Palouse by vwl
Guarneri – March 1988
Ten Months Later
“I have a violin I want you to try, Micah,” Jake said as they sat in the living room in Jake and Robbie’s Queen Anne house on one of his trips. It was just the three of them in the living room, relaxing after dinner and a weekend of lessons for Micah with Marcia Vilas. Marcia had dropped Micah off earlier in the day, begging off from a dinner invitation due to a prior commitment. Jake rose from the sofa, untangling himself from Robbie’s arm that had been loosely draped over his shoulder, and went down the hall, returning with a violin case. Jake handed the violin to Micah.
Micah looked at the finely made case before opening the latches. He opened the case slowly as if something might jump out at him. Inside, though, was a violin made of extraordinarily beautiful wood. It was obviously very old. Micah took it out, put it on his shoulder and fingered the strings, plucking lightly at them. He set it down and walked across the room to where his bow was sitting next to his own violin. He brought the bow back, lifted the violin to his shoulder and ran the bow against the strings to test the tuning. He adjusted the pegs until it was in tune, then took a deep breath and began to play the Caprice No. 13 by Paganini.
The sounds that came from the instrument tore through him like the blade of a well-honed knife. The richness of the tone simply astounded Micah, and Jake and Robbie, though not musicians, could tell that something was different: a richer sound filled their ears. Micah closed his eyes and entered his own world as he played the movement.
At its end, Micah brought the bow down. “What is this?” Micah asked. “The sound is awesome, the best that I’ve ever heard.” Micah began perusing the outside of the instrument in detail.
“It’s something I found at an auction in New York; it’s an investment for me. Would you like to borrow it for a while? I’d rather have it used than have it sit idle in our closet.”
“Wait a minute!” Micah shouted. He’d been peering through one of the f-holes in the face of the instrument. “This is a Guarneri. It’s like a Stradivarius; some say better. It’s 500 years old. It’s got to be worth a fortune.”
“It’s not what it’s worth that is important, Micah. It’s what one makes of an investment that’s important.”
“I’d be scared to have it in public, Jake.”
“It’s fully insured against theft, damage and virtually every other thing that could go wrong with it – except a poor player. So with you, it would be fully insured.”
Micah began to play a few bars of another Paganini Caprice, as tears came to his eyes.
“I can’t. It’s too beautiful.”
“Look, Micah,” Jake said, “you are beautiful – in your enthusiasm, in the way you play.” And physically, with those near-black eyes, the glistening black hair, the auburn tone of the skin, Jake thought. You’re going to be quite a catch for some girl. Or maybe even some boy. “I want you to take it with you; play it at your next lesson with Marcia, and then we’ll see where you are with this.”
On the plane to Spokane, Micah guarded his newly acquired violin as if he had borrowed the Mona Lisa from the Louvre. In the years that he carried it, he always kept a similar high level of vigilance.
In fact, he almost forgot his suitcase when he got off the plane in Spokane but not the two violin cases – one with the violin he owned and one with the Guarneri. He had gone down the aisle toward the entryway before he realized his mistake, and he had to wait until the other passengers cleared the aisle so that he could go back to his seat and retrieve the forgotten bag from the overhead rack – all the while guarding the precious package under his arms and glaring at passengers who accidentally jostled it.
A worried Betty waited outside the boarding area, not seeing her son get off until, finally, he emerged after all the other passengers had disembarked. As a mother of a young boy, she was always uneasy about sending him away alone, but when he didn’t get off immediately upon the arrival at the gate, she couldn’t help herself; her unease becoming worry. Nevertheless, she hugged him warmly as if he had been lost in the middle of the Pacific for a month before finally being discovered. After the second time on a plane to Seattle, though, Micah told her he felt fine traveling and not to worry; he could always take a later plane if he had to.
As she took Micah’s suitcase from him, she noticed that he was carrying two violin cases. She pursed her lips in disapproval at the one extraordinarily beautiful case that her son was carrying. Jake and Robbie were being much too generous, she thought. There was no way she could repay them – for this new case, let alone the expensive lessons and the airfare once a month. A few homemade rolls and desserts to accompany Micah on his way to Seattle were all she could manage. Of course, she didn’t know yet what was in the case.
The 1 1/2 hour drive back to Endicott took far too long for Micah. He wanted to practice with his new violin and to learn its idiosyncracies. He couldn’t wait to get home. He had to open the case a few times during the drive, but it was too dark really to see anything.
Arriving at the farm, Micah rushed in with the two violin cases in his hands, forgetting his suitcase again, and went to the music room where he opened the new case, retrieved his bow and began to play. Betty, emerging from the truck after him, lugged his suitcase from the car, her face showing her disapproval at Micah’s forgetfulness. Her grimace faded when she heard him already practicing. She was always astounded – and pleased – at the intensity of Micah’s devotion to his playing. If only she had been able to maintain the same devotion to music instead of farm and family…
The sound coming from the music room was somehow different, and she knew it was not likely to be a new technique learned from Marcia Vilas, because Micah hadn’t mastered the changes that she had already carefully taught him, and introducing something that changed the tone as much as she was hearing wouldn’t have been taught until the earlier stages were mastered.
Micah was by his music stand, and she noticed he had a very different violin – a beautiful instrument that sounded very different. She listened in enjoyment as Micah finished the movement he had started. “Where did you get the new violin?” she asked.
“Jake and Robbie loaned it to me. It’s very old. It’s a Guarneri. Guarneri was a contemporary of Stradivarius.”
“Micah, that’s way too expensive a violin for a boy of thirteen.“
“That’s what I said, Mom. But they said it was an investment for them, and they would let me use it until they decided to sell it. They said they couldn’t think of anyone better to lend it to.”
Betty knew exactly what Jake and Robbie were doing, and her feelings were ambivalent toward them, as they always were when confronted with their generosity. But she knew Micah did not fully understand the bounty that he had been given. “I guess they know what they’re doing. I know you’ll be careful with it.”
“I’ll be more than careful.”
“And you need to earn the right to have it, you know that.”
“Okay, it’s time to go to bed.”
Over the next few days, the house became accustomed to the exquisite sound of the Guarneri, even though Micah was still getting used to playing it. Micah, though, was eagerly waiting for some nice weather so he could go to his sanctuary and introduce the new violin to his special place.
Spokane – Fall 1988
David Stirling stood outside the mini-mart, clutching a $5 bill, looking very nervous in his school clothes, holding his book bag beside him. He had gone into the store earlier and scouted out the magazines. He saw what he wanted: a Playgirl. But it was behind the counter along with the Playboys and Hustlers, and he knew, at 13, that he didn’t look old enough to buy anything but candy bars. He had to find out more about himself, who he was and what he was, sexually, and he knew that part of the answer was in the Playgirl. He’d heard talk about what kind of pictures were in that magazine.
He walked across the small parking lot away from the store and up the sidewalk to the next street, barely noticing the stores that he passed by. He turned around and went back until he could see the front door of the mini-mart across the parking lot, bordered by signs advertising the lottery, an ATM, and the fast-food special of the month – or year. The battered sign appeared to have been there for at least that long. He didn’t come by that store that often, so he didn’t really know.
As he stood wondering what to do, a large pickup drove up, and out jumped three young men in their early 20s. That gave David an idea, and he ran up to the last one out of the truck, a slender man with sandy blond hair and clothes and hands dirty from a day of work.
“Excuse me, could I get you to buy me something?” he asked in a plaintive voice. The young man looked at him, assessing his age.
“I won’t buy alcohol for a twelve-year old. Sorry. And you are too young to smoke.”
“I’m thirteen, not twelve,” David said with a bit of irritation. “I just want you to buy me a couple of magazines.” He looked at his feet in what he hoped appeared as shyness. “For me and my girlfriend.”
The young man sighed loudly. “Okay, okay. Give me your money.”
David got a $5 bill out of his wallet. “Would you get me a Playboy and a Playgirl, please?”
The man looked curiously at David then shrugged his shoulders and took the money. In a few minutes, he emerged with a flat, brown paper bag. “You owe me another buck.”
David opened his wallet again and took out a dollar bill before gratefully accepting the package. He ran all the way home along the leafy streets of Spokane’s South Hill, opened his front door and ran upstairs to his room before his mother could notice his odd behavior. He slipped the magazines between his mattress and bedsprings before going back down the stairs to greet his mother.
He stayed long enough with his mother to appear as if he was returning from school normally and then excused himself to go up to his room to “study.” He closed his door firmly, knowing he wouldn’t be disturbed without a knock and time to pull on some clothes. His parents were always respectful of his privacy.
Pulling the magazines out from beneath his mattress, David quickly pulled the wrapper off the Playgirl then watched in horror as a bunch of cards with subscription offers scattered around the room, one sailing under his bed. “Shit,” he said aloud as he gathered them up, reaching several feet under the bed for the stray one, and put them back in the paper bag. He didn’t want his mother to discover a subscription offer to Playgirl when she was in his room.
Sitting on the edge of the bed, David opened the Playgirl as he slowly unbuttoned his school shirt and unzipped his pants, pulling them both off, keeping his eyes glued to the magazine. He felt his erection developing quickly, getting harder as he flipped through the pages until he reached the centerfold. The tufts of hair under the arms of the male in the photograph, the patch of hair between the nipples, the penis that lay soft and large in a bush of pubic hair and then the same penis hard, proud and erect, the leanness of the male body, the masculine features of the face and the hair on the legs – all these caused David’s cock to get harder and harder until he had to pull his boxers down and begin pumping. Less than a minute later, David was spewing spurts of cum up onto his undershirt with the final surges burbling down his erection. It was an erection that wouldn’t subside until he had another orgasm from the pictures in the Playgirl.
The rest of the fall term found David in the library, searching the shelves for books on homosexuality. He would take a book off the shelf then go to a different floor in the library to find a table where nobody could connect him with the books he was reading. He was careful to keep a more innocent book from the shelves on the table, as well, in case somebody he knew came by.
The range of points of view in the books was broad – from Kinsey, who found homosexuality to be almost normal, to Christian books, which found homosexuality to be a sin. David’s family was not particularly religious – attendance at the Unitarian Church at Easter and Christmas in most years was the extent of their reverence – so a literal reading of the Bible didn’t carry much weight with him.
His father’s view was that most of the Bible was written in a time when having babies – procreation was the word his dad had used – was imperative because so many children died so young, and a large family was needed to maintain existence of the village or the tribe. With modern medicine and hygiene, all this had changed, his dad had said. Before, it was important to have as many babies as possible. His father thought that the ancient need for procreation was the reason for the Biblical prohibition of spilling a man’s seed on the ground. It took David a few days to realize his father was giving his roundabout version of a birds-and-the-bees lecture on masturbation and, in his own way, accepting it as normal.
David scoured the shelves of the library and wished he could find more especially about being a young, gay teenager, but he couldn’t find anything. He decided it was probably okay to be gay, but he had no idea what to do if and when he found somebody to do something with. He decided also that his parents would probably have no problem with his being gay; after all, Aunt Pat, his dad’s sister who lived in Los Angeles, was gay.
But was this a phase, as many of the discussions seemed to suggest? Was he temporarily bisexual? Would the pressures for children – grandchildren for his mother – be enough to cause him to repress his homosexual side and rely on his heterosexual side? These were the questions that would trouble David for the near future.
In any event, several weeks later, the Playgirl was well-thumbed, while the Playboy was in little-used condition.
Youth Symphony – Fall 1988
Six Months After the Guarneri
With Marcia Vilas entering the picture, Rudy Schmidt realized that there was not much left that he could add to what she did. It was time for Micah to move on – sadly for Rudy – and he had made some phone calls to see if what he had planned could work.
“Micah,” Rudy said as Betty looked on after one of Micah’s lessons, “I have a proposition for you.”
“I can’t offer you what Marcia Vilas can, but I’d like to keep helping you. So, here’s my idea. You know about the Spokane Youth Symphony?”
Micah nodded his head.
“I’ve spoken with the director, and based on my recommendation, he’s willing to take you on in the violin section.”
“That’s wonderful,” Betty said.
“There’s more,” Rudy continued. “I’ve spoken with Marcia Vilas, and she’s willing to come to Spokane to continue to work with Micah during the time he is there for the Youth Symphony. In addition, I’ve contacted David Stirling, an old friend of mine who’s active on the Spokane Youth Symphony board, and he’s offered his home to Marcia for Micah’s lesson, plus he’s offered to let you, Micah, and your mother stay overnight between Marcia’s lessons and the symphony’s rehearsals. It will be a busy weekend for Micah, so Betty, if you can’t get away for two days, I’d be happy to drive Micah up there on Friday nights if you could pick him up on Sundays. That would save you a lot of driving and give you time with the rest of your family, or it would save you a lot of down time in Spokane. So, how does that sound, Micah?”
Micah thought for a nanosecond and smiled. “I’d like that.” He knew he was ready to move to the next step toward a professional career.
Two Fridays later Micah was in Rudy’s Saturn driving up U.S. 195 from Colfax to Spokane, trying to make sure Rudy’s attention was directed to the road in front of him. Stan had dropped them him at Rudy’s place on his way to buy supplies for the farm. Betty would meet them in Spokane and bring Micah home after the weekend.
After an hour and a quarter they arrived in front of a large, older house on the south hill of Spokane. Betty was waiting in her car for Rudy’s arrival. The late-afternoon sun was shining on the streets lined with autumn-gold, leaf-heavy trees. The houses of the South Hill neighborhood were substantial, most having been built in the 1920s on large parcels of land, many with pine trees standing like obelisks in their yards.
“This is the Stirlings’ house,” Rudy announced as he pulled onto a flagstone-paved strip alongside the driveway, with Betty right behind them. They got out of their cars and took the walkway up to a large, carved-wood front door, where Rudy rang the bell that was quickly answered by a boy about Micah’s age.
“Hi, I’m David,” the boy paused and stared at Micah before he turned and shouted back into the house, “Mom, they’re here.” David turned to Micah. “I know you. From years ago. Yes, we played video games on the plane from Phoenix to Spokane. You’re…uh, Micah”
“I remember you, too,” Micah said, smiling from the memory. “Hey!”
“You were the boy that diverted Micah’s attention away from leaving Phoenix to playing some video games. I remember, too,” Betty said. “You don’t know how sad Micah was when he left his foster home. Thank you for taking care of him and perking him up.”
Noting that everybody was still standing around, David ushered them from the large, pillared porch into the foyer. On the left was a living room rich with hardwood trim. Comfortable chairs and couches formed a U facing a large fireplace. Further on the left, a stairway in dark wood with an ornate railing rose to the second floor. On the immediate right was a large, formal dining room and, further down the hall on the right through a swinging door, was a kitchen.
A woman in her late 30s emerged from the kitchen, wiping her hands on an apron tied around her waist. Her auburn hair fell in soft curls to her shoulders. Her facial features were sharp, aquiline. She looked very much like her son – or vice versa. “Hello, Rudy, good to see you again,” she said. “And this must be Micah. Welcome.” She extended her hand to Micah, first, and then to Rudy. “Micah looks awfully familiar.”
“Mom, Micah is the boy I met on the airplane from Phoenix when we went to Mesa Verde. We sat together,” David said.
“I remember now. Micah, we’re overjoyed to see you again, and we’re pleased that we can help out. We’ve heard much about you from Rudy. We want you to feel at home here.”
“Thank you very much, ma’am,” Micah said.
“Please call me Elizabeth. Now, come on into the kitchen, and we’ll have some lunch.”
Elizabeth had made Dungeness crab salads with a crusty French bread as an accompaniment. Crab was new to Micah, and he poked at his salad for a few minutes before taking a bite. After that, he was hooked on crab. The bread was as crunchy and tasty as anything he’d had in Seattle, and he knew he was hooked on French bread. Elizabeth observed Micah’s enjoyment and was pleased.
“David, would you please show Micah to the spare room while I talk to Rudy and Betty?”
David led Micah up the wide staircase and down a hall, helping him with his suitcase, while Micah carried his violin cases. The guest room, with twin beds, was the second on the left, just past David’s room. The bathroom was across the hall.
Micah set his suitcase on the bed and began to unpack the few clothes he needed for the weekend, putting them into the closet or a drawer of the dresser that David had opened for him.
David looked closely at this young violinist who his parents said was going to be a great musician. Micah had changed in the past four years – obviously. His face had become leaner with adolescence, but it still held the hints of Mongolian facial features – the flat face, the wide nose and the dark eyes. Micah wore his long, black hair now tied back in a ponytail. But there was more: Micah was stirring something within David, thoughts and desires that he knew he wasn’t supposed to have but couldn’t suppress.
“Do you want to see my room? It’s this way,” David said partly to change the direction of his thoughts. They walked down the hall and turned at the next door. David’s room was larger than the guest room, and there was a desk set up with a large computer monitor, a computer and two joysticks. “Pick out a video game while I get some pop. Coke okay?”
David went downstairs to the kitchen, got two Cokes out of the refrigerator and returned to his room to find Micah staring at the shelf with the video games. He opened the can and handed Micah one of the Cokes.
“I don’t know anything about any of these games,” Micah announced after taking a swig of Coke. He looked helpless in front of a shelf of games. “We don’t have a computer yet. The last time I played a video game was with you.”
“I’ll start us with something easy,” David said.
Two hours later, the two boys sat side by side on the end of David’s bed, looking at cartoon characters on the television screen that they maneuvered with joysticks in their hands, laughter on their lips. David was surprised at how fast Micah learned the games and how adept he was with the joystick. Micah smirked as he took out one of David’s warriors.
“I guess I’ve gotten a little rusty,” David said, trying to excuse his poor performance in a game he had played many times before, though a few years earlier.
“Rusty is not an excuse except for a sunken ship,” Micah joshed. “It’s my beginner’s luck, I’m sure.” He paused. “Ten games in a row beginner’s luck, by my count.” There was a large grin on his face, and he bumped shoulders with David, who bumped him right back. That started a wrestling match on David’s bed, ending with a grinning Micah sitting astride David, holding his arms above his head. David looked into Micah’s eyes and felt that stirring of something new within him. Micah was oblivious.
The pattern of visits over the next few weeks stayed the same. David would introduce Micah to a new game, would win the first dozen or so, and then Micah would emerge as a consistent winner. “Beginner’s luck,” he would continue to say, with his bright eyes merry. Micah’s finger dexterity began to be appreciated by David. “It’s the violin,” Micah would say, and that phrase would become a standing joke between them.
After a couple of such weekends, David asked Micah if he wanted to sleep in his bedroom instead of the guest room set aside for him and his mother. Micah nodded yes. He didn’t mind sharing the bedroom with his mother, but he was afraid he might be embarrassed by, well, what 13-year-old boys frequently want to do in their bedrooms. Somehow he thought if he was quiet and even if David figured out what was happening, it would be less embarrassing than if his mother figured it out.
The Stirlings established a routine. Micah would arrive on Friday nights, either driven by Rudy or Betty, and the boys would play computer games, drink pop and eat junk food until bedtime – a diet that neither was allowed for the rest of the week and a bedtime that was “negotiated” between “time to go to bed” and “the lights will go out and the computer unplugged in 5 minutes”. On Saturday mornings, the Spokane Youth Symphony would have its practices, and there would be performances every few months on Sunday afternoons. Marcia Vilas would arrive from Seattle on Saturday or on Sunday morning for Micah’s lessons in the Stirlings’ music room. During the lessons, the Stirlings and Betty, if she had stayed over, would sit in the living room down the hall and listen to the wonder that Micah could produce; David got to sit in the music room with Marcia and Micah. After Marcia’s return to the airport and Sunday dinner, usually with Betty present, Micah and Betty would return to Endicott. It might be late if there was a Youth Symphony performance.
To David, Micah’s arrival was the highlight of his week. David was in awe watching the light in Micah’s eyes when he learned something new and seeing Marcia’s warm smile when Micah returned the following week having mastered what Marcia taught him. He knew also that he enjoyed being with a fellow teenager who could play a video game; he knew he was developing a camaraderie with Micah, a boy who had similar interests. But finally, there was growing within him a physical stirring well beyond camaraderie – the light touch of Micah’s shoulder or the back of his hand when they were playing games, his smile, his bright eyes, the glint reflecting from his raven-black hair tied into a pony tail. David’s feelings were more than hero worship; they were infused with something more profound – something that would take the next couple of years to fully form, something he knew was related to the Playgirl magazine hidden under his mattress.
* * * * *
On his first day at the youth symphony, Micah was assigned to the fourth chair of the violin section, one of the lowlier places in the orchestra but the typical place for a newcomer. Micah knew shortly that he was better than all the other violinists and should rightfully be assigned to the first chair if merit was the criterion.
“When do you have tryouts for first chair?” Micah asked the orchestra director, Joshua Bentley, one day after a practice. “I want to try for first chair.”
“Tryouts are next spring, but you need to know that seat will open up in a year when Madeleine leaves.”
“But I play far better than she does. It isn’t even close.”
“Well, nothing can happen until tryouts, so we’ll see then.” Bentley knew Micah was right about his playing, but he had to recognize constraints: he had several other violinists who had worked hard for years for their chairs. For political and morale reasons, it was difficult to promote someone from below immediately into the first chair. Fortunately, with the youth symphony, chairs always opened up as players left the orchestra. Besides, the younger players were normally not as accomplished as the older players, so seniority usually went hand in hand with skill level, and there were rarely problems with younger players deserving the higher chairs.
* * * * *
“I told Bentley today that I was better than the first chair and that I wanted to try out for it as soon as possible. Bentley just mumbled something like ‘we’ll see’. It really ticked me off,” Micah complained between video games.
“You’re just making a feeble excuse for losing the last game.” But David had noticed that Micah had been distracted all evening.
“Do you think your dad could help out? He’s on the symphony board, right?”
David was torn between his growing love for Micah, his sense of loyalty to the youth symphony and his reluctance to ask his father to interfere. However, he thought he might have a solution.
At breakfast the next morning, David pulled his father aside to the den and explained Micah’s feelings. As he suspected, his father bristled when the request for a favor was mentioned.
“I have an idea, though, Dad. Madeleine is the first chair in the violin section, but she’s terrified of soloing and refuses to do it. What if Bentley asks Micah to do the solos but leaves him in the fourth chair? That would let the symphony use Micah’s talents while keeping morale intact.”
“You’re wise beyond your years, young man. I’ll talk to Joshua about that.”
* * * * *
Micah was chosen after auditions, of course, to be soloist for the Mozart Violin Concerto in G Major, the new piece chosen for the youth symphony. There was never a doubt in Bentley’s mind that Micah would win the audition. He deliberately chose a difficult-enough piece, though, that he thought would force Micah to be somewhat more humble about his skills.
“How long will it take you to learn the Mozart?” the director asked after Micah had been selected and been given an hour to review the music.
“Oh, three or four weeks, I would say,” Micah responded.
“Don’t you mean months?”
“No, I think I can learn it in three or four weeks.”
The response wasn’t what Bentley expected, and he feared the possibility that Micah might be right. “Well, frankly, I can’t get the orchestra ready that soon, so what if we put you on the program in January? Okay?”
“Whenever you want, I’ll be ready.”
The next three weeks had Micah learning the Mozart concerto during the week; on the weekends he was back in Spokane practicing with the orchestra. He had the notes of the piece memorized the first week, was playing the composer’s notes on the score the second week, and by the third week Micah was playing with the nuance that he though Mozart intended or would have liked, his lips pursed in concentration, his dark eyes flashing, his deep black hair thrown back from time to time as his head snapped away from the violin.
The Sunday evening Mozart concert was a triumph both for the young Micah and the orchestra. The Spokesman Review music critic expressed his awe at the virtuosity of the pieces. “Dazzling,” sprang from the newspaper page as Micah and his family sat at breakfast the next morning. Betty was beaming with pride for her son.
Micah remembered little of the ride home the previous night, but he remembered the roar of the audience and knew he could become addicted to that sound. He remembered the congratulatory words from Marcia Vilas and Jake and Robbie Ellis-Cantwell, who had flown from Seattle for the event.
The next program of the youth symphony was changed to include Dvorak’s Concerto in A Minor for Violin and Orchestra after Micah agreed to solo again. After the second concert, Micah was mobbed by autograph seekers, and he signed each program put before him, acknowledging with a smile the adulation that was coming his and the orchestra’s way.
His photo topped the half-page article that had been written about him and the Spokane Youth Symphony on the event of their second concert – an article that was prominently displayed on the kitchen table for the whole Kingman family to read.
Back in Spokane, David tacked Micah’s picture onto his wall with a mixture of happiness, admiration, and sadness. He was happy at the recognition the Spokane Youth Symphony was getting, and he admired Micah for helping the orchestra get such public attention. But he knew Micah was on borrowed time with the orchestra. He soon would move beyond it into a different, more rarefied world. And the prospect of Micah’s departure was affecting him deeply; this was not the departure of a friend or colleague; it was something greater than that, the realization of which David would have to deal with.
Mendelssohn – Early March 1989
Six Months Later
Micah was in Spokane to play Poppa M’s beloved Mendelssohn violin concerto with the Spokane Youth Symphony Orchestra. It was his and the orchestra’s last regular performance for the season. He had arrived on Friday at the Stirlings, having been ferried from Colfax by Rudy Schmidt, who couldn’t stay but a few minutes. As usual, the Stirlings would feed Micah dinner that night and lunch the next day after practice and would deliver him to the concert hall Sunday evening.
In the meantime, he had an evening with David. “I got a new computer game,” David announced. He booted up the computer and loaded the game’s tutorial. He handed Micah a joystick, and they both watched the tutorial for the game. Micah put his hand on the joystick and David put his on top of Micah’s, something that Micah didn’t even notice, engrossed as he already was in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. What Micah was oblivious to was the sexual electricity that David felt merely from putting his hand on top of Micah’s. David knew he had to let go, but he didn’t want to. He wanted to bring that hand to his lips and kiss it.
David knew then without question that he was gay. He had been attracted to other boys before, but his feelings for Micah were something beyond just a stirring in the groin. He wanted to touch Micah, he wanted to press his lips to Micah’s, he wanted to lie beside him in bed and wake up beside him in the morning. This was beyond mere physical sexual attraction. To David, this was a major realization – and an awakening.
“It’s one a.m., boys. Time to go to bed,” came the voice from down the hall. “You’ve got a performance tomorrow.”
Micah and David snickered guiltily, not realizing how quickly the time had gone by.
“I guess we need to close this down,” David said, as he saved the game they were playing. “Do you want to sleep in here tonight?” he asked, with some trepidation.
“Sure,” Micah said. “Let me go get my pajamas on.” Micah went to the room where his luggage was, stripped, and put on his pale-blue pajamas. By the time he got back, David had changed into his, had turned off all the lights except the bed lamp and was lying on the far side of his bed. He patted the sheet right next to him as an invitation to Micah.
For Micah there was nothing awkward about the sleeping arrangement. He was used to having a brother in the same bedroom, and David was like his brother that night. For David, though, his erection had to be hidden behind the waistband of his pajamas; he knew that Micah didn’t feel the same about him as he did about Micah. The two boys continued to chat after the light was turned off, but Micah quickly slipped into sleep. After he heard Micah’s regular breathing, David relieved himself quietly in the socks that had been tossed on the floor beside his bed.
He did the same in the morning, thinking that Micah was still asleep, but the shaking of the bed wakened Micah, who grinned to himself as he tried to simulate sleep until David finished. Micah hid his own morning erection as he left David’s bed and went to his room to get clean underwear. He relieved himself in the shower while thinking of the movement of the bed a few minutes earlier.
At breakfast, Katherine Stirling treated the boys to orange juice, French toast and bacon before they went back to the bumping and pushing of their computer game.
After a light lunch they were taken to the concert hall, decked out in formal clothes. To David, Micah looked handsome, stirring further sexual feelings. On his part, Micah was totally absorbed in what he was going to play.
The concert was another triumph. Micah played a technically impeccable and emotionally electrifying Mendelssohn, and the orchestra, inspired by the emotion Micah was putting into his performance, provided much more than a simply adequate backup, playing the best they had all season. The applause at the end, after a moment of almost stunned silence from the enrapt audience, seemed unending to Micah and to grow louder as it lasted; he took bow after bow as the applause, whistling and shouting continued.
Micah met his mother at the reception for the soloists and the orchestra that followed the concert. “You were wonderful, Micah. I’m so proud of you, and you looked so handsome.” Micah’s face turned red from embarrassment.
“Did you thank the Stirlings?” Betty asked.
“Mom,” Micah answered, saying the word as if it had two syllables, “what do you think?”
“Did you have fun with David?”
“Yes. We played video games till late and then we went to bed. David asked me if we could room together when I join the orchestra when it’s on tour, and I said yes. So, I had fun with David.” Micah didn’t feel it was necessary to tell his mother everything that 13-year-old boys did besides staying up late.
At the end of the reception, Betty sought out the Stirlings and thanked them once again for hosting Micah.
“He’s welcome anytime,” David Stirling, Sr., said. “David really enjoyed having him. In fact, David wants him to come up for a weekend sometime just to visit and relax, if that would be okay.”
“We’ll see,” Betty said. “I think Micah would enjoy that,” she then added more positively, but the Stirlings felt a forced politeness in the comment. Betty really felt that Micah could not afford to take off a whole weekend from a busy practice and performance schedule that was so important for his career.