The Gulf Between Us
by Rick Beck
It was the day before Thanksgiving when Boris next came to take Ivan to Tampa. Ivan traded Thanksgiving for Christmas, which he intended to spend with me this year. He'd made this arrangement with his mother on the visit just before school started. Ivan was almost a man and he knew where he wanted to be.
Being at home for turkey day wasn't the hardship it might have been at other times of the year. I didn't like being away from Ivan, but I liked Thanksgiving. I enjoyed turkey and turkey sandwiches as much as I liked any food. Even my family was easier to be around.
Being at home on the day the huge golden bird decorated our table, assured I'd get my fill. I could drowned my sorrow in turkey, mashed potatoes, candied yams, and Mama's smooth as silk turkey gravy that went over everything, except the pies and cakes.
Ivan would be home Saturday if he could talk Boris into bringing him back. The day after Thanksgiving I'd have the house to myself. Pop, John-Henry, and Brian would be on the Sanibel beaches. The kids were off and the temperatures were up.
Teddy would be stocking shelves at work and Mama and Lucy would be doing their best to empty those shelves in a mother-daughter bonding experience that was scheduled to last all day.
Thank goodness for leftovers. Dinner was always ready the day after Thanksgiving. It didn't make my separation from Ivan any easier, but with food on my mind, Ivan wasn't on it.
I planned to sleep in on my first weekend off since September and I let everyone know it. I'd have a turkey sandwich for breakfast and maybe one for lunch. I'd return to Ivan's long before the Olson clan gathered at the table next. As busy as everyone was, I didn't think anyone would notice my absence.
I was careful not to mention when Ivan's return. The plan was for him to get away as soon as possible, if he could do it without jeopardizing the deal on Christmas.
Mr. Aleksa didn't know any more than I did, and he'd be having Thanksgiving dinner with Kenny and a dozen other fisherman at J.K's. Kitchen. It was an annual event the owner gave for his best customers on a day he'd otherwise be closed.
Ivan thought he'd be back sometime Saturday. That was if his mother didn't hatch some plan that kept him longer.
I was in my bed Wednesday night and I'd be there Thursday night, which was a lot since the school year began. I went to school from Ivan's and two days a week Mr. Aleksa took us and picked us up, which was fine with my parents. An adult appeared to be present.
While I was making plans for my return to Ivan's, Ivan was doing some planning of his own. With Boris and his mother going to Miami for the Friday night fights, Ivan let it be known he wasn't going. His mother wanted to stay in Miami Friday night, and drive to Key West on Saturday, returning to Tampa Sunday.
Boris and Ivan were delighted to go to their mother's girlfriend's house for Thanksgiving dinner. By the time they returned home, the plan for the Miami trip was revealed. Ivan insisted on going home. Had I known what was going on in Tampa, I'd have gone to bed at Ivan's house Thursday night, but I didn't know, and being full of turkey, I fell asleep in my own bed.
Because of the way Thanksgiving unfolded at my house and in Tampa, I wasn't in Ivan's bed when he arrived home. That wasn't OK with him. We'd bonded more completely that summer, while keeping the Vilnius Two operating.
We were about as close as we could get by the time school started. We were anxious for each school day to end, so we could find a place to kiss and hug, but we resisted the urge to hold hands on our way home.
We both felt the love between us building, since the falling out the day Boris first came. It was harder being away from each other. His mother, like my parents, needed reassurance that we were OK, but each time we were apart, the reunion was more passionate.
We'd agreed that we weren't going to get in any deeper, until we were both ready to make that leap. Mostly until I thought I was ready. Ivan was waiting for me. When the subject came up, he always said, "We're in no hurry."
I needed to get beyond the thought of having sex and have it.
Now my problem was in not being able to tell him I was ready.
I sat with my family in the den, eating turkey sandwiches, guzzling milk, and enjoying Mama's sumptuous lemon cake, until about ten o'clock, when my appetite gave out and I ran out of steam. I usually went to bed early when I was home.
When Ivan arrived home, discovering his bed was empty, he knew where to find me, and he wasn't spending another night without me. While I felt the same way when I went to bed, there was nothing I could do about it. Tampa was too far.
These circumstances created the first visit Ivan made to my bed in the conservancy house. He knew which room was mine. He knew how to get to it without alerting my entire family that he'd come to sleep with me.
What could possibly go wrong with a plan like that?
When Ivan slipped into my bed, I couldn't be sure it wasn't a dream. In Ivan's absence, I always dreamed we were together. If this was a dream, it turned into a dream come true. Out of the cobwebs I felt Ivan's arms around me. I smelled him, felt his kisses on my neck, just like he was really there. It was my best dream ever.
When I pivoted in my bed to meet his lips with mine, the way I always dreamed I did, this time he didn't disappear. His mouth, his tongue, his body thrust lustily against mine. Our mutual arousal became a source of greater passion as they rubbed. We created a luxurious heat I'd never known before.
Did I mention I was ready?
In my dreams the Ivan I kissed disappeared, my arms came up empty, and my hand didn't grasp anything that throbbed but thin air, until now. Did he ever throb, moan, and fill my hand with more gristle than I imagined.
Our mouths were lost in a perpetual kiss. I awoke to being completely alive with passion. Our arms were wrapped around each other. We held on tight. Our legs intertwined in a hot tangle
of smooth muscled flesh.
Our bodies were locked in a mix of arms, legs, and skin lavishly commingling in a most exciting embrace. There was no beginning of one of us or ending of the other. We'd become a jumble of limbs, lips, and skin that represented the love we shared.
Where we could touch, we did touch. Each move brought me a new thrill, without having any desire to get apart. Everything we did was the most exciting thing we'd ever done.
It surprised me when he responded to me the same way I responded to him. For the first time it wasn't me following him. We dove into love together.
I didn't need to tell Ivan I was ready. My body spoke for me. The message was clear from the time his body slid up against mine. I waited for fear of getting in over my head. Once I made the plunge, I was deliriously in love with love, not to mention Ivan.
The on button for my lust and passion was pressed. The idea of finding an off switch never came to mind. We were doing the most incredible thing I'd ever done and I never wanted to stop.
As quick as our throbbing passion rubbed in harmony, there was a dance they did, rubbing, pressing, sliding, and finally those slippery suckers wet the way to a delirious intensity that finally unlocked our lips to use as pathfinders to undiscovered joy.
If this was a dream, I never wanted to wake up. Instead of Ivan evaporating, he was hard to miss. Hands, mouths, and super inflamed passion for each other couldn't be avoided or denied now.
We'd embarked on a journey that gave up most of our secrets to the other that night. We may have gone farther had someone thought to make the night longer, but we intended to use all the time we had.
My mouth was good for more than kissing. I used it to find each of Ivan's most sensitive spots on his exquisite body. Not to be outdone, Ivan's tongue discovered some places that ignited a desire that I was sure could drive me crazy.
He was the perfect lover, liking, licking, caring for me from my alerted ears to my tender toes. Turning me upside down, we found places deserving attention. No matter how strange a spot might seem at first, it was just right for licking once Ivan's tongue got there.
It was a vast exploration with discoveries I'd never have made without Ivan. We did the ballet of love, moving in concert, keeping the night alive with our desire.
With gentle kisses and a familiarity we'd never shared before, we began anew as though we weren't spent the first time around. My mouth finally found a place that stimulated him most of all. Once I found the spot, he was mine to do with as I pleased. With his body contorting and his hands holding me firmly in place, we rocked and rolled until he ignited in one lustful thrust and than another. Even then I refused to give up the most substantial sign of his love, until his unconditional surrender.
"That was amazing," He said, once I released him to rest my jaws. "A-mazing!"
"I can do it again if you think you're up to it," I said, teasing him over his slow decline.
"No! I think I need a minute. You should have let me do the same for you? It's more fun that way. We would finish together. That's when it's best."
"Yes, but I was so excited over doing you, I'd have lasted ten seconds. It took you a while. When I go off, I need a half hour to reload on my best nights. Entertaining myself doesn't last long when I'm alone."
"Is this one of your best nights?" Ivan inquired with a keen interest.
"With my hand as my only tool, I lose interest after one go round. With you I'll never stop if I pace myself. I want to enjoy it. I want you to enjoy it."
"Then I'll do you. I owe you one. You know how to make me feel loved," he said, bringing me up to kiss my lips.
"It comes naturally. Don't expect me to last as long as you. I've never been this turned on before. You excite me and you don't have to do a thing," I said.
"Now you tell me. I was giving you the best I have," he said.
"You didn't have to tell me that. I was getting it," I said.
"The second time will take longer," he said. "It'll be more fun."
"You know a lot about this. You've been waiting for me, but you'd have done this last summer. I was ready too, but I didn't know how to tell you that I wanted to...."
"I didn't want to scare you, Clay. I almost let Boris.... I didn't do anything. I wanted you. This was good timing."
"Is that the rest of the story, Ivan? That's why you were so upset the day Boris came? You saw we liked each other and you thought...? Boris is hot. I can see how hot you're going to be. I look at handsome men because I appreciate beauty, but there is only one man for me. I love you. After loving you, I'll never be able to love anyone else. You're my first love. You're going to be my last."
He kissed me passionately.
It was one way to get my mind off the questions I asked. I knew the answer. It took me a while to put it together. Once Boris told me how much better Ivan was than him, and then I saw Boris and Kenny turned on to each other in the galley, it wasn't hard to imagine Ivan and Boris being naked in bed.
Boris began maturing and as close as they were, it was a short distance to the rest of the story.
I couldn't imagine it with any of my brothers, but I had no trouble imagining Ivan and Boris being turned on by each other. I wanted Ivan to know it didn't matter to me.
The idea of Ivan going on seventeen and never having sex wasn't believable. People were drawn to Ivan the same way they were drawn to Boris. I believed they were drawn to each other. Not that it mattered.
"I let him bring me home tonight with the intention of making love to you. I could have apologized tomorrow if I upset you. The looks you were giving me said you were ready. You've become such a handsome man in the last year. You're so much more confident."
He kissed me again. He moved beyond my lips, kissing my neck, my chest, down my stomach. Down, down, down, he went, overheating my body.
A minute after he got where he was going, I experienced liftoff. As quick as his lips hit me, the, blast off was assured. I gritted my teeth, bit my tongue, dug my fingernails into his shoulders, and that bought me all of a minute.
It was then he found he had a tiger by the tail, as I gave him all I had, in more ways than one. With my hands on his head and my hips determined to give him all there was to give, he stayed with me long after I was so overpowered that time and space lost all meaning.
I soared with sea birds, dove with dolphin, and rose and feel with the gulf waters, riding on a perfect wave of love. It was the most incredible feeling in my life, and Ivan orchestrated it, as he would orchestrate all the best moments of my life.
Was I ever ready.
While we'd share about a million moments like this, none could quite live up to the first night when he took me as far as I could go.
If we'd waited until we were more matured, the wait was worth it. Ivan claimed my wait was his wait, because he loved me. H wanted our first time to be perfect, and it was. He was perfect.
Once we'd made love, our love was different, more intimate, more soulful. We loved at a depth our fishing nets couldn't reach. We loved in symphonies. We loved as the characters in great novels loved. We loved a never ending love.
Finding each other as boys, we loved each other as men.
That night, that first time we loved each other, from the time he slipped into the bed, until first light shone through my open double doors, we were in various stages of making love.
When first light told us it was morning, only then were we once again aware of time.
Even though our bodies had yet to receive the message, we'd exhausted every ounce of our energy. As young and alive as we were, we did have limits, though we wouldn't admit it that night.
I were certain we could stay there and make love forever. We wanted to stay there and make love forever.
We were sure our love would never die. It would be tested, stretched to its limits, but that first warm, gentle loving night was but the beginning of the rest of our lives together, although we wouldn't always be able to be together.
That world, the one out there beyond our beach, wasn't about to be ignored. It would have its way with us. It would force us apart, but we always came back to the beach and each other.
One factoid I can't avoid, love has its warm fuzzy tender side to it, but our love is as tough as steel with the endurance of the stars. Nothing in my life could come close to having the power my love for Ivan has, and he says the same about his love for me.
Perhaps one thing does compare. The love I have for my son Dylan runs as deep and it has proved as enduring as my love for Ivan, and perhaps more so, because Dylan hasn't had the opportunity to leave me yet. Ivan has left our beach, but has always returned to the beach and the man he loves.
It's too complicated to go into on the same night Ivan and I first made love to each other. The night we established we were in love, and always would be.
Nothing could take the luster off that rose; well, almost nothing.
As great as it was, there was a downside to the night, and it wasn't simply the morning, when we physically weren't capable of making love any longer. That was cured with a little rest. The place where we first made love wasn't the safest place to do it.
My house was always full of people and having Ivan in my bed, with so many beds in the house, would be difficult to explain. I thought of this about the time we started to make love. Had I not been in Ivan's arms with his lips on mine, I'd have known better.
After we'd worn ourselves down with a lust that at times seemed like it might never subside, we could have gotten up and gone to Ivan's, but we didn't. The thought was there at times, when we lingered together, after using up the night and peacefully surrendered to exhaustion.
I ended up in one of my favorite positions, my head leaning against his chest, his fingers feeling my hair. It was then we could have jumped up to go to Ivan's before my family woke up.
"It's getting daylight," I said, before he found my lips with his. "Someone might come to my room. Pop opens my door some mornings to check on me before he goes to work."
"Work? It's Thanksgiving holidays. No work, handsome."
"It's been in the eighties. The beaches are jammed. John-Henry and Brian are both working with Pop today."
"I'll stay awake," Ivan said. "If he opens the door, I'll hear the knob. I have 20-20 hearing, you know," he bragged before he kissed me again and again. "I'll slip out of sight if I hear him coming."
"It wouldn't be good for them to know we're lovers," I said.
"We've been lovers fifteen minutes. There's a grace period on this kind of thing. We don't have to worry about being caught for three days. It's the law. At least it's a rule," Ivan explained.
"Well, I'll have to trust you," I said, leaving it up to Ivan.
I didn't know how my parents would take us sleeping together.
"We've been sleeping together forever, Clay. We haven't been caught yet," Ivan reasoned.
"We've been sleeping In your bed. We're sleeping in my bed. Pop does open this door."
"Tell me to leave and I'll leave," he said, kissing me more passionately.
He knew I wasn't letting go of him but he kept kissing me just in case.
"You promise me you'll stay awake and I'll stop worrying."
"Oh, I'll stay awake. It'll be fine. You don't know how much I missed you. Don't make me go home, Clay," he pleaded, having tried everything else.
We kissed some more.
"I'll go if you tell me to leave," he said. "You can come with me."
He wanted to leave as much as I wanted him to leave.
"I don't want you to leave. Let me rest my eyes a few minutes. I'm really really tired," I said. "We'll go to your house in a few minutes."
"OK, I'll stay awake. We'll get up in a few minutes and go to my house," he said, kissing me again.
"Yes, I need a few minutes. You stay awake. Get under the covers if you hear someone coming. He doesn't come in."
"Got it. Go ahead and rest your eyes. I'm on guard," he said.
It didn't take long for me to realize there was something wrong. I was facing the double doors and Ivan had his arms around me. His face was against the back of my neck lips first. It was no different than any morning when I woke up in his arms. Maybe it was a little different.
I remember we were talking and then I'm blinking my eyes and looking through the double doors at the mid-morning sunlight on the beach. The sun has to rise above the treetops at the front of the house before it can shine on the beach. That didn't happen until after ten in the morning. I could be dreaming.
But the sunshine wasn't the most alarming thing. There was a sound that penetrated the cobwebs in my mind.
The worst part, in my limited capacity to think, I knew what the sound was.
Blinking my eyes, I prayed I was dreaming. It was the sound my door made when carefully closed. When it latched, there was a click no matter how careful you were.
I sat straight up in bed and looked at the door.
I calculated it was the sound of my door opening that originally began waking me. I felt a presence in my room. As quick as I stirred, there was the click.
Someone had been in my room, saw me waking, backed out, carefully closing the door.
My heart was racing.
What should I do?
Jump up, run to the door naked, and tell whoever it was, 'it wasn't what it looked like,' but it was exactly what it looked like. I was in the arms of my lover and someone in the conservancy house knew.
"Wake up, Ivan," I said. "It's tomorrow."
It was one of my more brilliant observations, but I couldn't face this alone. I was afraid to tell him, but I wanted him awake.
"I am awake," he said, failing to open his eyes or look awake.
"Ivan, wake up," I said again, looking at the door. "You said you'd stay awake. You went to sleep."
"Fooled you didn't I. You don't believe everything I say, do you? You've got a lot to learn, Huck. I didn't sleep last night, ...or was it the night before? I guess if it's tomorrow, it was the night before yesterday. You didn't want me to leave. I didn't want to leave. I merely said what I needed to say to help you out."
I listened to the house. I didn't say anything about the door.
"Get up, Ivan. We need to go to your house," I said.
"Yeah! Great idea. I can take a nap," he said, trying to keep his eyes open.
I stepped out onto the landing outside of my door on the third floor. I listened.
Pop took both John-Henry and Brian with him because of the crowds on Sanibel's beaches. He wasn't going to be back until dinner. Teddy was stocking shelves at work for the shoppers. Mama and Lucy went shopping, intending to pick up a bargain or two and have lunch.
"What are you doing?" Ivan asked, after he opened my bedroom door.
"Yes, no, I don't know."
"Glad you cleared that up. Let's go. I don't want to fall asleep on the way. My bed is way more comfortable than yours, Huck."
I followed Ivan out through the double doors and onto the porch. We took the steps at the side of the house, crossing the backyard. We walked up the beach away from my house. Once we were almost half way, I stopped. Ivan stopped and he turned to look at me.
"What's up, Doc?" he asked.
"I forgot to do something. You go ahead. I'll catch up in a few minutes," I said, turning to walk back to the house. I had to know who was home. I had to know who knew.
I went into the kitchen, easing the door closed behind me. It didn't make a sound. I stood there for a minute, listening. I walked into the dining room and I stood there and listened. I went into the foyer where the staircase went up to the second and third floor.
I stood there to listen. It had been maybe ten minutes since I'd heard that click. I listened to hear if a vehicle started once we were outside. There was no such sound. Opening the front door, I saw the station wagon and Pop's truck were gone. John-Henry's car and Teddy's car were gone.
I returned to the stairs and listened for several minutes. If someone was in the house with me, he wasn't moving.
I went to the third floor, holding my bedroom door open, I looked at my empty bed. It appeared to have been struck by a tornado. I backed out of my room, easing the door closed ever so carefully.
Someone had been in my room. They'd opened the door, stepped in, saw me in Ivan's arms, and backed out. As carefully as they closed the door, they didn't consider the sound the latch made.
Standing there. Considering it. I could feel the culprit freezing when the latch clicked. He stood here for a few seconds, listening to hear if the latch had disturbed us. He was gone by the time I opened the door.
Starting with the sewing room next to my room, I began opening doors, looking into each room. Each time I closed the door behind me, I stood and listened to hear if someone was in the house. After opening all the doors on the third floor, I went to each door on the second floor. I opened each door, stepped in, listened for some sign of life, and went to the next door.
When I was back on the ground floor, I stood looking up at all the empty rooms. I opened the door to the dining room, each closet door, the kitchen door, returning to the front door to check again to making sure there were no cars parked outsidee I might have missed the first time I looked.
I stared up at my door from the foyer below.
Someone in the conservancy house knew Ivan and I were lovers.
Who opened my bedroom door?
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