Palouse by vwl
Homecoming – May 1987
The Next Spring
Robert Kingman was coming home – in two weeks. He was bringing someone with him. The letter announcing this, mailed from Djakarta, Indonesia, arrived in the morning mail one day in early May. It was the only personal message among a maze of catalogs and bills that arrived that day. It had been almost 15 years since Robert had left home. The communications from this oldest Kingman child were infrequent – occasional letters and phone calls on birthdays and Christmas holidays A standing invitation by Betty and Stan to come home for a visit any time had been ignored.
Through the kitchen window later that month, Betty could see dust pluming from the back of a white car a mile down the road from the farm. She knew it had to be Robert, and her anticipation to see her first-born mounted. She hurried to the porch, wiping her freshly washed hands on her plaid apron. The car turned into the driveway, drove to the house and pulled alongside it by the kitchen door. Betty stepped off the end of the porch onto the gravel roadway and approached, wanting to run to the car yet hesitant to do so.
Robert opened the driver’s side door, stood and looked toward his mother. Betty was taken aback; it was as if a younger Stan had suddenly reappeared, and memories of an earlier time at the farm flooded her mind. Her recovery was quick, and she opened her arms for her son, who hurried to her. No words were spoken. They hugged quietly, tears in both their eyes.
“This is wonderful – you coming home again. I can’t tell you how long I’ve waited for this moment. The last couple of weeks, since you wrote, have been agonizing and wonderful at the same time.”
The passenger door of the Mercury Sable opened, and another man got out. “Mom, I want you to meet my best friend, Sam Peterson.” He had practiced the introduction in order to avoid any hesitation.
“I’m pleased to meet you, Sam” Betty said. By this time, a houseful of kids had emerged from the kitchen door, and Betty introduced each of them to Sam. Robert knew them only from the photographs that had been sent at Christmas times, but he had taken care to be able to attach names to faces.
“I’ve got everybody coming for dinner. Kat is out riding her horse, and your dad will be here in an hour. I made all your old favorites – baked ham with mustard sauce, Parker House rolls, green beans with bacon, peach pie, and pumpkin pie. I hope they’re still your favorites.”
“Mom, they’re still my favorites. They’ll always be my favorites.”
“Let’s get you settled. I’m putting you in the back bedroom. There are twin beds for you and Sam, if that’s okay – you sharing a room with Sam. Maria’s going to bunk with Roberto while you stay. You get settled in, and dinner will be ready in an hour.”
Dinner was a warm and convivial occasion as the Kingman family became reacquainted across the ocean that separated them. Sam was a perfect guest. He was excellent at quizzing each of the kids in turn on their interests and their hopes, with Robert chiming in from time to time. Micah was very shy at first, but with prodding by Betty, he admitted that he played the violin.
“Micah, you don’t just play the violin,” Betty said proudly, “you excel at the violin.” She went on to tell Robert and Sam about Micah winning his first competition in Seattle, which she had included in a Christmas letter, followed by many more contests.
“Will you play us something?” Sam asked. “Before dessert.”
Micah nodded his head and went to get his violin so he would be ready to play.
“Go ahead,” Robert said when Micah had returned to the dining room.
Micah played a few short partitas by Bach and bowed shyly at the applause of his family before returning his violin to the music room.
Pie and ice cream were served and eaten, and coffee cups had finally been shoved aside. Dinner was winding down. The younger kids had been sent to bed.
Robert shifted his chair closer to Sam’s. “Everybody, I’ve got something to announce. I told you when we arrived that Sam was my best friend. To be honest, he’s much more than that: he’s my partner – for life.” A silence fell around the table. Betty’s face turned grim, and she started twisting her napkin in her hand. Stan closed his eyes and nodded. The older children simply looked at each other, uncertain at what they heard, but knowing instinctively what it meant.
Micah broke the uncomfortable silence. “What’s a partner – for life?”
“I’ll tell you later,” Betty said firmly.
“No,” Stanley interjected strongly. “He’s 12 and old enough to know. Tell him, Robert.” Betty stood and left the room.
“It’s like we are married, Micah. We will honor and cherish each other until death does us part, just like the promise made by a man and a woman at their wedding.”
“Isn’t that wrong?” Micah asked.
“Only if you make it wrong. Too many people make it wrong, but we love each other, and to us, that’s what counts. God is love. Our love is God’s gift.” Robert took Sam’s hand.
Micah had not heard the sermons against homosexuality at their Seventh Day Adventist church. He went to Sabbath school but didn’t go very often to the later service, and homosexuality was not a common topic in Endicott, so the pastor did not make the issue a topic of his sermons.
Not knowing how the announcement would be taken, Robert and Sam had planned only to stay a couple of days in Endicott before going to Seattle to visit friends there. They planned to return to the farm for a week, however, if they were still welcome before heading off to visit Sam’s family in Pennsylvania.
* * * * *
They were in the car, on their way to Seattle. Robert and Sam were in the front seat, Micah in the back, leaning over the back of the front seat in order to talk. Micah had been invited for a special reason: the friends in Seattle were active supporters of the arts, especially music and theater, and Robert thought it would be worthwhile for Micah to meet them.
“So why did you leave home?” Micah asked.
“It’s a long story,” Robert said.
“It’s a long trip,” Micah retorted quickly.
Sam snickered. “He got you there, Kingman. Tell him. I have a feeling he’s going to wheedle it out of you one way or another.” Micah smiled to himself; in a short time, Sam had figured out how persistent Micah could be with the quizzing he was getting about the Far East and what he and Robert did for a living and how they knew each other.
They drove for a while as Robert thought about how to explain to Micah what he had done. Micah fidgeted impatiently. Just as he was about to open his mouth again, Robert said, “Okay. You know how large the farm is?”
“1106 acres. Some of the best farmland in the county.” Micah sounded like a real-estate salesman.
“You probably don’t know that Dad had to go deeply into debt to buy it. He actually went in way, way over his head, then wheat prices dropped, and he had to stretch our family’s finances to afford all the payments plus the costs of operating the farm in the early years. Neither his nor Mom’s parents could help much. But the land had seemed just too attractive.
“In order to make a go of it, he had to keep costs low. And he did that by relying on family – me, mainly, but Kat, too – to work without much in the way of pay. I would have to get up at five in the morning and work a couple of hours before school. After school, he and I would work until sundown, and then I’d come to the house for dinner and homework. During harvests, we’d work all night, sometimes under headlights of the farm equipment. This went on from when I was about eleven till I left home at eighteen. At the last, I really resented being his unpaid labor. I didn’t get much other money from him at all, either; I put what I got into the bank. I didn’t get a car like other kids did, and I felt very unappreciated.
“Well, it became obvious that the farm had really begun to succeed financially as I entered high school, but I guess Dad’s habit of relying on my free labor couldn’t be broken. I felt as though I was his slave, that I could never escape, and I really began to resent it.”
“The farm sure looks nice now,” Micah said, “and all the equipment is almost new.”
“It does. What I remember, though, is working late at night occasionally to keep some old crappy tractor or combine running in order to keep expenses down,” Robert continued. “After the farm was doing well and Dad didn’t hire on any extra help and didn’t pay me anything to speak of, my bitterness kept building, I began to get really angry with him, and he got really angry back. We had some excruciating, very memorable shouting matches.”
Robert’s story was interrupted briefly as he maneuvered his rental car through the traffic and onto Interstate 90. Sam reached across and rubbed Robert’s shoulder and neck, trying to calm the tension that was rising there. The gesture was not unremarked by Micah.
“Finally, it was graduation week, which is a busy time for a senior in high school, but it’s busy as well on the farm. A bunch of buddies were planning to drive to Las Vegas right after the graduation ceremony for a couple of days to celebrate. They invited me to come, and I said yes; we were all 18 and 19. I told Dad later that night that I was going to go to Las Vegas. That didn’t go over so well. He told me that I couldn’t go, period, and that there was too much work to do. I told him he could hire someone in my place temporarily. It got kind of tense.”
Robert’s hands gripped the steering wheel hard as the harsh memories of that argument swept through him. Sam undid his seat belt and slid over so he could put his arm across Robert’s shoulders.
“As you can see, even now the memories still affect me strongly. Sam’s heard this story a few times, and he always manages to use it as an excuse to put his arms around me.” They smiled at each other.
“Silver linings,” Sam said.
“Anyway, things came to a head,” Robert continued. “I said I was going to Las Vegas whether Dad liked it or not. Dad said that if I did, I needn’t come back. I said okay. So I went to my bedroom, packed what I needed of my belongings and walked out the door. Mom, in tears, rushed after me and slipped a check for $500 in my pocket; I think it was going to be a graduation gift. She knew she couldn’t change her stubborn husband’s mind. I went to the bank, cashed the check, got the rest of my money out of my account – from Christmas and birthday gifts over the years, money that my dad had given me when times were really good that had grown to quite a lot, actually, since I never had time to spend it on anything – and bought travelers’ checks. The trip to Las Vegas was out – I wasn’t in any mood to celebrate, anyway – so I went to Seattle, looked at job openings as far from the Palouse as I could get and ended up in Indonesia doing construction. That’s where I met Jake, who’s now in Seattle, and Sam, who became my lover and my lifemate. This is the first time I’ve been home since I left.”
“Why?” Micah asked.
“I was just too bitter, and Dad – stubborn Dad – never invited me. Mom did, but Dad didn’t. A month ago, I decided what-the-hell and bought an airline ticket home, which is something that Sam had been nagging me to do for a few years. I was going to go home as me, not as someone lying about his life, which is why I told Sam I wouldn’t come without him. Sam is part of me, and I am part of Sam. If the folks were going to have trouble with Sam, then tough shit.”
“We made up. Dad’s older now, and has mellowed a little. We had a long walk after dinner the first night and talked about things. We didn’t kiss and make up, as Sam and I would have done, but we made up. I want to keep in touch with the family from now on, and that means you, new brother, as well.”
The conversation tailed off as the hours in the car wore on. As they approached Roslyn on the east side of the Cascade Mountains, Robert asked, “Do you guys want to have lunch in Alaska?”
“Huh?” Micah asked.
“Roslyn is where they filmed Northern Exposure. On TV, it was supposed to be Cicely, Alaska. You’ll recognize it when you see it.”
“I like that show. Yeah, let’s eat there,” Micah said.
“Sounds good to me, too,” Sam said. “Probably will remind me of another remote place in the world that we know well – where there’s also a bunch of weird people. Like you, Kingman.”
“And you, too,” Robert said, as Sam leaned over and gave him a kiss.
“Sam, how come you call him Kingman and not Robert?” Micah asked.
“Jake called him that when they were rooming together, and nobody in Jakarta uses anything else but last names.”
“Like Jake?” Micah asked.
“He got you there, Kingman,” Sam said with a laugh.
“Well, almost everybody is known by their last name. Jake’s just Jake.”
They had lunch at the Roslyn Café, looked around the town afterward in vain for the moose that appeared in the opening moments of the TV series and hopped in the car for the final push into Seattle. Going through the pass went easily on the interstate. The ski areas were just fields of grass and naked towers, with idle chairs hanging from cables. Out of ski season, the place looked almost industrial except for the still-melting piles of sand-covered snow piled in huge mounds at the edges of the parking lots.
They passed through North Bend and Issaquah, dropping down toward sea level. As they crossed the I-90 floating bridge, Sam began reading the instructions to get to Jake and Robbie’s house on Queen Anne Hill. After the tunnel, they were to stay to the right and get on I-5 going north. After about a mile, they were to move into the left lane so they could get off at the Mercer Street exit, which actually turned into another street, and then after several left and right turns became Mercer Street again. “Oh, well. This makes some kind of sense – I guess,” Sam said.
“The University of Washington is over that way,” Micah said, pointing across Lake Union, “just beyond that big bridge. That’s where violin competitions are held.”
They found Queen Anne Avenue and turned right as instructed and then drove up a steep street till it flattened out about a half-mile later. The instructions said to turn left onto side streets till they found what looked like a two-story brick home that sat on top of a steep hill overlooking the Space Needle, Elliott Bay and the Olympic Mountains across the water. It was a million-dollar view, and it appeared to be a million-dollar house, once they saw all of it.
“Thank God for detailed instructions, because if anybody’s life really depended on finding any address in any part of Seattle in a hurry, they would be at great risk,” Robert said.
They found a place to park in front, took their bags out of the trunk and approached the front door, which opened as they neared it. Robert hadn’t seen his former roommate of 10 years, Jake, in a few years since Jake had returned to the States a few years earlier.
Jake ran up to the man he knew as Kingman, embraced him and kissed him firmly on the lips, winking at Sam as he did so and forcing Robert to drop his bags.
“Ahem,” Sam interjected.
“I was just finishing what I began that day several years ago, Sam” Jake said, with a wink. “I believe you were the new guy in Jakarta then and only watched the kiss the last time – somewhat closely, I noticed. But I know he’s been taken hard by you, Sam; I just want to keep him as a backup, in case Robbie and I have a falling out.”
“A falling out? Hardly. I have saved your letters from the last 10 years, and they tell a fairy-tale love story.”
“Fairy tale?” Jake asked.
“Shut up, Jake, you know what I mean.”
Jake pulled Robert to him and kissed him quickly on the lips, winking at Sam as he did so.
It was clear to Micah that Jake – his brother’s best friend for many years, as Robert had said on the way over the mountains – was gay, too. Jake seemed nice, and after Robbie was introduced to all of them, Micah couldn’t see anything odd about their relationship. He kept looking. Micah didn’t understand how his mother could believe so much obvious love was unnatural.
Robbie had emerged from the kitchen when he heard the noise in the entranceway and was introduced to the visitors.
“So you’re the young man that Kingman has been raving about since he got home,” Robbie said. Micah’s cheeks turned red; he could only nod. “But I bet you want dinner before you have to defend yourself against your brother’s glowing reports.”
“Er, I think I’d like that,” Micah said nervously.
“Until then, I’m going to ask Jake to give you all a tour of the house while I finish making dinner.”
“First, though, we’ve got to get you situated for the night. Let me get some of these bags,” Jake said, taking two in his hand while speaking to his three guests. “I’ll show you where you’re going to sleep.” They walked up one floor to a hallway that extended the full length of the house. The first room on the left was a bedroom with a large queen-sized bed and an attached private bathroom. “This is for you guys; we’ll put Micah further down the hall.” Outside the windows was a full, unobstructed view of the downtown, the Space Needle, Mount Rainier in the distance to the south, the Olympic Mountains in the distance to the west across the blue waters of Puget Sound. Two ferries were passing each other on their way in and out of the downtown.
Micah’s room was smaller, with a set of twin beds, and the bathroom was across the hall. He put his bag on the left bed, and followed the others back down to the main floor.
“We’ll start at the bottom,” Jake said. He ushered them toward the front door, but shortly before getting there, he pressed a button, and a carved-wood elevator door opened. They all got in; Jake pulled the door closed, pressed a button, and the elevator began to descend slowly. Micah thought this was really cool. “The street below is the equivalent of six stories below the main floor of the house,” Jake said. When the elevator doors opened, they were in a two-car garage, which held an old Dodge Caravan and a new Volvo. Two small, rectangular windows on the garage doors gave enough light to brighten the room.
“I can’t get Robbie to give up his embarrassing rattletrap van, but it’s well hidden here,” Jake said, obviously jesting. “The parking spots are narrow; the garage was built for 1920s-sized cars, which was when the house was built. There used to be a coal furnace down here to heat water that circulated through the house, but the heating system was converted to gas many years ago. We use the coal-storage area for bicycles, skis and such – plus, it makes an ideal wine cellar.” He opened a door to a side room and flipped a light switch, which lit up a room full of what looked like thousands of wine bottles in racks on the wall – in bins all carefully labeled – and cases stacked on the floor. “Robbie asked me to get a couple of nice bottles for tonight.” Jake picked out a Leonetti and a Woodward Canyon Cabernet Sauvignon, both from the Walla Walla area. The visitors didn’t know that the bottles had cost $75 apiece, in case lots, in 1977. Robbie already had put a bottle of French champagne and a Tualatin chardonnay in the refrigerator to chill. Robbie and Jake had planned a spectacular dinner, and they wanted wines that complemented the food.
They took the elevator back up to the main floor, dropped the wine bottles off in the kitchen, which looked as if it had been designed for a chef and then continued the tour. Across from the kitchen was a large dining room with a table that could seat at least a dozen people and probably had done that more than once during its over-100-year-old life. The table was set for six people, so someone else must be coming for dinner. Micah looked at the bright modern, abstract paintings on the wall; he liked them, but he didn’t understand them if indeed they could be understood.
Just down the hall and across from the dining room was a large living room, complete with a huge fireplace, lots of comfortable-looking furniture and the million-dollar view over the city. On the fireplace mantel among other pieces of art was a statue that looked like an Oscar – and was, Micah later found out. Bookshelves lined the walls on either side of the fireplace. Down the hall from the living room was a den and office, with two computers set up beneath overstuffed bookcases.
They climbed the stairs and finished the tour on the second floor. At the end of the hall was a large bedroom, also with only one bed, Micah noticed, and its own bathroom. The bedroom was large enough to hold a couch and two easy chairs with lamps beside them for reading. On the bedside tables were photographs of a handsome man about 25 years old wearing a Stanford sweatshirt and a woman a few years younger. The man looked a lot like a younger Robbie, and the woman looked awfully sisterly.
“That’s Robbie’s son, Alec, and his daughter, Celly. Alec’s in San Francisco, but he says he’s coming back to Seattle soon. Celly’s in medical school in Boston.” Jake pointed to a picture of an older couple. “That’s my mom and dad. Dad died, and Mom’s still living in the Boston area. She’s decided to be the doting grandmother for Alec and Celly.” Micah decided that Jake looked a lot like his mother.
Portraits of Jake and Robbie were on the walls and bedside tables, sometimes showing a younger them and sometimes just pictures of Jake with movie stars. Micah suddenly realized that he knew Jake’s face from the movies. He was Jake Cantwell, the Jake Cantwell. His eyes grew wide.
“You didn’t tell me it your friend was Jake Cantwell,” Micah whispered to Robert.
“His last name is really Ellis-Cantwell,” Robert whispered back.
The doorbell rang. “Our other guest for the evening has arrived,” Jake announced as he headed down to the front door. He opened it to a fine-looking, lean, tall woman in her late 30s or early 40s. She was dressed casually in a charcoal-gray sweater and blue jeans. Her blondish-brown hair was pulled back with a batik ribbon. She had an open, wide and warm face.
“I’d like you all to meet Marcia Davenport. Marcia, I’d like you to meet my buddy Kingman, his lifemate Sam, and, behind them, Micah, who’s trying to remember whether its polite to extend his hand for a handshake or wait for you to do it,” Jake said, gently teasing the boy.
Micah strode forward, put his hand out smartly, shook Marcia’s hand and announced in a strong voice that he was pleased to meet her. After he turned, he stuck his tongue out at Jake, which caused Jake to tousle his hair and laugh.
“Come on, everybody, let’s have a glass of champagne,” Jake said as he ushered his guests into the living room. He disappeared into the kitchen and brought back both a bottle of champagne and Robbie.
“Hi, Marcia, glad you could come,” Robbie said.
“My pleasure, as always, to be invited to dinner by the two most handsome and wonderful men in Seattle.”
“Flattery will get you French champagne and dinner and great wines, but neither of us,” Robbie said with a smile.
“Micah, will you help me open this champagne?” Jake asked.
“I don’t know how,” Micah said.
“I’ll show you.” Jake removed the bottle from the ice bucket, wrapping a white towel around it. “First, you have to be careful not to shake it.” Jake then took the bottle and undid the foil at the top. He removed the wire mesh that held the cork on. “What you need to do is hold the bottle at a 45-degree angle and slowly twist the cork.” Jake handed Micah the bottle, and Micah did as instructed. The cork slipped off with a small pop. “Well done, Micah.” Jake took the bottle and filled the champagne glasses that had been set out. Micah, with a proud smile on his face, took the filled glasses and handed them to his brother, Sam, Marcia, and Robbie. There were two glasses left, one with a small amount of champagne in it. “That’s for you, just to taste if your brother says it’s okay.”
Robert looked to see that the amount was small and nodded his assent. Micah tasted the champagne, but decided that liking it must be an acquired taste, his face showing the flash of a grimace.
“There’s some sparkling apple juice for you,” Jake said, “but you’ll have to open it like you did the champagne bottle.” Micah gently lifted the bottle, undid the foil and wire mesh, held the bottle at the right angle and twisted the cork. He handed the bottle to Jake who filled Micah’s champagne glass from it. Micah took a sip, then he smiled. “When you grow older, you’ll learn to appreciate the finer things,” Jake said with a smile, holding up the Pol Roger. “This is as good as champagne gets, but that’s pretty good apple juice, too.”
They all talked for a while, until a bell dinged in the kitchen. “Sweetheart, would you get everybody to the table?” Robbie said as he left to dish up the dinner. Jake indicated where everybody was to sit and then left to help Robbie. In a few moments he brought out bowls of watercress soup and set them in front of everybody. He and Robbie sat down.
Micah sat bewildered. There was an array of knives, forks and spoons in front of him. At home, there was only one knife, one fork and one spoon. He watched as Jake picked up a spoon from the outside of the array and started with the soup; he copied him. To Micah, the soup had a taste much different from what he had ever experienced before. He was surprised, first, that it was cold, but it didn’t taste too bad even if it was a bit too spicy for him.
The next course was a chateaubriand with a béarnaise sauce, accompanied by roasted potatoes, carrots in mustard and butter and the two cabernets. Micah wasn’t the only one who thought the dinner was wonderful. Along with the dinner, he was given small tastes of the two wines, and he admitted that he liked them better than the champagne. Dessert was chocolate mousse with whipped cream. That, Micah said to himself, he could really go for.
“Well done, luv,” Jake said. “As usual.”
“Yes, yes,” Robert and the others echoed their agreement. “A toast to the chef.” They all held glasses up, clinked them and took a drink of the wine (and apple juice). Micah had never had such an evening, and he enjoyed it. He hadn’t said much during the meal, content to sit back, eat food like nothing he’d tasted before, and absorb his surroundings. He would remember the evening as special for years afterward.
Robert and Sam helped carry dishes into the kitchen, while Jake guided Micah and Marcia back to the living room.
“Can I persuade you to play something for us, Micah?” Jake asked. “You know, your reputation precedes you.”
Micah glared at his brother, but he couldn’t refuse Jake and Robbie after that meal and the hospitality even if he wanted to, so he went upstairs to get his violin. He brought it down, tuned it and got ready to play as the others seated themselves on the sofas and chairs in the living room.
He stood by the fireplace, took a calming breath and began to play the first movement of Ysaye’s Sonata for Solo Violin No. 1. He finished it and stood calmly while the room applauded.
“Amazing. Can you go on and play the fourth movement?” Marcia said. She knew the piece! And that there were more movements, Micah thought, and then realized what she was doing; she was asking to hear him play something in a fast tempo to follow the slow movement he’d just performed. He hesitated before playing, looking around to see if the others were okay with him continuing. They were nodding their encouragement as well.
Micah nodded, took a breath, and then played the fourth movement, also from memory.
“Very, very accomplished. I am really impressed. How old are you?” Marcia asked when he finished the movement.
“How long have you been playing the violin?”
“Two and a half years.”
“I’m even more impressed.” She turned to Jake and said: “I’ll do it. Gladly.”
“Do what?” Micah asked.
Jake responded. “Micah, I asked Marcia to come tonight because your brother said you were brilliant with the violin. Marcia teaches violin – under the name Marcia Vilas.”
“You have an extraordinary talent – truly extraordinary – and I’d like to work with you.” Marcia smiled at Micah. “I can see why you’ve been doing well in competitions.” Micah didn’t know that Marcia kept track of the Northwest violin competitions let alone those across the country.
“But I don’t have any money, and you live in Seattle, which is a long ways from Endicott, and I haven’t asked my mother. And I have a teacher, too.”
“First,” Marcia said, “Jake and Robbie have agreed to pay for my time. Second, I would plan to work with you only a couple of days a month, and you could come to Seattle those days, or I could go to Eastern Washington. I’d give you plenty to work on between lessons. Third, Jake and Robbie have said you can stay with them, and they would pick you up at the bus station or airport and they would pay your way here. Fourth, I’ll talk to your violin teacher to see what he or she…”
“…recommends, so I’m making you an offer you can’t refuse, to quote a movie before your time,” she said with a smile.
“I just don’t know what to say. I need to talk to Mom and Dad and my violin teacher, and I need to think about it. Okay?”
“Wow!” Micah’s eyes lit up, and he smiled to himself. He liked the idea of riding on an airplane, and he liked Marcia Vilas. He hoped his mom would agree.
Marcia said her farewells, gave all the men a hug, including Micah, and left for the evening.
In bed that night, Micah had lots to think about. He thought about Robert’s tale in the car, and how Sam had comforted him. He thought about the dinner – the food, the wine, the conversation, the sophistication of it all. Then he thought about Marcia, and her offer. As that sank in, he started to get excited. Wow!’ he thought, smiling, his excitement steadily growing. I could ride on an airplane. I would come to Seattle and maybe have fancy dinners with Jake and Robbie. And I could work with Marcia Vilas. I like her!
He had lots to think about and relive in his head. He was doing that, going over and over the excitements of the day, and was feeling again the newness and awe he’d felt during dinner when he drifted off to sleep.
The next morning they all went to the Athenian Café in the Pike Place Market for breakfast and then spent the day touring the sights. They ended up for dinner at Wild Ginger, eating Pan-Asian food.
“Not exactly Jakarta food, eh?” Jake asked.
“Not exactly. A hell of a lot fancier,” Robert answered, with an agreeing nod from Sam, “and a lot more expensive,” as he pointed to the menu.
“What do you think, Micah?”
Micah answered with a smile and a thumbs-up sign. “I really liked the lamb and chicken satays, but everything else was terrific, too. Thanks for bringing me.”
“Did you save room for some chocolate torte?”
“What’s a torte?” Micah asked.
“It’s a fancy name for a cake, a chocolate cake,” Jake explained. Micah nodded, with a smile. “I guess that means yes,” Sam said, laughing.
They all joined Micah’s choice of the dense chocolate cake surrounded by whipped cream.
 The story of Jake Cantwell and Robbie Ellis is at Nifty/Relationships and at gayauthors.org as Jake’s Hand and Jake’s Side.