I hadn't seen Tim set the alarm as we went to bed on Sunday night, but at 5:42 sharp it went off. The damn kid bounced out of bed, shook me violently, and threw on old clothes. He was back in his routine as if the weekend hadn't happened! And he expected me to head off to the pool with him-in minutes. I dragged my butt out of bed, threw on anything I could find to wear, and headed for the bathroom and kitchen. When I arrived in the kitchen Tim was drinking juice-standing up. "Do you have clothes to change into?" He assumed the answer, "Go get them; I'll pour you some juice."
As I came down the stairs with a little bag, Tim handed me a big paper cup of grapefruit juice, and we were on our way out the door. Once in the car-he drove-he said, "We lost two minutes. We either have to smooth out the routine or move the clock ahead."
"We'll smooth the routine; no moving the clock ahead," I quickly replied. He was right, he hit the water at 6:02! His routine hardly varied from previous mornings, except he worked on different dives. I decided that the best use of my time was to swim laps while he dove. I realized that there was a safety issue with my swimming while I was supposed to be his lifeguard, but I tried to keep my eye on him, and neither of us was worried. We headed for the showers at 8:00, Tim ate a cold bacon sandwich (!) that came out of his bag on the way from the gym, and he was ready for school by the opening bell.
I headed back home. Mom and Dad were at breakfast. I asked, "A bacon sandwich?"
"That's his favorite breakfast. Often it's cold pizza. I gave up on his breakfast habits long ago. He eats what he eats, it seems to agree with him, and he never gains weight-moves too much and too fast."
I said, "We all have a lot of details to plan for the coming out and commitment in less than four weeks. I'm torn between trying to get that all squared away, and looking for an archery venue."
With a twinkle in his eye Dad said, "Tim would've an easy answer. 'Do both.' I think you can. Until we all talk more, and that had better start at dinner tonight, there isn't much to do. So work on the archery now. You'll be forced into celebration planning soon enough, and in two weeks that'll be a full time job."
I took Dad's advice, and started with the phone book. Archery clubs were finally found under "sports clubs," and there were three that seemed possible. Only one answered the phone that morning, so I visited them first, the Twin Cities Bowhunters.
I was a little leery of the name, and they were, in fact, largely bowhunters-deer hunters to be specific. But they had excellent target facilities for practicing, and the person in charge that morning told me that target shooting was gaining in popularity in the club, and that they had had some good fortune in local competitions-he explained that local, in archery, meant most of Minnesota and some of Wisconsin and Iowa. He knew some of the folks that I had shot with in Des Moines, but not well. He also assured me that they had the only range that was available in the morning, as they were the only group large enough to have a staff person to run the range. I made a mental note to check further, but signed up on the spot. The initiation fee was a grand $10.00 (we don't want to keep people away) and the monthly membership $30.00. I could afford it. I actually got in thirty minutes of practice that morning.
After lunch I talked to Mom. She was concerned that I think of the house as my house, and not think of myself as a guest. In particular, she pointed out that I had moved into Tim's room, which wasn't huge, and while he had made room for clothes and things, there was one desk, and it was his for studying, the walls had his things on them, and so forth. She took me down into the basement, which was unfinished, and generally just used for storage. She took me over to a corner which was dry, clean, but full of storage boxes. "Look, Charlie. This stuff could be moved. It would be a simple task to put up two walls, one with a door, and sheet rock all four of the inside walls. A drop ceiling would be trivial. Book shelves using brackets screwed into the concrete block of one of the outside walls would be easy. Put plywood on the floor so it isn't so hard, with inexpensive carpet on it. Presto, we have Charlie's hideaway. We could make sure there was room for two comfortable reading chairs, for the few times when you and Tim can relax together. What do you think?"
"You're serious, aren't you?"
"Absolutely. Think of Norman and me as oversized Tim's: we don't say it if we don't mean it."
"I love the idea. I just get in the way when Tim's studying; this is perfect."
"Go to work this afternoon. Sketch out plans, move the boxes, and put together a list of materials. You and Dad can go shopping this evening."
"You know, the stuff still in Des Moines will fill this room, and I won't have to buy one bit of furniture-except a good chair for Tim."
"We'll give him that for a late birthday present."
Mom left me to my imagination as I worked on my new room. With a little reorganization of the basement, I had all the boxes in "my corner" neatly stored elsewhere, and I set to measuring and planning.
That quickly took me to the end of Tim's school day, and I picked him up and headed to St. Paul. It was fascinating to watch Tim practice. He was as totally absorbed in the task as always, except there was a need for a lot more interaction with the others-not just to keep out of each other's way, but also to talk about routines, moves, flaws, and the like. Unlike diving, where each dive was exactly laid out, in gymnastics you had to create a routine that fit certain criteria, but otherwise was yours.
It was quickly clear to me that Tim had far and away the most natural talent, but didn't have the experience of the better gymnasts in the club. They seemed willing to help him, and he returned the favor as much as he could, but they had the knowledge to share, and natural talent, though quite valuable, was not shareable. His cheers, praise, hugs, and support were appreciated, however, and he was clearly a very popular member of the team. He kidded them about not practicing enough, and they took it well. But they all admitted that they didn't have the dedication that he had. Coach Frank told me, "This isn't the club you would expect the level of dedication and competition that Tim displays. His former club was more that way. While he's unbelievably dedicated it comes from himself, not from a coach or a competitive climate. He'd do well anywhere. And he feels supported here in a way that he didn't before. A remarkable kid."
I replied, "It's interesting to hear him called competitive. I don't think that's accurate. He only competes with himself. The boys out there that do better than him inspire him, but he's glad for their success. He doesn't want to get better to beat them, but to beat his own performance of yesterday."
Frank replied, "I think you may have something there. I never thought of it that way. He does seem genuinely happy when the other members of the team do well."
Coach John came over. "It's beam time. Tim can't go a day without bouncing on the beam. Watch everything in the room stop as he hops on. Everybody's eyes will be glued on him. I'm not sure whether they're waiting to see how well he does, or if they're waiting for him to go splat on the floor."
Tim headed for the beam. This time he started his routine standing still on top of the beam, springing to a one handed hand stand, and rotating two full turns using his fingers. Frank muttered, "Impossible." Tim moved on to a more acrobatic routine, ending in a double flip that he stuck perfectly. Frank said, "I'd love to see him fail to stick something. Anything. It's as if he had Velcro on his feet."
I said, "Have you checked?"
"Yes. Dammit. But that was being silly; it wouldn't stick to the mat."
Tim got some cheers, and then he moved to the vault-his poorest event. John said, "He usually follows the beam with the vault. It's his way of showing that he isn't all that good. I think everybody knows why he does it, but they appreciate it anyway."
Practice ended, Tim elected to come home with me before changing. "We can shower together at home."
On the way home I said, "Tim, you have a long way to go to become Olympic material. Too bad the balance beam isn't a men's event."
"I'm glad it isn't. This way I can play on the beam. It's really the only recreation I get all day. Make it an Olympic event and it ceases to be recreation."
"Are you going to make the Olympics?"
"You have a plan?"
"Maybe. There are no gymnastics at North Dakota. I'll have to start it. But that'll make a small group. We can concentrate. I'll have to go somewhere for coaching from time to time. But we can make it work. Yes, I'll be in the Olympics."
Not the slightest bit of doubt in his voice. Who was I to put it there? "Good, I can walk with my diver partner in the opening ceremony and my gymnast partner in the closing ceremony. With the marathoner right beside us."
"It's going to be the second best two weeks of our lives, thus far. I don't think anything'll displace the two weeks with the Gang at camp as the best two weeks. But we're going to go on from Mexico. No way am I going to hit the high point of my life at age 21 and go downhill from there." With that he reached over and rubbed my groin. "Are you happy?"
"So am I."
"So am I. I hope Mom has a good dinner."
She did. At dinner we started in on the details of the coming out. I made notes, as the task of making everything happen was going to fall to me. After dinner I took Tim to the basement and showed him "my corner." He kissed me, and went upstairs with me to thank Mom and Dad. Then he headed for our room to study and Norman and I headed to the hardware store.
As we went to bed that night Tim pulled open his top dresser drawer and pulled out a tube of KY. He said, "We kind of let this drop, after the no-lube evening. Would you fuck me tonight?"
I took the tube, goosed him with it, and said, "Of course. I think it's time."
I look back on that night with great fondness. After four years of never seeing each other, much less touching each other, we had moved so fast through touching and sucking that we hardly had any memory of how it happened. But this was planned, thought about, and accomplished slowly and lovingly. Neither Tim nor I had any experience. Most of what we had heard or read involved warnings that it would hurt, but that it was worth it. We didn't know what to expect.
Tim got on his back on the bed, with his legs in the air. He said, "I gather you can come at me this way, or I can roll over and get on my knees. I think I'm for this way-I want to see you. How about you?"
"Great. Let me lube you up, and we'll see how it goes."
Tim said, "I know that the conventional wisdom, such as I am familiar with, says to start with your fingers. But don't. Put plenty of lube on me and on you, and then ease your way in. I'll tell you if it hurts, whether to back off or go. I know you'll be gentle."
I was hard as a rock, but it still took a little effort to get aimed right, but I did. Pushing didn't help much, and I wasn't sure I was going in without help of some sort. The help came in the form of Tim's little wiggle. As the head of my dick started to move inside he said, "Wait right there. Keep pressure on, but don't try to push until I tell you. I heard him whisper to himself, "Relax." I actually felt his sphincter relax, and I slipped a little further in. He said, "Push, slow and steady." I did, and I just eased inside him, very slowly, until my abdomen was against his buns. He said, "Just hold me. Don't push."
I said, "I love you. Tell me exactly what you want me to do."
"Out and in. Slowly." I did, never letting my dick slip out. "Faster." I did. "Faster. Push, dammit." I was worried that I might hurt him, but clearly he wasn't. I pushed and pulled with considerable vigor. As I was about to come I reached forward and grabbed his dick. We came virtually together. "Stay in me," he said. I did for as long as I could. But I softened and slipped out. He quickly pulled me down on him. "God, Charlie, thank you." Then he kissed me as fiercely as he ever had.
We lay there, drifting off to sleep. Before he was gone he said, "I want to fuck you sometime. Invite me sometime. There's a smaller me and a bigger you. It's going to be a different experience.
I drifted off to sleep saying, "Who cares?" and "I love you."
The alarm went off at 5:10 a.m. At first I wondered if Tim had set it early so we could have sex, but then I remembered we were heading to St. Paul. We were on the road by 5:20, and he was on the high bar by six. Coach John was in this morning, and he worked with Tim constantly until 7:45. Most of the time Tim stayed on the bar, but he came down to rest, relax, and talk more with John a few times. He did spend five minutes on the balance beam, working on one new stunt. John watched and said to me, "He says he's addicted to the beam. He won't ever go a practice without getting on it to do something.
I asked, "Is he realistic in thinking of the Olympics?"
"Tim isn't realistic about anything. That's his charm. If he says he's going to the Olympics, I'd buy my airline tickets. If it were anyone but Tim I would answer, 'No.' Especially considering the time he spends diving. Don't get me wrong, that isn't begrudging him the time, simply a statement that he practices gymnastics less because of his diving. Of course, even with his diving he practices more than anyone else on this team. But not more than the best on his former team. It'll take heroic effort to make the Olympics. But when has a little thing like that gotten in his way? No, Tim has made me a believer. He'll make the Olympics. I don't know how. But he will. And any way that I can help, I will. Coaching him has been the joy of my career. I still can't believe that he chose this team. Neither can Frank. But we drink to our good fortune regularly, and hug Tim every time we see him. For two reasons: we love him, and he loves being hugged."
"You certainly know Tim. If you feel him hugging you back, know that he feels exactly the same about you. And I know exactly why Tim is in this club. It can be summed up very easily. You let Tim be Tim. He feels loved and supported here; that's all he wants or needs. But he needs those two things in ways that many coaches don't understand. Coach Nelson, his diving coach...."
"We know him. In fact, he brought Tim here."
"I know. Coach Nelson feels the same way about Tim that you do, and Tim feels exactly the same about him. You know, you three guys-I'm including Frank-are rare birds in high school level coaching. And even rarer at the college level. I don't know how he got the three of you, but he wouldn't trade you for any coach, anywhere. Please believe that."
"Tim has said that to us. And we believe him, even if we don't quite understand him. Let's just say we have a mutual admiration society."
"Add me in."
"Thanks, Charlie. Tim talked about you when we first met him. But he said that you were just a friend. Later he acknowledged that it was a lot more than friendship. He lives and breathes for you Charlie. If you'd leave him, or hadn't waited for him, I'm not sure he'd have made it. He's a tough kid, but when he loves it's total. If it had failed, he might not have recovered."
"It never will."
"Especially now that I've met you, I'm sure that it won't. Always love him, Charlie. He needs you."
"I need him just as much."
Tim was back, ready to spend a little more time on the high bar before he had to head for school. On the way he pulled breakfast out of a brown paper bag: An apple, banana, and an orange. And a candy bar. Weird.
That evening on the way home from diving practice, I mentioned to Tim that we had to head to Des Moines to get my things, clean the apartment, and turn over the key to my landlord. I also said that I wanted him to meet my co-workers at the Red Cross. I also wanted to invite Priscy and Jane to come and spend a night with us. I also suspected that Franklin and Phil would come up. They could help us load up a U-Haul trailer. We worked it out for ten days hence. We'd go down Thursday after school. We'd visit the Red Cross and the archery club on Friday. Jane and Priscy would come and be with us Thursday and Friday evenings. Phil and Franklin would join us Friday night or Saturday. I was sure that everyone would help with the loading and cleaning on Saturday, but I wasn't sure where everyone would sleep. I figured that would just have to take care of itself.
I warned Tim that this crew was going to be into sex. I knew that Franklin was very eager to "cross my line," Phil wasn't going to be a prude, and Jane and Priscy would be equally hot. Tim was ready, he assured me.
For the next ten days Tim followed his usual routine. I was trying to squeeze archery into my schedule as I handled all the little details of the coming out and commitment. And I had a room to build-Dad helped with that. One dinner Tim announced, "Charlie, you can't spend so much time watching me practice."
"I could watch you practice all day, every day, lover."
"Yeah, but then you would miss the Olympics, because you didn't keep up with your shooting. I can drive, I don't need a chauffeur. I do need you to be with me in the pool before school. Otherwise, we need to say goodbye in the morning and meet for dinner. BUT, I expect you to be out of bed and moving when I leave. No sleeping when there's so much to get done!"
He meant every word of it.
The time for the trip to Des Moines came. I picked him up at school and we headed south. Tim started our conversation: "Charlie. We need to think about something."
"What's that?" I asked.
"Sex with the Gang."
"Oh, that. Do you know something I don't know?"
"I know that every single one of them wants to sleep with you, and have more than their tummies rubbed."
"I know they do. Starting with Franklin. So that leaves two questions, essentially for you. First, may he? Second, what're you and Phil going to do while Franklin and I do his thing?"
"I've thought about it Charlie. You know, we really haven't reached any conclusion about fidelity, and we're talking about having sex with almost a dozen people. Is there any sense to that?"
"It's a very special dozen people. But you're right, we don't seem to be moving toward a sense that we ought to limit ourselves to each other. But I think it's important that we keep that door open until we're comfortable claiming a decision. We may die before we feel we've reached a conclusion. If so, then we'll have made the decision by default. As long as we know that is what is happening, I'm comfortable."
"So am I, Charlie. Right now, it would crush six boys if they couldn't climb in bed with you; they're my dearest friends; no way would I even dream of saying, 'No.' But just to make it clear, I don't want to say, 'No,' not in the least."
"You know, most of them are going to want to have sex with you too. Are we going to be involved in group situations, or what?"
"I'm game. But I think it'll work out differently in each case. I think we should follow the wishes of the member of the Gang we're with. Franklin'll call the shots on this trip."
"You're completely comfortable with that?"
"So am I."
Maybe today that conversation doesn't seem very radical. But Woodstock was four years in the future, and the sexual revolution of the 1960's was in its infancy. Even today, many folks would be upset that we didn't see sexual fidelity in our partnership as crucial. Rather, we saw love as crucial. And we believed, and still believe, that love can be shared. There's always plenty to go around. Not one of the Gang would-I can say, as I write this years later, that not one ever did-try to come between Tim and me. They valued our love for each other as much as we did, and we valued their love for their partners.
At this point Carl would say, "Cut the mush. Get on with the story."
Our conversation turned to the night immediately ahead. I said, "You know, Priscy and Jane're going to be very hot this evening. I can't imagine that both you and I aren't going to get invitations that'll be hard to refuse. Are you game? What're your limits? What should mine be?"
Tim thought for a minute before he spoke. "These people were special to you, especially Priscy. But Jane was as well, or you wouldn't have agreed to the sexual relationship you had. I think that I'll stand on, 'A friend of Charlie's is a friend of Tim's.' If that's the route they want to go, I don't see any problems. I don't think we should push the issue."
"What about fucking?" I asked.
"Charlie, we've been pretty clear that my fucking you and you fucking me is special. Let me make my feelings very clear. I don't want any boy's penis in your ass except mine, and the same for my ass. And I don't want your penis up any boy's ass but mine, and vice versa. But if it's girls, I don't see a conflict. The very special place that we've reserved for fucking each other simply doesn't apply to girls. At least that's where I am. If you're uncomfortable with that, please say so."
"I'm very comfortable with that. And I think the rule ought to be that if either of us finds ourselves uncomfortable, the other will always respect that."
"Absolutely. We don't push each other. We tell each other honestly what we think and feel, and don't ever go further than both are ready for."
"OK, that said, what do you expect from Priscy and Jane."
"I haven't a clue. But I'll warn you, they're very capable of surprising us."
The drive to Des Moines was quickly over. Jane and Priscy were already at our apartment-even though we were closing it down, I thought of it as Tim's and mine, ours; no longer mine. Priscy had a key and they were inside waiting for us.
As we came in Priscy sort of waved to me in passing as she rushed to Tim. "This is superboy, is he? Welcome to Iowa!" With that she scooped him up, kissed him, and passed him to Jane. Jane kissed him as well, and passed him to me. He kissed me. Nothing could've pleased Tim more, he loved being handled, hugged, kissed and loved. And these two exuded love out of every pore.
"Charlie, you didn't tell me how wonderful these two were. You've been keeping secrets."
"It's simple. I'm too big to get that kind of treatment, except from Phil and Franklin. I envy you."
Priscy said, "I hope you haven't eaten. We have pork chops to cook. But we didn't want to start them before you came. I'll go put them in the skillet."
Jane said, "Tim, it's great to meet you. I felt bad about breaking up Charlie and Priscy's little love nest, but now that I see what Charlie was waiting for I don't feel guilty at all. You were worth the wait. God, you're cute."
Tim beamed. "Charlie, remember that. I'm cute. So are you and Priscy, Jane," he continued.
Priscy came in, "Well, I hate to leave you out, Charlie, but you aren't cute. Handsome, maybe, but not cute. We'll save cute for Tim."
I said, "Oh, kid, are you in trouble tonight."
Tim just grinned. It was the kind of trouble he relished.
We enjoyed the dinner, cleaned up together, and sat in the living room. Priscy got to the heart of the matter immediately. "Look, Charlie, there's only one bed, your double. How're we going to sleep?"
Jane jumped in, "The last time we all three fit in the double with no trouble. Tim isn't going to add much. I vote for four in one."
I queried, "And you're sort of hoping that one thing leads to another, and another, and so forth?"
Jane shot back, "Absolutely not. 'Sort of hoping' doesn't describe my thoughts at all. There's no way I'm going to keep my eyes or hands off that beautiful, cute bombshell over there. The rest of you can do as you please."
Tim decided that it was time for action. He stood up and did his usual instant strip tease. He stood there, naked as a jaybird, walked over to Priscy, took her by the hand, and said, "To bed, m'lady." Jane and I followed.
By the time we got to the bed we were all naked. We all squeezed onto the bed, and our hands and tongues started roaming immediately. We were somewhat constrained by the size of the bed, and a couple of us sort of slipped, or fell, out once or twice, but the evening progressed delightfully. Finally, Priscy said, "OK, let's talk turkey. Everybody here knows that Charlie and I have, as the kids say, gone all the way. I assume that we all know that Jane never has. Jane, would you like to, and if she would, is one of you guys comfortable with that?"
Jane said, "You know, Priscy, I had thought that that was what I would like tonight. But I don't think so. Someday; if one of these guys is still around and willing, or if some other guy is, but I don't think I'm ready tonight."
Priscy said, "That's all that needs to be said. No one is ever pushed into something they aren't ready for if I have anything to do with it."
Tim and I both hastily agreed, quite sincerely.
With that Jane took Tim in her mouth and showed him no mercy. He came very quickly. Without pausing she did the same thing to me. Then she said, "I think Priscy would like all three of us to help her out." We took turns with our tongues, and Priscy didn't last very long. Then Jane said, "Sorry, guys, if I got too aggressive. I just felt a super urge."
Tim and I hastened to say we were quite happy with the turn of events. He then wiggled into Jane in the spoon position that was usually reserved for me. I spooned into Priscy. Sleep came quickly. However, by the middle of the night we all realized that four in a bed might be great for sex, but it wasn't much for sleep. Tim and Jane headed for the living room, and spread out the cushions from the sofa and chairs. Priscy and I spread out in the same bed that we had once "gone all the way" in. It felt good.
The next day the four of us headed off to the Red Cross. They were delighted to see Priscy and me. Of course, they had already met Jane. Tim was the object of everyone's curiosity. It goes without saying that he was a big hit. Several of the women in the office suggested that I could retire by simply auctioning him off to the highest bidder. Tim, rather than be offended, started a little runway walk, as if the auction were about to begin! Then he turned to me and in a stage whisper said, "I get half."
Everyone wanted to know why Tim hadn't been around while I was working there, and that led to telling the story of our forty months. That led to all sorts of reactions, the most common of which was, "I wouldn't have made it."
Tim just smiled and said, "Charlie was worth it."
Nothing had been said about who Tim was-just Charlie's partner. All of a sudden one of the blood bank workers almost yelled, "Tim. Tim. Diver. National champion. The missing Olympian! Charlie, you've been holding out on us. How did you ever find Tim, the Tim?"
This started a buzz, as slowly everyone realized who Tim was. People scrambled for paper for autographs, everyone wanted to talk to him. It was almost chaos. Tim just smiled through it all, and said, "Charlie didn't find me, I found him. Aren't I the luckiest kid around?"
Somebody ordered pizza, and we all had a great lunch together. Tim and I issued a general invitation to everyone to come to our commitment service in two weeks, but cautioned folks to please keep it under their hat until then. We didn't expect many, or perhaps any, to show up, but hoped that one or two would. They would be about the only people from "my side" to be there except for my family. Amidst warm goodbyes and an insistence that we keep in touch, and come back to visit, we left and headed to my archery club.
Only a couple of shooters were at the range, but they were the ones that had helped me the most. I told them where I was shooting in the Twin Cities and they approved of the choice. They were glad to meet Tim, but I had never seen the need to come out to the club, so I simply introduced Tim as a good friend. We talked for a while, and said goodbye. I promised to stop by whenever I was in town. One of the guys said, as we were leaving, "When you start shooting 1300's and get recognized on the national scene-and you will-remember where you came from. We would love to be remembered in that context."
"That's a promise. And I'll keep it. But there's a big 'if' there."
Tim added, "There isn't any 'if' as far as I'm concerned." He got a thumbs up from both of them.
We had lunch with the two girls and headed to the apartment to start packing. I didn't have all that much, so we had most of the small stuff taken care of by dinner. Shortly afterward Phil and Franklin arrived. That ended any thought of work for the day, and we all sat around and talked. Phil, of course, knew Priscy, but Franklin and Jane were new to the group. However, it didn't take long for us to be talking like old friends.
It also didn't take long for Franklin to bring up the subject that Tim and I knew would be first on his mind: sex. He started by saying, "Jane and Priscy, I hope you'll pardon me talking about sex with you here, but I know that it's not a subject that you've avoided with Charlie and Tim." We all just giggled. Franklin quickly, and correctly, interpreted the implications of the giggles and went on, "OK. I'll just put it straight. Charlie, I've waited almost four years for you. All the barriers you erected are down. Have I waited in vain?"
"No, Franklin, you haven't. Tim and I talked coming down here, and the rules are simple. You're in charge. Its your game. We'll play any way you want."
Franklin just grinned. He was hardly able to speak.
Phil spoke for him. "We talked on the way here as well. I'll speak for Franklin, because I want you to know that this has my complete support. Tim, I feel bad saying this, but Franklin wants Charlie alone for the night. He wants to go to a motel with Charlie, spend the night doing what only they'll be able to figure out to do, have a breakfast alone with Charlie in the room, do it all over again, and then come home. Franklin swears that that'll fulfill his passion for Charlie, which has never abated since that first summer, and I believe him. I'm very eager for that to happen, because I love Franklin and I know he needs this. But neither of us want it if either of you is uncomfortable with it."
Tim ran to Franklin, kissed him, and said, "Oh, Franklin, that's beautiful." The he ran over to Phil and said, "Phil, I'm just meeting you for the first time, but I know so much about you. Hearing you talk about Franklin, I know that everything Charlie has said about you is true. And you know, Charlie needs his time with Franklin too. But one part of what you said is all wet."
"What's that?" asked Phil.
"The idea that one night will satisfy either of them. Those two are going to love each other for the rest of their lives. Not with the love that Charlie has for me, or Franklin for you, but love just the same. And if their lovers let them, and don't feel threatened or uncomfortable, that love will be sexual. Charlie and I are still working on how we feel about that. We just aren't sure. But we do know, for sure, that there are six members of that camp Gang that want, really need, and deserve a time with Charlie."
Tim continued, "Phil, I owe you a huge apology."
"Whatever for?" asked Phil.
"For that terrible letter I wrote about you two spooning together. And knowing Charlie in person and you from what Charlie has said, I'm sure that you haven't spooned together from then till now. How stupid and mean of me. But I just lost it knowing that you were doing what I couldn't. Please, please forgive me."
"Nothing to forgive. I understood. So did Charlie. And you're right, we respected your wishes."
"Well, that's behind me. I think it would be neat for Charlie to experience from you or Franklin what I experience from him-a great big loving giant wrapped around me. Franklin, do that for him when you love him."
"I will," said Franklin.
Tim said, "Tonight or tomorrow night? You'll be here both nights."
"Do you need to ask?" asked Franklin.
"No," said Tim. "Guess what? That leaves me with Phil and two girls. And I know what those girls're capable of from last night. Franklin, Charlie, hurry along. We'll be just fine here."
Franklin said to me, "We won't need anything but ourselves, and maybe clean underwear and socks. Toothbrush if you're fastidious. We'll shave back here tomorrow. Come on, Charlie, move."
I moved. We went in his and Phil's car. As Franklin drove, he said, "We're going to College Inn. They have space, Phil and I checked on the way in. They also have a room service breakfast."
"You were pretty confident of all of this, weren't you?"
"Honestly, Charlie, Phil will tell you that I've been worried sick that you and Tim were going to be upset with this. Phil was so certain that you would be willing, and that Tim would, that he almost convinced me. But it wasn't until you said it that I could relax. You have no idea how important this is to me."
"Yes, I do Franklin. And to me as well. When you left camp that first summer, outing yourself and me in one breath on the way out, I was flabbergasted. It took me a long time to digest it all. Then I realized I'd really missed something. Of course, Tim was already laying claim to me, and I couldn't resist that. But that the same thing could've happened with you if things had just been slightly different was almost more than I could deal with. Yes, Franklin, I'm really looking forward to tonight, and I truly need it as much as you do."
We checked in. Franklin had learned not to make an issue of room arrangements with hotels and motels. Some clerks didn't give a damn who was in the room, others could be very difficult. Franklin said that he would check in, because he had the out of town license. He parked where the clerk couldn't see the car, walked in, checked in in his name, 2 persons, 1 bed, took the key and came back to the car. He hadn't suggested any questions, so none were asked. We found the room, unlocked the door, found a lovely room, well lit and clean, with a queen size bed (as ordered). Franklin pulled me in, shut the door, and kissed me long and hard, and deep. He lifted me off the ground easily, and placed me, incredibly gently, on the bed.
He stood back and took off his clothes, his eyes never leaving me. Mine never left him. Naked, he came over to the bed and slowly undressed me. To this day, I'll never understand how this huge boy, man, could also be the most gentle person I've ever met. Tim was all kinds of wonderful things, but he was entirely too wiggly and full of energy to be called gentle. Gentle was the only word that could describe Franklin.
He got me naked, and slowly worked his hands all over my body. This was followed by his mouth. He could take all of my genitals into his mouth, as I could Tim, and as Tim could never come close with me. Then he was kissing me again. I started to do to him what he had done to me, but he stopped me. "No, Charlie, I want to love you, love you, love you. Please let me." I lay back and relaxed. It was over an hour before Franklin finished and I had finally come, all over him and me. We hugged, seemingly forever. I said, "Now, Franklin, let me do you."
"Tomorrow morning, Charlie. Tonight let's sleep."
"But Franklin, you've got to be hot and horny. Don't you want to come?"
"I want to be hot and horny, and lay with you, Charlie." With that he pulled me to him and spooned around me. He said, "I should insist that there be no hands below the waist, but I couldn't stand it." With that his hand moved down from my belly button to my genitals. I knew I would come again, and I did. Franklin wouldn't let me move. We just lay there, and he held me tight. I know I slept, and Franklin must've as well, but we didn't move from that position all night. It was so wonderful in his arms. I tried Tim's little wiggle, but I was too big and heavy to be successful with it. Regardless, Franklin said he liked it, and made me do it again. With morning light Franklin rolled me on my back, took my penis in his mouth and slowly sucked me again. Pow; real quick. I said, "Franklin, you've to let me do something for you."
"After breakfast, Charlie. Let's order breakfast." We did, and we just held each other, laying on the bed, until room service came. Franklin shoved me into the bathroom, put a towel around himself, and let the waiter in. He wheeled in a wonderful breakfast, and left quickly. I'm sure he assumed that Franklin had a girl in the bathroom. His wife? I doubt the waiter thought that.
We ate at the little table, naked as the day we were born. When Franklin finished-I ate quicker, or perhaps I just ate less-I said, "Franklin, it's time for me to love you."
"Yes, Charlie. I want you to do anything you want to me. All of me. Any way you want. Don't ask. Don't hesitate. Just do whatever you will."
He lay on the bed, hard as a rock, closed his eyes, and waited.
Only on Phil had I ever seen a larger dick. It was wonderful. I couldn't help myself, and I started right there. Who cared about foreplay? I used my hands and then my mouth. But I stopped well before Franklin had an orgasm. I then turned to his whole body. I didn't miss a part, hair to feet, hands to waist. I looked over on the table by the bed and saw that Franklin had put out a tube of KY. I started to ask him if he wanted me to use it, but decided that he had asked me not to ask, not to hesitate, just do. So I did. I greased my fingers and his anus, and pushed inside. It was a totally different experience than Tim. Franklin was huge; Tim was tiny. Two or three fingers easily fit inside. Finally, Franklin could stand being silent no longer. "Charlie, don't you know where the prostate is?"
I was guided to it, told to rub and massage it, and Franklin almost shuddered in ecstasy. Without removing my first two fingers, I took him in my mouth. He came very swiftly. I took all of his cum in my mouth, and then kissed him, sharing his cum, which he eagerly accepted. He hugged me so tight I almost worried about my ribs! But I needn't have worried; he was strong, but knew his limits-and mine. We lay there at least a half hour. Finally he said, "Let's go round again. I'm up for 69." And damned if he wasn't. And so was I.
Then I said, "I think we had better go home. It's ten a.m."
Franklin said, "Thank you, Charlie. I could say a lot, but those words sum it up. Along with "I love you."
"And I love you, Franklin."
We arrived back at the apartment with packing and cleaning well underway. Franklin and I joined in. We worked till dinner, ate and then went back to work. Soon we ran out of tasks, as the final loading would have to be done in the morning.
Tim sat down in a chair and said, "OK, everybody, gather round. I've an announcement to make on behalf of Phil, Priscy, Jane and me. We had a wild time last night. Don't ask for details; we couldn't remember. Franklin and Charlie had their way last night, tonight it's our turn. And we've agreed that we're going to have a six person orgy. We're going to turn the lights off, and anything goes. All night, till we fall asleep on top of each other. There's one rule, and it recognizes the ways in which several of us are uncomfortable. No fucking. Penises may go in mouths, but not into any other orifice. The bed is loaded, we only have the mattress. We're going to put all the chair cushions around it in the living room corner. Maybe it'll sort of hold together.
With that, Tim started to put the cushions along the wall, and then moved the mattress so its weight more or less held them in place. Then he took off his clothes, but not in his usual instant strip. He took his time, and tried to be as erotic as he could be. And Tim could be incredibly erotic. The rest of us joined in, but couldn't match his moves! We were soon all naked. The lights went out, and the room was in pitch blackness. I felt a hand on my dick, another on my butt. Soon I was on the mattress, hugging someone. It had to be Phil or Franklin, but I wasn't sure which. Soon a female took that person's place, and someone else was sucking my dick.
By tacit agreement, no one talked. Of course, some of us were more easily identified than others. Phil and Franklin were really similar in the dark. So were Priscy and Jane, until you reached their hair-the hair on top of the head, silly. Tim was easy to spot, and I could be spotted by a simple process of elimination. But we really didn't worry about who was who. We just played. It was never rough. And we all moved from person to person without a lot of delay. After a while orgasms started. Then we realized that we didn't want to mess up the mattress and cushions. Someone called, "Time out."
The lights came on, sheets were placed over the mattress and cushions, but more importantly we all looked to see who was where and with whom. With that the lights were turned out again, and we all seemed to know that meant time to trade partners again.
Eventually we all tired and fell asleep in each other's arms, laps, legs, and so forth. I think I came twice. I really don't know by whom, but once it was someone's mouth and the other time a hand. The next morning, there was sort of an unspoken agreement that we shouldn't try to compare notes and dismantle the anonymity of the night before. We did the final packing, the final cleaning, went out for a late brunch, and each pair headed for their own homes. We would all be together again in less than two weeks for the coming out and commitment.
I told Tim about my evening and morning with Franklin. "You mean he brought you to climax three times and didn't have one himself?"
"Exactly. He was in command the entire time. It was absolutely wonderful. After breakfast he let me arouse him. I guess you'd say I finger-fucked him. Then we did 69. He's quite a guy Tim."
"So am I," said Tim.
"Are you jealous?"
"Of course. I don't see that as bad. You had a wonderful time. I'll have my time with Franklin. In the meantime, sure I'm jealous. And you should be jealous of me and Phil, and Priscy, and Jane. We had quite a night."
"You must've, if it led to last night."
"Just think of last night, with four people instead of six, and the lights on."
"I'm thinking. I guess I'm jealous too."
"Tonight it'll just be us. In the long run, that's the best sex."
Tim replied, "It's all the better for having experimented. God, Charlie, nothing compares with spooning together with you and having your hand work its magic on me."
"I'll take your wiggling any day."
We headed for home, unpacked the trailer in the twilight, had a late supper with Mom and Dad, and went to bed. We proved that our conversation in the afternoon was correct.
Monday morning Tim headed for St. Paul, after making sure that I was out of bed and fully awake-at 5:15 in the morning! Using my mornings productively was going to be difficult. The archery range didn't open until nine. I couldn't go banging nails in the basement with Mom and Dad sleeping. Unlike Tim, I didn't have homework to do. I started working out, especially working with weights to strengthen my arms-to hold the bow. I also ran a little, but a mile or two was all I was into. Hal I wasn't. This became a morning routine, and ended with a relaxed breakfast with Mom, and sometimes Dad-on days he didn't leave for work in a rush. We enjoyed getting to know each other, and she shared stories of Tim and Carl growing up. I remembered the summer at camp that Tim talked about a lake that he swam in-when he could tan in the buff. I asked Mom about it.
She said that Carl had had a friend with a cabin on a very little lake not too far out of town. The boys bicycled up there and swam. She didn't know about the nude sunbathing, but it didn't surprise her. "That cabin has been sold," she told me, "so that adventure has come to an end."
We settled into a routine as we anticipated "The Weekend" which is what we now called the coming out and commitment time. We talked about plans at dinner and I spent however much time was needed during the day making them come true. Very early in the planning process Dad had said, "Listen you two. I know that you're putting "The Weekend" together with as low expenses as you can. Keep it up. But I'm going to pay the bills-all of them. That's going to your mother's and my commitment gift to you."
Both parents got big kisses from both of us. I said, "Dad, that's extraordinarily generous. I don't know how to thank you."
"Just seeing you and Tim as happy as you are is all the thanks I need. And I know that 'The Weekend' is going to be a high from beginning to end. Being a part of it is going to be one of the highlights of our lives. Just do it right."
Mom said, "At this point it would be appropriate for the mother to say, 'Just be sure that you always take care of my son, and treat him right.' But, Charlie, it would never occur to me that had to be said to you. I can't believe the way you two love each other. It's a joy to watch."
The list of people coming continued to grow: All the Gang and their partners would be there, and most of their parents, which I could hardly believe. As it turned out, all of their parents came. My parents and Wayne and Irma would be coming, Gill and Anita would not. My parents were coming on Wednesday; Wayne and Irma would arrive on Saturday. My parents, Wayne and Irma would be staying at the Radisson. Most of the rest were staying at a motel nearer to Tim's house.
My parents arrived about 2:00 in the afternoon on Wednesday. I would've met them at the airport, but they were renting a car and drove themselves to the Radisson. Tim and I left his school as soon as it was out and drove down to meet them at the hotel. They were glad to see us, and greeted Tim with considerable warmth. That was a great relief, as we still weren't sure how they were taking our relationship. We shouldn't have worried; they had come, and they certainly knew what they were coming for! I warned them that Norman and Betsy wouldn't be serving drinks. They decided that a visit to the bar would be appropriate before we headed to Tim's house for dinner. Tim and I joined them, but we had Cokes while they had whiskey (Dad, Scotch, Mother, bourbon) on the rocks.
Tim and I offered to drive them, but they said they preferred to drive their rental, as then they could leave without someone having to drive them back to the hotel. The route was simple, and they followed us with no trouble.
I guess that when a boy and girl get engaged and the parents meet for the first time it can be a little tense for all concerned. When two boys, men, whatever, fall in love the same tenseness can accompany the meeting of the parents. This was no exception. Tim and I both knew that our parents were very different. And I think that both sets of parents knew it as well. Add to that the fact that my parents were still new to, and uneasy about, having a gay son, much less having a gay son about to make a very public commitment. Then add in the coming out scheduled for Friday, with the fact that it almost certainly would make most sports pages. Tense was really the word.
However, both sets of parents were determined that everything would go well. And guess what? I think they really liked each other. Dinner, rib roast, was excellent, and appreciated by my parents. The conversation was pleasant, and both families seemed interested in learning more about the other. Finally the subject of gayness came up. My mother started it by saying, "Tim says that you and he talked about his being gay while he was quite young."
Norman replied, "I think he was 12. He was finding himself more attracted to boys than girls and asked me why. We talked, and we brought his mother and older brother into the conversation. Within six months it was pretty clear to all of us that Tim was homosexual. None of us, including Tim, were very happy about it. But I knew that trying to change him would be useless at best and very harmful at worst. We never tried, nor did we encourage Tim to try to be anything other than what he was."
Tim added, "We'd talked about sex in a variety of contexts in the family; it was just normal for me to ask Dad about why I found boys attractive when it seemed to be expected that I would think that way about girls."
Mother said, "Charles, we never had that kind of relationship. I guess it's too late. But I'm glad that you introduced us to Tim as soon as you did. I'm still flabbergasted by the story of camp, letters, four years, it's quite a story."
Norman said, "It's never too late. But we learned with our boys very early that if we expected them to tell us things, then we couldn't be shocked or upset by what they said they did. That would be sending a conflicting message and quickly shut down communication. We didn't approve of everything they told us, and we never hesitated to tell them if we disapproved. But we also realized that in modern America, with cars, and parents working with houses empty, that kids make their own decisions, regardless of what their parents think. So we decided to accept that fact, and just encouraged the kids to talk to us about the decisions they made."
Dad said, "I'm not sure I could do that. I would've had to say that some things were forbidden, or were unacceptable. I grew up in a Baptist family that had pretty rigid rules."
Norman said, "I understand. But the more rigid the rules the less the communication across the generations."
Mother said, "Clearly that's right. But it's hard for a parent."
Betsy said, "Of course it is. But there's something that needs to be said here, and I guess I'm the one to say it. Jason, Mamie, you raised a wonderful son. Tim saw that instantly. So did Norman and I. This weekend you're going to meet the Gang-all seven of the boys that were at Camp White Elk together that summer four years ago. More importantly, you're going to be meeting their parents. Charlie, how many of the parents're coming?"
I said, "I think they all are. Ronnie's had a conflict, but I think they're working it out."
"Every one of those parents is going to tell you a story about how Charlie has affected the lives of their sons. He virtually saved Tom's life after his girlfriend died in an automobile accident in a car he was driving. Hal's going to be an Olympic runner because of Charlie. Jim and Andy have a wonderful relationship with their parents that comes straight from Charlie. Franklin found his partner through Charlie. Ronnie's simply in love with Charlie in his own way, and his life had broadened in so many positive ways as a result of Charlie that his parents are in awe of him. Jason, Mamie, you may not have communicated to Charlie about sex as easily as Norman and I did with our boys, but you raised a spectacular young man regardless. You can be proud. And before this weekend's over you're going to be overwhelmed with pride."
Mother said, "I want so badly to believe that. It's so wonderful to hear you talk about Charles that way."
Norman said, "Just what is this boy's name? We've always heard him called Charlie. You call him Charles."
I said, "I was always Charles in Indianapolis and Charlie at camp. Since I met all of you at camp I'm Charlie. I guess from now on I'm just going to be Charlie."
Dad said, "Charlie. I like that. I like Charles, but I like Charlie too.
Mom said, "I'll slip, but I think I can get used to Charlie."
"I don't mind Charles. It's new to Tim though."
Tim said, "I don't care what he's called. But he'll always be Charlie to me. And I'm either Tim or 'kid', to Charlie, and I like both."
Dad said, "Fill us in a little on what to expect this weekend. From what we've gathered it's going to be quite a show."
Norman said, "Charlie has been making the plans. Basically, the big coming out will be at the Southwest Invitational Swim Meet on Friday. Tim has called his favorite reporter, Susan-I forget her last name-on the Tribune and she'll be there. We don't expect any other press, except the local high school paper."
Tim said, "I asked Susan not to bring a photographer; I'm hoping she doesn't. That'll allow Mike, the student newspaper photographer, to get the photos. If he gets a good one, he's going to see his photo credit in a lot of places."
I said, "Don't worry, I've told Mike exactly where to stand and what to shoot. He has been sworn to secrecy. If he leaks, he loses his scoop; there won't be any leak there."
Betsy asked, "Are there any details you two haven't thought of?"
I said, "Yes, but we won't find out what they are until the weekend arrives."
"For sure," said Norman.
I continued with the plans, telling of the planned meals and events.
Dad broke in, "Who's paying for all of this? Surely not your Red Cross salary; and I don't think Tim's on the sports gravy train yet."
Norman said, "This is Betsy's and my gift to the boys. They've been very responsible in doing things reasonably, and it's our gift."
Dad replied, "If this were a traditional wedding, we'd have a simple set of rules for who pays for what. But it seems to me that we have two grooms and no bride, and it's the bride's father that's supposed to be picking up the tab. Mamie and I want to join you and Betsy in this gift."
Norman, thank goodness knew the stories of the shoes, and my bow, and other similar ones. He had the grace to reply, "Jason, I'd be delighted to have you and Mamie join in the gift. I've been paying the bills as they come in, but Sunday we'll have a total, and I'll show it to you."
Tim ran over to Dad and kissed him on the cheek. Not what he was expecting, but I think he was pleased. This whole meal was going vastly better than I ever expected!
Betsy asked, "Tomorrow's dinner is the last free meal before the excitement starts. Carl and his fiancé Carol will be joining us. Charlie, am I right that your brother and sister-in-law will be in town?"
"No, they won't get here until Saturday."
"I'm sorry that there isn't going to be any quiet time to get to know them."
Betsy continued, "Who else, if anybody, would you like to have at dinner tomorrow night?"
Tim and I spoke together, "Tina."
I continued, "Maybe Hal, and his parents. He's the only member of the Gang here in town; he is going to be helping us out on Friday-cutting school. And it would give Mom and Dad an introduction to the Gang at a slightly slower pace."
Betsy said, "When Hal comes, and his parents, his coach comes too. He'd love to see you again, Charlie. And I want to pick his brains about the Boston plans."
Dad asked, "Boston plans?"
Norman said, "The last we heard Hal was going to run in the Boston Marathon in April. He was too young last year. He's an exceptional runner. We expect him to go to the Olympics along with Tim and Charlie."
Dad said, "Yes, I remember Tim mentioning a marathoner in 'the Gang.' I'm going to have to get used to calling them 'the Gang.' Maybe after I meet them it'll make a little more sense. Hal's going to run in Boston?"
Tim said, "Unless plans've changed, and this bunch is a determined bunch, they don't change plans easily. The entire Gang's going to cheer him on."
Dad said, "You guys don't seem to worry much about school. It seems you skip whenever you please."
Norman said, "More or less, especially since his birthday. Tim works hard, gets straight A's, could be admitted to almost any college of his choice right now-without graduating. Dr. Olafsen, the principal, gave up trying to curtail him years ago. He told me that he got a complaint from another student once, and told the student that he'd just made a new rule: There would be no attendance requirements for students who had at least a four semester straight A record."
Tim said, "There's only one other student in the school with that record, Mike the photographer. And he's gone a lot taking pictures. He's my class, takes great pictures, studies art, and plans on a career as a photographer."
I said, "Since he's the only photographer I know that knows about Tim and me, he's going to take pictures on Sunday. I cut a deal with him. He gets the exclusive on Friday, and we get the Sunday pics free."
Norman said, "He'll come out way ahead. He'd have done the Sunday free anyway."
"Yeah, he would have. But he liked the exclusive part of the deal."
Tim said, "I've got some homework to do, and I'm certainly not going to get to it over the weekend."
Norman asked, "Are you sleeping in tomorrow? I hope."
"Nope, Charlie and I are heading for the pool at our usual 5:42."
Mom asked, "5:42?"
Betsy said, "Gets up at either 5:42 to swim or 5:10 to head to St. Paul for gymnastics. He never misses."
"When do you play?" asked my mom.
"It's all play," said Tim. But in most kid's terms, never. But things've been hectic since my birthday and Charlie's arrival. I'm not sure they're ever going to settle down until we get to college. But I never miss homework or practice if I can help it. Charlie, are you going to get to the range tomorrow?"
"Tim, that question's a set up. You know tomorrow's going to be completely full getting ready for The Weekend. I'll be back shooting on Monday."
"No, dammit, afternoon, as you know full well."
"You'll pay. Tonight."
"You can't catch me."
"If I have to get Carl and Hal I will. Go do your homework."
Mom said, "Life around these two must be a three ring circus."
I said, "Actually, it was a one-ring circus. That's where Tim spent last summer."
"That's a new story," said Dad.
"There are a lot of stories about Tim. But not for tonight. I think we had all better head our separate ways. Thank you, Mom and Dad, for being wonderful tonight."
Thanks were passed all around. I gave my parents a brief tour of my room in the basement and Tim's room upstairs-he was sitting at his desk writing and I'm not sure he knew we opened the door. Mom couldn't help but observe the double bed, but silence prevailed-but it hadn't been lost on her that my room in the basement did not have a bed. Then they were gone, and I was checking off last minute details. Not much later Tim and I were headed for bed.
5:42 came early-it always did, especially for me. Tim seemed to roll out of bed with little difficulty, but if you looked closely you could see him glance longingly at the empty bed as he raced around the room getting his things together for the day. I did laps while he dove, and honestly I'd reached the point where the morning exercise was relaxing. His schedule allowed for a fairly relaxed shower, and it was always private. You can image which part of whom each of us washed and dried.
He headed into the school as I headed off to the Unitarian Church to settle some last arrangements. Then to the caterer, florist-flowers would be minimal, but the list of corsages and boutonnieres was endless. I'd just given up counting and ordered more than I needed-I would still run short!
I had to go over to St. Paul and talk to Coaches John and Frank (I was learning that Tim hated last names in general, especially his own, and avoided them like the plague). They'd been in touch with the coach of the Minneapolis Gymnastics Club about the forthcoming meet. John and Frank assured me that the coach was sure that everybody would be OK with our sexuality. I was still very nervous; this was, after all, a pretty bold step for 1965.
I had lunch with my parents downtown. It was clear that they were nervous as well. Dad pointed out, "You're getting a very positive reaction, but the only people you're hearing from are your close friends. When this goes public the fundamentalists and the hate-mongers are going to come out of the woodwork. It may be ugly before it's over."
"We've thought about that. We've tried to take all the precautions that we could. But you're absolutely right, the worst case scenario's very ugly. We're just praying that it doesn't come to pass."
Mom said, "We want you to know that we're with you. We're sorry that you waited so long to tell us, but we realize that we didn't really make you feel comfortable sharing a deep secret like homosexuality. And I have to be honest, I'm still uncomfortable with it. But that's in the bosom of the family. I'll say it to you, because I have to be honest. I'll say it to your father. To the world you're my son and I love you just the way you are. And there's no way we couldn't love Tim. I'll have to admit, if you're going to be gay, you got the cream of the crop. Tim's simply wonderful."
"I certainly think so. I have to run. I'll see you tonight at our house."
"You call it 'our house'?"
"Yes, I live there. Mom and Dad-Norman and Betsy-have made me completely welcome. I'm simply one of the family. I'm very comfortable calling it 'our house' and they're delighted that I think of it that way."
"Amazing!" said Mom. "I'll have to be honest. I couldn't handle it the way Norman and Betsy have. They're special people."
"See you tonight. About 6:00. Have your drinks here first."
Many errands later, I got home. It was about 5:00 o'clock. As I drove up, I passed Hal running up the block. It was early March, temperature in the low thirties. There was Hal running in shorts and a tee shirt. I waited for him at the front of the house and asked, "What the Hell are you doing?"
"I wanted to run after school, so I just ran over here. My parents will be here shortly with clean clothes. I hope I can use your shower."
"Do you know what the temperature is?"
"About freezing, why?"
"Shorts? Tee shirt?"
"Sure, I've been running."
"How long a run is it?"
"About fifteen miles. It took me a little over an hour."
"I've said it too often. You amaze me. Just like Tim."
"Charlie, it's cold out here. I either have to run or go inside."
We went inside; Hal headed to a warm shower, while I assured him that I would bring his clothes as soon as they arrived.
Tim had just gotten out of the shower and was dressing. He took one look at me and said, "You need a shower. Go take one with Hal."
I took my clothes off, dodged Tim's grab for me, wrapped a towel and headed for the bathroom. Hal looked out from the shower curtain and said, "You showering too?"
"Yep. Is there room in there for me?"
Hal answered, hesitantly, "As in Charlie and Hal are going to shower together?"
"As in, one thing might lead to another."
"No, there's no room."
"OK, I'll go back to Tim's room and wait."
"Stop! Don't take me seriously. Get in here."
I did. Hal had known his time was soon coming, but he didn't expect it in the shower, this afternoon. I let him wash me. I washed him. When he was completely clean and rinsed, I knelt down and took him in my mouth. I thought he was going to faint. But he held on, and soon I had an afternoon snack. I didn't let him do me. I said, "Soon, but not this weekend, Hal." We both got out, dried each other, and headed for Tim's and my room. Tim stroked Hal a few times, but we all had to get downstairs. Hal's clothes had arrived, and Tim gave them to him. We all dressed, coats and ties, and headed downstairs. Almost everyone was there. Only Carl and Carol hadn't arrived. As soon as Tim was downstairs Tina came over and kissed him squarely on the lips.
I could see my folks react to that, so I took Tina over and introduced them. I said, "Tina's my greatest competition for Tim. They've dated for years. If she thought she could get him, she'd really try. But she knows it's a losing battle. But the battle's fun, isn't it Tina."
"It sure is, but I conceded a long time ago." Then she turned to my parents and said, "I knew from the beginning that Tim was in love with Charlie. I wasn't looking for a lover, just a good friend in high school. Tim and I were perfect for each other. Now it's so wonderful to see Tim completely happy with Charlie. For the last three years he's had this little hole in his heart where Charlie belonged. The hole's full now. It's wonderful."
I kissed Tina, wondering how my parents were going to absorb everything that was going to come their way this weekend. Well, they were doing fine so far.
I took my parents over to Hal's folks and introduced them. Hazel started in telling stories about Hal and me, but mostly about me. Betsy was right, Mom and Dad were going to hear my praises sung by a series of parents this weekend. Hazel and John would simply be the first.
I went over to Coach Johnson and Phyllis. Hal was already talking to them. Coach exclaimed, "Charlie, it's so good to see you again."
Speaking to both Johnsons, "Of course. It's good to see you both."
Phyllis said, "Charlie, a lot has happened in six short weeks. Hal has kept us posted on what you're doing. It's really good to see you again. And you're living in Minneapolis?"
"Right here, with Tim. Are you going to be able to join us tomorrow, and then again on Sunday? It won't be complete without you."
"Yes, Charlie, we got your note. And we wouldn't miss it for the world. Besides, Hal simply said that it was a command performance for all of us. I think he's right."
"Talking about Hal. Is he ready for Boston?"
"Is Boston ready for Hal, is the question. But ask Hal."
"I'm ready. I'll beat the three hours. That's my goal for the first time."
Coach Johnson said, "Silly boy. Based on your times, I expect you to be in the top twenty, maybe ten. He won't win it, but he'll be right up there for much of the race."
"You seem pretty confident of your appraisal."
"I am. I've watched him through four cross country seasons. He'll start out strong, maybe in the lead. About the middle of the race the strong guys will pull ahead. If he tries to keep up, he'll kill himself and end up dropping out, but he knows his limits and won't do that. In the last few miles he'll start passing people as they tire. Hal won't tire like the field. He'll scare some of the leaders, but not all of them. But he'll definitely be noticed. Next year he'll give the leaders a serious run for their money. He could win it next year."
I watched Hal through all this. If he'd been a kitten I could've heard him purr. As it was, he gave a very hesitant smile. He responded to the coach by saying, "I'll beat three hours. I'm not promising anything else. But your scenario is wonderful to contemplate. But then so is winning fun to contemplate."
Carol and Carl arrived, and we were being called to dinner. There were fourteen of us, and we couldn't all fit the dining room. The day was entirely too busy to have moved the furniture, so there was a card table in the living room for four. Hal's parents and the Johnsons sat there. For dessert, we all squeezed around the dining room table. Then we headed for the living room, and everybody had their Charlie story to tell. I insisted that Carl and Carol tell of their plans as well, and Hal of his forthcoming efforts in Boston. It was a mutual admiration society for about an hour. Then Tim got up, announced that 5:10 came early in the morning, and said he was heading to bed. Hal asked, "You're going over to St. Paul for gymnastics practice tomorrow? The big day? You're nuts."
I said, "Yes, he is. But don't waste your time trying to change his mind."
Tim said, "I don't know of a more relaxing way to start the day. I'll do more on the balance beam than usual. That always gets me in a good mood. Oh, God, everybody, it's going to be a wonderful day. Thank you all for being a part of it. Now, Charlie, say goodnight. We're going to bed."
And we did. I told Tim, "You're the most wonderful person, and I'm the luckiest guy in the world."
"One of two." We drifted off to sleep
At 5:10 the alarm went off. Tim bounded out of bed, and I rose with him. We'd gotten into a pattern of my not going to St. Paul with him in the morning, but this morning I went. I couldn't stand not being with him as much as possible, and he was going to spend the day at school without me. No way was I going to miss his gymnastics practice. True to his word, he spent most of the time on the balance beam. That meant that it wasn't as much a practice session as a play session, and his coaches realized that he really wasn't in the mood for serious practice. He did work on the vault a little, and I could see some improvement. He had a little timing problem that affected most of his vaults. He was working through it, but it was going to take time.
At quarter to eight he showered, dressed and we hit the road for Southwest High. I stopped in a quiet area a few blocks from school and kissed him gently. "Have a good day, Tim. I'll see you at the swim team meeting after school."
Most of my day was spent working and thinking about the details of trying to control the press, and especially the photographs of "the kiss." Norman had a good friend who was a lawyer, and he and I met, the latest of several meetings, and got Mike out from school at noon to continue planning. We were virtually certain that Mike would be the only serious photographer present. We were banking on the fact that all of the fan's cameras would be aimed at Tim's last dive, and they wouldn't be thinking of taking his picture as he came up the ladder out of the water. But Mike would be. We'd arranged for Mike's film to be professionally developed immediately after the picture was taken, and we had copyright forms ready. We were pretty sure that the picture would be in instant demand from the press.
Television was another problem. It was fairly new, and certainly wouldn't be at the swim meet. But they would be beating down our doors as soon as the news was out. We'd decided that we would meet the media, especially television just before the gymnastics meet on Saturday. Before that they would just have to wait. We decided to wait until we saw the reaction to Friday to make up our minds whether we were going to kiss again with TV cameras running.
The school day ended; the swim team met in the locker room after school-everybody arrived promptly. Coach Nelson had janitors at the two doors to make sure nobody came in that wasn't on the team. Everybody looked at Coach, waiting for him to let them know what it was all about. He simply introduced Tim, who called me up with him and, while we held hands, Tim simply said, "You've all met Charlie. Today's our big day. We're going to tell the world that we're in love and are life partners. It's going to happen after my last dive in the meet. We wanted you all to hear it first from us. We'd like to ask two favors, very important personal favors. First, please don't talk about it before the meet's over. If it leaks to someone who phones the newspapers, we're going to have a mess here. Second, please be present poolside when I climb out of the water from my last dive. Your support will be very important to Charlie and me. And now, this is the Charlie that I've come to know and love." With that he leapt into my arms and gave me a huge kiss. Our fears started to drop away as we were greeted with raucous cheers from his teammates. They gathered round us, slapped us on the back, and eventually picked us up and carried us around. Coach Nelson had to call a halt and remind everybody that we had a swim meet.
You could feel the tension among the team. I think they were as nervous as we were about how it was all going to go. Somehow this managed to help them rise to their best performances. The team had more personal bests in one meet than it'd ever had before. They won the meet in a runaway, and Coach Nelson later pointed out that they would've won without Tim, but it would've been a squeaker. Tim's diving was superb. However, he and Coach Nelson had carefully selected his dives for show instead of points. It lowered his score a little, but not much. Each dive was greeted with enthusiastic cheers. The audiences in the Twin Cities were very proud of their national champion diver, and the press had been effusive in its thanks to Tim for continuing to dive locally, instead of simply running off to big national meets. He was incredibly popular, and the audience enthusiasm was loudly expressed every time he dove. It was like feeding candy to a baby the way Tim responded.
His last dive was spectacular. The judges scored it a ten-but we learned that much later! He stayed under the water longer than usual, and sprang out at the ladder. I grabbed his hand and pulled him up. He leapt into my arms just as he had in the locker room. With no regard whatsoever for the fact that he was getting me soaked, he wrapped his arms around my neck, pulled my head toward his and planted a huge, wet, sloppy kiss right on my lips. We held it long enough for Mike to get a picture, but not so long that others with cameras-who weren't ready-would have time to aim and shoot. It was terrible that a moment like this had to be governed by such considerations, but we'd decided that success was in the details.
We separated, I set Tim down. Mike gave us a thumbs up indicating he had the picture. Tim asked Coach Nelson for the microphone-which was already near at hand. Holding the mike in one hand and with his other arm around me, Tim waited for quiet. He said, "My wonderful friends. I love you all. But I want you to meet Charlie." He held up my hand. "I love him best. We're life partners, and our life together starts now. Please wish us well."
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