Carriage Trade

Chapter Eight

The school had informed the bus driver that Fred would be getting off at our house, so it was four happy boys who got off at our stop. I walked back to our house as the boys peppered me with questions and I just told them that Fred would be visiting with us for at least today, and what did they want for an afternoon snack? The boys each had a suggestion, but I liked Davey's best, since I had already set out four plates with four oatmeal and raisin cookies on each plate and a glass of milk and a banana on the big table before going out to meet the bus.

Once inside, the boys ate their snack as they told me about their day at school, Fred even getting a word in edgeways every once in a while. I sent the boys up to get into riding clothes and told Eric and Davey to see if they could help Fred out by loaning him something to wear. Matty said he'd see to them all and off they went to get into their sturdy riding gear. Twenty minutes later and we were at the barn getting the ponies saddled and a horse for me. Once we were all mounted, I went over the instructions Fred had been given the last time he went riding with us and once assured he had retained at least the basics we were off riding the trails.

We were heading back to the house to use the enclosed pool when we heard the big old brass bell on the pool patio being rung, indicating David was home and wanted to swim for a while, it also meant he would be helping to groom the horse and ponies when we got back, and that dinner was in the oven. It all worked out great, as each pony was groomed the boy rider was off to the house to get into a swimsuit and by the time my horse was in her stall again, David was helping me get into mine in the downstairs bathroom, with me filling him in about Fred as I changed.

We all had only been in the enclosed pool for about a half hour when Mary called and told me she had just learned Fred's mother had not made it. The hospital staff had done all they could, but the drug was adulterated and even their testing lab had not yet identified everything in the pills she had ingested. Mary told me that Brian and JC were on their way home, but Fred's clothing was a miserable mess and they were going to stop at the Hadley mall to get him some new things to start off with and they would use some of his own things for play clothes for now. She said there was little in the way of photos for them to bring and even less as far as toys went, so if we could, would we keep Fred through the dinner hour and maybe Brian and JC would be back by then. I assured her everything was fine here and it was no imposition on us to have Fred with us for a few more hours.

Brian called about half an hour later and I had to tell him about Fred's mother dying, but I told him we'd try to save some dinner for the two of them and to stop here on their way home.  It was while we were having dessert that the doorbell rang, and I told Fred I thought he should answer it. That elfin face stared up at me (God was he cute!) and I shooed him off to let Brian and JC in. Fred was so happy to see his big friends and he even got hugs and head kisses as they came inside, you could see Fred glowing from the attention his big friends were giving him.

While the boys were upstairs watching a movie in Matty's room we put the first load of wash comprised of Fred's new wardrobe in the washing machine as Brian and JC ate. While they were eating, we told them that Fred's mother had died so it was doubly good they had decided to take Fred in. There wasn't much to say after that about the subject, but I thought it might make things easier for them if I offered to tell Fred about his mother, in fact, I thought it might be better coming from David and me rather than have them do it, I mean they were going to have the job of raising him, why not make Fred's transition to them as easy for all of them if they weren't burdened with having to give him bad news their first night together?

So, while they were still eating, and after their big load of washing was put in our big dryer, David and I went upstairs to break the news to Fred, as gently as we could. We found him with our boys all snuggled together on Matty's bed watching something about penguins and all four boys were having a good time. We hated to break this spell, but it had to be done, so we asked Matty to pause the movie and we asked Fred to come to our room for a few minutes. Of course, our three wanted to come too, but we asked them to give us a few minutes with Fred. He hopped off the bed and took our hands and he walked us to our room next door.

He asked as soon as we got there if he had done something wrong, and we both assured him he hadn't, but we had something to tell him, and it was not good news. He looked at both of us, assuring himself we were serious and not playing around. He spoke before either of us could and asked if his mother had done something really bad again, and I nodded as David was clearing his throat to speak. Fred looked in our eyes again and said he wished she would just go away for good so he could live here with us. David began to tell him that his mother had done some drugs that morning and that she took enough to make her fall into a sleep that she wouldn't ever wake up from, that she had died in the hospital while they were trying to help her.

He sat up straight and said he always knew she was dumb for doing stuff like that, but where was he going to live, could he stay here with us? I took that one and told him we liked him a whole bunch, but there were two guys downstairs eating dinner that had a new house that needed a boy just like him to live in it with them. I told him he knew these two guys, in fact, he liked them almost as much as they liked him. Fred looked pensive for a few seconds and then he was bouncing on the bed, asking if it was JC and Brian, if it was, he'd be extra good all the time and even help keep that new house clean, would he have to sleep on the living room couch? If so, he could do that, that's where he slept at his mother's house, sometimes in the hall closet if she had company, he wouldn't get in the way, he promised. Fred had a lot of spoiling ahead of him.

When we sent him back to finish the movie, he hadn't shed a tear for his dead mother yet, and I really didn't think he would, maybe when he was older, much older. When the drying was done, we had a four-way folding party. We all laughed about the child-sized clothing we were preparing for Fred's new bedroom dresser and closet and the two new foster dads were anxious to tuck their new son into bed and wish him sweet dreams just as they had watched us do with our brood. When Matty called down that the penguin movie was over we told him to bring everyone down for a bit so Brian and JC could get going and get Fred settled into his new home.

I guess that the boys had talked upstairs because JC and Brian got lots of hugs, as did Fred, as they all prepared to drive down our lane to their house, just beyond the old barn. JC won the coin toss and called into the middle school, taking a day off to help get Fred settled in. He called the grade school and told them Fred wouldn't be in that day and then the two of them saw Brian off to work, with the explanation to Fred that Brian would be staying home with him the next day and JC would be going to work and Fred would have another day off of school.

To begin their bonding time JC and Fred shared a leisurely breakfast, something Fred had not had before, pancakes and sausages. After breakfast, JC told Fred they were going for a walk, so they had to get cleaned up. That was when JC realized that Fred didn't know how to shower, so he spent some time instructing the lad in the finer art of enjoying a shower and then showing Fred where all his new clothing was. He learned that at his old home Fred's clothing was not stored in a bureau, it was left unfolded in trash bags, and only washed monthly, if that. The two walked through the home, JC making sure Fred was aware of what was in each room and where things were in the home they were going to share. Once the home tour was over, they next hit the yard where they began their tour of the property. Fred was somewhat familiar with the property from his visits with our boys and from being part of the group that watched the very house he was going to be living in being assembled. They talked a lot as they walked and by noon, they were ready for some lunch.

JC told us, after school let out and Fred was out playing with our boys, that Fred had no experience living with a father figure, but that he really liked Brian and JC and several times during the day he had said he was going to be the best boy he could for them. JC had told him that keeping his room neat, being good in school and listening to his teacher and getting good grades, and being a good friend to our boys was all they would require of him, well that and eating his food and promising to have fun. Brian told JC that he thought that was a good start, and he'd continue in that vein the next day. That was a Thursday and the next was Friday and Brian and Fred did mostly the same routine as JC and Fred had done the day before. One difference was that Brian and Fred came up to have lunch with me at our house.

Fred thought it strange not having the boys around, but we kept him busy eating and chatting about his new home and, when Brian was using the bathroom, I had a chance to ask him what he thought about living with Brian and JC. He thought for a second or two and then smiled that winning smile of his and told me it was the greatest, he loved having two dads and they really liked him, he could tell, and they gave him a bunch of new clothes, and they cooked for him and even ate with him and they tucked him in and they even kissed him goodnight and told him to have sweet dreams, so he did. He really really liked his new home.

It turned out that his mother had really inherited the small property from the grandmother and now she was dead too, so the court decided the property would be sold and the proceeds placed into a trust for Fred, the funds to be available for his schooling and any residue to be paid directly to him on his 21st birthday. I discussed this with Lou and Mary, and I fronted them the down payment to be able to add the small holding to their property, since they were the closest abutter, and the property would add to their income when they cleaned it up and rehabbed the small house and rented it out.

It didn't take them long to jell as a family unit and by Thanksgiving, Ben and Ken, our big muscle men, were pleased with having an additional nephew to dote on and spoil, just as they did with our three boys.  Brian and JC were assured that their custody agreement with DCFS had been made one of a permanent status, but that didn't stop them from having their lawyer, Mr. Wilkins, ready to file for adoption as soon as the family court would allow, which would be sometime in February.

We held Thanksgiving at our house, opting for a buffet in the mid-afternoon. That left a long morning and early afternoon for riding, swimming, and some basketball. The ladies had come early to partake in some of the activities and to bring platters of food to contribute to our feast. The residents of the new houses also brought food and spent time in the other activities. The children and the teachers all had a long weekend, so they were all in a good mood. One of the tenants at the big Victorian where my office was had been invited when I found out he wasn't doing anything for the holiday, and he showed up about an hour before we were ready to put the food out and sit down to eat.

He was a twenty-six-year-old student at the University's School of Hospitality and was training to be a chef. Patrick (he asked us to call him Pat) was a veteran who returned to the states after his deployment and was dumped by his wife within a week, she had fallen for an older professor of hers and was only waiting for him to come home to give him the news. He had told David and me when he looked at the room, he was renting that he was surprised, but also relieved, because during his tour of duty he had met someone and fallen in love himself. His wife had been his high school girlfriend and although they really didn't LOVE each other, they had thought they did and decided to get married before Pat went off to basic training

Their breakup was amicable, as far as a no-fault divorce could be, but a month into the summer classes he was attending on the G.I. Bill, his ex-informed him she was 4 months pregnant, the baby conceived his first night back home, her new lover didn't want a baby in the house, but was willing to let her carry it as long as Pat took the baby when it was born, just after the New Year. They were planning to move to the West coast after the holidays and neither one wanted the baby. So, Pat was taking as many classes as he could before the baby was born, to give him some extra credits under his belt so he could take a bit of time off when the baby arrived. He was willing to wait to complete his degree work, but you could tell the heavy responsibilities were wearing him down.

That was until Thanksgiving when he agreed to join us for a Holiday meal. I believed he knew that David and I were married, but he hadn't met the boys and then there were Lou and Mary, with their daughter Beth, and JC and Brian, with Fred. He expected Ben and Ken to have a child or two, but he was told they were waiting for a placement from the DCFS (Department of Children and Family Services). He got to meet all five of the kids and more since some of the employees from my company without family in the area had arrived with two more kids.

Pat seemed a little awed by the kids and how most of them had same-sex couples as parents. While he was giving me a hand in the kitchen, he admitted that the lover he had while on duty was another male and he had never had those kinds of desires before, well, not since the beginnings of puberty anyway. He had been willing to carry on with the affair, but his buddy was engaged to a woman and he was going to leave when his enlistment was up and marry her.  Pat wanted someday to open his own restaurant, so he was taking cooking courses and business management at the University, in addition to a single parent child rearing class offered at the University's hospital, but the more he experienced the busy kitchens at the school, the more he was thinking private practice, or just a small catering business.

David and I talked about this during the day, and on Friday David and I went to the big Victorian and made Pat an offer. Since he was going to be taking a semester off from classes to attend to his child, we were offering him one of the three-bedroom houses on our land, in exchange for maintaining our house and preparing meals, the baby would be welcome to spend the day with its dad and we would supply the bassinet for the child's use in our home. There was also a generous salary involved and Pat wasted no time in accepting our offer.

The moving in began as Pat removed furnishings from the storage facility in Hadley and arranged them in what he thought would be the appropriate places in his new residence, but Pat himself took a week to get the house set up before he moved his clothing and personal belongings in and had a chance to do some grocery shopping to stock the fridge and the freezer in his house. One of the smaller of the three good sized bedrooms was set up as a nursery, with tag sale and garage sale items he had found and before the middle of December he was set up for the arrival of his infant son, for his ex-wife had sent him a sonogram printout, and it was definitely a boy she was carrying.

Pat began his work week at our house, preparing a safe breakfast, and asking us about allergies and likes and dislikes as we ate. He made notes about our responses and we all told him we'd see him after work and school. He did a major cleaning of the house while we were gone, but we still got to sit down to a home-cooked meal at dinnertime. We encouraged Pat to share our meal and insisted he does so every morning and evening, it would save him a lot of time to just have his meals with us rather than having to prepare one meal for him at each meal time.

At work one day, on a Friday, about three weeks before Christmas, one of my editors asked if I was still looking for someone to take care of our property and the occupants of our barn. I told her we were and she sat down next to my desk and told me about her cousin, who had been kicked out of his home when he came out to his parents at seventeen and had been working a year here and there, until he earned enough for a semester at school, and then would work another job doing the same, but this past month, just before Thanksgiving, he and his boyfriend had broken up and the bounder took her cousin's savings before he left for parts unknown and now her cousin had no job and no way to pay for the next school semester. I asked what he was studying and she smiled and told me he was studying land management at the agricultural division of the University, and he was raised on a riding farm, caring for the horses since he was 13, and he was now 25 years old with one more year and a half to go before he earned his degree.

She explained he was a very stubborn individual, and wasn't looking for a handout, but right now he was hurting, and she thought he'd be willing to look at a good offer from us. I took his name and contact information and while she sat with me, I called him, explained who I was, what my family needed, and how large our fields were and how many I had already rented. I finished up by telling him we had accommodations for him to use, he was always welcome to share our meals, and there was a good salary included also.

Wade only hesitated about half a minute before he spoke and asked when he could see the property and we could meet. I asked if he had the time tonight to eat with us and he could meet the family and if he could meet me there about 4:00 pm he'd be able to see most of the property before dark, if he didn't mind riding on horseback to see it. He chuckled at that and said he'd like that, so I gave him directions to our place and we said our goodbyes.

I left work about three thirty so I'd be there when David returned from his school, so I was able to fill him in about Wade and we agreed on what we would pay him a month if he decided he wanted to work for us. JC was home so we called and asked if he could entertain the boys while David and I interviewed someone for the property management and barn caretaker position, and he said that he and Fred would be right over, he thought a little basketball and a swim sounded perfect after a long week teaching. We thanked him for that and then I went into the kitchen to let Pat know there would be one more joining us for dinner, as JC said they were eating as a family tonight at their house.

Just on the dot of four Wade pulled in our drive and parked on the parking pad by the circular drive in front of the house. David and I met him at the front door, and we showed him through the main floor until we reached the kitchen and then introduced him to Pat. I'd never actually witnessed an immediate attraction before, but then I guessed David hadn't either as he nudged me as we watched after we had introduced the two and their handshake was almost erotic it lasted so long as their eyes were also locked on each other. Not much was being said to each other, but I thought they got their messages across to each other. David eventually cleared his throat loudly, breaking their spell for now, and I spoke up and said we'd better get saddled up before the sun fully set so Wade could see the land. He followed us out to the barn and he expertly saddled the horse assigned to him as we took care of our own horses and we three rode out of the barn and down the lane to the fields, past the four new houses, pointing out the fourth, and telling Wade that the third house was where Pat lived., the one right next door was available for the property manager.

We toured the fields, and I pointed out the three that were rented already, and he absorbed all this, occasionally writing something down in a notebook he carried with him. While grooming our horses after our tour Wade asked some very good questions which we answered to the best of our ability, and we had some of our own which he said sounded like the screwiest job interview he had ever had, to which I replied that he better hurry up with his grooming, we had dinner to get through yet, and Pat didn't want us to ruin dinner by being late.

Wade was awed by our boys and they seemed to hit it off with him right away, maybe not as intensely as Pat had, but they were kids, their time would come eventually. Pat, on the other hand, was smitten, and I think Wade would have accepted our job offer just to be around him. Let alone we were giving him a signing on bonus of the tuition for the next semester.

Pat was whistling the next Monday morning as he prepared breakfast, a decided change from his normally businesslike demeanor. During the breakfast prep, he and I were working together in the kitchen while David and the boys got ready for school. Pat whispered to me that he and Wade would be sharing the house he now lived in, that Wade had been told about the impending birth of his son and that hadn't scared him off, in fact, he was quite excited about being a member of a family again, Pat also told me that they were extremely compatible, as they had discovered during the weekend, the blush creeping up his neck and actually making his ears glow, but nothing that morning could take the smile off his face. During my afternoon at work, I took a call from Wade and he gladly accepted our offer, but said he'd already made arrangements for housing, and then proceeded to tell me that he and Pat had agreed to share Pat's home and the care of the expected infant when he arrived.

Our Christmas day was a relaxed day at home, we had spent Christmas Eve visiting the ladies on their farm where we were wined, dined and presented with presents, which we gladly exchanged for the presents we had brought with us for the ladies of the farm. It was a fun time had by all and then we all rode into the MCC church and we all enjoyed the Christmas Eve mass said by Reverend Wilkins, the clergyman who had officiated at our weddings, and the brother of our lawyer, Tom.

Christmas day was a boys' day at our house. After David and I and our boys opened our gifts, had breakfast, showered and changed into casual clothes, we all went to the barn and gave the equines their Christmas treats, crisp apples. While we were there our closest neighbors arrived with their contributions for our afternoon feast. Fred was full of the holiday spirit, the first one he could remember in all his six years and it was a great delight to see him open his presents from us, as it was to see all the men open their gifts from us as we opened their gifts to our family. Pat was happily introducing Wade to Ben, Ken, JC and Brian and all the couples seemed to be really enjoying themselves and getting to know a bit about each other while the four boys were playing with some of the games they had been gifted. We were just finishing clearing the table when Pat's cell rang and he seemed to go a tiny bit pale, but the grin on his face was priceless as he told us his son had been born just an hour before, both baby and mother doing fine. The little boy was six pounds, 10 ounces, and 24 inches in length with a dusting of reddish-brown hair on his head. He and Wade left for the University's hospital to see him, and to make arrangements for his pickup in a day or so. We all congratulated them as they left, Wade leading the nervous new father to his car.

We heard all about the new baby two hours later when they came back and had a bit of desert with us. They each had a chance to hold him in the nursery and as Pat said, it was love at first sight for both of them, go figure! Pat told us he went to see his ex in her hospital room, and they parted as friends, she would be moving to Berkeley with her boyfriend during the week after New Year's and she had told the hospital staff she didn't want to see the baby.  Wade had been taking an online infant parenting course too and felt confident they would be able to handle little Christopher, Chris for short. They left after dispensing the pertinent data and left for their shared house to make sure everything they would need was in place for Chris' arrival.

Two days later the proud papas were home with little Chris. Each of our boys and Fred got to hold him as they sat in a rocker in the new nursery in Pat and Wade's home. The adults were not to be left out of this welcome, as they too took turns holding the baby, all of us making those cooing noises that always make adults sound so infantile, but that entertain the babies involved. A new bassinet awaited Pat and Chris when Pat showed up for work a day later. Wade was out in the fields, showing a prospective renter what fields were available for spring planting, but when the farmer drove away, after signing a lease for three of the fields, Wade was in the kitchen feeding a bottle to Chris as both he and Pat chatted about their day so far.

Everyone was thrilled to have a baby in our midst, and the ladies were not unaffected either. We now had three of the four new houses occupied and David again was inadvertently involved in finding a compatible neighbor for us. His former boss at the university had been occasionally recommending our rooms for rent to veterans in need of housing assistance. One day I got a call from him and he asked how many rooms we still had available. Since we were now in between semesters, in fact on winter break, we had three bedrooms open on the second floor. He asked if we would be willing to take in a family, a father (the veteran) and his teenage son and two 10-year-old twin sons. I told him it might be upsetting the apple cart, so to speak, by introducing a family group to the singles that stayed on that floor, not to mention the business I was running on the first floor, one that didn't respond well to noisy interruptions. I asked him to give me some contact information for the father and I told him that we'd get in touch with the vet and take it from there.

When I told David about the call later that afternoon when we were both at home, he said they must be in desperate straits to be willing to look at furnished rooms and suggested we might want to interview this family group and maybe we could even help them by letting them use the fourth new house. I asked how he thought we should approach them, and David suggested we ask them for lunch on Saturday, get to know them a bit and then, if we were in agreement, we could show them the house. I agreed and David made the call to the man and made the invitation for Saturday lunch. He told me later the man seemed reluctant at first, but David identified himself as a vet and one of the landlords who he was trying to rent from. David explained it would be a family getting to know another family kind of lunch and that our three boys would be present as well as David's spouse, Matt. That didn't seem to faze the other guy, who just needed directions before he agreed to come and meet us with his boys on Saturday.

The Davis family pulled in about eleven on Saturday morning. The three boys were opening doors as soon as their SUV had come to a complete stop and they were staring up at our home as Mr. Davis alighted from the driver's seat. David and I met them just outside the front door and introductions were made all around, and since there was an hour until lunch would be ready, we took them for a short walking tour down to the brick barn behind our house, where our boys were helping Wade to do the morning chores out there. Again, introductions were made and our boys took the three Davis boys around all the stalls as David and John Davis swapped service records. Wade told me the boys looked happy to be here with our boys and I replied that of course, they were, they had been living in the city with their mother who had run off with the teenager's history teacher last semester and their father had been mustered out of the Navy for only two months and had to get to know his kids all over again, they had just started to gel as a family unit when she had abandoned them.

John had explained all this to David on the phone the other day, along with his desire to get his boys out of the city, thus his entering the University under the GI Bill, hopefully, to get a business degree, and graduate before his oldest son,14-year-old Glenn. He was trying to find a place to settle into so he could transfer his boys into a new school before the next semester started. The 10-year-old twins, Carey and Drew, were getting along with both Matty and our younger boys Davey and Eric so it came as no surprise when we all went into lunch that the sight of Chris in his bassinet caught everyone's attention. Wade took Chris and fed him a bottle as Pat, and I set out our luncheon and soon we were all seated and conversing. Pat and Wade told us they had the kitchen under control so after lunch we took our visitors on a walking tour of our lane, pointing out where JC and Brian lived, and I had been about to tell about Fred when he came scampering out to join his buddies Davey and Eric. Our boys took care to introduce   him to our guests and then we walked past Ben and Ken's and continued on pointing across the road to Pat and Wade's and we took them to the front of the fourth house and David unlocked it and we all trooped in, after knocking the slush and snow off our boots.

The men of the Davis family were very pleased with the house, but John was sure the rent we would be asking would be way above what he could afford to pay. David told him that he and I ran a program that helped veterans with housing concerns while attending the University, or any of the other local colleges. He would only be asked to pay what he could, and maybe less, but for now and the rest of his college years, this house was being made available. Not only would it be a safe place for his boys, but there was always the horses and ponies, the enclosed pool, and a basketball hoop to keep them all occupied, as well as our three and Fred. He also told John that there was a veteran in each house on the property to talk to should he care to. That was Saturday afternoon, by Sunday evening all their possessions had been moved from Springfield and their home was totally set up, with help from all their neighbors.

John was a bit discombobulated the next afternoon when he stopped at my office after completing his forms at the university, now that he had a stable address to give them. I asked if the move had been too tough on him and he told me that had been a piece of cake, it was what happened when he'd gone in to say goodnight to his teen, Glenn, and found him crying in his bed, he had asked Glenn if he was sad they had moved out of their apartment in the city, and Glenn had told him it was just the opposite. He was crying because he was so happy that his father had moved them all to our property, a real house, a fantastic property, a great school system, they didn't have their cheating mother around anymore, and there were four gay couples for neighbors, they were all gay like him! He had thanked his father for being so good to him and his brothers.

John told me he had hugged his oldest and told him he loved him and would always do so. He told him he was surrounded by teachers and other very smart men who all happened to be gay and if there was something, he needed help with the thought he couldn't do better than to ask questions of him, or if that would make him uncomfortable, maybe one of his new uncles would be a good choice for his questions.

I told John he had done the right thing, he let his son know he still loved him and always would, he reinforced that he was available to answer questions, and given him permission to ask the other adults on the property questions that he thought would make his father uncomfortable, as a straight man.

That was when John started to laugh, not a happy laugh, but kind of a strained one, and he told me that was the problem and why he was here. He didn't know how to come out to his fourteen-year-old son! He thought I might have some advice for him.

I don't know what exactly I was thinking at that point, I mean there were tons of thoughts racing through my mind at that point, but one thing was evident, John didn't beat around the bush, he was not fooling around, he really did want my thoughts about the best way to break it to his gay teenager that he himself, the father of three boys, an ex-fighter pilot, and 17 year Air Force veteran, who had been married since he was 18, was gay himself. He wasn't holding back as he explained that before his initial training back when he enlisted right out of high school, he had married his high school girlfriend. His family had always lived in apartments off base wherever he had been stationed and he had carried on occasionally with other airmen but only on base. He never shorted his family any of his love or attention, but sexually he never felt that close to his wife and when he realized she was seeking attention from outside their marriage, he sat her down and encouraged her, without ever telling her the real reason he was kind of distant in the bedroom. He had even arranged for her to have an uncontested divorce if she agreed to leave the children in his sole care.

I was really flummoxed by his announcement, but tried to be as supportive as possible, admiring him for getting the custody of his boys, and willing now to explain to his oldest his circumstances, so I asked him to come talk to David and me tonight after dinner, telling him it was about time that Glenn be assured of his faith in him by leaving Glenn in charge of the younger boys for a few hours. He agreed.

He arrived about six thirty and since the boys were watching a movie in the family room area, we three adults went into the home office so we could talk behind closed doors. David told John he had been told by me everything John had told me at noon, so he thought he'd say his opinion first, he thought that John should just come right out and tell Glenn everything, from being high school sweethearts, to realizing that women didn't really "do it" for him, that it took a while, but he realized he was gay himself. I piped in there and told John that it was easy, to tell the truth, but if he skirted the issue, possibly making up some explanation, it would be a lot harder to retell the same story, especially when it came time to tell the twins.

He was pensive for a minute, and I worried we were pushing him in a direction he didn't want to go, but he straightened upright in his chair and said we were right, that he had tried to instill in his boys to always tell the truth, and in his many years in the service the truth had saved many lives, his parents had insisted on the truth in their home when he was growing up and by God, he was going to tell Glenn the truth no matter how embarrassing it was for him to do it.

He thanked us for being so forthright and left for home. Determined to tell his son Glenn his secret tonight after the twins were in bed. He asked his teenager to sit with him on the couch in the family room and he told his son he had a secret to share with him. He told us later that he explained the relationship he had with his wife, starting in high school, and that he had always been upfront about his ambiguity about his sexuality with her, but she thought she could change him, without success. He told David and me that Glenn took his "confession" really well and they agreed that if the opportunity came up for them, they wouldn't be shy about bringing their boyfriends around and letting their whole family get to know them as well.

It wasn't many days later that we had a call from our lawyer, Tom Wilkins (the brother of the clergyman at our church). He had finished the last draft of the rental agreement we had asked him to draw up for John, so he had legal standing as a resident of our property. His rent was comparable to what he'd have had to pay as a VA student in one of the dorms on campus and we had built in some further protections for him as the head and sole support of his children. Tom made arrangements to come out after dinner to have John sign the rental agreement, which John agreed to when we asked if he too was available after dinner.

We held off on our desert and waited until our guests had arrived and just like Pat and Wade, there was an immediate attraction between the lawyer and the veteran. David joked after they had left and said it must be something to do with our big dining table that made couples connect in our house. I laughed and told him I thought it was the good example we set, not how we set the table.

It wasn't even two days later when John came over to talk to us. He asked a lot of questions, mostly about Tom, the rest were questions about where they could comfortably date around here, not having lived out here for long and not wanting to travel all the way into Springfield and back. We gave him several ideas, but also recommended that a home cooked meal with the boys involved, might just make a big impression on Tom, who always seemed to like joining our family for dinners. He thanked us for our help and went back to his boys at their house. We heard through Glenn that his Dad and Tom had dinner out one night that week, and over the next weekend Tom came over not only for dinner, but they all went horseback riding together both Saturday and Sunday. Glenn wished he could find a boyfriend that easily.

There were only a few weeks for me to prepare for the Humanities seminar. By preparing, I mean I doubled up on my workload and increased my readings of current scholar's papers in the various studies that comprise the studies of the Humanities; philosophy, literature, religion, art, music, history and language. I must admit that not much at all had changed since Chuck and I did almost five years researching our text, which guided the scholar in how these studies affected the interpenetration of any one of these disciplines on each other, or all of them combined, to help determine how stable a country's civilization was.

The symposium and other events planned were to begin the week after Valentine's Day and David and the boys made sure I had a stress free week before the first workshop that would be held and as it was the opening one, all 50 scholars from around the world would be in attendance as well as about four hundred students who had signed up from all the local colleges and some from the Boston area as well as some from neighboring states.


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