“Life is made up, not of great sacrifice or duties, but little things, in which smiles and kindness and small obligations given habitually, are what win and preserve the heart and secure comfort.”
(Sir H. Davy)
The next morning, we again motored out to the duck blind for another hunt. Although we saw plenty of birds plying up and down the river, whistling and gliding in and out of ponds and the sloughs of the Island and adjacent shorelines, only a few seemed inclined to join our spread of decoys. Those that did, however, met with deadly results. Cage’s expertise with a shotgun wasn’t just a fluke the day before, but was, in fact, quite excellent. He seemed to have an excellent eye for taking a good, killing shot!
We killed a half-dozen mallards and an equal number of widgeons in the first couple of hours of legal hunting and as I considered calling a halt to the hunt, Cage looked at me and asked, “Would you be upset if I just sort of sat and watched for a little bit? I think we have enough to eat.”
“There’s no sense being greedy,” I answered, “so why don’t we give it up for the day, clean these, and relax awhile before we have to take you back, Cage!”
I was pleased to hear him say that since Stony and I both believed hunting wasn’t in the killing; it was more the joy of spending time together, watching, learning appreciation for what was visible and presented to us on nature’s and life’s palate. An additional delicious reward was the provision of very delectable and fulfilling meals resulting from our expeditions. We spent the next hour or so, watching the ducks either flying by or settling in our decoys. A half dozen nice fat Canada geese landed in the decoys and we did nothing to disturb them until they decided to leave on their own. It was delightful observing Cage as he snapped pictures, commenting on what he saw, describing in vivid detail landings, flight, or escape by the waterfowl. He found beauty and art in everything unfolding before his discerning eyes!
We gathered up the decoys, stowed them in the blind, secured the scull boat, and motored our way back to the cabin. There, we cleaned the birds, saved a couple of mallards for Stony and me, and prepared the rest to send back home with Cage. Combined with the birds shot the day before, his family would have several meals. Looking at my watch, I announced, “I’ll fix lunch; we promised Carter we’d have Cage back by three o’clock or so this afternoon, so I’d better hustle.”
“If you don’t need my help,” Stony added, “Cage asked to see the wood shop, so we’ll take a look at that.”
There was no need for both of us to fuss in the kitchen, so I waved him off to the shop, with Cage tagging along behind. It wasn’t long until I heard the generator start up and a saw whining as it cut its way through a large piece of wood. Twenty minutes later, just as I was about to summon the two of them for lunch, they emerged from the shop, each carrying an armful of what appeared to be relatively thin slabs of log cut on the diagonal, creating an elliptical shaped slice of wood. They carefully placed the wood in the boat and walked up to the house, Stony’s arm around Cage’s neck and shoulder, both laughing but engaged in deep conversation.
Stony was still laughing when they entered the house. Teasing Cage, he asked, “You really think people will buy something like that?”
“You wait and see,” countered Cage. “I’ll do a couple and bring them back with me next time I come over.”
“Who said there’d be a next time?” I asked with a twinkle in my eye.
His face fell for a moment, then he grinned, walked over and gave me a big hug, saying, “If you weren’t already taken, I’d bend you over the couch and make a boy-lover out of you.”
“Whoa!” hollered Stony. “Little Mr. Innocent comes out and now he’s super stud!”
As we laughed, I announced lunch, and we sat down to eat.
Stony and I cleaned up after lunch while Cage gathered up his things. When he was all packed, I asked, “Cage, the northern flight of ducks usually show up about the first of November. Would you be able to come back then in about three weeks?”
“Oh,” he responded happily, “I’d love to if my folks would let me! You really don’t mind, do you?”
“Of course not or we wouldn’t have invited you. You are welcome here anytime. If your Uncle Carter is free, bring him along or maybe that cute boy you’re stalking.”
Cage just grinned, replying “I think I’ll just check with Uncle Carter; I don’t think I’m ready to be that brave yet.”
Carter was waiting for him at Hennessey’s when we arrived. Cage overwhelmed him with chatter describing his weekend as we unloaded his gear and the ice chests containing the frozen and fresh waterfowl. Carter had our mail for us and a couple of packages that were delivered to the house. Stony and I gave Cage a hug goodbye and motored back to the Island.
Stony and I were both tired that night, but not too tired. His cock nestled deep and securely seated in the depths of my gut; his short, easy little thrusts rubbed across my sensitive prostate as he slowly made love to me. Although mostly a bottom, Stony still loved to top on occasion and was an expert at that also. His abdomen seemed to mold into the small of my back, rippling from the mounds of my ass cheeks up my back as his chest made contact with my shoulder blades, his arms under my shoulders, his face next to mine sending and pushing my own hard prod gliding up the soft sheet under me and back, tickling my glans, and adding to his and my pleasure!
“Did I ever tell you how much I love you?” he murmured softly, his voice becoming more ragged, urgent as he neared his climax.
“Every day,” I moaned back as I suddenly began firing my volley of spunk on the bed sheet, tightening my sphincter around his dick and flexing my bowels, massaging him, and squeezing him to ecstasy.
“Shit!” he groaned and stuffed himself as deep as his cock could possibly go and began pulsing ropes of cum into me. Stony could produce a real load, so much in fact, even though he’d remain plugged into me tightly, I could still feel it leaking out, trickling down my balls. I knew after the initial hard spurts, he’d continue to twitch and drain for a few minutes more, remaining hard the entire time.
He lay stretched length-wise on my body, his heat seeping into me as we both relaxed from the exertions and satisfaction of our union. Funny, when we are together, embraced in any position, my injuries seem not to bother me; perhaps my pleasure of him overcomes any pain, but it’s still nice not to have or feel real discomfort. I really feel it is more than just that, Stony is more than just considerate of my frailties; he moves about them without calling attention to them and thus, gives me little discomfort by his now habitual actions and responses to me.
“Don’t you wonder what a boyfriend’s reaction is going to be that first time Cage slips that humongous schlong of his up the south portal?” Stony mused softly in my ear.
I chuckled, bouncing us both up and down on the bed. “Yeah, but what I really wonder if he’d be willing to take it a second time or tighten up enough afterwards to keep from shitting his pants.”
Stony slowly slid off of my back, resting on his left side. I scooted to my right side, facing him, reached forward and drew him close, making contact between our naked bodies, while moving toward his side of the bed. After all, my side was pretty slick and wet with cum and his side wasn’t. Kissing my gently on those soft, warm lips of his, I added, murmuring, “On second thought, do we really care?” and we both fell asleep.
The next three weeks were busy; in addition to the daily chores of chickens, house work and meals, we were also busy filling the wood shed with the wood I’d cut and split the year before. It was stacked along the trails near the cabin where I’d cut it. Loading the trailer and pulling it behind the tractor to the wood shed for winter storage and use kept it handy and dry. The wood shed really wasn’t a shed since it had a sloped roof held up by four corner posts. The roof kept the rain and snow off and the open sides allowed the wood to continue to dry. It was close enough to the cabin for easy access and, if we kept the wood box on the porch full, we didn’t have to make a trip to it more than once or twice a day.
Items we’d normally leave out during the summer, we stowed away in the barn or covered so the snow wouldn’t affect them. We moved the small flat boat to the Johnson Slough landing at the end of the trail and pulled it up on rollers. The lake in front of the cabin would freeze long before the river and Johnson Slough since there wasn’t current moving through it, so we’d still be able to access the mainland until late December or early January, if the winter was a normal one and everything froze up. Stony worked in the shop, sharpening tools, organizing patterns, and stacking lumber. There were some items, he said, he’d reproduce several times, such as a cobbler’s bench, shadow boxes, cutting boards, and hall trees, to name a few, that he felt customers would be interested in purchasing. He was also determined to construct a couple of grandfather clocks. Those would sell for a much higher price and would have a limited market.
“Surely,” he pondered aloud, “there must be someone willing to buy a fine crafted instrument such as these will be?”
I certainly hope so, given the time and materials that would go into them, or Island Woodcrafters would have to sell a bunch of knick-knacks and other items to make up the difference in sales. As we worked, I realized how nice, how comforting it was to me to have Stony sharing his life with me and how much I’d missed in those intervening years lost in my grief over the loss of Cameron. Stony never seemed to rush me when I struggled because my leg or my arm was giving me problems and was always there, without asking, to help, no matter the task whether it was doing the laundry, housework, meals, and all without complaining. It was as if there was two of me or one of us, I’m not certain. All of those little things we did for each other cemented our relationship and brought us closer and closer together. Although I’d been in love with Cameron, he and I never felt as close as Stony and I, I came to realize.
I really loved our quiet times together at the start or the end of the day, holding each other before our evening cocktails, before we slept. There were those times, he’d catch me staring at him, smile and wink and my heart would melt all over again.
Toward the end of the month, the last Monday before the first weekend in November, a weather forecast on the radio predicted a big winter storm moving through and out of the prairies of Canada and into the Dakotas. I called Cage and Carter, saying “It looks like next weekend will be the big push of ducks down the flyway. Are you available for a hunt?”
Carter would pick up Cage and both would be at Hennessey’s on Friday evening. No sooner had I disconnected when my cousin, Chief Deputy, Aaron Gifford called asking, “Hey, J.T., the cold front up north might move some ducks. Jeremy has been bugging me to go hunting, but I’m tied up on call next weekend. Do you think you could take him this weekend? I don’t want to be in the middle of the river if a call comes in. The sheriff wouldn’t take too kindly to that.”
I explained that Carter and his nephew, Cage, would be hunting with us that weekend also, but Aaron assured me it’d make no difference to Jeremy; besides, he said, “He needs to get out and meet some guys his own age, other than those at his own school.”
Jeremy was a favorite of mine and even though we had Cage and Carter coming for the weekend, I agreed it’d be fun to have Jeremy join us. There’d be plenty of room in the blind for all of us and we’d take turns in the boat for shooting. I’d do the sculling and pair up Carter and Cage and Stony and Jeremy. As far as sleeping, Jeremy could have the futon and Carter and Cage could share the bedroom.
Friday evening, just at dusk, found Stony and I waiting, with the big flat boat, at Hennessey’s Landing for our guests. It was damned cold with a northwest wind rocketing up the Slough, carrying a sleety mist, peppering our faces as we waited! Ducks had been seen all day, as we worked outside, plying up and down the river and huge flocks were observed high the sky, just below the grey, cold looking clouds, either high-balling it south or dropping to some secluded spot to rest from their long journey. I hoped the boys would have a chance at a few shots in the morning. If the wind was too strong, it’d make it difficult getting the blocks (decoys) out and handling the scull boat without getting swamped.
Aaron was the first to arrive in a county squad and Jeremy climbed out of the front seat. His dad helped him bring his duffle, cold weather gear, boots, and shotgun to the boat.
“Hi, Cousin John Thomas,” he said with a smile greeting me and giving me a big hug. Turning to Stony, he asked, “Do I call you Cousin Stony or just Stony?”
Stony grinned back, walked over, gave him a big hug, and answered, “Anything you feel comfortable with, Jeremy.”
“More coming, I understand,” Aaron mused. “Talked to Carter a while ago and they’re on the road somewhere behind me.”
No sooner said than Carter drove up in my pickup. Before he could dismount himself, Cage was out of the front seat and running toward the boat. He came to a sudden halt when he spotted Jeremy. Jeremy stood up straighter and both boys locked eyes, checking each other quietly, determinedly, but not aggressively, as it seeking who the biggest rooster in the barnyard was going to be! It’d be difficult since both were about the same height, weight, and body structure. I was willing to bet they wore exactly the same clothes size, but that didn’t stop them from puffing up, just a little.
“Oh, oh,” murmured Stony to me, “this should be an interesting weekend.”
Carter climbed out and began lugging gear from the pickup to the boat. A jerk of his head was all it took to get Cage’s attention focused back on the task at hand and he quickly moved to help his uncle. The boat loaded, we waved goodbye to Aaron and started down the Slough toward the end of the Island. I decided to go around the Island and enter from the river side. I wish I hadn’t!
Carter and Cage were up to the front, Stony and Jeremy in front of me and all of the gear piled in between. When the boat popped out of the Slough into the main river, the wind hit us broadside, pushing two to three feet waves high up the river and slopping over the gunwales. We all hunkered down thankful we had our life jackets on, riding on the waves, fighting the wind, and getting soaked. As soon as I was able, I turned the boat so the wind was to our stern and headed around and up the Island to the cut that opened into the lake in front of the cabin. By the time we got to the cabin, it was dark; we were soaked and cold, and ready to be out of the boat.
We piled all of the gear on the front porch while Stony and I stoked up the fire and turned on the lights. This was one more time I was so happy Stony convinced me to put in the solar power.
“Nice lights,” remarked Carter with a grin.
“Why don’t you all get out of your wet clothes and into something dry?” I suggested. “Carry your bags to the back bedroom, Carter, where you and Cage will sleep; Jeremy take yours to Stony’s and my bedroom. Unfortunately, Jeremy you get the futon tonight, although if it gets really cold, you’ll be warmer than the rest of us.”
Stony got everyone situated and then joined me in the kitchen to help with supper. Obviously, grilling outdoors was out of the question, so we made hamburger patties, put them on a broiler pan ready to pop into the oven when we were ready; beans, potato salad, coffee and milk would make up the rest of the meal.
The rest of the crew, emerging from wherever, dry clothes on and ready for some refreshments took my direction and headed to the porch. Carter noticed me glance at his pistol and badge, attached securely to his belt, shrugged his shoulders, saying, “Never off duty,” and patted a cellphone in a leather case on his other side. This made me more than happy I’m not a cop!
We sat on the porch, now pretty well battened down for winter, heat from the wood stove in the living room wafting out through the open door connecting the porch to the rest of the house, keeping us relatively comfortable. The wind still howled and the rain pelted against the windows reminding us of the nasty weather waiting for us outside in the morning if it didn’t calm down some. It made the drinks, the smoked fish, summer sausage and crackers much more enjoyable and gave us comfort!
“I almost forgot!” Cage exclaimed, setting his soda down and bounding from the porch and down the hall to the bedroom. Returning, carrying a tightly wrapped parcel about eighteen inches to two foot long and perhaps a foot in width, and handed it to me.
“Open it, J.T.,” he instructed and added, “Stony too, please.”
Stony, sitting next to, scrunched his face up in puzzlement, looked at me, and lifted his shoulders in acceptance while helping untie the string and loosen the tape holding the heavy wrapping paper in place. As the paper fell away, the light revealed an oil painting, a portrait actually, on one of the wood slabs Stony and Cage cut the last time Cage was here hunting. The portrait was of Stony, looking out of the duck blind toward the rising sun. The detail was perfect, the colors, the lighting, all of it life-like and of excellent quality. Stony shook his head in amazement. Picking it up to exam in more closely, a second oil painting was revealed. This one was of me, hand on the boat motor tiller, eyes ahead, concentrating on my task at hand, piloting the boat.
“They’re magnificent,” I commented quietly, “do you have any more?”
Cage retreated to the bedroom and returned with another; an oil on wood slab of the sunrise on the river. It was a bright, warming picture, intended in giving pleasure to the viewer and brighten any day.
Holding it out so Stony could see it, I asked, “Do you think oils, such as these, would sell at the market?”
“In a minute,” he answered and turning to Cage, “Cage, you can sell as many of these as you can produce and at a price you name. How do you propose to do it since I assume you’ve given this some thought?”
Cage hesitated, but finally answered, “I thought if you’d let me, I could sell them through Island Woodcrafters. After all, it’s your wood.”
“No problem,” responded Stony, “except all of the profits go to you for a college fund.”
Carter, listening to our conversation, finally spoke up. “I’ve talked to his folks after I first saw these and made the same suggestion. They’re in agreement, if you guys agree to it also.”
Well we did and the deal was closed. “Now,” I announced, “we’ll have to find some place to hang these portraits, won’t we Stony?”
“In the living room, over the desk,” Stony answered happily, “then we can see them and remember the artist every time we sit down there, plus from anyplace else in the living room.”
All were pleased with the pictures and the choice of location. Jeremy however, was quiet. I looked at him, saw something in his eyes, either anger, jealousy, or loneliness; that feeling of being part of a group, yet not, left out of its activities and hanging on the sidelines, wanting to play, but not being invited to do so. I rose, on the pretext of refilling the now empty soda glass he held, and when it took it from him, he looked up at me and I could see just wisps of tears forming in the corners of his eyes.
“Why don’t you help me, Jeremy?” I asked quietly, taking his hand and leading him from the porch to the kitchen. In the kitchen, I pulled him to my chest, hugging him, holding him close.
“Feeling left out?” I asked.
His head nodded on my chest, responding, “Yeah,” face muffled in my shirt, “like I can paint and draw and take pictures and play forty different musical instruments and be really fucking good looking like Cage is! Yeah, right, J.T., look at me, not even close.”
I stepped back, held him at arm’s length and really looked at him. My younger cousin had no idea how extraordinarily good looking he was; a handsome, comely young man. There was no doubt he was a Gifford and related to me, resembling me at that age, only infinitely more attractive and smarter, not only academically, but in the ways of the river, those outdoor skills necessary for living near the river, and of life, able to perceive the good or bad in people or things and decide a course of action. No, he wasn’t the ugly duckling, far from it, but he felt less than perfect in Cage’s presence, inferior, lacking in self-confidence especially since he witnessed all of the praise we’d heaped on Cage. Jeremy was naturally jealous, fearful someone had replaced him with his favorite cousin! It just wasn’t so, but I’d have to convince him of that and show him I loved him.
“I suppose,” I began, “I can tell you you’re handsome, smart, a leader, have common sense, and have woodworking skills, but you don’t want to hear that, do you?
He waggled his head from side to side as he pressed himself back against my chest.
“I could tell you you’re a natural leader, although quiet and sometimes shy, and very loyal, forming strong friendships, but choosey, but you don’t want to hear that either, do you?
Again, his head waggled back and forth. It was then it hit me; I knew what his problem was. His problem wasn’t Cages artistic talents or the way he made himself at home here; no none of that at all. Jeremy had too much self-confidence to let that bother him so I finally said,
“What you want to hear is I love you, my favorite cousin, because you’re so much like me in more ways than one and you want to know how you can get that handsome stud to notice you and like you like you’re attracted to him, isn’t it?”
Jeremy stood still, holding on tight around my waist, holding his breath, processing what I said, revealing I was completely aware he was gay, until he finally exhaled, nodded his head up and down and whispered, “How did you know?”
I raised his head, kissed him on the forehead, smiled, answering, “I’m not blind and you forget I bat for the same team. How you feel is the same way I felt when I first met Stony. I wanted him to notice me so bad and that’s how you look at Cage. I think you two have more in common than you realize. Just give it time, relax, and enjoy the weekend with us. He’ll come around and see how damned lucky he’d be to be your boyfriend. O.K.?”
Jeremy relaxed, smiled at me and commented, “He’s really cute, you know?”
“I know, but I’m one up on you, Jeremy, I’ve seen him naked.”
Jeremy’s eyes grew wide and gasped quietly, “Is his – you know- just as great as the rest of him?”
“Well,” I answered with a twinkle in my eye, “that’s for me to know and you to find out, but I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.”
Sore, I thought to myself and perhaps be walking funny for a day or two, but not disappointed.
Thank you for reading “Gif’s Island - Chapter Fifteen –“Life is made up, not of great sacrifice or duties, but little things, in which smiles and kindness and small obligations given habitually, are what win and preserve the heart and secure comfort.” – (Sir H. Davy)
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