“Once he drew, with one long kiss, my whole soul through my lips.”
I was completely taken aback at seeing Jeremy standing in front of me, encrusted with the frosty residue of his breath encasing his scarf and stocking cap! Recovering quickly, I stepped forward, embraced his cold and wet body, feeling him shudder and began to sob, such deep, painful, soul-wracking emissions of profound sadness, it brought me to tears while exclaiming, “Oh, yes, Jeremy my sweetness.” Feeling Stony press up against me from behind, heard him say, “J.T.; we need to get him inside and warmed up. Look at the lad, he’s wet and cold!”
Stony grabbed Jeremy’s bag while I led the cold teen through the house, my arms holding him tightly against me as I steered him into the bathroom. He was so distraught, even after I released him he made no effort to disrobe himself of the cold and wet clothing, but stood, instead, continuing to sob! Soothing back his hair, whispering to him he was safe now and all would be well, I slowly began stripping his coat, hat, scarf, shirt, pants, socks and undershirt from him. I thought he would take off his own briefs, but when he didn’t, I slipped them down to his ankles, freeing his now cold shrunken cock and balls to a warmer clime.
Naked, Jeremy continued crying as I gently guided him into the shower, adjusted the temperature, and positioned him under the warm, soothing stream of water cascading from the shower head onto his head and body. He seemed to revive, reducing his sobbing to an occasional sniffle, until he reached forward, turned off the water, and stepped out. Stony handed him a towel to dry himself with while I scooted to the closet and brought forth a heavy, warm blanket to wrap around him.
With Stony on one side of him and me on the other, we took him to the living room and sat him between the two of us on the futon, both of us placing our arms around his shoulders, sandwiching him between the two of us so he could share our warmth and our love for him.
Settled, I asked, “Jeremy, did you walk all the way from home and the across the ice to here?”
He simply nodded, but before I could ask anything else, he qualified his nod by murmuring softly, “Except, I took the city bus to Hennessey’s and walked from there. I didn’t think it was going to be this cold and snowy crossing the ice and walking on the trail to here, though.”
“Why didn’t you go to Carter’s, its closer?” I asked softly.
“I just couldn’t, John Thomas; he’s up at Aunt Cassie’s and Jim’s with everyone else.”
“Isn’t Cage there also?” Stony puzzled and that started the waterworks again.
Oh, oh, I thought, there’s been a breakup of some sort in that relationship and Jeremy’s running away from it, so I posed simply, “Are you and Cage having some sort of problems?” and he cried all the stronger.
Finally, Jeremy choked out, “It’s not Cage, it’s that fucking sister and my Dad,” his voice growing louder and laced with anger and venom, a reaction I’d not seen in Jeremy before this moment!
“She’s a bitch,” he seethed, “a fucking, jealous bitch!”
I quickly pulled him closer to me, hugged him tightly, and nodding to Stony, “Why don’t we have Stony fix a cup of hot chocolate and a sandwich for you and you can tell us what happened while you eat. I’ll bet you didn’t have any supper, did you?”
Stony hustled to the kitchen while I continued to rock Jeremy back and forth in my arms, calming him until I could assist him up from the futon and to the kitchen table where Stony had a cup of hot chocolate, a sandwich, and a slice of apple pie he’d baked earlier in the day waiting. I reasoned while the lad was eating, he couldn’t cry near as much. His sobbing previously nearly broke my heart and from the look on Stony’s face, his too!
Jeremy sat, naked save for the blanket draped over his wiry frame, munching down first the sandwich, then the apple pie, and finally began sipping the hot chocolate, appetite satiated, nerves somewhat calmed. I prompted him to tell us what caused such distress that he’d venture across the ice to the Island on such a cold, cold Christmas night.
He hesitated, not in reluctance to share his plight with us, but in order to place his thoughts and the previous day’s events in the proper sequence and perspective.
“John Thomas, I think you know how Amy Sue has felt about me over the years!”
Indeed I did! Amy Sue, from the day Jeremy came home from the hospital, found him as an intrusion into her otherwise perfectly spoiled and pampered life, deflecting attention, praise, and presents she thought rightfully belonged to her and not some interloper into the family. On those occasions I visited, which wasn’t that often since Aaron was older than me and I was but fourteen or so when Jeremy was born, Amy Sue could be and was downright mean to the boy. At the time, I was deeply involved with Cameron and, although he never said, Aaron wasn’t too pleased with our relationship. Aaron was a deputy county sheriff so I made certain Cameron and I stayed out of his way. Our escapes to the Island to be with each other were also our escapes from non-accepting members of the community and from our families.
I returned to the Island to retreat for the last time, I thought, until Jeremy began his visits brought there by my Grandfather, Jeremy’s great-grandfather, Gifford. It was on his visits to the Island he began learning the ways of the river and the natural world, as well as wiggling into my heart as my favorite. During the last couple of years, before Stony and I met, Jeremy would motor over to the Island in the small flat boat his family owned and spend a day here and there with me fishing, visiting, hunting, and just being a boy. It was during those visits I began to suspect Jeremy was gay and often wondered how he’d address it with himself and with his family. If I wasn’t mistaken, I was about to find out as Jeremy continued pouring his heart out to us!
“When she finally went away to college, I thought life would get better with her gone and it did, while she was away, but every time she came home, she made life absolutely miserable for me. Anything and everything she could do to get me in trouble she’d do, even if she had to lie about it. Dad always takes her side and she knows it. Mom just stays out of the way and doesn’t even bother to defend me anymore. If she tried, Amy Sue would throw a shit-fit and Dad would just growl at Mom to keep her nose out of it and I’d catch the shit! I really didn’t enjoy life very much and often wondered how long I could put up with it.”
Jeremy paused, a long pause, pursing his lips in a strange, but faraway, reflective manner. Stony raised his eyebrows, tossed me a worried glance, and nodded. We both were thinking the same thing- maybe it was a good idea Jeremy decided to come to the Island, rather than come to the end – of his life!
He finally sighed, “But all that changed the weekend I came hunting and met Kenneth James Anderson, ‘Cage’ to everyone. I didn’t know you were having guests on the Island for the hunt. I’d asked Dad if we could go and he put me off, saying he had to work. I don’t think he really wanted to take me or go near the Island. He finally relented, to keep me from whining all weekend I think, and said he’d see if you’d take me. John Thomas, you know I hardly ever complain and I wouldn’t have then!”
Jeremy was spot on there; he was an expert at masking his emotions, most of the time. I think living with his dad and older sister caused him to think it was probably safer and less painful just to shut up and take it, no matter what.
“When I first saw Cage, I was angry, jealous I think, and worried he was taking my place with you on the Island. That’s why I was so quiet on the trip to the Island and that evening. As I watched, I slowly saw something else in Cage. He wasn’t trying to upstage me, instead he acted as though he wanted it to be ‘us’ not just him. The more I looked at him the more I realized he was the most beautiful creature ever placed on earth. I had a difficult time going to sleep that night just thinking about Cage.”
I looked sympathetically at my young cousin, understanding his plight as he re-lived that night, yet wondered why, as he sat sipping his hot chocolate, he couldn’t see when looking in a mirror, he was just as stunningly beautiful and handsome as his boyfriend. Jeremy saw beauty in others, but failed or was humble enough not to recognize it in himself.
“At breakfast and during the hunt before the storm hit, we talked and found we shared many of the same interests, although he was definitely more into the fine arts and more creative than me, and both good students, but we definitely had an interest in each other. I gathered that as I was eyeballing his crotch and found him doing the same to me.”
Jeremy looked up at me, a twinkle in his eye, “Yeah, John Thomas, as if you didn’t already know, I’ve liked boys ever since I can remember and really was convinced I liked them the first time I stepped into boys shower room after track practice in middle school. All those cocks jiggling about were almost as inviting as a candy store, but I didn’t dare pop a bone or I’d never live it down so I kept myself deep in the closet. Not only was I worried about what would happen at school, but I really didn’t know what Dad would say and Amy Sue would do.”
“I was always O.K. with you because once I asked Great-grandfather Gifford who Cameron Saint-Denis was after I heard Mom and Dad speaking of him and Grandpa told me, ‘just in case I ever needed someone who might understand me’ he said. Grandpa knew and was fine with it and I think he worried about me then.”
Jeremy shuddered and his shoulders sagged as he caught a sob in his throat and choked it back down, refusing to allow tears to interrupt the flow of his story to Stony and me. He paused again, collecting his thoughts, allowing Stony time to re-stoke the wood stove. The stove would take plenty of wood tonight to keep the house warm, but we had plenty, if we awakened to keep it stoked.
“When that storm hit while hunting, I was scared shitless! I knew you’d do your damnedest to keep everyone safe as you could, but the wind was too strong for you to handle alone. I just couldn’t lose you and Cage; I just couldn’t let anything happen to him so that’s why we came out in the flat boat!”
“Back at the cabin when we stripped to our undies and headed for the shower, Cage stopped me, wrapped his arms around me and said, ‘Thanks’ and kissed me. John Thomas, never, never in my life have I had such an experience like that! It was as if he was sharing his very soul, his very life force with me, so passionately, sweetly, and delicately his lips were as they caressed and massaged mine. I needed him; I wanted him and; I loved him! We spent that night together and it was the first time I felt comfortable holding another boy, especially him, in my arms, protecting him, being with him.”
“Thanksgiving, Cage spent a couple of days with Aunt Cassie and his grandfather and we did a couple of movies, you know, got together as we could. We thought we were being careful, but today I found out we weren’t as careful as we thought. Cage was already out to his family and had been- like forever- but not me, not then! We talked about it and I thought maybe in the spring I’d come out to my folks. Anyway, we called and e-mailed each other a lot and yesterday he came with the rest of his family to Aunt Cassie’s and we did a few things, but they left after dinner today. He called me after he got home and that’s when the shit hit the fan at my house!”
“What happened?” Stony asked, speaking quietly, yet firmly, prepared for the worst. I think we both had an idea, but Jeremy needed to say it and get it out of his system.
“Aaron Junior and his brood were already gone and after I hung up the phone from talking to Cage, Amy Sue walked by said in a smart-ass voice, ‘Was that your little fuck-buddy?’ and I snarled at her to shut her fucking mouth and Dad heard me.”
“He got all pissy and demanded I apologize to her for my foul mouth. Of course, he didn’t hear what she said to me, so I had no choice so I muttered an ‘I’m sorry’ and hoped that’d be the end of it. But no, he shouted at me wanting to know why I spoke such filth to my sister and I started to walk away, not wanting to tell him the truth. That’s when he grabbed me and shoved me up against the hallway wall, again shouting at me to speak up!”
“Amy Sue just couldn’t pass up the opportunity to nail me good, so she piped up in a sickeningly sweet, phony voice, ‘I just asked him if it was his boyfriend on the phone; you know the one he was snogging at the movies over Thanksgiving, making a real ass of himself, sucking face with another boy. Daddy, I was so embarrassed because I was with my friends and they all saw it too.’ I should’ve decked her right then and there, but I didn’t have a chance. Dad stared at me and before I could say anything, she said, ‘I suppose they screw like bunny rabbits when not in public.’ That tipped him over the top!”
Jeremy’s voice began increasing in volume, not only in anger, but deep disappointment and grief as he sputtered, “Not once did Dad tell Amy Sue to hush her mouth! No, instead he pushed me away from him and said, ‘Tell me what she’s saying isn’t true!’ I couldn’t lie so all I said was ‘Dad, I’m gay and Cage Anderson is my boyfriend.’ He got that steely quiet look in his eyes and quietly, angrily said to me ‘Go to your room, leave my sight’ and, I’m sorry John Thomas, he added, ‘You’re no better than that perverted queer of a cousin of mine; no wonder you enjoy going to the Island so much,’ and walked away from me.”
“I went to my room and when it got dark, I packed a bag, hopped a city bus to Hennessey’s and walked over here.”
What do you say to a young man who’s just lost the home and those whom he thought loved him because he announced his gayness to them; was pushed away from the security and love he thought he had all those years until this very moment? Is ‘I’m sorry’ enough? You can’t say ‘it’ll be alright’ because nothing’ll ever be the same again, even if his father does accept him back into the fold. No, there’s not much to say to a young man at this point, only there is something you can do and I did it. I pulled him close to me, hugged him tight, let him share his sorrow and loss with me by the closeness of my body and heart, trying to lessen his pain so he understands there are others who feel his loss as well. All I could honestly say to him was “Jeremy, it’ll all work out; maybe not the way you want it to, but it’ll all work out. Either way, you’ve got a home here with Stony and me! We may not be your mom and dad, but we love you so much and want to help you!”
Jeremy hugged me tightly in return, burying his head in my chest, and murmured, “Thanks, John Thomas, I knew I could count on you.”
“Well, Jeremy,” I lamented, “I don’t know how much I can do, but I’ll give it a go with Stony’s help. I do know you won’t go hungry or deprived of what you need growing up and for school. We can handle all of that easily,” and glancing at my watch, noticing it was almost eleven o’clock, continued, “Why don’t you trundle off to bed and I’ll give your folks a call and let them know you’re here and safe – in case they’re worrying.”
“I doubt they will be,” he snorted sarcastically and headed down the hall to his bedroom.
I made the call and when Aaron answered the phone, I informed him of Jeremy’s whereabouts. His response was disturbing, unsettling, and something which could greatly affect Jeremy if he were to hear it repeated, so I vowed not to say anything, to anyone, except Stony, maybe.Stony and I crawled into bed and spent another hour or so discussing our course of action beginning the next day. Sometime during the night or early morning, when the cabin cooled as the fire in the wood stove burned down to coals, I felt another warm, naked body slide into bed and snug up against me. All I heard was “I’m cold, J.T.” and Jeremy fell sound asleep again. The poor guy was emotionally worn out!
Thank you for reading “Gif’s Island – Chapter Eighteen –“Once he drew, with one long kiss, my whole soul through my lips.” – Tennyson
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or locales is entirely coincidental.
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