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Finding Tim

A Fourth Alternate Reality

by Charlie
With editorial assistance from Dix and John


It was a delightful dinner, and conversation with Themla and Sherm was scintillating. Chrissy proved to be both charming and smart, and the tension that I had originally felt from his reaction to my having Johnson call on my behalf seemed to be history. About 9:30 Thelma indicated that it was time for her and Sherm to head home. We all went in Sherm's car, and he dropped Chrissy and me at the hotel. I was told to get back to Washington for a real visit soon, and to bring Tim!

As they drove away four things were vying for prominence in my thoughts:

I was going to clerk for a Justice of the United Stated Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit.

I was on a first name basis with that Justice and his wife.

Tim and I would be living in Washington, D.C. in a very few months.

I was about to go to bed with a truly wonderful physical specimen of humanity, who was now standing at my side, looking incredibly sexy, and eager!

"Come upstairs for a drink?" I asked Chrissy.

"Sure." We were alone in the elevator going up. "Charlie, I'll pass on that drink. I decided a long time ago that mixing sex and drinking was a really stupid combination."

"I don't drink alcohol at all. While I'd be glad for you to have some, I intend to stick with Coke. Will you join me?"

"I think I'd prefer Pepsi."

"That's a serious point of contention. I'm not sure that Pepsi and Coke mix well either over ice, or in bed." I hoped that he could tell from my tone of voice that I wasn't serious.

"I think I should give you a Coke enema. That's really all the stuff is good for."

"We can water the potted plant in the room with the Pepsi. I guess I should ask, does Sherm have strong opinions on this subject?"

"Definitely. And he's going to be very sad to lose his sparring partner. We've been kidding each other about soda choice all year. He may miss the fun, but he'll like having someone else stocking the cooler with Coke rather than Pepsi."

"I'm going to have to get used to the word soda. In the upper Midwest it's always pop."

"It's all soda pop. Funny how out here we always use the first of the two words and where you come from they pick the second."

"Where I originally came from you heard both soda and pop. Not in North Dakota."

By this time we were in my room. There were two fairly comfortable chairs at a little table, and we sat across from each other. The talk of etymology was followed by silence. After a while Chrissy said, "You sure? After I tried to lure you into bed with an offer of favoritism, I wouldn't blame you if you wanted nothing to do with me."

"Now that I have the job, that's behind us. It's really a matter between you and Sherm. Can he trust your judgement? And if he can, how can that judgement be colored by sex and still be trusted?"

"Tough questions. I don't have excuses, except this: I knew you were so good that I wouldn't have to lie at all to put in a good word for you."

"Turns out you never had the chance! He hired me on the spot."

"I was flabbergasted. Usually it's a month long process. I was one of seven that he interviewed."

"How did he make up his mind so fast?"

"Three things, I'm sure. One was certainly Johnson's call. Johnson really is a force in this city, even as an ex-president. Why would Sherm cross him if you were truly as good as you seemed to be on paper? Second, was your paper, and your defense of it. You were impressive, and I could tell that Sherm thought so. But I think the thing that clinched it was your knowledge of his work, and your willingness to go head to head with him. The judges here have huge egos and don't usually get the kind of probing questions and intellectual challenges that you put to Sherm. I'll be honest, I'm neither smart enough nor gutsy enough to do that. You really wowed him. And he hired you on the spot. He's going to expect that every day from you. I hope you're up to it. And before the year's out he's going to be siccing you on some of the other judges. You're going to have an exciting year!"

"I hope so. Now, are we going to have an exciting night?"

"I hope so."

"I need to tell you one thing before we start. Tim and I have a rule, and we never violate it: we only fuck each other."

"Well, I think a lot of guys in this city would get up and walk out about now; likely pretty angry. There's just an assumption that that's what happens when you have sex. As for me, well, we haven't really talked about my sex life, have we?"

"No, not really. You told me you were gay, that's about it."

"Sherm knows, you know, two other guys in DC know, and three guys from college know. None from law school. They all respect my secret."

"You aren't exactly promiscuous."

"I'm chicken. If it got back to Boston it'd be a career ender. I'll probably end up married, having kids, and being very frustrated. And frustrating some girl who's sucker enough to marry me. I dream of finding a lesbian that would like to marry for cover, and we could live happily ever after, each doing our own thing. Not likely."

"That's sad. But I know that's the life that a lot of gays think they have to choose. Tim and I host a gathering for gay students at Grand Forks each Thursday night. Your story isn't very different from what we hear from a lot of them. We try to make our being 'out' an example, but the fear is palpable. Often it's fear of parents more than anything."

"That's certainly true for me," said Chrissy.

"Tell me about your two friends in DC."

"One is out. A lawyer. I met him at a party, and it seemed that it'd be safe to come out to him. I really needed somebody to talk to. Even so, it was a month before I screwed up my courage to tell him."

"Have you two had sex?"

"No. He has a monogamous relationship with his partner. We talk, and that's been wonderful. But that's it."

"And the other?"

"Sherm knew another young lawyer who was in the same boat as me. With both of our permission, he introduced me to Orville. That was about a month ago. Orville and I have spent the night together exactly twice. He's only slightly more experienced than I am. We both had brief encounters in college - and he had some in high school - but we're both virgins. Oral sex is as far as we've gone - one time."

"What do you want to do tonight?"

"Charlie, you're the man with experience. Since you've said that my ass is off limits...."

"To my dick, not my fingers."

"You take the lead, I'll follow."

As I looked at Chrissy, I realized that he was really beautiful, and the thought of my having my way with him was really arousing. I wasn't sure where to start.

"Charlie, feel my pants. I'm so hard I'm about to tear my fly."

"Let me undress you. Just stand here."

He stood in front of me. I helped him off with his coat and vest - he was a true DC lawyer. I wondered if I was ever going to fit in here! His tie was next, and I was flabbergasted: it was a clip-on.

"I hate tying ties. If you get good clip-ons no one knows. There's a store in town that can pretie any tie to be a clip-on. Charlie, I think fewer people know that secret about me than know I'm gay."

"Your secret's safe - provided you show me the store."

"I will. But now get on to other things."

I started on the buttons of his shirt. I reached through and rubbed his nipples through his tee shirt. It sent a sort of shiver through his body, and he reached around me and hugged me. I slipped his shirt off, and pulled the tee over his head. Then I stripped to the waist as well. Bare skin to bare skin is arousing, and I hugged him, and kissed him. I got the impression that he wasn't used to kissing a man. "Is that a new experience?"

"Pretty much. The guys I've been with up to now have been interested in my genitalia not my mouth. Orville and I have kissed each other, but even for us as gay men, the idea of kissing a man is difficult."

"Oh, you poor son-of-a-bitch. What hang-ups you're saddled with. Come and kiss me. I pulled him down on the bed and we hugged tight. My lips found his, and I drove my tongue past his resisting lips. Then all of a sudden he seemed able to let go, and his tongue found mine. Our tongues danced into each other's mouth and back and forth. Eventually we came up for air. I reached down, opened his belt, button, and fly and pushed his pants down. "Take your shoes off and take those expensive pants off and fold them over a chair."

While he did that, I stripped down to my Jockeys; he stopped with his boxers in place, standing beside the bed. I pushed them down, and feasted my eyes on a lovely, slender, long, circumcised, very hard, slightly bowed to the right, penis. My mouth couldn't resist and I was on my knees sucking it into my mouth in an instant. I was afraid that he would come very quickly, so I held his dick with my mouth, but kept motion and tongue action to a minimum. He tasted good. He felt good. Then he pulled me up, pushed down my shorts, and looked at me. Mine was fatter and shorter, but just as hard. He hesitated longer before taking me in his mouth, but soon he pushed me onto the bed and, kneeling over me, took me in his mouth. He may not have been very experienced at this, but he was thoroughly arousing. Then I pulled him up and we were kissing again. This time our hands roamed as we kissed, and I soon felt a sticky moisture on my hand as he came all over himself and me. He was embarrassed!

I said, "Hey, that's normal, as you very well know. Don't be embarrassed, but happy." Having said that, I rubbed my hand in his cum and spread it over both of our bodies as far as it would go. Then I hugged him tight, and our bodies stuck together. Soon I could feel him relax and enjoy the experience. "Use your hand and bring me. Then add my load to yours."

I came fairly quickly, but he was very hesitant to play in my cum. I grabbed him by the back of his head and pulled his face down onto my abdomen where the cum was thickest. "Taste it."

Slowly he did. Then I pulled him up and we kissed. I could feel him finally let himself go, and we lay there hugging and kissing for a long while. I think we even slept a little. I finally came fully awake, and pulled him down a little, so I could wiggle around to where I could kneel over him in a 69 position. I pushed my dick in his mouth and took him in mine. It took a little while, and I had to guess on his progress, but we managed to come again almost simultaneously. Chrissy almost went out of control! I felt his teeth a couple of times, and ended the 69. Soon we were back to kissing. Eventually I asked, "Do you want to sleep like this, or take a shower."

"No shower. Hug me."

I did. Soon we slept. We awoke with sunlight streaming into the window. "Now we shower," I said.

After the shower I asked, "Ready for another round?"

"Are you serious?"

"Of course."

"Can I use my hands and watch you come?"

"Of course."

He did, and, of course, I came. This time he took a towel and cleaned me up. Then he said, "You can do anything to me that you like."

I pushed his legs up in the air, spread his ass cheeks, and pushed in with a wet finger. It didn't take long to find his prostate, and give him a new form of excitement. However, it didn't seem to be much of a turn-on for him. I pulled out, took his balls in my mouth while I rubbed the underside of his dick with my thumb. He came quickly, and it was time for another shower - long, hot, and erotic. We washed each other, rinsed, got out and dried each other. We got dressed, and rode down to the coffee shop for breakfast. We didn't talk much, as there were people close, and there was really only one subject that might have stirred up conversation! We did chat a little about how soon I might get back to Washington. He invited Tim and me to stay with him, but I reminded him that I had an invitation from Thelma and Sherm.

Chrissy said, "I don't think they have the same thing in mind for their invitation that I have for mine."

"I doubt it. We have time for another before I have to check out and head for the airport. Are you up for it?"

"Gee what an offer. But I think I'd better take a rain check for the next time you're in town. I'll drive you to the airport."

"I can take a taxi."

"I'd like to drive you."

"OK, come on up to the room and I'll throw my things together and we can go."

On the way in the car Chrissy said, "Charlie, I really can't expect you and Tim to provide sex for me every time you're in town. Last night was wonderful, but you have Tim and don't need to feel any kind of obligation to me."

"I don't think Tim'll accept that. When he hears the story of last night he'll be jealous. Expect him to rip into you something fierce. If you don't want him, you'd better be prepared to run."

"You're serious, aren't you?"


"It seems that I've asked that a lot these two days. You can easily see that my experience is totally different from yours, and evidently Tim's. You take some getting used to. And to think that I propositioned you first. What was I thinking?"

"I'm still working on that one, but I think you're forgiven."

"It means a lot to me that you said that."

"I meant it."

We got to the airport, and he drove me up to the departures door. I was tempted to lean over and kiss him goodbye, but I was afraid he might really be upset at the public, well semi-public kiss. So I said, "Goodbye, I'll be in touch about a return trip. Thanks for the ride," and headed into the airport.

I spent the night with Tim's mom and dad in Minneapolis. They wanted to hear all about the interview in Washington, and I gladly shared. While we're normally completely open with Mom and Dad, I decided that the story of Chrissy should go first to Tim and not his parents, so I left that little tidbit out. Norman reacted to the story very much as I expected Tim to: it was exactly as he expected, or at least the final result was. Tim and his family simply assumed that both Tim and I would accomplish whatever we set our minds to. I didn't grow up with that kind of confidence, but I was beginning to get used to it - and to appreciate it.

The next day I flew on to a reunion with superkid. Nothing can make you feel better or more wanted than being greeting by Tim. He was waiting at the gate, just beaming with anticipation of our being reunited. "Tim it was only three nights."

"Three nights without you is like three centuries. Even if I did have Felix - and we did have fun, you know. But nothing replaces you Charlie."

The conversation continued as we waited for my suitcase, and then headed to the car for the trip home. "Tim, we need to schedule a time for us both to visit Washington in the fairly near future. Sherm - Judge Wilcox - wants to meet you. They want me to think about housing. You need to visit the University of Maryland. And Chrissy is really eager to meet you - and more."

"You call him Sherm?"

"Yes. That's what he wants to be called in private. Chrissy calls him that as well. It wasn't clear that that's been true for all of his clerks. He has a close relationship with Chrissy. I think that it's both because Chrissy is a good clerk, but also because they feel very close since Chrissy came out to him."

"He was OK with a gay clerk?"

"He's hiring me."

"You're special."

"Come on, Tim. No gay basher's going to hire me no matter how good I am."

"OK. Judge Wilcox sounds like a pretty good guy. You're going to be happy there for a year?"

"Very much. And it's quite clear that it's going to be an intellectually stimulating and challenging year. It's clear that Sherm and I are going to be sparring in the legal world of Federal Administrative Law on an almost daily basis."


"Like diving hours a day."

"Point for you. Tell me about Chrissy."

I gave him a complete blow by blow - pardon the pun.

He responded with, "You got it right that if he doesn't want sex with me he'd better run. You make him sound exciting. Was he really trying to trade helping you get the job for sex?"

"I'm not sure. That was certainly the offer, but I think that he knew that he really didn't have much to offer. Sherm was clearly going to make up his own mind. I think it was more just a grasping for a chance at sex. The guy's been starved, and here was an openly gay man who might be available. And he didn't have a clue how to go about it."

"I'll show him."

"I already did."

"Lucky you."

"You'll get your chance."

"I get my chance at you in about five minutes."

"Can't wait till tonight?"

"I could, but why should I?'

"Beats the Hell out of me."

He parked, grabbed my suitcase, and we flew into the house, up the stairs with clothes scattered in our wake. Onto the bed. We kissed, but were very anxious to go beyond that. Soon we had each sucked the other, and we were back relaxing and kissing. Showers followed - damned if he didn't make me come again by cleverly playing with the hosed shower head. He got his second from my mouth.

Felix joined us for lunch and wanted to hear all about Sherm - and Chrissy. Tim clearly had kept no secrets from Felix. "Can I go with you to Washington?"

"Felix, I think you'd be a little hard to explain. But come visit next year after we're settled in."

"I just may. By the way, I have a question."

"Shoot, Felix," I said.

"Who's going to live in this house the next few years?'

Tim said, "We really haven't thought much about that yet. Felix, do you have any ideas?"

I said, "Of course he does. Can't you tell that's why he brought the subject up."

"Silly me," said Tim. "OK, Felix, let's hear it."


"Billy? Have you talked to him about this?"

"No. He talked to me. The subject came up when we were planning his birthday event."

"You call it an event?"

"Doesn't that describe it pretty well?"

"Yes, it does. What did Billy say?"

"It's a long story, but I guess I'll just spill it all at once. He wants to marry Sara this summer, and live here the next three years till he graduates. He loves the house, but is embarrassed to ask when you've already done so much for him."

"So he got you to ask for him?"

"Oh, God, no. He has no idea I'm having this conversation. I'm just reporting the thoughts he shared with me. In fact, after he said them, he said, 'Oh, God, Felix. You're going to think I want you to take this right to Tim and Charlie. But please don't. I need to screw up my courage and talk to them myself.' But he hasn't, has he?"

"No. Is he really ready to marry Sara? Or is that just an excuse to live in the house," asked Tim.

I jumped in, "Tim, you don't seriously think that Billy would think like that, do you?"

"No, not really. It's obvious that he's in love with Sara."

"Should we plan a shotgun wedding for him the way he planned a sex orgy for us?"

"It'd serve him right."

"I think his father would help."

"A wedding is too important to screw it up for someone. Even after what he did to us."

"Talk to him, Tim. It'd work well for him to live here - we don't want this house empty and I don't think we want it full of strangers." I turned to Felix, "You know, Felix, if your sexcapades are going to continue, you're going to have to get used to a girl in the bed along with Billy."

"Do you think they'd have me?"

"We could put it in the housing contract."

Tim said, "And record it at the court house."

Tim did talk to Billy, and it turned out that he and Sara had been thinking very hard about when they wanted to get married. Unlike Tom and Nancy at Chicago, they'd found being single and in love very trying on the University campus. They were ready to live together. And just that simply, we solved a problem that we hadn't really identified as a problem - but would soon - what to do with the house next year.

Sara was from Hibbing, Minnesota, about a four and a half hour drive from Grand Forks. The problem for her and Billy was not whether to get married, nor when, but where. She would've liked to be married in her home church in Hibbing - the St. Paul Methodist church. But the reaction of the minister to the idea that Tim, an openly gay man, would be Billy's best man quickly cooled that idea. There was no place else in Hibbing that made any sense. They considered Billy's home town of Fargo, but that didn't make much sense either. Billy hadn't even graduated from high school there, and had spent the last two years in Grand Forks - even though his original class was graduating from high school this year. They considered Minneapolis, since many people could get there easily, and many of their Grand Forks friends would be at homes away from Grand Forks over the summer. But Minneapolis didn't make much sense, either. They finally decided on Grand Forks, the day before University graduation. Many people would still be in town, including Tim and me, and it seemed to make better sense than any other place and date. Once they'd decided on Grand Forks, Billy suggested the natatorium - his favorite building. Sara agreed, and the matter was settled when Dr. Stevens gave his approval.

Fred immediately got into the act and offered to host the reception. However, both Sara and Billy's parents put their collective feet down and insisted that they were going to host the reception, which would take place in a large room in the campus gym, catered by the campus food service. Well, they weren't the best around, but they were OK, and not expensive.

The end of the school year was fast approaching. Tim's diving career ended at the last meet of the year at North Dakota. There would be one more meet away, but Tim wouldn't participate. Billy would handle both the platform and the springboard. For Tim's finale, Billy didn't compete and Tim took first place in both. The natatorium at UND isn't very big, and it was filled to capacity, with standees that would only be allowed as long as a fire marshall didn't show up - none ever did. Before Tim's final dive - from the platform, his speciality - he spoke to the crowd. He thanked everyone for their support over the years, especially noting Larry's coaching and Bess's, and the support of the entire University as embodied in the kindnesses of Dr. Stevens and President Edison. Then he brought me forward and thanked me publicly, following it with a mammoth kiss. Then he said, "Climbing that ladder for the last time in competition is going to be one of the hardest and longest climbs I'll ever make. Thank you."

He walked over to the ladder and very slowing climbed to the top. He was scheduled for the most difficult dive there is. He walked over to the edge, turned, steadied himself, and he was off.

I wasn't sure whether the emotion of the moment would spoil the dive, but it didn't. It was perfect. Billy was standing beside me, and he squeezed my hand as Tim flew downward. The squeeze meant, "Perfect." It was.

Then Tim's head came out of the water near the ladder, and he called over to me, softly, but with the clear intent that many more than me would hear him, "I lost my suit!" Sure enough, there it was, floating in the middle of the pool! Not one person in the building thought it was an accident, but they'd never prove it. They rose as one and cheered. I held up a towel and Tim climbed out, wrapping the towel around himself. He hadn't been very careful to keep himself hidden, but he moved quickly enough that no pictures captured the event - at least none ever got published. Only Tim!

We were now into the home stretch. With no surprise Tim was admitted to a Master's Degree program in the School of Education at the University of Maryland. They gladly waived out-of-state tuition fees. In fact the response to his application had come so fast I don't think that they'd had time to do anything but confirm that the "Tim" applying for admission was the same Tim that walked away with all the gold in Mexico. PR trumps academics in any academic institution that lives in the real world, and getting Tim was a PR coup. Well, it really wasn't a coup, because that implies that they'd done something to get Tim. All they'd had to do was open the mail!

Tim spent quite a bit of effort making sure that things that he had started would continue at UND while he was away in graduate school. The most important things were the endowment effort and the gymnastics program. Both were left in good hands, and Tim was sure that both would be in good shape upon his return in a few years. Yes, he was so confident of his future as an administrator at UND that he was making plans around that expectation. Prexy egged him on!

I was doing the same thing in regard to the local Red Cross chapter, and I was confident that I'd found someone to carry on where I'd left off. We'd put our effort the past year into developing a disaster plan for the area, and doing some practice drills - one of which had involved the National Guard. We'd been cited by the National Red Cross for having one of the best plans in the nation, and for the best practice drill program. Little did we know then how it would pay off!

It was time to accept Sherm and Thelma's invitation to visit Washington and make living arrangements for the next year. We were Sherm and Thelma's house guests, and the visit started off with a delightful dinner at their home, with Chrissy, the Chief Judge of the Circuit, and his wife. Chrissy arrived a little early, and we had a fairly relaxed conversation before the arrival of the Chief Judge. Chrissy teased Sherm that he hadn't been invited to dinner with the Chief Judge of the Circuit when he arrived as Sherm's clerk. Sherm didn't duck the obvious conclusion that I was getting special treatment. He simply said, "Chrissy, you're gay. Find a partner as exciting and well-known as Tim, and you'll get your invitations. It wouldn't hurt to discover a half-dozen George Washington documents in some court house somewhere. Or get your own Olympic medal. The entire court is demanding to meet both Charlie and Tim, and Washington protocol says that the Chief gets first crack.

With that the doorbell rang and the evening became more formal with the arrival of the two last guests. Tim and I became Mr. Tim and Mr. Charlie, while Sherm and Thelma became Mr. and Mrs. Wilcox. Judge Winter, the Chief, and his wife, Mary Ruth, were charming people, but the conversation never reached the personal level that we had almost immediately reached with the Wilcoxes. Tim and I fielded many questions, for Tim mostly about the Olympics and for me mostly about Lincoln and my one gold medal. Neither the University of North Dakota Law School nor our sexual orientation was ever mentioned. I wasn't sure which would have upset the Winters more!

The evening began with cocktails. Tim and I were served what looked like whiskey and soda, but was actually ginger ale. Sherm hadn't said a thing, but clearly he felt that our drinking Coke wasn't the best social move in Washington. We took the hint, and never mentioned what we were drinking. I got my second drink with, "I'll have another, please, Mr. Wilcox." The dinner that followed, served by a caterer, was very nice. I was able to learn a little about Judge Winter's background, and even a little of his judicial philosphy - more conservative than either mine or Sherm's, but in the grand scheme of things probably a little left of center.

The Winters left fairly early, but the Wilcoxes encouraged Chrissy to stay and talk a while. Chrissy started the conversation with, "I guess you're going to have to entertain the entire court in September to introduce Charlie and Tim."

Sherm said, "It's going to be a problem. We can't really have a dinner to introduce my clerk without inviting the other clerks. With spouses it gets pretty large."

I had done a lot of research for my interview with Sherm, but one tidbit of information had escaped me: "How large is the court? I'm embarrassed to say that I don't know."

"Fourteen. Fourteen spouses. Fourteen clerks. Fourteen spouses, partners or guests. Believe me, they'll all come. That's 56 people. A pretty big dinner," said Sherm.

"We'll have to go to Congressional," said Thelma.

"Congressional?" I asked.

"Congressional Country Club in Bethesda. I'd offer to sponsor your membership, but you can't afford it on a clerk's salary, and the waiting list is so long that you'd be gone from Washington before you got in. If you seriously wanted to join, the way in quickly would be a telephone call from Lyndon to the current club president."

"I think we'll do our dinner entertaining at home - we're good cooks - or at the local diner. Thelma, you and Sherm'll be our first guests."

"We're looking forward to it."

Chrissy, after being silent a long while, said, "You know, you two are going to be in demand on the social circuit. There're a bunch of hostesses that would love the chance to introduce you to Washington society - if you really want to be introduced. The party circuit here is pretty weird."

Sherm asked, "How much do you know about that, Chrissy?"

"You forget, I'm a Boston Brahmin. My father's the managing partner of one of the leading law firms in Boston. Sometimes the way to the partner is through the son, and the way to the son is the right dinner invitation. I'm not so stupid as to turn them down. But I don't get invited to the social highlights; more like the lowlights."

We all chuckled at that.

Thelma looked pensive; it looked like she was trying to decide whether to say something or not. Sherm caught on and said, "Out with it, dear."

"OK, but I don't know whether I'm being selfish or altruistic by this remark."

"I'll bet I know what's coming. Your mother's childhood friend is about to be discussed."

"Should I?"

"You've gone this far."

Chrissy said, "I've known you two for a year. We've become pretty good friends. But I haven't a clue what's coming."

"Go ahead, dear, drop your name."

Chrissy continued, "Thelma, you've never been a name dropper."

"Maybe it's time to start. Alice Roosevelt was a childhood friend of my mother's. Alice's Teddy's daughter."

Sherm said, "Mr. Boston Brahmin, meet Mrs. Old Washington Family."

"How do you do?" said Chrissy. "And am I to infer that you know Alice Roosevelt Longworth? Hostess with the mostess in Washington. Bestower of the most coveted invitations to be had in Washington."


"And you never let on? Never said a word?"

"About once a year Sherm and I get invited to lunch at Alice's. It's for my mother's sake; she couldn't care less about the wife of a circuit court judge."

Sherm cut in, "But a woman who could be the key to getting the rights to introducing the most spectacular Olympic athlete of the decade to Washington society? That woman would be a special dinner guest, not a small luncheon guest, right?"

"Sherm! Alice's been nice to me over the years. She didn't have to be. Mother's been dead for a decade, any obligation died with her. It'd be fun to do something for Alice."

"Boys, you're being sucked into a grand Washington conspiracy. Watch yourselves."

I had been marveling at the conversation, and wondering where it would lead. I responded, "Tim's quite capable of his own conspiracies. He plays this kind of game extraordinarily well."

"So do you, Charlie."

"You're the master. It's just that in North Dakota the rules of the game are completely different. Are you ready for this?"

"Let's see where this's heading."

Thelma spoke up. "It's heading to lunch tomorrow with Alice Longworth, if you want to go. And Chrissy, you'll be invited too, if you'd like."

"As I said, I don't turn down the invitations. Who's hosting whom tomorrow?"

"Alice doesn't know it yet, but she's hosting four of us for lunch. Sherm, you aren't invited, I'm sorry. This is just for me and these boys. You go mess around with your law cases."

"Thank God I'm going to miss this. Boys, be warned. It's going to be painful."

"Nonsense. Tim's going to do a series of social acrobatics that'll make his gymnastics routines look like child's play."

"What makes you so sure Alice is free, and would want to host the luncheon?" asked Sherm.

"Have you any doubts?"

"Not really. Get Alice on the phone. We know she doesn't go to bed early."

Thelma left the room and was back in about ten minutes. In the interim we all speculated on her chances of success.

"Well, folks, it's dinner, not lunch, for the five of us. You get to come too, Sherm. Sorry. Tomorrow at 7:00 o'clock. You time your entrance at Alice Longworth's between 30 seconds of seven and ten seconds after. Driving up her drive to arrive precisely at seven is the way the game's played. We'll stop a block away at ten of seven, wait, and then drive on to Alice's to precisely time the arrival.

Sherm said, "Are you boys ready for this?"

Tim said, "Sounds like an interesting game. We're going to need some briefing tomorrow afternoon. In the morning I guess we should start apartment hunting."

Thelma said, "Don't be silly. Dump that problem on Alice Longworth."

"What?" That was both Tim and me. And Sherm and Chrissy, too, I think.

"Absolutely. The Roosevelt and Longworth families have enough Washington real estate to house every court clerk in town. Just mention to Alice tomorrow that you're in town to look for a place to live the next two years. She'll take charge like you won't believe. Just be prepared to go with the flow. However, on second thought, you should go house hunting tomorrow morning, so that you'll be able to give an honest report on your lack of progress!"

Not long after that Chrissy left and Thelma and Sherm headed for bed. Tim and I retired to the guest room where we had been made to feel at home. We had been warned that there were twin beds - not a larger bed in the house. Well, we'd shared a twin before, and we weren't going to start sleeping separately now. As we slid between the covers I whispered to Tim, "Sex or conversation?"

"Oh, God, Charlie. Conversation. What're we getting ourselves into? Alice Longworth? Washington parties? Next Chrissy will be inviting us to Boston for some affair."

"Chrissy is much more likely to invite us to bed for some affair."

"He is cute."

"Yes, he is. And he'd give his eye teeth to take you to bed."

"Sherm's pretty liberal, but I don't think we should push that. Maybe we can visit Chrissy some afternoon."

"He does work."

"For Sherm. Sherm'll be glad to let him show us around Washington."

The next afternoon Sherm dumped a pile of magazines on us - they had stories about Alice Longworth, Washington parties, and the Washington social scene in general. "That's homework for tonight. And while we're talking about tonight, I think Chrissy would love to have you as his houseguests tonight. It's lonely going home alone, and you all can rehash the events of the evening. Tomorrow morning he can show you around Washington a little. He'll bring you over to the court house for lunch. You won't meet the other judges until fall, but I think he'd like to introduce you to some of the clerks. Of course, they'll all have changed by fall. No, that's not right. I think a couple are going to spend a second year. I'm not sure. Chrissy will know. And be warned, he's Chris around the court."

I couldn't believe what I was hearing. Without saying it, Sherm was inviting us to have sex with Chrissy that night, and probably again in the morning. There was no way he didn't know that was what he was suggesting. All I could say was, "Thanks, Sherm. I think Tim and I would enjoy a chance to get to know Chrissy better."

Sherm walked out of the room saying, "You have a lot of reading to do."

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