Jay & Miles

Fifty-Five: Morning Stirrings

 

POV: Benny, Jay, Greg

 

“I wonder how the guys’ celebration went last night?” Benny asked as he brushed the blond hair back off his lover’s forehead.  They were cuddled together in his attic room, letting the sun track its way across the bed as they lingered on Saturday morning.  “I hope they did better than poor Finn and Lee….”

Calvin punched Ben’s arm affectionately.  “Don’t be a dick—you were almost as nervous as they were when we first met.  You might have tried playing the big bad jock, but you weren’t fooling me.  And, you’d already had all that practice rolling around with Greg…Finn’s only hung around Lee for a short time, and their being in your ‘sex club’ doesn’t count.”

“Hey—it’s not my sex club—I just joined when somebody asked me.”

Calvin laughed at his boyfriend’s rebuttal, but his point was valid, and Benny knew it.  “The big surprise for me was finding them asleep in the back seat when we got back from watching Rollerball.  Drinking all that soda should have had them bouncing off the walls.”

“You only saw the tail-end of his panic when you got here for dinner; he had pulled every bit of his clothes out of his dresser and closet trying to find the ‘perfect’ outfit. I swear, if he wasn’t so wound up it would have been funny.  I’m pretty sure that drained a lot of his energy before the date even got started.”  I let my lips brush Callie’s for a second, and lost my train of thought…okay, it was entirely derailed rather than simply lost.

I snapped back into focus at Calvin’s next question.  “How far do you think they got before they conked out?” 

From the scene that greeted us in the car, I wouldn’t have thought too far since only a few more buttons on their shirts had been undone, compared to when we left my house earlier in the evening.  Finn had been lying against the back seat with Lee cuddled in his arms, while Lee’s free hand was resting on Finn’s ribs inside his shirt.  Lee’s right leg was resting between Finn’s, and while their crotches were resting together, there wasn’t any sign of belts or zippers being touched.  The smiles that graced their lips told us they were happy just to have been holding each other as they fell into dreamland.

“Not as far as we got,” I said with a snicker, only to be punched in the arm again.  “Ow—why do you always do that?”  I watched as Cal’s expression went through several changes, settling on embarrassment.  Maybe even a little regret…then I got it—our first time we’d been letting out months of pent-up desire and it had gone further than either of us planned.  The climaxes in the darkroom at school had ended up with the two of us wrestling on the floor of Cal’s bedroom…and I’d lost my virginity to him in a haze of lust on both our parts. 

I don’t want it to sound like I’d been unwilling—far from it—but we were both reveling in the moment and thoughts of tenderness and romance went out the window.  It wasn’t until after, in Cal’s huge bathtub, that the romance came back in—he’d bathed me and held me in the bubbly water, raining soft kisses on my neck and lips when I turned my head for more.  I knew he was trying to make up for the way we’d made love, and maybe in some abstract way it could have been less wild. But, in all honesty, I’d loved it because it was with the man I’d pined after for months—so there was no way I felt cheated by our first time. 

I pulled my blond closer into my side and wrapped my arms around him in a bear hug that had him gasping for air.  I wasn’t going to let him feel bad for what we’d done that night…or any of those few nights since.  Both of us had taken the other inside himself, and some of those times had been tender, while others were a bit more physical.  The way I looked at it, we were both fairly large, muscular guys in love, so why not let our love-making reflect that?  It was moments like the one we shared now, just relaxing in the arms of one another with kisses and whispers, that truly plumbed the depths of our feelings.  Calvin Schuyler was the center of my thoughts and heart, and I was his, without any doubt at all. 

I gave him another squeeze before picking up some briefs to head down to the bathroom.  I envied Greg having his own private bath at times like this, even if it was small.  Maybe I could get my dad to put one in over the summer?  “Come on, lazy-bones…let’s shower and then make breakfast for the love-birds.  Maybe you can teach me some more about taking pictures later today?”

“I can do that,” Calvin said with a pleased expression, “and we could drop in on Jay to see how their night went too….”  We were both curious about that, knowing they were taking things a lot slower than me and Callie, even though they’d spent more nights together than we’d been able to.  Lisbeth had no problems with me staying at their house, and she gave us plenty of privacy, but I still felt uncomfortable knowing she knew exactly what we did in Cal’s bedroom…well, I hoped not exactly.  Who wants to think their elders know their kids are having sex?  Not me, that’s for damn sure.

Our upstairs bath wasn’t big enough for me and Callie to shower together since we were both a bit bigger than average, so I let him go first while I brushed my teeth and shaved at the sink. 

I eyed my boyfriend through the curtain as he moved under the spray, and couldn’t help getting aroused.  I rinsed my razor in the sink and heard a yelp as the water in the shower got colder for a minute, and thought I heard a muffled ‘sonofabitch’ which made me chuckle.

Calvin stepped out of the shower and I handed him a towel, telling him I’d do the parts he couldn’t reach, but he dodged away laughing. 

“I can reach it all just fine—I’ve had years of practice.”  While he was rubbing at his hair, I took a chance to pull on his dick, and he sighed before leaning into me for a kiss.  “Okay, you can dry that part, I guess.  I’ll go dress while you do your thing in the shower, but you’re going to have to let go.” Chuckling and smirking, I did, as soon as I got one more kiss.

I envied my boyfriend’s ability to go for days without needing to shave, and that led to thoughts of his smooth chest as I lathered up, but I held back from letting myself go too far.  We might get a chance to fool around later when I was learning to take pictures, or maybe up in Jay’s hayloft, which had been offered to us a few days ago.  At first I wondered why they’d fixed it up that way since Jay’s family was good with him and Mikey, but then I remembered Greg and Denny didn’t have a place where they could go for guaranteed privacy.  As much as Greg loved his brothers, he didn’t want either of them to see what he did with Denny, and especially not his two younger sisters.  The little girls just wouldn’t understand.

Calvin was dressed when I got back to my room, and had laid out a pair of jeans and a black sweatshirt with ‘Wildcats’ across the front in gold lettering for me.  He’d seen my black briefs and thought the shirt would go great with them, or so his leer told me.  He had brought one of his light blue pairs of jeans and a green short-sleeved shirt to change into, and like mine, I knew the shirt matched his underwear.  “I’ll start breakfast if you’ll roust out the kiddies,” I said with a grin.

I was at the top of the stairs when Calvin knocked on Finn’s door and opened it, and he quickly motioned me to come back.  He pointed and pushed the door open a bit more so I could look over his shoulder. 

Last night we’d removed their shoes and belts before putting them in bed, and they hadn’t wakened, but sometime in the night they’d wound up cuddled face-to-face and there wasn’t an inch of space between them.  Lee’s head was nestled in Finn’s neck and my brother’s lips were planted in the mop of strawberry-blond hair of his friend; their hands were on each other’s backs pulling their chests closer together and one of Lee’s legs was wedged between Finn’s.  They weren’t yet awake, so I tapped Callie’s shoulder and motioned for him to close the door.

“I’d love to tease the little Romeo right now, but Finn’s a wonderful brother.  Let’s leave them to themselves, and we’ll do our own thing.  Finn’s a good cook, at least for breakfast, so you want to just head out?”  He nodded, and I took his hand in mine and started down the stairs.  It must have been later than I thought because there was a note on the kitchen table from Mom:

Benny, we’ve gone up to Utica for ice cream and to tour the Olde Mill;
hope you boys enjoyed the movie last night.  See you later.

“Damn, we missed out on ice cream?” Calvin moaned.  “I hear they make some of the best around….”

“Don’t give up yet—we’ll go to the King Kone or up to the Dairy Hut by Route 16 if you want.  Maybe we could take some to your grandma…she might have cake!”  Thank goodness for quick reflexes—I just managed to avoid another of Callie’s punches to my arm…but not the follow-up thump to the back of my head.  “Hey, that hurts, you know….”

“I knew you only wanted me for my gram’s baking.”  Calvin’s sulk was cute, but he wasn’t fooling me for a second.

“Well, yeah—and your dick, and your foxy bod, and those eyes I get lost in every time I look into them—and….”  I was cut off by Calvin’s tongue brushing my lips for entry, and my mind wandered into a space where his lips were the only thing I could, or wanted to sense.

When we finally came up for air, Calvin was all business. “Come on, Benj.  Get your ass in the car so we can go find something to fill our bellies for breakfast…if there’s no cake, I think I know where there’s a stash of cookies.”

I followed him out to his old blue LeSabre, which we’d used at the drive-in last night, and let him choose our destination.  I wasn’t surprised when we wound up at his house.  Lisbeth had pancakes for us in a few minutes, and while there wasn’t any cake left, we did find the cookies before we walked his fields with our cameras. 

We were both using black and white film since I would learn how to develop it myself, and I took almost a whole roll before we thought of heading over to Jay’s.  I wondered why I got hard as the shutter clicked away during Callie’s impromptu strip-tease for me—must have been the need to unload that big glass of orange juice I had with those pancakes….

* * * * * * * * * *

I didn’t know what time it was, since I didn’t bring out an alarm clock with me to the tent, but if the faint light coming in through the side windows of the canvas cabin was any clue, it had to be about 6:00…time for morning milking.  Even though I was spared that when Mikey was over, the routine was hard to break.  The birds were starting to chirp too, which only fueled my journey to wakefulness.  I couldn’t help but chuckle when I thought of a scene from Gilligan's Island where Mr. Howell was directing a movie and yelled “Quiet up there, you birds!”

Of course it didn’t work, and I let my senses stir slowly so I could enjoy my last moments of sleep.  I next heard a faint rustle and rhythmic whistling of air being drawn in and out of sleeping lungs, and knew without opening my eyes that it was my elskede beside me.  His scent was by now as familiar as my own, and no one else’s warmth would be so closely huddled next to me during the night.  If I had to admit it, he really didn’t snore—but if he lay just right, he’d have a small line of drool heading toward his pillow by morning.  I found the best way to avoid it was for him to use my shoulder as a headrest…which had the added benefit that I could kiss him easier whenever I wanted.

In my half-awake state, I let my thoughts drift back to the big events of our celebration the night before: our first attempt to seriously prepare for the time we’d give ourselves to one another fully.  I was aiming for our birthdays, toward the beginning of August, when we’d both be eighteen, but I wouldn’t rush it if Mikey wasn’t ready—we’d both be eager or it wouldn’t happen until it felt right, this August or next.  We’d both confessed to experimenting a little, but, with Sam’s advice, I’d had more than a finger to try it with.  Even so, it seemed Mikey was ahead of me in the ease with which he could take a finger—or part of a carrot.  We decided his larger frame meant it was just easier for him to stretch things than it was for me.

I would be ready when he was—I simply wouldn’t have it any other way.  My family told me I could still have another growth spurt before I was done with puberty; it had happened to Uncle Eskil, and mor said the same thing about her brother Matthias, so I wasn’t giving up just yet.  I did feel something growing, though, and it took only a second to figure out it meant I had to pee really bad, whether I was comfortable next to my boyfriend or not.  I managed to untangle myself from Mikey without waking him, and headed for the tent’s mesh door…naked as a jaybird, no pun intended of course.

In the faint light, the woods around our clearing were shadowy, and only half-visible, but I’d played around this pond most of my life since far had it excavated when I was about five years old.  It covered nearly an acre of land that wasn’t good for farming because of little floods and big rocks under the soil.  Our woods took up similar land—about ten acres—maybe not good for crops, but it was amazing for boys to play in.  Originally, the stream had curved here, cutting into a small hillside, leaving a ‘cliff’ about eight feet higher than the other bank, and this had been preserved in the final pond’s landscaping.  I remembered playing in the mud with neighbor kids while it was being dug with another farmer’s backhoe…and the excitement we’d shared when the temporary dam across the stream had been removed.  Some gravel had been spread in the bottom, and the bank sloped gradually on two sides to a depth of about ten feet in the center.  Part of one of the other sides was that cutaway hill, and the third was a large flat rock that had been just under the topsoil and now lay about a foot under the water’s surface.  Since it tilted a little, part of it lay in the sun most of the day and gave swimmers a place to dry off and get a tan at the same time.

There was still dew on the grass as I walked over to my favorite ‘watering-bush’ and helped Mother Nature along by supplying extra moisture for her charges.  I couldn’t help noticing that there were remnants of our play left from last night—the area around my butt was a little sore and the damp cloths we’d wiped off with hadn’t really gotten rid of all the K-Y we’d used.  Sam and Uncle Mikkel hadn’t said how much to use—more is better—left a lot of room for two boys eager to get started to over-do it.  I walked over to the pond’s nearest edge and bent down to test the water with my hand...it wasn’t warm, but it wasn’t winter-cold either, so I dipped my foot in. 

Okay, if we stuck to the shallow bit, this would work.

Back inside our love nest, I grabbed one of the towels and a wash-rag before sitting on the mattress next to Mikey.  I trailed the corner of the rag over his nose, and grinned as his face contorted and a hand came up to bat away whatever was annoying him.  A few seconds later I did it again, and moved it to his exposed ear for good measure.  He snorted and swiped at the mysterious offender again, almost catching me in the nose as I’d leaned in to blow in his ear.  Since the blanket had been kicked off during our play, I could see my kæreste’s equipment was as ready for a leak as mine had been a few minutes ago, so I grabbed the pitcher that held the remains of the water from last night and sloshed it around so he could hear it. 

“You bastard,” he mumbled with a yawn.  “You couldn’t let me sleep a little longer?”  I shook my head and gave him my most mischievous look, swirling the water around again for added effect.  I yelped as my boyfriend thumped my arm and scooted toward the edge of the bed.  “Now I gotta try to make it to the barn or house to take a leak…”

I laughed at the pitiful look in his eyes as he wondered if he could make it, then stopped abruptly.  It never occurred to me that Mikey hadn’t peed outside like other boys in similar circumstances, and I felt bad for teasing him.  I pulled him into my arms and led him to the tent’s door.  “You won’t have to do that—I’ll show you where I always do it when I’m out here by myself.” 

I’d thrown the towel over my shoulder and held the wash cloth in one hand, using the other to steer Mikey toward my bush.  He protested a bit, and was beet-red even though we were alone, but after a few seconds he still hadn’t started.  I rubbed my hand along his back in an attempt to relax him, but it didn’t work. 

Then I remembered he always used a stall out in public.  “Tell you what, I’ll turn around and wait over by that big rock,” I said, pointing to the huge slab sticking partially out of the water.  Mikey glanced around furtively as I walked away, and the next thing I heard was him saying there wasn’t any paper to wipe it off.

“Just shake it—and remember, if you do it more than twice—you’re playing with it!”

I could tell Mikey was smirking as he came up to me.  “Nope, that’s your job now…just like it’s mine to do yours.”  To prove his point, I felt his fingers wrap around me and give my dick a couple shakes.  I was happy as a clam seeing him act this way; Miles Stevenson was gaining in self-assurance the longer we were together, and seemed to also be taking on some of my sense of humor too—or letting his own come out more often.  You couldn’t be a fan of Monty Python and not have a far-out funny bone and quick wit to go with it.

“Come on, we need to clean off some of that goop from last night.”  I pulled him onto the rock and toward the submerged part visible under the water.  I could feel him tense up, and he tried to pull back.  When I turned to face him, his face was pale and he was trying not to look scared.  “What’s wrong, elskede?  We need to do a better job or we’ll get this stuff on our clothes….”

He licked his lips nervously.  “H-how deep is it?” he asked shakily.  I kissed him gently on his lips and took his hand, not knowing why he was afraid, but wanting to help nonetheless.  “I…c-can’t…”

With one arm around his shoulders, I pointed to the rock where it went under the pond’s glassy surface.  “It’s okay,” I whispered, then realized his glasses were still in the tent, so he couldn’t see as much as I could.  “This rock extends out about twelve feet into the water, and the last four feet are about a foot under.  Where the rock ends, the water is about five feet deep, and it gets down to ten feet or so in the middle of the pond…but that’s a hundred feet out from where we are now.”

He didn’t look reassured.  “That’s…pretty…deep….”

I knew why he sat down to pee after having heard that story from his childhood, and wondered if there was another one to cause his fear now.  Mikey had told me of the creek across from his house, and I knew most of them around here were about two feet deep at most, so I figured it had to be something else.  “Let’s just sit in the sun for a minute, and you can tell me about it—then we can try cleaning up.  I won’t let anything happen to you—you know that.”

It took more than a few minutes, and by the time I had the whole story, the sun really was peeking over the horizon at our backs.  The details were fuzzy, but I gathered that all this had happened in his first years of living in the country.  One of their neighbors toward town had a built-in pool in their backyard, and all the kids would go there to swim or cool off in the summer.  Mikey would sit on the steps going into the water, but since he was only about five years old, he hadn’t learned to swim like his older sisters—they’d gone to the city pool in their local park in Bexley, but Mikey hadn’t done that as he was too young.  Here’s the part where I got confused, as Mikey was himself—somebody, maybe him or another boy, had fallen in and it took a minute or two for one of the other kids to notice and dive in to rescue the victim.  They’d pulled him out of the pool and got him to cough up the water he’d swallowed—but whether this had happened to Mikey or not didn’t matter.  That was the last time he went to that, or any pool…and he never learned to swim.

As I sat on that rock, I began to see how my boyfriend got the way he was.  His vision prevented him from doing some things, sure, but he could live with that…but it seemed like every time in his early years he’d tried to do something normal like other boys, there’d been some sort of accident that made him skittish.  We learned in Psych class that if something happened at an early age, it could inhibit you for the rest of your life, and it might take tons of therapy to even figure out what those events were, let alone try to fix them.  Learning about some of the things that could happen in your head, a lot of us still thought you had to be crazy to visit a ‘shrink’…but some things we were taught really did make sense, like meditation could help calm you down and relieve stress.  Before I met Mikey, my main source of relief had been a good jerk-off session.    

We’d also learned talking about things could help us deal with them, but it was hard for a lot of kids to do that—most of our parents’ advice was along the lines of ‘it’ll make a man of you’ or ‘don’t be a cry-baby’…I always knew far and mor were special because they always listened to us and helped us find a solution to our problems, but it took listening to Mikey to bring that fact home with crystal clarity. 

His parents were just enough years older than mine to have grown up during the Great Depression in the Thirties, and people had to depend on their own resources most of the time when the outside world was in such bad shape.  The Second World War had taught younger kids that it took teamwork to do things, and that had shaped my parents’ later teen years, along with their European outlook. 

I wasn’t a crusader like Ralph Nader, but I had a mission to help Mikey become the person he was meant to be, and to do it through my love for him.  His spirit was beginning to show itself to the rest of us, just as I’d sensed it when we first met four months ago, and I had to smile that even my hard-headed sister had noticed it too.  Some things I knew I could help him with, others were probably too ingrained by now like his using a toilet rather than a urinal…but was swimming one of those unfixable habits?

On this, the first day of our second month together, I had no idea how tough that would be…but I was eager to start.  I led Mikey off the rock and to the left where the slope into the water was really gradual, and backed in one slow step at a time, holding his hands all the while.  “Trust me, Mikey…we’re only going in far enough for the water to reach just above our knees…promise.  I’ve got you, and I won’t let go….”

It took some minutes until we were both standing with the water just above our knees, and Mikey’s grip on my hand was like iron, his eyes never leaving the line of water slowly lapping higher as we went.  The pond’s bottom here gave us secure footing, and it felt funny to have the mix of silt and gravel under our bare feet…sort of squishy, and I told my boyfriend to wiggle his toes, which made him give a soft giggle.  I’d left the towel on the rock, but still had the wash cloth which I then dunked in the water and began to rub Mikey’s privates.  I knew this would help him relax even more, so I changed the rub to a longer stroke.  “I don’t think there’s any of that gel stuff there,” he whispered, catching his breath with a gasp.

I sped up a little.  “No, but there’ll be a mess in a minute or two.”  Before that time came, I knelt down in the water and took him into my mouth, and wet the cloth again so I could use it and my index finger to clean up his rear entrance.  A quick swipe removed the K-Y from the outside, and now I pushed the rag into him with my finger to get at the inside of him.  He moaned and I felt his dick get even harder in my mouth.  Just like last night, Mikey had little problem with my smaller finger, but since I had the cloth wrapped around it, I was being more careful.  I moved my finger in and out a little, and twisted it to clean off the rim, and that was all the stimulus my boyfriend needed to fill my mouth with his essence.

“I don’t see any mess,” he said with a grin, so I opened my mouth to show him the white remnants of what I’d swallowed.  He pulled me up to kiss my lips and use his tongue to sample what he’d just given me.  His eyes were the hazel I associated with one of his happier moods, but I could also see he was lost somewhere in his head.  It only took a second for me to figure out where. 

“My turn,” he said with a giggle, sinking to his own knees in the shallow water.  He had no problem taking my full length from the start since I was an inch shorter than him and thinner, but his enjoyment in doing this for me was just as obvious.  He was as cautious with the rag in cleaning me up as I’d been, yet it wasn’t long before he had his own index finger probing my rear for excess lube.  Even with the rag, the length of his fingers allowed him to find my prostate quicker than I’d found his, and I felt my muscles lock as I blasted my own juices into his waiting mouth.

He leaned back to look up into my eyes and threw his arms out wide.  “Look ma, no hands!”  As I was laughing and shaking my head at his insanity, his lips landed on mine and his tongue shared my load between us.  I led him over to the rock again, but this time we sat on the edge with our feet dangling in the water where we could clean the mud off them, and then lay out to dry ourselves in the growing sunlight.

Our heads lay on the rolled-up towel as a makeshift pillow, and we kissed and hugged as the rock warmed beneath us.  “Wonder what time it is?” I asked.  Mikey’s watch was in the tent, but the angle of the sun made me think it might be nine o’clock at most.  We had no real plans, so it didn’t really matter…then my pragmatic boyfriend spoke up, destroying my drowsy mood.

“Wonder if there’s any cake left….”

* * * * * * * * * *

I wasn’t too surprised to open our front door and see Denny Watson standing on the porch, even if it was early on a Saturday morning.  We gave up watching Mechagodzilla before it was a quarter of the way through, and decided to make an early night of it.  I’d asked him to stay over, but since it was about midnight, we didn’t want to risk waking up my little sisters.  As much as I loved them, it was a pain in the ass to work around their early bedtime.  In a couple more years, they’d be staying up until 11:00 like real people, but I’d be off to college by then, so that fact wasn’t going to help me.

Rather than face endless questions in the night from female curiosity, we’d opted to meet later on and hang out for the day.  I didn’t know what we’d do, and didn’t really care as long as we were together, but like a good Southern boy, I asked him if he’d had breakfast yet.  His sheepish grin and shoulder shrug said it all.  “So what was it, Yank…cereal?  Toast?  Pop-Tarts?”

That got me a laugh, and a hug…and after a quick look around for little eyes…a nice kiss.  Penny and Alice were off at one of their friends’ houses, so I deepened the kiss as I dragged my guy into the kitchen.  Lee wasn’t back from Benny’s yet, and my parents were over in Newark shopping, so Jeff was the only one home right now, and he’d be off to play basketball with his friends in a few minutes. 

“I can cook, you know,” Denny said as I pushed him down into one of the chairs at the table.  I snorted and pulled a carton of eggs and a package of bacon out of the fridge, and then got Mom’s cast-iron skillet out from its hiding place.  I had no idea how old the heavy black pan was, but I knew it was one of the big ones grandma had used before giving them to her children in turn.  It was even darker with decades of use since these types of pans were never scrubbed, just lightly washed and dried with a cloth after each use.  It was the grease being absorbed into the metal that made them so durable and nearly as good as Teflon for not letting foods stick during cooking.  In minutes the bacon was sizzling away and I laid out some paper towels to drain it on after it was done.

“Fried or scrambled?”  I held up the eggs to show my Yank what I meant.  “If you think y’all can manage it, you can make the toast—butter’s on the table, and there’s grape jelly and apple butter in the fridge.  Can you pour us some tea?” I snickered as I shot him a look over my shoulder from my place at the stove.  I flipped the bacon over and kept a close eye on it so it wouldn’t burn.  Crispy was fine, but burnt grease gave a bad flavor to everything else you cooked in it.

Denny got glasses and plates from the dish rack, and set the table for two.  I’d eaten already, but wasn’t going to correct him…it was bad manners to let a guest eat alone.  The tea was sweet just the way it ought to be, and I told him I’d have two pieces of toast, so he could fix as much as he wanted.  I put the bacon on the counter to drain, and pointed at the eggs again.  “Well?”

He looked at the black skillet and the bottom which held the drippings from the bacon.  “Aren’t you gonna drain that off?  That’s a lot of grease….” 

He looked scandalized when I shook my head.  Finally, he opted for fried, so I cracked two eggs into the pan and sprinkled them with pepper.  I decided to make them the way I liked them—over easy—and I could adjust it next time if he wasn’t happy.  Most people preferred them that way, so it was a safe enough bet.

I was pretty good at flipping eggs without breaking the yolks, so it wasn’t long before I had fixed four for him, and two for me.  I used a pot-holder to grab the skillet’s handle and pour the grease into a jar mom kept on top of the stove just for that purpose.  It saved on buying Crisco, and this way you knew what was in it. 

I put butter and grape jelly on my toast, and had to laugh at Yank’s indecision: the jelly was from the store, and the apple butter came from my uncle’s farm, so it was in a quart mason jar with a brass screw ring and lid.  “If you like apple sauce, you’ll like that,” I urged.  “It’s just got some cinnamon and cloves to give it more flavor.”

I almost choked when I saw him scrape the butter off his knife onto the toast before heading for the mason jar.  I had a comedy album by Justin Wilson who was a Cajun chef and story-teller, and it reminded me of one of his routines about eating dinner—they had a guest, and one of the kids went to get some butter for his biscuit only to be smacked by his mom with a wooden spoon…when asked why she did it, she pointed to the guest and scolded: ‘How many times I gonna tole you—lick yo knife before you stick it in them butter!

Denny didn’t get it, so I’d have to play it for him later….

We were almost done eating when Jeff came down the stairs, dressed in a tee-shirt and denim cut-offs.  He gave Denny a wave, grabbed the last piece of my toast and headed out the back door.  “If you go out, leave a note saying I’ll be home in time for dinner—I’m goin’ to the elementary’s court to play ball with the guys.”

I looked at Denny, and he looked at me.  “That’s the last one, right Reb?  How long do we have before someone comes home?”  The gleam in his eye and the upturned corner of his grin made me think he was up to no good, which was just fine with me.  Alas, mom and dad liked to get their shopping done as quickly as possible, and they hadn’t said what they were going for when we had breakfast earlier.  They could be gone a half-hour, an hour, or be gone until mid-afternoon.  Not to mention my sisters could come back at any time if they got into a fight with their friends.

I handed Denny a towel and started washing the few dishes we’d used, saving the heavy pan for last so it could soak a bit in the bottom of the sink.  Everything went into the rack except that pan, which went on a hook until it had finished drying completely.  Any trace of water on it, and it could rust, which meant sanding down to fresh metal and having to start the seasoning process all over again.  Grandma would turn over in her grave if that happened.

It was really tempting to take my Yank up to my room for one of our ‘appointments,’ but I didn’t like the idea of being interrupted by someone coming back early; Lee would be okay because he was just starting out with Finn and knew how important privacy was…and Jeff might rib us a little in fun—but it was the girls who worried me the most.  Alice was in 7th Grade and would probably understand about me and Denny, but Penny was still in elementary school and had no idea of how to keep a secret.  “We just can’t risk it…how about we go to the hayloft?”

Denny walked over to me and wrapped me in his arms, landing a peck on my right cheek.  One hand went to my waist and I let myself relax into him, front to front so our tools could also say ‘hi’ to each other.  “Does Herr Doktor Newton have any open spots in his calendar for today?”

When I nodded, he grabbed my hand and rushed for the front door.  I made a grab for my keys on the hall table, and just managed not to drop them as we passed.  I heard the sleigh bells jangle as I pulled the door shut behind us.

“I think I’m gonna need a lot of therapy today, Doc….”

Jay’s house wasn’t far, but the trip still seemed to take forever as we passed the high school and turned onto his gravel road.  We knew his family would all be awake since it was nearly 11:00, but whether our friends would be ‘receiving callers’ as my mom put it, was another question altogether.  Jay hadn’t been able to tell us what his plans were for the night since Mikey was there at lunch every day, and none of us had wanted to phone him for any details in case we’d interfere with his preparations.  All we could be sure of was that it would be romantic, so that meant the loft in Jay’s barn would be free for me and my Yank to borrow for a few hours fun.

I thought our plans were all set as we pulled up in front of the barn’s open main doors…then heard the crunch of tires on gravel behind us as Denny shut off the Corvair’s engine.  I climbed out of the passenger’s door and looked back to see Calvin’s LeSabre just pulling into the drive.  ‘Ah, shit….”

Denny just shook his head at me as the other car pulled up to park next to ours.  I felt bad for my flash of irritation—these were our best friends along with Jay and Mikey—and had been since the barbecue at Mikey’s place where we’d forged a new bond like that of the Musketeers in that Michael York movie.  All for one, and one for all, wasn’t that how it went? 

We were all dressed in jeans and shirts, Benny and Cal’s were the sleeveless muscle tees they’d bought at the mall, while ours were just regular old white ones.  Calvin’s jeans were the only ones not broken in yet, with no faded or torn spots to show they’d been well-worn, though it looked like he’d found a way to get the new ‘stiffness’ out of them.  We exchanged hugs all around, and made a few jokes as greetings, then Benny brought up the subject we were all wondering about.  “Any sign of the happy couple?”

I shook my head.  “Dunno, we just got here too.  Should we go to the house and see what’s up?”  I blushed nearly as red as my hair when that remark brought a new round of jokes and jeers.  “Sorry….”

We were trying to decide what to do when Benny waved at someone behind us, and we turned to see Dirck standing at the back door of the screened porch.  “No chocolate milk delivery today, Greg?”  That got a round of laughs from all four of us now that the ‘chocolate cow’ story was widely known.  When we asked, Dirck told us our other friends had camped out by the pond with a romantic dinner Jay had made all by himself. 

“So where did you hide the bodies?” Benny grinned, looking around for any signs of freshly dug holes. 

“Rosalie walked him through the whole meal, so it all turned out just fine—even if it did take us over an hour to get the kitchen back into usable shape.”

He wasn’t sure if the guys were still down by the pond, or hanging out somewhere else on the farm.  We knew they were still here because Jay’s primed truck was still in the barn and Mikey’s two-tone Pontiac was taking up space closer to the house.  “Jay mentioned something about doing some more training with Gulliver today so he could finish up his 4-H project in a few weeks.”

Denny reminded us of the old sulky which had been in the horse’s paddock for over a week, and he ran over to see if it was still there.  He was quickly back, red-faced and panting, and severely out of breath.  He bent over, hands on his knees to catch his breath as Cal and I rubbed his back.  “Oh shit—sorry—jeez I wish I had a camera!”

We tried getting more details out of him, but every time he tried to talk, he’d start laughing again.  Benny snapped his fingers and went over to Calvin’s car, coming back with the old camera he’d been using for a few days.  “This still has a few exposures on it….”

Calvin checked the settings in just a few seconds, and said they were good, then motioned us all to be quiet as we approached the corner of the barn that kept Gulliver’s much larger training space out of sight.  How to describe the scene that came into view?  All I can say is that it was a good thing Cal had so much experience taking pictures, because the rest of us—including Dirck—were too busy laughing our asses off to be of any use.

The sulky stood, ready for the recalcitrant pony to be harnessed into position for pulling, except that he was standing just out of reach of the shafts, looking back over his shoulder.  Jay was standing where Gulliver should have been, complete with the leather harness around his neck and shoulders, pulling the sulky behind him.

“Come on Gulli—you do it like this—it’s easy, and doesn’t hurt at all.”  His pleas might have been more believable if he wasn’t stripped to the waist and sweating like a pig in the morning’s growing heat.  Calvin was snapping pictures one after another as Jay and Mikey’s attention was drawn to us by our laughter.  I never saw anyone turn so red in embarrassment as Jay did then.  He swore something in Danish that made even Dirck blush, and stalked toward us.

As soon as Gulliver saw us, he flicked his ears and gave his head a shake—then backed calmly in between the two harness shafts, waiting for his lesson.  Jay spun around when we pointed, and if the noise Gulli made then wasn’t a ‘horse-laugh,’ then I don’t know what one was….