POV: Sam, Sam
The jangling of the telephone’s bells caused me to start involuntarily as I came down the stairs into the hall, and a glance at the pendulum clock hanging to my right by the lounge door told me it was half-nine. The sidelights to either side of the wide front door showed nothing but darkness beyond the twin bracket lights out on the long porch. I let out a sigh, thinking I’d have to give up on the idea of relaxing in front of a cozy fire with my lover—it could be only one of two things this late on a Sunday evening: someone needing a tow to the garage, or one of Mikkel’s many close relatives. Our friends were ruled out as we’d seen them last night at one of the clubs in Toronto, and there was no way in hell it would be any of my relatives.
I turned right at the foot of the stairs to go back to the kitchen, the closest phone to me—there was no way Mik would get it since he was deeply involved in grading papers for his English Lit class; he had worked on them most of the weekend, as well as proofing articles for the Hilltop Reflections school paper due out at the end of term. Two more papers to go, he had said, so I was getting the fire set up in the lounge and starting some cocoa...or I had been until the phone rang. I smiled as I passed through the wide door into the kitchen—Mikkel had been so keen to keep the house as original as possible that the only alteration he allowed was to enclose the back porch to form the new kitchen and a laundry area; this had been the original back door, just like the front with a sidelight to either side, its solid-panel bulk normally open to the right. Directly in front was a mud-room and the outside door, to the left the laundry with its Maytag wringer-washer, and to the right our kitchen/breakfast area. The black phone was on the wall next to the nook where you could sit and talk while sipping a nice cuppa. I looked longingly at the antique gas stove between the alcove and the kitchen’s original window which looked into the dining room and served as a pass-through. I sighed at the stove with its limitless potential for hot chocolate before I pulled the pitcher of tea out of the monitor-top fridge and a glass from the shelf above the sink. I set them both on the small table before sinking down onto the bench seat in the alcove, and picked up the receiver before it finished a sixth ring.
“Hullo? How may I help?” I let my breath out in a sigh of relief when I heard a young man’s voice with an occasional crackle of static in the background...I wouldn’t have to go out on a job tonight after all. The prospect of cocoa and a fire loomed up again.
“Onkel Sam?” Jay...of all Mikkel’s relatives, Dirck’s family were the only ones who called me uncle rather than ‘Sam’ or ‘Mr. Blythe’...and Jay was the only one who said it in just that tone of mischievous playfulness mixed with affection. Much as I liked Jerry and Linda, I had to admit to myself that Jay was my favorite of the three kids; all of them were smart and well-mannered, but Jerry tended to be pretty focused on the task at hand, and Linda had little apparent concern for others outside her family and friends—you couldn’t help but smile when you heard Jay’s voice and its unpredictable wittiness.
“Hey there, Short Stuff—I’m glad it’s you—I was about to make cocoa and start a fire for me and Mik, and I was afraid it was someone wanting a tow to the garage!” I heard him grumble something under his breath, but all I could make out was what sounded like ‘dick’. “What’s that you said, Small Fry?” We played this game every time we talked, where we’d toss jibes back and forth for a bit before settling down to serious nattering—we both enjoyed it, and knew that it was all in fun.
“I said ‘yer a dick, Gas Jockey,” he laughed in a louder voice due to the scratchiness of the phone connection. “How many bananas did you earn this week at that junkyard you own, Grease Monkey?”
“Enough to keep Mikkel in erasers, pencils and White-Out for a while...” I countered with a laugh, but Jay was right back with his reply: “Mikkel gets that crap through the school system—so business is that bad, huh?” That got me—it was hard to remember just how sharp Jay could be at times. I paused for just a second, then joined him in a good laugh. He trailed off before I did, and it was like I could see his face change before my eyes.
“Is Mikkel busy, Sam? Can I talk to him?” This quick change to seriousness was unusual for us, and I immediately thought something was wrong, but that didn’t fit with the easiness of just a few seconds earlier. “What’s going on, Jay...is everything okay down there?” I started to stand to go get Mikkel, but Jay’s voice stopped me.
“Everything’s fine, Sam—I just wanted to give you guys some news and pick your brains about something—if he’s grading papers, I’ll call back.” I told him Mikkel had only a couple left when the phone had rung, and asked if he wanted it to be private. Jay was silent for a few seconds before he answered my question, and he sounded a bit unsure. “I dunno, Sam—it’s kinda personal personal. I just don’t know which of you can help more—Far tried, and he did good—but this isn’t really his bag, and he said I should talk to you guys....”
Something Dirck couldn’t handle—or something he didn’t know enough about? From what I knew about him, I suspected it was the latter case rather than the former—a more understanding man I had never met in my life. “Jay, calm down, eh? I’ll fix the cocoa and take it up to Mik where we can be on the speakerphone...we’ll get it sorted, and we can switch it to the regular phone if you want. Give us about twenty minutes, then call back—I’ll make sure Mik’s free even if I have to steal his red marking pen!”
Jay’s laugh came through loud and clear, before he said “You are a dick, Sammy, no wonder Mikkel loves you—Bye!”
I put the receiver back and got a saucepan from the cabinet by the sink and filled it half-way with milk before grabbing the sparker from the top of the oven and holding it over the gas burner on the front left corner of the stove; I moved the porcelain lever a bit to start the gas and a quick scrape of the steel on the round flint ignited the blue flame a moment later. I put the pan on and turned it down to a simmer, then grabbed the red tin of Droste cocoa from the pantry and sugar from the canister on the wooden counter-top. A few tablespoons of powdered chocolate and half that of sugar got added to the milk, and I stirred it slowly as it mixed to the rich brown we both liked. Two thick earthenware mugs waited on a tray along with some cookies I made yesterday while the cocoa warmed up...and I watched it with an eagle eye and an occasional stir to prevent it scalding. When it was ready, I poured it evenly into the mugs and put the pan in the sink to soak, then started up the stairs to Mik’s office.
At the top of the stairs, the short hall-way ran to the right about three feet before ending in the door to the spare bedroom, and to the left about ten feet to end in the main bedroom door. The two doors centered on the long sides led to the bath at the back of the house, and the office overlooking the front porch. I pushed the door open with my foot and saw Mik’s reddish-blond hair gleaming in the light from his desk lamp—even though we’d lived together in this house for six years, and two more before that in each other’s apartments, the sight of him still made my heart beat faster. We’d met ten years ago back in ‘66 when he pulled into my repair shop in a shitty, rusted-out VW Beetle which had once been their peculiar pale blue-gray, but was now mostly primer and rust-brown. I had never seen a VW in such bad shape—especially one less than fifteen years old—but he practically begged me to fix it saying he had no money for a new car. His American accent made me wonder how he wound up here in Toronto...I only later found out he’d come up to find work after college, and was scraping by with whatever he could get: waiting tables, writing free-lance articles for magazines and newspapers when he could, and offering tutoring in English and History.
I’d only had my garage—Sam’s Place—open for less than a year, so I wasn’t too busy, and spent a couple hours that day looking over his car’s myriad of problems and chatting off-handedly as I did. At tea-time, I called a break and asked him to walk down the road to the diner I usually frequented, but he’d declined until I said we could talk about what his car needed as we ate. I had a burger and fries with gravy, and he had coffee and a doughnut, which he proceeded to nurse a crumb at a time. During the next hour, it dawned on me that this guy was seriously handsome, amazingly smart and hard-working, and trying to scrape a buck and a half’s worth out of a dollar. When I told him the car needed, at the very least, new plugs and brakes, he pulled a pencil and notebook out of his pocket and did some figuring before shaking his head. When I asked what was wrong, he said he could afford the parts, but not the labor, so it would have to wait a couple months, and refused all my attempts to do payments. I charged him ten dollars to change his plugs, and while he sat on a stool I went under the rear bonnet, installed the plugs, new wires, a distributor cap, and tuned up his engine—all of that was more than the price I quoted, but he didn’t need to know that, and I felt better knowing he’d be a little safer on the road.
Stealing occasional glances at him on the stool, I couldn’t help feeling a stirring under my cover-all which I wore to keep my jeans and tee-shirt clean. Mikkel, as I learned, rented a couple rooms in an old house in what could be termed Toronto’s ‘gay ghetto’—but whether he knew that or not, I had no idea. If he did, was there a chance for me? “Can I use your restroom, Sam?” The question drew me out of my brief daydream, and I told him he’d have to go back to the diner since mine was broken. The next thing I knew, I heard his footsteps, then some metallic clanks, and a long silence. Then, a squeak, a loud ‛Shit!’, more squeaking, then laughter. When I pulled my head out of the VW’s engine, I saw him wiping his face with a hand towel, and there was some water soaking his collar. “You said you live upstairs, right?” At my nod, he shook his head. “Is it all like that? How can you live here?”
“The roof’s sound, and the lift works,” I answered pointing to the arrangement for raising cars into the air for servicing. “I can get some heat out of the rads, but I used lots of blankets last winter....If it doesn’t have an engine to work on, then I’m lost—I can’t afford to do all the stuff the apartment needs yet.” I saw a glint in his silver-blue eyes as the notebook came out again, and he went upstairs, making scribbles all the way. I followed behind him, taking mental notes of my own as to the way his ass filled out his pants, and the shoulders caused his shirt to ripple at odd moments when he moved. More than once I surreptitiously adjusted myself, unfortunately one of those times was in the bath, and I think he caught me doing that in the room’s mirror...but he didn’t say anything. Beyond the obvious, I was working on another plan—one to fix his car on the sly. When I asked, he said he didn’t need it tomorrow as he was studying for his citizenship exams, so he could leave it with me as I did a more thorough check on it for him. He accepted my offer of a ride home, and would come back the next afternoon to pick it up. To this day, I don’t think he knew that I spent that night on the phone to wreckers’ yards locating parts for his brakes and only charged for one of the new brake pads when it came time to settle up our accounts.
I didn’t miss the fact that he watched me as I removed my boots and peeled off my greasy cover-all, then pulled off my tee for a green button-up shirt. He didn’t really have much choice since the apartment was really just a kitchen alcove off the big bed-sitting room combo and a small bath with shower. Before I started buttoning my shirt, he said: “I have a proposition for you...” He detailed the work my apartment needed, some new piping for the water, bleeding the radiators for the heat, and some minor carpentry...I stood there with my shirt open so he could see my lightly muscled chest—the product of working in the logging camps of New Brunswick the last eight years—as I pondered his idea, so much like mine. I saw his eyes track my fingers as they idly stroked my chest, scratching at my left nipple. I swear, this wasn’t an intentionally seductive move on my part—it was just force of habit when I was thinking!
“So...we each pay for parts, but trade off the labor costs?” He nodded, the light catching the coppery glints in his hair just right. “Just to be clear—” my sense of humor kicked in then, but the interpretation would be his to choose, “—you take care of my pipes, and I handle your equipment?”
Mikkel’s grin was pure evil. “Maybe on the third date we can compare tool-kits?”
* * * * * * * * * *
“That cocoa smells great, elskede...can I have some?” I came back to my senses with a shake of my head; “Sure, mo gràdh,” I said, and put the tray down on his desk where he’d cleared away his papers. I pulled the other chair up opposite him, and our legs made contact in the knee-hole under the antique desk. It didn’t take long before we each had a cup and a cookie, and our feet were happily joined—if we were in the same room, even now six years on, we found ourselves touching unconsciously more often than not. “Did I hear the phone ring?”
“I imagine,” I replied with a smile. “Jay will be calling back in a few minutes—he has some news and wants to talk about something.” Since I didn’t know any more, I pushed the plate of peanut-butter cookies closer to him. Early on, I’d learned he could cook something from a box, but nothing really edible, so if I had time, I plied him with treats and nice dinners after our fourth date—the one where we had to open the windows to let the smoke out of his building’s kitchen. In our own kitchen, I was trying to teach him the basics, but our lessons often turned into romantic interludes, so it was a slow process. Maybe if we wore shirts under our aprons working at the hot stove?
Of course, the phone rang as Mik was taking a drink of cocoa, so I picked it up. “Let me put you on speaker, Mikkel’s got his mouth full of goodies!” My partner glared when I punched the button on the small box next to the phone, and I paled when I heard a low voice say “Excuse me? I need to have my car towed...” My mouth gaped open and I had no clue what to do or say next, then Mikkel’s voice broke through my confusion: “Good one, Jay! He’s floundering around like a fish out of water, eyes all bugged out and jaws gasping to find something to say!”
I tried getting them to stop laughing, but Mik was impervious to my glare, knowing he could get around my mood easily enough—and Jay couldn’t see it. “If you kids are done, it’s time to get serious. Wasn’t there some news you wanted to tell us, Jay?”
Amid snickers and deep breaths, Jay finally managed to get out an apology of sorts, saying it was just too easy to resist after we’d talked earlier...and that it was my fault that he got the idea of being a customer. “Okay, Sam...really...I’m sorry. You know I only tease you because I like you, right? Anyway—are you guys coming down for Linda’s Graduation? Jerry called earlier today to say he’s gonna take time off and come.”
“I can make it Jay, no problem—I can close up for that weekend with enough notice. When is it?” I watched as Mikkel opened his desk calendar as Jay said: “June 13th, the second Sunday.” Mikkel flipped a few pages, and I watched him pencil it into the book, and the 14th as well. “All set, Jay...I’ll take the next day off as a personal day at school—the last weeks of June are reviews anyway, and I can get a substitute for one day.”
“We’ll stay at that motel on 40—is it still open?” The other option was the sleeper-sofa in their den, and I figured it might be needed for other guests, like Jerry. It took me a moment to recall the place’s name—something Irish?—the Shannon Inn! Jay’s voice picked up some volume when he replied. “That ain’t happenin’, Sam! Jerry’s gonna be in with me, like always—you guys get the sofa.”
“Jay, ‘that isn’t happening,’ you’re not going to pass English with constructions like that,” Mikkel was teasing him—he knew that Jay often spoke one way, but wrote another, though he’d never be another Charles Dickens—or D.H. Lawrence for that matter. “What about Katrin and Marit, and their kids? Won’t the Aunts need places to stay?”
“We haven’t asked them yet—you guys get dibs...besides, Far says they will choose the motel even if they do come.” I watched Mikkel’s face carefully when Jay said that—the two sisters resented the fact that Mik hadn’t stayed after college to work their parents’ farm—as the oldest remaining sibling, Katrin had married, so that left Marit, just four years older than Mikkel, to stay—and marry a local boy who had little ambition in life. Katrin accepted me as her brother’s partner, but Marit kept a formal distance between us. I saw my love’s silver eyes darken a moment before I felt his feet rub warmly against mine under the desk, and he smiled again.
“Sam said you wanted to talk about something—I wasn’t too clear on that?” Mikkel took a sip of his cocoa, and I watched mesmerized as his tongue came out and licked the froth from his upper lip. Setting his cup down, he stretched his arms slightly and that allowed all sorts of fun things to happen under his shirt, and in my jeans. The faint hum which had been the only noise for a few seconds broke when Jay cleared his throat.
“Errm...yeah.” More staticky hum. “I know how Sam is—maybe you could ask me how my ven is?” It was plain to me that Jay was nervous about this topic, and I wondered at his use of the Danish word which could mean ‘friend’, or a romantic interest of either gender. Was this what Dirck hadn’t been able to advise his son about? An exchange of glances, silver-blue and vivid green, conveyed the possibility that Jay might be ‘coming out’ to us, and that we might have suspected, but hadn’t been sure at all. Jay liked, and was friends with everyone he met, regardless of their sex—so long as they were good people. I felt warm fingers wrap mine on top of the desk, and saw Mikkel smiling at me as we both thought back to our first date. “So you’ve met someone special, Jay?”
Leave it to Mik to concentrate on the details and not see the forest for the trees—Jay was looking for a less direct way to do this, although I didn’t know why—we, of all people, would fully accept him if he was gay. I made sure he could hear the amused impatience in my voice when I followed Mikkel’s question with the one Jay wanted. “How’s your friend, Jay?”
His sigh of relief came over the speaker like a burst of static, but his tone was full of an excitement I remembered from the days of my own first romance. “Mikey’s fine Sam—just fine...damn near perfect, in fact.” For the next quarter hour we were regaled with the details of their meeting in art class, the jokes, the note and its later delayed rendezvous...and enough detail in tumbly-jumbly words to make us think this dark-haired bespectacled vision was better than sliced bread!
“Guys...” Jay wound down and his words were soft and once more hesitant. “This is the personal bit, Sam.” Mikkel and I shared a glance, and he nodded. I was about to tell Jay to go on, when he did, in a rush. “Far told me all about respecting your partner, and being sure, and love...and we covered the mechanics” here he snickered knowing I’d love that word for it, then went on. “...so I know all about what goes where—but Health class didn’t really say anything about guy sex!”
“Guy sex, Jay?” Uh oh, Mikkel was about to go into ‘teacher-speak’. I caught his eye, shook my head slightly and placed my hand over my heart, hoping he’d understand that it shouldn’t be a lecture. He nodded with a sheepish grin before going on. “You’re right, Jay—Dirck can only tell you so much...I’m glad that you trust Sam and I enough to come to us with your questions—you can ask us anything, and we’ll give you the best, most honest answer that we can.” Hurrah for my sweet boyfriend!
“Okay...spill it...um, I mean, out with...oh—fuck it! What do you want to know, Lover Boy?” Mikkel let out a loud snort at my discomfiture, and I kicked him under the desk, only to find my foot caught between his shins. I cringed when he moved one hand under the desk, but so far all he did was caress the top of my socked foot. We weren’t prudes, but Mik had this thing where if I used more than five ‘dirty words’ in a conversation, he’d tickle me. I was now at One.
Jay’s tone was more confident now that the hard part of his mission was over, but I could almost hear him blushing through the phone as we talked on. “Okay...I won’t go into details why things might seem to be going pretty fast—that’s private between me and Mikey unless he says I can tell—but the first time we kissed was Friday night. It felt so right, and we spent all day Saturday here at the farm—he even had dinner with us—then we went to the mall in Columbus!”
Mikkel and I grinned at one another—it sure sounded like our nephew had a great first date—but there was more to come. “Dave and Trebor told us about being careful in public—you know, not being too lovey-dovey, and we spent a couple hours in their van talking, then went back home, and Mikey spent the night!” Dave and Trebor? I saw my concern mirrored in Mikkel’s face, but we let it pass for the moment rather than distract our hyper caller.
“There is a question here somewhere, right Jay?” I cut in, thinking he might have forgotten the point of his calling. I needn’t have worried. “Yeah—I’m gettin’ to it—anyway, we did a bunch more kissing, and that led to us lying on top of each other, and...well...we were kissing, and moving around, you know—all over each other—rubbing things together pretty hard and fast...and we just came buckets in our underwear....”
I think I was reddening a bit when Mikkel said, “The proper term is frottage, Jay.”
I couldn’t help it, my head hit the top of the desk as I dissolved into peals of laughter! How could he not see the absurdity of that statement? Jay was telling us of the most fun night of his life so far, and Mikkel was playing doctor. With that thought, I had to clutch my sides to keep them from bursting, and my head lolled from side to side, tears pouring out of my eyes. When I could finally get a breath, I blurted “It’s called humping by most guys, Jay.” I blinked when I saw Mikkel hold up two fingers. Oh shit. My pleading wide eyes caused him to lower one finger half-way...then I had to ruin it. “If you do it back-to-front, it’s called ‘riding the Hershey highway’.” The second finger was back, with a vengeance.
“Come on guys...you’re not helping,” Jay said in exasperation. I felt the pressure on my trapped foot increase, and got myself together pretty quick so Jay could go on. “Anyway, this morning, we did b—oral sex....and that led me to the problem I have now...” We heard Jay take a deep breath, exhale, then repeat it again before he got around to what was probably the real reason for this call. “Uncle Mikkel...I only know what I see in the locker rooms at school...but Mikey’s pretty big, and it’s kinda scary.”
Both of us sat up straighter, alarm growing on our faces. “He didn’t force you into anything did he?” I’m not sure which one of us asked that. Jay’s answer was quick and emphatic in its denial. “Heck no—when you meet him, you’ll see—if I want more than a kiss, it’s usually me who has to start it! And that’s the real problem—I want to go all the way with him, and I think he wants that too...but it has to be me who submits first.”
I pounced on that like a dog with a bone. “Why? Because he’s bigger and taller than you? If that’s what he says, then you need to find someone else!”
“No, no, no—stop being a grown-up for a second and listen; no matter what Mikey would like, for the same reason we might seem to be going pretty fast—it has to be me who gets screwed first. I can’t tell you why, but it just has to be that way.” I didn’t like the sound of this, but there was no mistaking the determination in Jay’s voice. That told me this was his own choice, for good or ill. I saw the same concern cross Mikkel’s face, but he held up his hand to forestall any comments from me—he could tell this was Jay’s wish too.
“Jay, what do your parents think of this?” I perked up, if there was anything wrong with this Mikey character, Dirck would kick the kid’s ass from here to Mexico. I wasn’t entirely reassured by Jay’s answer, but nothing got past Dirck when it came to his kids. Jay laughed and you could hear the smile in his voice. “Last night, they outed us after dinner, and just before we went up to bed, Mikey and I exchanged gifts and made our vows to each other—as far as we’re concerned, we’re a married couple...and when we told far this morning, we got the traditional toast and Mikey became part of the family.”
“Tillykke, Jay.” Mikkel said with a soft smile. Much as I trusted Dirck, I’d reserve judgment until I met Mikey, or talked to Dirck myself. “Okay, Jay, I’m assuming you know what you want to do, and it’s your choice—you said Mikey’s big—may I ask how big? The larger a man’s penis is, the more preparation it will take.” I don’t know why, but hearing my boyfriend say ‘penis’ just cracked me up, until he waggled a third finger in my direction. When Jay told him Mikey’s dick was 8½ inches long, and a bit more than average thickness, I gasped. “Holy fuck—he’s as big as you, Mik!” I was surprised when the third finger didn’t pop up, and stunned when my boy said “Shit!” under his breath. “Jay, that’s going to be a challenge, and no matter what you do, it’s probably going to be painful at first, but there are exercises you can do to help ease the pain...”
I remembered the first time Mik and I did it, and the time it took to loosen my muscles for his entry...and though I enjoyed everything we did—immensely, in fact—I didn’t want to hear him instruct Jay in the art of using lubricant, an increasing number and depth of fingering until his rectal muscles adjusted, and then the need to start slow and gradually build up speed. I especially didn’t need to hear the advice about cleaning oneself before doing any of that stuff. I grabbed the tray with our empty mugs, and seeing him nod, I went down to the kitchen to make some more cocoa. Half an hour later, Mikkel came down and joined me in front of the brick fireplace where I finally had my fire crackling happily. I scooted forward on the couch so he could sit, then I leaned back into his chest with his legs tucked under us.
“He doesn’t start small, does he?” I sighed, handing him his refreshed cup of hot chocolate. “I’m worried about him, Mik.” I felt the sigh of exhaled breath on the back of my neck, and a strong arm encircled my waist.
“Dirck has accepted this boy, and I have to trust his instincts on this—at least until I meet Mikey in person. I’m sending Jay a tube of K-Y and a ‘cheat sheet’ to remind him of what needs to be done in the mail tomorrow. That’s more than we had for our first times, wasn’t it?”
I think he felt my wince of acknowledgment because he kissed the back of my ear.
“It’s a shame you can’t be a father, Mik...you’d make a grand one.”
“So would you, Sam...maybe someday....”