“There is nothing holier in this life of ours than the first consciousness of love – the first fluttering of its silken wings – the first rising sound and breath of that wind which is soon to sweep through the soul…..”
The next morning we ate a light breakfast, left the cabin, and were shrouded in the darkness before a gray, gray dawn to motor to the duck blind and our morning hunt. I decided to take the big flat boat, thinking if the wind, now becalmed, should pick up, the larger boat would withstand the onslaught of it and navigate the waves, if not in comfort, at least more safely. It was a decision I was so happy I made!
The temperature continued dropping as we set out four long-lines containing two dozen each of bluebill decoys and a single set of about two dozen oversized mallard blocks, keeping in mind these would be the primary species we’d be hunting, but wouldn’t be adverse to taking any other duck that decided to land. The day finally dawned as the night ended, cold, still, but with the air filled with migrating waterfowl, flying with amazing speed as only divers, such as bluebills and redheads can, and the slower flights of flock after flock of big, red-legged northern mallards, fresh from the prairie provinces, all seeking refuge and friendship among the illusionary wooden decoys as I called to them with my duck call. Taking turns, I first sculled Carter and Cage to resting ducks for a shot and, when another bunch set their ass in the water, I sculled Stony and Jeremy out to the decoyed ducks to try their hunting and shooting skills.
We did quite well, but only for about two hours or so and then, few ducks returned to our decoys. I kept a weather-eye out since an unusual, angry, darkening cloud bank was forming off to the west and north and I just didn’t trust the looks of it. I wasn’t the only one with trepidations concerning the weather as I realized when Jeremy gave me a nudge with his shoulder and cocked his head in the same direction! I nodded and was about to call it quits when a large flock of bluebills skidded into a landing in the decoys.
Cage whispered, “Out front – there’s a big bunch!” and he and Carter headed for the scull boat. I glanced, again, at the sky and thought we had enough time to make one more scull and then call it quits for the day before the gathering storm hit. I sculled the boat toward the resting birds, steadily, quietly moving the little boat forward. About thirty yards from the ducks, I signaled to Carter and Cage to “take’em,” whistled to jump the birds, and three birds dropped from the flock in as many shots. The slick, white-bellied ducks floated belly-up on the water.
The wind suddenly quickened as we retrieved two of the downed fowl, but the last one shot fell farther away and was drifting with the wind moving it more and more of a distance from us. A gust of wind broad-sided the boat, lurching and rocking us for a moment as I put more effort into pulling and pushing the oar in order to propel us toward our prize. It took me a good ten minutes to finally reach the downed bird and the wind continued to grow, gusting, buffeting us as Carter reached over the gunwale, picked up the bird and tossed in the boat. The air temperature seemed to plummet, growing colder, turning the wind-whipped spray to ice, forming in icicles and droplets on our clothes and sheeting the boat with a frosting like glaze. We were being storm-tossed on angry water and drifting farther from the blind as I put more and more effort into getting us back toward shelter. Snowflakes began falling, horizontally not down, adding to our misery and heightening my concern for our safety. It was more and more difficult to maintain any headway, even as hard as I tried, but I knew I had to persevere if we were to survive this encounter with the river and the weather!
My right arm, tiring from the constant motion, was beginning to cramp so, I began using my left arm, my weak one, to relieve the pressure on my right hoping the increased power would suffice and provide the power needed to move us in the right direction. I knew my lame arm wouldn’t hold out long, but I hoped against hope it’d last long enough to push us back to the blind. I looked up toward the front and saw Carter and Cage checking each other life vests, making certain they were secured. Carter said something to Cage, but the wind was howling and the waves were loudly slapping the boat so I was unable to discern what was transmitted, but I’d bet it was “stick with the boat if we dunk” or words similar to that. Our only hope, if we did capsize, would be to cling to the boat and hope Stony and Jeremy would be able to rescue us. We just wouldn’t last long in this cold water!
An extremely large white-capped wave caught us, thrusting us forward and slewed us sideways, luffing in the tough of two waves, so I pulled hard on the oar to set our course right and a loud “SNAP” resounded in my ears and the oar went limp in my hands – the blade broke off of the shaft of the long oar!
“Shit! Shit! Shit!” I shouted in despair and defiance into the wind and the forces of nature seemingly bent on our destruction! Just as I reached for the canoe paddle I kept in the boat for emergencies, another more familiar noise lurched up on the windward side of the scull boat. The big flat boat’s chugging motor with Jeremy at the helm and Stony with rope ready, sidled alongside! A toss of the rope to Carter and he and Stony had us snugged up tight to the flat boat. Jeremy’s experienced hand guided the big boat, steadying it as Cage was hauled in, then Carter, and finally me, carrying the guns and the dead ducks- be damned if I was going to lose either the ducks or the guns should the scull boat get stove in!
“John Thomas,” shouted Jeremy, “get down in the boat and rest. Stony and Cage, grab those two pike poles and hook decoy lines and pull the blocks over the side into the boat when I make a pass by them!”
“What the fuck’s a ‘pike pole’” shouted Cage back.
“It’s those two long poles with the hooks on the end, Dumb Ass! Use the hooks to grab the decoy lines then pull them toward and into the boat and hustle your asses, cause it’s like the hurricane said to the palm tree- hold on to your nuts, this is going to one hell of a blowjob! Don’t worry about sorting them; we’ll do that later back at the cabin.”
I wanted to stand up and shout “see, Jeremy, you can do more than you think. You’re more talented than you give yourself credit for’ but I didn’t; instead I just smiled at him and nodded my approval, giving my blessing to this fifteen, almost sixteen year old leader of our rescue and the end of our expedition! With the decoys all retrieved and stowed in the bottom of the boat, wind still rising and buffeting us about, snowfall increasing in intensity, Jeremy headed the heavily loaded vessel and attached scull boat through the cut to our lake and calmer water. I had my head tucked down trying to stay warm (impossible) and dry (equally impossible) and failed to notice when Cage made his way to the stern to sit next to Jeremy.
I guess, Jeremy, I thought to myself, saving someone from drowning is one way to get them to notice you, but I wouldn’t recommend it as a common ploy! Jeremy’s face was calm, but determined, as he neared the dock. Cage said something to him and all I heard in response from Jeremy was “as if I’d ever let anything happen to you!” My heart grew heavy for a moment, remembering similar words to Cameron years ago and now those same feelings for Stony as we shared our lives. Where I failed Cameron, I pledged to keep Stony safe- it wasn’t going to happen to Earl Henry Jackson if there was one drop of blood left in me to give!
Jeremy docked the boat and, after Stony secured it with ropes, he, and Carter gathered up the ducks, their guns, and my gear, and the three of us headed up the snow-covered path to the cabin. About half way there, Jeremy hollered above the wind, “Cage and I are going to winch the boat up on the rollers and cover it. I’ll drain the water from the motor’s lower unit so it won’t freeze. I think we’re in for one hell of a storm!”
He was spot on with that statement; the snow was pelting down in those small, driving, mound building flakes, reminding me of the old saying “big snow, little snow; little snow, big snow.” We trudged to the house while the boys worked. They had to be just as cold and wet as we were, but Jeremy was determined to get things put away. Stony, Carter, and I stripped to our underwear and while the two of them stoked up the wood stove, I filled the percolator and a tea kettle so we could have coffee and the boys’ hot chocolate.
I was beginning to worry about the boys and was going out to check on them when I heard clumping and thumping on the porch punctuated by Jeremy instructing, “One more arm full each and the box will be full enough to last a day or so,” and the sounds heavy chunks of wood hitting the sides of the wood box on the porch. Outside they went and soon back in, clumping, thumping, and laughing!
“Jeremy and Cage; you better strip out of those wet clothes,” I cautioned, “I’ll get some clothes racks out and we can hang them to dry near the wood stove.”
Again, giggles, laughs, and teenage comments began emerging from the porch. I stepped to the door to see what was so funny. Nothing actually; Jeremy was stripping off his shirt and undershirt, coat already on the floor, and when he dropped his pants and stepped out of them he was clad only in very skimpy light blue string bikini underwear, if that’s what their purpose was. They barely covered his butt cheeks and barely provided enough room in the front for his cock and balls. I couldn’t help but admire the trim hips, well-formed upper body, and his lithe, athletic frame; not overly developed but slim and taut. Jeremy was a fine specimen of a young man growing into a very handsome and capable adult; one who’d make male or female eyes gravitate toward him on the beach or the locker room!
“We fed the chickens and gathered the eggs,” he said as he shucked off his socks, “and put them in the basket there on the table.”
He paused a moment, looked me over critically, and said with a smirk, “Nice undershorts, there, J.T. I really like the bright yellow and black plaid; nothing like wearing the old school colors, right?”
While he visited with me, he didn’t see what I saw.
Cage, shirt and undershirt removed and in the process of sliding down his pants, stopped, his eyes locked on the nice, blue covered package wobbling in front of him as Jeremy visited with me. If I ever saw anyone more enthralled, entranced, and smitten, who for the very first time witnessed the prize he sought within his grasp but was hesitant to reach out and grasp the brass ring, it was Cage! Sensing my observation of his rapture and curiosity, Cage blushed and smiled, continuing to slide his pants down around his ankles, leaving him similarly attired, only in form-fitting boxer briefs which left little to the imagination. Jeremy turned at that moment and it was now his turn to gawk at the summer sausage tucked away in the briefs of his companion!
I broke the trances saying, “Hey, Guys, get some dry clothes and come back and give me a hand with fixing a hot meal. I’m about starved!”
They quickly scampered off, Cage to the room he shared with his Uncle and Jeremy to our bedroom while Stony and Carter joined me in a bit of a chuckle over the revelations the two teens just had. It didn’t take long for them to return, each clad in clean, dry clothes. By then the coffee was done and water hot for hot chocolate. While the boys mixed up their chocolate, Stony and Carter changed into dry clothes also.
“What’re we having for lunch, J.T.?” queried Jeremy. “I hope its duck.”
“Not for lunch but for supper; for lunch we’re having beef stew, so why don’t you guys get out some potatoes, onions, and carrots along with some turnips and parsnips from the vegetable bin. We’ll get them peeled, cut up, and into the roaster along with the meat.”
“A roaster?” quizzed Cage. “Why not a pot on the stove”
“Nope; I like it better slow roasted so we’ll cut up a blade cut beef roast I have thawed in the fridge, put it in the roaster pan with the vegetables, some salt and pepper, a little garlic powder, some winter savory, and two quart jars of home-canned tomatoes. A couple of hours in the oven at 350 degrees and dinner will be ready.”
“’Along with baking powder biscuits,” grinned Jeremy.
“If you make them,” I retorted, knowing full well he would and do it well. He made the best baking powder biscuits!
All of us spent the time waiting for dinner to cook cleaning and oiling the guns so they wouldn’t rust from the snow and river spray earlier in the day and hanging up our wet clothes anyplace in the cabin there was room to do so. The wind and snow continued outside, seemingly unabated and determined to invade our snug and warm sanctuary. It would be to no avail; my Uncle John built the structure to withstand the most severe of elements and the improvements Stony made during the summer and fall insulated and protected us.
When the stew was done, Jeremy whipped up a batch of biscuits, set the oven at 425 degrees and fifteen minutes later we were ready to eat. Hot beef and vegetable stew complimented with hot buttered biscuits and honey spread, dripping, over them, made an excellent noon time meal.
Lunch completed and dishes cleaned up, we decided it was time to clean ducks. It took the five of us quite a while, even using the duck picker. After they were plucked, drawn, and washed, Stony took them to the house while the rest of us fed and watered the chickens. On the way back to the house, Cage and Jeremy stopped by the wood shed and picked up an armload of wood apiece, “just in case” muttered Jeremy.
Carter, Stony, and I retired to the living room to kibitz while Jeremy and Cage broke out a chess board and began a game at the kitchen table. Their game continued, as well did the raging storm outside, until it was time for “cocktail hour” in the late afternoon. The two of them seemed to be getting along marvelously well considering the apparent animosity the day before and this morning early in the hunt. Their chatter and giggles were pleasant for the rest of us to hear. Their affable companionship allayed my earlier fears of a very unpleasant weekend.
Darkness began to settle around us and over the Island with the storm continuing to pound the trees and the cabin. We were snug and warm in the well-lighted fortress against the winter storm; it was our bastion from the storms and vagaries of weather and life. Each of us, members of the human race, those with turbulence in lives and those without, need such a safe place to escape as the Island was for me so many years ago and now, with my lover and partner, Stony. Watching Jeremy sipping his cola while I nursed a Brandy, remembering his quick response, cool head, and actions on the river, convinced me he had every intention of making the Island his escape and refuge also!
Supper was roast duck and with two hungry teenage boys in our midst, one duck apiece might not be enough so two roasting pans, each containing four nice, fat bluebills were placed in the oven to roast to a crisp, golden brown on the outside and tender, moist, delectable inside. Our tummies full and dishes done, we again retired to the living room to enjoy the heat of the stove and continue our conversations. I joined Cage and Jeremy on the futon, positioning myself on the end so I could rest my left arm on the armrest and a pillow. Stony, bless his heart, slipped a foot rest under my left leg, elevating it, giving it some relief.
I sighed a comforting sigh of thanks as I said, “I’m glad you recognized the trouble we were in and started out this morning, Stony, or we’d have been floating face up in the river.”
“It wasn’t me!” he exclaimed. “It was him,” pointing at Jeremy. “When the big gusts began to roil the water and you guys cut loose on that last bunch of birds, Jeremy pointed at the sky, grabbed my arm, and ordered me, mind you now, ordered me, to gather up our gear, load it in the boat, and get a life jacket on. ‘Cause, as he put it, ‘Stony, before you can fart two notes, Carter, Cage, and John Thomas are going to be in deep shit’ and by God, he was right!”
“We’d already started toward you and were almost there when your scull oar snapped and the wind took over.”
I looked at Jeremy, seeing in his face not a sense of pompous self-adoration or the inflated arrogance of pride, but a sense of humility and satisfaction from knowing what to do, when to do it, and then doing it. His attitude was one of thankfulness for the outcome.
“Yeah, Stony,” he said, trying to transfer the spotlight from him to Stony, “but you were the one who hung his ass over the side of the flat boat, grabbed them, and pulled them in. All I did was run the motor.”
“Well, to both of you, I give my thanks.” I winked at Jeremy and he grinned back, proud and pleased I recognized and appreciated his efforts that morning. Cage murmured a quiet “thanks” while his eyes were filled with wonderment and adoration of his rescuer.
By nine o’clock in the evening we were all ready for the sack. Jeremy began folding out the futon and arranging his blankets as I announced to the others, now on their way to bed, “Don’t get in a big rush about getting up in the morning. This weather brought our hunt to a close, I fear!”
Stony snuggled up to me, kissing me softly, rolled over on his stomach, spread his precious mounds apart, begging me to make love to him. I did, gently, slowly like we both enjoyed, and after we both climaxed, remained inserted deep in him, and stretched out length-wise on his back, allowing his warmth, his murmurs of endearment comforting me and giving me rest.
Morning dawned gray and cold and, as Stony and I walked to the kitchen to fix our coffee, we were trying to be extra quiet for fear of waking Jeremy. I made the coffee while Stony slipped some wood in the stove, still warm and bedded with coals from the night fire. Fire replenished, he returned to the kitchen, tapped my arm, and pointed at the futon. Wrapped in blankets, Cage pulled tight, face to face, in Jeremy’s embrace; Jeremy’s right leg hooked over Cage’s torso, pulling him closer and securing him, the two teens were sound asleep in the bliss of innocence, oblivious to us, the world, and only aware of each other.
Cage’s head was tucked under Jeremy’s chin, his head resting on Jeremy’s breast, snoring lightly and contentedly. Beside the bed was a pair of light, blue string bikinis and a pair of boxer briefs, discarded sometime during the night I should imagine, giving each access to the other, letting their nakedness press warmly together.
Stony smiled, looking at the sleeping couple, and whispered, “That young cousin of yours looks and acts so like you, it’s unbelievable. He even sleeps like you do, only on the other side.”
He was right and those two boys were in love as much as Stony and I are. I can remember waking up that way many times with Cameron tucked under my chin in the same manner that Stony did and now Cage would.A new generation of love and lovers arrived on Gif’s Island and I welcomed it.
Thank you for reading “Gif’s Island - Chapter Sixteen –“ There is nothing holier in this life of ours than the first consciousness of love – the first fluttering of its silken wings – the first rising sound and breath of that wind which is soon to sweep through the soul…..” – (Longfellow)
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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