The trouble with leaving for a few days is that work keeps piling up. There is really no one at Molini who can do what I do. So my punishment for a vacation is a week or so of very long days.
Those long days were on top of the normal long days at Molini. But I enjoyed my work, and though I got minimum wage, or so it seemed, in my paycheck, I was piling up a lot of probably worthless stock and stock options along with my hours.
Drew called me into his office one day in September. His door was open, and he waved me in before getting up and carefully closing the door. He didn’t usually bother to close the door; he had done so in Boston to tell me about Molini’s move to Seattle. It probably didn’t matter because there was no one really close enough to hear anything going on. But when he closed the door, I knew something was up.
“Jake, what I am going to tell you does not go outside this office unless I say it is okay.”
I nodded my assent. Drew knew I could be discreet.
“I want your advice. You are as close as anyone I know concerning the interface between a computer program and a non-technical user. You may not have written the code or even designed it, but you designed the way we should approach computer programs. And, frankly, that is why our sales have mushroomed.”
I was embarrassed, my face turning red.
“It’s true,” Drew said.
“It was all just doing some acting, like a typical user would behave,” I countered.
“Bullshit. The acting got the attention of those programmers, but your suggestions on how to address the problems made them do what needed to be done. Trust me. You were instrumental in getting our program off the ground. Besides, the games you played with our programmers ended months ago.”
He paused and made a tent with his hands on his desktop. “The reason I asked you in today is that our friends across the lake want our help. No, they want our program and our programmers. They want to buy us out.”
I wasn’t entirely surprised. “Their programs certainly need help. Apple is years ahead of them in that regard. Their programs look like they were designed by, well, programmers and not by users.”
“That’s exactly why they like us. We complement them on the end-user side.”
“Why don’t they just do it themselves?”
“Because they don’t have any Jake Cantwells, that’s why. We do, and we have half a brigade of programmers who write code as if Jake Cantwell was going to call them up on the phone and pretend that he is a distressed legal assistant somewhere screwing up their precious program. We can save them years of development time. That’s why they’re interested in us.”
“So, why are you telling me all this?”
“First, I trust your judgment. Second, you are discreet. Third, I want your advice on whether you think we should do it or not. From your perspective and what you know of them, how much can we be an asset to them? In other words, how hard can I bargain on a selling price for Molini?” Drew looked at me across his large desk.
I sat and thought for a long time—maybe, five minutes. In the background I could see traffic moving. I could see a few people walking up the steep sidewalk to the next street. Drew sat patiently still, his hands clasped together in front of him. He was in no hurry for my answer.
“I believe we can save them a great deal of money,” I said, but I said it with some hesitation.
“You hesitated,” he noted. “Spill it. Tell me what you’re really thinking.”
“Well, there is no doubt in my mind that we could be of considerable help to them. My hesitation is this: You have a very successful company, and it is likely to continue to be successful. You have incredible employee loyalty. So you would be giving up a lot by selling the company—an awful lot.
“In addition,” I continued, “our friends across the lake tend to put out half-baked programs the first time and worry about repairing and improving them later. It’s a strategy, I guess. So I suspect we won’t be terribly happy with the first time we see our work used in their hands. They do manage to make things work the second or third time around.”
“Thanks, Jake. You’ve encouraged me to avoid too cheap a selling price. In other words, the price I want for Molini just went up.” Drew got up and opened the door again, signaling the end of our meeting. “Give my best to Robbie. We need to have you out to dinner again. Give me a date and we’ll do it.”
Over the next few months there was a lot of furtive activity on Drew’s part. He was in New York a lot. I knew that because he called me from time to time on details of his negotiations. Then, he would leave for dinner meetings in Seattle, probably at some place like the Rainier Club, that I figured were a continuation of his negotiations. In fact, he had to reschedule a dinner that Robbie and I had planned with him and his wife. He told me why to avoid any hard feelings we might have.
Then, one day he called me into his office, closed the door behind me, and told me that he had struck a deal—a very attractive deal, he said. He announced that as of midnight September 18, most of the staff would be millionaires. He handed me the agreements he was ready to sign and asked me to read them over and tell him if I saw any major problems. He cautioned me that there was a strict embargo on this information that I had to heed. “Otherwise, you might go to jail, and Robbie wouldn’t like that,” he said with a smile, but I knew enough about securities law from my father’s work to realize how deadly serious he was.
He said that he had sold the company for $13.25 a share. Drew didn’t indicate how much he would be worth, but I didn’t really need to ask. All I needed was to look inside the documents he handed me to find out. Actually, I had enough shares and was in a high enough company position that I was required to have my shares listed, too. So I could look later to see how much this was going to mean to Robbie and me.
“You’re sure you want to do this?” I asked.
“I think so. I’ve worked hard to build up this company, and I think it’s time to cash out. I can still keep a hand in if I want, but now I have the ability to walk away at any time, and that’s worth a lot. If Judy decides she’s had it with the law business, we can retire to a South Pacific island—or buy a South Pacific island or whatever. And, I want to set up a charity foundation.”
I sensed a relaxation in Drew that I had never sensed before. I realized then how much strain there must have been in developing a company, and I felt sympathy for Drew’s decision. And, he had done well for his employees.
It was later that afternoon that I had finished reviewing the documents that Drew had handed me and put my stamp of approval on them. I realized how much Robbie and I were now worth, and I was trying to figure out how to spring the news on him—after the embargo.
* * * * *
Over the weeks after our hike I grew closer to Alec and Celly. For Alec, it seemed I became like the big brother I was with Tran. I wasn’t exactly a parent. Robbie was the parent. I wasn’t the disciplinarian. That was Robbie’s job, mostly, but I was there if need be to be a disciplinarian. I became the one that Alec could confide in, to ask his questions about growing up. Asking me his questions was a bit strange, considering how fucked up most of my life was, so it amounted to the naïve leading the inexperienced.
But Alec could ask his questions about sex and physical development. He could ask about the relationships with his high-school peers. When Alec gave me permission, I would pass on to Robbie what he asked me and how I responded, and I don’t think Robbie blinked too much with what I told him.
Robbie didn’t even blink when I told him the gist of a very teen-age-boy conversation.
Alec had come up to me and asked: “Jake, could I talk with you in total confidentiality. Maybe you can pass on an expurgated version of it to Dad, but that’s all.”
“Expurgated?” I quipped. I could see Alec start to distance himself from me immediately. I had to repair my gaffe. “I’m sorry, I have this need to make jokes about everything. Let’s start over.” I put my arm over his shoulder and gave him a sideways hug.
Alec looked at me closely, and then he relaxed. “I want to know if I’m gay.”
Whew! I couldn’t breathe for a moment. I said in as comforting a voice as I could muster: “Why do you think you might be gay?” I deliberately didn’t ask why he thought he was gay; I asked why he thought he was gay.
“You remember Mike? Mike Alvord.”
I looked a bit puzzled.
“You know Mike—the Mike on my basketball team.”
I then remembered him as a tall and slender guard, black, with a body that showed that he had spent a lot of hours in the gym. “Yes, that Mike. The one who’s always smiling?”
“Yes, him.” I could see that Alec was happy that I remembered his friend. Alec looked at me with a bit more confidence. “Mike’s home life is complete shit. His father is an alcoholic and maybe a drug pusher. His mom works hard to keep her family together, but it can be a real struggle.
“Every once in a while, Mike doesn’t want to go home after school, so I invite him to come over here.”
“That’s very thoughtful and sweet of you.”
“We normally go up to my room and hang out with my VCR and computer. We just laze and talk about everything.
“Well, last week we started talking about sex.” Alec looked at me to see how I would react. I kept my expression neutral. “One thing led to another and we ended up naked and beating off.”
“That happens,” I said. “You’re fourteen and your hormones are raging.”
“Well, it led to something more. We started to do this every time he came over, and then…,” Alec hesitated, looked at me to make sure, I think, that he could continue. “…then we started to help each other out.” Alec’s cheeks turned bright red, and I started to see tears in the corner of his eyes.
I put my arm around him again and pulled him to me. His tears grew more abundant, and I heard a few sobs. I needed to be careful of what I said and how I said it.
“Doing what you did—experimenting with friends—is perfectly normal for a 14-year-old. You’re horny all the time, you need release, you are experimenting, and you don’t know where you are sexually. That all is normal, at least it was with me. There is nothing wrong with you at all.
“You may or may not be gay,” I continued. “What you are doing doesn’t make you gay, and not doing it any more wouldn’t make you straight if you are really gay. What I think you should do is just accept what you are doing as normal and let your body and sexuality develop naturally. You know your Dad and I will support you however you turn out.”
I think my little speech helped, because Alec relaxed against me for a few minutes, then turned his head and challenged: “You want me to beat you in a game of H-O-R-S-E?” The ability of a child, even a teenager, to switch gears in an instant never ceases to astonish me.
“You can’t beat me,” I boasted. “Get your basketball and let’s go.”
He beat me on a three-pointer hook shot, and then we played against each other in a rough and tumble game. There’s something about males needing to bump and push each other in basketball, football, soccer and many other sports that probably goes back to the cave dwellers of France or the bushmen of Africa. Alec was smaller than I—he was only fourteen, after all—but he could push, shove and bump like a bigger person. And, he would use his elbows—which caused me to call fouls from time to time. Alec was quicker and a better shot. I was stronger and could muscle my way to the basket. We were fairly even, but I won. As it should be.
Our earlier conversation was totally forgotten as we wore each other out. We retired to the kitchen where I pulled out a couple of beers. So, arrest me for contributing to the delinquency of a minor. I agreed with Robbie that introducing young people to alcohol in a responsible way was far better than keeping them dry until they turned 21 or went to college.
While Robbie had placed What You Always Wanted to Know About Sex But Were Afraid to Ask strategically on the top shelf of the bookcase near the stairs so that Alec would be sure to find it, Celly’s approach wasn’t quite so clever. So, I found myself answering sex-education questions for Celly, as well. “Alec told me you told him that he could ask you anything—absolutely anything about sex,” she said. She wanted the same offer.
“I think you should ask your mother or go to the library,” I protested.
“Mom won’t answer my questions. Well, she’ll answer them, but kind of like a textbook for middle-schoolers.”
“But you are a middle-schooler.”
“I’m a smart middle schooler, and I don’t want a dumbed-down textbook or explanation about monkeys or bananas. I want the real facts. You told Alec the real facts, and I want you to treat us both equally.”
“Alec told you what we talked about?”
“No, he just said you offered to answer anything he wanted to ask. Anything.”
I was relieved and embarrassed at the same time at the “honor.” I eventually told Anne—and Robbie—that I had been appointed sex-education advisor for their children, and I had told them they could ask me anything at all they wanted to. “Oh,” Anne said, turning bright red before she lost her tongue. Robbie’s response was equally intelligent.
Over the next few years, I became the confessor/advisor of Alec and Celly on sex and every adolescent trouble they had—and that they told me their friends had. I never told Robbie that Celly had fallen for a boy in Massachusetts that did yard work for my mother and that after a few of her trips back to Boston—with and without us along—they became, well, sexually active—and maybe more. His name was Kyle, but Randy must have been his middle name.
I didn’t remember junior high and high school being so X-rated, but maybe I had been sheltered too much.
Living with the man you love is not always pure bliss. It has its drawbacks, as living with anyone does. Every one of us has foibles that we all have to live with. One of Robbie’s foibles is his “chocolate farts.” Obviously, I need to explain.
Robbie has a fascination with chocolate, particularly dark chocolate, and when he encounters a dessert list with a particularly rich chocolate temptation on it or when he goes to a gourmet bakery, the result is a large consumption of chocolate—especially dark chocolate. In fact, he usually takes a few test bites of my dessert if it is chocolate, then eats all of his own chocolate concoction. He goes on chocolate binges: chocolate cake for breakfast, lunch and dinner sometimes. Nothing else. Too many calories otherwise, he tells me.
Robbie’s eyes turn glassy in the presence of such chocolate. It’s as if he is an alien from space discovering the finest that the Earth has to offer. And it is pure passion and worship from then on.
The piper comes later—when the chocolate is digested and spews its results into and through the lower intestines. On those nights I know enough to make love early, to cuddle with Robbie after lovemaking on his side of the bed—way on his side of the bed—and then to sneak to my side in the middle of the night after he has fallen asleep. Even then, I can’t get far enough away to keep the odor from drifting from his edge of the bed to mine. What I really need is a 2 by 12 to lay down the middle of the bed between us. Maybe even a taller bundle board would help. Maybe the reason for a bundle board wasn’t chastity, but protection against farts and too much chocolate. Maybe we needed an extra bedroom with twin beds. Not!
The smell of Robbie’s farts on those occasions is incredibly strong—stronger than the residue of a side of beans—and it has absolutely no connection to the type of chocolate that entered his alimentary system. None at all.
But I love him, and I suffer in silence.
However, because he has asked me to write my side of the story, which is from my side of the bed, the truth of our relationship must come out. Furthermore, he read this story before I sent it off; he is absolutely non-repentant, but he didn’t censor me. As if he could. “Chocolate is better than sex,” he said after he read this story. Well, I’d tested him by withholding sex, playing hard-to-get, but that tactic didn’t even last one night—so much for my resolve.
“Chocolate is not better than sex,” I said, tasting his cum.
“Okay, chocolate is almost as good as sex.” He kissed me, and we exchanged “white chocolate” with each other.
* * * * *
The Chocolate Dilemma occurs when the Chocolate Farts conflict with Robbie’s rain fetish. As I said earlier, Robbie keeps the window and, often, the deck door open when it rains because he likes to hear the sound of the raindrops and the storms. And, when the rain lashes the window and deck, Robbie pulls me to him—the harder the rain, the harder the snuggle—as if my body next to his can comfort him against the elements. But what happens, of course, is I get comforted as well.
So I’m torn. When Robbie goes on one of his chocolate jags at the same time a storm is coming, I can either suffer, or I can exalt with his arms around me. A terrible dilemma. A life-style decision. I decided I was always willing to suffer the chocolate consequences, because of those warm arms around me, pulling me to the joy of Robbie’s body. I loved the feeling of the muscles of his arms, the hair on his chest, the softness of my pubic regions against his buttocks, and vice versa—all reviving the body-memory of our love-making. And when the storm really rasps across the window, I feel the bliss of his moist and soft lips against my shoulder. However, into each life some farts must fall.
Live with it.
* * * * *
Events with Molini moved forward, and eventually the September 18 date of the sale drew near – on the morrow. It was going to be a major event in Robbie’s and my lives. I wanted to make the occasion really special, so I arranged a private room at Le Forêt, the fancy restaurant on the 40th story of one of the big bank buildings. I wanted to decide everything, so I chose a menu that we both would die for, in our separate ways, and I chose some wines that I knew he would truly enjoy.
Robbie knew there was something odd happening when I was home when he got there on the 17th. Then, when I poured him a glass of our favorite (ultra expensive Pol Roger Winston Churchill Cuvee) champagne as a preliminary, he got further distressed. I was enjoying the secrecy of the whole thing, and I told him I was taking him out to dinner. He actually was getting a little pissed that he didn’t have a clue as to what was going on, but I couldn’t tell him until the information became public, and I probably wouldn’t even have done so in confidence after savoring how nervous he was getting about our pocket book. When he considered the cost of the champagne and the restaurant, he made comments implying I was spending our money recklessly. I let him keep on thinking that.
When I’d reserved a room at the restaurant, I’d told the maitre d’ that Robbie and I were lovers and we wanted a waiter who would take no affront from our relationship. We weren’t going to be caught in flagrante, of course, but I wanted to be sure that if we were caught in a passionate kiss, there wouldn’t be an unpleasant scene. I wasn’t quite so graphic with the maitre d’, but I conveyed my wishes, and he said he had just the right person to serve us.
The meal was delicious, as was the tormenting of Robbie. I ordered everything, including a double order of chocolate dessert for him, but I asked the chef to make it look like it was just a large single order. I know, Chocolate Farts, but this time it was worth the future outfall, so to speak. The split of champagne at dinner tied our afternoon to our evening, like a well-designed play, and then we had a really expensive pinot noir that I knew Robbie would like.
Robbie kept looking between the wine label, the expensive dinner, the private room and me and couldn’t decide if I was crazy—or probably crazier than he already thought I was. I knew he was thinking about our funds, but he also trusted me enough to know that somehow we probably would be able to afford it.
Of course, he didn’t know what was coming next. I handed him one of the two presents that I had bought for him: the Mariner season tickets. It took him a while to agree to open the envelope that contained them because he was trying to outwit Sawyer, the master of con, but his curiosity got to him and he opened the envelope, and then his eyes bugged out.
I then gave him my second present—a trip in the fall to the south of France. He made another feeble attempt at outwitting me, but I won that one, too. The points were adding up, whether I officially accounted for them or not.
We were finished shortly before 9 pm, the time that my pumpkin was going to turn into a carriage, so I whiled away the minutes with a few kisses and hugs. I was glad I had been prescient enough to ask for a discreet waiter, because I saw him a few times peeking through the door before I waved him off.
Robbie was trying to guess how I could afford all this luxury, let alone the dinner. At 9:00—midnight Eastern Time, September 18—I told him. I’d always thought of Robbie as the secure one in our relationship. I was the one who could be wild and uncaring about what I did and what people thought and how much I could embarrass him. He was always the one who made sure the bills would be paid, that what I did didn’t break the law—at least not too seriously—and called me up short when the embarrassment quotient got too high. I knew he was ultimately my protector.
I was, therefore, not prepared for Robbie’s reaction, when I told him about the buyout of Molini and the amount of stock that I owned. I thought he would be overjoyed, but he turned white and frightened. I had no clue why until he started to say something about losing me. Whoa! It was as if he had no idea how tied I was to him. It was as if independent wealth meant that I would up and walk out the door, as if I was going to say, “Thank you very much, Robbie, for supporting me for this past year, but now I don’t need you anymore.”
Nothing could be further from the truth. Sometimes Robbie has no clue, and this was one of those times. I should have been happy that our roles were reversed from time to time—when I was the one who was solid and he was the one who was lost—but his reaction was so strong this time that I feared for our relationship.
I had to respond. In a way, it was probably going to be good for our relationship. I had so much to thank him for, including my life; I had so many reasons to need him, and I loved him so much. But these thoughts had trickled out over the months. I had never articulated these thoughts at one time—and this was the time. I laid it out before him: my thoughts on our relationship from my side—stress on the word our. It was a tense few minutes.
I didn’t think our relationship was really at stake, but I didn’t want the nature of it to be changed. I loved Robbie as he was, and I liked myself as I was, which was such a change from the storm that raged through my life after Vietnam. The evening ended with Robbie accepting our good fortune, stress again on the our.
Actually, it ended somewhat more intimately—not sexually that evening, but entangled comfortably in each other’s arms. In the morning, we made up for our abstinence, tasting of each other multiple times, happy as lovebirds in heat.
And then he will be mine, he will lie
Revealed to me;
Patent and open beneath my eye
He will sleep of me;
He will lie negligent, resign
His truth to me, and I
Shall watch the dawn light up for me
This fate of mine.
And as I watch the wan light shine
On his sleep that is filled of me,
On his brow where the curved wisps clot and twine
On his lips where the light breaths come and go
On his limbs in sleep at last laid low
I shall weep, oh, I shall weep, I know
For joy, or for misery.
— D.H. Lawrence – Wedding Morn
“Hello, Anne,” I said after being put through to her office.
“Hi, Jake. How are things?”
“Sweet,” I said.
“I’m sure.” Her comment turned me red in the face.
“Let’s not go too far there.”
“What can I do for you, Jake?”
“I need to hire your services. Can we have lunch?”
“You don’t beat around the bush, do you? Let me check my schedule.” I heard riffling at her end of the phone. “Okay. I can reschedule what I have.”
“Are you sure?”
“Of course, I would do anything for my favorite man.”
“He used to be my favorite man, but you came along, so he got nosed out.” She paused. “Where and what time?”
“How about the Metropolitan Grill? Noon.”
“You won’t be able to get reservations now.”
“You bastard. You knew I was going to cancel everything to have lunch with you, didn’t you?”
I was waiting in the white-linen, polished environment of the Metropolitan Grill at 11:45. Precisely at noon, Anne walked in, and I waved like a maniac to gain her attention. My antics gathered stuffy looks from the men at the neighboring tables, but I smiled sweetly at them, which made them only stuffier.
I stood as Anne came up to the table and pecked me on the cheek. She was dressed sharply in a dark skirt and jacket, a white blouse and a dash of crimson at the neck. She really looked beautiful, and I made sure the neighboring tables noticed.
We chatted quietly while the waiter took our order for her bottled water and my beer. While the waiter was away, we talked about Alec and Celly. I saw Alec frequently, but I saw Celly much less often, so I wanted to keep up with Celly’s doings. After our drinks arrived, she ordered grilled salmon, and I ordered crab cakes. We ordered salads, which appeared shortly thereafter. We ate the salads slowly as we began to talk.
“So, what’s on your mind?” Anne asked, professionally.
“You probably know that we sold our company, but you probably don’t know that my stock was worth almost $20 million.”
“Let me write a note to double my billing rate. And…”
“I want to make sure Robbie gets half of it, no matter what happens to us—and all of it if I should die. He was responsible for me getting back on my feet, he advised me to take my salary in stock instead of cash, which meant that I couldn’t help him out much financially, and he deserves half of it. I want you to do the paperwork to ensure that he gets it.”
Anne sat for a few moments, deep in thought. “You know, Jake, that I love you both. As an attorney, I really shouldn’t represent you. I should get somebody else in my firm to do so.”
“That’s not acceptable. I only want you. I trust you, and you know our situation.”
She sat and thought some more, taking a sip of water a couple of times. “Okay. I will do it—on one condition: that I can grill you unmercifully right now about what you intend to do, and I can back out if I’m not satisfied with the answers. Agreed?”
“I want you to assume that at some time in the near future, you and Robbie have a rocky year. Assume everything goes wrong with Robbie—maybe you arrive home early one day and catch him in bed with a woman and that he decides he no longer is really gay. Let’s say you were becoming unhappy with Robbie before this incident. I presume that would be enough to end your relationship. Am I right?”
“It’ll never happen, but if it did, yes, that might cause me to walk out the door.”
“If things were bad enough that you decided to walk, would you still want Robbie to have half of your fortune?”
I took some time to think about what she asked. I knew it was a hypothetical, but things like that did happen. I knew I didn’t want to change my decision to make sure that Robbie had half, but I needed to explain why, clearly and persuasively, to Anne. “The answer is yes.”
“First, I want to treat Robbie as if we were married, because in a different here-and-now we would have been married, for better or worse.
“Second, if we had been able to marry, we probably would have married when I was just a grunt working at a software company for what amounts to a minimum wage—for lots of hours, of course. Robbie would have been entitled to half my wealth as my spouse. Washington is a common-property state, right?” Anne nodded.
“Third, and most importantly, I don’t want to have the decision on whether to give Robbie half my money depend on the daily and weekly ups and downs of our relationship. And, there will be ups and downs; I am realistic about that. The money too easily might become a weapon to hold over him, giving me an unfair advantage in our relationship. If we are not equal in our relationship, there is no relationship.” I took a few moments to think of anything more, but couldn’t think of anything important.
“That’s my explanation, counselor,” I finished.
Anne looked at me thoughtfully. “Good answer.” She took a last drink of her mineral water and signaled to the waiter that she wanted some coffee. “I’ll do it.”
The waiter came by with fresh decaf and regular coffee. Anne took decaf, and I took regular. He asked if we wanted dessert.
“Do you have any fresh fruit?” I asked.
“We have some nice raspberries.”
I tilted my head toward Anne, inquiring whether she was interested, and she indicated that she was. “Two orders of raspberries, please.” Shortly thereafter, two large bowls arrived with a garnish of mint leaves. The waiter set a bowl of clotted cream on the table for the indulging. I indulged. Anne didn’t.
We talked about this and that and Alec and Celly again as we ate our desserts and finished our coffee. Anne grabbed the check before I could get my hands on it. Business development, she explained. She kissed me on the cheek as we parted. “Love you both,” she said. “I’ll get that work done shortly.”
“No hurry,” I said.
Anne called me a few days later to say that she had written up what we had agreed upon and asked me if I wanted her to bring it by the condominium. I said no and that I would drop by her office sometime.
Anne called me a few days later and asked if I would mind if she put some other jobs ahead of meeting with me. She said she’d make it up to me. I told her I didn’t have any problem.
In the meantime, I got an invitation in mid-September to go camping with Alec, Celly and the love of my life—an invitation I couldn’t refuse, of course. Alec and Celly told us that they would take care of everything—and they underlined everything in the way they talked. Of course, only Robbie could take care of some things, though I suppose technically they could have taken care of Robbie’s and my needs as well. I had to stop myself from thinking such thoughts.
Well, everything arrived at 6 a.m. on a Saturday morning, and it seemed as if we were going on a three-week safari. I chided Celly about the amount of luggage as I gobbled down one of the croissants that she and Alec brought for our breakfast. She just grinned at me and pecked me on the cheek.
We headed down I-5 to U.S. 12, headed east and then turned off onto some Forest Service roads. There wasn’t must traffic, which was good, because the road was single-lane with turnouts—though paved. We encountered a few RVs lumbering north, but they didn’t stop us for long. In the trees we could still see the several inches of ash residue from the eruption of Mt. Saint Helens.
We arrived at our camp spot, set some stuff out to mark it. I suggested we pee on a few trees at the corners of the campsite, but that didn’t get much support from anybody. It didn’t even get much of a laugh. Putting $5 in the Forest Service campground lockbox didn’t get a laugh, either, but the campsite became ours for the night.
We put lunches and canteens in small daypacks and drove to a trailhead high on the flanks of the mountain. We went quickly through the sparse timberline trees and soon were in open country with a spectacular view of Mount Adams and the glaciers and waterfalls tumbling down from it. There weren’t many wildflowers this late in the season—a few around the streams—but the sumac had turned scarlet with fall.
We hiked leisurely through the meadows, found a nice spot overlooking a deep glacier-carved valley with several large waterfalls a thousand feet below us and about a mile away. There was a herd of two dozen mountain sheep about halfway between us and the waterfalls, and we admired them in our binoculars as they grazed on the hillside grass.
A couple of the canteens, I found out, had been filled with chardonnay, so we all got a bit tipsy before we finished our lunch—we, including Alec and Celly. Okay, it was illegal, but we were 50 miles from the nearest cop, and we weren’t going to encounter any dangerous hiking on the way back.
We got back in late afternoon, and Robbie and I were immediately shooed out of the camp for the next hour, Alec handing us a nice bottle of wine, uncorked, as we left. Our offer to help set up camp and fix dinner was spurned, so we decided to hike around the lake, and, as the British say, to do a little snogging when we stopped to “rest.”
Not having my morning release, I was getting a bit horny, but Robbie kept putting me off. “Later,” he said.
“Now?” I countered.
“You realize we wouldn’t get back for quite a while.”
“Hold your hormones!” he said. “I’ll make it up to you later.”
“The word is horses.”
“With you, it’s hormones. Any horse allusion is to size—my size.” He gave me a shove off the trail and started running down along the lakeside. “Point for me,” he yelled over his shoulder. I gave chase, tackled him on a grassy bank of the lake. We wrestled, and I managed to squeeze his crotch enough times until he showed his real size.
“Miniature horses couldn’t stop me from doing that,” I said as I lay atop a giggling man, our jeans-clad hard-ons locked together.
“It’s wild horses to you, lover.” Robbie looked me in the eyes seductively, closed them and moved his lips toward mine. I closed my eyes and moved my head toward his. When my eyes were closed, he shoved me off of him, scrambled to his feet, and took off running down the trail again, laughing, I think, like the sex-crazed maniac he wanted to be.
“Bastard,” I yelled.
He had a long head start, so it wasn’t till I saw him sitting at a picnic table at an empty campsite that I caught up with him. He tried not to show that he was panting, but I could see his struggle to make it seem that he was not out of breath. Robbie was such a fake at times, but I decided to make peace and sat down beside him and leaned in to kiss him again. This time he did respond in kind after he closed his eyes. We were like two teen-aged boys in the throes of love. I liked us that way.
We strolled along and admired the reflection of Mount Adams in the lake as the slanting sun warmed the colors of the trees nearby and the snow and rock on the mountain.
We arrived back at the camp, and as Robbie’s story relates, my wildest dreams came true. After a spectacular dinner, Robbie and I were “married” by his children in a ceremony that brought tears to all of our eyes. I saw the last shadow of doubt leave Robbie, as he said his vow and as we exchanged rings.
I couldn’t believe that Alec had found the same Navajo craftswoman that had made the bracelet that I had given Tran—and passed on to Alec. But he had, and I later learned that Anne had flown down with him to Arizona to make the arrangements—for our rings and for a necklace for Celly, which she donned after we had exchange rings. What was nice was that the same theme was carried from the bracelet to our rings, as if Robbie and I were not only marrying each other, but also we were marrying his children.
Robbie did make love to me that night, and I made love back—and it wasn’t a quickie. Well, maybe the first one was a quickie, but the rest of them were longer expressions of our love for each other. We weren’t noisy, but we weren’t quiet, either; Alec had thoughtfully pitched his and Celly’s tent some distance from ours.
* * * * *
When we got home, I looked at all the paperwork that this weekend developed. Did all these papers amount to marriage? No. Was it a civil union with all the characteristics of marriage? No? But Anne’s legal work made it as close as it could be, including, I noticed, what I had asked her to do for me. She did almost everything that could be done, except those restrictions that the government still held over us—like the ability to pass on what we owned to our spouse and to file joint tax returns.