The Middle of Nowhere — Still (by Grant Bentley)

The Middle of Nowhere – Still

By Grant Bentley

If you haven’t read “The Middle of Nowhere” then I suggest that you read it first to learn about the characters.

And yes, we found love… even in the middle of nowhere.

Jamie had, in a few weeks, become a part of me, and I realized that I was falling in love. And fall in love, I did. And yes, the trips to town to see Jamie became more frequent. Hell, we even had company a few times as Robbie and Janelle came with us. Sadly, there were a few times when Dad needed the car. So, Jamie and I had to sit in our rooms and message each other for a few hours.

But then, being the sweet, generous guy he is, Jamie’s dad bought him a car. It was a little old, but it still had 40 pounds of metal for every 2 pounds of rust. Then again, we didn’t care as long as it ran well and solved our occasional, ‘I need the car, sorry,’ problem.

Naturally, it spent a lot of time on the road between his place and mine, as well as my dad’s. And just so you know, we also went to movies, swimming, eating burgers, and chatting with friends, and did other fun stuff, including sit in the grass and eat ice cream.

Then Jamie’s 17th birthday rolled around — in the middle of July, no less. After serious discussion, it meant a two-week trip to the middle of nowhere — up north. You know, the real middle of nowhere where they have trees and stuff. After some serious packing, including a relatively familiar big foam mattress, we were ready to go. About 180 miles later, during 30 of which we couldn’t see over 20 feet to the left or right of us, and we were listening to the sound of the wind rustling through the trees, and the water of the North Saskatchewan river flowing past us.

“OMG, this is unbelievable,” Jamie exclaimed as we sat there staring at everything.

“I know,” I replied, “Like the trees and everything. It’s so different from our usual miles and miles of nothing but miles and miles.”

“Let’s set things up, and then we can do some exploring and enjoy ourselves,” Jamie suggested.

And so, two hours later, tent up, a pile of nice dry wood waiting, four egg salad sandwiches eaten, we were walking hand-in-hand down a narrow little path that basically went nowhere. But the views and the sounds were beyond awesome. We even enjoyed listening to the squirrels bitching at us as we walked along. Oh, and the skinny dipping after supper was cool, too.

“There’s something about being in the middle of a forest that’s exhilarating,” Jamie mentioned as we sat by the fire burning marshmallows.

“Yeah, I know what you mean,” I replied, “And it’s more than just being different. It’s yeah — I don’t know — cool.”

We sat watching the flames and just listening to everything for quite a while. Then, after eating the one marshmallow that survived the bonfire, we cuddled together for the night.

And yep, except for the one day when it rained, we wandered for miles, taking in everything we could take in. And according to Jamie, walking everywhere we could, swimming, watching the wildlife, well, maybe they were just squirrels and birds, or just relaxing and listening to the sounds around us, made this his best birthday yet.

“That was the best experience of my life,” he said as we were driving home, “Well, besides being cuddled up with you.”

My 17th, unfortunately, was in November. The weather was cold, and school was on. But, with much thought, it was decided a trip to Banff on the long weekend would suffice. I mean, it would be only four days late, and since Jamie hadn’t crashed or slid off the road yet, he was allowed to drive us. Our parents even gave us money to stay in a hotel instead of our tent, which was very nice of them.

Neither of us had ever skied in our lives, so this would be interesting. Then when we got to the ski hill, the young guy renting out stuff said, “skis, pffft, you need snowboards.”

So okay, snowboards it was. Oh, and he also pointed out a cute young instructor we might want to talk to. Now I don’t think there are any words a polite young guy should use to describe the next few hours. I mean, the things you can do — intended or not — while riding a snowboard, are unbelievable.

By the morning of day three, though, we could stand up long enough to go down a couple of the slopes. I must say, they were fun days, and we got more than a few laughs from guys passing by. So, not counting Jamie’s, it was the best 17th ever.

We did make our way through grade 11, and unlike many young teen couples, we grew closer and closer every day. To say we were one would have been an understatement. Of course, with our plans to continue our education beyond high school, summer now meant working our butts off.

Now I know many of you think farmers plant in the spring, reap in the fall and lay around all summer. Well, it’s not quite like that. We didn’t work for the same farmer, but let me tell you, we worked. We shoveled, lifted, carried, fixed, tested, inspected, drove, and walked miles. Hell, I can even clean and fix a seeder or combine or two. And weekends — what were they?  I’d like to say it was fun working, but I won’t. I will say our time off, when we got it, was fun, yes it was. So, Jamie’s 18th wasn’t spent mucking about in the wilderness for two weeks. But it was fun anyway.

And then grade 12 — and acceptance to university or college meant decent marks. Just passing courses wasn’t good enough, so the work was on. We did appreciate that it wasn’t all physical, too, even though the summer had built some pretty cool muscles, which we both quite liked.

Then towards the end of September, dad asked if Jamie and I would pick up Uncle Ben from the airport.

That didn’t seem like a big deal, so I said, “Yes, of course.”

I mean, we’d been living next door to him for years, and he loved both Jamie and me. But Uncle Ben was Uncle Ben.

He got off the plane, and as he wandered towards us, announced loudly that he’d been dying for a fag the whole trip, and as soon as he could, he was going to enjoy one.

A lady walking beside him looked at him and announced, “That’s disgusting.”

“What’s disgusting?” Uncle Ben asked.

“Talking about wanting a fag so loud everyone can hear,” she replied.

“What’s wrong with having a good tasty fag?” he asked.

She looked at him for a second and asked, “In your bum or in your mouth?”

“In me bum?” he questioned, “Of course not. But I sure do like the taste.”

“Oh my god, get me out of here,” she said, turning to walk away.

At that point, he pulled out his pack and asked, “Would you like a fag before you go, ma’am?”

She looked at it, gritted her teeth for a second, then burst out laughing. When she got control, she said, “I’m sorry, I thought you meant the other kind of fag.”

“Ah, so that’s where me bum came in,” he said, “Not cool.”

As soon as we made it outside, they both lit a fag and then chatted like old friends. Jamie and I just stood in the background, taking in what had to be close to the epitome of weirdness.

Uncle Ben did mention he was not fond of the word fag as she was applying it. “They’re not fags, they’re gay,” he stated.

Then when he noticed us and finally remembered we’d come to pick him up, he called us over and introduced us. “This is my nephew Adam and his boyfriend, Jamie. I think Jamie’s gay.”

“Hi boys,” she said, “And I’m so sorry for my use of fag. It’s used way too much with too many meanings, I’m afraid.”

“Thanks,” Jamie answered.

“That word’s a right pain in the bum, but they’re used to it,” Uncle Ben stated.

“I’m sure,” she replied, “They probably hear it way too often.”.

Oh, and you have to know my Uncle Ben, or maybe not. There was a great big grin on his face as he looked at us and then her and said, “And speaking of a pain in the bum, I believe Adam quite likes the occasional pain in the bum. Am I right, Jamie?”

So how do you say embarrassed to death? And there aren’t a lot of sinkholes in a concrete sidewalk, but we both looked for one.

“Ben! That’s not nice. Good grief,” she said, before asking us, “Do you guys put up with this a lot?”

“He’s just back from England, so not for a while,” I replied.

“It’s been worse,” Jamie added, laughing.

“Worse? Oh, you poor boys,” she said, still grinning, so it almost seemed like she was actually concerned.

“Oh, this is Jean,” Uncle Ben said.

“Hi Jean,” we both said.

“Uh, Jean and I are going for lunch at Big D’s in town,” Uncle Ben announced.

“Uh, okay?” I questioned.

“So, you don’t need a ride home from us then?” Jamie asked.

“No, but thanks for being here,” Uncle Ben replied, “See you at home,” he added as he and Jean turned and left.

“So we drove for forty-five minutes to get here, waited for an hour, watched him meet Jean about ten minutes ago, got the hell embarrassed out of us, and see you later we’re going for lunch?” I questioned.

Jamie just grinned and said, “It seems so.”

“That’s just crap,” I said, “and you like the occasional pain the bum sometimes too.”

“Okay, okay, now let’s get out of here before this day gets any weirder,” Jamie said, grinning and patting my bum.

And Uncle Ben aside, we had quite an enjoyable rest of the day and evening after a big dinner and a few video games. And an apology from Dad who was also grinning for assigning us to pick up Uncle Ben, so it almost seemed like he was actually concerned.

Now that Uncle Ben was back after six months, life would have a new interest factor. Not that we needed it. And insinuating nothing, we didn’t see him for two days until Jean brought him home. We did discover a few things about her as time progressed — and no, she didn’t go away. Well, she did go to her place to get more clothes once. All I can say is, who knew that offering a fag to a lady you just met could lead to marital bliss?

And when I was talking to Uncle Ben about it a few weeks after their wedding, he looked at me, grinned, and said, “It seems offering a ‘fag’ to Jamie is leading towards marital bliss for you too, isn’t it?” 

Did I say life would have a new interest factor? Yep, he was back.

I’d love to relate a ton of fun things that happened over the next few months. I mean, we did have fun times, really fun times, including fun times I shouldn’t describe. Mostly though, we studied and worked on keeping our marks up.

As for the summer, we shoveled, lifted, carried, fixed, tested, inspected, drove, walked miles, and even cleaned and fixed a combine or two. And weekends — what were they?

But by the end, we had money. Enough to pay for tuition, but only a bit towards accommodation, so thanks for having parents who cared and could afford to help.

When we got to university, I chose education, and Jamie chose economics with computer programming as a side. And yes, we had to stay in the dorms, and yes, we shared a room, and yes, everyone knew we were a couple. The only guy who cared was still always nice to us, though about once a week, he would slide a ‘God can save you’ flyer under our door.

And yes, we did get to do a lot of fun things during those four years. The best, well second best, was the day Jamie proposed. The best, of course, was the day we got married. We tried to keep it small, but with two moms involved, not so much. All our families and friends were there, plus most of our parents and it was an amazing time. Uncle Ben even behaved himself. Best of all, though, is when we became Jamie and Adam Whittaker-Morrison.

And yes, I would relate our summers to you too, but we just shoveled, lifted, carried, fixed, tested, inspected, drove, walked miles, and cleaned and fixed a combine or two. And weekends, what were they?

Then, finally, after four years, and some rather lengthy interviews, we once again found ourselves in the middle of nowhere. Well, once again for me and for the first time for Jamie. We paid $500 less a month for rent. I mean, urban was $1200 a month and pay the utilities when village rent was $650 a month all included.

I was now the high school biology and chemistry teacher, and Jamie was now the manager in waiting for a not so big credit union in the town ten miles away. And as funny as it may sound, actually having incomes, never mind combining them, made us feel almost wealthy.  

As for there being any static about two young guys living together — nope, there wasn’t any. Then again, one of their favourite kids in town was Tommy, an avid figure skater who was ‘obviously’ gay — I mean, of course, right? 

Surprisingly or not surprisingly, in the first two years teaching there, three of my kids came out. Two were totally accepted. But the third was told he better fix it, let them fix it, or get the hell out. He got the hell out.

And he came directly to us.

Even though I’d had more than a few OMG moments, this was on the top of the list. We had no idea what we should do. I mean, two gay guys were taking in a gay 15-year-old. That could mean jail time or something, couldn’t it?

I immediately phoned my principal, who immediately phoned the social worker who worked with the school. We were faxed permission for him to spend the night, with the instructions to meet with her the next day. Jamie and I both got time off work, and with Kaden along with us, we went directly to her office. We sat and talked for some time before she even thought of starting a fostering program with us, something Kaden made very clear he desperately wanted.

The process was unreal. Never mind a major check with his parents, the ones who disowned him. It also included a police check, and we both had to complete a criminal record check. A home safety check and our home had to meet certain standards, so the social worker had to visit and tour our home to make sure it met their requirements. We had to give financial disclosures, looking at both incomes and expenses to ensure we had enough money to take care of a foster child. 

They had to run a check to see if either of us had been involved in past cases of child abuse or neglect. They required personal references from the people who knew best about our ability to be foster parents. And we had to have our doctor complete a medical reference form. We passed everything. But there was still the question of gay parents and a gay foster child. Thankfully this isn’t an anti-LGBT and hate-mongering country, and with several very positive references, it was agreed we were okay to go.

While all this was going on, Kaden was forced to stay in a group home in the city for three weeks. He did get some very explicatory instructions from the powers that be like we did before they’d hand him over, though. Then when all was finally done, he was able to come and live with us.

Now we were parents — 23-year-old parents of a 15-year-old boy — like, wow! Being parents was something neither of us had even considered — never mind all this. We were desperately needed, though, and thankfully Kaden was a quiet, studious, helpful young man. The worst thing he ever did was on the day we picked him up.

He dropped his bags and exclaimed, “Fuck! I’m finally really at home!” as he walked through the door, before turning and giving us the biggest grin ever.

A few weeks later, he just came home with Scott, a very cute young man who I’d had in my classes for two years, and who was well known for dating most of the girls in high school. For Kaden, that didn’t matter, it was having someone to challenge him at his favourite video games, and he loved it. The sound of the boys battling it out quickly became the evening norm. That is until one evening when they were surprisingly quiet.

We never gave it a thought, until very surprisingly to many, especially me and several girls in my class, a few days later, my fourth student chose to come out. Yep, Scott. Fortunately,  he was totally loved and accepted by his folks so he could stay at home. Plus, Kaden really didn’t need a roommate that we’d end up having to clothe, house, and feed.

Then a few months after all of that, on his 17th birthday, Kaden was presented with some papers to sign. Adoption papers. Let's just say he, Scott, and the half a dozen kids we had over, almost lost it, and a happier bunch I don’t think I’ll ever see. And two weeks after that, he went from being Kaden Johnson to being Kaden Whittaker-Morrison. And yes, he could even spell it.

He and Scott dated throughout high school. When university hit, though, they drifted apart. Kaden was home as often as he could be. We met Adrian, Jason, and Barry over the years. And watching him receive his degree was huge.

Today, some fifteen years later, everyone’s doing just fine. I’m still teaching at the same school, teaching the same courses. Jamie is now the manager of the credit union. And Kaden is a computer analyst working on stuff I could never understand. He’s engaged to Bjorn, a sweet young man who does understand what Kaden’s doing.

Oh, and Uncle Ben and Aunt Jean have been enjoying themselves in Greece for almost six months — and no, we’re not picking them up at the airport.

Yes everything’s awesome, and as Jamie and I are approaching 40, life has been outstanding. We’ve been loved, accepted, and cared about all our lives. And I firmly believe that being in the middle of nowhere or not, if everyone did the same, this could be a beautiful world.

Thanks to Colin for editing, prepping, and posting this story for me.

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If any nice person, nasty person, place, event, happening, thing, or sport, seems familiar, it is purely coincidental.
This story and the included images are Copyright © 2020 by Grant Bentley. They cannot be reproduced without express written consent. Codey's World web site has written permission to publish this story. No other rights are granted.

This story may contain occasional references to minors who are or may be gay. If it were a movie, it would be rated PG13 (in a more enlightened time it would be rated G). If reading this type of material is illegal where you live, or if you are too young to read this type of material based on the laws where you live, or if your parents don't want you to read this type of material, or if you find this type of material morally or otherwise objectionable, or if you don't want to be here, close your browser now. The author neither condones nor advocates the violation of any laws. If you want to be here, but aren't supposed to be here, be careful and don't get caught!