“He who, silent, loves to be with us – he who loves us in our silence has touched one of the keys that ravish hearts.”
Stony sat quietly after his confession concerning the real reason why he was fired. I could tell it affected him deeply, more than just the loss of a job, perhaps a loss of innocence or trust, I wasn’t certain. Silently, I watched as he hung his head, looking at the floor, until, with his hand he wiped his eyes, clearing the tears welling up in them. Looking up, he fixed his gaze on me and choked out, “You’re not mad at me are you, J.T., for not telling you the truth the first time? I don’t think I could stand it if you were?”
I thought a moment, smiled at him and replied, “No; I remember a quote from somewhere, ‘Speak thee not of things held dear,’ so I’d think you’d be more than hesitant revealing to a total stranger what someone attempted to take from you – your dignity, your pride, your right to choose! When I told you of my life with Cameron and his death, you’re the first non-family member I spoke to of that. In fact, that’s the first I really poured my heart out to someone since he died and I spoke of it to my Uncle John. Why, I don’t know – yes, I do! For some reason, I trusted you and you listened in silence, empathetically, and offered no criticism, only acceptance of me as I am. That silence and acceptance earned you a place to live and work on the Island!”
Stony began to respond, but I cut him off by continuing, “It’s a gorgeous evening, isn’t it for two friends to enjoy each other’s company far from the maddening crowd?”
He nodded appreciatively, took my now empty glass and his, left the porch, and returned with two fresh drinks and, raising his glass to mine, offered a silent toast to our friendship and, I should suppose, to his good fortune. I hoped the good fortune would be mine as I drank in the sight of the beautiful young man sitting on my porch, his feet propped up on the rail, staring out toward the lake, watching a full, yellow moon slowly begin peeking its way over the tree line of the forest on the Island! His jeans riding low on his hips, tee shirt covering his slim, svelte torso, reminded me of Cameron, but not, instead gave me thoughts of a second opportunity in life, if he was of the same predilection as I, wondering what it would be like to fuck him or be fucked by him!
The next few weeks we fell into an easy routine and relationship. Stony busied himself around the farm, tending to livestock, doing repairs on out-building, fences, and the house. He managed to do all of those things I intended to do, but for one reason or another, never got around to it. As he finished one task and began another, he’d also help me in the house and garden, canning or freezing the vegetables and fixing meals. Life was becoming easier for me with him around, and a lot more enjoyable. Mom’s wedding was still planned for the end of September, but we had plenty to do around the Island to keep us busy in the meantime.
The first part of September, on one of those cool days that crop up in the midst of heat and torpor, I picked up a walking stick and invited Stony to accompany me on a walk.
“Where to?” was his excited question, eyes wide in anticipation of adventure, not unlike the curious young man that he was. It seemed whatever I proposed was a new adventure for him and he relished in doing things with me, sharing with me his excitement and learning experiences. What a joy to have around!
We walked to the Johnson Slough side of the Island, following a well-worn, but little known trail Uncle John, and now I, used during the winter if and when the ice was safe enough to walk on! At the water’s edge, I explained this was the trail Uncle John used to bring the little Ford tractor, building supplies for construction and improvements, and heavier power equipment to the Island during the winter when thick ice provided a solid road. At one time, he even had a cow for fresh milk; claiming it was more than interesting trying to get that cow across the ice to the Island. We both laughed as I told the tale, at the very thought of a cow slipping and sliding across the slickness of the river ice. God, I loved to hear Stony laugh; his eyes twinkled, his face lit up, and a warmth spread over me!
From the landing at the end of the trail, we walked the fence line or what used to be the fence line since I let it fall into disrepair, into the forested areas of the farm and the Island. I wanted Stony to know the boundaries of our farm (strange, isn’t it, how I’m beginning to say “our” instead of “my”). As we walked through the forest, squirrels and rabbits scampered about making their appearances and then disappeared into the brush or the high trees (squirrels, not the rabbits) when they became aware of our presence. In one heavy brushy area, two deer took flight, white tails bobbing and flagging as they bounded away. In response to Stony’s questions, I explained deer are not uncommon on the Island. The critters either swim across the slough or walk across in the winter.
The walnut and hickory nuts weren’t far from ripening and falling to the ground. Pecans, a tree Stony wasn’t that familiar with, were already beginning to litter the earth beneath those trees. Picking one up, I cracked it on a rock and offered half of the nutmeat to Stony as I consumed the other half.
“Wow,” he mused, “these taste better than those in the store.”
“And not near as expensive,” I added. “These are a northern variety and although not quite as big as those domestic pecans grown down south, they’re every bit as flavorful. They’re great for cooking or just eating as is. We’ll have to pick some up before the squirrels get to them, although there are plenty of trees scattered throughout the Island.”
The next morning, after chores and breakfast Stony announced he was going nut hunting. I laughed aloud, pointing at his crotch, I said, “Just reach into your shorts, you should find a couple.”
Stony grinned, thrust one hand down the front of his pants, groped around a bit, shrugged, and replied, “I found a couple, but they’re pretty small and probably not worth harvesting. Besides, I don’t know how sweet they are to the taste,” and winked at me!
I imagined otherwise but refrained from further comment on his nuts! Instead, pointing toward my bedroom, I said, “There are a couple of gun cabinets in there with pistols, shotguns, and rifles. Pick a weapon of your choice, grab some shells, and get us a couple of squirrels for lunch. I’ll fry them up with some potatoes, fix a salad, and we’ll be eating high on the hog,” and tossed him a flour sack for any pecans he picked up to bring home.
When he left the house, he had a .22 caliber pistol strapped to his waist and a box of shells stuffed in his pocket.
“Sure you don’t want a shotgun?” I asked doubtfully.
“Nah,” he replied, “I’m just going after squirrels,” and set off at a quick pace into the wooded surroundings.
I busied myself about the house while he was gone. I thought I heard a couple of shots from the woods, but really paid them little regard. I was busy trying to solve a problem of my own. Mom and Jim decided after they married, they’d move to his bigger, four bed room home near the school where they both worked. Not only would it be convenient for them to walk to work, but the larger home was roomier and more conducive to family gatherings at holidays. Although Jim’s only daughter lived in town, his oldest son was married with seven children (whether he was passionate or horny, I’m not certain; perhaps both) and lived out of town, so at holidays, they came and stayed a couple of days. Our little two bedroom house just wouldn’t be big enough for everyone, so it made sense for them to move.
When Uncle John passed away, I inherited all of his estate, and the little house we lived in was part of it. Mom insisted on paying him rent and he, in turn, invested that rent money for her. When he died, I insisted no rent be paid and gave her the investment portfolio with her retirement money secured in the low risk bonds and T-bills Uncle John had invested in. She was thrilled and vowed not to touch the funds until she did retire. If it kept growing at the steady pace it had been, she’d have a nice addition to her school retirement and social security.
My problem was simply; what do I do with the house? I could sell it, which I really didn’t want to do since I grew up in it; I could let it sit empty and continue to use it as a base when we came to the mainland from the Island or; I could rent it to someone and risk not having a place for storage. I wasn’t altogether certain a renter would want to share rented space with the landlord. However, I was the landlord and could set my own conditions, if I could find the right renter!
Stony wandered in with a sack full of pecans and two squirrels tied to his belt. He set the bag of nuts on the porch as I went to the kitchen, retrieved a sharp knife and a pan to put the cleaned critters in. I offered to do the job, but he waved me off with, “Nah, don’t bother to get all messy. It won’t take me but a couple of minutes to do the job. I’ve cleaned a bunch of squirrels, but you can keep me company while I do it, if you don’t mind.”
Of course, I didn’t mind and, after he placed the gun belt and shells on the porch table, he and I walked out to the pump. I have a small table there just for the purpose of cleaning and washing garden produce, fish, or game. As Stony skinned and eviscerated the squirrels, I noticed each was killed with a single shot to the head. Either he was a pretty good shot or lucky, or both. I think it was probably the former – a damned good shot!
I pumped water from the well as he carefully washed each carcass, quartered it, and placed it in the pan, then washed himself. Shaking his hands to dry them, he asked casually, “Have you ever thought about pumping water with an electric pump instead of by hand? It’d make life easier here on the Island and not stress your arm and shoulder when it bothers you.”
I laughed and responded, “That’d take electricity and if you notice, other than the generator, I don’t have any electricity on the Island and I’m certainly not going to run the generator every time I want some water. It’s not so bad, I have the little pitcher pump in the house and that sand point well produces good enough water. This bigger well, here, was put in years ago and I have no idea how deep it goes. I think Uncle John said the guy that owned the place before him had the government put it in during the depression. I don’t know for certain.”
Stony just smiled that quizzical, somewhat shy and seductive smile of his and said, “When we get back to the house, let me show you something.”
Back at the house, cleaned game in the refrigerator, we sat down at the porch table, while Stony fired up his laptop computer.
“Last time I was in the library, I downloaded a bunch of stuff on solar electric and the panels that produce it.”
He put the laptop in front of me, leaned over my shoulder, clicked on an icon on the desktop, and found the material he was looking for. As he worked, his breath was warm, soft, and sensual wafting on my neck and pillowing down my shirt. I really had to concentrate on what he was trying to show me on the laptop for fear of blowing a load in my shorts!
“This is a solar water pump and pressure tank,” he explained pointing at a picture on the screen. “These solar panels generate the electricity to charge the batteries to power the pump. The submersible pump is placed down in the well casing and through this long hard plastic hose is pumped to the surface, then to the pressure tank, and to the distribution system via these valves as water is demanded. A properly insulated well house with solar generated heat, properly insulated trenches and water lines to the house, pig pen, and chicken house can supply water all year around. We’d use the pitcher pump in the house as a backup. Someday, we could install a wood boiler or a propane hot water heater to heat water for use in the house for dishes, baths, whatever.”
He was so excited about the project so I just sat silently and listened to his enthusiastic plans.
“Someday, we could have electric lights in the house too by putting panels on the roof or out front; twelve volt of course. I wouldn’t do 120AC just for lights although we could have a couple of inverters to charge computers, cell phones, or run a television if we wanted too. The generator will take care of any power tools we want to run.”
Stony suddenly stopped talking, stepped back, face turning red, and looking down at his feet. “I guess I’m getting awfully presumptuous and free with your money since I don’t have any! I haven’t even asked you if you’re interested and here I am with all of these plans. I’m sorry, J.T., I’ve been terribly rude, haven’t I?”
I shook my head and responded, “I guess Mom was right; I should modernize the place. Can you do all of this if I finance it?”
“You bet I can,” he said. “There are all kinds of fine power tools in the shop in the shed. If you don’t mind, I can get them in running order and sharpen the blades. I can do all of this,” pointing at the pictures on the laptop, “only it looks pretty expensive.”
“Go for it,” I said with a grin, “and fuck the expenses. I haven’t spent much on this place in the past and we do need a nice place to live!”
Now it was my turn to be embarrassed and overly presumptuous since I had no idea if Stony would ever consider living here long term and sharing my life with me. I was older, shattered and battered by war, and somewhat cynical, I thought, and didn’t know if I was really fit company for anyone to share my life with!
Stony evidently didn’t catch the remark or ignored it, but instead jumped up and hugged me tightly, nuzzling my neck as he did so. He held me longer than just an ordinary hug, but then let go, again embarrassed, and stepped back.
“I’m sorry J.T. that was probably uncalled for or unwanted.”
“Don’t be sorry,” I said warmly, “I haven’t been hugged by a handsome man in a long time and it felt good.”
There was a moment of awkward silence, until, I announced, “I better get those squirrels on the stove to cook if we’re going to have them for lunch,” and busied myself in the kitchen flouring and seasoning the quartered meat preparing it for frying. Stony fixed a salad and sliced some Italian bread for us to have with our meal. On my suggestion, he opened a can of peaches for dessert. Those squirrels were delicious and as far as I was concerned, Stony could harvest some anytime for us.
The rest of the afternoon was spent in measuring distances, remembering the average depth of frost in our area (about two to three feet is all and that in an extreme winter), making decisions on where the water was to enter and where the drain for the sink would go. The location of any solar panels wouldn’t be a problem since there was plenty of open space around the cabin. Stony took copious notes on a yellow legal pad and then transferred his notes to an order form he’d downloaded and saved. With an inverter, he explained, he could also have a printer to print hard copies for our records.I fixed us a light supper since it was late when we finally finished chores after such a busy day. Darkness was creeping on us as I fixed our drinks and we took up residence in our usual places on the porch. After bantering about all we’d accomplished that day, Stony grew silent again, looking down, fiddling with his fingers, and finally asked, “J.T., how and when did you know you were gay?”
Thank you for reading “Gif’s Island – Chapter Sevenx-––“He who, silent, loves to be with us – he who loves us in our silence has touched one of the keys that ravish hearts.” – (Lavator)
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or locales is entirely coincidental.
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