The Journey

In Remembrance of

By Angel Love

This short story came to me one afternoon while on a short vacation in St. Augustine, Florida. As we leisurely walked the back streets of St. Augustine well off the beaten path of the tourist trade my life long partner Wayne and I were enjoying the quaint little homes in the area. We passed by an old man sitting on his front porch, he looked so lonely our hearts were touched so we stopped to visit with him for a short time. Many of the things he shared with us that afternoon are here many I filled in with my own interpretations. He constantly spoke of a friend in his past, and although he knew we were a couple he never went far enough to say they had been. However, it was quite clear to both Wayne and I that he indeed wished that it could have been that way. By the time we had returned to our bed and breakfast, the story was almost completely formulated in my mind. I sat down at my laptop and this is what came out.

The old man sat on his front porch and watched the children play in the park across from his rustic wood frame home. He and his late wife Sandy had lived here almost fifty years and the memories that were stored inside the quaint little blue and white structure could not be told in many volumes of printed text.

The past two years had been extremely lonely for the old man. Each morning he would think of all the little chores and repair work he should do, but he never seemed to get around to doing anything. After all, now he was alone so as long as the house stayed livable there was little need to strive for more. He and his beloved Sandy had been unable to have children of their own so with her passing he had spent most days just sitting and watching the world go by. He had wanted to adopt, however, Sandy so distraught over her inability to bear children was afraid she would have been unable to adequately love someone else's child. So they had spent their lives together, growing more dependent on the other with each passing day.

Many times since Sandy's passing he had felt that perhaps he also had lived too long. There was no one left, it seemed as if all had passed on leaving him to face his old age alone. All of his friends, save one, were now gone and the one who remains he has not seen in so many years he was unsure if that friend still remembered him.

He sat rocking in the warm afternoon breeze, and sipping his bourbon on the rocks, his attention was mostly focused on two boys of perhaps fourteen or fifteen years old. He took another sip of whiskey and smiled. He knew he could have his customary drink earlier in the day now, however, out of respect to Sandy he always waited until after three in the afternoon. She always fussed at him if he took a drink earlier than that.

Laughter brought his attention back to the two boys. He did not know their names, or where they lived, but they were always together when they were at the park. Today they were honing their skills with their skateboards. The longer he watched the pair the more he remembered the many years he had enjoyed the special company of another young boy. The same young boy he still regarded as his one remaining friend. He had first met his friend when they too were fourteen, and until they were twenty-one they were inseparable. It had now been twenty years since their last communication and forty since they had seen each other.

The two young boys across the street so reminded him of his long lost friend he tried with all of his mental powers to bring up a true picture of his friends face. But, time and age leaves much to be desired when one tries to paint images of long unseen faces.

However, he could still clearly remember the good times together. He smiled as he remembered the afternoon they first met. He had gone to a park much like the one across the street. Back then skateboards were yet to be invented; bicycles were the in-mode of transportation for teen at that time. He had worked at the local market bagging grocery on the weekends all during the school year and then half way through the summer five days a week to save enough money to buy his first new Schwinn Road Master. He was so proud of his new bike when he reached the park he simply put the kickstand down and sat back on a grassy slope to admire the fruit of his hard work. The chrome fenders, and battery power head light gleamed in the late afternoon sun. The support rails were totally enclosed and painted a shiny black. A big silver button on the left side operated the small but powerful horn. He was so entranced by his new possession he never noticed the two bullies from his school approach.

"Well now what do we have here?"

He jerked around at the sound of the unfriendly voice.

"Don't tell me the little Shrimp has a new set of wheels."

"Sure looks that way Sammy," his companion answered.

"Now a fine set of wheels like that needs to be properly broken in don't you think Tommy?"

Tommy snickered and patted Sammy on the shoulder. "Sure do. And the old river bed with all the slime and rocks would be the perfect place to baptize it."

"No you're not! You're not going to touch my bike!"

He jumped to his feet and started for the shiny new Schwinn only to have Sammy hammer him hard in his stomach with his fist. He felt ever ounce of air leave his lungs as he crumpled back to the ground.

"Now, now, you wouldn't deprive a couple of friends a chance for a little fun now would you?"

He tried to answer, but he was still gasping to get just a small amount of air back into his system. All he could do was watch as the two rode off on his prize possession, Sammy peddling and Tommy riding on the handlebars.

He finally staggered to his feet at the two were about a block away. Hurrying as fast as he could he started after them. That was when he noticed another bike rider coming down the long grassy slope he had been sitting on. He watched as the stranger rode up beside the two bullies, put his left foot against the front tire, and then shoved hard.

Sammy, Tommy, and the Schwinn careening down the steep slope finally going end over end until all three rolled to a stop at the bottom. He watched as the stranger, who appeared to be about his age, dismounted from his own bike and walked up to the two before they could get up. He was still to far away to hear what was being said but it was evident Sammy and Tommy were non to pleased at what had just happened. As he got closer he saw Sammy jump to his feet only to be landed back on his ass by a short right jab planted firmly on the point of his chin. The stranger took one step toward the pair but they were quickly on their feet and clawing their way back up the hill to safety.

When he reached his bicycle the young boy had it back on its stand and looking for any sign of damage.

"Hay! Thanks a lot! I sure owe you one."

"Ah, don't mention it. One thing I can't stand is a bully. Besides most of them are total coward anyway . . . as you just saw. By the way my names Roland."

"Hi, I'm Nick." He stepped up and took Roland's extended hand.

Nick notice the raggedy old bike Roland was riding and knew right off, that like himself, he probably came from a family with little financial backing.

"Man . . . that's some kind of bike! Sorry but it has a few of scratches now, but that was the only way I could think of to stop those guys."

"Not to worry, I'm just glad you helped me out. Say would you like to ride it?"

"Sure! You mean I really can!"

"Roland after what you just did for me nothing would make me happier."

And that is the way a friendship was born, and for the next seven years many people thought they were brothers. Where you saw one the other was always close by, and all the bullies soon found out if you picked on one you would answer to both.

Nick continued to rock and sip his whisky as he thought more about Roland and their time together. Nick found it strange at the very beginning that he was so drawn to another boy. At first he thought it was just gratitude and infatuation that he felt, but as the weeks and months went by he slowly began to realize that there was much more to his feelings than just gratitude. At first the things he felt for Roland startled him and he knew that if anyone ever found out he would be quickly branded a queer and be a total outcast.

By the end of the first year Nick could no longer deny his feeling for his friend. Roland had become his secret love, a love that caused more pain than joy because he was powerless to act upon it. He was at a loss about what he could ever do about his love for Roland except keep it to himself and just enjoy the closeness of his best friend.

One afternoon Roland appeared at Nick's front door. "Hay Buddy, want to go for a bike ride?"

"Sure, where we going?"

"Down by the creek. We need to find someplace quiet."

"What's up?"

"You'll see, come on hurry up."

Soon Nick found himself sitting in a secluded spot staring at the latest issue of Playboy magazine that Roland had snuck out of his older brother's room. Back then Playboy was the fastest thing on the newsstand. There were pictures of nude women but that was about all, never was a guy seen on any of the pages and even the girls were posed with very little exposed. But for two teens in the 1950s it was enough to get a real hard on going. That afternoon was the first time they jacked each other off, and Nick thought he was in heaven to feel his friend's hand on his cock. Over the following years their jack off time together became a routine for almost every day of their lives. It never went farther than that and Nick forced himself to be happy with the extra closeness that he enjoyed with his secret love. He always wanted to kiss Roland so bad it hurt but he felt that was far beyond what Roland would stand for.

So their years together continue in just that order until Roland started dating a young girl when he was twenty; a year later Nick found himself standing at Roland's side serving as his best man. After Roland and Martha's wedding Nick forced himself to step back as Roland's close companion and turned that duty over to Martha. Their lives drifted apart and Nick found his heart broken at the loss of his best bud, and more importantly the love he held deep in his heart for Roland something that he knew he would never get over.

Six months later Sandy came into Nick's life her presence helped to fill the void, but it was never the same. She soon became his best friend but he could never feel the things for her that he had for Roland. However, a year later they too were wed and Nick was thrilled to find he actually shared a binding love with Sandy. As the years went past he realized that he had found the one person that could actually fill some of the emptiness of his past and be content to know it.

He once confided in her that there had been someone else whom he had had a difficult time giving up. "I know, I always have, and I know who. I am just so happy you let me step up and take his place."

Nick was stunned with her answer. Not in his wildest dreams had he ever suspected that anyone could possible know how he felt about Roland. Over the years Sandy had volunteered how she had came to know about Nick's love for Roland, however, Nick also realized she was willing to accept his past but it was not her most favorite conversation peace. So Nick had spent his years remembering a pleasant time in his past and only daydreaming about how it could have been if things had taken a different turn.

He took another sip of whisky and waved at the postman as he came up the walk.

"Good afternoon Phil, see you are still hard at it."

"Hi Nick, and I see you still enjoy your afternoon bourbon."

"Yep, wouldn't miss it for anything."

"Say Nick, I do think you are coming up in the world, got you a special delivery letter right here."

Phil pulled the big envelope from his shoulder pouch and handed it to Nick. "Just sign right here and its all yours."

Nick scrawled his name on the line and took the envelope. "Well I'll be, speak of the devil."

"Bad news?" Phil asked.

"I hope not, I just been sitting here thinking about this guy. Haven't seen him in nigh-on forty years, and I think the last letter I got from him must have been twenty or thirty years back."

"Well I hope everything's fine, I got to keep moving see-ya Nick."

"Bye Phil see you tomorrow."

Nick slowly examined the envelope as though he thought it might bite him. A tear slowly slid down his wrinkled old face as more memories of he and Roland flooded through him. With trembling fingers he carefully opened the seal. Inside he found two more envelopes the first a standard business size the second securely sealed between two laminated sheets. Nick opened the first envelope and started reading.

Hello my Dear and Close Friend,

I hope this finds you and Sandy in good health and spirits. I am ashamed that I have allowed so much time to pass since I last wrote to you. I know it sounds like an excuse, and I guess it really is, but I was being selfish and a fool. Where we have lived our lives since we left Portville almost a half a century ago people just don't want friends. I became so lonely for a close friend I could not stand staying in contact with you and knowing I could never see you again. Because of that I just quit writing to you; I hope you can find it in your heart to forgive me.

The last two years have been almost unbearable. I lost my beloved Martha two years ago and things have just been so lonely. One thing I must admit to you is that I have lived most of the past fifty years thinking about the few years we spent together; just the memories of those days were the only thing that has kept me sane.

I can not remember now, but I think you knew we had one daughter. I loved her with every fiber of my being but when she was young no matter what we did it seemed we could never do what was right in her eyes. At the age of eighteen she walked out of our home and we never saw or heard from her again. I could not even find her to tell her that her Mother was dead.

Because of these last two lonely years I decided I wanted to, NO I MUST, tell you some things, and again I find myself doing it in yet another selfish way. That is the reason for the two envelopes. I know I have no power, nor do I want to have that power, to stop you from reading the sealed letter now. All I ask is that you wait until you hear of my death before you open the sealed envelope.

I know you are thinking I am crazy, and I guess I may well be, but I have a good reason. Like I said it is pure selfishness. Selfishness because it would break my heart knowing that you may think I am some kind of pervert.

You will know when the time is right to open the second letter because my lawyer will be contacting you. I have made arrangements that you and Sandy will get what is left of my worldly things, hopefully there will be a good sum of money the rest, the house and properties, just feel free to dispose of them as you see fit.

My friend again I apologize for my selfish behavior over the years. I have missed you so much.

I hope you still have many good years ahead.

Love,

Roland

Nick took the last sip of his whiskey than re-read the letter again. He finished and shook his head slowly before he read Roland's letter for the third time. When he finished the third reading he knew what he would do, but first he needed another drink. Not to gain courage for he did not need courage for what he already knew he must do; no he just needed his second shot of bourbon for the afternoon. He never drank enough to get drunk, but he had been a two shot bourbon man for almost forty years now and even though he was anxious to read Roland's second letter he saw no need to break traditions.

He came back onto the porch his drink in one hand, a pair of scissors in the other. He sat down heavily in his old rocker and smiled and waved at the two young boys in the park. He so much wanted to go tell them to enjoy every minute of their young lives and never miss a second of it, but he new they would not understand the true meaning of what he would be saying.

His hand's shook not from old age but from excitement as he began trimming the plastic seal from the letter. It took him a couple of minutes to carefully remove the laminate material so as not to damage the envelope itself. Once the envelope was freed he opened it carefully and once more began reading.

Nick my Good and Dear Friend

I hope this letter finds you still in good health and spirits, after all it has probably only been somewhere around a month or six weeks since you read the first letter. If my wishes have been followed you know I am no longer a part of this world. This may have seemed like a strange thing for me to do, but believe me it was once more for my own selfish reasons. I have no idea what your reaction will be to what I am about to reveal to you. Moreover, if it were a reaction of complete loathing I would never have been able to endure your hatred of me.

I really do not know where to start or how to get to the real truth that I want to share with you. I guess I will start with just a little history. I'm sure you will never remember but I never forgot the first time I met you. Gosh this goes back so far probably sometime around 1951 or 52. I had watched you all summer as you bagged groceries at the local market. I would go there for my Mother and I was so taken by your good looks and cheerful nature I could not think of anything else. As you know I was so bashful I was almost afraid of myself. Every time I came into the store for Mom I always checked out through your line, but I could never get the courage to even say hello. The day we met in the park really was not an accident, you see, I had followed you there. I had finally decided I was going to make myself get acquainted with you no matter what. I was sitting behind you on the grassy hill still trying to gain my courage when those two bullies stole your bike. That episode turned out like an answer to prayer. I don't guess there is any need to go deeper into the story I hope this will cause you to remember that wonderful afternoon. A friendship sprouted that day that has grown in my heart now for close to sixty years.

And that is where my real problem began. Over the next many weeks, months, and years our friendship grew and grew but for me it never stopped growing. I don't guess there is any reason to drag this out. Nick, I never left Portville because I had an offer of a better job two thousand miles away. That was just an excuse to get Martha to go with me. I had to get away to save my sanity and probably my marriage. You see I did not marry my true love I married my best friend. But my true love was always there always in the background.

If you are still reading this I am afraid that you are thinking queer, fag, pervert but please believe me that is just not true. I am none of those things. I have never been able to explain it to myself so I know there is no possible was to explain it to you. I just know I am none of the above. Oh sure, in the eyes of most people I would be in one of these tagged groups, an outcast of society who deserves no happiness. The best I can explain it is for some reason my soul just found complete peace when I was with you or even just thought of you. And when we would jack off together, oh my, I was on cloud nine. Just your touch almost caused me to swoon. One time just before my wedding I got close enough to you during one of our jack off session to let my tong slip out and for just a fleeting moment graze your lips. That brief taste has stayed with me a lifetime.

I'm sure you are probably muttering something like, "Why in the hell did he have to tell me this?" Like I said it is just pure selfishness. I have loved you for so long I just could not die and be gone forever without letting my true feelings be know to you. Please forgive me. I hope that someday you can have good thoughts about me and perhaps even smile just a little when you do.

It has been so good to have you as a part of my life I would never change a thing in my life or memory of you. Just knowing you were there in my past and in my memory was a great comfort to me as I lived my life in this god-forsaken place. Like I said I came here to protect us all, I knew my weakness would never survive the years if I stayed where I could see you whenever I wanted. Sooner or later it would have came out and made a tremendous mess for all of us. I am not trying to get you to feel sorry for me, believe me that is not the case. It seemed I lived two thirds of my life down here and there were very few happy days. I have missed you so and there has never been a day that you have not been a part of my thoughts. The house where I lived was never home, just someplace to keep the rain off my head. However, keeping my distance from you was the only way I could see to save you from what I suppose you will call my stupidity. Society tells us normal guys do not feel that way about other guy, I know, but there is one thing I have discovered over the years, perhaps we are not suppose to fall in love with other guy, but by damn, it happens. Nevertheless, when it does happen I know we are powerless to do anything about it no matter what society says is right.

Nick you have been a marvelous friend, please forgive me if what I have just revealed brings disgust to you in any way.

Thank you my Love, please allow me to call you that just once, for without you my life would have been so empty.

Thank you again, and remember I really did love you.

Roland

By the time Nick had finished Roland's letter his face was wet with tears, and without his even knowing it he was sobbing uncontrollably.

"Mister, are you alright?"

Nick looked up through blurred vision to see the two teenage boys standing at the foot of his porch. He tried to regain his composure, but another sob shock his body.

"Mister," the second youth ask. "Are you alright? We were concerned about you, is there anything we can do?"

Nick managed a smile, "Yes boys I am just fine. I just found out someone loves me that I have loved for almost my entire life."

"OH Wow," the first boy replied. "That must be awesome."

Nick noticed an exchanged glance between the two that seemed more than just a casual expression of excitement.

"Are you two fellows good friends?" Nick asked.

"Oh yes, we are especially good friend." Boy number two almost shouted, and then his face took on just the trace of a blush.

"Boys take it from an old man; never let anyone tell you that you can't be ESPECIALLY good friends."

"No sir, we won't." And their voices chimed together perfectly.

"We'll go now since we know you are fine."

"Bye boys, but please come back over and see me sometime."

"We will sir, we will." The first boy assured him.

Nick took another look at the envelope and hurried inside.

* * * * *

"Mr. Roland Bennett, yes sir in room 112. Are you family? I'm sorry to say no one has been here to see him since he checked himself in last month."

"No Nurse, I'm not family, just a special friend."

"A special friend?" Nick noticed the young nurse study his face. "A special friend with deep blue eyes, you by chance would not be Nick?"

"Why yes. How on earth did you know?"

"You are the only one Mr. Bennett has talked about since he came here. Everyday I hear about his special friend with deep blue eyes."

Nick felt his face blush as he wondered just how much Roland had shared with the nurse.

"He will be so happy to see you. I have tried to convince him for weeks to contact you but he thought you would not want to come. I am so glad you have. It breaks my heart when I have a patient suffering with the ravages of cancer and only has a few days to live and no family or friends to come and say good bye."

When the nurse said only a few days to live, the news hit Nick like a bolt of lightning, he felt his knees beginning to collapse and he was powerless to stop them. The nurse guided him to her chair and helped him to sit down.

"You didn't know did you? He didn't tell you?"

"No Ma'am. I suspected he was sick but . . . but not . . ."

"I'm so sorry I though he surely would have told you."

The nurse brought Nick a cup of water and stroked the back of his hand in an effort to show that she truly was concerned.

"Can . . . can I see him now?"

"Sure, do you want me to go with you?"

"No thank you Ma'am, I think this will be better with just the two of us."

Nick stood to his feet and felt his knees still a bit unsteady. He took two deep breaths and started down the hallway. He stopped in front of room 112 and wondered if he should knock or just walk in. After a brief hesitation he gently eased the door open and peered inside. In the bed lay a frail looking man, his eyes closed, and his chest rising and falling slowly. He looked so fragile but there was no mistaking that strong and magnificent profile of Roland Bennett.

Nick crept silently into the room and stood next to the bed. Roland slept softly his breathing scarcely audible. For several minutes he just stood there studying the face of his long lost friend, who was now his new found love. He never thought about it, or what may happen he simply leaned over and ever so gently placed his lips against those of his beloved Roland's.

Roland's eyes opened slowly as Nick moved his lips softly on those of his lover. In a flash Roland knew exactly who it was that was kissing him. Tears sprang from his eyes and sobs racked his body as he put his arms over his lover's shoulders and pulled him close.

When the kiss ended and Roland could get himself under control enough to speak the first thing he had to ask was, "You don't hate me, and don't think I am a pervert?"

"No my Love I don't hate you. I love you with all my heat and I always have."

The nurse came in to find them clinging to each other and sobbing softly. She smiled and stepped back into the hallway closing the door softly. As she did, she bumped into the doctor who was just beginning his rounds.

"How is Mr. Bennett doing today Nurse?"

"Fine, just fine, I am so happy for him. He has a friend with him right now and now he won't have to die alone."

The doctor smiled and continued his rounds. "I'll stop in and see him later."

Nick soon found his Love tired easily and their endless talking would have to be interrupted from time to time to give Roland a chance for a short nap. Each time Roland slept Nick never released his hand he could not bring himself to miss even a moment's contact with the person he had secretly loved for almost his entire life.

During the next two days, they found they were both angry at society for telling them as young boys that it was not possible for them to fall in love. As that anger faded and was put behind them Nick found that he was than challenged to help Roland understand that he was not the reason they had not voiced their love year ago.

"Look my love the road between us traveled both ways; I could have came to you just as easy as you could have came to me. The same can be said about the mail. I know, as a teenager I was scared to death of anyone in our school finding out I loved a boy, and I know you must have been also. We can't change history, and we can't relive our past, but we can live a lifetime in just a few days or weeks."

And live a lifetime they did. In fact Roland regained enough strength they could even leave the hospital for short periods and enjoy some special time in more romantic settings. Although they were never able physically to consummate their love, in their hearts their love was consummated far more dramatically than any bed could have ever possibly made it happen.

I called Nick and spoke with both he and Roland about putting this update at the bottom of In Remembrance Of. I also faxed them a copy to read and they have both graciously consented for this to appear in print. All they asked was that their real names not be used. Of course I never used their real names even in the original story.

UPDATE: Nick and Roland

Like I said at the opening of In Remembrance Of both Nick and Roland are real people and to have the opportunity to become involved in their lives has been an experience Wayne and I will never get over.

Now let me bring you up to date on the things that have transpired since that afternoon in St. Augustine. Wayne and I were so touched by what Nick had told us it seemed as though it became our favorite conversation topic during many of our evening dinners. I had already written the story and sent it to IOMFATS so one Friday evening Wayne suggested we drive back to St. Augustine for another visit with Nick. We only live an hour drive away so the next day we drove to St. Augustine, enjoyed a leisurely lunch, than walked over to Nick's home. He was delighted that we had came back for a visit and we had a wonderful time with him. I brought along a copy of In Remembrance Of and gave it to him to read. By the time he finished he was weeping openly and was amazed that we had understood what he was telling us without his even voicing it directly. We talked for a while and he determined that he would get in touch with Roland and hopefully have the courage after all the years to tell him just how he really felt.

He searched out Roland's last know address and phone number but we were disappointed to find that the number now belonged to a complete stranger. We took Nick down to the library and used the computer there to locate Roland again. Just to be on the safe side Nick wrote him a letter to make sure we had indeed found the right Roland. He mailed it that afternoon and we said our good-byes then we returned home.

A week passed before Nick called us. He was as excited as a young teen because we had found the Roland of his dreams. Before he had called us he had already penned a letter very similar to the one in the story and mailed it back. Wayne teased me because in reality it turned out to be Nick doing the writing and not Roland. Over the next four days I think we all held our breath. Nick called twice just needing someone to talk with. On the evening of the fourth day Nick call and was sobbing so hard we were afraid something dreadful had taken place. We were all hoping for a letter with just a little acceptance but instead of writing Roland had called. Nick sounded twenty years younger and I think he must have recited their conversation to us almost word for word. To make a long story short Roland had always know that Nick loved him, and while Roland still regards Nick as his dearest and best friend he had always felt bad that he could not return Nick's love on the same level. Roland explained that was the reason he had stopped communicating years ago, he just felt it was wrong to keep Nick in hope that someday things could be different. Over the years he grew to regret that decision and missed being in touch with his best friend, however he could never gain the courage to reestablish contact. He begged Nick to forgive him that he could not love him just like he loves his wife but he told Nick that he definitely held the number two spot in his heart.

Now for the good part, Roland sent Nick a ticket so he could fly out for a visit. And to make it even better it is a one-way ticket. Roland told Nick to stay, "Until we just can't stand each other any more." It seems Roland and his wife now have plenty of room in their home and it sounded like he already had enough activities planned to keep them busy for weeks.

A week later Nick was packed and raring to go; he has no family in St. Augustine so we are the official house sitters, mail collectors (weekly at the post office), and bill payers until they get tired of each other. We dropped Nick off at the airport and you would have though a forty year old was boarding that flight instead of someone seventy-one.

Nick was supposed to call and let us know he arrived safely, but it was two days before we heard from him. He said he almost fainted when he disembarked and Roland greeted him with a big hug and a kiss on the cheek. He apologized that it had taken him so long too called but he said there was just so much to talk about he had lost track of time. Roland than took the phone and we found out he was exactly as Nick had described him. His bashfulness was so cute when we first started talking but once he got acquainted with us he talked for almost an hour. If he thanked us once for getting them back together it must have been fifty times.

Wayne and I agree there is just something in the air after we talked with Roland. It may be our imaginations, I just do not know. But we both agree this is about as close to perfect as you could ever want. The evening after we talked with Roland Wayne and I turned the TV off and just spent some time talking about Nick and Roland trying to understand why things turned out the way they did. We finally decided it was probably because when the guys were teens Roland knew Nick loved him, loved him in a much different way than he loved Nick. We think he probably made a decision in his heart to accept Nick and his love at that time, after all he did say he always knew Nick loved him, so when Nick professed his love openly years later it was no big surprise. This may be right or wrong, however I think we all agree on one thing Roland is a very wonderful friend, one like we would all be grateful to have. Nick sounded as though he was back in his teenage years on the phone. And who knows...a long visit, a little talk, some evening strollsand…well one can only hope.

We are now true believers that everyone's lives have become just too hectic. And I am placing both of us in this category also, just a few months before we met Nick I am quite sure we could have walked down that same quiet little street and would never have noticed him sitting on his porch, and if we had we probably would have never taken time to stop and get acquainted. Wayne and I met at age thirteen and fourteen respectively and have been together all these year, but in just the short time we have been retired we have realized there were so many things we failed to enjoy along the way. I guess what I am trying to say is what we have all heard before, "Just slow down and smell the roses along the way." We only come this way one time and there is so much we fail to enjoy in our frantic quest of a comfortable lifestyle. I can not help but wonder just how many guys are out there who just needs someone to take a moment and just listen.

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