I woke when the tent became warm from the risen sun. It was still early, though, as I fished my watch from my jeans pocket and checked the time. I climbed out of my bag, grabbed my clothes, unzipped the tent and crawled out into the morning air. I took my boxers from the line and pulled them on. They were slightly damp, but I wouldn’t ever tell anyone, especially Alec. I pulled my pants and shirt on, donned my parka, walked off to take a leak and was getting ready to make some coffee.
It was then that I noticed, across the meadow at the lake, a mother bear and her cub, warming themselves in the morning sun. I moved slowly to the tent and called to Jake in a loud whisper. Bleary eyed, he put his head out the entrance and stared at the awesome morning spectacle. After a while, the mother bear and her cub wandered off, probably toward some huckleberry fields, past Alec’s tent and down the hill.
Alec must have been awake, because he stuck his head out the tent, looked over toward us and gestured excitedly down the hill where not 20 feet from his tent the bears were walking. I nodded my head, indicating that we had seen them.
I finally went to get some water, put a pot on the stove and started the water boiling for coffee. By the time the coffee was ready, Alec had come over to the main camp and was holding out his and Jake’s cup for the morning jolt. He set his cup down, took Jake’s toward our tent, grabbed Jake’s boxers from the line and handed the coffee and the boxers into the tent.
Jake emerged a few minutes later with now an even sexier growth of beard, causing an even quicker stirring in my groin. Uh, oh! Better get hopping with breakfast and stow my salacious thoughts away. Of course, my good intentions were sidetracked by Jake, who came up to me, took me in his arms and kissed me quickly on the lips, stirring up my loins once again. “You look sexy with three days’ growth of beard,” he whispered.
“I was going to say the same thing. Go away before I jump your bones and embarrass us in front of my son.” Oops. I looked around and hoped that Alec had not heard any of this. Alec showed no reaction.
We cleaned up the camp and packed leisurely for the half-day hike out. Anne and Celly were going to meet us somewhere on the trail so they could ferry us to our car. It was another beautiful day, with Mount Rainier glistening in the background and the high-country meadows smelling fresh and clean. It was going to be a tough place to leave.
We stopped to eat the last of our food at an overlook. There was nothing between us and the enormous presence of Mount Rainier except a large, deep valley with a river flowing through it several thousand feet below us. We were on a sharp ridge, actually almost a cliff, overlooking that river. Rock outcroppings and wildflowers littered the stone face below us.
We ate slowly and finished the last of our wine. From one perspective, I was sad that this time was over, but I had to confess to myself that I liked the thought of a warm shower and a soft bed at home. Roughing it was nice, but you couldn’t always stop when it got cold or you got sweaty and dirty. Most of all, I was ready to get on with our lives. I was happy for what I hoped had been accomplished, and it was time this hike was over. We needed to move on.
As we started to clean up after our lunch and pack up our gear for our final leg out, Jake got up and walked down the trail a hundred yards and stood at the edge of the ridge. He reached into his shirt pocket and pulled out Tran’s bracelet. I watched as he turned it softly in his hand. I didn’t notice Alec moving down the trail to where Jake stood until he reached Jake. Alec must have called to him, because Jake turned and waited till Alec approached.
I watched the scene of the two of them for the next 20 minutes across a wildflower plaza, as if I were a tourist looking across a plaza in Florence or Paris at two strangers engaged in deep, serious conversation, wondering what part of their lives I was seeing through the silence of distance.
I could see Jake and Alec talking, Jake shaking his head, Alec moving closer to him, and finally both sitting down on the bench of a rock outcropping. I could see Jake putting his head in his hands, with Alec moving toward him and putting his hand softly on Jake’s shoulder as he continued to speak. It was clear that Alec was dominant in this tableau.
Jake’s auburn hair and his headband contrasted with Alec’s darker features in the mid-afternoon sunlight.
Alec took the bracelet, looking at it as he talked, before returning it to Jake. Jake raised his head from his hands, looked at Alec and nodded. Then he did something that totally surprised me: He took that Navajo bracelet and put it on Alec’s left wrist. They both stood and looked at one another for a few moments, then pulled themselves into a hug, which they held, swaying slowly, for a couple of minutes as Alec patted Jake’s back. Jake’s shoulders were shaking, maybe from sobs, but I couldn’t tell. They unclenched, looked at each other, and came back up the trail to where I sat.
I didn’t know at the time what I had witnessed, but I knew the result was important to both of them.
What happened, as I learned later, was a testament to the maturity and persuasive ability of my son. He knew that Jake had been carrying this bracelet for 14 years out of both guilt and love. Somehow he knew Jake was planning to throw the bracelet over the cliff in order to be done with that part of his life. But Alec also knew how much love was embodied in that beautiful piece of jewelry, and he convinced Jake that the way to honor Tran and what good he had done for that village was to let my son carry the love forward by wearing the bracelet. Perhaps as an apology, perhaps as an indication of their new relationship, Alec offered to take the place of Tran in Jake’s heart. And Jake accepted that offer when he placed the bracelet on Alec’s wrist.
Alec also guaranteed that if wearing the bracelet became too emotionally painful for Jake, they would both get on the Bremerton ferry and drop the bracelet into the middle of Puget Sound. There would be no questions and no arguments on Alec’s part. The decision was totally up to Jake.
I suppose the dramas in the silent tableaux taking place across the plazas, down the streets or across the meadows could be as intense from time to time as what I had just witnessed and intuitively understood. But this drama concerned the two men I loved most in my life, and the ending was more than I could have hoped for.
* * *
We finished packing up our lunch residue and started down the trail again. As usual, Alec took the lead, Jake was in the middle and I brought up the rear. All the better for me to look at Jake’s fine ass and tanned hairy legs, even though it was from as much as 100 feet back. Every once in a while Alec would stop and wait for Jake, point something out to him, and move out ahead. As we dropped in elevation, we entered the deep forest and the trail became soft with fir needles again. As I rounded a curve, I saw Alec, sitting on a fallen log, with his right boot off.
“Everything okay?” I asked.
“Everything’s fine,” he said, “I just needed to get a rock out of my boot. Go on ahead, I’ll catch up.”
I continued down the ridge through the forest. Shortly, I heard the quick rhythm of soft footfalls as Alec caught up with me. I stepped aside to let him pass. As he got right next to me, he turned, and, with a very serious look on his face, asked: “What does ‘jump your bones’ mean?” I turned red. I was at a total loss for words and was about to say something unintelligible, when I saw the twinkle in his eyes and heard him try to suppress a giggle. He patted me on the forearm, and headed down the path, just full of himself. Around the next bend, I saw him next to Jake, stopped, with the same serious look on his face, asking, I’m sure, the same question. But the nonplussed look on Jake’s face was too much, and Alec burst into laughter before heading down the trail. I looked at Jake, rolled my eyes and head skyward, threw my arms out and just shrugged.
Anne and Celly had agreed to meet us at the end of our trail to ferry us back to our car, so I wasn’t surprised when I saw them talking to Alec and Jake as I rounded a curve in the trail. We all hiked down to her car.
Anne dropped us off at my car. Alec decided to return to Seattle with me. He and Jake immediately conked out and slept on the long drive home, except for a stop at our favorite huckleberry pie place. Great company, they.
But I didn’t care. I basked in the warmth of the memories of this backpack trip. After we got into Seattle, we stopped at the supermarket to pick up some groceries, went through the checkout line and started back toward the car. Jake suddenly grew silent—too silent. “Shit! No, backtracking, please,” I said to myself.
He climbed into the front seat near me, but as I started to turn the key, he put his hand over mine and said, “Wait!” He opened the car door and went back into the market. Five minutes later he tapped on the passenger-side window. I reached over and unlatched the door. Jake stooped and raised into my view a huge arrangement of tropical flowers in a wicker basket that he proceeded to set on the front seat. He looked into my eyes, I looked into his, both of us with tears brimming. “I saw them in the store. I thought you’d like these,” he said.
An impatient driver honked his horn, trying to get into the spot blocked by the open front door of my car. If the horn hadn’t broken the spell, I would have started bawling. Jake climbed into the back seat and we headed home.
I pulled into the driveway five minutes later. “Dad, I’ll take care of the gear,” Alec said as we started to unload the car. “You guys just go get cleaned up. Just give me the car keys so I can run the stuff over to Mom’s. I’ll put the car in your garage when I’m done.” What a 14-year-old won’t do to drive.
“You can drive the car from my driveway into my garage after we unpack what needs to stay here and we take the rest of the stuff to your mother’s. I don’t think I heard the part of the sentence about you driving to her place alone.” Alec’s face adopted an almost genuine pout, but he couldn’t hold it as he started to laugh.
“Well, you can’t say I didn’t try.”
As I turned the condo key and stepped into the entryway, I could tell something was wrong. The light was on in the kitchen, and I could smell something cooking. I gave Jake a puzzled look. His face looked just as questioning. I walked quietly toward the kitchen, peeked through the door, saw who was there and relaxed. “Sarah!” I said. Jake’s mother was sitting at the kitchen table with a cup of coffee doing the crossword puzzle. She looked up, a bit startled by our appearance.
“Mom! What are you doing here?” Jake said from over my shoulder.
Sarah searched my face for the answer. I grinned, then smiled, then wrapped my arms around my lover. She had her answer.
“Oh, I was just in the neighborhood,” her eyes glistened. Jake looked at her suspiciously. Sarah finally said: “And is that any way to greet your mother? Come here, both of you and give me a proper welcome.” We did. And after I had hugged her and kissed her on the cheek, she put her hands to the sides of my face, looked me in the eyes and mouthed the words. “Thank you, Rob. You know, I love you as my own son.”
“Mom, how the hell did you get in?” Jake interrupted.
“Credit card.” We looked at her with a new and different respect, but then she said: “I used my credit card to get here, and I talked the manager into letting me in.”
I heard Alec bursting through the front door. “Dad, I’m sorry about the fender on your car,” he shouted. He turned the corner into the kitchen and stopped short, a giggle turning into a puzzled look. So much for his little joke about the fender.
“Alec, this is my mother,” Jake said after a moment.
“Pleased to meet you, Mrs. Cantwell,” Alec said.
Sarah smiled, beckoned Alec to her and kissed an embarrassed teenager on the cheek. “Call me Sarah.” She looked at him for a while, then looked at me. “My God, you’re handsome. You are the spitting image of your father.” Alec turned red.
“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to embarrass you, but I’m an old lady, and I can say what I want.”
Alec look nonplussed for a few seconds, before recovering. “But he has hair on his chest. Yuk! I don’t want to look like him.” That broke the ice.
“Hair on the chest. Sign of virility,” I said with a simian grunt, avoiding a look at a snickering Jake.
“Enough! You boys go get cleaned up while I finish dinner.” Sarah looked at the three of us. “It’ll take me an hour to finish up. New England pot roast. Apple pie with cheddar. Jake’s favorites.” She looked warmly at her son.
Jake and I went to the bedroom and stripped off our clothes. Without saying a word to each other, we climbed into the shower together. Jake took the soap and washed me, rubbing it down my chest and back, taking each foot and massaging it with the soap bar. He then rubbed his way up my legs to my genitals, reached through my perineum and into the crack of my ass, kissing my raging penis lightly on the way. I could feel his four-day beard grazing the inside of my thighs. God, it was a turn on. Jake then stood up, took the shampoo bottle, applied a dab to his hand and washed my hair.
It was then my turn to return the favor, savoring the feel of his long auburn hair as I applied the shampoo. At the end, I added a dab of shampoo to the cloud of auburn hair that surrounded his cock. I stood and we gazed into each other’s eyes as the warm water rinsed the soap from our bodies, our erections brushing against each other. We kissed, warmly and softly. Then, keeping eye contact with me, Jake went down on his knees.
“I told you I’d do it. You didn’t believe me did you?” He returned to my erection.
He opened his mouth and engulfed my penis.
“I never doubted.”
“Bullshit,” I’m sure he said, though his mouth was full. Then, he actually bit me—well, he nipped me good—in my most private part.
“You deserved that,” he said, pulling off of my middle. He looked up at me, and we looked into each other’s eyes. “I never doubted, either,” he said with a grin.
“Do I or do I not I get one point for these past four days?” he asked, then answered his own question by marking his side of the air ledger with his finger.
Actually, he deserved a thousand points, but I would never admit that to him. Never give an inch. Always give six-plus inches.
Then Jake smacked me on the butt, popping my penis back to attention and took me in his mouth again—no teeth this time—and started to make this wondrous circular motion with his mouth around the head of my cock. I could feel the glans bobbing against the roof of his mouth, then the inside of one cheek, then the tongue and back to the other cheek. He never closed his lips tight around my shaft until the end, always leaving a little slack, but his tongue kept darting at my sweet spot. It was only a short time before I erupted in electric spasms of joy, my legs nearly collapsing from the sensations.
Jake rose, pulled my lips to his and we shared my cum. I turned off the shower, reached for the towels and started to dry Jake’s body from head to genitals to toes. He did the same for me. We shaved and finished our cleanup.
I led him from the bathroom to the bed, where I pushed him gently back, his legs dangling over the edge, his penis pointing skyward. I noticed then that Sarah or somebody had set a tray with two cold bottles of Tsing Tao beer on the bedside table. I opened one and took a sip of beer, but couldn’t resist swallowing it. Then I took another large gulp, left it in my mouth as it pounced onto Jake’s cock, letting the beer foam tickle the head of his penis.
“Nice head,” he said, running his hand through my damp hair. I giggled, causing the beer to foam down his shaft onto his balls and glorious freshly shampooed, reddish-brown pubic hair. “Messy, messy,” he sighed. I slapped him lightly on the inside of the thighs to get him to spread his legs wider, and I cleaned up the mess, sucking on his pubic hair and licking from testicles to corona. I even checked his ass crack to see if anything had spilled there. Then I went back to task, taking his penis in my open mouth and repeating the lesson I had just been shown in the shower.
I must have been at the head of the class, because in a short while he was writhing in ecstasy. Just as his penis started to tense up, I changed to Plan B. I pulled my head back, grabbed the unopened bottle of beer and pushed an ice-cold one under his balls and through his legs and pressed it firmly against his perineum. That was enough to send him into orbit. He moaned. His penis geysered onto my face as his semen aimed for the ceiling and fell back onto his chest. He lay there panting. “Holy shit!” he said.
I pulled the bottle from his middle region, popped the cap and asked, with a grin, “Want a beer?”
“I think I just had one,” he retorted, “Cold like a certain mountain lake I just swam in—but with a more stimulating ending.” I laughed and moved to kiss his lips and clean his body with my tongue as he did the same with mine.
There was a tap on the door. “Come on you lovebirds, dinner in five minutes,” Alec announced.
“We’re coming,” I said through the door.
“Again? Now?” Jake asked. I laughed.
After the hike and the return of an overjoyed Sarah to Boston, the year seemed to fly by. It was the same, but it was so different—so much more tolerable—without the underlying tension. Jake’s job continued to consume his weeks in 12-plus-hours per day, 6-day-a-week chunks, a schedule that played hell on our social and sex life.
My relationships with my son and my lover were still compartmentalized but not as surreal. I was willing to enjoy dinners just with Alec and late evening short conversations as Jake had his micro-waved warmed platefuls as I drank a glass of wine. I even tolerated continuing to give massages that ended with him sound asleep in minutes and me still horny, because we did make it up on that seventh day—and on some other mornings. And, from time to time, in the dark of night, I would feel his erection pushing into my backside as he wrapped his horny hands around my groin.
I think Jake had discovered the first stability in his life since college, but he still needed the time to rid himself completely of the demons of the past 14 years. I tolerated the occasional mood swings, realizing that the down periods were getting shorter and less frequent.
* * *
What I suppose my mind resented, but my waistline applauded on too many mornings, was Jake moving over to open the heavy curtains of the bedroom, leaving the light gauze curtains in place, turning to me, the 7 inches of John Edward Cantwell IV quite obvious in silhouette, saying: “We’re going biking.”
“The two of you?” I would ask, glancing at his groin.
“The three of us, or the four of us, depending on the state of your mind, assuming you have one, of course.”
I couldn’t resist Jake’s coaxing. After a trip to the bathroom, he would quickly put on some tight biker pants and shirt, which made him look even more desirable. These bike trips were made even if it was raining lightly. It was only morning drizzle, he would explain.
Grumble, grumble. “Can’t we just have sex for our exercise, Sawyer?” I prayed for heavy rain so we could move on to, well, better things.
“Abstinence makes the hard-on fonder,” was his bright-smile reply. Groan! We must have gone through this routine hundreds of time, and every time I would accede, and every time my body would feel better for it. Besides, there was something to this abstinence thing, as long as it didn’t go too far and didn’t preclude a few lapses.
After waking me on those fitness mornings, Jake would go off to the kitchen, pour us some juice and make some coffee while I got up. He gave me a few minutes to join him, down my coffee and glance at the headlines before we took off. When we got back from biking, Jake quickly took a shower, pecked me on the lips and took off for work, not to return till late in the evening. So much for romantic weekdays.
Jake absolutely refused to work at his office on Sundays. It was his day for recuperation from the extraordinary demands of the week. His company quickly realized that they needed to honor his one major demand, or they would probably lose him. So Sundays we would have to ourselves, except Jake would make sure he saved some time out with Celly and Alec in the afternoon. But on Sunday mornings we would test his abstinence theory, usually more than once.
Of course, it just wasn’t only Jake who was busy. The schedules of Alec and Celly kept me active supporting drama, baseball, music and dance events three, four or sometimes five nights a week. In summer, Alec continued to play shortstop on one of those serious Babe Ruth baseball teams that seemed to schedule a game every night from May through July. Alec put in the effort because he wanted to play baseball in college, but I really think he had an eye on playing professionally.
Often on those nights when I was at an Alec or Celly event, Jake would slip into the seat beside me (and sometimes beside Anne as well) in the 6th inning or the last act of one of their events, hot dog or hamburger in his hand—his dinner. I’m sure Alec and Celly appreciated the effort, fully understanding the schedule Jake was under, but they knew somehow when his enthusiastic rich voice joined in the noise of the fans, and they would look up into the stands or out in the audience, and he would give them the high sign.
* * *
One evening in October, Jake popped his latest surprise.
“I’d like to take Alec and Celly to Boston to visit my mom over the school break. And you can come too if you want.”
“Gee, thanks. That makes me feel so important.”
“I didn’t mean it that way.” I affected a pout. “If I kiss you will you forgive me?” he asked.
“And, I only get a kiss for the insult. Not a point—or something more arousing.” Jake kissed me and then he fondled me, so I didn’t feel too bad after all. “Seriously, I just can’t get off right now anyway. Go ahead and take them. You need to visit your mom, anyway. She’d love to have some time to really know them, and I think they’ll like to have some time with her. I’ll just stay here and get hornier and hornier.”
“Can I call you every night and talk you through your problem?” he asked, raising his eyebrows in a Groucho Marx gesture.
“I’m the long-distance straight man?”
“Uh huh! Except for a little crook at the end.”
They were gone for a week. I lazed around the condominium enjoying the space and quiet for a day or so, enjoyed the evening phone calls, but by the end of the week I was missing the bustle of my two men.
When Jake got off the plane, he wore a brand-new Red Sox jacket, probably bought with his meager salary just to irk me. He put his backpack on his left shoulder, put his right arm over my shoulder, and we all took the shuttle to baggage claim. Jake had perfected a way of putting his arm on me and making it appear that we were just buddies. Which we were, of course.
“How was the flight?” I asked as we waited for baggage.
“Boring and the food was bad, but they showed a good movie. If you’d been there we could have cuddled.”
I looked around to see if anyone had overheard his remark. Jake was definitely ready to let the world make its own decision about our relationship. I just wasn’t at that point yet.
We picked up the bags. Jake’s were considerably heavier and more in number than when he left. “Those are the rest of my worldly possessions, meager as they are and a whole bunch of family things that my Mom gave me. Here, take the heavy one,” he offered with a mischievous grin on his face. Jake often was impossible to resist, and this was one of those times. But I was happy, because things were back to almost normal with him. Besides, if need be, I could use this as leverage for something in the future.
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