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Finding Tim

A Fourth Alternate Reality

by Charlie
With editorial assistance from Dix and John

Episode 12


The next morning brought a time of goodbyes, but they were said with the comfort of knowing that we had decided that we wanted our lives to provide for a continued relationship. Our sense that we weren't in any way saying final goodbyes made it much easier.

Hal and I set off for St. Paul, and Ronnie for Madison. We saw Franklin wave as we passed out of sight. I knew that I would see him soon, and that he had great joys to look forward to. I asked Hal about his school. He admitted that his running kept him from being the scholar that he would like to be, but he had made a choice. He got A's and B's, but his interests were general, and he hadn't focused on any particular academic goal. This didn't bother him. He was seriously thinking about how to relate a career to running; perhaps as a coach or teacher.

I responded to this, saying, "Hal you have plenty of time to make up your mind. Keep your grades up and your interests broad. Things will fall into place. For now, enjoying your running." I continued, "Tell me about Sue."

"Charlie, she's great. Loves to run; good student; beautiful; she loves to rub her hands up and down my legs. She calls them 'legs of iron'."

I put my hand over on his thigh, just below his shorts. I'll certainly admit to there being a sexual element to the gesture, but I did want to feel the muscles. 'Legs of iron' was an understatement. His legs were as hard as his skull. "I would call them 'legs of steel' myself," I told Hal. His physical response to my hand was to put his on top of mine and hold it there. I said, "Hal what're you doing?"

"Just enjoying the moment. Tim has told me all about your lines, and I'll stay on my side. But leave your hand there." I did; till a curve in the road required two hands for driving. I didn't put it back.

"I gather you and Sue have talked about sex."

"Oh, yes. I first raised the subject very gently, following your advice that you have to talk before you act. Thank God for that advice. It soon became clear that this was a very traumatic subject for Sue. At first she was reluctant to talk, and I didn't push her. But one evening she opened up. She was raped by a high school student when she was in eighth grade. They caught the S.O.B. and he was sucked into the juvenile justice system and hasn't been seen at the high school since. He's in a juvenile facility, but who knows for how long. She has put him behind her, but not the incident."

"God, that's tough Hal. Have you been able to help her at all, or is your presence a problem for her?"

"She sees a counselor regularly. It was weekly for a while, but now it's monthly. She says she's much better and is over the worst. She's sure that some marks will stay with her all her life. She took me with her on her last two visits to her counselor. It gave me quite an insight to the effect of rape on a girl. It's nothing like our pulling Tim's pants down after the great chase! I got put through the wringer by her counselor. That's when the Franklin incident came out. I was glad she heard about it, but I don't know whether I could have told her without the counselor guiding me. They both agreed that I had to put my house in order before I could talk about sex with Sue. Sue insisted that I see Franklin, and finish what I had started-not because she thought I should, but because I felt guilty that I hadn't. Her counselor agreed. Thus the evening with Franklin."

"What if he had stuck to his guns and not let you?"

"I can be pretty persuasive."

"Evidently you were."

"So where do you and Sue go from here?"

"We start. Slowly. And we see what happens."

"And you talk to her counselor?"

"No. She-her counselor-is adamant that she doesn't want any blow by blow accounts. She says that she's going to ask Sue two questions each time she visits: 'Are you involved with Hal? Are you comfortable with Hal?' She expects 'Yes' answers to both!"

Hal continued, "Charlie, Franklin's lonely. He desperately needs a partner."

"I know. He's going to have one. My old college debate partner's very gay, very big, very horny, and very lonely. They will make a perfect pair. I call them both my gentle giants. I told Franklin last night, and I will introduce them as soon as I can."

"Oh, Charlie, how wonderful. Franklin's the most loving boy. He needs to be loved, and he needs someone special to love. Whoever's the object of that love's going to have a wonderful life. Franklin's really special."

"I think you're right on all counts. And I can vouch for Phil, he's just as special. If it weren't for Tim, I could have loved either of them."

"There's an age difference, isn't there?"

"Five years, one less than Tim and me."

"So what? No problem. It isn't going to be a problem for you and Tim. Have you and Phil been lovers?"

"Yes, how did you guess?"

"Charlie, you aren't hard to read. You love everybody. You're gay. Obviously you knew that Phil was gay. Why shouldn't you have been lovers, unless you were committed to saving yourself for Tim? But with Tim running around with Tina that didn't seem too likely."

"How do you like Tina?"

"She's great. Great for Tim. You'll love her. I guess you don't have any choice but to like her, huh?"

"I already love her. We have exchanged letters."

"Tim's doubly lucky. What a kid!"

"That's what I think."

We were soon in St. Paul. I had a ways to travel, so I let him off, briefly greeted his parents, and was off to Des Moines, and an immediate phone call to Phil.

"What, Charlie? You want to introduce me to a gay friend? Am I interested? What do you think? Hell, yes, I'm interested. Tell me about him."

"No, Phil. I'm going to let you find out for yourself. But I'll tell you this much, he's wonderful, and every other superlative you can think of. When's the first weekend you can come up to Des Moines?"

"How about next weekend?"

"I'll see if Franklin can make it."

Franklin could, and the arrangements were made. Both would get to my apartment for dinner on Friday night. I laid in a whole larder of food, including three giant steaks that I thought might actually fill one or the other of them. I had lots of Coke in the apartment and not a drop of alcohol; I wasn't worried but I didn't want anything that happened to be affected by alcohol.

Franklin arrived first, at about 6:10 p.m. We sat around a little, but he was so nervous he could hardly talk. The doorbell rang about 6:30. I said, "You answer it."

He got up slowly and walked to the door. He pulled it open and the two of them stood there looking at each other for a long time. I hadn't told either one of them that the other was of comparable size. In fact, both were now 6 foot and between 5 to 6 inches. After a long pause, Phil bounded through the door and wrapped his arms around Franklin. They stood there and hugged for a long while. Then they stood back and looked at each other some more; neither speaking. I wasn't sure what would come next, and I don't think they had any idea either. Franklin finally said, "Can I help bring in your suitcase and stuff?"

Phil said, "To Hell with it." He grabbed Franklin in the most powerful kiss that I have ever seen-giants crashing in the forest. I finally walked over, just as they were coming up for air and said, "Franklin, I'd like you to meet Phil. Phil, this is Franklin."

They both kind of looked at me like I was a little crazy, and they went back to hugging. At last Phil's things were brought in, and talking started. I went to the kitchen to leave them alone and to get the steaks cooked. Before long I called them to dinner, which was eaten mostly in silence. I said, "Look guys, I'm sorry, but I have been called to the blood bank in Cedar Rapids. I have to be there early in the morning, and I'm going to drive over tonight and stay in a motel. You don't mind staying here alone do you? There's plenty of food. I'll be back mid-morning on Sunday."

"Charlie, are you sure you have to go? We hoped to have a chance to talk with you," they both lied. It wasn't any worse than my lie about the blood bank. A few minutes later I was out the door heading to Priscy and Jane's. They were expecting me. There was going to be a lot of unusual sex in Iowa that night!

I won't trouble you with long descriptions of my night with Priscy and Jane. Let's just say that Jane was very glad to have discovered a little bit of straight in herself, and took advantage. Priscy seemed to derive great joy in watching, but we saw to it that she wasn't left out entirely.

Mid-morning Sunday I came back to my apartment, to find Phil and Franklin calmly eating breakfast in the kitchen, stark naked. They hadn't left the apartment, and evidently they hadn't had a stitch on since shortly after I left. The bed showed evidence of overuse, but so did the floor in the living room, where chairs had been pushed back toward the walls. I couldn't help but think of some tired old jokes about elephants mating. I said, "Looks like you two had a good time in my absence."

Franklin looked around the apartment and said, "I guess we need to clean up a little."

I replied, "I'll let you out of clean up in exchange for a blow by blow."

Phil replied, "What's to tell. We were in love before you left. Things just went from there. Just as soon as you were gone, to whatever blood bank or other was the excuse-by the way, thanks-I said to Franklin, 'Do we need clothes?' 'Hell, no,' says Franklin and off they came. I'm not sure who lost his first."

Franklin continued, "Charlie, we had a wonderful time. Don't ask us what we did, we did everything we could think of, and then we did it over again. In between we talked. I think I know his life history, and he knows mine. But there's only one thing in either of our histories that counts: we were both lonely as Hell, and now we aren't."

"Amen," said Phil. "Charlie, thank you. We owe you everything."

"So do you guys have any kind of plans? Where do you go from here?"

"I introduced Phil to my folks on the telephone Saturday morning. They love him. He's going to come visit next weekend. I'm moving to Manhatten just as soon as I graduate. I'm sure that I can get into Kansas State."

"Whew, you guys move fast."

"Charlie," said Franklin, "I took one look at this guy-you didn't tell me he was bigger than me."

"I'm only about a half inch taller, six five and three-quarters, and you're over six five."

"I took one look at him and realized we were a match made in heaven. Remember, you had already told me he was wonderful, gentle, loving, you name it."

"I knew the same things about Franklin. Then we realized we were almost twins-in size at any rate-it was a done deal before we opened our mouths. And, Charlie, Franklin's the first person that I've met that I knew was gay when I met him. Do you know how wonderful that is?"

I said, "OK, I believe it all. Franklin, are you ready to pick up and move in with Phil?"

"Tomorrow, if it weren't for high school. But my folks would kill me if I dropped out."

"Not to mention me, the rest of the gang, and I'm sure Phil as well."

"Hey, I just might take him in. I'm sure eager to have him in Kansas. But, no Charlie, you're right, I'd kill him if he quit school."

"That's not on the table," said Franklin.

"We know," I said.

"So next week in Chippewa Falls? Do you know where that is, Phil?"

"Not a clue, but I'm going to learn fast. Have you got a map? How long is it going to take me to make that drive?"

I got out a map of the Central States. "It looks like you come up through Des Moines and head up toward the Twin Cities."

Franklin added, "You can go east of the Twin Cities and save a little, and miss the city driving. More than 600 miles. An all day trip, at least."

"I'll drive up Friday and down Monday. My attendance record is good, I can miss a couple of days."

"Didn't you miss some this weekend?"

"No, I left after my last class on Friday morning. No Friday afternoon classes."

I said, "Why don't you guys get dressed and lets go get dinner."

"Clothes? You want us to put on clothes? Don't you like looking at our nude bodies?"

"I love it. Get dressed; I'm hungry."

They reluctantly got dressed. Their clothes were still on the living room floor, and they simply picked them up and put them on. We headed out for cheap eats at the local diner. We came back to the apartment, but they had to leave very shortly, as they both had long drives home. I witnessed a farewell that was both sad and happy. It ended with a kiss that didn't stop, and then a big hug out on the sidewalk before they got into their cars.

Monday evening I got a call from Peter, Franklin's dad. "Charlie, my boy's in love. It's wonderful. Phil's coming here this weekend. We want you to join us."

"Peter, it's going to be a family affair. You don't want me there."

"Yes, we do. Norma does. Franklin does. It's going to be a surprise for Phil, but Franklin's certain that Phil will be delighted. You must come."

"OK, I think I can get the time. When? What time?"

"Phil can't make it for dinner-too long a drive. But you get here for a 6:00 p.m. dinner. OK?"


I am sure that the week went slowly for Franklin and Phil, but it was a relatively normal week for me. I went into the office for a short while on Friday morning to clear my desk, and then I headed for Chippewa Falls. I got there in plenty of time for their six o'clock dinner. I was welcomed with a bear hug from Franklin, a warm handshake from Peter, and a kiss from Norma. Dinner was full of chit chat, mainly about Phil and me, but also camp, the gang, and Franklin's plans for Kansas State. There was never the slightest hint that Peter and Norma might have reservations about their son going off the day after high school graduation, to live with a man five years older, that he had known for one weekend, and to plan a college career around the move. They seemed to think it was the most reasonable thing you could imagine.

I didn't want to get in the way of Franklin's plans, but I had to ask how they could be so calm, even enthusiastic, about that kind of a move. Norma came up with the reply, "Franklin has been a lonely boy ever since puberty and his discovery that he was gay. Thank goodness he was able to talk to us about it. In fact, when he first felt attracted to boys, he asked his father if he had had those attractions as a young man. So right from the beginning we all talked together about his sexuality. And we all realized together that he was quite gay. We aren't bothered by that, but we recognize that we're a tiny minority of parents. Franklin hasn't been able to relate to another boy-ever.

"Charlie, he figured out that you were gay that first summer. But it was obvious that you and Tim had something going, and Franklin didn't think he could intrude. Except for you, he simply hasn't had any gay friends. Well, he and Hal had that unusual experience two weeks ago, but Hal isn't gay."

"You do tell all it seems, Franklin."

"I don't tell all, but I do tell most."

"Franklin has been an unusual gift to us, Charlie. He's our only child. He has been as big as an adult since he was eleven. He acted like an adult even earlier. It has been like three adults living in this house most of our lives. We rarely have to play the role of parents. We're all good friends. And it works."

"You're still very calm about losing Franklin in June."

"As I said, loneliness has been a hallmark of Franklin's adult life. I have seen him truly happy only a very few times. We have had some wonderful times together as a family, but we can't avoid the sadness that Franklin is alone. Then he came back from that first summer at camp. It was like a breath of fresh air. He was truly happy with you and the gang. Just knowing you were gay helped. Being part of that truly exceptional Gang was a blessing. There was no question about going back the next year. But even that left the loneliness of having no partner. Then came Phil. Franklin has been bouncing off the four walls ever since he got back from Des Moines last week. He has never been so happy. Unbelievably happy. Deliriously happy. Joyful. This house will never been the same. Six foot five inches and two hundred and forty pounds of jiggling Jell-o. He's four years old again, learning to ride a bicycle. Sixteen and learning to drive. How could we even think of suggesting that a move to Manhattan wouldn't be the best thing since sliced bread?"

Peter said, "Every bit is true. And I second the endorsement of the move to Kansas."

Franklin said, "Every bit is true. And I can't wait till I graduate and get to Kansas."

I said, "OK, I'm convinced. I was anyway, but I was surprised that you were so easily on board. I see I have a lot to learn about this family. Franklin, does Phil have any idea what your parents are like?"

"They have talked on the phone. But he'll find out more when he gets here this evening."

The conversation continued through dinner, and before long the doorbell rang and Phil had arrived. He and Franklin were instantly in each other's arms. That there was real love between them was obvious to me, and certainly to Peter and Norma. Seeing these two giants kiss, so gently, was an amazing sight. Then the bear hugs started-I wouldn't have wanted to be between them!

Peter came forward and introduced himself and Norma. Phil immediately asked, "May I call you Mom and Dad?"

"We would be so pleased," said Norma. "Listen, Phil, let's get our cards on the table right away. Many gay boys have to hide it from their parents; bringing home a lover or partner can be traumatic-especially for the partner. We would be very upset if you felt that way. Since he met you Franklin has been happier than he has ever been in his life. We're delighted and eager to add you to our family. We want to know all about you."

Phil just melted. Despite Franklin's assurances, he had arrived with some considerable trepidation about this meeting. Now he was being welcomed as a son-before he had had a chance to say anything. He walked over to Norma and kissed her. Then he went to Peter, not knowing what to expect. Peter saw the hesitation and reached out and hugged and kissed Phil. He said, "That's the way I greet Franklin; you get the same treatment." Phil kissed him back, and picked him up off the floor when he did it. Peter smiled and said, "Franklin does the same thing to me. It's fun."

I said, "Look, we don't have to be quite so lovey dovey. I'm sure that there is a lot of conversation that has to take place this weekend. By the way, why am I here? It's not me that has to make decisions, plans, learn life histories, and all that."

"You are here, said Franklin, for two reasons. First, you started all this, you can see it through. Second, we value your wise advice, and I suspect we may need some before this weekend's over."

"I thought you had your lives planned out. Graduate, move to Kansas, go to school in Kansas. Graduate. Get a job. Live with Phil happily ever after."

"You make it sound so simple," said Phil.

"Don't make it complicated when it can be simple. Just remember the key facts, you're in love and you'll live together for the rest of your lives."

Franklin looked very thoughtful. "When you said 'the rest of our lives' it made me think."

"That's dangerous," said Peter.

"No, really," said Franklin. "If we were a boy and girl-man and woman-we would be talking about a wedding. We need to make a commitment to each other in some way."

Norma jumped in, "Absolutely correct. Phil did you have a decent dinner?"

"No, but it was filling. I'm not hungry."

"Then it's time to get this show on the road," said Norma, who was clearly taking charge. Charlie, you will have to be best man for both of them. Stand between and behind them. Peter and Norma stood in front. "Now boys, face each other and hold hands. Phil, you're the oldest, you make your life pledge to Franklin, in whatever words you think are appropriate."

Phil looked at Franklin for a long time, and finally said, "Franklin, I love you. I promise to love you forever. I will take care of you, hold you, share everything I have with you, support you, love you, love you." He was crying and eventually he couldn't say anything more.

Peter and I both held him. Franklin started to, but Norma held him back. "Franklin, its your turn. Your words."

Franklin said, "Phil, I love you. There is nothing I wouldn't do for you. You are my life and you always will be. Amen."

I said, "You may both kiss the groom."

They did, and look out furniture, the elephants were on a rampage. Norma sidestepped them easily, and announced, "Everyone to the dining room."

We walked in and a huge card was on a table in the corner. It said "Congratulations Franklin and Phil." Phil went over and picked it up and behind it was a two-tier wedding cake. Norma really did have this planned. On top of the cake were two little figures, both grooms. Around on the lower tier were seven male figures, and the words, "The Gang's All Here." Everybody in the room was quickly in tears, hugging Norma, and each other. They cut the cake, fed each other-think elephants again-and eventually offered us some.

Then Peter announced, "Franklin take Phil up to the honeymoon suite. Phil, I'm sorry it isn't more special, but Franklin's queen size is the biggest bed in the house. And neither of you had better try to carry the other over the threshold."

They were shooed upstairs, and Norma, Peter and I were left eating cake. I said, "Norma, that was beautiful."

Peter said, "She has been planning that for a week. Actually, I think she has been planning it for years; the plans just became specific this week."

"Peter is right."

"You're both wonderful," I said.

"Charlie, again I need to point out that all this happiness is a direct result of your efforts and kindness. All of the parents of the Gang are so deeply in your debt we don't know what to say. Just thanks, I guess."

"I'll keep it simple. You're welcome. I have enjoyed everything I've done for each and every one of the boys. You can't imagine how happy that scene made me. I have felt so bad about Phil not finding a partner. We had such happy times together, and then, all of a sudden, he had no one and I had Tim."

"You don't have him yet, aren't you lonely?"

"Not when I can experience evenings like this one. But I do wish that Tim, and all the Gang, could have been here."

"We thought that Phil and Franklin should make a commitment right now, if they were going to start making life plans. Franklin's comment opened the door, but I have been planting seeds all week. I would have been more direct if I had had to be. But I know Franklin would like to do it again the first time the whole Gang is together. After all, it isn't a wedding, there are no rules, and they can do it as often as they like-no need for a license, no customs that dictate form and style, no nothing. And wasn't it wonderful?"

I certainly agreed, and soon we were off to bed-I was in the guest room by myself. I had just laid down when the door opened and it was Phil. "You can't sleep alone tonight. It just won't do." He picked me up and carried me into the queen size bed, and dropped me in the middle of it. Franklin was there, with pajama bottoms on. "Guys, you need to be alone."

"It's not our first night, we had a wonderful weekend last week, thanks to you. We know you have been lonely for some time now, so we simply can't sleep in here knowing that you're alone in there," said Phil. "And we know that you won't do anything with Franklin, even though he's eighteen, because of all the Gang, Tim has to come first. So Franklin is going to watch you and me."

"What? You can't be serious. This is your night. I'm going back to the guest room."

With that Franklin grabbed me and pinned me down to the bed. Phil just giggled and said, "I think it goes without saying that you aren't going anywhere unless we let you, and we have no intention of letting you." With that my shorts were off, and Phil held my waist as Franklin stripped off the tee shirt I had on. Then Franklin pinned me again, and kissed me, his tongue diving deep into my mouth and licking my teeth. I surrendered to whatever these two had in store for me. That was soon clear as Phil almost swallowed my dick, and began to lick it vigorously. With Franklin on my mouth and Phil down below there wasn't any question what would happen next, and it did. Then I was even more surprised: Phil and Franklin kissed and instantly Franklin had some of me in him.

He turned to me, grinned, and said, "Tim may get your dick in his mouth before me, but I got your cum in my mouth before him. And someday I'm going to tease him about that mercilessly-but not before you two are together."

"You two had this all plotted out, didn't you."

"The full script. Did you like it" said Phil.

"Yes, dammit."

"Good, now if you don't mind, move to the edge of the bed. You may watch but you may not interfere." We were back to mating elephants. It was rough and tumble, but they let their fingers do the walking.

I need to add a footnote at this point. Franklin talked gleefully about teasing Tim about getting the first taste of me. And Franklin did enjoy being "one up." But Franklin was simply to kind to tell Tim or tease him. I am quite sure that Tim will find out that he was second in line in the Gang to get a taste of Charlie by reading this story-not from Franklin.

The next morning they were at it again. I woke up while they were in the middle, so I simply put on a bathrobe and went downstairs to see if there was any breakfast to eat. Norma greeted me with, "Noisy bunch, aren't they?"

I said, "Trouble is they aren't a bunch, they're only a pair. I'd hate to see what a bunch could do to a bed."

"It was close last night; I saw that they sucked you in as well. Oops, perhaps that was a bad choice of words."

"Norma, how on earth did you and Peter ever become so accepting? And how on earth did we ever accumulate a Gang of boys at Camp White Elk who collectively have such accepting parents? You know I think that I've talked about homosexuality with the parents of the entire group. None of them are troubled by it. They aren't troubled by the fact that I'm gay. And those whose sons are gay, or bi-sexual, don't seem upset by it. That's just plain statistically impossible. Yet it's true."

"Good parents put love and acceptance above old-fashioned concepts of sin. And you don't get a group of boys like you had at White Elk without a solid group of parents behind them. Statistically improbable, maybe. But I think that one of the more improbable things about that summer is that that statistically improbable group had a counselor that knew how to deal with them. Almost at the beginning you were confronted with Tom planning to remake Hal. Wow, I don't know how I'd have handled that. Then you had that sexy little Tim doing strip teases all the time. And Franklin big enough to throw you into next week. You rode through it all like a champ. That's why that bunch loves you."

"That has to be an oversimplification. But I've thought to myself that I didn't do anything to make that summer happen, I just got out of the way and let it happen."

"That's more of a talent than you give yourself credit for."

"To change the subject. You're happy with Franklin moving to Kansas?"

"Of course. It will be the best thing-maybe the second best thing-that has ever happened to him. We'll visit. He'll visit. But he's an adult, off to college, and to make his way in the world. Our job's to encourage, and we will."

Franklin and Phil walked in. "Been talking about us?" asked Phil.

"Yes, of course. Phil, have you given any thought to where you might live after college?"

Franklin said, "I have."

Phil said, "You want to share?"

"Near the Gang. And the Gang's going to slowly gravitate to be near Charlie and Tim."

Phil said, "If I'm going to teach English at the college level, I'm going to have to go somewhere where I can get a job."

Franklin said, "You're smart, you can get a job anywhere there's a college. And Tim and Charlie will end up near a college, probably running it."

Peter asked, "Charlie where're you going to live, any idea?"

"Absolutely none. Tim and I have never talked about it. It has been part of our understanding that we don't talk about the future until we make a commitment at his age 18."

Franklin said, "You may not know, but I'll bet Tim does."

"If he does, I'll follow. He makes wise decisions."

Norma mused, "Charlie, are you that much in love that you're willing to follow Tim to the ends of the earth?"

"Simply put, yes. But he isn't going to lead anywhere that isn't the right place for both of us. I'm sure of that, totally."

Peter startled us all with, "Well, Franklin's our only child. I can move very easily with my job. I have a suspicion that when you all sort this out, and Phil and Franklin work out how they fit in, we'll probably join you. By then Franklin will have worked out his independence, and we'll enjoy living near him-and you Phil."

It got a little mushy then, but it was clear that this was a group that truly loved each other. Phil fit right it.

I asked, "Phil what about your parents? Are you out with them?"

"Yes, but they can't accept it. It's simply a non-fact. Something like, 'Phil thinks he's gay, but he'll get over it.'"

Peter asked, "Is Franklin going to make them accept it.?"

"I think that if I really forced the issue it would destroy the family. Their church tells them that it's sin, they accept that. They have dealt with my saying I was homosexual by simply denying it. If I pushed and shoved so that they couldn't deny it.... Well, it could destroy what little relationship we do have. No, Franklin will be my roommate. They can deal with that. I won't take him home, but they live in western Kansas and will visit from time to time. They'll meet Franklin. I guess in their heart of hearts they'll know he's my lover, but it would kill them to admit it. So Franklin will be my roommate. You know, it's sad, but I already feel closer to you two than to my natural mom and dad. My parents asked me not to tell my younger sister and brother that I think I'm gay. I have gone along with that, though I'm not sure I should have. I guess the kids'll figure it out. But they're younger-still in high school-and we haven't been close over the years. You know I have been lonely. Not having a loving family has been a key part of that. Franklin has been lonely, but in a very different way. I truly think we were made for each other; Charlie was our gift. We can't thank you enough, Charlie."

"Phil, that was quite a speech. You never told me about your family while we were at Rockford. Now I know why. I'm so sorry. But mine isn't much better, we love each other but don't communicate. They don't know I'm gay. I'll tell them when I introduce Tim. They're good people, I think they'll be able to accept it if they see Tim the superboy in front of them. He can win over anyone."

Norma said, "Phil, I hope that over the years you and Franklin can build a relationship with your family. But I agree, it's better to hold onto the little you have than risk the whole thing by pushing Franklin in their faces. Time may change things."

Franklin said, "On to happier things. Phil, Charlie, what shall we do this afternoon-the morning's almost shot.?"

I said, "Let's go get a huge piece of beef, lots of charcoal, potatoes, corn, and something really sinful for dessert and spend the afternoon in an orgy of cooking to excess, as a prelude to an orgy of eating to excess, as a prelude to a real orgy."

To a rousing chorus of cheers, we set off to the store to see how big a hunk of beef we could buy. Peter was saying something about a whole seven rib roast, and Franklin was wondering if that would be big enough. Phil suggested a leg of lamb as a side dish. It would be the barbeque of barbeques for Chippewa Falls for a long time to come.

That night I insisted that the two of them sleep together, alone. They did. The next morning was goodbye. They realized it was pretty far from Wisconsin to Kansas, and that they had better use the phone a lot and the road a little. June would eventually come.

And it did. They got a small apartment in Manhattan. Phil continued his graduate studies in English, now on a Ph.D. track. Franklin entered the university and studied sociology/social work. I visited a couple of times that fall, while I was still in Des Moines. A visit to Phil and Franklin always meant great love, huge amounts of food, and somewhat problematical sex-as Franklin and I were, for the short term, off limits to each other. It always took a week of serious running to recover from the eating.

But I am ahead of my story.

Back in Des Moines, trying to deal with my own life and not other people's for a change, I realized that I had to move on my archery. I did join the local club, bought myself a fairly good bow, and set out to see how good I was. Not very. The shooting skills that I had acquired at camp and college were largely lost. Bows were developing in strange new ways that made them look more like Rube Goldberg devices than what you thought Indian warriors might have used to shoot buffalo. The skill levels in this club far exceeded my camp and college competitors. I wanted to run away the first day. But the club members were friendly and supportive, and there was no way I was going to tell Tim I had quit, the first day or the 101st. Quitting wasn't part of his vocabulary, and so it had dropped from mine!

After a week, during which I had shown some improvement, I got up enough nerve to ask about competitions in the area, and what courses they shot. I knew that in the Olympics it would be expected that archers would shoot the standard round prescribed by F.I.T.A., the International Archery Federation. This consisted of 36 arrows at 4 distances ranging from 30 to 90 meters, at a ten ring target with point values up to ten per arrow, for a possible round total of 1440. I knew that I would have to shoot over 1200 to even think about the Olympics. I also knew that if I even hinted at the Olympics in this group, at this stage, that I would be laughed off the range.

Of course, it turned out that they shot American courses, used yard distances and the standard 5 ring target. The F.I.T.A. ten ring target was essentially the five ring, with each ring divided in two. I knew that I was going to have to practice the F.I.T.A. round eventually, but decided not to worry about that now. But it made it difficult to compare even my very poor scores with the eventual goals that I would have to have to get in the Olympics.

I decided that I had to practice daily, and soon I was at the range more than any other member. And I did get better. But by the best estimates I could make between the courses, if I was shooting at the F.I.T.A. course I was scoring around 850 to 900. Ouch. I wasn't close.

That was the state of affairs when I got Tim's April letter. It was short on news and long on anticipation of his trip to London. Through Hal he had already heard Franklin's news and was overjoyed. He did get in a sly question about the sleeping arrangements when I roomed with Franklin. He asked for more details, not only about Phil and Franklin, but also about the get together I had had with Ronnie, Hal, and Franklin. And, of course, he was ecstatic about my taking up archery again. He didn't ask if I had joined the local club, he just assumed it, and asked how the practices were going, how much I practiced, how often, how long. He also pointed out that I would need to improve my arm strength and asked if I had a workout plan for that. I think he ran on for most of a page working out all of the details of my Olympic bid! I thought to myself, this is what my life's going to be like. Am I ready for this? I knew that I never would be by myself, but I was sure that with Tim behind me pushing, and in front pulling, and to the side encouraging, I would be ready. I was already eager for the next archery practice later that day!

My letter back to Tim assured him that I was, indeed, started on my archery, that I wasn't near the level I needed to be, but that it didn't seem impossible-at least not yet. I would never match him in confidence. I wished him a wonderful trip to London, and signed off, "Love, Charlie." Letter 31 went into the mail, but Tim wouldn't get it until he returned from London

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