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Hunter's Lodge on the Osage

by Nicholas Hall

Chapter 9

"Love consists of this- that two solitudes protect and touch and greet each other." (Rainer Maria Rilke)

Pat saw the flash of distress and worries, then fear, flash across my face when told of Harvey's escape from the law and possible incarceration! Wedge saw it also and immediately moved to my side, standing with one arm around my shoulders, feet set forward in an almost protective stance for a moment, before moving behind me and wrapping both arms around me, hands clasped together across my breast. He was fully protective at that point in time, alert, wary, and fearful for my safety. I could feel the tenseness in his body, wound as tight as a watch spring, ready to react at the slightest danger to my or his being!

"I wouldn't worry too much," cautioned Tom hastily. "I shouldn't think that he'd make the trek from down south to up here, even if he had a clue where you might be. He'll be too busy trying to dodge the law."

"Yeah, that might be," Wedge said gruffly, "but how much effort are the cops going to make tracking him down when they already have his son locked up? Better a bird in the cage than one flying around in the bushes. Besides, aren't there bank robbers and murders they'd go after first?"

Wedge did have a point there! How much time would the local cops spend on finding a child molester especially since the mother and the daughter seemed to welcome the fucking? As right as he might be, we'd have to begin being extra careful from now on, at least until Harvey was apprehended and Wedge was safe from Pittman.

"As for you," Tom said turning his attention to Wedge, "we're going to have to work out some things to keep you safe and still in contact with your Mom. I'm certain she's just worried sick about you! We'll be back up in two or three weeks, so by then I should have a plan put together. Okay?"

Wedge and I both nodded our approval. Tom was right, Wedge's mother would be "having cat fits" as Grandpa Hunter would put it, worrying about his whereabouts and safety.

Our visit with Tom and Pat was absolutely delightful! We invited them to stay for lunch (they happily accepted) and Wedge prepared a lunch of Salisbury Steaks (really grilled burgers with a mushroom sauce and assorted spices, but who's complaining?), salad with homemade Ranch dressing on the side, and for dessert, chocolate chip cookies (made the day before and stored in the cookie jar) and a dip of vanilla ice cream. Both Tom and Pat were highly complementary of the meal and Tom even made quiet suggestions that Pat could take a lesson or two from Wedge.

Pat just grinned and asked, "Do you want to be the chef?"

A hasty "no" shake of the head re-established Pat as the chief cook in their family. Clearly, Tom wasn't very anxious to take on the task and apparently not very handy in the kitchen. I was more than happy to let Wedge do what he did best, whether in the kitchen, the bedroom, or just standing by my side.

After they departed in the late afternoon, Wedge and I discussed their visit. From them we learned what commitment and love between two gay men really means and how it's not all that different from "straight couples." In fact, other than the couple being the same sex, we could see really no difference! We concluded, from listening to Tom and Pat, gay couples are more likely to stay together for the long haul than many "straight" couples. I guess we decided love is love, no matter what some others in the world might think!

Tom and Pat were respectful of each other, helpful, and neither tried to dominate the other; instead, sharing verbally and non-verbally in each other's lives. I knew the more we saw of them, the more we'd learn from their example. As they put it, "a commitment to another person in your life doesn't mean a fifty/fifty relationship. Some days it's ninety/ten, other days it's forty/sixty, but no matter what, you're still committed to the health, welfare, and happiness of your partner." It made a great deal of sense to both of us, starting out in life together.

That night, as I lay wrapped in Wedge's arms, I knew exactly what Tom and Pat meant; no matter what, "my fault, his fault, nobody's fault," Wedge was my love, my life, and I was his. Our lives were interwoven and incomplete without the other.

The next morning, in light of Pat's subtle warning, I began carrying the pistol while at home and on Lodge property. I didn't carry while in town or off of the property since I didn't want to draw attention to myself (besides I didn't have a conceal/carry permit), but decided when hunting season opened, if Harvey still hadn't been apprehended, I'd carry it in plain sight which was legal. I wasn't able to convince Wedge to begin using a shotgun, but he did sit patiently while I showed him how to load, aim, and shoot, the 20ga. superimposed shotgun I had. That little two shoot gun could drop a man at close range just as effective as a grouse at thirty yards.

Our summer days were spent fishing, swimming, gardening, mowing grass, cooking, doing laundry- all of those everyday tasks and pleasures couples do to make life enjoyable, livable, and normal. The frequent trips we made to the various lakes, hauling the little runabout behind my pickup truck, allowed us to begin stocking the freezer with fillets of northern pike, walleye, crappie, and bluegill. An early morning fishing expedition, whether for northerns, walleye, or the panfish was always a treat! Wedge did love to fish and prepare them as well!

Wedge fixed fresh fish for us at least two times per week and sometimes more. They would be fried, broiled, boiled as "poor man's lobster," baked, or if pre-cooked, made into patties, with cracker crumbs, an egg, and seasoning, then fried in a hot skillet lightly dressed with olive oil, and a side of salad. Another favorite of mine was the fish chowder he made (absolutely, downright, damned delicious!) made with northern pike or walleye fillets, potatoes, peas, onion, carrots, milk, and shredded cheddar cheese. It was thick, creamy, and served with either hot baking powder biscuits or corn meal muffins and grape or strawberry jelly and butter.

God, he was one hell of a cook! I fear I'll never go hungry! Wedge could boil an old boot and make it taste like filet mignon!

Three weeks after their first visit, Tom and Pat returned. The first thing Tom did, once inside the Lodge, was head for the cookie jar. With a grin and a wink at Wedge, dipped his hand into the jar and sorted out a peanut butter cookie for himself and a sugar cookie for Pat. Wedge fooled them for lunch; he fixed an apple crisp for dessert! He reasoned it was just as easy to fix that since he already had the oven going cooking the beef pot roast and roast vegetables (lightly oiled with olive oil, seasoned, and placed on a cookie sheet to roast and brown) he decided to have as the main course.

After lunch, our tummies full and dishes done, thanks to Pat and Tom, we sat on the porch, ostensibly to relax, but in reality to hear what news Tom had and what plan of action he was going to propose.

"I talked to your grandfather, Jeremy," he began, "and he agrees you need to be careful and alert until Harvey is apprehended."

I raised my eyebrows questioning if that's really what Grandpa Hunter said, since I've known him to be a bit crusty in his remarks.

Tom laughed, catching the look of doubt on my face. "What he really said was, 'Until that slimy son-of-a-bitch's ass is locked up, tell Jeremy to watch out! Harvey's so damned crooked he could fuck a snake and the snake would lose!"

Now that sounded more like Grandpa Hunter! I was certain he didn't use that sort of language in the courtroom or around Grandma, but he certainly used it when at the Lodge. I heard one time a judge ordered Grandpa to apologize to a client who'd he'd made some disparaging remarks about while in court when he found out he lied to Grandpa. I guess Grandpa did as ordered and then asked, "I suppose you want me to kiss the son-of-a-bitch too?" I understand Grandpa was fined for that remark! I don't know what happened to the client.

"Wedge," he said once done with me, "We've not made much progress on your situation. We're putting together information for a private detective Mr. Hunter is familiar with to do some covert investigations for us. Until we can come up with something, he agrees with Pat and me; we need to keep you safe and under cover. The Lodge is probably the safest place for you and you should continue to pose as George and Lou's nephew- Pat's cousin. Keep a low profile and report any suspicious activity to me right away."

Wedge nodded his understanding. Tom handed Wedge a cell phone saying, "Don't use your old cell phone anymore, use this one instead. It's a prepaid phone with a hundred dollars credit on it and is good for a year. If we need to add more money to the phone, let me know and we'll get it done. There's no cost to you; you're our client and Jeremy's partner."

Wedge was about to object, but Tom stopped him. "I know you can pay your own way, but Mr. Hunter insisted on it. If you and Jeremy are going to be together here, then Mr. Hunter will treat you the same as he would Jeremy, so end of discussion on that matter!"

"Now," he continued, pointing to the phone, "if you speed dial the number 1, it will route the call through our office to an identical phone your mother has. If Pittman should pick up on what we're doing and lock into your mother's phone or yours, all he'll get is our office since you have dial a security code number in order for the call to be rerouted to your Mom. Each month, we will give you a different security code to use and one for your Mom. You'll be able to call her and she can call you as often as you wish, but I would suggest you not call at the same time on the same day of the week; that sets up a pattern which might be traceable. Set it up with your Mom."

"Oh," he said nonchalantly, "here's the security code for this month. Why not give it a try since your mom is expecting a call from you today."

Tears formed in Wedge's eyes as he accepted the piece of paper with the security code on it. He stepped away from us, walked into our bedroom, and soon I could hear his muffled sobbing, giddy greetings, and conversation with his mom. Pat, Tom, and I visited while Wedge was verbally reunited with his mother.

"Your grandfather figures you're going to spend the winter here with Wedge so he asked me to contact the woodcutter and have seven or eight cords of cut, split firewood for the outdoor furnace and wood stove inside delivered," Tom said to me. "I told him I thought the wood shed was already full, but he said we'd better be safe than sorry so order it. The wood is usually delivered up at the front gate so you and Wedge will have to haul it down here and stack it."

"I also contacted the propane gas company to make certain the tanks are topped off before cold weather sets in. If they fill between now and the first of September, we can get a price break."

Tom paused before continuing, "Everything else you can discuss with Mr. Hunter when they return from their cruise the end of July. I think your grandfather and grandmother are interested in meeting your handsome boyfriend, so I expect you'll have company in August."

"You know," Pat added, "if you ever need anything Mom and Dad are just down the road and I know they really want to help. They're as concerned about your safety as we are. I don't know who I'd fear more if I were Harvey and Pittman, you two or my mom. She can be pretty fierce if she needs to be!"

I just couldn't see Lou roaring down our lane like a lioness protecting her cubs, but evidently Pat has either seen or suffered her wrath and knew very well what her face of anger looked like. I, on the other hand, thought Uncle George, quiet, amicable, Uncle George might be the fiercer of the two. As I've heard my grandmother say on various occasions, "still water runs deep." The longer I thought about it, the more convinced I became that neither Uncle George nor Aunt Lou could hold a candle to Wedge if he thought someone was about to do me harm! Wedge and his slingshot could be a deadly combination and woe be to the person within firing range if their intentions were hurt me in any way!

Our visit was winding down when Wedge emerged from our bedroom. All he could do and say was "Thank you" as he first gave Tom and then Pat a big hug. Both of them knew how much it meant to him to talk to his mother and how much he appreciated their roles in making it happen and welcomed his thanks for doing so. In our book, Pat Carlson and Tom Sutton were at the top of the list of our favorite people! Wedge and I both felt we now were surrounded by friends and family and felt comfortable and safe in being so blessed; however, not so safe as to let our guard down!

In the evening, as Wedge and I sat cuddled together on the porch, he told me how happy his mother was hearing from him and knowing, in his own words, how safe he was. She also expressed joy on learning Wedge had a boyfriend and hoped someday to meet me.

"She didn't say anything about me being a white boy, did she?" I asked concerned she might be against interracial relationships.

"Nah," he said as he leaned forward and gave me a kiss. "Don't matter to her as long as I'm happy and man, am I ever!"

According to his mom, Pittman and several detectives stopped by on different occasions checking to see if she'd heard from Wedge. Of course, she denied hearing from him or knowing his whereabouts; that is, until now. Tom Sutton, according to Wedge's mother, traveled to Illinois and hand-delivered the cell phone. They had a nice long visit, in his car and then a restaurant since Tom wasn't certain if the apartment hadn't been bugged in order to pick up on where Wedge might be. Tom briefed her on the situation and what he was doing in order to protect Wedge and keep him safe. They agreed if anyone caught wind of the phone calls she made to Wedge or him to her, she could legitimately say the calls were to the law office where her attorney was since he agreed to represent her as well.

She agreed with Tom the next time Pittman stopped by to question her to tell him she was tired of being harassed and to direct all inquiries to her attorney, Tom Sutton. Of course she was not to tell him Tom was Wedge's attorney as well.

"Did you tell her where you were?" I asked.

"Nope!" Wedge answered emphatically, "If she doesn't know, then she doesn't have to lie about it. She knows I'm safe and that's all that counts."

In bed that night, after an intense but satisfying coupling, we both agreed the day had been good and eventually everything would work out. As for me, I was just happy, lying with my butt tight against Wedge's crotch, his stiffness still buried within me, and staying that way all night and every night as far as I was concerned. Life with Wedge is so damned good!

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