gay.”
Jeb looked at Greg, in shock, and asked, “What did he do?”
Greg and Cory related everything they had been through, and Greg said, “So, when I hear your father is preaching hatred and violence against gays, just like my Dad’s pastor, it scares me, Jeb. How many more families will be destroyed, just like mine? Dad is in jail, Mom has filed for a divorce, and lives near my grandparents. They are just as homophobic as you seem to be, Jeb.”
Jeb didn’t respond to Greg’s question. Cory looked at Jeb, and he said, “Maybe I can clarify your thinking, Jeb. Let me show you the scar where they had to cut my head open to relieve the swelling in my brain, so I wouldn’t die.” Cory pulled back his hair, with Greg’s help, and showed him.
Greg said, “And here is mine.” He looked at Jeb, and said, “I hope my Dad rots in jail for the rest of his life. He attempted to murder me and Cory, and he needs to pay for what he did to us.” Greg’s anger and pain slapped Jeb in the face. He tried to look away from Greg and Cory, but couldn’t. “This is what your father’s preaching can do to innocent people; just like the violence and hatred being preached from the pulpit at my Dad’s church did to my Dad, before he tried to commit murder in the name of his religion.”
Jeb said, “But how can it be okay to be a homosexual, when it’s against God’s law?”
“I guess that depends on who is interpreting God’s law, doesn’t it?” Greg said. “Since when does your father have the sole authority to determine what God’s law is?”
Jeb protested, “But it’s written in the Bible.”
Greg said, “Is it? You’re just like the other so called ‘Christians,’ trying to shove your religious beliefs down our throats. I don’t believe the Bible says that homosexuality is wrong, except when it is part of idol worship, or certain other instances. Let me ask you this question. Is it really written in your Bible that ‘Christians’ should love their neighbor? I ask this question, because it seems that statement has been misinterpreted to mean only those who believe as you do. I hate all ‘Christians’ and their bigotry, as the cause of what happened to me and Cory.”
Confronted by the very real hatred in Greg’s eyes, Jeb didn’t know how to respond. He had never been face to face with someone who had been a victim of the evil and violence, perpetrated by someone claiming to be an adherent of a “Christian” faith. Jeb said, “I haven’t really thought about it.”
“That is because most ‘Christians’ don’t think. They blindly follow their preachers, without thinking about the consequences of their actions. They claim to be the sole grantors of access to God, and deny entry to their churches to people, because of their fear of being contaminated by sin. Don’t get me wrong---I do NOT want anything to do with a religious organization, especially a ‘Christian’ church; so, don’t go away, thinking that those of us who aren’t members of a specific church, are banging on the doors to get in; because we aren’t,” Greg said.
Jeb had never been around someone who wasn’t a member of a “Christian” church. He had led a very sheltered life, and didn’t have much experience with people who didn’t hold the same beliefs as he did. He had heard Greg and Cory’s story, with horror; and it had opened his eyes to the fact his father’s preaching wasn’t as harmless as it seemed. He said, “I don’t know what to say to you, Greg.”
“Maybe for starters, you can open your mind, as well as your eyes, to consider that maybe your ‘Christian’ beliefs need to be re-examined and adjusted so you can see me as the human being I am. Maybe you can treat me with respect and dignity, and can stop looking at me with revulsion and horror, when you see me holding hands with my boyfriend. Maybe you can learn to accept that others don’t believe in the same things you do, and that you can still be friends with someone who is gay. Maybe, just maybe, you can help influence the rest of your friends to stop their campaign against us. Most ‘Christian’ churches are actively lobbying to restrict my rights as a human being. They claim I am not entitled to be treated the same as everyone else. They are trying to stop anti-gay laws from being adopted by cities and towns. They want to tell me I can’t marry Cory. It is wrong for ‘Christians’ to force their religious values on those of us who don’t believe in those same values.” Greg paused, and drew in a deep breath, before he continued, “I am living proof that ‘Christian’ teachings breed hatred, violence and intolerance.”
Greg got up from the table. “Cory, let’s go. I need to get some fresh air.” Greg left the table, and didn’t wait for Cory. He was so angry at all Christians, but he knew it wasn’t Jeb’s fault. But, it was the fault of people like Jeb’s father, who preached their brand of “Christianity” from the pulpit. He, and so many others like him. It was like they were on a crusade to persecute everyone who believed differently than they did. He felt like he was going to explode, if he didn’t get away from Jeb and his sanctimonious attitude. He walked outside, and stopped just past the restaurant doors, to wait for Cory.
Cory caught up to him, and put his arm around his waist. “It’s okay, Greg. Let’s get in the car and call Rick. I want to know what is going on with Glenn.”
They walked to their car, and got in. Greg pulled his cell phone out of his pocket, and hit the speed dial. After a couple of rings, Rick picked up, “Hello, Greg. Are you okay?”
“I’ll be fine. Just a little upset. How is Glenn?” Greg asked.
Rick responded, “He’s fine. They just took him back for x-rays; then we should be able to go home, if everything checks out. Glenn isn’t happy about being here, and neither am I. Officer Taliaferro advised us to come here, so that any injuries would be documented; since we could be called upon to testify in court against those guys who attacked Glenn.”
“Where is the hospital? We want to come over,” Greg said.
Rick gave him the name of the hospital. Greg punched it into his GPS on his phone, and said, “Got it. We’ll be there, shortly.”
Rick said, “I’ll be looking for you in the waiting area, near the emergency room.”
Greg disconnected the call, and turned to Cory, “Are you ready to go?”
“Yes, but, first, there is something you need,” Cory said. He leaned over, and kissed his boyfriend. He said, “I love you, Greg. Everything will be okay.”
Greg looked into Cory’s eyes, and said, “As long as you are with me, Cory, I will be fine.”
Cory reached over and gently wiped away a tear that had escaped and was running down Greg’s cheek. “I will always be here for you.”
Greg nodded his head, and tried to smile. He looked behind the car to check for pedestrians, then put the car in gear.
Inside the Mellow Mushroom, Jeb looked miserable. He was struggling to process what Greg and Cory had told him. He looked around the table, and none of the guys would meet his gaze. He looked at Patty, who said, “Jeb, I’m sorry Greg and Cory upset you; but, you have to understand what they've been through, at the hands of supposedly religious people.”
Michael spoke up, “I was there and saw what was done to them, first hand. I was Greg’s tutor during his recovery, and believe me, Greg has come a long way since then.”
Jeb asked, “Why did he dump on me, then?”
“Because you represent everything he despises about religious people. They make judgments, without knowing the facts; then try to pretend they aren’t the cause of the intolerance and prejudice that exists in our country toward gays,” Irene said. “I met Greg and Cory for the first time, yesterday; but even I could sense the deep wounds they have, and the anger they feel toward Christians.”
Jeb said, “But I haven’t done anything to them.”
“No, you don’t have to do anything; because, people like your father, already have done the damage, by preaching hatred over their pulpits, and intolerance for those they consider to be sinners,” Patty said. “I have seen it first hand, in Minneapolis, in the church just down the street from where these guys live.”
Jeb looked down the table at the guys, and asked, “Do you all feel the same way that Greg and Cory do about religion?”
Zach said, “I can’t speak for everyone here; but, for me, the answer is, yes. Too many religious leaders in our country attack us, without knowing who were are. They are blind to their own hypocrisy, and expect us to sit back and let them walk all over us. We are sick and tired of being treated as second class citizens, by religious people. Their paternalistic attitudes toward us are totally unacceptable. I had one minister tell me that he loved me and wanted the best for me; but that I needed to repent, first, before he would show that love for me. He no more had love for his fellow man, than if he were able to grow wings and fly.”
Mark spoke up, “Not only that, so many of the major Christian denominations have openly tried to take away our freedoms, by restricting our rights to services, to adopt children, to teach in schools, participate in government and have tried to even have us barred from holding certain kinds of jobs. In addition, they are passing laws that allow people to refuse to provide basic services to us, because of their religious beliefs. If I were to refuse to provide care for someone, because I am gay and they are not gay, would they let me off the hook? No, they would sue me for discrimination; but it’s okay for religious people to discriminate against us.”
Jeb responded, “But, I am not the one doing all of that.”
“No, you aren’t, now; but, your father is, as well as the rest of the religious leaders that you support. You may not be directly responsible; but, as a group, you and your fellow ‘Christians’ are actively engaged in persecuting gays,” Brandon said.
Justin said, “I left my church, when my parents disowned me for being gay. They told my parents it was necessary for them to disown their son; because I would cause them to sin, and I was a danger to the young children in the community. The reverend at my old church even put out a bulletin, informing the congregation I was gay, and was forbidden to enter their church. He emphasized the fact they needed to cut off all association with me, to protect their children from being molested by me. I have had a very rough life, since then. I have no love for Christians, in general, after all I have been through.”
Jeb looked at Brian, “Do you feel the same way?”
“No, I don’t; however, I have never had any dealings with Christians. I’m from India, and I’m amazed at the level of animosity leveled at gays, by religious people, in this country,” Brian said.
Jeb looked around the table, and said, “I’m sorry you feel the way you do about Christians. We aren’t all bad.”
“No, not all Christians are bad people. However, 99.9% of you are anti-gay, and won’t lift a finger to stop the bigotry and hatred,” Justin said.
Cordell asked, “Guys, can we talk about something else?”
Zach nodded his head, and said, “Yes, I have had enough discussion about Christians.”
Todd said, “I’m ready to go back to the hotel.”
“I am, too,” Brian said.
Zach waved over the waitress, who asked, “Are you ready for your check?”
Zach said, “Yes, please.”
She pulled out the check, and handed it to Zach. He pulled out his cell phone, and used the calculator. “Okay this is how much we each owe.” He wrote it on the check and took out some cash and placed it on the table. He passed the check down the table.
Soon, everyone had put their contribution to the bill on the table. Zach counted it up, and smiled, “Perfect. Thank you everyone, for joining us, tonight.” He stood up, and said, “It was nice to meet you guys.”
Cordell said, “I am glad, too.”
Michael looked at Cordell, and asked, “Do you live in the dorms?”
“Yes, I do. Jeb is my roommate,” Cordell said.
“I live a few miles from here,” Michael said.
Cordell smiled, and asked, “Would you mind if I invited myself over to your place?”
Michael looked surprised, but quickly answered, “That would be great!”
Jeb gave Cordell a shocked look. “What are you doing?”
“I am going home with Michael. I will have him drop me off at the dorms, later tonight,” Cordell said. Cordell stared down his roommate.
Jeb shrugged his shoulders, and said, “Okay. I guess I will catch you later, then. Nice to meet you guys.” He stood up, and left the restaurant.
Cordell smiled at Michael. “Let’s go.”
Michael was very nervous. He couldn’t believe his luck. This gorgeous guy was coming over to his place, but he still didn’t know if he was gay or not.
Patty stood up and came over to Michael, and gave him a hug. She whispered in his ear, “Good luck. I think he likes you.”
Michael stared into her eyes for a moment, and nodded his head. “Thanks, Patty.”
Zach smiled at Cordell. “Thank you for coming over to our table.”
Cordell nodded his head, in acknowledgement. “Not a problem.” He put his arm around Michael’s shoulders. “I have to say my motives were purely selfish, however. I wanted to meet Michael.”
Zach grinned, and said, “Todd said that was why you came over.”
Michael looked at Zach and Todd, in surprise. “How did you know?”
“Let’s just say we have excellent gaydar, and we knew what Cordell was up to, even if his roommate didn’t,” Todd said.
Cordell smiled, and said, “I didn’t think I was that obvious.”
“To most people you weren’t; however, we knew exactly what was going down,” Mark said. “I saw you put your hand on Michael’s leg, and saw how you massaged his inner thigh. That told me right away what you were after!”
Michael looked up at Cordell. “I am glad to know you are gay, too.”
Cordell said, “Yes, I’m gay; but, I am not out to my teammates at Georgia Tech.” He took Michael by the hand, and said, “I hope you don’t mind.”
Michael said, “Mind? Certainly, I don’t mind you aren’t out to everyone.”
Zach looked at Michael, and said, “Don’t forget to meet us at Rick and Glenn’s place, tomorrow, for lunch.”
Michael nodded his head. “I won’t forget.”
“Nor will I,” Cordell said, smiling.
Zach laughed at that, “Michael, I have a feeling you're in for a real treat, tonight.”
Michael grinned, “I hope so.”
Cordell said, “Let’s go, Babe.”
The two of them left the restaurant, hand in hand. The rest of them weren’t far behind them. They had rented two mini-vans from the airport. Zach drove one, and Mark drove the other. Everyone got into one or the other of the mini-vans, and they headed back to their hotel.
Michael opened the door to his car, while Cordell went around to the passenger’s side, and got in. Cordell leaned over and kissed Michael gently on the lips. “Thank you for taking me home with you. Not many guys would have been as trusting as you are. I promise you I will never hurt you, or do anything to endanger the relationship I want to build with you.”
Michael looked into Cordell’s eyes. “Are you saying this isn’t going to be a one night stand?”
“Yes, that is what I’m saying. Yes, I want to fuck your brains out; but, I also want to have a permanent relationship with a wonderful guy. I have watched your friends tonight, and how they treat each other. If that is any indication of how you will treat me, then you're the one for me,” Cordell said.
Michael smiled, “I want that, too. I want someone who will love me and cherish me always. I have had the kind of relationship that is based purely on sex, and it didn’t last. Maybe this time, things will work out for me.”
Cordell took Michael’s hand in his, and said, “I hope we can be sweethearts, as well as lovers, Michael.”
Michael smiled, and said, “Well, we’re off to a good start! I’m glad you talked to me about what your expectations are, before we went anywhere.”
Michael started the car, and drove toward his home, in silence. He was thinking about how he was going to explain to his parents about having a guy stay overnight in his room. He glanced at Cordell, and returned his gaze to the highway. He asked, “Cordell, would you mind going to a hotel, instead of to my house? I’m not sure how my parents would react to me bringing home a guy.”
Cordell nodded his head. “I’m okay with that. I know if I brought you home, my parents would go ballistic on me! I’m from Birmingham, Alabama. I have two younger sisters, Holly – 15, and Hope – 13.”
“I have an older sister, who still lives with my parents. How old are you?” Michael asked.
“I am 20 years old,” Cordell said. “How old are you?”
“I am 28 years old,” Michael replied. “Does that bother you?”
“No, I like older guys. Michael, I have to confess I’ve never been with a guy, before. I am just a little nervous about it,” Cordell said.
Michael smiled, “Don’t worry, Cordell. I think you will be just fine.” Michael pulled into a Comfort Inn. They went inside and registered. As soon as they were inside their room, Michael said, “Let’s take a shower together.”
Cordell smiled and said, “Sounds great!”
They quickly stripped out of their clothes, with each of them looking the other over. Cordell liked what he saw. Michael’s skin was completely smooth. He had trimmed his pubic hair, which Cordell found very attractive.
Michael really liked what he saw, as well. Cordell had an impressive package, and was as well muscled as he guessed he might be. Michael took Cordell by the hand, and led him into the shower. They began by kissing under the warm cascade. They helped each other wash up. When they were both clean, Michael turned off the water, then helped dry off his new found boyfriend.
Cordell did the same for him. Michael led Cordell to one of the double beds and pulled back the covers, and they climbed into bed together. Cordell lightly trailed his fingers along the skin of Michael’s back, sending a thrill through his entire body. Cordell’s eyes held Michael mesmerized, as he gently ran his hands all over Michael’s body. His touch set Michael’s skin on fire. Michael leaned his head back in pure pleasure, as Cordell’s fingers paused to gently massage Michael’s glutes, then moved down between his thighs. Cordell tenderly captured Michael’s lips, as his hands moved upward to Michael’s equipment to tease him, until he began to leak pre-cum. Cordell started kissing Michael’s neck, then moved to his nipples. Cordell nibbled on them, causing Michael to arch his back, thrusting against him. Cordell continued his slow, but steady, assault on his partner’s senses, until Michael was so amped up, he thought he was going to lose his mind with desire. Michael wanted him so badly, he grabbed Cordell and pulled him on top of him; which, given the difference in size, was quite a feat!
Cordell grinned, and grabbed Michael’s insistent hands. He pinned Michael’s arms against the pillow behind his head, and whispered, “Patience, Michael. I will give you what you want, but you have to wait until it’s time.” Michael ceased resisting, and stared into Cordell’s eyes.
Cordell said, in his most seductive voice, “I want you to so much, Michael.” He released Michael’s arms, and gently bit his earlobes. He, in turn, kissed him on the lips. Michael was so hungry for Cordell that he put his hands on either side of Cordell’s head, to keep him from moving on, until Michael had kissed him for as long as he could (and that is a long time!). When Michael released him, Cordell looked into Michael’s eyes, and asked, “Are you ready?”
Later, the two lovers lay exhausted in each other’s arms. Michael ran his fingers lightly along Cordell’s jaw, and stopped with his fingers on his lips. Michael smiled, and said, “I hope we can do that many more times in the future.”
Cordell nodded his head, and smiled, “I hope so, too.” Cordell pulled Michael closer to him, as Michael melted into his embrace, burying his face in the hair on Cordell’s chest.
Greg pulled into the parking lot at the hospital, then parked their car. He got out and met Cory. They walked hand in hand into the emergency room. They looked around the waiting area, and found Rick sitting with his head in his hands. They walked over, and sat next to him. Greg touched his shoulder. “Rick, we’re here.”
Rick looked up at them, and smiled, “I am so glad you decided to come. I have been waiting for them to come and get me. Glenn is so pissed. He has been arguing with the emergency room doctors. He says he is fine and doesn’t need all of these tests; but they insist that they need to check everything out, before they release him.”
Greg laughed, and said, “That sounds just like him, though.”
Rick nodded his head, and laughed. “Yeah, he told the nurse she could ‘fuck off,’ when she tried to put an IV in his arm. Glenn has a phobia about needles, and when she tried to poke him, he went ape on her.”
Cory said, “I didn’t know Glenn hated needles.”
“He really does. His Mom told me he passed out cold, when they had to draw his blood to run some tests, when he was younger,” Rick said. Rick stopped to answer his cell phone. He said, “Hello, Mom.”
“Kerry just had the baby, Rick,” Mom said.
“Which hospital are you at?” Rick asked. When she told him the name, he said, “We’re down in the emergency room at the same hospital.”
“Why are you here? What happened?” Mom said, with concern in her voice.
Rick recounted their adventures at the Mellow Mushroom, and how they ended up in the emergency room. “I am still waiting for them to return with Glenn.”
“Do you need me to come downstairs?” Mom asked.
“No, we will come up, when they release Glenn. What room number are you in?” Rick asked. After she gave him the number, Rick said, “We will see you soon.” He cut the connection, and turned to Greg and Cory. “Kerry had the baby about 30 minutes ago, and they are here in this same hospital.”
Greg smiled, and said, “That is awesome! I know Kerry was anxious to deliver.”
“I take it everything worked out okay?” Cory asked.
“Yes, mother and baby are doing fine,” Rick replied.
Just then, a nurse came out of the big double doors that led into the emergency room. She crossed the room, and stopped in front of the guys, “Are you Rick?”
Rick looked up at her, “Yes, I am.”
“Please follow me,” she said.
Rick stood up, and asked, “Can my friends join me, or do they have to wait out here?”
She looked at Greg and Cory, who were holding hands. She didn’t say anything, at first. Her face showed a myriad of emotions, as she digested that fact that they were obviously a couple. Finally, she said, “Sure, but if anyone objects, they will have to leave.”
Greg nodded his head, and said, “Okay.”
They followed her back through the big double doors that swung open on their own. They passed down a hallway with examination rooms on either side, until they approached the one at the end of the row, on the left side. They could hear Glenn shouting at someone inside.
They walked in, and were totally surprised to see Glenn standing there, in the nude, shouting at a nurse, who was cowering in a corner. Glenn stopped when he saw Rick enter the room.
Rick asked, in a calm and soothing tone of voice, “What is going on, Glenn?
I started shouting, “She was….”
Rick interrupted me, “Stop shouting. I am not deaf, nor are Greg and Cory.” Rick stepped over to me, and kissed me on the lips. He then looked into my eyes, and said, “Please get back on the bed, and let’s talk about what is going on.”
I nodded my head. Rick handed me the hospital gown that I had thrown on the bed. He helped me put it back on, then assisted me to get situated on the bed. Once I was calmed down, he asked, “Now, let’s talk about what is going on.”
I looked into my lover boy’s eyes, and said, “They want to put in an IV. I don’t need an IV, and I don’t need to have my blood drawn. I can’t seem to get them to understand that I took a few hits to the head, and to the stomach. My nose is broken and I have a few cracked ribs. There is nothing they can do for me here. There is NOT a single reason that they need to poke me with needles.”
Rick looked over at the two nurses, who were standing near the doorway. “Is this true?”
The nurse, who came to get Rick, said, “Yes, it’s true. He has a mild concussion, a broken nose and two cracked ribs. Other than that, he’s fine. I don’t know why the doctor ordered that we put in an IV.”
Rick said, “Thank you for the update. Can we talk to the doctor who gave the orders?”
“Sure, I will send him down in a few minutes,” she said. She looked at the second nurse, and they both left, closing the door behind them.
Rick looked at me, and asked, “Did you really have to throw a major temper tantrum?”
I started to answer, when Rick put his finger on my lips, “Think before you answer. I know that you have a phobia about needles, but did you need to have a major fit about it?”
“Yes and no,” I said. “Yes, because they wouldn’t listen to me; and no, I probably could have asked for you, and let you talk to them.”
Rick nodded his head, “Okay, so next time, can we stay calm, and let me handle things?”
I felt like a child being scolded by his father. I automatically started to pout. Rick laughed. “Now don’t give me that look, Glenn. I am not your parent, but I do love you enough that I want to help you, so you don’t embarrass yourself.”
I grinned at him, and said, “You are no fun, Mr. Lernier. You won’t even let me pout properly.”
“You like being a prima donna too much for me to let you get away with any more than you do,” Rick said, smiling at me.
Greg laughed, and said, “That’s the first time I have ever heard of a guy being called a ‘prima donna.’ You really must get pretty demanding, at times, Glenn, to merit that title.”
“I am not demanding!” I exclaimed, petulantly.
“No, you just expect everything to go your way,” Rick said, grinning at me.
“That doesn’t mean I’m a prima donna,” I argued.
We were interrupted by the emergency room doctor. He looked around the room, then at me. “Mr. Nielsen, the nurses said you had some questions about my orders.”
Before I could answer, Rick said, “Yes, we do. First, is there any particular medical reason to have an IV put in his arm?”
“No, it is standard procedure here; so that, if, in an emergency, we need to administer medication, we can do it quickly,” the doctor responded.
“Since there isn’t a medical reason for it, can it be dispensed with, in this case?” Rick asked.
The doctor thought for a moment. “I am sure we can make an exception, since Mr. Nielsen doesn’t want it.”
Glenn asked, “How long will it be before you let me out of here?”
“You can go now, if you like. We have the results back from the lab, and they confirmed that you have two cracked ribs. Otherwise, you are good to go. You should see a doctor, to fix your broken nose, after the swelling goes down,” the doctor paused, and looked at Rick. “You will need to keep an eye on him for the next 24-48 hours, for any indications that something is going wrong; such as, his pupils suddenly dilating, slurred speech or odd behavior. He has a mild concussion that will correct itself in a day or two. I will send in the nurse with the release papers.” He turned, and left the room.
“I’m glad that is over,” I said.
Rick took my hand, and said, “You’re not a very good patient, sweetheart.”
I nodded my head. “I know, but I can’t help it.”
The first nurse returned with the paperwork. I signed it, and she handed me a copy. “You can get dressed now, and we will see you out to your car.”
Rick said, “We won’t need your assistance, thank you. Glenn’s cousin just had her baby, and she is upstairs.”
The nurse smiled, and said, “Congratulations to the new parents! I won’t send anyone for you. If you need directions, stop at the information desk, and they will tell you how to get to the maternity wing.”
Greg said, “We are going to call it a night, guys. We will catch up to you, tomorrow.”
“Thanks for coming to see me,” I said. “I am sorry that you had to spend so much time in the emergency room.”
Cory said, “It’s not a problem.” He turned to Rick, “Please take good care of him, Rick.”
“I will. Thanks for keeping me company,” Rick said.
“You’re welcome,” Greg said. I watched the two handsome young men leave the room, holding hands as they went.
I looked at Rick, and said, “I’m glad they came. They are good people.”
Rick agreed, “You’re right about that. Now, let’s get you dressed.”
I quickly got dressed, and we made our way out of the emergency room and found the maternity wing. Rick led us to Kerry’s room. We entered the room, and found it was already full of people. Mom and Dad were there, with Keith standing on one side of the bed, and Kerry’s parents, Joe and Katie Mitchell, on the other. They turned to us, as we entered the room. Kerry looked up from her new baby, and said, “Glenn and Rick, I am so glad you are here. I want you to meet Egan Michael Turner.”
I walked over to the bed and looked into the face of the most beautiful baby I have ever seen. “He looks just like Keith,” I said.
Kerry smiled, and nodded, “That he does. Do you want to hold him?”
I smiled, and said, “I would love to hold the little guy.” I gently took the infant from her arms. I looked into his eyes, and instantly felt a connection. I don’t know how it happened; but something inside of me clicked into place, and I knew that this little bundle in my arms had just reserved a special corner in my heart. I smiled down at Egan, who seemed to be staring back at me with his big dark eyes. I smiled at Kerry, and said, “He is so tiny.”
Kerry remarked, “He didn’t seem so tiny a little while ago!”
I passed the baby over to Rick. Rick looked so awkward, standing there trying to figure out what to do, that I burst out laughing. “Rick, it’s a baby not a piece of fine china.”
Keith stepped over and rearranged Rick’s arms, and resettled Egan. “There. That’s better.”
Rick looked over at me, and stuck his tongue out at me. “At least Keith helped me out, instead of laughing at me.”
I just grinned all the more. I put my arm around Rick’s waist, and said, “But, you love me, anyway.”
“Yes, I do,” Rick acknowledged, with a smile. He glanced over, and caught Glenn’s Dad’s disapproving stare. He cradled the baby in one arm, and put his other arm around Glenn’s shoulders. Rick asked, “How many children do you want, Glenn?”
The question caught me off guard. I looked up at Rick, and almost asked, “What are you talking about,” but stopped, as Rick motioned toward my father with his eyes. I, then, said, “At least two. I think they should look just like you, Babe.”
Rick winked at me, and grinned. “Maybe we should look at finding a surrogate to help us.”
There was a sharp intake of breath and I glanced across the room at my parents. The different expressions that chased one another across Dad’s face, reflected the inner turmoil he felt. I glanced over at Mom, and saw her broad smile. When she met my gaze, she nodded her approval. I smiled, and said, “I think that would be a great idea, Rick.”
Keith took Egan back, then handed the baby to Kerry. I turned to Joe and Katie, “Congratulations! You should be very proud of your new grandson.”
Joe was grinning from ear to ear. “We are very excited.”
Katie said, “Yes, we are, but Joe is especially pleased to have a grandson. He has already mapped out all of the fishing holes he plans to show Egan.”
Kerry laughed, “That sounds like my Dad. However, you will have to wait a couple of years, before I will let you take him fishing.”
Joe smiled, “I’m sure that we can take him sooner than you think, Kerry, because you will be with us.”
Katie laughed, “Kerry, dear, your father has an answer for everything.”
“I am sure he does,” Kerry said, with a wry smile. “I know my father, and he will always find a way to get what he wants.”
Katie patted Joe on the arm, “See, Joe, we have you figured out, already.”
Joe blushed, but grinned and said, “Good! Then we won’t have to discuss things, every time we want to go fishing.”
That gave everyone a good laugh. Rick said, “I need to get Glenn home. He has had a rough night.”
Mom said, “I am sorry that you got hurt, Glenn. When I first heard you were in the emergency room, I thought you were seriously injured. Rick reassured me that you were okay; but you were being checked out, just to make sure. What happened to the two guys who jumped you in the parking lot?”
Rick answered for me, “They will be charged with assault and battery.”
Joe said, “Your nose looks like it’s broken.”
I nodded my head, “It is, but I have to wait until the swelling goes down before they can set it.”
Joe nodded his head, and said, “I understand. I broke my nose playing football, when one of my teammates smashed his hand into my face.”
Rick said, “I had my fair share of nose injuries, playing football, as well. I have tried to reassure Glenn that the swelling goes down pretty quickly.”
Joe nodded, and said, “That’s true. Boys, we won’t hold you any longer, but we are very happy you came up to see our first grand baby.”
Keith added, “Thank you for coming up to see Egan.”
I gave Keith a hug. “Nothing could have kept us away.” I turned, hugged Kerry, and kissed the top of little Egan’s head. “We’ll see you tomorrow.”
Kerry looked up at me, and asked, “Glenn would you and Rick consider being Egan’s godfathers?”
I looked over at Rick, to see his reaction. We had both grown up in Christian churches, but I wasn’t sure that we wanted any of the trappings that came with organized religion. When I didn’t respond right away, Kerry continued, “I know how you both feel about religion, but I would like you two to be Egan’s godfathers. I know that the church sometimes allows members of other faiths to be godparents, as long as they are good Christians. I know that both of you put into practice more Christian principles than most church-going people. I want the best for my son, and I think that you two fit into that category.”
Rick’s eyes were bright with tears, but he managed to speak evenly, “We are honored by your request, Kerry. Can we talk it over, and let you know tomorrow?”
Kerry smiled, “That is all I ask, is for you to consider it, Rick. You have agreed to do that, and I will abide by your decision, whatever that might be.”
Keith said, “We have talked about asking you guys to be our baby’s godfathers for quite a while, now.”
Joe said, “They even asked us what we thought about it, and we think you two would be wonderful godfathers.”
“Not to put any more pressure on you boys, but Keith and Kerry talked to us, as well,” Mom said. “I think it would be a great thing for you to do, but only you guys can determine if it is something you can do, despite the probable issues that may arise because you are gay men.” Mom came around the side of the bed, and hugged me. “Go get some rest, then you can talk it over between yourselves, when you aren’t so tired. Dad and I will check on you, in the morning.”
I smiled at Mom, and said, “Yes, Mom.”
Mom looked at me, then over to Rick. “Make sure he gets some rest, Rick. I am counting on you to take care of my boy.”
Rick smiled, and said, “You can rely on me.”
Dad didn’t move from where he was, so I walked around the bed, and gave him a hug. “Good bye, Dad. I will see you tomorrow.”
He replied, “Get some rest, son.”
Rick and I left the hospital. As we climbed into the Land Rover, I turned to Rick, and asked, “What was all of that about having children of our own?”
Rick grinned, and said, “I wanted to let your Dad know that we were very much a couple, and that we intend to have a family together.”
“You are such a wicked man! You know that is a very touchy subject where Dad is concerned,” I said. “Why did you do it?”
“I wanted to establish the fact that you are my life partner; and that, no matter what he thinks, I am not leaving you,” Rick said.
I laughed. “I think he already knows that. You didn’t have to provoke him.”
Rick gave a quick “who me” look. “Me? Provoke your Dad?”
I laughed, again. “Yes, you. You are guilty as charged! However, I love you for it!”
Rick reached over and took my hand. He gave it a gentle squeeze. “I love you, too.”
We made it home, and Rick came around to open my door. He guided me inside our building, and up to our condo. Once inside, Rick took me into the kitchen, and sat me down at the kitchen table. I looked at Rick, wondering what he was doing.
Seeing my inquisitive look, Rick said, “I’m making you a cup of hot chocolate, then you are going straight to bed.”
I smiled, and said, “Do I get my favorite hot chocolate?”
Rick nodded his head. “Yes, I am making you a cup of your Land O’ Lakes raspberry flavored hot chocolate. I noticed you got the hazelnut cocoa mixes for me.”
I smiled, and said, “I have to make sure my lover boy has his favorite hot chocolate.”
Rick put some water on to boil, and pulled out two packages of the instant cocoa mix, before he came over and wrapped his arms around me, kissing the top of my head. I took his hand in mine, and kissed it. “You spoil me, Rick.”
Rick replied, “No, I am doing for you, what you would do for me, if I were the one who had been attacked tonight.”
The tenderness in his voice started the tears rolling down my cheeks. The shock and trauma of the whole incident at the Mellow Mushroom was taking its toll on me. I managed to choke out the words, “I need you to hold me, Rick.”
Rick pulled me to my feet, and into his arms, where I clung to him. Rick ran his fingers through my hair, as I buried my face in his chest. He put his chin on the top of my head, and tightened his embrace. Rick held me like that for what seemed an eternity. Finally, he gently rubbed my back, and said, “It’s okay, Babe. You’re safe now.”
I pulled back, and looked him in the eyes. He met my gaze, and held it, while he wiped the tears from my face. “I’m sorry you got hurt tonight, Glenn. I should have been keeping an eye out for you, and I feel like I failed you. I promised to protect you and keep you safe.”
I reached up with both of my hands, and cupped his face. I said, “Don’t blame yourself for what happened to me, Rick. I was just as much to blame, for not keeping a look out. I should have remembered that we aren’t in Minneapolis any more. I am just glad you came to my rescue, when you did; and I’m grateful, that, with one blow, my boyfriend can knock a guy unconscious!”
Rick smiled at that, and said, “I would have taken out the other guy, but Zach stopped me.”
“I am glad he did. I would have been visiting you in jail, instead of enjoying your company in our own home,” I said, with grin.
Rick nodded his head. “Yes, I was pretty angry, and who knows what would have happened if Zach hadn’t stopped me.”
Rick released me, and turned to make our hot chocolate. He pulled out a couple of chocolate chip cookies. He grinned at me, and said, “I love dipping your chocolate chip cookies in my hot chocolate.”
I shook my head in wonder. “I will never understand that. I can see dipping them in a glass of milk, but I have never seen anyone dip cookies in hot chocolate like you do.”
Rick laughed, “That’s because I’m unique. You have to admit, I am just one of a kind.”
“That you are, Rick, that you are,” I said, grinning at my lover boy.
We finished our hot chocolate, and went into our bedroom and quickly disrobed. Rick climbed into our bed, and I joined him. I kissed him tenderly on the lips, and he said, “I love you.”
I responded, sleepily, “I love you, too.” I snuggled up close to Rick, and put my head on his chest. I fell asleep, listening to the steady beat of his heart.
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