Hunter's Lodge on the Osage

by Nicholas Hall

Chapter 11

"There is only one happiness in life, to love and be loved." – (George Sand)

We stood, both excited for different reasons; me, waiting happily to see my grandparents and share my joy of not only greeting them and my freedom from Harvey's torment, but introducing my love, Winston J. De Lacy, grandson of one of my grandfather's original partners in the purchase of the land and the construction of the Lodge! Wedge, on the other hand, was scared almost pea-green, if that's possible for a brown-skinned African-American handsome young man, worried my grandparents would frown on an interracial relationship and gay at that!

I understood his concern, since, although interracial relationships, gay even, are more common and accepted in our society than they used to be, not everyone agrees with or accepts them as integral and important to our society! It is no different in rural areas then in big cities, only more visible and perhaps talked about more in the rural areas or small towns. There are those in every community, big or small, who refuse to believe or accept anyone of different color, religious belief, ethnicity, or sexual preference. That's their problem, not mine!

Grandpa Hunter climbed out of the SUV, walked around to assist Grandma, as if she needed any assistance since she was still spry and active, enjoying an occasional tennis match and a swim at the athletic club, while going for a brisk walk a couple of times per week. Grandpa was just as active since he too played tennis and enjoyed not only golf, but hunting and fishing as well. No, they were in pretty good shape and extremely active, for old folks, I thought.

Pulling free from Wedge, I leaped from the porch, bounded the short distance to the vehicle, and wrapped my arms around Grandma Hunter, tears of joy and release streaming down my face as I embraced her. She held me, kissed my forehead and said simply, "I love you too – all will be well, my sweet boy," and turned me so my grandfather could hug me as well. It felt so good to have them with me! I hadn't realized how much I'd missed them, needed them, and suddenly how much I missed my mom!

I sobbed only the harder, pouring my heart and soul out in expressions of my loss and held close to my grandfather's chest – no, it wasn't my grandfather who held me! Somehow, without my realizing it, he'd relinquished my body , my grief to be comforted, reassured, and held by my boyfriend, my lover, Wedge, who whispered calming and comforting words of love and reassurance in my ear and rocked me gently back and forth until my sobs subsided as only he could, providing me the comfort I needed!

I had no idea when he bounded down the steps, agonized by my sounds of distress and with gentle firmness, took me from my grandfather's embrace, wrapped me in his, and offered me his strength. Grandpa Hunter willingly let him do so and stood by quietly until I'd expended my tears. Wedge released me and when he did, Grandma Hunter stepped forward, gave him a big long loving hug, a kiss on his cheek, and said, "Thank you for sharing your life with our Jeremy; he'll be so happy with you!"

Grandpa, taken up with the emotion of the moment, wiped tears from his eyes, gave Wedge a hug as well and said, "Welcome to the family. It's nice to have a De Lacy back on Lodge lands again."

I guess that answered Wedge's questions'; he was all smiles and helped carry the luggage into the house while I escorted Grandma up the steps and into the Lodge. She did a quick survey, checking to see if everything was ship-shape (as grandmothers are wont to do), but smiled when the interior was not in the oft-stereo-typically portrayed mess teen-age rooms seen in television shows or movies. I must say, she was quite pleased with what she witnessed, reached up, patted my cheek, saying softly, "I told your grandfather not to worry; you can take care of yourself," and followed me to one of the spare bedrooms.

After she made certain the suitcases were on the bed where she could unpack them and put things away, she looked at my grandfather and said, "Tom, be certain to bring in the ice chest and groceries I have in the car. I don't want to leave them out and have them spoil!"

Turning to me and Wedge after Grandpa Hunter left the room, she confessed, "I know George and Lou dearly love barbequed pork ribs and I saw a special at the Hy-Vee and picked some up and brought with me. Perhaps I can fix them tomorrow and invite them over for lunch or dinner?"

She needn't ask me, I thought, since she and Grandpa Hunter owned the property, but Wedge and I both grinned and nodded our approval. The three of us hustled off to the kitchen when we heard Grandpa come in from the porch. Wedge took the ice chest and I went out to the car to get two of the three bags of groceries and passed Grandpa on the porch as he trekked out for the third one. Putting the groceries on the kitchen table, I watched as Wedge pulled out four nice, large racks of pork ribs (a glance at the price caused me to wonder what the regular price was if these were on sale) and put them in the fridge along with a couple of packages of rib-eye steaks, two large packages of thick sliced bacon, a small ham, and a rolled beef rump roast.

Wedge raised his eyebrows in question at Grandma as he put the last of the meat in the fridge.

"Well," she confessed, "I wasn't certain how well two teenage boys were eating, so I thought a change from peanut butter and jelly sandwiches might be good!"

Motioning to her with a wave of his hand and a grin on his face, indicating she should accompany him to the stove, and when she stood, expectantly before it, he opened the oven door and the sweet, delicate aroma of the roasting chicken wafted out into the Lodge, bringing salivation to our mouths and rumblings to our tummies. When she asked if there was anything she could do to help, Wedge brought the peeled and washed vegetables from the refrigerator and the two of them basted them with olive oil. Grandma spread them out on a shallow sheet cake pan and Wedge seasoned them with salt, pepper, garlic powder, and a touch of winter savory. The mixture of potatoes, carrots, onions, broccoli, and cauliflower would be an excellent side and compliment to the chicken.

Dinner was delicious and enjoyable; not only did it provide us with a culinary delightful experience, but gave us the opportunity to sit around the table and visit, sharing our experiences at the Lodge with them while Grandma and Grandpa shared their trip on the cruise with us. It was after dinner, when the dishes were done, we got about the serious business of Wedge's and my future at the Lodge, including the possible dangers we faced from Harvey and Pittman.

At first, Grandpa Hunter was more than just a little concerned, but once he listened to us and evaluated the precautions we were taking, he seemed to relax a little, but not entirely convinced we would be safe! Just to add some extra strength to our own preparedness, he decided to really put the pressure on the P.I. (private investigator) who worked for his law firm to gather as much on Pittman and in locating Harvey. He reasoned once one of them was out of the way, it would free up more resources available to neutralize the other – through capture and prosecution.

The evening was growing late and we were tired. I fretted internally how my grandparents would accept Wedge and I sleeping in the same bed. There was no way I'd spend my time, while they were here, not sleeping with my boyfriend and I was certain he felt the same way. Grandma solved my dilemma for me when she announced, "Boys, us old folks are tired, so if you'll excuse us, we're going to bed!" and got up, motioned to grandpa to join her and walked back toward their bedroom. She paused, before entering the bedroom door, grinned and said, "I intend to sleep with the one I love and I expect you two to do the same."

Wedge and I both grinned and he answered, "Yes, mam, I do intend to do the same!"

The next morning, Grandpa Hunter spent some time with me going over our supplies list and checking what we had on hand. There were very few things we'd not thought of in preparation for a winter at the Lodge, so he had very little to add to it. He was so pleased to see Wedge and I were so well prepared, I failed to tell him George and Aunt Lou also had a hand in our preparedness; my bad!

Wedge and Grandma Hunter spent the morning getting the pork ribs prepared, along with fresh, home-baked rolls, and a brown rice casserole dish of some sort ( I don't know what it's called or everything in it, but God, is it delicious!). Wedge fixed an apple cobbler for dessert and was just coming out of the oven when Uncle George and Aunt Lou arrived around eleven o'clock. Wedge popped the two pans of ribs, all slathered with a barbeque sauce they used at the supper club where he worked prior to coming here, into the oven, whooped up the heat a bit, and when questioned by Lou and Grandma, just grinned and said, "Trust me!"

They shrugged their shoulders, shot each other a questioning look, but let him get about the business of cooking. A half hour later, after in enlisted their help in preparing a lettuce salad, he fired up the gas grill outside, came back to the house, took the two pans of ribs out to the grill, and put them on. After closing the lid, he returned to the kitchen, turned the oven down to low, grabbed up the extra barbeque sauce and a basting brush, and trotted out to the grill. Wedge was in his element; cooking for people who liked to eat good food (not that I didn't but this time he had guests and wanted to impress them).

The smell from those ribs was absolutely intoxicating! Not only did our mouths water, but Uncle George expressed some concerns the old sow bear and her cubs just might make an appearance and join us for lunch. That caused some anxious looks to cross Wedge's face as he attended to and guarded the main entrée for lunch!

A half hour later, with two huge platters of ribs placed strategically on the table, the six of us sat down to eat. One bite of the ribs and George and Lou were as captivated by Wedge's expertise as Grandma and Grandpa were! Me, I'd eaten his offering before (from the kitchen as well), so I just beamed with pride for Wedge! Wedge was his usual bashful self when it came to compliments, but was so pleased and his smile said so. I think it was this meal that allayed any fears Grandma or Grandpa may have had about our living at the Lodge or our relationship!

In the evening, after a wonderful afternoon of visiting, when George and Lou left ("have to feed the chickens and other critters"), and the Lodge put back in order, we sat on the porch so Grandpa could enjoy his evening cocktail and we could relax from very busy, but happy day. In the quiet of the evening, Wedge asked him how he and his grandfather came to be partners in the property.

"We met in college during our second year; your grandfather was studying to be a mathematics teacher and I was heading for a law degree. As we began to pal around, we were joined by the other four guys who later joined us in this venture of ours. After we graduated, although we went our separate ways, we kept in contact with each other. Vern, your grandfather, and I were much closer; I had my law practice in Green Bay and he was teaching at MSOE in Milwaukee."

"He and I hunted and fished together and really enjoyed each other. The others sort of drifted in again and the six of us became hunting and fishing buddies. When this property came up for sale, I negotiated what I thought was a good price and drew up the partnership agreement. Vern had a fairly decent position and my law practice was doing well; the other boys probably weren't as well off, but we all anteed up and took the plunge. The Lodge, as you can see, was built with three bedrooms; Vern and I shared one, the other four the other two rooms. We had twin beds for two of the rooms and a double bed for the other. In those days we didn't hear of "domestic partners" or "soul mates," but the two that shared the double bed did love each other and that was fine with the rest of us."

As time passed, their friendship grew and so did the use of the Lodge. Then, as is inevitable, the partnership began to dissolve as the various members died from natural causes, an accident, cancer, and, as Grandpa Hunter said sadly to Wedge, "Your grandfather and I ended up owning the Lodge. He took an early retirement and really enjoyed the Lodge and having you with him. Unfortunately, he wasn't able to enjoy his retirement for long before his heart gave out."

Grandpa was silent for a little while, tears came to his eyes, and Grandma put her arms around him, while I did the same to a grieving Wedge.

"We all miss Vern," Grandma said, "he was so full of life and always so optimistic. He never saw a glass as half empty but always as half full. He was Tom's best friend!"

Wedge nodded, responding hoarsely, "I know; I miss him real bad! He and Momma didn't see eye to eye on some things, but, in the long run, he never really held it against me or her!"

The porch became strangely silent, each of us deep in our own thoughts and memories, except for the forest sounds and the noise of the Osage River tumbling and swirling behind the Lodge. Those sounds, punctuated by our silence, calmed our minds and souls, bringing us peace and appreciation we had for each other.

Wedge and I bid my grandparents goodnight and went to our room. Closing the bedroom door, we stripped to our usual bedtime naked selves and crawled into bed. I wrapped my arms around Wedge, accepted his returning embrace, and settled my head on his shoulder. I could feel his penis begin to lengthen and nudge me just above my pubes. I pulled him even closer, knowing he and I would soon be joined in love.

He hesitated, saying softly, "You know what?"

"What?"

"While your grandmother and I were fixing dinner, she took the opportunity to make certain I understood the dangers of unprotected sex – you know – not to chase around and expose myself to sexually transmitted disease. God, Jeremy, I was so embarrassed; here I am, discussing my sex life with my boyfriend's grandmother. I assured her, as best I could, we were in no danger and would take every precaution. Just so you're aware, Jeremy, I'm not going to fuck anyone but you!"

My head popped up, my mouth began stuttering, "You didn't say that to her for God's sake, did you?"

"Nope, but I should have because I'm not going to do anyone but you the rest of my life and I'm going show you how much I mean it. On your back, lover, and let me show you how much I do love you!"

I just couldn't refuse, could I?

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