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The Redemption, Book 2

by Joe Writer Man

Chapter 28

"What am I going to do now?" Joey asked his mother after having had a fling that morning with his friend Jeff as his love and mate Skeeter was flying to Chicago to spend a week with him and his family.

*-* Mom's POV *-*

I said, after we both shared a moment of quiet contemplation, "Honey, what you do is your decision. One thing concerns me... I don't know Jeff; I didn't know Jeff existed. That makes him a stranger in our home, and I don't like strangers in my home... especially when they are here to have sex with you. We've talked about this before and I thought we had an understanding... so I'm more disappointed that you broke our house rules."

"Yeah, you're right mom. I'm sorry." Joey began playing with his fingers... his nails, they needed trimmed... "Uhm, mom, Jeff is the witness... uhm... you know when Williams busted my ribs and stuff."

Absentmindedly, I reached into the drawer of the bureau next to the dining room table, retrieved the nail clippers, reached for Joey's hand and began trimming his nails. Without looking up, I said, "Okay, I'll take that into account. You, your dad and I will talk about this later. We'll come up with a consequence that you may or may not agree with."

Joey nodded, forlorn clearly written across his face, and displayed within his body language evidenced by squirming in his seat.

"Two other issues need to be addressed: First, your relationship with Skeeter needs to be worked through. He needs to know of your behavior. A partnership is a two way street and it needs to be built on trust. Doing things behind the others' back is not a way to build trust – and it says a lot about ones' integrity and commitment. If you two decide that bringing other people into your relationship – then that is your decision but don't automatically assume its okay with him."

Joey nodded his understanding. He didn't say anything.

"The second thing is health concern. You have informed both Skeeter and the boy here this morning... what's his name?"


"Do you know his last name?"

"Uhm, no."

"Okay, there's another point to deal with in your relationship with Skeeter... do you understand where I'm going?"

Joey sat there... a sulking expression crossed his face. He squirmed in his chair and crossed his arms – sure indicators that he wasn't listening.

"You've told them that you have hep-c, right?

"Mom... you told me yourself that my drugs could have skewed the results and that I'd get retested..."

"No. Don't go there. You know darn good and well that until we know otherwise you are, in fact, a carrier, and that your sexual partners deserve to know. Honey, not only do you morally need to tell your partners about the possibility of you having an STD, you also have an obligation from a legal point of view. Knowing that you do have, or possibly do have a STD and not informing them is criminal according to the law."

"God, I should have been a fucking priest." Joey said with total exasperation and defeat in his voice.

Seeing red, I said, "Joseph Lee Mauer... go to your room NOW. That is the second time you have said that word this morning!"

"Mom, I'm sorry! It slipped out..."

"Go to your room. I'm not ready to talk." I said parentally knowing I wasn't ready to deal with the situation any differently.

Heatedly Joey got up from his seat causing the chair to fall over backwards. He stomped to his room and then slammed the door shut all the while muttering words that I didn't hear all that well, and it was probably a good thing I didn't hear them.

My brain began spinning... I really wanted to slam my cup of coffee in the sink and watch it shatter in millions of pieces. I'd reached my limit... tired... stressed... lost 3 patients overnight... shock of seeing Joey's rear end up in the air... his penis connecting... strange boy... his anus... Skeeter coming to visit... the f-bomb... twice... unprotected sex... STD... hep-c... carrier... confirmed... non-confirmed...


Just stop it.

I took in a deep breath, and then another, and then another. I calmly sat the cup down on the table, and then went to my room, retrieved my cell phone, entered Dave's number, and after but a moments' hesitation pressed Send. He answered on the 4th ring:

"Hi honey." I said evenly.

"Hey babe, can I call you back in a bit, we're in a planning session meeting?"

"Dave, I think you should come home as soon as you can."

I heard Dave say over the phone to his staff, "Excuse me. I have a situation at home that needs to be taken care of. Please take a break, I'll be right back." I then heard shuffling of papers and then it got quiet.

"Hi honey, sorry about that. What's up babe?"

Not wanting to upset Dave with the particulars, I said "Dave, Joey and I are having a serious issue with a couple of things. Tempers are flying. I am tired. I'm stressed. It would be best for you to come home."

"I'm on my way. I'll be home within the hour."

*-* Dave's POV *-*

"I'm sorry folks but I have to leave and go home. I think we're in a position to go forward with our plan. I'll get in touch with the zone director. I know he's busy this week with getting the Delphi project implemented. Unfortunately, there were some serious cost overruns that crimped the city budget so our project might get pushed back a couple of months. Bonnie, would you please schedule another meeting of all here present for the middle of next week?"

We then broke apart and went on about on our own. Hopefully our project would get off the ground soon because it meant a serious pay raise and a promotion. Our new kids were getting close to college age. Derrick - we'd planned for his college and had saved appropriately to meet those expenses. No, I wasn't putting a price tag on the education costs for our new children.

Traffic was a nightmare what with all the road construction, delays and a power outage that blackened most all stop lights, lane designation signals, etc.

An hour and a half later, after arriving home, I walked into the kitchen from the garage and found June sitting at the table. She looked up. I saw that she'd been crying. I put my briefcase on the floor next to the door then walked over and took her in my arms and held her tight. She squeezed me tight and then quickly released me and then we both sat down at the table after retrieving hot cups of coffee.

I'd only seen my wife that upset one other time in our 20 years of marriage. During our marriage I'd learned to not force her to talk - she'd talk when she was ready to share.

About 20 minutes later, she took my hands in hers then slowly, carefully and evenly started to say but we were interrupted at hearing Joey's door open, his stomping into the bathroom, and then the slam of the door being closed.

I perked up. June looked at me, clearly stressed and extremely tired. Her eyes were bloodshot, her soft gentle smile lines gone, the creases on her forehead prominent.

June tilted her head up, our eyes met, slowly but deliberately she said, "Dave..." but then we were again interrupted by the bathroom door opening, a pitter pattering of feet down the hallway and then Joey's bedroom door being shut in a more subdued and appropriate manner. His stereo then cranked up but not so loud as to rock the house off its foundation.

June took a deep breath, "I wasn't able to fall asleep and when I was about to I received a phone call informing me that one more of my patients, one of the accident victims I'd worked on for several hours, had died – his injuries had been severe, he'd lost too much blood."

I hugged my wife, kissed her cheek, "I'm sorry, babe. I know you did your very best. You're a good doctor, and an even better husband. I love you."

After a pause she continued, "I heard noises coming from Joey's room. One does not have to be a rocket scientist to know when two people are having wild sex. I went to see what was going on... he and someone else, someone we don't know, oh Dave, I caught them in the act so I closed and locked their door. I should have interrupted them but I didn't because I was embarrassed."

"What he did was against our rules..."

"I know, but wait, I'm not finished yet."

"I went to our room and closed the door. They were taking a shower together when Joey screamed the f-bomb and then said something about toilet flushes and showers don't mix, or something."

"Anyway, I was waiting for them when they headed back to Joey's room. The boy left and then Joey and I sat down here and I told him... what started a confrontation was when I told Joey that he should always have safe sex because of his hep-c. He went off telling me the diagnosis wasn't confirmed... I got pissed off <my antennae rose 6 feet> with his attitude then he said 'God, I should have been a effin priest.' He then threw a temper tantrum – knocking his chair over, stomping down the hall and then slamming his door shut. Here we are."

"Did he apologize?"

"He may have tried to but I may have overreacted a bit... his attitude... I just told him to go to his room and not come out. I'd reached my limit."

"Okay, I'll deal with this. But first, come on, I'll give you a massage so that you can hopefully get some sleep."

"Dave, don't crucify him to the cross. He screwed up. When he saw me standing in doorway, he peed himself."

"Whether or not he peed himself does not mitigate the fact that he disrespected you and broke cardinal rules we'd set out for all our boys, equally and equally alike. Come on, let's give you a massage."

With that we went into our bedroom, June got undressed; I gave her a full body massage with some extra emphasis in certain areas. When I got up, she was sound asleep and resting comfortably. I put on a pullover shirt, a pair of Khaki pants and then went to Joey's door after peeing and getting myself together.

His stereo, while still loud, wasn't as loud as it had been. I didn't bother knocking. When I opened the door, my first sight was of him sitting in his computer chair, looking at some idiot with a cock no man could possibly have. Joey's hands were in his lap.

At the sound of his door opening he jumped up. Thankfully he was fully dressed but it was also obvious, from the condition of his pants, that he was keeping 'in time' with the guy on the screen.

Both shock and panic took over his facial features. I walked to the computer and pulled the plug sending it into darkness. I then pulled the cord from the wall and tucked it into the back of my pants.

"You'll get your computer back when I feel you've grown up enough to handle your privilege in a responsible way. Turn your stereo off right this minute then sit down and don't move." Dutifully, he did as I instructed. He sat without a word, his eyes never leaving mine. I sat down on the corner of his unmade bed but found that our distance was too great. I said, "Don't move. I'll be right back."

He silently nodded his understanding.

I went to the kitchen and retrieved a chair, took it into Joey's room, sat it down opposite him then closed the door.

I said, "Your mother is asleep. She was very upset. Did you happen to know she worked all night, that she hasn't been to sleep, that one of her patients died -or- did you not care enough so you had your party anyway? How about you telling me your side of what happened today that made your mother even more upset than she already was?"

Joey shook his head no. I said, "No Joey, 'no' is not the answer I want to hear. I suggest you start talking."

"I screwed up."

"No kidding Sherlock. So tell me what you should have done differently."

Joey leaned over in the chair, put his head in his hands and closed his eyes.

Just as I was getting ready to say something, he looked up, "Dad, I didn't say the bad word TO mom... it just came out. I'm really sorry. Dad, I apologized to her. But, just because I apologized cannot make it go away."

"That's very true. You know how I feel about it. You'll be punished as soon as we come up with an appropriate consequence."

Joey nodded. "I'm sorry dad." The tears began flowing. I became aware that he was indeed truly sorry -but- the deed was already done. He has to learn restraint and responsibility. And, at the same time, I had to let him know that turning on the tears was not going to change the facts nor were they going to change the direction of our conversation.

"Okay, Joey, you can turn off the water works. You'll apologize to your mother and you'll restrain yourself when you get upset about something. Now... let's work backwards... what would get you upset enough to say such things?"

"Uhm, well, mom and I disagreed about STD's. Dad, I'm not even confirmed."

"And being unconfirmed makes it okay to have unprotected sex with another person when you 'might' have an STD? Let me rephrase: Did you tell him that you 'may' have a STD? Okay, let's back up another step – did you guys practice safe sex?"

"No sir."

"So it's safe to assume that you and the guy went... what's it called - 'bareback'?"

"Yes sir."

"Okay, let's see... did you empty your fluids into him -or- did he empty his fluids into you? It makes a difference."

"Dad... uhm... please... this is embarrassing."

"Joey... uhm... please … too bad. I asked you a question. It's very important. Did you put your fluids into him?"

"Yes sir."

"Okay, that's half of what I need to know..."

"Yes sir. It was both ways..."

"Okay, that's better. The truth always works. Now, on that note you are morally and legally obligated to inform him of your 'unconfirmed' STD so that he can be tested right away, right?"

"Yes sir. But..."

"No buts. In fact, his parents should know... he's their son, they are responsible for his health and well being just as your health and well being is our responsibility."

"Dad, please don't... I don't even know them."

"Joey, write their phone number down on a piece of paper so that I can contact them."

He retrieved his cell phone and then wrote down two phone numbers. He handed it to me. I put it in my shirt pocket.

"Joey, this may seem to be over your head. And that's okay. This is how you grow up and learn to practice responsibility. Okay, let's move on... I assume that you and Skeeter have been intimate in a sexual way... am I off base here?"

"No sir. I mean, yes sir, we've been intimate that way."

"Does he know that you may possibly have a STD?"

"No sir. I'll tell him. He needs to know."

I nodded. "Are there anymore sexual partners we don't know about?"

Joey squirmed in his chair. He again looked to the floor, shame clearly on his face and displayed in his body language. I said, "Joey, you're not in trouble for this. I take it that you've been intimate with more than one person. We need to know so that they can be notified."

"Dad, it's complicated."

"I have no doubt that it is complicated but making sure they know is the right thing to do."

Joey then went on to tell me about Skeeter's brothers' difficulties about being abused in all ways including sexually. While I didn't think that having sex with Luke was the right thing to do, I saw their youthful rationale. I said, "That's not how I would have handled the situation but what's happened happened. I can see the rationale. Hopefully, you won't screw everybody who needs your help with their difficulties. Are there any more partners we don't know about?"

"Uhm, not exactly... I mean... we didn't have full out sex. We masturbated... and well... I mean... okay, we had oral sex but not the other way."

"Joey, did you know that STD's can be, though not likely, spread if you and or your partner have periodontal disease, cuts, or other sores in your mouths?"

Joey grabbed his crotch and squeezed his privates firmly, "I need to pee. I'll be right back."

I nodded. Joey took off. He returned a couple of minutes later.

"Thanks dad, I made it. Uhm, dad, I had an accident earlier..."

"I know, your mother told me. Are the accidents happening more frequently? Do you need to see the doctor?"

"No. Today was the first time really. Dad, this is hard. Please don't get mad."

"I'm not going to get mad. I'm disappointed but no I'm not mad." I said knowing that my anger had dissipated into disappointment and dismay that Joey would be messing around outside his relationship with Skeeter... but this was something that he, June and I would discuss later, perhaps before Skeeter arrived...

"Dad, I guess, well, this is so hard... I'm ashamed I guess... uhm... well Nathan and I have kind of messed around... Timmy too... I mean we only did oral sex... nothing else... okay?"

"You're positive? You're not leaving anything out." I asked gently but factually.

Joey then dropped his head down as far as it would go on his chest. He next wrapped his hands around his head, covering his ears with 3 fingers.

"Joey... I'm sorry that this is embarrassing for you... I really don't want to know the details of your sex life but right now we need to narrow down who you have been intimate with... for heath concerns." I said softly, soothingly... all I needed to know was who so that their parents could be told... there is a very fine between what parents share about regarding their child's sexual adventures... and yes, most likely, at that age, the encounters are adventures.

My son looked up and into my eyes, "Uhm..." he then straightened up, stole courage and continued, "Dad, Nathan wanted to know what it felt like... he was curious... we did it only once." Before I could ask 'which way' or if it was 'both giver and receiver' he added, "I... uhm... we had full sex."

"In his bottom?" I asked just to confirm.

"Yes. He'd asked me a couple of other times... I'd said no. Dad, I did it because I didn't want him to find out if he liked it or not out there on the street with someone who didn't care about him... it's mean and rough out there. Dad, I did it for him. I didn't do it for me."

He was telling me the truth... I needed to put his mind to ease about the same and guilt he was feeling. I felt his heart had been in the right place. Knowing how close those two boys were and are I took a different track, "Joey, you haven't met your Uncle Mike, my brother, yet, hopefully you will get to meet him and his family before too long. They live in Honolulu. Let's just say that you and Nathan are not the only brothers who have messed around in your young lifetimes. Nathan is not the only boy who has been curious about a same sex encounter. When you have time, and when you get your computer back then look up the Kinsey Studies. Anyway, about Nathan, we'll need to get his blood tested, obviously."

Joey, much more relaxed and sitting straight up once again, nodded his understanding. He added, "Dad, I'm not sorry about Nathan... I seriously did not want him looking out on the streets to satisfy his curiosity."

I nodded then had to say what my thoughts were, "Joey, I understand. You guys love each other so very much... your love is much stronger, I believe, than a lot of brother-to-brother relationships. Seeing you two together as you are is a great big comfort to my heart, and to you mothers' also. My concern is as we have talked about already – health. He's been exposed to a potential STD. Okay, do you see where I'm going?"

"I wouldn't have hurt him for anything in the world... never!"

"I know you wouldn't. Let's just deal with the facts..."

"Okay, but let me tell him." Joey pleaded.

"We'll talk to him together. We're his parents too, remember? You don't have to do everything on your own all the time... telling him that you might have exposed him to a potential life-threatening STD will be hard on you, whether you wish to acknowledge it or not... this is where parents come in."

My son put his head back down, covered his face, choked a few times like he'd swallowed his tongue or something. With tears freely flowing from his eyes he looked up and nodded.

I couldn't see my son hurting over that issue anymore. I got up, closed our distance, reached for his hand, assisted him up (parentally) then pulled him into my arms and held him firmly, but not firmly enough to hurt his still sore and tender chest. He said though, "Dad, Nathan's sexually active."

"I know."

"I shouldn't have ratted him out."

"You didn't rat him out. Your mother and I know. We'll deal with that, okay?"

"I gave him my box of rubbers."

"Good for you. You're a good brother, watching out for his best interests... this tells me a lot about you... all good it is."

"Nnnnnnnnnnnnngh. "Nnnnnnnnnnnnngh. "Nnnnnnnnnnnnngh." Joey cried.

"Growing up is not for sissies, my son. You are no sissy. You are a young boy with a lot of adult-ism in your life. Joey, you have a good heart... don't ever let anybody tell you differently. Yes, definitely. Why don't you go into the bathroom and freshen up a bit... we still have one more thing to talk about."

Joey looked up, nodded slightly, then after a firm squeeze he took off for the bathroom.

I sat down on his computer chair and waited patiently.

He returned a few minutes later, appearing to be in control once again of his emotions. I got up and urged him to be seated so that we could talk about the other issue... his usage of the f-bomb.

He offered, "Dad... you already know about Wayne..."

"Yes. We'll talk to mom to see if she can disclose whether or not he has STDs."

Joey nodded then sat down on his bed and said, "I messed up big time with mom, I'm sorry."

"Joey, the main cause of my disappointment is the disrespect you gave to your mother. Your mother gets cursed at and verbally abused enough by some of her patients... this home is her safe place away from all that. It takes all of us, equally, to provide her and each and every one of us a safe place to live."

"Dad, I love it here. I love you. I love mom. I love Derrick. I'm growing to love Timmy, and well Nathan – we've been together since he was born and we really love each other. The last thing in the world I'd ever want to do is to hurt him or anybody else."

"I know that. You've had a rough life Joey. I'm pleasantly happy and relieved that you're able to be loved and that you are able to show your love. It means a lot to me. It hasn't been easy for you, I'm sure."

"I try dad. Honest I do." Joey said then put his head back into his hands and found a place on the carpet to stare at. His shoulders shook up and down and from side to side and water was leaking through his fingers from his eyes.

I got up, took hold of his shoulders and lifted him up. His arms immediately grasped me around my waist in a tight hold. I put my arms around his shoulders and pulled him in firmly but not tight enough to cause him too much discomfort from his rib injuries.

When the moment passed for him, we sat back down, he regained his composure, reached for a Kleenex from his head board, wiped out his eyes and then blew his nose, tossed the used tissue into the trash can then sat up, looked into the eyes but didn't say anything.

I decided on a couple of things: first his punishment, and secondly a way to make things right with his mother whom he loved very much.

"Joey, it's time you give your mother the present, AND yourself. I'm surprised your mother hasn't found it already. She's made no mention that she found it so I don't believe she has. I think she would have said something. Next Saturday, whether or not Skeeter is still here, we are going to begin the garage project. The weather has broken. The only thing we should have to contend with now is the spring rain storms. We'll quickly get it framed in and then we'll work on the roof. Here's the deal. I was going to pay you $12.00 an hour but will raise it to $15.00 an hour. I will actually, in cash, pay you $2.00 an hour... each hour will count toward the cost of the gift. This way you'll earn the money so that things are right."

Joey vigorously nodded his approval.

I got very serious... "Joey, with your $2.00 an hour cash money, you will save the money and you will take your mother and you out for lunch or dinner at a nice place of her choosing once per week. She'd really like it. Derrick, because he can drive already does take her out to lunch on a regular basis. I'll talk to Nathan and Timmy. They are young yet. I'm going to include them in the project, probably as gophers but I'll work that out with them."

Without a qualm, Joey, once again vigorously nodded his approval of the plan but then a question crossed his forehead, "What's a gopher have to do with building a garage... animal control has traps for them..."

I laughed hard, so hard tears began running down my cheeks. Joey looked at me indignantly wondering what the heck was so funny. I let him squirm for a while – the moment was priceless. Finally, I said, "In the construction trade, a gopher is a 'go' <pause> 'for'... in other words: go for this; go for that; get me this; get me that... a gopher."

"Very funny. Ha ha. Yeah, right."

Eventually, he laughed at and to himself. He realized that Ole Dad had got him good.

When the moment passed, I said seriously, "Joey, the fact that you were looking at a free porn site and that you were masturbating in front of it doesn't really bother me THAT MUCH... at least it was legal... uhm... I trust that you and Skeeter have cleaned up your act, right?"

"Uhm, dad, not exactly..."

"Not exactly, what exactly does that mean?"

When he didn't answer in enough time that I thought reasonable, I said, "Hand me your phone..."

"No, please don't. Dad, we've, you know... okay, we've made some videos... I admit it... please don't look at them." Joey said hurriedly, clutching the phone to his chest, looking at me hoping against hope that I wouldn't force him to display his private moments.

Carefully I thought, and carefully I said, "Joey, I'm going to leave for 10 minutes. I want you to do two things on your phone: First, write down any important phone numbers that you want to keep. Second, when I come back I'll tell you what the second thing is but not before then... do you understand me?"

"Yes sir. Perfectly. Write down my important phone numbers then wait for you to return and then you'll tell me what else to do."

"Good. I'll be back in 10 minutes."

I got up, walked out of his room then turned back around and said to Joey sitting in his computer chair, "Leave the door open."

"Okay... no problem. Can I get started? I've got a lot of numbers from people at school and of course Skeeter's?"

I nodded then strode to the bedroom June and I shared. I went inside and after seeing she was sound asleep, as evidenced by her deep rhythmical breathing, I stole inside our closet, reached way back up on the top most shelf and retrieved a small box lying underneath various and sundry things. I looked inside, it was intact and did not appear to have been touched or discovered. I quickly, quietly, decisively and stealthily exited our room then headed into the kitchen where I put it in a good place where June doesn't go very often.

I then stopped in the boy's restroom, peed, washed my hands and then returned to Joey's room. He was finished with his assigned task and was sitting waiting patiently for me to return.

I then asked for the phone. With hesitation he handed it to me. I opened it up; pulled up his photo album, looked at several pictures he'd taken … unfortunately some still shots of him, and separately Skeeter, in varying states of dress and undress, with and without erections, with and without clean thighs and stomachs.

Joey, meanwhile, was totally and absolutely mortified and absolutely and totally embarrassed, as was I embarrassed. I did not and do not involve myself in my sons' sexuality unless asked -or- when they are irresponsible -and or- illegal with their behaviors.

I said, "Seeing these pictures embarrassed me just as much as my looking at them embarrassed you. If we don't do illegal and embarrassing things then we have nothing to worry about, right?"

"Yes sir."

"Okay, now take your phone back, find the settings tab then erase all data from the phone."

"Dad, I have other pictures... I mean pictures of you, mom, Derrick, Nathan and Timmy, and the places we've been, and things we've done. Please dad."

I pulled the cord from the back of my pants. "Boot your computer up. I'll transfer appropriate pictures from your phone to the computer. This is the only deal I'm making."

For the next 20 minutes or so I found and transferred family pictures to the computer and then shut down the computer, retrieved the cord then put it into the back of my pants. I then handed the phone to Joey. Reluctantly he took it and then, with me watching, erased all data from his phone. I then took the phone, turned it off and then put it into my pocket, "Your phone is mine for the summer. I won't turn the service off so you can keep your same number. Meanwhile, since your mother and I are gone quite a bit, and we need to keep in contact we'll get you a cheapie, stripped down, pay by the minute cell phone."

Joey started to return his head to his hands lying in his lap but I said, "No, don't do that. You broke the rules. This is a consequence for your irresponsible and illegal actions with your privilege. Now let me ask you one more question: have you made or taken movies or pictures and stored them on your computer? Yes or no?"

"Uhm, dad, yes sir, but I haven't stored anything. My computer is clean. We just, well you know, uhm, well we masturbated via live cam."

"So, if I were to confiscate your computer for say a day or two and have it analyzed by experts... then nothing would be found, correct?"

"That's right dad. I promise. Dad I have term papers, homework, and stuff that I'm researching, and my story – a journal, on it. Please don't take my computer away – I promise I'll keep it clean..."

I looked at Joey intently, looking for any, any minute trace that he was being anything less than total and completely honest – I saw no such evidence that he was being anything but honest. I said, "I believe you. Don't disappoint me."

I handed Joey the cord to the computer. He sighed audibly. He held the cord reverently to his chest. He got up from his seat, took the two steps to me then put his arms around my waist and hugged deeply. I returned his hug knowing my son was growing up, and while he's done some things wrong I loved him with all my heart, and only wanted the best for him and for us as a family.

I said, "What do you think would be an appropriate punishment for disrespecting your mother by using nasty curse words in her presence or within hearing distance?"

He squeezed me firmly then took two steps backward. He laid the cord on the desk then turned to me, squared his shoulders, pulled his pants up which had slid down his hips and rested on his butt, looked me in the eyes intently and said, "You have told me that sometimes all a man has is his word and if his word is no good then he's a worthless scumbag... I give you my word... and I don't make many promises either because things come up that prevent us from keeping our promises but I promise you that mom will never again hear me curse. I love her and never want her to hurt or to be disappointed with me."

His eyes never left mine other than to blink. He meant what he said. He said what he meant. That was one of our many 'come to Jesus' moments. He showed me that he was growing into a man; he showed me that he has a conscience; he showed me that he would give everything he had to be an honorable son.

"I trust you to your word, Joey. I am placing my trust in you knowing that you'll do the right thing. I will remember this moment from this second forward. I'll never forget our discussion here today."

Joey nodded.

"I have one more thing to say... it's about your relationship with Skeeter. Take what you've learned here into your relationship with him. Be honorable. Be truthful. Let him know in all ways that you're honest and forthright. You guys have to work out something that you can mutually agree upon. You guys need to talk this out. Your mother and I are going to stay out of it unless we feel that you or he are in danger. Know that we will do everything in our power to keep you safe... but at the same time you have to keep yourself safe too. We can't be with you 24/7/366, and besides that you'll never know safety unless you practice being safe. If you have questions, or get into a loop and can't get out then come to us... while we may not have Your answer we'll provide you with some gates and windows to see out of, okay?"

"Uhm, dad, I love Skeeter. This long distance stuff is hard. I don't know if we'll make it. I mean, I want us to, but I don't know if we can."

"Joey, a relationship is all about thinking of the other person first, treating them with honor and respect, being willing to compromise on issues, and yes sometimes saying to your partner "You're right" when you don't believe he is. It's an art Joey; I don't always have it down pat. Your mom and me, we've learned how to disagree without being disagreeable."

"I need to tell Skeeter what I did today... <I nodded>. Dad, if it is okay I'd like to get Skeeter from the airport myself... the CTA goes right into O'Hare... we'd be safe."

"Okay, that's fine. Can I offer you a suggestion though?"

"Sure. You're my dad."

"I'm going to suggest that you wait to talk about the sensitive stuff until you get home. That way people who don't understand won't get the wrong idea and therefore make you unsafe... or in the event you get in over your head we wouldn't be around to support you and Skeeter since he'll be in our care."

"That makes sense." Joey said while looking at his watch.

*-* Joey's POV *-*

Dad gave me a lot to think about. The last thing in the whole world I wanted to do was to hurt mom. Even though I had told dad that I would do everything in my power to not ever hurt or disappoint her again I made a promise to myself to always honor and respect her... even when she was wrong. Ha ha.

Dad went back to work. He took the CTA since traffic was so snarled in the downtown area. I wandered around the house doing various chores to help mom out. I took steaks out of the freezer, washed potatoes so that we could bake them. We had everything else – the bacon, chives, grated cheddar cheese, stuff for salads, and then I whipped up Jell-O to go along with the meal, and finally I started fixing the stuff for a chocolate cheesecake.

I had just started the mixer up when Nathan arrived home from school. He said Derrick had gone to work and would eat there then he raced to the bathroom and shut the door. I poured him a glass of milk and retrieved cookies to eat while he did his homework.

"So when does Skeeter arrive oh gay boy?"

"We should be home by 8 oh confused one."

Nathan giggled then sat down at the table and began his homework while I continued the domestic thing.

After 30 minutes or so he closed his book, "Where's mom. Her car's here."

"She worked until early this morning... she's sleeping."

"Oh okay. I didn't know. How's Timmy?"

"Mom didn't say. I'll find out." I said, deliberately leaving out the difficulties of the day from the conversation.

"Yeah, let me know, will ya? Okay, I'm going to take a shower. I'm spending the night with Linda and her family." Nathan said as a matter of fact.

I nodded. Nathan took off for the bathroom, shut the door, and I finished up preparing all that I could for dinner.

I sat down and checked Nathan's homework. It looked okay. A few minutes later he reappeared. He was naked as a jay bird, hard as a rock. I giggled and pointed to his member mischievously. He said something about me being a pervert. I said something about pussy being nasty. We agreed that we'd both get our wicks drained if we had anything to do about it. He then asked me if I'd do his hair. I asked which hair he was talking about. He called me a perv again. I said he loved it when I sucked his maleness. He shut it down. I laughed. He flipped me the bird. I playfully smacked him hard on his naked and still wet butt but he let me off the hook.

After drying and brushing out his hair he turned around, thanked me for doing it perfectly, and then we shared a kiss, and then he headed off to his room. Before he got out of earshot I said loud enough for him to hear, "Wear a rubber."

He nodded then entered his room and returned a few minutes later looking all spiffy. He asked what I thought of his clothes. He wore a pair of new black jeans, a black Polo shirt, and his black Nike's and black socks. He looked mighty fine. I fixed a few hairs that had gotten mussed up while he'd put on his shirt. He quickly kissed my cheek and announced he was leaving. I told him to use protection – for both he and Linda. He flipped me the bird. I said I was serious. I then remembered I'd given him the box of condoms thinking I didn't need them. I made a mental note to stop and purchase another box for my use.

As soon as the front door closed, I stripped, got in the shower and cleaned every nook and cranny in and on my body, paying particular attention to my dick since it was standing out wantonly, and I felt that tightness in the pit of my stomach... all in all I had to have had the cleanest dick in the world – both inside and out. I knew perfectly well that he'd be up to the task of pleasuring my boyfriend.

Finished, I streaked into my bedroom, put on a tight, yellow g-string, a pair of green jeans, a Cubs t-shirt, socks and shoes. I went back to the bathroom; dried and brushed my hair 'just right' then brushed my teeth and rinsed well with mouthwash.

When I was finished with all of those 'getting ready' chores, I stood in front of the mirror. Even though I was nervous about meeting up with Skeeter, I was able to look at myself and think that, despite my bads and shortcomings that I was an okay guy.

As I was standing there, I heard mom and dad's door open. Mom yawned loudly then made her way into the hallway. She saw me standing in front of the mirror. She entered the bathroom then stood there looking at me looking at myself. I turned toward her then meekly took a step forward and pulled her into a hug. I said, "Mom, I'm sorry. I won't do it again, I promise with all my heart. The last thing I ever want to do is to disappoint or hurt you. I love you so much."

Mom shuddered then I felt her put her lips to the top of my head and kiss lightly. She said, "Sometimes I forget where you came from and my blessings as to where you are today. Are you okay inside of your skin? We were both pretty crazy this morning."

"Are you okay mom, about you know... wanting to get messed up?"

"Yeah, I'm fine now. Honey, my two older brothers and an old boyfriend before I met your dad used to say filthy vile things to and about me. And... that old boyfriend took away something from me I wasn't able to give to your dad... that's what the f-word really means. When I hear it the word makes me hurt inside. Maybe someday it won't hurt anymore."

"Mom, I didn't know. You can trust me. Sometimes all a guy has is his word. I know it's going to take time for you to trust me again... I'll do everything that I can do to make you trust me again, okay?"

Mom squeezed me as tight as she dared, and then released me. After a moments' contemplation she said, "Just be you, okay. You're a good kid. I'll bet you're hungry... I'll go get dinner started before we have to pick up Skeeter, okay?"

I said happily, "I pulled steaks out, washed potatoes, made sure we have stuff for a salad... and you'll never believe it but I made a cheesecake and Jell-O, lemon of course for the Jell-O and chocolate for the cake. I talked to dad for a long time today – I'm going to take the CTA to the airport so that Skeeter and I have some time alone to talk about some things. Maybe you can leave something for us to eat when we get home?"

"I have a better idea... I'll make some quick sandwiches to tide us over. It's Friday so we can eat and stay up later... we can then fix the steaks when you get home, how's that for a plan?"

"Okay. Kewl. That'll work."

"You look pretty spiffy. Looks like you're going to meet somebody special."

"Definitely, I can't wait to get my arms around him!"

"And you're legs too..." Mom said snickering. A fine thing to be snickering about … sheesh!


"And you have a cute butt." Mom said as she patted my butt.

"Ah mom... stop it. Puhleezeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee" I said as my face neared its flashing point.

She then mussed my hair up a little in front to cover up the little scar on my upper forehead, "Okay, okay. Just keep that cute butt and those long gorgeous legs for the one you love." Mom said then turned to the door and walked away.

She could have blown me to smithereens with a grenade instead of saying those words. I stood there trembling until I thought I was going to fall down flat on my face. Those words kept reverberating over and over and over and over again as I finished getting ready all the while trying to maintain my composure. I did okay until I got to the kitchen and saw her sitting on the bar stool rummaging through some papers and she looked up. She wasn't smiling and she wasn't snarling or frowning... her face simply registered indifference. She'd made her point like cutting me to shreds with the edge of a razor sharp scalpel.

*-* Skeeter's POV *-*

The seat was hard and was digging into my tailbone yet every time I thought I was done another round would let itself be known. People were knocking on the door asking if anybody was in 'there' – 'there' being a toilet in a 757-300 bound from Atlanta to Chicago's O'Hare airport where I was heading to hopefully spend a whole week with Joey, my boyfriend.

The last straw was when a stewardess did in fact open the door just enough to ask me if I was alright. I said yes. She asked me if I were sure. I said yes. She said to not take too long because people were waiting patiently. I said my stomach was upset and that I'd be out in a little while. She said okay but to hurry up as were nearing Chicago's airspace. I said okay, grunted down while reaching up to lock the door and let out a serious dose of methane gas but that was all it was – hot air... just as I assured myself I was done and was about halfway standing up the airplane took a steep left hand turn and knocked me off my feet – down on the toilet again. I pushed one last time to make sure – I was sure all was said and done. I felt 50 pounds lighter even though I only weighed 92 on most normal days.

Just as I sat down in my seat the plane began wildly and rapidly jerking up and down and wobbling from side to side. I was frantically scrambling to get my seat belt fastened all to no avail until the man sitting next to me grabbed the belt buckle away from my fumbling hands, reached into my lap and securely fastened it. His knuckles were under the seat belt and over my flaccid cock. He was just as surprised as I was at the unplanned connection. He quickly removed his hand then caught a carry-on bag that was falling toward my head. He deflected it into the isle but not before it struck him on the corner of his head then mine – no big deal except that the plane did a sudden nose dive and a hard right bank and then I was hit in the face by an oxygen mask.

I thought 'oh fuck we're crashing' … but I wasn't just thinking it I was screaming those words! The man took my hand in his, squeezed gently, and then raised the divider thing that was separating us... he leaned over, I leaned over... and we hugged... and I felt a sense of peace knowing I wouldn't die alone. I held onto him... he was holding on to me too. While the rest of the cabin was going bug fuck nuts what with baggage scattering here to and there to, and people were screaming, and puking, and rocking, and rolling... we had peace within us. I started crying, not sobs or anything... just because I wouldn't get to hold and make love to my Joey. I prayed to a God that I didn't believe in, told all my sins, said that I'd fucked my brother, said how I forgave my father for raping me, how my mom had tossed me into the system, forgave Luke's parents for hurting him, asked that Luke be forgiven, for Vito's soul, for Wayne to get okay, to bless mom, to bless dad, to bless Luke, James, Eric, Thomas, Kevin, Gerta, the lizard, and all of creation ...

And then the plane leveled off... it was no longer jerking, spinning, dropping, climbing... seemingly out of control.

The pilot came on the sound waves, "Ladies and gentlemen, I am so sorry, please forgive us up here in cockpit. We got caught up in an unexpected and violent very large scale turbulence. There is a severe thunderstorm 30 to 35 miles to our right. Thunderstorms of that magnitude leave behind what are called 'boundaries'... there is no real sure method to predict them. Rest assured that at no time were we in danger of catastrophe. I know this doesn't help calm what has already happened. We're in the clear now. Our altitude is 13,000 feet. We'll begin our descent into Chicago in 27 minutes, and we should be arriving at the gate in 42 minutes. On behalf of Transworld Airlines, I once again apologize for our turbulent flight and assure you that our trajectory is smooth sailing from now onto our destination. Thank you for flying Transworld Airlines."

I was still holding onto the man as if my life depended on it. My emotions got the best of me. I started crying and could not stop. The man loosened my seat belt, turned in the seat to face me then pulled me onto his lap, I did not resist, where I balled like a baby. All the while he was saying to let it all out and to not hold back, he was tenderly rubbing my back in all the right places, and then when I began regaining control of my emotions I sat back in my seat and fastened my seat belt. I looked at him. He had blood on his face. He was actively bleeding from a cut above his right eye. He raised his hand to his face, brought it down, looked at it and then with a smile, "Lucky shot. No big deal young man. We survived and God saw us through the mayhem. Our lives are filled with mayhem sometimes. I'm positive you've been forgiven and that your family is blessed beyond its wildest dreams. Stephen, God loves and blesses kids like you and old ex-drunk men like me. Follow your heart child, it's a good one. Follow your instincts. Be good to people. Be good to yourself, and be good to your boyfriend he loves you very much, I'm positive."

The flight attendant brought a first aid kit to the man. He took it then looked at me. I took hold of the kit then began cleaning and putting band aids on his cut. I used another swab to wipe the blood from his face. He did likewise to my face and neck. "I'm sorry your shirt is stained with my fluids but just have your mom rinse it in a weak hydrogen peroxide solution then wash it in a normal cycle. It should be just fine."

He reached into his pocket and pulled out a packet of business cards, took one out and handed it to me. It read:

Benjamin Mott

The Jesuit Order

317 Ocean Drive

Maui, HI

(866) 307-3817

He said, "Everybody calls me 'Father Ben'.

"Kewl. My name is Stephen Richardson. My friends here in Chicago call me Skeeter. You are my friend anywhere so please call me 'Skeeter'. Can I give you my phone number?"

"Sure thing. Here, let me get a pen so you can write it on one of my business cards. Be sure to put your name on it too."

"You're really kewl, Father. Thanks for being here. I thought we were going to die." I said while writing my name and phone number. The numbers and letters were nearly illegible because I was still shaking.

Father Ben replied, "Quite frankly, son, I did too. But, no worry, we would have died together. We wouldn't have been alone, right?"

"No. I'm afraid of dying alone sir." I said sinking down in my seat.

"We're not ever really alone. Somebody is always loving us and taking care of our needs. So, you have a boyfriend, what's his name?"

"Joey. You're okay with me being gay? You're a priest, right?"

"That I am. I'm glad you're okay with who you are, Skeeter. So many children in the world are not okay with their lot in life. Most kids, all they need is a helping hand from someone who actually gives a shit." Father Ben said meaningfully. At the same time I giggled.

Father Ben looked at me with this "What" look on his face. He said, "What, you don't understand the additions to the English language child?"

I easily refrained from saying "Fuck yeah... bring it the fuck on" and instead said, "Oh yeah, I know the terminology. But... isn't God going to get ya, you know, send you to hell especially because you're a priest..."

"Oh child... hell is a figment of some person's imagination. It is only written about in parables. God doesn't cast us out... we cast ourselves out by shame, guilt, doing bad things that hurt others, and many of us don't believe we're lovable because of what we think, feel, do or say. Holy cow, I'm sure if there was a hell... the place would be filled to standing room only – if that. Your brother Luke... you mentioned a fire and what he did and what he went through... is he loved?"

"Oh yes sir... what did I say? I don't tell anybody about that stuff." I said looking at this man intently.

"You just tell him that you and I love him, okay? He needs to hear it often." Father Ben said then he turned serious, "Skeeter, it's perfectly okay for you to forgive yourself. I had a big brawny man come crying into the confessional... he was racked with shame and guilt for fucking a goat on his family's farm when he was a child. I simply asked him if the goat had fun too. Another, a boy, he carried a big demon. His dad called him a freak side show... yeah his dad of all people. He was very well endowed, you know down south of the border, much larger than most men twice his age. Let me just say that he makes his boyfriend very happy. God gave him the challenge and he's come out on the other side. He's a good kid with a heart of gold and he's growing into a fine young man."

I snickered, "The guy actually fucked a goat?"

"Yes he did. Neither died he said." Father Ben said as a matter of fact.

I snickered thinking of Luke and his goats... out of my mouth came, "I live on a farm. My brother Luke, feeding and watering the goats is his chore. He's happy. Mom said they're his connection to the world. I'll be sure and ask him..."

Father Ben snickered and said, "No, let him be. Whether or not he is or is not... is really between him, the goat and his Creator. Your bringing it to his attention might be embarrassing to him. Tell me Skeeter... have you forgiven your father for raping you?"

"No. He's a motherfucking piece of shit. He fucked up our family." I spat angrily.

"Why not Skeeter? It's holding you back. If God can forgive then what gives us the right to hold onto resentment and hatred? Even 'motherfucking pieces of shit' can be and should be forgiven. Like I said, the metaphorical hell must surely be a crowded place. We hold the hell inside of our hearts... and that creates even more hell... and even more hell and added to that is more hell engulfs us and makes us bitter and keeps us from loving all those around us."

"I like you Father. Can I think about it some more?" I asked solemnly.

"Just don't wait too long. Your boyfriend awaits your arrival. Be open and receptive to him. In order to be open and receptive we have to be clear of the garbage..."

"Okay, I'll think real fast."

The pilot came over the intercom and said, "Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls we have begun our descent into Chicago's O'Hare airport. We've got smooth sailing ahead. The skies are partly cloudy. The temperature is 72 Fahrenheit, a light breeze out of the south-southwest at 17 gusting to 25. We'll be arriving in 16 minutes at terminal C, gate 38. Thanks again for flying Transworld Airlines."

"Ladies and gentlemen, please return your seats and tray tables to their full upright position in preparation for landing..."

Father Ben was right, my dad was holding me back, I said to him, "Father Ben, I killed my dad after he raped me. Can I ever be forgiven?"

A tear fell from Father Ben's eye, he choked, and I got very afraid. He said, "How old were you when it happened?"

"I was 11, sir." I said reverently.

"What options did you have? Were you bigger and stronger than he was?"

"No sir. He was a big man and he was my dad. I loved him when he was straight."

"He did drugs, child?"

I nodded.

"Son he took something from you... he hurt you and he hurt your heart in a way that nobody should ever do to a child. I have no doubt that God loves you... he's just waiting for you to forgive yourself, okay. He's got all the time necessary. I'm sure he forgives you."

Father Ben squeezed my hand in his huge hand... yet he was extremely gentle. I slid my palm into his and squeezed back. Together we rode that big bird down from the sky. While the big bird whined and screeched its arrival, my heart rode high and free like a butterfly.

*-* Joey's POV *-*

The CTA arrived right on time. I had 15 minutes to get to the concourse that Skeeter was to arrive at. I couldn't go to the gate because of security precautions and because I was not a ticketed passenger on a flight... but that didn't mean that I couldn't stand at the turn sties and wait impatiently.

"Flight 1714 from Atlanta has arrived at gate C-38. Please exit right and use baggage claim H for your belongings. We hope you enjoyed your flight."

I saw him. But a throng of people were between me and him. I yelled "SKEETER!" He turned toward my voice. He was still looking all around. I yelled again, "SKEETER! OVER HERE!!!"

Our eyes met for a brief second. He flashed his million gazillion dollar smile then started fighting the throng to get to me. I did the same. I bumped into a large white haired man. He had a bandage on his head then he disappeared in the mass of people exiting the security checkpoint area.

Finally, Skeeter and I reached each other. I couldn't stop myself. He couldn't stop himself. As one we joined arms in a hug and then our lips met and then we got lost in each others' essence. People were bumping into us... we could have cared less because nothing else mattered. Not right then. Not ever.

I can't tell you how much longer it took … but when we both had undergone tonsillectomies, when our lips were beaten, battered and bruised beyond caring we parted but just enough so that we could make our way through the crowd to the baggage claim area to retrieve his belongings.

We waited for about 15 minutes, and despite the stares and some snide remarks thrown in for good measure he sat on my lap, we kissed and held each other and repeated over and over again and again how much we loved each other, and how we'd missed each other, and now we were together again.

Finally, the carousel began turning. Skeeter's bag was one of the very last ones to go over the hump and begin twirling around the turnstile. With a lug, as in perfect harmony, we reached for it, pulled it over the stopgap thing, and began our journey to the CTA station.Before we entered the CTA station I grabbed Skeeter's hand and nearly drug him outside. I reached into my sock, retrieved my cigarettes, offered him one which he greedily accepted. We received some evil stares but hey we were standing right next to an outside ash tray, and there were no age limit signs in sight... and the horse they rode in on.

Nobody was in the last car so he stowed his luggage in a bag lock, walked to the back where we sat and waited for the train to leave the station.

I said, "Skeeter, until this afternoon I didn't realize just how much I really do love you. My dad helped me to understand. Before I get into how it happened, or how I became aware of how much I do love you... Skeeter I fucked a guy this morning... and he fucked me. It was good, very good. But it was absolutely and totally wrong. It was wrong because I don't love him, and can never love him, ever. You, Skeeter, are the person I love with all my heart."

Skeeter put his finger to my lips. I had tears freely flowing out of my eyes, down my cheeks, and landing on my jeans making a puddle just to the side of where the tent through my underwear and jeans lay. With his other hand, he reached his fingers up and used a squeegee motion to wipe my tears away. It was his turn.

He was both crying and smiling at the same time. He said, "Joey, Luke and I have been having sex often, at least 3 or 4 times a week since you left a few weeks ago. I'm sorry. I shouldn't have without talking to you first."

"Skeeter, we gave a gift to Luke... we gave him ourselves so that he could heal. By giving to him it helped to heal ourselves.

The train stopped and started several times while we were lost in each others' arms, eyes, souls, and conversation. We weren't paying attention to anything around us, the stops, the starts, the people getting off, the people getting on, the people standing, the people sitting or just milling about.

Skeeter jumped up to see a sign rapidly passing by the windows. He said, "Joey, do you have transfer tickets, we're on the south side... and I mean we're on the south side, in the heart of the hood where even we wouldn't go in our old lifetime.

"No, this thing will turn around and head back north. I think it goes west first then heads back north."

Skeeter said, "No, this is the end. Come on, we got to get out of here before they turn the electricity off. It's the weekend. This thing may stay here until Monday morning."

We grabbed his luggage and squeezed out of the train just as the door clanked tightly shut and the lights went off. The area was abandoned. Not a soul was to be seen in any direction. We were in 'the hole'.

I felt a sudden urge to pee so I whipped it out and peed on the dead rail. You never want to pee on the live rail... for obvious reasons.

Skeeter snickered then whipped his out and did the same though he attempted to arc his stream onto the live rail... even though the power was off you just never know when it might restart... so in a quick move I grabbed hold of his semi-erect penis and pointed it downward. "Oh baby... ya wanna do it right here... ain't nobody around." He then cracked up. Of course, his laughing was infectious. I laughed so much that it hurt.

One our moment passed, Skeeter pulled out his cell phone and exclaimed bitterly, "Fuck. No reception. Now what?"

"We've got to go up. We'll get our bearings and you'll have cell phone reception. Come on."

Together, mostly him, we lugged his luggage up 3 flights of steep stairs. My lungs were straining, my chest hurting from tightness caused by nervousness, tension, anxiety, manual physical labor, and then the sight before our eyes when we made street level.

I had no fucking idea where we were. Skeeter said, "Oh holy fuck. I have no idea where we fucking are."

The hairs on the back of my neck felt like they were reaching around just about ready to strangle me. "Does your phone have GPS?"

"No, mom and dad shut everything off except for basic phone call stuff. Do you?"

"My dad has my phone... Shit. Shit. Shit."

"Wait, there's The Sears Tower, or whatever the hell they call it now."

"No... Okay... maybe... but it doesn't look right... anyway, whatever... we're southeast of it, right?"

"Yeah, I guess so. I'm not used to this area... don't think I've ever been here before... nothing looks familiar."

"Okay, let's start walking toward the tower. We'll start recognizing some stuff." I said hoping against hope.

We walked about 8 or 9 blocks but because of the buildings and shit we lost track of the tower. We walked around this one building thinking we could see it from a different angle. All we saw were buildings and more buildings. It was dark. We were going around in circles. I looked down the stairs because I'd heard something. It was the train we'd rode in on ... its lights were on. Faster than hell we made our way down to the ground level. A CTA employee was sweeping the train.

Skeeter ran up to the guy, "Sir, where the hell are we?"

"Well, this is the end of the line. We're just down for cleaning and maintenance... if you'll wait around for <looking at his watch> 17 more minutes we'll be back in operation."

"Where are we sir?" I asked firmly.

"Son, you're in the terminal... this is the maintenance shaft. Where did you get on at?"


"Where ya going?"

"Forrest Park."

"Okay, well you sit your butts in that chair and don't move. This is the L line. You'll be home in about an hour. I bet your folks are worried about you."

"Yes sir, I'm sure they are. There's no reception down here." I said.

"No sir. You call your folks when ya get up there, do ya here me? We'll start at O'Hare then you'll be on your way."

"Yes sir, thank you sir." Skeeter said then shook the man's hand. I likewise shook his hand.

"You boys are real gentlemen. Be well, okay... we'll be pushing off here real shortly."

As soon as we arrived to the airport, Skeeter got on his phone and called my home phone. Mom answered the phone, "Hello, where are you, we're worried sick..."

Giggling, Skeeter said, "Just a minute, Joey wants to talk to you." He handed me the phone but not before quickly kissing my lips. I kissed him back, of course. "Hey mom, we got jacked up, but we're on our way."

That wasn't a good enough answer for a worried mother. I said, "Mom, Skeeter and I were, uhm, talking intensely... and well, we lost track of time and where we were. We ended up in the terminal for about an hour and a half."

"Joey, the 'L' runs 24/7 7 days a week..."

"Mom, I'm serious... the train was being cleaned and maintenance performed. We wandered around because we didn't know where we were... we both thought we were on the south side. We're on our way. I'll explain in detail when we get home, please mom?"

"This had better be good. Tell Skeeter hi for me." Mom said much more relaxed.

I said to Skeeter, "Mom says hi."

"Hi." Skeeter said then began giggling. I'd never really heard him giggle like a school kid before... but I liked it. My mood lightened considerably.

"Okay, mom see ya in a few. Love ya."

That trip, we paid attention to where we were and where we were going, ended when we arrived at the station closest to home on time. It was 11:00pm. We were both starved.

"Nice neighborhood bud." Skeeter said looking all around at suburbia.

"Yup. We don't have to walk very far. 6 blocks." I offered.

When we exited the station, dad was standing next to his car waiting for us. We made it down the steps with his stuff. I stood in front of dad, "Dad, this is Skeeter. You guys haven't been formally introduced. Skeeter, this is my dad, Dave."

Dad quipped, which embarrassed both Skeeter and I nearly to death, "Skeeter, I hardly recognized your face yet I feel that I should know you much better."

"Dad stop it don't even go there."

Skeeter looked mortified. I slunk down in the car seat and tried to disappear. I motioned to his phone that he was still tightly holding onto for dear life. He, too, tried to disappear when he realized what dad has REALLY meant.

"Be good dad. Skeeter hasn't even gotten home yet."

Dad snickered. The rest of the ride home was free from barbwire attacks.

When we got home, Dad retrieved Skeeter's suitcase and took it into the house. We followed him in. Mom came into the kitchen from her office. She looked much more rested up. She'd taken a shower, did her hair up, and smelled nice. I looked her in the eyes, I whispered in her ear, "We talked on the train. We're okay." Mom nodded.

Skeeter and her hugged next. Mom said, "It's nice to see your face again. I've missed ya. Oh wait. Where did this blood come from... come here, let me see you in the light."

"Oh that? We had a bumpy flight coming into Chicago. Actually, the blood belongs to a priest. We sat side by side. He kept a bag from hitting me but he got cut. It was wild. I thought we were going to die. The pilot said the turbulence was caused by an outflow boundary or something from a storm a few miles away."

"You've got a bruise on your noggin but you're going to be just fine. Are you boys hungry?"

"I'M STARVED!" I shouted.

Skeeter said reservedly, "Yes ma'am. If you have a bologna sandwich that would be fine with me; I don't need much."

Mom said to Skeeter, "I'm more used to hearing Joey's call for food but I'll take your request for a bologna sandwich under advisement however I'll stick some food under the convection oven. You boys go wash up... you have about 5 minutes so don't get lost."

Skeeter snickered, "No ma'am, we've already been lost enough for one night but thank you for the warning."

I rolled my eyes. Mom swatted my butt with mock indignation.

Of course, washing our hands took about 3 minutes longer... just to make sure the tonsils hadn't grown back. I took Skeeter's stuff to my room. We quick changed into pairs of sleep shorts but kept underwear on underneath because our appendages were a bit unruly. I gave Skeeter a long t-shirt to cover him up as he wasn't comfortable with the folks yet... but I reminded him that they'd seen us in our Sunday best already. Skeeter slapped me hard on the butt, kissed me even harder then we headed for the kitchen.

Mom had warmed up our steaks and baked potatoes. God, they were wonderful. The best part was the chocolate cheesecake. Mom and dad both commended my culinary expertise. They designated me as the cheesecake maker of all times.

We then headed into the family room, cuddled up on the love seat. Before you could count to 10 we were both out to the world asleep. Dad woke us up at a little after 2am and told us to go to bed, pronto. No arguments. We stopped in at the bathroom, peed, flushed then headed to bed. We were asleep within 2 seconds, arm in arm, legs intertwined.

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